Alex Constantine - November 24, 2006
Marcie Thomason, a tax accountant, lived on O Street in the District of Columbia. She was about to marry Charles Cutchin Powell – a flame from college born into a family with American roots that predate the Revolution. The family fought alongside Washington and has been a constant in the history of the U.S. government ever since - but Marcie died on Comair Flight 5191 at the age of 25, and that dream went with her ... R.I.P. Marcie.
She was a 2003 graduate of the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce with a degree in accounting and business, a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Golden Key Honor Society. While still in school, Ms. Thomason worked as a racing office assistant for the Breeder’s Cup Championship. After graduation, Ms. Thomason went to work for Alvarez and Marsal (A&M), a certified public accounting firm in Washington, D.C.
Some of the principals of the company (from the firm's web site): Tom Baldasare - Mr. Baldasare has led large lending operations as WELLS FARGO and DEUTSCHE BANK .... Bryan P. Marsal, managing director - previously, he served as the chief restructuring manager of ARTHUR ANDERSEN LLP ... Thomas Aiello, managing director - previously, he served as a partner at ARTHUR ANDERSEN. Mr. Aiello ultimately rose to become managing partner for the firm’s federal business tax practice and regional managing director of tax for its southeast region. ... Joseph A. Bondi, managing director - chief restructuring officer, IRIDIUM ... Robert Campagna, managing director - GLOBAL CROSSING LTD. ... Jim Barratt – managing director at A&M, has assisted counsel in communicating the findings of those investigations to audit committees, SEC staff and committees of U.S. Congress. Mr. Barratt also served as the deputy director of internal audits for COMPUTER SCIENCES CORPORATION ... Rebecca Baker, managing director - Prior to A&M, Mrs. Baker served as senior corporate director of global brand marketing at COMPUTER SCIENCES CORPORATION (CSC). She began her tenure at CSC in the consulting division where, as a partner, she led strategic marketing and branding initiatives for the division. Before joining CSC, Mrs. Baker was responsible for regional marketing and communications programs at ERNST & YOUNG. Mrs. Baker served as director of ... PFIZER, Inc. and MARTIN MARIETTA DATA SYSTEMS, NY (now LOCKHEED MARTIN). ... Paul J. Aversano, managing director - Aversano was formerly with ARTHUR ANDERSEN's transaction advisory services practice in New York. Earlier, he was with the commercial products and services division in the audit & business advisory practice of ARTHUR ANDERSEN in New York.... Charles Lowrey II, managing director, was the partner responsible for the finance and accounting consulting services in the Gulf Market at ARTHUR ANDERSEN. Mr. Lowrey has provided advisory services to client companies including HALLIBURTON, WASTE MANAGEMENT, PENNZOIL ...
These companies are the dregs of capitalism, the bottom of the moral heap – and all intersect with the CIA. (Most are well-known, with the exception of Waste Management, "the leading provider of comprehensive waste and environmental services in North America," another company known for its *creative accounting* practices. Officers of WMX have included Peter Pederson, Reagan advisor Howard Baker, George Soros, Wayne Huizenga at Blockbuster video, and others).
Alvarez & Marsel is another fascinating corporate entity with multiple CIA-Republican ties:
• Phillip Marineau, 59, president and CEO of PEPSICO's North American operations from 1997 to 1999 (see part 20 for TOM KEAN and RAY HUNT) He RESIGNED from successful Pepsico TWO MONTHS after the GALLS raid to take the helm at Levi Strauss, then on the brink of bankruptcy.172 At Levi Strauss, be brought in A&M founder Alvarez as the leading consultant to restructure the failing clothier's operations.173
• A book by Marilyn Ayres-Salamon, A Recipe for Failure: A Year of Reform and Chaos in the St. Louis Public Schools, documents the destruction of the public education system in that city by Alvarez & Marsal. The firm was hired to advise the city and recommend changes. Ayres-Salamon is a middle-school teacher in St. Louis. She writes: "The management team of Alvarez & Marsal, headed by William Roberti, made many decisions without regard to the enormous needs of the students and the community. Rather than being attentive to the support systems that were necessary for teachers to teach and students to learn, these systems were decimated. An educational system addressing students from generational poverty cannot be run in the same way as Brooks Brothers."
On September 7, 2003, L.A. Times ran a story on the A&M's educational "reforms": "ST. LOUIS - The school district was broke - and failing. Half of all high school freshmen quit before graduation. Fewer than 7% of juniors scored 'proficient' on a state reading and writing test. In desperation, the school board took a radical route: They handed control of public education here to ... Alvarez & Marsal." The firm "has a 20-year track record of restructuring companies in crisis, from clothing manufacturer London Fog to the Trump Casinos, from Liquor Barn retail stores to Arthur Andersen accounting. But its experts had never applied their business models to public education. The school board here gave them a $4.8-million contract to try. No other urban school district has ever offered itself up for such an overhaul. The result has been dramatic change and fierce public anger.... It might make business sense to shut down 16 schools with declining enrollment. To parents, though, those schools were often the only safe, stable haven in their neighborhoods. It might make business sense to privatize food service and custodial work. But to parents, that means hundreds of neighbors will lose jobs with benefits. It means that lunch ladies and janitors who had worked in the same school for decades will be replaced by a rotating cast of minimum-wage contract workers."174
• Stephanie Cochinos, a manager with Alvarez & Marsals, was formerly a strategic planner at AMERADA HESS. She sits on the board of Americans for an Informed Democracy, a State Deptartment "public diplomacy" propaganda front.175
• A&M has a key advisory role in the *privatization* of the post-Katrina New Orleans school system.176
• Currently, Alvarez & Marsal are "reforming" New York's public schools to eliminate "waste." The NY Daily News reports that the $15.8 million contract "includes 19 consultants billing at rates ranging from $275 to $450 an hour, including seven whose total bills will top $1 million. It also includes an 11% flat fee totaling $1.6 million for expenses, mostly 'costs of living in New York, including hotels and flights,' said Education Department spokesman David Cantor. Some of the consultants, including project leader Sajan George, do commute from other states. George is billing $500 per day for expenses - $190,575 in all - on top of the $1.7 million he's billing for his time. 'Unbelievable!' gasped schools watchdog Noreen Connell of the Educational Priorities Panel when she heard about the expense allowance ... "177
Back home in Blue Grass country, Marcie's father, Bill Thomason, is financial and administrative manager of Mill Ridge Farm, on Bowman Mill Road in Lexington. Mill Ridge Farm is where Saudi Prince Ahmed bin Salman Abdulaziz stalled his racehorses. His death by apparent heart attack in 2002 was a shock to his many friends in the industry, as one horse racing trade publication notes: "On Monday, July 22, 2002, the racing world was stunned by the announcement of the death of 43-year-old Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the principal partner of te Thoroughbred Corporation, from a heart attack. ... Currently Thoroughbred Corp. has approximately 60 horses in training mostly stabled with Bob Baffert, D. Wayne Lukas, and John Shireffs, along with 45 broodmares, mostly at Mill Ridge Farm in Lexington. ... His name will always be associated with War Emblem, his one Kentucky Derby winner [in 2002], which he quipped was 'one of the best investments I ever made in my life, besides buying oil in Saudi Arabia,' after he won the Preakness. He bought a 90% share in the colt just three weeks before the Derby, and with the win, became the first Arab owner to capture the Roses."178
Bin Salman was one of several family members who died prematurely. Prince Ahmed's older brother, Prince Fahd, was also an owner and breeder of horses. His grass mare Fiji II (GB) was the 1998 champion. Prince Fahd passed away a year earlier, almost to the day, also due to a heart attack, at age 46. Prince Ahmed was a nephew of Saudi King Fahd.179
Mohammed al-Awwam, deputy editor of the leading Arabic-language newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, published by the Saudi Research and Marketing Group, chaired by Prince Ahmed, told the AP that the prince had been "complaining of stomach problems and had been taken to hospitals several times over the past six weeks."180
Jihad Khazen, a former editor at Al Hayat, bin Salman's London-based Arabic newspaper, frowns on the theory, first floated by Gerald Posner, that the Saudi family may have been behind his death: "The reasons for the deaths are well established but I want to settle once and for all the controversy about the death of Prince Ahmed as I knew him and his family for many many years and also the hospital and doctors. Prince Ahmed went into hospital for the simple treatment of hemorrhoids and once there decided to have a gastric ligation because he always suffered from a weight problem and was on a constant diet. This led to a heart attack and he passed away. No more no less...."181
Khazen's account leaves a mistaken impression: Bin Salman didn't have a heart attack on the operating table, or even at the hospital, under supervision. Bloodhorse.com subsequently corrected the record. In "early reports on the death of Prince Ahmed, it was incorrectly reported that he died in his sleep from a heart attack. Reports published later said he was stricken at his HOME, then taken to a local hospital in Riyadh, where efforts to save him were futile."
A couple of professors at the University of Kentucky opined in a local newspaper interview that Posner *may* have a hidden agenda.182
Bin Salman's family, friends and most researchers dismiss the allegations out of hand. Khazen has pointed out outrageous falsehoods in Posner's story, and most in the racing industry consider the allegations ridiculous. Some, however, questioned the prince's occasionally odd behavior. Billy Reed, a columnist who writes on horse racing, recalls: "After War Emblem's Derby victory, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, The Blood-Horse and others attempted to get interviews with the prince He refused all requests. Why was that? He was sitting on top of the racing world. He had an opportunity to promote the sport on an international basis. But he didn't. This doesn't make him a conspirator, or co-conspirator, but Posner's story is disturbing, and it makes me wonder about Ahmed bin Salman."183
Posner supports his allegations by pointing out that the Saudi Research and Marketing Group publications are "virulently" anti-American. But bin Salman loved the United States. He was very pro-American. Nevertheless, it's true that the publications under his control – which dominate printed media in the Gulf states – were hostile to the United States, and fed the rage that pervades the Middle East. But this doesn't necessarily mean that Prince Ahmed bin Salman was allied with Muslim extremists – the anti-American slant of state-run media under most repressive regimes in the Middle East serves to DISTRACT from THEIR OWN EXCESSES (see part 23). Anti-Semitism serves the same purpose. This is what authoritarian government does, where it lives, concocting strategies of "tension."
It also keeps the Middle East destabilized. And many Muslims in the region know their enemy:
The dissenters in the Middle East may want to take a closer look at bin Salman's media group. 9/11 researcher Chaim Kupferberg writes that, leading up to 9/11, in the Spring of 2001, "an incriminating wedding videotape, apparently implicating bin Laden in the Yemen bombing, was circulating around the Middle East after being broadcast on the ubiquitous al-Jazeera television station." Bin Laden, in the video, according to the Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper (more on them later, too), "recited a poem celebrating the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole. This from the ABCNEWS.com site dated March 1: "Al-Hayat, which carried a photo of bin Laden and his son at the wedding, said ITS CORRESPONDENT WAS THE ONLY JOURNALIST AT THE CEREMONY, also attended by bin Laden's mother, two brothers and sister who flew to Kandahar from Saudi Arabia.
"And yes, here, too, Atwan offers his thoughtful review of the bin Laden video, courtesy of PTI, datelined London June 22, 2001: '[Atwan] said the video was proof that the fugitive Saudi millionaire [the Bruce Wayne of terrorists] was fit, well equipped and confident enough to send out a call to arms.' Why this sudden need for proof? According to Atwan in the same article: 'There have been rumours that [bin Laden] is ill and that he is being contained by the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is quite clear from the film that he is in good health to the point where he can fire a rifle, and is free to operate as he chooses.' In other words, limber enough for his *STARRING ROLE* in the months ahead.
"So who is Abdel Bari Atwan and why is he anxious to tell us so much? According to the Winter 1999 issue of INEAS (Institute of Near Eastern and African Studies), Abdel Bari Atwan, a Palestinian, was born in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip in 1950. Educated at the American University of Cairo, Atwan moved to Saudi Arabia and worked as a writer for the al-Madina newspaper. In 1978, he moved to London, where he became a correspondent for the Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper ... Incidentally, Atwan had personally interviewed bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1996 - among the very few to do so. As reported by Michael Evans in the August 24, 1998 issue of The Times, Atwan 'is trusted by bin Laden.'" Is that so? Atwan was the American media's "go-to" guy "back in 1998 when he informed us, after President Clinton bombed tool sheds in Afghanistan, that bin Laden issued this threat against the United States: 'The battle has not started yet. The response will be with action and not words.' In the same article (which I took from Nando Times), ABC News is the source for an additional threat called in by Ayman al-Zawahiri, a senior bin Laden aide: 'The war has just started. The Americans should wait for the answer.'
"Only a few months before that, ABC had conducted its televised interview of bin Laden. By the summer of 1998, primed by Atwan, ABC NEWS, and a surprisingly small clique of well-worn sources, we had come to know bin Laden as America's latest "Saddam", "Qaddafi", "Noriega" - take your pick and set your bomb sites. By October 2000, when the U.S.S. Cole was bombed in Yemen, in case there was any doubt, Atwan offered Reuters his helpful analysis with regards to the source of blame: "I do not rule out that this was undertaken by Osama bin Laden. Yemeni groups don't have the experience to carry out this kind of operation." Atwan informed Reuters that bin Laden 'was unlikely to claim direct responsibility for Thursday's attack for fear of U.S. reprisals.' One can imagine, then, that Atwan gave his trusting phone mate cause for many a sleepless night. With friends like these... "
Atwan was a Chalabi and a Mockingbird, "Trusted Source" Division. And the "anti-American" al-Hayat, owned by Prince Ahmed bin Salman, was, in coordination with ABC, playing a deadly *PSYOP* game ... 184
172.) Pepsico press release, "PepsiCo Names Reinemund Chief Operating Officer; Rodkin to Become CEO of Pepsi-Cola North America," September 7, 1999.
174.) Trafford Pulbishing release, undated.
L.A. Times excerpts, "Forget C.P Snow, Here's the Real Two Worlds," September 7, 2003.
175.) Americans for an Informed Democracy site.
176.) Anon., "The plan to wreck New Orleans schools: Right wing uses Katrina crisis to push privatization" December 9, 2005, p. 4.
177. Erin Einhorn, "Pol slams 'outrageous' school consulting deals," New York Daily News, November 21, 2006.
178.) Obit., "Prince Ahmed bin Salman 1958 - 2002," Horse-Races.net, July 23, 2002.
179.) Obit., "Prince Ahmed, 43, dies suddenly on Monday in Saudi Arabia," ThoroughbredTimes.com, July 22, 2002.
181.) Jihad Khazen, "Secrets of Posner - Part 2," Al-Hayat, June 6, 2005.
182.) Lenny Shulman, "The Thoroughbred Corp.'s Ahmed Salman Dead at 43," Bloodhorse.com, July 22, 2002.
183.) Billy Reed, "Did Saudi horseman know about 9/11?" Posner.com, undated.
184.) Chaim Kupferberg, "The mystery surrounding the death of John O'Neill: The Propaganda Preparation for 9/11," Global Research, June 13, 2002.