THE CIA MOCKINGBIRD CABLE DIVISION: TCI/Heritage Communications’ Jim Cownie, News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch & the “Paranoia” of Theresa Duncan
” … the charmless bureacratic tools of Operation Mockingbird … ” – Theresa Duncan
By Alex Constantine
MEDIA REPORTS on the heart-breaking deaths of Theresa Duncan & Jeremy Blake have been dominated early on by News Corp.’s KATE COE, whose acclaimed story on “The Suicide Duo” in the LA WEEKLY has drawn nothing but praise from the blogoshphere for its graphic presentation of silly conspiracy theory “paranoia.” …
RUPERT MURDOCH’s literary wunderkind, Ms. Coe – who chides “politically correct” liberals and, well, those of the JEWISH PERSUASION – neglected to mention that she worked for Murdoch in the Weekly story … probably an oversight.
AS A MATTER OF FACT, there are a few OTHER significant details that KATE COE did not find NEWSWORTHY – such as the background of JIM COWNIE, whom Duncan feared to the depths of her silly, “paranoid” soul, and his many connections to Coe’s employer, RUPERT MURDOCH.
WELL, now …
To fill the GAP, the connections are drawn here in excruciating detail, speaking very eloquently for themselves. Apart from a few explanatory notes here and there, I’ve kept out of it. The many insular, cross-referencing facts are inescapable.
Murdoch knows how Theresa Duncan died and who killed her – his business partner Jim Cownie knows, as well. They made it look like a suicide, and are using her death to discredit opposition researchers – like myself, but also like the many silly “paranoid” researchers who have come along since 9/11.
Let Cownie and Murdoch chew on the research below. I have the cover-up dead to rights, much of the motive, and I’m still working on the elements of Theresa’s “suicide.” I report, you decide. More to come …
Jim Cownie, founder of Iowa’s Heritage Communications, on video:
Children of scurrilous CIA mind control operations, meet Jim Cownie …
THE FOUNDING OF HERITAGE COMMUNICATIONS: “Heritage was formed in 1971 by two long-time, hometown friends, James Hoak Jr. and James Cownie. They had virtually no experience in operating a cable television system but were encouraged by the support of Hoak’s father, the founder of a local construction materials company. Hoak and Cownie launched a bid for the Des Moines cable television franchise under the name Hawkeye Cablevision. Hawkeye suffered a temporary setback when the Des Moines City Council recommended awarding the contract to a rival applicant. Iowa law required an election to officially award the franchise, however, and Hoak and Cownie blitzed the media with the rallying cry, “Des Moines has its own experts,” winning the election by a landslide. … “
ON JOE ROSENFIELD, IOWA ENTREPRENEUR, OF THE WARREN BUFFETT CIRCLE AND THE FOUNDING OF HERITAGE COMMUNICATIONS: “Joe was chairman of Younker Brothers Inc, which was the largest department store chain in Iowa and Nebraska by 1987. Three brothers Lipman, Samuel and Marcus started the business in 1856 after they came out from Poland. It listed on the Nasdaq in 1992, but today it is part of the Saks Department Store Group after Proffitt’s purchased it in 1996. Its story can be found here http://www.saksincorporated.com/our_stores/store_histories/YNKhistory.html
” … Then there is Jim Hoak from Heritage Communications (Des Moines, Iowa), which got coaxed into the communications business by Joe. Joe hung out with BUFFETT, Buffett hung out with TOM MURPHY [MURPHY WAS A FOUNDER OF CAP CITIES/ABC – A PRIMARY CIA PROPAGANDA OUTLET. THE MEDIA INFILTRATION PROGRAM HAS INCORPORATED ELEMENTS OF CIA MIND CONTROL PROGRAMMING SINCE ITS INCEPTION UNDER ALLEN DULLES, AS DOCUMENTED BY DEBORAH DAVIS IN KATHARINE THE GREAT: KATHARINE GRAHAM AND HER WASHINGTON POST EMPIRE, AND ELSEWHERE. – ALEX CONSTANTINE NOTE] and the next thing you know, Jim Hoak was hanging out with Tom Murphy. Also mixed in with all of this is the Hubbells. Then again just about everyone in Des Moines know the Hubbells, because they are one of Iowa’s most prominent families. This is mainly due to Frederick M. Hubbell, who accumulated tremendous wealth in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Frederick M. Hubbell is another subject worthy of research. … “
JOE ROSENFIELD “INVESTED IN WARREN BUFFETT’S FUTURE” (& INTEL, SEQUOIA FUND):
” … In 1967, mutual friends introduced Mr. Rosenfield to Warren Buffett and the two became close friends. Investments in Mr. Buffet’s future, as well as an investment in Grinnell graduate Robert Noyce’s startup company, NM Electronics – the forerunner of INTEL – were the cornerstones of Grinnell College’s endowment growth. … During his career, Mr. Rosenfield was committed to a number of institutions, including the Democratic Party. His support of such organizations throughout Iowa as Equitable Life Insurance Company, Northern Natural Gas, Bankers Trust, General Management Corporation, and Northwestern Bell, is legendary. … “
Re: The CIA’s Tom Murphy & Cap Cities/ABC (and the Mafia)
The Seizing of the
American Broadcasting Company
Excerpt from an article on ABC that ran in the February 20-27, 1987 issue of The LA Weekly: ” … At issue in the ABC situation in particular is an extraordinary story overlooked by most of the press and never taken up by congressional investigators: Who actually took over ABC when Capital Cities Communications bought it in March 1985? For ‘Cap Cities’ is no ordinary company, and the takeover was no ordinary case of corporate wheeling and dealing. Specifically, an L.A. Weekly investigation has found that: Cap Cities’ primary executive THOMAS MURPHY, his family and some of Cap Cities’ founders had or have a relationship with another firm known to have excellent connections in the INTELLIGENCE community through one of its subsidiaries. The same firm has also been accused of MAFIA ties. … “
THE BASS FAMILY BUYS INTO HERITAGE COMMUNICATIONS
[Robert Bass is the nephew of SID RICHARDSON, whose role in the Kennedy assassination is well known. Robert’s brother Ed was a classmate of George W. Bush at Yale. The Bass family of Fort Worth are major financial supporters of Bush. – A. Constantine]
NEW YORK TIMES, December 8, 1986
“An investment group led by Robert M. Bass of Forth Worth has purchased 5.8 percent of Heritage Communications Inc. In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Friday, the Bass group said that it bought the Heritage shares for investment purposes, ”without any view to control or influence management” of the Des Moines-based cable television system operator … “
For more political background on the Bass family, see:
” … HERITAGE COMMUNICATIONS … “
REPUBLICAN INSIDER “JIM [COWNIE] IS IN PLAY” – “… If you don’t think gubernatorial candidate Jim Nussle is sucking up to the Christian conservatives in hope of stimulating the far-right come November, read the second installment of Nussle biting the hand that feeds him. Nussle, you’ll recall, kissed off Bill Krause (can he escape press coverage?) by saying he would sign any bill to kill the TouchPlay program after Krause gave him $25,000. Now we’ve heard that Nussle has dismissed Jim Cownie. Cownie, records show, gave the Congressman $50,000 for his campaign and asked that Nussle simply “consider Libby Jacobs” as his lieutenant governor candidate. Nussle promised Cownie he would. Nussle, however, never even contacted Jacobs, and when Cownie found out and wasn’t pleased, Nussle called Cownie and told him he was thinking about asking Bob Vander Plaats to join his ticket, and would Cownie like to weigh in. Only one problem, though. The Vander Plaats announcement had been made public the day before. Cownie, a Republican insider told us, “would never abandon his party,” while a Blouin staffer told us, ‘Jim (Cownie) is in play.'”
” … Last weekend, Ankeny real estate magnate Denny Elwell hosted a fundraiser for Congressional Republican candidate Jeff Lamberti. The featured guest speaker was KARL ROVE and included ‘hosts’ Marvin Pomerantz, JIM COWNIE, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Gary Kirke and Don Lamberti. When the Dems got word of the event, they quickly organized a rally. But because it was in a residential area, protesters were warned to keep the gathering small.”
SHARE THE NEWS [broadcast ministry]
Share the News Program
P.O. Box 24135
Federal Way, WA 98093
HOAK MEDIA CORP.: “Jim Hoak — Chairman. Mr. Hoak has spent his entire business career as a founder and senior executive of communications companies. He began in the communications business after serving as a legal assistant to a Commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission in 1969-70. He co-founded HERITAGE COMMUNICATIONS, Inc. in 1971 and was CEO from its inception. HCI was a cable television company, which later expanded into television and radio, outdoor advertising, and other media businesses. It was sold to Tele-Communications, Inc. for $1.5 billion in 1987. He then co-founded Heritage Media Corporation in 1987, purchasing the radio and television properties of Heritage Communications, Inc., where he served as Chairman.
These television stations were in similar markets to those sought by Hoak Media Corporation. Heritage Media expanded into other advertising-based communications businesses and was sold to NewsCorporation for $1.4 billion in 1997. Both companies were traded on the NYSE. Mr. Hoak has formed and operated other communications businesses, including Crown Media, Inc., a cable television company in partnership with Hallmark Cards, Inc., in 1991. It was sold in 1995. In addition, he has been a principal of Hoak Capital Corporation, a private equity firm with investments in the communications field from 1991 to the present. He currently serves as a director of three public companies (PanAmSat Corporation, Pier 1 Imports, Inc., and Texas Industries, Inc.) and several private firms. Mr. Hoak graduated from Yale University in 1966 and from Stanford University School of Law in 1969.”
Hoak Media’s Eric D. Van den Branden profile from the company web site:
” … Eric D. Van den Branden — President & Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Van den Branden has worked with Jim Hoak since he joined Heritage Media Corporation in 1995. At Heritage Media, he served as Vice President of Development managing the company’s developmental efforts by seeking out complementary acquisition opportunities that broadened the Company’s exposure to the advertising and marketing industry. With senior management, Mr. Van den Branden assisted in the Company’s entry into the direct marketing industry through the acquisition of DIMAC Corporation for $260 million, and in the ultimate SALE OF HERITAGE MEDIA TO THE NEWS CORPORATION IN AUGUST OF 1997. … “
The Education Forum _ JFK Assassination Debate _ Michael J. Hand
Posted by: John Simkin
Aug 1 2006
There is not a great deal on the web on Michael J. Hand. He has not been seen since disappearing from Australia after the death of his partner, Frank Nugan. It is believed that the CIA arranged for him to start a new life in the US. Anyone know anything about him?
Michael Jon Hand, the son of a civil servant, was born in the Bronx on 8th December, 1941. According to Jonathan Kwitny in his book The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA: “Hand passed every class he took, and was noted for exceptional character, courtesy, cooperation, and appearance. His IQ registered an also exceptional 131.”
In 1959 his mother died after falling or jumping from a third-floor window. Soon afterwards he attended a one-year course at the New York State Ranger School. This was followed by a year managing a sports school in Los Angeles.
In May 1963 Hand joined the US Army and started his training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During the Vietnam War he won the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). According to the DSC citation he almost single-handedly held off a fourteen-hour Vietcong attack on the Special Forces compound at Dong Xaoi.
In 1966 he left the army to work “directly for the U.S, Government”. Friends of Michael Hand have suggested that he was employed on undercover missions for the Central Intelligence Agency in Vietnam and Laos. One reported that he “helped train the mountain people – Montagnards – and worked closely with the Air America crews that supplied them”. According to Jonathan Kwitny Hand worked under William Colby during the Vietnam War.
Michael Hand moved to Australia in September, 1967. At first Hand went to work selling development lots along the Australian coast. The company, Ocean Shores Development, was run by lawyer Fred Miller, a senior executive for the shipping empire owned by Sir Peter Abeles, the longtime business partner, Rupert Murdoch. One of the largest investors in this scheme was the singer Pat Boone. The registered directors included Boone of Beverly Hills, California and Patricia Swan of Sydney, Australia. Swan was Frank Nugan’s secretary. … “
MICHAEL HAND JOINS THE CIA
” … In May 1963 Hand joined the US Army and started his training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. During the Vietnam War he won the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC). According to the DSC citation he almost single-handedly held off a fourteen-hour Vietcong attack on the Special Forces compound at Dong Xaoi. In 1966 he left the army to work “directly for the U.S, Government”. Friends of Michael Hand have suggested that he was employed on undercover missions for the CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY in Vietnam and Laos. … “
” … Bob Hawk’s (Australian Prime Minister from 11th March, 1983 until 20th December, 1991) little mate SIR PETER ABELES was the US MAFIA representative in Australia for many years and is known to have attempted to bribe well known anti-corruption journalist Bob Bottom. Of course Bottom refused but it was well known that Abeles would tie someone up in court for years if they dared to print anything derogatory about him … “
RUPERT MURDOCH, NARCOTICS KINGPIN
” … Abeles and RUPERT MURDOCH (I seem to have heard that name before) just happened to own 55% of Australia’s second biggest domestic airline – ANSETT. Ansett in turn just happened to own a 20% share in another airline – AMERICA WEST Airline. One of their planes was caught in the US chock a block full of DRUGS in the US. The result was intertesting to say the least. … “
” … Twenty percent of the stock of AMERICA WEST was owned by ANSETT AIRLINES of Australia and 55% of ANSETT was held by Sir Peter Ables and Rupert Murdock. We know from Jonathan Kwitney’s book THE CRIMES OF PATRIOTS that Burny Houghton, perhaps the key figure in the founding of the CIA drug money laundering bank NUGAN)HAND in Australia, had coffee with Sir Peter Ables the night of his first day in Australia. … “
NO OBJECTIONS SEEN IN NEWS CORP.’S HERITAGE BID
New York Times
August 9, 1997
“The antitrust division of the Justice Department has decided against raising objections to the News Corporation’s $1.3 billion deal to buy the Dallas-based Heritage Media Corporation, the companies said yesterday. With that hurdle crossed, Heritage Media plans to hold a special shareholders meeting on Monday to consider the proposed merger. The News Corporation is controlled by Rupert Murdoch and among its most prominent holdings are the Fox television network, 20th Century Fox studios, and major newspapers in Australia and in Britain. Heritage owns 6 television stations, 24 radio stations and also operates electronic coupon-dispensing machines inside about 40,000 stores. News Corporation has agreed to sell Heritage’s TV and radio stations to the Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group for $630 million, but that deal is contingent upon approval of News Corporation’s purchase of Heritage. … “
Normal Price: $250.00
Our Sales Price: $195.00
(You Save: 22%)
RUPERT MURDOCH AND THE NEWS CORPORATION
News Corporation (abbreviated to News Corp) (NYSE: NWS, NYSE: NWSa, ASX: NWS, LSE: NCRA) is one of the world’s largest Media conglomerates. Its chief executive officer is Rupert Murdoch.
News Corporation is a public company listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the Australian Stock Exchange and as a secondary listing on the London Stock Exchange. Formerly incorporated in Adelaide, Australia, the company was re-incorporated in the United States state of Delaware after a majority of shareholders approved the move on November 12, 2004.
News Corporation’s headquarters is at 1211 Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Ave.), in New York City, in the newer 1960s-1970s corridor of the Rockefeller Center complex.
Revenue for the year ended June 30, 2005 was US$23.859 billion. …
MEDIA CONSOLIDATION: LIBERTY MEDIA CORP., LIKE HERITAGE COMMUNICATIONS, IS A TCI SUBSIDIARY, AND OWNS A PIECE OF MURDOCH’S NEWS CORPORATION. (SEE “LIBERTY MEDIA’S JOHN MALONE BUYS 18 PERCENT OF NEWS CORP.,” BELOW.)
“Liberty Media Corporation is a holding company that owns interests in a broad range of electronic retailing, media, communications and entertainment businesses. Those interests are attributed to two tracking stock groups: Liberty Interactive, which includes Liberty Media’s interests in QVC, Provide Commerce, BUYSEASONS, IAC/InterActiveCorp and Expedia, and Liberty Capital, which includes all of Liberty Media’s assets that are not attributed to Liberty Interactive, including Liberty Media’s interests in Starz Entertainment and NEWS CORPORATION. …”
INCESTUOUS PARTNERS: TCI/NEWS CORP.’S JOHN MALONE IS INVESTMENT PARTNER OF JIM COWNIE’S IN PRAIRIE INET:
” … In addition to UtiliCorp Communications Services (UCS), other investors in Prairie iNet include Gateway Computers co-founder Norman Waitt, Jr.; Liberty Satellite and Technology, a publicly held subsidiary of JOHN MALONE’s Liberty Media Group; the New York City investment banking firm of Allen & Company; Las Vegas Sun Newspaper publisher Brian Greenspun; the Megunticook Fund of Boston, Massachusetts; Denver-based real estate investor Bruce Deifik; the commodity trading firm FCStone of West Des Moines, Iowa; CoBank and Janco Partners of Denver; and Des Moines, Iowa, businessman JAMES S. COWNIE. … “
THE CHARMLESS TCI/CAPCOM/BCCI SCANDAL*
THE BCCI AFFAIR – EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
1. BCCI CONSTITUTED INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL CRIME ON A MASSIVE AND GLOBAL SCALE.
… BCCI’s commodities affiliate, Capcom, based in Chicago, London and Cairo, was principally staffed by former BCCI bankers, capitalized by BCCI and BCCI customers, and owned by BCCI, BCCI shareholders, and front-men. Capcom employed many of the same practices as BCCI, especially the use of nominees and front companies to disguise ownership and the movement of money. Four U.S. citizens — none of whom had any experience or expertise in the commodities markets — played important and varied roles as Capcom front men in the United States.
While investigation information concerning Capcom is incomplete, its activities appear to have included misappropriation of BCCI assets; the laundering of billions of dollars from the Middle East to the US and other parts of the world; and the siphoning of assets from BCCI to create a safe haven for them outside of the official BCCI empire.
Capcom’s majority shareholders, Kamal Adham and A.R. Khalil, were both former senior Saudi government officials and successively acted as Saudi Arabia’s principal liaisons to the Central Intelligence Agency during the 1970’s and 1980’s.
Its U.S. front men included Robert Magness, the CEO of the largest U.S. cable telecommunications company, TCI; a vice-President of TCI, Larry Romrell; and two other Americans, Kerry Fox and Robert Powell, with long-standing business interests in the Middle East. Magness, Romrell and Fox received loans from BCCI for real estate ventures in the U.S., and Magness and Romrell discussed numerous business ventures between BCCI and TCI, some of which involved the possible purchase of U.S. telecommunications stock and substantial lending by BCCI.
[See appendix for more on BCCI and TCI*]
“Time Warner, one of whose major shareholders is TCI, controls Warner Brothers and Warner Brothers Animated film distributors. It owns cable franchises with almost 12 million subscribers; Cinemax and HBO cable networks; HBO Direct Broadcast; and has partial control of Comedy Central, CNN/SI, E, and the Sega channel. It controls Time-Life Video, HBO Home Video, and the Warner Home Video companies; and also owns Turner Home Entertainment, Domestic Home Video, and Turner Home Satellite. It owns over 20 magazines including Time, Fortune, Life, Sports Illustrated, and People; and such publishing houses as Sunset Books, Little, Brown & Co., Time-Life Books, Turner Publishing, and the Book-of-the Month Club. Among its program facilities are World Championship Wrestling, New Line Cinema, Turner Entertainment, and Turner Pictures. Its cable operations also include the TBS Superstation, Turner Classic Movies, TNT, the Cartoon Network; and through its ownership of CNN, it controls CNNfn, Headline News, CNN Radio, the CNN Airport Network, and CNN International.”
WHO SPINS ‘PARANOID” CONSPIRACY THEORIES? – TCI & THE ORIGIN OF DISINFORMATION.COM
” … Disinformation was designed to be the search service of choice for individuals looking for information on current affairs, politics, new science and the ‘hidden information,’ that seldom seems to slip through the cracks of the corporate-owned media conglomerates. Ironically, it was funded by one of the largest media companies in the world (TeleCommunications, Inc. (TCI), now part of AT&T), who paid for placement on Netscape’s then ubiquitous search page. … “
COWNIE’S HERITAGE COMMUNICATIONS IS 100% OWNED BY TCI:
Why is TCI so Powerful?
“TCI will generate more cash flow this year than all three major networks combined.33 It now controls directly or indirectly nearly one out of every four subscribers in the US.34
“It has acquired numerous systems over the past fifteen years and now commands over 11 million subscribers.35 These are subscribers of systems wholly owned by TCI and systems in which it has significant ownership positions. For example, TCI owns 45.9 percent of United Cable (1.2 million subscribers), 100 percent of HERITAGE COMMUNICATIONS (over 1 million subscribers), 63.5 percent of United Artists Cable (803,615 subscribers), 57
percent of West-Marc Communications (340,000 subscribers), as well as portions of many other cable MSOs. … “
July 2006 Archives
Wed Jul 19, 2006
Ever heard of Hoak Media? No? Me neither. Not till this morning, anyway. It’s a Dallas-based broadcasting company that, according to its Web site, acquires and operates TV and radio stations in “small and medium-sized markets…that rank 75 to 200,” as ranked by the A.C. Nielsen Company. Hoak Media, which offices out of the Crescent Court, is named for its chairman, Jim Hoak, whose bio is impressive: legal assistant to a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission in the late ’60s; co-founder and CEO of Heritage Communications Inc. in the early ’70s, before it grew into one of the 20 largest cable television providers in the country. Sold HCI to Tele-Communications Inc. for $1.5 billion in 1987. Started Heritage Media Corp. after that.
Sold that to RUPERT MURDOCH’s NewsCorporation for $1.4 billion in 1997.
Started Crown Media Inc., a cable television company that partnered with Hallmark Cards Inc. in 1991. It was sold in 1995. Serves as a director of three public companies: PanAmSat Corporation, Pier 1 Imports Inc., and Texas Industries Inc. Started Hoak Media in 2003. Now owns seven network affiliates in such markets as Wichita Falls; Grand Junction, Colorado; and Hastings, Nebraska. Only Dallas Morning News reference I can find to a Jim Hoak is the chairman of Hockaday’s board of trustees. Really, when did I miss all this?
Anyway, says here the man bought three television stations and their affiliates in North Dakota and South Dakota: KVLY-TV of Fargo and KFYR-TV of Bismarck, both NBC affiliates, and KSFY-TV of Sioux Falls, which is an ABC affiliate. Doesn’t say for how much. The deal has to be approved by the FCC; it will be. Seriously, who the hell is Jim Hoak? – Robert Wilonsky
HOAK, JAMES – DALLAS, TX 75201 – HOAK MEDIA CORPORATION/CHAIRMAN FRIENDS OF JOE LIEBERMAN – $1,000 – LIEBERMAN, JOSEPH I (D) Senate – CT – 10/23/06
HOAK, JAMES – DALLAS , TX 75201 – HOAK MEDIA CORPORATION/CHAIRMAN OF MARTINEZ, MEL (R) Senate – FL – $500 – MARTINEZ FOR SENATE – 10/25/04
LIBERTY MEDIA’S JOHN MALONE BUYS 18 PERCENT OF NEWS CORP.
News Corp. Shareholders Express Dissent
NEW YORK, Oct. 21, 2005
(AP) In a show of dissent against Rupert Murdoch, shareholders of News Corp. withheld as much as 15 percent of their vote to re-elect four directors at the media conglomerate’s annual meeting Friday to protest the company’s failure to consult them on a takeover defense measure.
Even though the directors were still re-elected by a large majority, the fact that some shareholders withheld their support indicated a significant level of dissatisfaction with the company’s handling of the “poison pill” plan, analysts said.
The company reversed itself on a pledge to seek a shareholder vote on extending a takeover defense plan that was put in place last year after JOHN, a powerful media investor who is a longtime friend and occasional rival of Murdoch’s, unexpectedly accumulated a large block of voting shares in the company. Malone’s block stands at about 18 PERCENT, versus the 30 percent held by Chief Executive Murdoch. …
“You Just have to be opportunistic.” – John Malone
A Conversation with John Malone (Ken Auletta Interview)
” … John Malone’s Liberty Media owns a piece of five of the six largest media companies in the world. And he’s also, by the way, the holder of the largest number of cable systems in all of Europe. … “
Sponsored by: The Newhouse School at Syracuse University, The New Yorker, Cushman & Wakefield, UBS Warburg, and Booz Allen Hamilton
Last fall, when News Corporation owner Rupert Murdoch joined the board of directors at the Cato Institute, the announcement went unreported in major media. Perhaps it seemed routine for one of the world’s most powerful media moguls to take a leadership post at one of the most influential think tanks in Washington.
At future meetings, Murdoch can count on rubbing elbows with his fellow media titan, John C. Malone – president and CEO of Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI), the largest U.S. cable operator – who has been on the Cato board since 1995. The two men are well acquainted, and their companies have long been intertwined in media deals involving satellite television, cable TV, program distribution and other big telecommunications ventures. Now the heads of both firms are formally helping to run a think tank which boasts that it has “actively promoted the deregulation of the television and telephone industries.”
In recent years, the Cato Institute has neared the top tier of think tanks in the United States—on Capitol Hill and in the nation’s news media. In the 1996 book No Mercy: How Conservative Think Tanks and Foundations Changed America’s Social Agenda, Jean Stefancic and Richard Delgado write that the Cato Institute “played a key role in forming the ideas and policies of the new Republican majority in Congress.” These days, “congressional committee chairmen increasingly look to Cato scholars for testimony.”
FAIR’s search of major newspaper and broadcast media in the Nexis computer database found that Cato was one of four think tanks with more than 1,000 citations in 1995 and again in 1996 (see Extra!, 7–8/97). The Brookings Institution and Heritage Foundation were in a virtual tie for first place; Cato followed closely behind third-place American Enterprise Institute.
By the time the Cato Institute celebrated its 20th anniversary at a Washington Hilton bash with 2,000 guests last spring, the Washington Post (5/2/97) was declaring that “Cato is now the hot policy shop.” The Post quoted one of the enthusiastic guests, ABC News correspondent John Stossel: “I have no official political affiliation, but I sure seem to be agreeing with them on a lot of things.” (A year earlier, Stossel had been the keynote speaker at a Cato “City Seminar” in New York.) For corporations eager to stoke the pro-privatization and anti-regulation fervor of the Cato Institute, it’s clearly a good investment.
Broadcasters like Murdoch benefit greatly from federal giveaways. Holding frequency licenses worth fortunes, they’re now receiving free slices of a digital spectrum valued at up to $70 billion. Likewise, cable TV conglomerates—with Malone’s TCI in the lead—continue to expand under the protection of federal regulations that place severe limits on the power of municipalities to charge franchise fees for the use of public rights-of-way. While lauding the “free market,” Murdoch and Malone rely on the federal government’s aid in their quest for media monopolization. The contradiction doesn’t seem to bother the Cato Institute at all.
While it has criticized “corporate welfare,” Cato is much more intent on eliminating government programs for the poor. (See p. 22.) The annual report for 1996 trumpets a statement by Cato’s director of health and welfare studies, Michael Tanner, that “welfare has failed and cannot be reformed. It is time to end it. In its place, the civil society would rely on a reinvigorated network of private charity.”
One of Cato’s luminaries is José Piñera, co-chair of its Project on Social Security Privatization. According to Cato’s latest annual report, “the project’s work was cited by nearly every major newspaper in the United States, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal.” The report says that Piñera, a former minister of labor and welfare in Chile, “oversaw the privatization of Chile’s pension system in the early 1980s”– but does not mention that at the time the Chilean government was under the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Cato’s concern about intrusive government evidently does not extend to torture and murder.
In terms of commitment to human rights, Cato has found a kindred spirit in Rupert Murdoch, who is fond of floating lofty rhetoric about his Star TV satellite network. “Satellite broadcasting makes it possible for information-hungry residents of many closed societies to bypass state-controlled television,” said Murdoch, who touted new media technology as a “threat to totalitarian regimes everywhere.” But Murdoch quickly kowtowed to China’s totalitarian regime when Beijing objected to Star TV transmissions of BBC News reports about Chinese human rights abuses. In 1994, Murdoch’s network dropped the BBC from its broadcasts to Asia. “The BBC was driving them nuts,” Murdoch said (New Yorker, 11/13/95). “It’s not worth it.”
Announcing that Murdoch had joined its board, a Cato news release (9/22/97) praised him as “a strong advocate of the free market” and quoted his stirring words: “I start from a simple principle: In every area of economic activity in which competition is attainable, it is much to be preferred to monopoly.” (This from someone with 70 percent penetration of the newspaper market in Australia.)
Smoking hired guns
Murdoch sits on the board of directors of Philip Morris, the tobacco giant recently inducted into INFACT’s Hall of Shame “for exerting undue influence over public policy-making” with the help of 240 registered federal and state lobbyists—spending as much as $2 million per month to lobby federal officials. Murdoch publications such as TV Guide reap enormous profits from cigarette ads. And Murdoch’s Fox Broadcasting is cozy with Philip Morris subsidiary Miller Brewing Co., which recently boosted its advertising account with Fox to about $75 million per year for sports and primetime programs (Advertising Age, 6/16/97).
But Murdoch is just one of many Cato links to Big Tobacco. Although news reporting and media commentaries often include the Cato Institute’s assessments of tobacco-related issues, Cato’s direct ties to tobacco rarely get mentioned. For years, the list of Cato’s large contributors has included Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds.
As it happens, Cato is a fierce tiger when it comes to advocating for oppressed tobacco firms. Last summer, a Cato “Policy Analysis” by senior fellow Robert A. Levy denounced state lawsuits against tobacco companies to recover Medicaid costs for treating people with smoking-related diseases. He claimed that anti-tobacco politicians were “willing to deny due process to a single industry selected for its deep pockets and public image rather than its legal culpability.”
A month later, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee (7/16/97), Levy sounded a similar theme, calling a proposed tobacco settlement “a shameful document, extorted by public officials who have perverted the rule of law to tap the deep pockets of a feckless and friendless industry.” For good measure, Levy excoriated newly proposed restrictions on tobacco advertising as “draconian.” And he went ballistic over the idea that tobacco firms should provide funds for the health care of children without insurance: “To hold a single industry financially liable is no more than a bald transfer of wealth from a disfavored to a favored group.”
Such pronouncements from the lips of tobacco company lawyers are likely to be taken with outsized grains of salt by the public. But Levy has consistently received respectful media coverage—without reference to the links between the tobacco industry he defends and the think tank that employs him.
So, in a news article that appeared a week before Levy testified on Capitol Hill, the Chicago Tribune (7/10/97) devoted several paragraphs to Levy’s views, quoting his claims that federal efforts to regulate tobacco have been counterproductive. The article identified the Cato Institute only as “a libertarian think tank in the capital”—though it could have just as accurately been described as an advocacy group paid by the tobacco industry.
The next month, when the San Diego Union-Tribune published a 1,100-word op-ed article by Levy under the headline “Rule of Law Is a Loser in Tobacco War” (8/31/97), the identifying blurb mentioned Levy’s post at Cato—but not Cato’s relationship with tobacco companies. In that piece, Levy (“a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute”) lambasted “an $11 billion settlement of Florida’s war against the tobacco industry.” He called the settlement “shameful” because “it strips a currently unfashionable industry of basic protections the rest of us take for granted.” Ten days later, in USA Today (9/10/97), Levy surfaced again as a concerned legal scholar writing an opinion piece that decried the persecution of tobacco firms and blasted “our pervasive regulatory state.”
Major media outlets have routinely turned a blind eye to the corporate financial backing for Cato and other large think tanks in Washington. Few reporters or pundits focus on the conflicts of interest involved.
A report by Public Citizen illuminated the industry money behind the major think tanks campaigning to strip regulatory authority from the Food and Drug Administration: “Seven think tanks—the American Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foun-dation, the Hudson Institute, the Progress and Freedom Foundation and the Washington Legal Foundation–received at least $3.5 million between 1992 and 1995 from drug, medical device, biotechnology and tobacco manufacturers and their corporate foundations.” But mainstream journalists paid scant attention to who was paying the piper. “Some of the country’s most renowned think tanks, frequently cited by the American media, are carrying water for the drug, medical device, biotechnology and tobacco industries,” the public interest group reported (Public Citizen, Fall/96).
Not all media outlets have given short shrift to those realities. Under the headline “FDA’s Detractors Get Funny Funding,” the Tennessean newspaper editorialized (7/29/96): “The think tanks named in the report, including the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, have produced a steady stream of anti-FDA sentiment, including op-ed pieces and reports over the last several years.” The newspaper noted “a tremendous difference between an independent think tank, which does legitimate research, and a quasi-academic mouthpiece financed by a regulated industry.”
Clearly, the Cato Institute falls in the latter category. The Institute’s yearly funding has climbed above $8 million, more than twice what it was in 1992. The organization’s most recent annual report exults: “We’ve moved into a beautiful new $13.7 million headquarters at 1000 Massachusetts Avenue and have only $1 million in debt remaining on it as we enter 1997.” Dozens of huge corporations, eager to roll back government regulatory powers, are among Cato’s largest donors.
In their book No Mercy, University of Colorado Law School scholars Stefancic and Delgado describe a shift in Cato’s patron base over the years. Cato’s main philanthropic backing has come from the right-wing Koch, Lambe and Sarah Scaife foundations. But today, Cato “receives most of its financial support from entrepreneurs, securities and commodities traders, and corporations such as oil and gas companies, Federal Express, and Philip Morris that abhor government regulation.”
Financial firms now kicking in big checks to Cato include American Express, Chase Manhattan Bank, Chemical Bank, Citicorp/Citibank, Commonwealth Fund, Prudential Securities and Salomon Brothers. Energy conglomerates include: Chevron Companies, Exxon Company, Shell Oil Company and Tenneco Gas, as well as the American Petroleum Institute, Amoco Foundation and Atlantic Richfield Foundation. Cato’s pharmaceutical donors include Eli Lilly & Company, Merck & Company and Pfizer, Inc.
Friends in the Media
While serving on Cato’s board and making personal donations, TCI’s John Malone is among many other media and telecommunications heavies behind Cato. Big donors include Bell Atlantic Network Services, BellSouth Corporation, Digital Equipment Corporation, GTE Corporation, Microsoft Corp- oration, Netscape Communications Corporation, NYNEX Corporation, Sun Microsystems and Viacom Interna-tional. It’s understandable that Cato’s news releases—while constantly urging privatization of the Internet and other communications systems—do not mention where Cato money is coming from. But it’s inexcusable that media coverage seldom includes such information.
Even when Malone makes a public appearance for the Cato Institute, reporters seem uninclined to shed light on the array of corporate funding that makes Cato possible. When Malone spoke on “Telecommunications in the 21st Century” at a Cato seminar luncheon in Denver, a pair of articles in the next day’s Denver Post (11/15/96) gave extensive coverage to Malone’s comments–and identified Cato only as “a libertarian think tank.”
Cato’s newest board member, Rupert Murdoch, is a global media giant whose U.S. possessions include the Fox television network, TV Guide, the tabloid New York Post, HarperCollins book publishers and the Twentieth Century Fox movie studios. Along the way, lax federal regulation has swelled the profits of Murdoch’s News Corp., now a $28 billion conglomerate. As a 1997 New York Times article noted (3/31/97), his 10-year-old Fox TV network “could never have succeeded if it had not received generous treatment at the Federal Communications Commission.”
Naturally, turning such big governmental wheels requires lots of political grease. In 1996, Murdoch donated $1 million to the California Republican Party, while News Corp. gave another $654,700 in “soft money” to the national GOP. In Murdoch’s native Australia, News Corp. dominates the mass media. In Britain, Murdoch controls more than a third of daily newspaper circulation along with much of cable and satellite television. While using his media outlets to push for the slashing of government social services, Murdoch was a pioneer in union-busting within the newspaper industry.
Murdoch is likely to have a long and harmonious presence on the Cato Institute’s board of directors.
“MELBOURNE, Fla., Aug. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Heritage Communications Corporation (HCC) announced today it has formed a joint venture called “MundoTel” with two of its Guatemala partners: Confiansa and LA-MA sa. The MundoTel joint venture was formed to provide competitively priced, enhanced telephony services to the Guatemala market. … “
Jim Cownie Contribution to Iowa Republican Party:
Mr. James S. Cownie – 10000.00
West Des Moines, IA 50266-8223
141 37th Street
Campaign contribution to GW Bush from J. Cownie’s wife Patty:
MRS. PATRICIA H COWNIE, HOMEMAKER – $2,000
141 37TH StDES MOINES, IA 50312
Heritage Communications…………………………….. $6,500 PAC
The Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 effectively deregulated the cable television industry and set the stage for an intense period of consolidation and acquisition among marginal cable operators, much to TCI’s benefit. Buffalo, Dallas, and Miami were added to the TCI fold. Through its District Cablevision system, TCI provided the first cable television service to the White House.
The next major expansion of the company occurred toward the end of 1986, when TCI acquired a controlling interest in United Artists Communications after a three-year courtship. Principally engaged in the construction, acquisition, ownership, and operation of motion picture theaters but also owner of the eleventh largest cable television system in the U.S., United Artists provided TCI with access to one of the nation’s largest theatrical exhibition circuits and to 23 cable systems serving 750,000 basic programming subscribers. Two years later, United Artists and the United Cable Television Corporation, a 49-system organization serving 17 states, became wholly-owned subsidiaries of a new company, United Artists Entertainment Company, a majority of which was owned by TCI.
Since 1985, Malone has spent more than $3 billion acquiring interests in more than 150 cable companies, representing three million subscribers. In 1987, TCI entered into a merger with Heritage Communications, a cable operator based in Des Moines, Iowa, with a similar reputation for independence, managerial aggressiveness, and risk-taking.
Heritage was formed in 1971 by two long-time, hometown friends, James Hoak Jr. and James Cownie. They had virtually no experience in operating a cable television system but were encouraged by the support of Hoak’s father, the founder of a local construction materials company. Hoak and Cownie launched a bid for the Des Moines cable television franchise under the name Hawkeye Cablevision. Hawkeye suffered a temporary setback when the Des Moines City Council recommended awarding the contract to a rival applicant. Iowa law required an election to officially award the franchise, however, and Hoak and Cownie blitzed the media with the rallying cry, “Des Moines has its own experts,” winning the election by a landslide.
The victory was short-lived. A lack of original programming to attract subscribers, combined with technical problems, including two natural disasters–a tornado destroyed the plant and a lightning storm interrupted service on launch night–severely damaged whatever interest and loyalty the company had developed.
Desperate but not defeated, Hoak and Cownie persevered. They were quick learners, and by the early 1980s, they had renamed their company Heritage and expanded its influence beyond Iowa’s borders, concentrating in farm belt and oil patch areas where reception, rather than programming, was the key to winning contracts. As a result, Heritage, like TCI, was relatively unaffected by the problems of other operators who had oversold and overstated their services to obtain urban franchises.
In 1985 the company entered the big-city market when it spent $110 million for Warner-Amex’s failing Dallas franchise, a system plagued by unreliable service and low customer demand. Convinced that its operations prowess would turn the franchise around, Heritage invested another $50 million in a back-to-basics approach–replacing equipment and making other technical improvements, increasing customer service training, and improving programming–in an attempt to increase the number of subscribers and restore consumer confidence in the concept of cable television.
Heritage then made two other major deals: the $43 million purchase of 51% of Gill Industries, in San Jose, and the $630 million purchase of Rollins Communications. The Rollins deal, in particular, expanded Heritage TV holdings from five to 11 stations in areas outside the economically depressed Midwest and prompted diversification into radio and outdoor advertising. Soon TCI was interested in taking over Heritage, which it did in 1987, adding 500,000 subscribers to its stable.
Video – The Rise of Cable
… In 1983, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. quietly acquired 7% of Warner Communications in several trades on the open market. Murdoch claimed no hostile intentions, but Warner president Steve Ross was not convinced and looked for a white knight. To protect itself from being taken over, Warner swapped 20% of its stock with Chris-Craft, the ex-boat manufacturer turned television station holding company.
The owner of Chris-Craft [A CIA FRONT, see Psychic Dictatorship in the USA,
by Alex Constantine – AC note] was Herb Siegel. The fact that Chris-Craft owned television stations implied that Warner, as owner of Chris-Craft stock, also owned television stations. FCC rules prohibited any foreign entity from owning more than 20% of a television or radio station. Murdoch was an Australian citizen.
Although keeping Warner away from Murdoch was very important to Ross, life with Chris-Craft was hardly pleasant. Siegel and Ross were at constant odds. Siegel personally owned more stock than Ross, and on more than one occasion threatened to call a shareholder vote for a new slate of directors.
Both Ross and Siegel recognized the benefit of owning cable, but American Express was not as convinced. Amex was willing to accept a joint bid from TCI and Time for its half of Warner-Amex Cable. Ross was ready to invoke Warner’s first right of refusal and match the bid, but Siegel refused to let the company increase its debt.
The solution would be costly in the long run for Warner. To raise the $440 million to buy back the Amex half of cable, Ross was forced to sell two-thirds of MTV and 19% of both Showtime and The Movie Channel to Viacon for $1.1 billion. But since Amex owned half of those networks, it exited cable with $990 million in cash.
Shortly after TCI failed to acquire the Amex cable properties, Malone formed a partnership to make the largest cable acquisition in the industry’s history. TCI put up about one-third of the $1.7 billion offer for Group W Cable and its 630,000 subscribers. The other partners were Time, Comcast, Daniels & Associates and Century Communications.
A year later, TCI would add 700,000 subscribers through the acquisition of United Artists Communications. Very little of the $1.3 billion paid was in cash, which left Malone with enough leverage to acquire HERITAGE COMMUNICATIONS and its one million subscribers for another $1.3 billion.
In 1985, Malone had lost out in the bidding for Storer Cable to Kohlberg, Kravit Roberts. KKR borrowed $2.5 billion to buy the 1.5 million Storer subscribers. Three years later, Malone would team up with Comcast to assume that debt and pay more than $1.5 billion cash. After closing, TCI was more than twice as large as its nearest competitor, Time, Inc.
While Malone borrowed billions to buy systems, Ted Turner surprisingly raised $5.4 billion to make a bid in 1985 for CBS, the Tiffany Network. Junk bond financier Ivan Boesky had acquired a stake approaching 15% in the network and had essentially put it into play. Drexel Burnham arranged the financing for Turner, but there was no chance that the likes of Dan Rather or Mike Wallace would ever work for Ted Turner. Potential investigation by 60 Minutes may have influenced Drexel Burnham to pull out, but CBS eventually found a white knight in the Loews Corporation and its owner Laurence Tisch ….
Crown Media Holdings, Inc.
6430 S. Fiddlers Green Circle, Suite 500
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
Telephone: (303) 220-7990
Toll Free: 800-820-7990
Fax: (303) 220-7660
Public Subsidiary of Hallmark Entertainment, Inc.
Incorporated: 1991 as Crown Media Inc.
Sales: $66.8 million (2000)
Stock Exchanges: NASDAQ
Ticker Symbol: CRWN
NAIC: 512120 Motion Picture and Video Distribution; 513210 Cable Networks; 513220 Cable and Other Program Distribution
Crown Media Holdings, Inc. owns and operates pay television channels dedicated to high quality, broad appeal, entertainment programming. The company currently operates and distributes the Hallmark Channel in the U.S. and the Hallmark Channel in more than 100 international markets. The combined channels have more than 73 million subscribers worldwide.
Our channels benefit from a long-term program agreement with a subsidiary of Hallmark Entertainment, Inc., our parent company. These program agreements generally provide exclusive pay television access to Hallmark Entertainment, Inc.’s first-run presentations and extensive library of original made-for-television movies and miniseries. Hallmark Entertainment, Inc.’s library consists of more than 4,000 hours of programming, including eight of the 10 most highly rated made-for-television movies for the 1993 through 1999 television seasons, based on A.C. Nielsen ratings. Programs contained in the library have won more than 110 Emmy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, and Peabody Awards.
1991: Crown Media Inc. is formed by Hallmark Cards to acquire cable television systems and programming ventures.
1994: Cable systems owned by Crown Media Inc. are sold to Charter Communications and Marcus Cable; Hallmark Cards acquires RHI Entertainment Inc. and forms Hallmark Entertainment, Inc.
1995: Hallmark Entertainment, Inc. establishes Hallmark Entertainment Network, Inc. and launches its first pay television channel.
1998: Hallmark Entertainment Network acquires a 22.5 percent interest in Odyssey Holdings, the operator of the Odyssey Network.
2000: Hallmark Entertainment, Inc. creates Crown Media Holdings as a public subsidiary.
2001: The Odyssey Network is rebranded and relaunched as the Hallmark Channel.
THE FORMER PRESIDENT OF SPAIN?
NEWS CORPORATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS
K. Rupert Murdoch
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
José María Aznar
FAES – Foundation for Social Studies and Analysis
Former President of Spain
Wit of the Staircase – Theresa Duncan on Jim Cownie and Heritage Foudation/Heritage Communications
Cownie is a major Republican donor with ties to the Midwest’s Heritage Groups, founded by the ultraconservative Adolph Coors with money from his brainchild The Heritage Foundation. Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Heritage Foundation’s support for the Nicaraguan contras and Angola’s Savimbi proved extremely influential with the United States government, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council and other governmental agencies. The Heritage Foundation presented its case for armed support for these movements, and United States support soon followed.
According to this website at media transparency.org, “among other Heritage efforts have been the publications Beware of the Union Label, The Case for Plant Closures, Upsetting the Balance of U.S. Labor Law: The Striker Replacement Bill and In Praise of Corporate Radiers: Junking Three Fallacies About Hostile Takeovers.
The site further reports: “The U.S. labor movement is a particular target for Heritage. Ronald Reagan’s first appointment to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was Robert Hunter, a conservative activist who wrote the chapter on the Labor Department for the foundation’s ‘Mandate for Leadership.’ In that paper, Hunter called for increasing the use of NLRB injunctions against unions, gutting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and drastically cutting the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
Mr. Cownie is such an admirer of the Heritage Foundation’s political program that he apparently went so far as to name the company from which his mysterious fortune emanates “Heritage Communications.” Despite Mr. Cownie’s funding of Anna Gaskell’s Des Moines Museum vanity project and his keen interest in Mr. Wit’s Winchester Series, he and now most of the younger male members of his family are professionally devoted to using Homeland Security pork to overturn decades of social progress and subverting values that the art coummunity struggles to represent and uphold. For example, author Russ Bellant states in his book The Coors Connection that The Heritage Groups “will continue to be a key element in the phalanx of rightist groups with an agenda of austerity for the poor, hostility to minorities and women, upward distribution of wealth for the rich, economic domination of the Third World, with repression and bloodletting for those who rebel.”
In addition to his business bona fides, Cownie also has a more colorful side behind the cryptic Bruce Wayneian businessman front. According to Mr. Wit of the Staircase, aka artist Jeremy Blake, (who briefly dated Ms. Gaskell for a year or so as an undergrad in art school and who as such was more than once a personal guest of Mr. Cownie’s in the early 1990s) Jim Cownie has an oddly vast collection of firearms–an entire out building devoted to them in fact. Mr. Cownie also had a Hummer in 1992, way before they were a common sight. Then there were the mobster “friends” in Las Vegas who comped Mr. Wit and Ms. Gaskell with an eye roll and a groan when they mentioned Cownie’s name at the front desk, as he had instructed them to do. In addition to the Gaskell orphans, Cownie has four or five children of his own. The oldest male Cownie child, then a teenager, even bragged to Mr. Wit during one visit “My Dad’s going to get me in the CIA!”
Once the harassment of The Wits began, these disparate old Anna Gaskell anecdotes, which up to the late summer of 2006 had been completely unknown to me, began to suddenly bob up in Mr. Wit’s memory. Mr. Wit’s recollection was further jarred after we repeatedly witnessed Ms. Gaskell’s brother Zach mysteriously pacing in front of our Venice California home. Then there were the many cars with Iowa license plates following us around Los Angeles at the time. (We took photos of these, naturally.) Mr. Wit during this time also suddenly remembered that busy Cownie often travelled to South Dakota to attend some of the Midwest’s more unsavory biker rallies. But I guess being friends with ex-con bikers and Vegas mobsters doesn’t necessarily point to somebody who would, like, hire thugs to harass, threaten or–wow–maybe even kill people.
Much of the harassment of me and Mr. Wit was also conducted by the Church Of Scientology in L. A., who Cownie also no doubt also “does business with.” U.S. Intelligence “black ops” and “psyops” have long relied on (or just outright invented) religious cults (including the Manson Family–Charles Manson received 150 hours of in-prison Scientology “auditing”), biker gangs, and the like in Federal Counterintelligence prorgrams in order to disrupt the counterculture since the 1960s. Read more about the CIA and cults here and couch jumping, Katie kidnapping mind controlled movie star Tom Crusie’s meeting with Scooter Libby and State Department head Richard Armitage here.
While this ongoing illegal harassment of Wit using Federal employees (or their “cut-out” counterparts) and Federal funding (your Homeland Security tax dollars at work!) is meant to deprive us of work and our livelihoods and even sanity, the harassment also has a curious sexual focus on Wit that mirrors this J. Edgar Hoover campaign against Black Panther organizer and actress Jean Seberg.
Like the Federal “Cointelpro” campaign that deliberately drove Seberg to suicide, the smear campaign against Wit and Mr. Wit uses as its basis pre-existing, completely invented smears started by married art professor Ralph Rugoff and his student girlfriend Hilary Chartrand in order to cover up their 2000 affair while both worked at the California College of Arts And Crafts. This is something that sharp-eyed Wit accidentally discovered during one particularly dreary art dinner in November of that year. Hilary Chartrand is friends with Anna Gaskell, who is also known for carrying on affairs with her married professors in order to have access to ethics-challenged art world log rollers like NY Times critic Roberta Smith and her husband Jerry Saltz. (See article below.)
To add the final dessert topping to this apocalyptic art world sundae, Mr. Wit says that normally dour Cownie frequently made jokes about child molestation as a “training” tool. This wouldn’t be so fucking spooky, friends of the Staircase, if Des Moines wasn’t the land of the Project Monarch/U.S. Intelligence rumored disappearance of Johnny Gosch and the odd resemblance of poor little Johnny to Bush White House gay hooker-psychological operative Jeff Gannon.
Anyway, Ms. Gaskell and I don’t seem to have much in common besides her very brief intersection with the life of Jeremy Blake, a period about which Mr. Wit says “She was so dumb, so arrogant and so mysteriously smug. She really thought she had some sort of advantage in every situation. I could never, ever figure out where that came from, because it sure wasn’t coming from anything she did. But I guess now I know.”)
This is a pretty ugly set of circumstances, and a weirder true tale than even Wit usually presents. But, as usual from what I hear, Ms. Gaskell has gotten somebody else to do the work of articulating and then cleaning up her mental messes for her. If you’re reading this, Anna, here’s some free advice: Stop accepting payoffs from Cownie immediately, get your younger brothers away from him, get a lawyer using only your own money, and have the lawyer get Cownie to answer a few questions about your mother and father.
If I were you, I’d even take a job in a factory in order to do it.
JIM COWNIE AND FRANKLIN RITUAL CHILD ABUSE COVER-UP
Doug Adams said: “Mr. and Mrs. Wit were not crazy. In fact they were pretty damn smart. A little too smart.
“Just a bit of ‘Des Moines’ digging in documents unavailable over the internet will show you that ‘The Trouble with Anna Gaskell’ is that her legal guardian, JIM COWNIE, was eyeballed by the SENATE committee overseeing the investigation into the FRANKLIN COVER UP.
“And Mrs. Wit made the connection.
“It would appear that Anna Gaskell is a butterfly bought and sold.”
” … Cownie became the legal guardian of New York-based artist Gaskell and her siblings following the early deaths of her parents (her father was Cownie’s business partner). While an undergraduate she dated Jeremy Blake for about a year. It was during that time that Blake got to know Cownie as well. … “
THE ART OF ANNA GASKELL – From the Guggenheim catalogue:
“Anna Gaskell crafts foreboding photographic tableaux of pre-adolescent girls that reference children’s games, literature, and psychology…. In untitled #9 of the wonder series, a wet bar of soap has been dragged along a wooden floor. In untitled #17 it appears again, forced into a girl’s mouth, with no explanation of how or why. This suspension of time and causality lends Gaskell’s images a remarkable ambiguity that she uses to evoke a vivid and dreamlike world.
“Gaskell’s girls do not represent individuals, but act out the contradictions and desires of a single psyche. While their unity is suggested by their identical clothing, the mysterious and often cruel rituals they act out upon each other may be metaphors for disorientation and mental illness. In wonder and override, the character collectively evoked is Alice, perhaps lost in the Wonderland of her own mind, unable to determine whether the bizarre things happening to her are real or the result of her imagination…. Gaskell addresses this psychologically loaded subject matter with images of girls wandering in a gothic mansion illuminated by candlelight. Here the psyche in question has been fractured and fraught with terror by a perverse father’s look, a voyeuristic gaze.” …
Ron Rosenbaum: “According to sources I checked with in the New York City Police Department and the City Medical Examiner’s Office, the death of Theresa Duncan which has been almost without exception called ‘a suicide’ in the local papers has NOT YET BEEN OFFICIALLY RULED A SUICIDE. … “
[Those accustomed to allowing their opinions to be shaped by vicious psychological operations in the media – appealing to the worst in human nature (envy, herd instincts, sadism, etc.) – are unaware that the press has smeared Theresa Duncan, a slanted post-mortem assault on her character … based on psychological projection. – AC]
She observed in her blog pre-mortem that it isn’t the first time:
Theresa’s “paranoia?”: “Wit and Mr. Wit have experienced theft, intimidation, illegal wiretapping, a 1950s-style SMEAR campaign based on utter psychological projection, damage to our property, verbal and physical harassment and death threats from New York ‘artist’ Anna Gaskell’s murderous Midwestern thug [Cownie] family for years”:
Link: The Wit of the Staircase: The Trouble With Anna Gaskell.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Some confirmation of Theresa’s statement from Rigorous Intuition AND the LA Weekly article by Kate Coe caught in the act of slanting the story to depict Theresa as a mentally ill paranoiac:
“… Duncan felt that artist Anna Gaskell, who briefly had dated Blake a 13 years or so ago, was in a family controlled by just such a ‘Monarch’ [CIA mind control program]. Gaskell and her siblings were given to Jim Cownie in guardianship after their mother died, following some years after the mysterious death of their father. Duncan implied, but did not state outright…that Gaskell was a victim of Monarch style abuse by Cownie. For some reason, Coe’s article doesn’t touch on that. … “
Look what one member of the Gaskell family DOES DO:
“Remember the Johnny Gosch [kidnapped by satansists] story by Des Moines journalist Tim Schmitt published in the alternative weekly Pointblank, and how Pointblank went out of business the same day? Pointblank’s founder and editor was Jon Gaskell, Anna’s younger brother, who was immediately handed the job of editing its replacement, Cityview, while Schmitt, who had been Pointblank’s managing editor, was fired. Gaskell has apparently since claimed that the Gosch story was an ‘April Fool’s joke,’ allegedly intended to whip ‘conspiracy theorists into a lathered frenzy.’ (From a Gaskell email: ‘It was an April Fool’s prank. Those are some pretty strange people.’)
JON GASKELL STARTS AN ALTERNATIVE NEWSPAPER
New Alt-Weekly Debuts in Des Moines
By John Dicker and Amanda Pierre
July 30, 2002
… On June 26, the first issue of Pointblank hit the streets of Iowa’s capital. From the back, Pointblank looks exactly like Cityview. They have the same square format and identical revenue-producing advertisements. But the guts of the papers are a different story.
Pointblank is helmed by three former Cityview staffers, most notably Publisher and Executive Editor Jon Gaskell, who resigned as Cityview’s editor last November. …
Gaskell walked out of Cityview in November 2001, refusing to work under Wagner, who was new to the paper. Wagner, who has more than 20 years of newspaper experience, was also in charge when Schmitt and Kabel were fired in March. Since Wagner arrived at the publication, there has been 100 percent turnover of the four-person Cityview editorial staff.
Gaskell, who has a master’s in media studies and journalism from Drake University, at first went on to do an on-line Des Moines alternative weekly called Pointblank. …
Gaskell is the recipient of a trust account set up by his late father. His father, a prominent Des Moines stock-broker, died of a heart attack when Gaskell was 20. His mother was killed in a car accident when he was 11. He and his two brothers and sister, renowned artist and photographer Anna Gaskell, split the property of the elder Jon Gaskell.
Gaskell worked at small local papers and wrote a book before getting a job at Cityview. He also has a creative writing degree from Lake Forest College in Illinois. …
FOR BACKGROUND ON SATANISM AND RITUAL ABUSE censored by the “mainstream” media, SEE:
“Satanism and Ritual Abuse – Case-by-Case Documentation”
A BLOGGER’S FEAR THAT THERESA DUNCAN AND JEREMY BLAKE WOULD DIE AFTER “DISSING” JIM COWNIE:
” … When I saw the entry on Anna Gaskell and her spook dad Jim Cownie posted on the May 13, 2007 Wit, I immediately feared that Theresa and Jeremy’s lives were in danger. That they might be ‘disappeared.’ That the people they were dissing, and their assorted CIA compadres, would not allow the challenge to go unanswered. All reports indicate a double suicide, first Theresa and then Jeremy. But I wonder…. “
 Posted by: guest | July 21, 2007 8:54 PM
“SUICIDE DUO’S FALL FROM ARTIST ELITE TO MANIC BELIEVERS IN A ‘SATANIC PLOT,’ NEW YORK POST, August 5, 2007, by CHRIS LEE, CATHY BURKE and LARRY CELONAON.
This site has vanished from the Net, uncachéd:
franklinfiles.org – The Pedophocracy, Part V: It Couldn’t Happen Here
Had he been, there is no telling where the investigation might have led; his wife had once run … Who is Jim Cownie? by Pablo. July 27, 2007, 12:38:34 PM …
Come to find that Coe – who has shaped public opinion on the case, found flaws in Theresa Duncan’s character – has adopted a few Nazi beliefs herself:
Gabriel, Don’t Blind Me With Your Charisma
“Kate Coe says that when her chef husband worked at a restaurant in Santa Monica, food got sent back all the time [because of all the picky Jews]. When he moved to a restaurant in South Pasadena, that almost never happened.
“[Kate writes: ‘Oh, Luke, I’M THE ANTI-SEMITE in my household. My husband thought the sending back was due to the insidious influence of show-biz, not Judism. He’d never say anything mean about anyone–that’s why he married me.’]”
More CIA-Media Smears of Theresa Duncan & “Conspiracy Theorists” on the Way” – Alex Constantine
Now the CIA’s Anderson Cooper is getting into the act … to kill “paranoid” Theresa Duncan all over again, and turn the public off to those attention-getting “conspiracy theories” involving the CIA and cults, the CIA and the media, mind control, political murders, 9/11, and so on.
For background on Cooper, see “Anderson Cooper’s CIA Secret”:
a Fox TV producer, with credits on “A Current Affair,” another CIA Mockingbird franchise, and Jackie Collins Presents (?) From her resumé:
Producer A Current Affair FOX
Producer Jackie Collins Presents
Coe is a CIA propagandist. Her job is to discredit anyone targeted by the Agency, ala Chavez. So she smeared Duncan for writing about mind control and the CIA:
01 August 2007
“The wit of the suicide: Did Theresa Duncan lie about her B.A.?
“Turns out Theresa Duncan, who committed suicide in New York a few weeks ago and was followed into the afterlife by her boyfriend Jeremy Blake in the utterly Shakespearean method of death-by-ocean, was totally paranoid and a compulsive liar, as laid out by Kate Coe in the LA Weekly.”
“Kate Coe gets jump on artist suicide mystery”
“Paranoia. Lies. Dark pasts. Strange rants. The [Coe] article paints a very personal, surprising picture of the couple (Kate knew Duncan) and could very well be the outline for a book.”
Kate Coe published the Duncan “suicide” story in the liberal LA Weekly, but she is a right-winger – with Mockingbird friends who work for other CIA franchises, like National Review, which has recieved generous Agency funding since the magazine was launched by the CIA’s William Buckley in the 1950s:
LA Press Club Party With Sandra Tsing Loh
“… Kate Coe, who incorrectly ‘corrected’ me on two different sites about the word gauauauauntlet, introduces herself, expressing the possibility that I could have hit her (I never hit women unless they hit first). She seems nice, though I can’t quite get her to admit I was right. She mentions that she knows a girl who might be right for me — said girl’s major qualities are that she’s RIGHT WING and a drug addict, apparently. Why this would suit me, I have no idea.”
producer at PBS
researcher/writer at TIME-LIFE BOOKS
This is a blogger who fell for Coe’s perception management piece. The public has gotten in the habit of loathing the victims of the CIA. Mockingbirds leave you loving the fascists and despising their enemies. Duncan did have enemies, and now the public has been programmed to disparage her alone.
Coe runs a blog for women:
Kate Coe is frequently described by friends as enchantingly witty, delightfully acerbic, and never unintentionally rude. … Educated at an Ivy League university, which rather regrets that fact …
Kate Coe writes about her past:
” I have a great love of archival film as well as stills and artwork, and know all the ins and outs of film research, clip clearance, and securing of rights and have worked closely with many Legal Affairs departments. . … “
I, Videogame (Discovery) Clearance 2006
El Cantante (film) Clearance 2006
California Connected (KCET) Clearance 2006
Let’s All Discover (Discovery) Clearance 2006
Sunday Driver–Clearance 2005
SNL—The First Five (NBC) Footage consultant
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (Trio/BBC) Footage consultant
Ice-TV (HB) Footage consultant
The Chameleon (HBO) Footage consultant
This was a Mockingbird operation:
October 21, 2005, 8:29 a.m.
Wither Public TV?
“I helped organize and moderate a series of panels about public television last weekend in Los Angeles for the American Cinema Foundation, with sponsorship by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The CPB, which funds public television and radio programming, is otherwise known (at least here on the Left Coast) as ‘Those Evil Republicans Who Are Trying To Move Big Bird to the Right.’ …
“On my panels, screenwriter/director Lionel Chetwynd said that PBS generally reflects a ‘leftwing European perspective’ — that is, anti-Israel — except for six weeks each year during fundraising, and then it’s ‘Jews are great.”…
Give To HBO, Not PBS?
From: Kate Coe
RE: Public Broadcasting: How Much Do You Care? (TV Board, 06/20)
Why should PBS get a subsidy from taxpayers to keep producing mediocre programming? I’d rather give my money to HBO. When PBS produces “The Sopranos” or “Six Feet Under,” then we can talk …
RE: KATE COE’S FRIEND, THE LATE CATHY SEIPP, WAS ANOTHER CIA MOCKINGBIRD (NATIONAL REVIEW):
National Review Online
PBS does indeed like old people, but I wonder if that’s always such an excellent thing. I decided to correct this a bit on my own when my daughter was small and we watched so much Sesame Street that I felt I really should donate something. But I also felt that as a single mother, I was far poorer than their average elderly viewer; yet they offered a senior citizen’s discount but not an impoverished single mother one. So I checked off that I was a senior citizen and sent in my donation (getting the free program guide) under that cheaper rate. I got cruise-ship brochures in the mail for years.
“I’m horrified that Mel Stuart basically wants PBS to continue so he can sell his work,” Kate Coe, a producer who’s worked for public and commercial TV, e-mailed me about the PBS panels. “Why not just have the Feds write him a check? Why do all these geezers think they’re entitled to a life-time career at public expense? I can’t believe how many of these guys (and they’re all guys) think PBS should continue because they can sell shows.”
Cathy Seipp, 49, Noted Columnist and Blogger, Dies
By DENNIS HEVESI
Cathy Seipp, a columnist and blogger who became widely known for poking fun at the liberal leanings popularly associated with her hometown, Los Angeles, died there on Wednesday. She was 49 and lived in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles.
The cause was lung cancer, said her daughter, Maia Lazar.
Ms. Seipp was widely read on her blog, “Cathy’s World,” which she started in 2003; in a weekly column for National Review Online called “From the Left Coast,” and in a monthly column for the conservative online magazine Independent Women’s Forum.
She also wrote for Mediaweek and Salon and made guest appearances on Dennis Miller’s talk show on CNBC.
Her favorite targets included political correctness, global warming, same-sex marriage, abortion and gun control — and the Hollywood luminaries who espoused those causes.
“She would laugh about being to the right of Attila the Hun,” Kate Coe, a blogger at Mediabistro.com, said yesterday, “but she wasn’t really that doctrinaire.” …
KATE COE TAKES AIM AT A “CONSPIRACY THEORIST”
Any public sympathy for Duncan is history now.
Coe knows her work. Leave the impression that the victim was mentally ill and deserved to die.
A smear job always follows CIA murders, and the smear always dwells on unsavory characteristics of the victim’s personality. We have to keep hearing about John Kennedy’s philandering, for instance. And Saddam Hussein had it coming when he lost his head (the CIA didn’t give him a list of political enemies to kill? The CIA didn’t arm him? The CIA didn’t make him vice-president and further his fascist career?), because he was a vicious killer (the CIA isn’t?).
Theresa Duncan had faults. Human. Any one of us could be murdered for political reasons – and made by Kate Coe to appear deserving of it for lying on our resumés, as Theresa Duncan admitted that she did, according to Coe.
This is one more cynical thought control piece intended to program public opinion concerning allegations made by Duncan – and possibly the cause of her death – who was very concerned about mind control – and that’s what you get with the Coe story, mind control, a typical piece of Mockingbird droppings. I imagine that 90 percent of Ms. Coe’s readers will end up loathing Theresa Duncan, and that’s the idea.
If there is no sympathy for her, no one will take her allegations concerning the CIA, Heritage Foundation or mind control seriously.
Anti-Semitic, anti-liberal Kate Coe from Fox News Corp. is dominating and manipulating coverage of Theresa’s death to turn it against blogging “conspiracy theorists”:
“Stories about the recent suicide deaths of writer Theresa Duncan (Tylenol and alcohol) and then her boyfriend Jeremy Blake (walking into the sea like Sterling Hayden did in The Long Goodbye) are all over the place. L.A. Fishbowl’s KATE COE has an L.A. Weekly story in this week’s issue, Chris Lee has an 8.3 story about the tragic duo in the L.A. Times, and Lee says in an online chat with Coe that Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, New York magazine and CNN’s ANDERSON COOPER are also preparing reports.”
A. Constantine Notes on the Duncan family and the FBI
Los Angeles Times’ Chris Lee returns …. Heavy emphasis is placed on Theresa’s “paranoia,” as reflected in the headline: “The world as Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan saw it – Friends sift through the clues left behind by a glittering ‘It’ couple who had wrapped themselves in a cocoon of paranoia.”
We keep hearing of the phantom Scientologists, but other very credible allegations made by Duncan are written out of the epitaph.
There is no trace of “paranoia” in blog statements preceding her death: “This would be regrettable, but of no personal consequence to The Wit Of The Staircase if it had not been for the extremely coordinated and professional physical and psychological harassment Mr. Wit Of The Staircase (Jeremy Blake) and I underwent subsequent to Mr. Wit creating an artwork entitled Winchester, a video trilogy based on the violence and guilt in the life of gun-company heiress Sarah Winchester … ”
The entry does not ring with “paranoia”: “The harassment Mr. Wit and I are still enduring featured as its centerpiece an FBI file I earned as an undergrad in Detroit for protesting the plant closings there and doing other labor organizing.”
Is this one of her “paranoid conspiracy theories?” There are books written by reputable scholars detailing this sort of activity. It’s not exactly a face-on-Mars delusion …
“I also wrote several eloquent articles for Wayne State University’s student newspaper demanding a Federal investigation into the Iran-Contra cover up when I was a freshman.”
The FBI must have opened a file on Duncan at this time, per Bureau policy. She was obviously a “person of interest”: “Wit’s [Duncan’s] family has generations of working class factory workers on my father’s side, and generations of academic specialists in radical political movements on my mother’s side.”
We’ll have to to file an FOIA request on that …
Duncan: “My mother, who currently works at Wayne State University and has a PhD in political science that is focused on Black Panther and other radical movements in the Midwest, also recently received harassing phone calls, as did my younger brother.”
Question: Are Theresa’s mother and brother also “paranoid” conspiracy theorists? The FBI murdered 29 Black Panthers in cold blood – or am I subscribing to “looney” theories for stating this fact. On the Net there is a post in which I debate neo-con David Horowitz into a corner on this historical fact. But to any interest vested in suppressing progressive politics, FBI murders are “crazy conspiracy theory.”
Theresa Duncan wasn’t crazy. She was a typical enemy of the state – smarter than the average programmed prole. And she knew all about Operation Mockingbird and CIA mind control and cults – this makes her my student. I’m not a “conspiracy theorist,” either, although the ignorant describe me in these condescending terms. I am, in fact, about ten years ahead of the pack, so the pack scratches its head and wonders what I’m about. So it was with Theresa Duncan.
She wrote about Operation Mockingbird – CIA control of the media. THAT didn’t turn up in Chris Lee’s smear job, either.
The crazy mind cotrolled types are in the pressroom, those who do the intelligence underground’s bidding. You know, the Gestapo … who do the killing (see archive) …
Was there a reason the FBI would be interested in Theresa Duncan’s mother, who was receiving hang-up calls at the time her daughter died – or was that Theresa’s famous “paranoia?” I was unable to download the entire dissertation on the Black Panthers written by Mary Duncan, but this is an abstract.
Mary Duncan examines the language of Black Liberation – a struggle that has seen the FBI and other sectors of the intelligence underground MURDERING every legitimate and uncompromised leader who comes along – and white discrimination – to find that the master-slave relationship is still embedded in American culture:
The language of liberation: Emory Douglas and the art of the Black Panther Party (2004)
There is a myth in America of a homogeneous citizenry with shared ideals and a common understanding of the dominant white political language. In fact there is a multiplicity of voices and historical narratives among American subgroups. The field of semiotics has provided a model to better understand how political and cultural messages are communicated through the various mediums of popular culture. In this essay I will examine the visual language of symbols and images that go essentially unrecognized and unexamined in political research, a language that affects everyday perceptions of political reality. It is within the context of the use of symbols and images in meaning production that I will explore the incommensurability in political understanding between the dominant white idiom and the black language of liberation that is based in a common history and the experience of slavery and discrimination.
Publisher Digital Commons@Wayne State University
Repository Digital Commons@Wayne State University (United States)
Keywords AMERICAN STUDIES (0323), POLITICAL SCIENCE, GENERAL (0615)
THE “SUICIDE” OF THERESA DUNCAN CAME AT AN OPPORTUNE TIME FOR MURDOCH – THE NEW YORK TIMES HAD, A COUPLE OF WEEKS BEFORE HER BODY WAS FOUND, LAUNCHED AN INVESTIGATION INTO MURDOCH’S GLOBAL BUSINESS DEALINGS – AND HE’D JUST SEEN ANOTHER MEDIA MAGNATE, CONRAD BLACK, FALL FROM OLYMPUS:
Times Undertakes Multi-Bureau Rupert Murdoch Investigation
by Michael Calderone
New York Observer
June 25, 2007.
The New York Times is currently undertaking a major news investigation, led by managing editor Jill Abramson, into News Corp.’s business dealings throughout the world, according to a source with knowledge of the project.
Currently, Ms. Abramson is working outside of the newsroom, recovering from injuries sustained during a traffic accident last month.
But, as she told The Observer in an e-mail on May 26, executive editor Bill Keller has kept her quite busy.
“Bill has asked me to lead an investigative project for the next month, which I’ll mainly do from home,” Ms. Abramson wrote at the time. “It involves a group of domestic and foreign reporters, but I obviously can’t tell you what it is.”
Well, the group includes one obvious choice: media reporter Richard Siklos, who authored Shades of Black, the 1995 biography of disgraced press baron Conrad Black.
Although Mr. Siklos is currently covering the Black trial in Chicago, he’s also been busy reporting on Mr. Black’s fellow media mogul, Rupert Murdoch: He has had nine bylined pieces, including a 3,300-word cover story in the Sunday Business section, since News Corp.’s bid for Dow Jones was announced on May 1.
The investigative project also includes, according to a source at The Times, investigative editor Matt Purdy and reporters Jo Becker (in New York), Jane Perlez (in London) and Joseph Kahn (in Beijing).
Mr. Purdy did not confirm there was an investigative project underway, and referred this reporter’s questions to Ms. Abramson—who declined to comment. Mr. Siklos also declined to comment. Ms. Becker did not return calls seeking comment. Ms. Perlez and Mr. Kahn could not be reached at press time.
A News Corp. spokesperson confirmed that they knew of The Times’ investigative project, but declined to comment.
RE: MURDOCH, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL BUY-OUT, CIA, LIBBY LEAK CASE & THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION
Theresa Duncan died in the amid Murdoch’s widely-reported takeover of the Wall Street Journal …
Another good reason why Rupert Murdoch should not get Dow Jones
by margieburns on Wed 27 Jun 2007
… Dow Jones engages in other activities besides publishing.
For example: in the past two years’ worth of motions filed by attorneys back and forth in the CIA leak case, specifically in Judith Miller and Matt Cooper’s unsuccessful efforts to quash a subpoena, several of those motions have been filed by Dow Jones.
Dow Jones, you see, has filed several times as an amicus curiae – “friend of the court” – asking the courts to unseal parts of the court record in the Miller and Cooper matters that remain sealed because they contain classified material.
The short story here is that every time Dow Jones files a motion to unseal classified material, Americans have to pay for the process. With Rupert Murdoch’s news empire, reportedly worth $68B, behind these efforts, there will be deeper pockets than ever to bleed the taxpayers.
Here’s how the process works: the high-dollar amici – friends of the court – file their motion to unseal, opposed by several government agencies including the CIA. Then the prosecution team has to file a motion in response to the pleading, taking time away from other government prosecutions. To date, the prosecution has responded by offering to unseal some further parts of the record but not those still unrevealed publicly, and the courts have acceded. Then judges have to rule on the motions, which as said have so far been partly granted and partly turned down by the courts.
All of this takes place in courts and using court personnel provided by the taxpayers, and in the name of the public’s right to know – somewhat ironically, looking at the WSJ editorial page. Indeed, one wonders why that zeal to inform the public didn’t turn up back in 2002 and early 2003, when the White House was boosting mythical Iraq WMD, mythical Iraqi complicity in 9/11, and a mythical partnership between Saddam and Islamist partisans.
In any case, with the politics of Rupert Murdoch behind these efforts – he of Fox News – they are unlikely to lighten up.
The timing of the amici filings in the Miller and Cooper matters already suggests that political considerations have been part of the mix. When then-New York Times reporter Miller and Time Magazine reporter Cooper were subpoenaed by the Special Counsel in the CIA leak case and lost their round in federal District Court (Judge Hogan), they appealed their subpoenas in the appellate court in Washington, D.C. The appeals court turned them down on February 15, 2005, with some parts of the court’s ruling classified.
Dow Jones filed to release classified parts of the ruling in the subpoena case on November 2, 2005 – more than nine months after the court’s ruling, but only five days after the October 28, 2005, indictment of Scooter Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice. In other words, the sequence suggests that Dow Jones’ amicus brief was impelled less by the classification of some parts of the subpoena ruling than by progress in the CIA leak case.
Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald responded that a redacted version of the court’s ruling should be unsealed, and the appeals court ordered the redacted version published on February 6, 2006.
Dow Jones again filed an amicus motion to unseal the remaining sealed parts of the ruling, on December 6, 2006 – ten months after the court’s ruling, but shortly before the January 16, 2007, beginning of jury selection in the trial of Lewis Scooter Libby.
Again the amicus filing looks more like a response to developments in the CIA leak case – the Libby trial – than to three appellate judges’ classifying part of their ruling. In fact, it looks as though Dow Jones felt an interest in overloading the prosecution as much as possible during the Libby proceeding; basically the amicus filings to unseal – all destined to lose – chronologically paralleled flurries of motions by the Libby defense team.
The second motion to unseal by Dow Jones, this time joined by the Associate Press, was denied by the court on February 9, 2007. Obviously the prosecution had to respond to the motion to unseal while working on the Libby trial. Dow Jones then renewed its motion to unseal on March 7, 2007 – the day after Libby was convicted on four of five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements, and while appeals were being prepared by the Libby defense team and responded to by the government.
The government responded to the renewed motion, again offering part disclosure and part redaction, on March 22; Dow Jones and the AP filed a reply to the government motion on March 30 and a supplemental memorandum on June 1, 2007 (all three most recent Dow Jones amicus briefs for some reason dated 2006 rather than 2007, though the Certificate of Service gets it right); and the government filed a sealed motion on June 19, 2007. There has been no ruling yet on the most recent filings.
The even shorter story here is that Dow Jones’ legal actions seem to have fallen quietly in line with the interests of its editorial page, while publicly professing alignment with the interests of its reporters.
Let’s just hope all this wasn’t part of what attracted Murdoch to Dow Jones in the first place. Worse, let’s hope that this process wasn’t concocted or designed to make Dow Jones attractive to Murdoch in the first place.
While all this behind-the-scenes maneuvering has gone on, rightwing ‘noise machine’ outlets, including Murdoch’s media, have complained in print and on air about the time and expense consumed in these legal actions – without ever quite getting around to telling the public how much of that drain on the polity has been caused by their own little white-collar goon squads.
James S. Cownie – Recent Political Contributions:
DES MOINES,IA 50312
Republican Party of Iowa
DES MOINES,IA 50312
Republican Party of Iowa
DES MOINES,IA 50312
THE MACERICH COMPANY/CHAIRMAN
Natl Assn Real Estate Investment Trusts
DES MOINES,IA 50312
DES MOINES,IA 50312
DES MOINES,IA 50312
DES MOINES,IA 50312
Republican Party of Iowa
DES MOINES,IA 50312
DES MOINES,IA 50312
SELF/REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT
DES MOINES,IA 50312
DES MOINES,IA 50312
COWNIE, JAMES S
DES MOINES,IA 50312
SELF/REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT
COWNIE, JAMES S
DES MOINES,IA 50312
SELF/REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT
Robert V. Johnson has been employed as the chief financial officer of the Company since 1987. Prior to his position with the Company, Mr. Johnson was the corporate controller for Heritage Communications, Inc. a publicly traded cable television company. Mr. Johnson is a member of Financial Executives International, the Iowa Society of CPAs, and the American Institute of CPAs.
Heritage Media Corp.
“Jim Hoak co-founded Heritage Media Corporation in 1987, purchasing the radio and television properties of Heritage Communications, Inc., where he served as Chairman.”
Heritage Communications and Mind Control
James M. Hoak, Jr. – Chr, Heritage Communications
FCStone Group, Inc.
Amendment No. 3 to the
… Robert V. Johnson has been employed as our Chief Financial Officer since 1987. Mr. Johnson previously was the corporate controller for Heritage Communications, Inc. a publicly-traded cable television company. …
DAVID OMAN OF BLACKHAWK BROADCASTING/CHILD INSTITUTE
David Oman’s professional work includes government, business, and media experience – coupled with extensive volunteer leadership and a strong commitment to family. He is presently Chief Administrator of the Iowa CHILD Institute, which is creating a 21st century environmental/education facility in the Iowa City area.
David is a native of Cedar Falls and a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa. He served as an anchorman and sports reporter at KWWL-TV in Waterloo from 1972-74.
David was Press Secretary to former Governor Robert Ray and later became his Chief of Staff – a position he also held during Governor Terry Branstad’s first term. He is the only person to have served as Chief of Staff for two Iowa governors.
After leaving state government, David was an executive in the cable television industry from 1985 to 2001 with HERITAGE Communications and its successor companies – TCI and AT&T Broadband. In the early 90’s he was also an owner of radio station KBBM-FM in Winterset, Iowa’s first all-news radio station.
David was elected Co-Chair of the Iowa Republican Party in 1985 and re-elected in ’87, ’89 and ’91. He was a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor of Iowa in 1998. David served as Chairman of the Governor Vilsack’s bipartisan Strategic Planning Council, which produced a blueprint for Iowa’s growth out to the year 2010. He co-chaired the Mayor’s Task Force on Consolidation for the City of Des Moines and Polk County during 2001. …
MEREDITH COMMUNICATIONS & HERITAGE
THE MEDIA BUSINESS
September 5, 1991
Cable Plans For Meredith
The Meredith Corporation, which publishes magazines that include The Ladies’ Home Journal and Better Homes and Gardens, announced today that it would invest $100 million in a partnership to buy cable television companies.
The partnership will be managed by New Heritage Associates, a group of former executives at Heritage Communications Inc., a cable television company in Des Moines that was sold to Tele-Communications Inc. of Denver in 1987. New Heritage will contribute $4 million to the venture.
The partnership will soon announce the purchase of its first system, a 22,000-customer company in the Midwest, said Dave Lundquist, vice chairman of New Heritage. He said that Meredith’s investment, and $200 million to $300 million in borrowed money, would be used to buy cable companies that will serve a total of about 150,000 customers. That number would make the partnership at least the 50th-largest cable system in the country.
Meredith, which has about 2,600 employees, reported income of $83.1 million in the fiscal year that ended on June 30, compared with a loss of $26.4 million the year before.
COWNIE, HOAK & MACERICH CO. [investments]
The Macerich Company (NYSE: MAC)
401 Wilshire Boulevard Suite 700
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Phone: (310) 394-6000
Fax: (310) 393-6834
The Macerich Company, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a fully integrated self-managed and self-administered real estate investment trust, which focuses on the acquisition, leasing, management and redevelopment of regional malls and community centers throughout the United States. The. More
The Macerich Company (NYSE: MAC)
President and Chief Executive Officer
New Heritage Associates
President In Charge of Cable Television Operations
Heritage Communications , Inc.
Macerich SEC FIle:
James S. Cownie: Cownie has served as a director since 1989. For the past five years he has been self-employed as an investor. Previously, Mr. Cownie was President and Chief Executive Officer of New Heritage Associates (an operator of cable television systems) and President in charge of cable television operations of Heritage Communications, Inc.
Cownie currently serves as a director of The Macerich Company.
James M. Hoak: Hoak has served as Chairman of Hoak Media, LLC (a television broadcaster) since its formation in August 2003. He also has served as Chairman and a Principal of Hoak Capital Corporation (a private equity investment firm) since September 1991. He served as Chairman of Heritage Media Corporation (a broadcasting and marketing services firm) from its inception in August 1987 to its sale in August 1997. From February 1991 to January 1995, he served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Crown Media, Inc. (a cable television company). From 1971 to 1987, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Communications, Inc. (a diversified cable television and communications company), and as its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer from August 1987 to December 1990. He is also a Director of Chaparral Steel Company, Inc. (non-executive Chairman) and Pier 1 Imports, Inc. …
MACERICH’S COPPOLA TESTIFIES ON NEED FOR PERMANENT, PUBLIC-PRIVATE TERRORISM INSURANCE PROGRAM
Washington, D.C. – President and CEO of The Macerich Company Arthur M. Coppola, chairman of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts®, called on Congress today to establish a long-term, public-private terrorism risk insurance partnership.
Testifying on behalf of the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism (CIAT) before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Coppolaemphasized CIAT’s principles for modernizing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA). CIAT believes the Federal role should focus most heavily on what the private markets have been unwilling or unable to do: enabling policyholders to purchase insurance for the most catastrophic conventional terrorism risks; ensuring adequate capacity in high risk, urban areas; and providing meaningful insurance for nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological (NBCR) risks. A permanent program should also seek over
time to reduce the Federal role in conventional terrorism markets and maximize long-term private capacity by facilitating entry of new capital.
Coppola said that CIAT stands ready to assist Congress in introducing and passing a bill that will extend TRIA permanently and improve it to keep the economy running smoothly in the face of the ongoing threat of terrorist attacks.
Coppola’s complete testimony is included on the following pages. Some of the key points from his testimony were:
• “Without terrorism insurance, the nation’s economic infrastructure is totally exposed to large-scale business disruptions after an attack, and to a retarded recovery from the damage that is caused by the attack.”
• “Primary insurers remain largely averse to exposing themselves to potentially catastrophic terrorism losses without adequate reinsurance, and the current private reinsurance market provides only a fraction of the capacity needed.” …
* KERRY INVESTIGATION OF THE BCCI SCANDAL AND TCI
In the entire BCCI affair, perhaps no entity is more mysterious and yet more central to BCCI’s collapse and criminality than Capcom, a London and Chicago based commodities futures firm which operated between 1984 and 1988. Capcom is vital to understanding BCCI because BCCI’s top management and most important Saudi shareholders were involved with the firm. Moreover, Capcom moved huge amounts of money — billions of dollars — which passed through the future’s markets in a largely anonymous fashion.
Capcom was created by the former head of BCCI’s Treasury Department, Ziauddin Ali Akbar, who capitalized it with funds from BCCI and BCCI customers. The company was staffed, primarily, by former BCCI bankers, many of whom had worked with Akbar in Oman and few of whom had any experience in the commodities markets. The major investors in the company were almost exclusively Saudi and were largely controlled by Sheik AR Khalil, the chief of Saudi intelligence. Additionally, the company employed many of the same practices as BCCI, especially the use of nominees and front companies to disguise ownership and the movement of money. Four Americans, Larry Romrell, Robert Magness, Kerry Fox and Robert Powell — none of whom had any experience or expertise in the commodities markets — played important and varied roles as frontmen.
While the Subcommittee has been able to piece together the history of Capcom and can point to many unusual and even criminal acts committed by the firm, it still has not been able to determine satisfactorily the reason Capcom was created and the purposes it served for the various parties connected to the BCCI scandal. It appears from the available evidence that Akbar, BCCI, and the Saudis all may have pursued different goals through Capcom, including:
• misappropriation of BCCI assets for personal enrichment.
• laundering billions of dollars from the Middle East to the US and other parts of the world.
• siphoning off assets from BCCI to create a safe haven for them outside of the official BCCI empire.
Conditions At BCCI Which Spawned Capcom
By early 1985, BCCI was on the verge of financial collapse as the result of losses in the commodities markets executed by the head of the bank’s Treasury Department, Mr. Z.A. Akbar.(1) Akbar, a young Pakistani and protege of Swaleh Naqvi, the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, had been plucked from his job at National Bank of Oman in 1981 to manage BCCI’s investments from its headquarters in London. Despite the fact that Akbar had no apparent experience in the commodities, foreign exchange or securities markets, by 1984 he was managing over $5.5 billion at BCCI Treasury.(2)
As Akbar invested heavily in the futures’ markets, losses at BCCI treasury began to mount. According to Masihur Rahman, BCCI’s former chief financial officer, Akbar made highly unusual investments based on unsound assumptions:
He [Akbar] was taking positions on silver and 20 year bonds, suggesting that 20 year bonds would be 7% or 6.8%, and things like that,, which anybody who understands treasury knows how deeply discounted it would be if you project that sort of thing for 20 years. And he was taking those sorts of positions for a premium.(3)
As the losses increased to staggering levels, Akbar created a maze of artificial accounting. According to a 1991 Price Waterhouse report, Akbar split the department’s functions into normal Treasury activities and ‘Number Two’ account activities” . . . outside the scope of external audit . . . in the name of private clients but for [BCCI]. . .”(4) The report explained that the “Number Two” accounts derived from:
“misappropriation of external funds deposited under trust with [BCCI] to be managed on behalf of a few prominent people who are also shareholders of Holdings, and maintaining a pool of funds in the private named accounts of A. R. Khalil which were used freely by Z. Akbar to fund adjustments. . .”(5)
In other words, Akbar inflated BCCI Treasury profits through the use of unrecorded deposits in the accounts of important BCCI “customers”, such as Khalil.
By 1985, Akbar’s treasury department had accumulated losses approaching $1 billion, leading to a near collapse of the bank.(6) Akbar and, presumably Naqvi, recognized that the off-balance sheet accounting in the “Number Two” accounts could no longer adequately hide the massive losses. Accordingly, “out-of-book” or unrecorded deposits were moved “out-of-bank” to a new financial entity — Capcom Financial Services, Ltd.
At Capcom, Akbar and Naqvi reasoned, the phony BCCI accounts could be further disguised and placed beyond the reach of bank auditors. In short, Capcom afforded BCCI a wider scope of options for the manipulation of accounts, the continuation of frauds and, perhaps, a last ditch attempt at fiscal recovery.
Creation of Capcom 1984-1985
On April 26, 1984 Akbar registered an obscure company named Hourcharm, Ltd, at his home address in London. On May 22, 1984, Hourcharm was renamed Capital Commodity Dealers, Ltd., and then in July, Capcom Financial Services. Capcom was funded with a capital of 1 million which during the first year was augmented to 10,00,000 pounds and then increased to 25,000,000 pounds (approximately $37,000,000).
Capcom commenced trading in London on September 17, 1984. According to the June 22, 1991 Price Waterhouse Report to the Bank of England, “Capcom … rapidly became one of the most significant of the brokers used by Treasury [BCCI].”(7) Indeed, within the first year customer accounts bulged to over 100,000,000 (approximately $160,000,000), inordinately large sums for a fledgling commodities brokerage company.(8) According to Masihur Rahman, “Capcom was given an official credit line” by BCCI.(9)
A 1991 documentary on BCCI, produced in London, featured Jehangir Masud, a former employee of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and Shahid Suleri, a former BCCI employee, commenting on the connections between Capcom and BCCI. Masud claimed, “the [BCCI] Treasury put huge volumes of business through generating large brokerage fees for Capcom.” Suleri recounted that Capcom allocated profits to their own account, losses to BCCI, using BCCI funds as margin deposits.(10) In testimony to the Subcommittee, Rahman concurred, noting that “many of the transactions that the bank was doing [were] being routed through Capcom, who obviously was scaling out the differentials ….and passing on the heavy losses and things to the bank.”(11)
Capcom operated as a broker in the London and Chicago commodities markets. Commodities markets should be distinguished from the stock markets, which are more or less “cash markets” designed for “direct investment.” As author Martin Mayer has explained, “you own what you buy and your success is a function of the success of the company in which you have purchased shares.”(12) According to Mayer, futures markets, in contrast to cash markets, do not offer the investor the “commodity that underlies the activity.” Mayer has written that futures investors:
“trade contracts to purchase or sell that commodity on a future date. The contract is inescapable. Those who purchase must stand ready to receive the commodity at a specified delivery point at this price on a specified date (or to buy an offsetting obligation from someone who has a contract to deliver to that point on that date, thus permitting the “clearing corporation” that serves the exchange to extinguish both contracts.) Those who sell futures contracts must stand ready to deliver the commodity to the delivery point for this price on the specified date (or buy in someone else’s contract to accept delivery.) As a result future’s markets are not situations where everyone can win.(13)
The commodities markets in the U.K. and the U.S. are not restricted, regulated or supervised as stringently as the banking industry or the securities markets.(14)
Moreover, the commodities markets can sustain almost limitless volume, a necessary prerequisite for crime on the scale of that contemplated by BCCI since fraudulent transactions may be hidden in a multitude of legitimate ones. In a letter to the directors, the Chairman of Capcom, Larry Romrell, reported that 165 million in trading during the first four months of operation, and profits of 883,393. That trend continued until 1988 leading Akbar to boast to agent Mazur: “We have contracted 165,000 contracts totalling $53 billion with Drexel Burnham,” and later, “we have done over $90 billion total in 1988.”(15)
While the number of contracts and dollar volume seems unbelievable, a commodities company can artificially create massive volume by many small or no-risk trading methods. Indeed, the volume generated by Capcom helped it to generate respectability and acceptance with reputable banks and brokers.(16) For example, listed under “Auditors and Advisers” in Capcom’s 1987 Annual Report were the following major international banks: Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company, London, National Westminster Bank Plc, Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company, New York, Deutsche Westminster Bank, A.G., and National Westminster Bank, plc. Elsewhere, Capcom noted its ties to Dean Witter Reynolds, American Express Bank, Refco, Prudential Bache Trading Corp., and Sumitomo Trust and Banking, Ltd.(17) Like BCCI, Capcom attempted to buy legitimacy to assist its rapid expansion.
Capcom’s expansion took it to the United States where it opened Capcom Futures in late 1984.(18) Mohammed Saghir, born in the same town in India as Abedi, and a former cohort of Akbar’s at the National Bank of Oman, was brought in to run the Chicago operations. The American Board of Directors mirrored that of London with Larry Romrell serving as the Chairman.
In testimony before the Subcommittee, Wendy Gramm, the Chairperson of the Commodities Futures Trading Association (CFTC) described the relationship between Capcom US and Capcom UK:
Capcom UK and Capcom US were intertwined. Both companies had common directors and shareholders. Capcom UK owned 82% of Capcom US from May 1985 until June 30, 1987.
BCCI Pulls Out
In July, 1985 the BCCI accounts were ostensibly withdrawn from Capcom, apparently on the advice of the firm’s auditors who counseled that the bank should not be engaged in the kind of speculation intrinsic to the commodities markets.(19) With all visible BCCI accounts closed, Chairman Larry Romrell observed in Capcom’s annual report: “The cessation of BCCI business obviously had an impact upon our volume.”(20)
However, according to the 1991 Price Waterhouse report, at the same time that BCCI withdrew from Capcom an amount of $68 million was paid by BCCI Treasury to Brenchase, Ltd, a subsidiary of Capcom, controlled by Akbar, raising the question of whether or not BCCI had really withdrawn from the firm.(21) Moreover, the Price Waterhouse report notes that, “…despite an apparent cessation of trading links with Capcom …two payments of $50 million were made to Capcom in March, 1986 out of external funds for which no liability for repayment was recorded.”(22) These and other comparable payments clearly suggest that Naqvi and Akbar continued to use Capcom to shield BCCI funds and perhaps to move money.
Moreover, as late as 1989 the client list for Capcom Futures, the US subsidiary of London-based Capcom Financial Services, consists of several apparent BCCI accounts in the names of BCCI employees controlled by Z.A. Akbar.
It is not clear why Naqvi and Akbar chose to maintain the public facade of a split between Capcom and BCCI. One possible explanation is that Naqvi and Akbar profited from BCCI losses both at BCCI treasury and later at Capcom. When Senator Kerry asked Mr. Rahman if Mr. Naqvi had profited from the BCCI losses, the former BCCI manager responded, “since only two, three people are involved …somebody has profited a lot.”(23)
Akbar and Capcom
In 1986, after the discovery of BCCI losses on cotton trading, Akbar left the BCCI Treasury to join Capcom. According to Masihur Rahman, Akbar “was released” from BCCI, taking “his company car and other benefits.”(24)
Upon moving to Capcom, Akbar formed Financial Advisory Services (FAS), an introducing broker, or marketing arm for Capcom. FAS was owned by Akbar’s Panamanian-registered, Liechtenstein operated nominee company, ZASK Trading and Investments, Ltd.
Akbar did not immediately become a Director of Capcom, sitting instead in the FAS offices which adjoined Capcom. Akbar explained to Mazur his reasons for not joining Capcom’s Board of Directors:
when I left the bank, BCCI people, they said ‘Mr. Akbar, for, for at least a couple of years you don’t go and sit in the office…it doesn’t look nice that you leave the bank…and establish your own company’… they said ‘please keep away’…(25)
But it was Akbar, nevertheless, who directed operations at Capcom. With the freedom of singular control over a vast pool of BCCI’s “out-of-book”, “Number Two” Treasury funds deposited at Capcom, Akbar manipulated to enrich himself. The Subcommittee has concluded that with Akbar at the helm, Capcom engaged in blackmail, bogus loans, “bucket shop” trading, use of nominee frontmen, artificial mirror-image trades, co-mingling of funds, money-laundering, theft, skimming of accounts, and kickbacks to insiders.
For example, Akbar arranged for kickbacks to Peniel Investments, a Liechtenstein-based, Panamanian-registered company that he owned. This arrangement, and others, specified commissions that he paid to himself of between $5.00 and $12.00 per contract on business he had introduced to Capcom, specifying “BCCI Overseas” as a qualifying account. In the months during which BCCI lost $430 million at Capcom, Akbar paid himself a total kickback of 4,671,579.86 (approximately $7,000,000).(26) It is not clear whether Naqvi and anyone else at BCCI knew about or participated in these kickback schemes. …
BCCI AND TCI
Documents provided to the Subcommittee also indicate that BCCI may have been a shareholder in TCI, the largest cable company in the United States.(50) All TCI shareholders were issued WTCI stock when the latter was spun-off from TCI as a separate company. The WTCI stock was then listed independently and was publicly traded on its own. In a letter to Akbar, Romrell wrote:
“I am enclosing an Information Statement which has just become available this morning covering the distribution to the TCI shareholders of all the outstanding shares of WTCI…the stock will be distributed by today by mail along with the enclosed Information Statement to all TCI shareholders…there is a possibility that the WTCI stock price will sell for a price upwards from $8.00. I still intend to buy for our accounts at the best possible price somewhere between $2 to $4.50. If you have any comments or require any additional information, please give me a call.”(51)
Six months later, Romrell wrote Akbar about an apparent agreement:
“I understand the WTCI stock will officially start trading at opening of business tomorrow, March 20. I want to confirm my understanding that I have established pursuant to my conversation with you a $100,000 credit line with which to purchase stock and, in addition, that you have authorized me to purchase stock in your behalf up to a $100,000 limit. The combined credit line would then be $200,000, except that I would reduce my credit line within 30 days from $100,000 to $85,000. If this is not your understanding or does not meet with your approval, please contact me immediately.(52)
Romrell has told the Subcommittee that, in fact, there was no agreement and no combined credit line. He acknowledged that the wording of the letter “did not sound good”.(53)
Perhaps the most provocative document suggests that Romrell was seeking a $200 million credit line from BCCI for TCI:
“…the TCI finance group that they are interested in obtaining a loan facility…I asked Bob Magness…he asked me to determine whether there would be any interest ion the part of BCCI…I believe the credit facility that TCI is looking for is around $200,000,000…as a separate matter, WTCI will soon be looking for approximately $50,000,000 to construct a new microwave route…there may be an opportunity to put this deal together with BCCI if you are interested.”(54)
According to TCI’s lawyers, the company has never had any relationship of any kind with BCCI:
[There is] no evidence that the TCI or the Related companies had any business dealings with Capcom, BCCI, or any currently identified related entity or person… (55)
Romrell, Magness and Capcom
During the period that Romrell is passing on WTCI information to Akbar, he is also contemplating an investment in Capcom: “Magness and I have discussed your proposal to invest in a U.S. brokerage firm in Chicago or New York and to participate in the ownership and operation to the mutual benefit of BCCI and ourselves.”(56) To entice the participation of Romrell and Magness in Capcom, Akbar represented to the Americans that the firm would earn a minimum of $4 million per year, and potentially as much as $10 to $15 million.(57)
Despite the fact that neither of them had any experience or expertise in the futures markets, Magness and Romrell agreed to become directors on May 27, 1984.(58) They also decided to make a financial investment in the firm. Magness, in a notarized statement dated May 12, 1992, explained to the Subcommittee:
“…I agreed to buy a 1 percent interest for approximately $15,000.”(59)
“I was not offered anything for my investment beyond the [above stated 1 percent] interest in Capcom. Nor was I offered anything as an inducement to become a member of Capcom’s board of directors.”(60)
However, Magness and Romrell also purchased a stake in Capcom with funds provided by BCCI. In a “Note for file” written November 9, 1984, Romrell scribbled:
“Bob and I” funded our share capital and loan stock as follows: “We agreed to fund $14,744(61)
and borrow $75,000 each from BCCI London…Balance of current amount due was funded from our Credit Lines at BCCI, London.”(62)
The Subcommittee has obtained documents which appear to show that, in fact there were other loans beyond those provided by BCCI. Magness and Romrell executed no-risk loans to purchase Capcom stock in a September 17, 1984 agreement with a Panamanian company secretly owned by Akbar, managed in Liechtenstein by a Dr. Franz Pucher. The company was named “Peniel Investments, Inc.”(63) Akbar provided Romrell and Magness with subordinated Loan Stock in the amounts of 330,000 (approximately $450,000) for Romrell and 69,300 (approximately $90,000) for Magness.(64) A very unusual aspect of the loans is that they were self-liquidating: funds paid into Romrell’s and Magness’ loan accounts from profits in their “managed investment” accounts would be used to pay down the loan principal. (65) In other words, these loans resembled the standard issue BCCI no-risk loans provided to those who acted as nominees for the bank.
Another set of documents dating some months later shows additional loans to Magness and Romrell from Paten Holdings, Inc., a different Panamanian company, operated out of Geneva by Mme. Cecile Ringenberg, and again, secretly owned by Akbar. (66)
Romrell has told the Subcommittee that “at the time I understood Paten Holdings to be a Swiss bank.”(67)
On May 23, 1985, the Capcom directors used Paten Holdings to increase the capital base in Capcom from L10,000,000 to L25,000,000. By increasing the capital base of the firm, Romrell’s and Magness’ overall holdings were also increased. Romrell, who had placed only $15,000 of his own money into the firm, found himself with holdings valued in excess of $2 million.(68)
The Loan Agreement, dated June 17, 1985, between Paten Holdings, Inc. and Romrell and Magness provides both men with 169,500 (approx. $250,000). The terms require payment no later than June 17, 1987. The collateral for the loans was the shares secured by an attached memorandum of deposit and dividends and interest were to be retained in order to reduce the outstanding balance of the loans. As Romrell explained: “…with regard to Paten Holdings, Inc…we had originally planned to reduce that loan with dividends from Capcom.”(69)
Indeed two years later, in July 1987, Romrell proposed a 30 percent dividend in a letter to Khalil, Adham, and Jawhary.(70) However, upset from the events surrounding the CBOT investigation, the Saudi Group refused to allow the dividends. In order to accommodate the Americans, Akbar arranged for Romrell and Magness to enter into replacement loan agreements with Paten Holdings, Inc. The new loans were for an increased amount, 221,157.93 (approx. $330,000) and were secured by the Capcom shares. (71)
The year-end 1987 audit of Capcom in London by Arthur Anderson raised the issue of disclosure of the Paten and Peniel loans:
“All transactions with related or associated parties have, where material and appropriate for the presentation of a true and fair view…There are no agreements whereby the directors could receive benefit from dealing transactions either directly or indirectly through agency agreements…In respect of the agency agreements between Capcom Financial Services, Ltd and the following companies: a) Peniel Investments, Ltd, and b) Paten Holdings, Inc. …In addition, we confirm that the agreements were entered into at arms length and that no director or shareholder has an interest in either agent company. The company and its subsidiaries have at no time during the period entered into any arrangement, transaction or agreement to provide credit facilities (including loans, quasi-loans, credit transactions, mutually beneficial arrangements or guarantees or security for liabilities for any directors, shadow directors, officers or their connected persons (except as permitted by the Companies Act 1985 and as disclosed in the accounts.)(72)
The Paten and Peniel loan documents show this statement by the auditors to be completely false. Either the auditors colluded with Capcom management, or more likely, they were misled as to Paten and Peniel by the management of Capcom.
Ultimately, Romrell tried to sever his connection to Paten. According to Cecile Ringenberg, an emergency meeting was called in London by Sheik Khalil. At that meeting, control of Paten passed from Romrell to Akbar. Romrell has indicated to the Subcommittee that he has never met Cecile Ringenberg, although a xerox of her calling card was provided by him to the Subcommittee.(73) …