In January 2011, Barr began serving as an advisor to former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. Barr was consulted by Duvalier as he attempted to recover $5.7 million in assets frozen by the Swiss government. The assets were frozen following charges that Duvalier had embezzled $300 million from the Haitian government during his 15-year rule. Duvalier was also accused of widespread human rights abuses, including torture and murder. Human Rights Watch claims that Duvalier’s Tonton Macoutes Militia was responsible for up to 30,000 civilian deaths. Barr dismissed these allegations against Duvalier, saying, “I deal with allegations all the time. They are the cheapest commodity on the market.” Previously, Barr had visited Haiti to help Duvalier’s brother-in-law fight drug smuggling charges.
Sort NRA Leaders by Type
Select "Search by Issue" to pull up all of the controversial statements made by NRA leaders on a given issue. Select "Search by Ties" to pull up all the ties that NRA leaders have to a certain organization or activity.
NRA Leaders by Ties
The following is a list of controversial statements and actions of NRA leaders regarding their ties to Repressive Regimes. NRA leaders are listed alphabetically by last name.
In January 2011, Bolton called for the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) to be removed from the Department of State’s list of Foreign Terror Organizations at a conference hosted by MEK in Brussels, Belgium. According to the Department of State, “During the 1970s the MEK staged terrorist attacks inside Iran and killed several US military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran. Supported the takeover in 1979 of the US Embassy in Tehran. In April 1992 conducted attacks on Iranian embassies in 13 different countries, demonstrating the group's ability to mount large-scale operations overseas.” MEK has also been accused of committing atrocities against Iraqi and Kurdish civilians while the group was allied with Saddam Hussein, and some Iranians refer to the organization’s leader, Masoud Rajavi, as “the Pol Pot of Iran.” When MEK attempted to ally itself with the populist 2009 Green Movement to remove Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office, Green Movement leadership rejected their overture, writing, “Countless first-rate analysts, scholars and human rights organizations—including Human Rights Watch—have determined that the MEK is an undemocratic, cultlike organization whose modus operandi vitiates its claim to be a vehicle for democratic change.” The Department of Justice has argued that challenging an organization’s designation as a terrorist group amounts to criminal material support of terrorism under the Supreme Court decision Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project.
In 1986, Brown wrote in a Soldier of Fortune op-ed, “For the last decade, I’ve hunted terrorists with the Rhodesian African rifles and fired up a Russian fort in Afghanistan with the mujahideen.” The Rhodesian African rifles were a regiment that fought under the rule of white supremacist Ian Smith in Rhodesia from 1965 to 1979. The Rhodesian Army fought rebel forces that opposed Smith's white minority rule and apartheid policies. The conclusion of the war led to universal suffrage and the eventual creation of Zimbabwe as a country. The mujahideen that Brown fought with opposed the Soviet Union during their war in Afghanistan, which lasted from 1978 to 1989. The mujahideen received significant financial backing from deceased Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who used his family fortune to establish training camps and pay for foreign fighters to travel to Afghanistan.
A Chicago Tribune reporter doing a story on Brown’s involvement in the civil war in El Salvador in March 1984 witnessed Brown become the victim of an accidental shooting when one of Brown’s friends pulled the trigger of a gun he thought was unloaded. The friend shot himself through the hand and the bullet struck Brown in the calf. “You stupid son a bitch, you shot me,” Brown said. “And now I can’t go to El Salvador.”
In September 1984, Brown claimed to have sent over 100 men and $4 million in supplies to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua, who engaged in widespread human rights abuses, including the rape and murder of civilians. Brown justified expending these resources by saying, “Those cretins in Congress won’t do anything about [toppling the ruling, left-wing Sandinista FSLN party in Nicaragua].”
In 1983, Brown accompanied a team of mercenaries to El Salvador. The purpose of the trip was to provide training to the forces of fascist leader Roberto D'Aubuisson. Brown tried to strike a deal with D'Aubuisson where his own mercenaries would replace U.S. Army advisors in El Salvador. The offer was accepted, but never came to fruition. Brown, however, went as far as engaging in combat missions alongside D’Aubuisson’s death squads. These paramilitary units assassinated D’Aubuisson’s political enemies and “talked of the need to kill 200,000 to 300,000 people to restore peace to El Salvador.” Known as “Blowtorch Bob” for his torture techniques, D’Aubuisson’s most high-profile victim was Bishop Óscar Romero, who was assassinated in 1980 after speaking out about human rights abuses in El Salvador.
Brown sold enlistment materials for the Rhodesian National Army through other magazines in order to finance the creation of Soldier of Fortune in 1975. During that time, the Rhodesian National Army fought under the leadership of white supremacist Ian Smith, the Prime Minister of the apartheid regime in Rhodesia from 1964 to 1979. Soldier of Fortune magazine itself prominently featured recruitment material for the Rhodesian National Army during the Rhodesian Bush War, in which Smith's army targeted those who advocated for universal suffrage.
In Vol. 11, No. 11 of Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries published in September 2003, Cooper wrote, “Some of our pundits choose to make a political virtue of diversity. The point is not necessarily well taken. The goal of good government is the optimum balance of liberty and order. Social diversity does not pull in that direction. Liberty is what we seek over the centuries, but if we grant it to too diverse a population, order disappears … We have unsegregated schools in which the children segregate themselves by choice. Our military establishment does surprisingly well in this regard, but of course, the military is and must be a tightly disciplined organization. It seems to me that diversity, rather than being a goal to be sought, should be an obstacle to be circumvented.” He also wrote, “Walter Nowotny was a distinguished fighter pilot of World War II, killed in action just before its close. Born and raised in Vienna, Major Nowotny's remains were buried at Vienna's Central Cemetery. Now it appears that there is a movement afoot to disinter Nowotny's remains and toss them on the municipal ash heap—because he fought for the wrong side … I do not think that we can castigate Nowotny for fighting for the Germans when we recall that David was, according to Scripture, a thoroughgoing scoundrel. You do not have to be a nice guy to be a hero—it is not even much of a help—but you cannot dishonor a hero by spurning his mortal remains.” Nowotny was a Nazi pilot credited with 258 aerial victories.
In Vol. 10, No. 3 of Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries published in March 2002, Cooper wrote, “Well, they finally got Jonas Savimbi. There was possibly the greatest unsung hero of the Cold War. Savimbi fought the Communists to a standstill in Angola for decades, with no help from us. He was not ‘African−American’ (unsatisfactory term). He was, on the contrary, a first−string African, and he will go down historically with [Zulu chieftain] Chaka as one of the great heros [sic] of his people. I never had the honor of meeting him, but I got pretty close on two occasions, and I regret the loss.” The United States Department of Homeland Security characterized Savimbi’s UNITA political group—from 1998 until the killing of Savimbi in 2002 by Angolan government forces—as a terrorist organization. During this time period, Human Rights Watch described UNITA as “a rebel group led by Jonas Savimbi, [that] killed, abducted, and terrorized civilians with impunity.” The United States Institute of Peace wrote, “Savimbi is indeed responsible for a litany of crimes against humanity.” The conflict between UNITA and the Angolan government resulted in the country having one of the highest concentrations of landmines in the world, with some experts estimating that up to six million mines remain in the ground. Cooper also wrote, “Those of you of the old school will remember that we threw the Moors out of Spain in 1492. Trouble is that we did not throw them far enough. In searching through the records for ragheads of consequence, I discover Haroun−al−Rashid and Saladin, and then my sources begin to dry up. Our current crop of Extollers of The Faithful would have us believe that what we may refer to as the Arab Culture was way ahead of the West up until something mysterious happened along about 1450 or so. These people had shown us such things as numerology, algebra, cotton fabric, and coffee, but suddenly something went wrong. Maybe they lost their push and civilization left them behind. The cultural structure of Islam must have a strong appeal, otherwise it would not be proselytizing throughout the world as it is. How is it that the West copes and the East does not? Allah has fallen short somewhere along the line.” He then complained about patients at the Mayo Clinic, writing, “A friend of ours who is troubled with a nagging form of recurrent carcinoma makes a practice of visiting a Mayo Clinic regularly to keep ahead of the game. He reports that over the last couple of years the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, has been so completely patronized by Arabs that treatment therein begins to resemble some sort of cult practice. The waiting rooms are solidly populated with people wearing bed sheets. Treatment at the Mayos is not cheap, but this does not trouble the rag heads.” Cooper continued, “Our enemy in the Holy War turns out to be simultaneously deadly and silly. They can kill us, of course, dead, but it is hard to take anyone seriously who announces continuously five times a day that God is Great. Is it that ‘milady doth protest too much’?”
In Vol. 8, No. 12 of Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries published in November 2000, Cooper wrote of a book about Mozambique that “recounts the degeneration of what was once a delightful part of the world into a disgusting black−African tyranny. Colonialism has a bad reputation in the modern context, but Colonial Africa was a far better place for both black and white before the colonists gave up.”
In Vo. 8, No. 6 of Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries published in June 2000, Cooper wrote, “It is sad to note that the political unrest in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) has practically ruined tourism/hunting in that country. I find this odd. On several occasions I have gone hunting in a war zone, and found the experience exhilarating.” Zimbabwe has not been called Rhodesia since before 1980 when the country was subjected to the white supremacist rule of Ian Smith.
In Vol. 8, No. 5 of Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries published in May 2000, Cooper wrote, “When people ask us how are things in South Africa, we are inclined to quote our great, good friend Barry Miller of Durban. ‘People get the government they deserve, and we got it.’ When I first went to Africa over 20 years go, the unit of currency was the Rand, which was worth at that time $1.50. Today it is worth 14 cents. Before the revolution [i.e., the end of apartheid] South African Airways was an outstanding airline in terms of cabin service. Today it would appear that the new management is taking its pointers from Aeroflot. When you effectively ‘give the country back to the Indians’ you may find that the Indians do not know how to run the store.”
In Vol. 4, No. 16 of Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries published in December 1996, Cooper wrote, “Objection to that sneaky piece that was slipped through at the last congressional session, depriving anyone convicted of ‘spouse abuse’ from forever owning a firearm, is rising to a crescendo. Certainly no one defends wife beating under any circumstances, but permanent recision [sic] of civil rights is not the answer. I have always held that the proper punishment for the wife beater is the public whipping post, but certainly not permanent deprivation of basic civil rights.” He also wrote, “Clearly propaganda is more potent than truth. Take this matter of Guernica, for example. Pablo Picasso, one of the more significant propagandists of the left, made a very successful point in claiming that the town of Guernica had been flattened from the air by the German Condor Legion in the Spanish Civil War−this being an atrocity since the town had no strategic value. This point was accepted by the world press, and is now considered a fact, even for inclusion in encyclopedias. For those who have access to the official records it is clear that the Condor Legion had been grounded for two weeks prior to the occupation of the city by the Nationalist forces. Moreover, the German light bombers did not have the technical capacity for ‘carpet bombing,’ as later practiced by the Allies in Europe. Most conclusive, however, was the fact that there were no bomb craters in the streets. The buildings were pretty well demolished, but this was done from inside them. It is obviously impossible to flatten a town from the air without hitting any of the streets, but now, to the amazement of the well−informed, the German government is proposing to pay an indemnity to Spain for an atrocity never committed. Such goings on!” In reality, Guernica was bombed on April 26, 1937 by the Nazi Germany Luftwaffe and the Italian Fascist Aviazione Legionaria. The bombing is considered one of the first instances of military planes being used to target civilians. The idea that Guernica was a hoax has been propagated by supporters of right wing Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in order to cast blame upon leftist anarchists, rather than the Nazi and fascist forces, for the atrocity. Turning to a racial discrimination lawsuit brought against oil giant Texaco, Cooper wrote, “In continuing observation of what might be called the ‘hoax effect,’ Texaco has caved in to Jesse Jackson, even after both parties have discovered that the tapes responsible for the racial uproar were fake. Jesse Jackson, himself, has claimed he does not want to be bothered by the facts.” In actuality, tapes did exist of Texaco executives using racially disparaging language and plotting to destroy evidence related to the lawsuit. Texaco settled the lawsuit for $176 million.
In Vol. 4, No. 4 of Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries published in March 1996, Cooper wrote, “The bell tolls again for another of the great. Adolf Galland, at one time the youngest two−star general in the Wehrmacht, passed away after heart surgery at the age of 83 … But more than his outstanding capacities as a warrior, Adolf Galland was distinguished as a gentleman, which is an almost extinct species.” Galland was a Nazi pilot with 103 credited kills against Allied forces.
In Vol. 2, No. 8 of Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries published in July 1994, Cooper wrote, “An informal poll conducted in the area of Harare (ex−Salisbury, Rhodesia) indicates that the great majority want Ian Smith back in place of Robert Mugaby. If Mugaby finds out about this, Mr. Smith's head rests very lightly on his shoulders.” Ian Smith was the white supremacist leader of Rhodesia who enforced white minority rule of the nation until 1980. Robert Mugabe became president when the country declared independence from the British and became Zimbabwe. Cooper also described a business deal gone sour involving the sale of Gunsite, his firearms training facility, as “the great lynch party of April Fool 1993.” Turning to the topic of the Vietnam War, Cooper described Vietnamese as “slant−eyed little fiends.” He then added that, “If Nicole Simpson had studied at Gunsite she would now be a wealthy widow.” Simpson was murdered in 1994 and her ex-husband former NFL star O.J. Simpson was eventually acquitted after being charged in connection with her death. Cooper then recommended that his readers purchase “Racism, Guilt and Self−Deceit" by M. Gedahlia Braun, stating “His work, which is very carefully researched and irreproachably objective, is not politically correct, which may be its strongest recommendation.” In the book’s forward, Braun writes, “It was obvious to [black Africans] that whites were ‘cleverer’ and they made no bones about it. It is whites who feel guilty about this and blame themselves for black failure. Shrewd blacks use this ‘guilt’ to blackmail, browbeat and bamboozle whites. This sham anger is a principal weapon of psychological warfare. It is used by women against men, blacks against whites, homosexuals against straights and islam [sic] against the West—though always with the help of the (alleged) wrong-doers … Blacks are deficient in abstract thinking and this leads to moral blindness … Blacks’ difficulty in thinking of the future explains, e.g., their high rate of criminality and HIV.”
In Vol. 2, No. 5 of Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries published in May 1994, Cooper wrote, “We see that the Bahutu [Hutu] and the Watutsi [Tutsi] have resumed their age−old hostilities. Truly they enjoy this sort of thing, and what they may lack in aptitude they make up in enthusiasm. This, of course, is one of the rewards of independence. The Belgian administration did not put up with it.” Later, he added, “How long do you suppose it will take Jesse Jackson to discover that the horror in Rwanda was caused by the French abandonment of their colonial policies and leaving these people to their own devices?” Cooper was referring to the genocide in Rwanda where up to 1,000,000 Tutsis were massacred by Hutus. He also wrote, “Let us all gather round to meet the New Woman of The Nineties. Her name is Tonya Rodham Bobbitt.” Cooper was referencing Tonya Harding (who was implicated in a violent attack on a rival figure skater), then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Lorena Bobbitt (who was famous for an incident where she severed her husband’s penis).
In Vol. 1, No. 6 of Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries published in September 1993, he wrote, “I do not know who can speak for the ‘American People’−certainly not I−but street crime I can handle, whereas if I resist the ninja [federal law enforcement agents] I will almost certainly perish. No reasonably competent man need be afraid of crumby little punks in big cities, but those people in black masks breaking down your doors in the small hours of the morning and backed up by armored vehicles and helicopters are too much for the householder, even if they do tend to be overweight and bad shots. These are dark times indeed, and we bear up as best we may.” Cooper also added that in World War II, “The Germans gathered together ethnic divisions from all over Europe in which men of the same linguistic and cultural background could serve together. The Georgian SS division conducted itself with distinction in normal military action, but a good many people seem to think that anybody who was ever a member of the SS was automatically a war criminal.” The SS were the armed wing of the Nazi Party and were charged with implementing Adolf Hitler’s “final solution” to rid Europe of Jews and other groups of people the Nazi leader hated.
The Free Congress Foundation (FCF), a think tank that promotes the far-right’s viewpoint in the “Culture War,” has courted a great deal of controversy. Gilmore effectively succeeded FCF President & CEO Paul Weyrich in 2009. On replacing Weyrich, Gilmore said, “Paul Weyrich blazed the trail for many conservative themes and I want to continue that leadership.” The “themes” advocated by FCF have included the following:
- In his manifesto, Anders Behring Breivik, the perpetrator of a July 2011 terrorist attack in Norway that left 77 dead, quoted extensively and at length from a FCF-published book about “Cultural Marxism” entitled “Political Correctness: A Short History of Ideology.” The book was written by the former head of the FCF’s Center for Cultural Conservatism William Lind. According to investigative journalist Chip Berlet, “Breivik's core thesis is borrowed from William S. Lind's antisemitic conspiracy theory about 'Cultural Marxism'.” The Southern Poverty Law Center has described Lind as “a key popularizer of the idea of cultural Marxism.”
- Lind, while serving as the head of FCF’s Center for Cultural Conservatism, gave a speech at a 2002 Holocaust denial convention. In his remarks, Lind blamed a group of Jewish philosophers for destroying Western culture by promoting an extreme form of political correctness termed “cultural Marxism.”
- In 2002, FCF published a mock interview between the FBI and a prospective Muslim recruit that disparaged the Islam faith by suggesting—amongst other things—that all Muslims are required to kill members of other faiths.
- In December 2001, FCF asked Congress to retract a stamp issued by the United States Postal Service that celebrated the Muslim Eid holiday.
- In 1999 Lind wrote that America would be a better place if the south had won the Civil War because “at least part of North America would still stand for Western culture, Christianity and an appreciation of the differences between ladies and gentlemen.” Lind predicted in 1994 that the next conflict on American soil would be a violent cultural war between cultural conservatives and multiculturalists.
- Free Congress Foundation provided office space to Laszlo Pasztor during the 1980s and 1990s. Pasztor served time in jail after World War II for representing the government of Nazi Hungary. Pasztor was reportedly Paul Weyrich’s “right-hand man” when Weyrich was president of FCF.
- In 1984, FCF hosted a dinner honoring Roberto D'Aubuisson, the fascist leader of right wing death squads in El Salvador, for being “a symbol of resistance to communists.” Known as “Blowtorch Bob” for his torture techniques, D’Aubuisson’s most high-profile victim was Bishop Óscar Romero, who was assassinated in 1980 after speaking out about human rights abuses in El Salvador. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights in the Carter Administration, Pat Derain, called FCF’s dinner “bizarre and ludicrous. It would be intriguing to know what aspect of his person they are honoring. His efforts to overthrow his own government? His leadership of death squads?”
- During the 1980s, the foreign policy wing of FCF actively supported the Contra rebels in Nicaragua and the South African apartheid-backed RENAMO rebels in Mozambique, and even provided political training to the regime of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. RENAMO is accused of killing over 1,000,000 civilians in Mozambique.
- Free Congress Foundation was a supporter of rabid homophobe Dr. Paul Cameron. Cameron wrote that common gay sex practices include the insertion of gerbils into the rectum, the consumption of human feces and urine, and sex with minors. His false claims included an assertion that less than two-percent of gay men survive to old age. Free Congress Foundation began distributing Cameron’s literature as early as 1983.
- In 1976 FCF attempted (unsuccessfully) to merge with George Wallace’s racist American Independent Party.
A CORE dinner to celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday on January 17, 2000 featured far right wing Austrian politician Jörg Haider as an honored guest. Before his death in 2008, Haider was criticized for frequent remarks in defense of the Nazi party and Wafen SS.
In 1976, Innis recruited a 600-man “peace brigade” to support the forces of Jonas Savimbi’s apartheid-backed UNITA rebel organization in Angola. U.S. intelligence sources indicated that Innis’ men—most of whom were combat veterans—were actually mercenaries recruited to fight in the Angolan civil war. The brigade was to work under the mandate of the Organization of African Unity, which was led by Ugandan dictator and UNITA supporter Idi Amin. Human Rights Watch described UNITA as “a rebel group led by Jonas Savimbi, [that] killed, abducted, and terrorized civilians with impunity.” The United States Institute of Peace wrote that “Savimbi is indeed responsible for a litany of crimes against humanity.” UNITA employed child soldiers throughout the Angolan Civil War, which lasted from 1975 to 2002.
Innis was a "supporter" of Idi Amin, the Ugandan dictator accused by human rights groups of being responsible for the deaths of up to 500,000 people. Innis awarded Amin a lifetime CORE membership and claimed, “Ugandans are happy under General Amin’s rule of Africa for black Africans.” “He has the ability to make decisions, unlike other leaders who theorize but do not execute,” Innis said of Amin. He was also supportive of Amin’s decision to expel 50,000 Asians from Uganda. Asked how he could support Amin, a known admirer of Adolf Hitler, Innis said, “We have no records to prove if Hitler was a friend or an enemy of black people.” In return, Amin awarded Innis Ugandan citizenship in 1973.
On February 29, 2008, Keene registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as a lobbyist for the government of Bayelsa State, Nigeria. Between 2006 and 2007, the Bayelsa government paid Carmen Group—the lobbying firm that employed Keene—over $900,000. The contract stipulated that lobbyists from Carmen were to “gain support for Bayelsa and the Niger Delta from the U.S. government.” The primary focus of Nigeria’s economy is the trade of oil, which account’s for 90% of the country’s exports. A February 2007 report by National Geographic stated, “Oil fouls everything in southern Nigeria [the Niger Delta]. It spills from the pipelines, poisoning soil and water. It stains the hands of politicians and generals, who siphon off its profits … The cruelest twist is that half a century of oil extraction in the delta has failed to make the lives of the people better. Instead, they are poorer still, and hopeless … Where does all the oil money go? That question is asked in every village, town, and city in the Niger Delta. The blame spreads, moving from the oil companies to a bigger, more elusive, target: the Nigerian government … On paper, a mechanism does exist for distributing oil revenues somewhat fairly. The federal government retains roughly half and gives out the rest each month, on a sliding scale, to the 36 state governments. The core oil producers—Rivers, Delta, Bayelsa, and Akwa Ibom—receive the most.” The Nigerian government’s conduct towards oil profits has also been called, “the institutionalized looting of national wealth.” According to the Nigerian government, over 7,000 oil spills occurred in the region between 1970 and 2000 (although some analysts believe the true figure is ten times higher) resulting in an estimated spillage of 1.5 million tons of oil (50 times more than the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster). Williams Mkpa, an Ibeno, Nigeria community leader lamented, “Oil companies do not value our life; they want us to all die. In the past two years, we have experienced 10 oil spills and fishermen can no longer sustain their families. It is not tolerable.” In a high profile incident in the 1990s, the Nigerian government executed a number of anti-oil activists that had protested against Shell’s incursion into their homeland, after convicting the men of murder in a sham trial.
Documents filed in compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act on January 17, 2006 indicate that Keene managed a lobbying contract between the government of Algeria and the consulting firm, Carmen Group, where he was employed. Keene was tasked with projecting “an up-to-date image of Algeria, her government and her role in regional and world affairs,” while promoting “Congressional, non-governmental organizational, public and media support for Algeria’s legitimate interests and policy goals.” The lobbying contract also required Keene to facilitate “official and unofficial visits to Algeria for elected officials.” The government of Algeria paid Carmen Group $25,000 per month plus additional expenses for each month of lobbying work. In December 2010, Keene wrote a column for The Hill taking the side of the Algerian-based Polisario Front in that group’s conflict with the government of Morocco. In response, a column written by Robert M. Holley, executive director of the Moroccan American Center for Policy, stated, “The Dec. 7 commentary, ‘Our friends in the desert’ by David Keene, distorts the history and current realities of the Western Sahara conflict. It is also important to know that, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Mr. Keene and his consulting firm received tens of thousands of dollars in lobbying fees from Algeria, the Polisario Front’s ideological and financial supporter—a fact Mr. Keene fails to disclose. Mr. Keene seriously misrepresents the position of the United Nations on the Western Sahara conflict … As well, Mr. Keene egregiously mischaracterizes the position of the U.S. government in the Western Sahara conflict. The Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, and bipartisan majorities of the U.S. House and Senate, support a resolution of the conflict based on autonomy under Moroccan sovereignty. Furthermore, the author’s description of life in the Polisario-run refugee camps in Algeria is the writer’s fantasy. In the tightly controlled camps—where the refugees are denied the most basic freedoms—there is only one permitted political party, the Polisario Front. Its appointed ‘president’ for more than three decades hails from a dubious class of Cold War leaders including their continuing ally, Fidel Castro. Mr. Keene’s distortions dishonor the lives of the 11 Moroccan police officers savagely killed by violent, pro-Polisario militants who infiltrated what began as a peaceful social protest over economic issues near Laayoune [Algeria].” The Polisario refuge camps are not the only place that human rights violations are alleged against Algeria. According to a 2008 report by the U.S. Department of State, Algeria’s human rights problems include “failure to account for persons who disappeared in detention during the 1990s, reports of abuse and torture, official impunity, abuse of pretrial detention, poor prison conditions, limited judicial independence, and restrictions on freedom of speech, press, and assembly. There were also increased limitations on religious freedom and problems with security-based restrictions on movement, corruption and lack of government transparency, discrimination and violence against women, and restrictions on workers' rights.”
In 1997, Norquist founded Janus-Merritt Strategies, a lobbying firm, along with David Safavian. Safavian was later convicted on felony obstruction of justice charges in relation to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. The Janus-Merritt clientele included:
- Hamas and Hezbollah supporter Abdurahman Alamoudi, who was later convicted for his role in a terrorist plot and sentenced to 23 years in prison. Alamoudi was also an agent of dictator Muamarr Ghaddafi’s Libyan government. Norquist also helped activist Sami Al-Arian—an associate of Alamoudi—obtain meetings with White House officials during the Bush Administration. Al-Arian was later convicted of conspiring to provide services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) by the U.S. Department of State.
- Mortgage lender Fannie Mae, which paid the firm $160,000 in lobbying fees in 2001 (when the 2008 mortgage crisis occurred, Norquist would nonetheless comment, "Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac brought us this collapse … This was criminal negligence on the part of [U.S. Representative] Barney Frank and [former U.S. Senator Chris] Dodd.").
- Corrupt foreign rulers, including former president of Gabon Omar Bongo, who was accused of using his country's budget as a personal slush fund; and exiled former president of the Republic of Congo Pascal Lissouba, who has been convicted in absentia of corruption and treason by his home country. Human rights conditions in Gabon were poor during Bongo's 42 year rule, with a United Nations report citing the "limited ability of citizens to change their government; use of excessive force, including torture toward prisoners and detainees; harsh prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; an inefficient judiciary susceptible to government influence; restrictions on the right to privacy; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, association, and movement; harassment of refugees; widespread government corruption; violence and societal discrimination against women, persons with HIV/AIDS, and noncitizen Africans; trafficking in persons, particularly children; and forced labor and child labor."
- Corporate clients, including Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (the owner of Fox News), the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe (a former Abramoff client), and oil and gas giant British Petroleum.
In 1995, Norquist was hired by communist strongman France-Albert René—who ruled Seychelles from 1977 to 2004—to lobby before Congress. Asked how he could have a communist ruler who had been accused of human rights abuses as a client, Norquist stated that René (who took control of Seychelles in 1977 after a coup against the ruling Seychelles Democratic Party) was “a guy who preferred to not have elections for a number of years,” and said of René’s human rights record, “there were one or two people who people were suspected done in. But it was always fairly murky.” René was accused of employing systematic torture and other human rights abuses against political opponents, and in 1985 opposition leader Gérard Hoarau was assassinated in London. While René denied involvement in the assassination, he admitted to bugging Hoarau’s telephone and to listening in on Hoarau’s last phone call. During the phone call Hoarau changed the time of a doctor’s appointment. He then left his home and was assassinated while standing on his doorstep. British police later identified the murder weapon as the same type of gun used by the Seychelles police.
In 1995, Norquist and Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff worked to obtain a U.S. visa for Mobutu Sese Seko, the dictator of then-Zaire. Mobutu had been banned from the United States for perpetrating human rights abuses against the people of Zaire while embezzling billions of dollars from the country’s budget for his personal use. A 1996 report on human rights in Zaire published by the United Nations stated, “The right to life continues to be at the mercy of military bodies and the police, whose impunity is intact; judges impose the death penalty on a regular basis and the President does not decide on petitions for clemency; pillages, tortures, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, rape of detained women or victims of pillages have not stopped; public demonstrations are punished with disproportionate violence, the State continues to protect these abuses. Neither is there increased freedom of the radio or the television; prison conditions have not changed; there are no plans to establish the judicial equality of women nor to eradicate discrimination.”
According to The Nation magazine, “During the second half of the 1980s, Norquist detoured from his tax work to engage in a series of safaris to far-off battlegrounds in support of anti-Soviet guerrilla armies, visiting war zones from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border to southern Africa. Working alongside Col. Oliver North's freelance support network for the Nicaraguan contras and other Reagan Doctrine-allied insurgencies, Norquist promoted U.S. support for groups like Mozambique's RENAMO and Jonas Savimbi's UNITA in Angola, both of which were backed by South Africa's apartheid regime (Norquist represented UNITA as a registered lobbyist in the early 1990s).” In June 1985, Norquist—with the help of (now convicted) Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff—organized a “conference of worldwide insurgent leaders called the Democracy International.” The conference was located in Angolan territory held by UNITA. Attendees included mujahedeen from Afghanistan.
Norquist made regular visits to UNITA controlled territory during the 1980s. Although now a legitimate political party in Angola, the United States Department of Homeland Security has characterized UNITA from 1998 until the killing of Savimbi in 2002 by Angolan government forces as a terrorist organization. During this time period, Human Rights Watch described UNITA as “a rebel group led by Jonas Savimbi, [that] killed, abducted, and terrorized civilians with impunity.” The United States Institute of Peace wrote, “Savimbi is indeed responsible for a litany of crimes against humanity.” UNITA employed child soldiers throughout the Angolan Civil War, including during the time that Norquist was a registered lobbyist for the organization. Norquist ties to Savimbi were close, and he admitted to ghostwriting a number of op-eds for Savimbi during the 1980s promoting UNITA’s war against Soviet-backed MPLA. He even wore a UNITA issued uniform while visiting Angola, but admitting to taking it off when fighting broke out.
Norquist also supported RENAMO, an insurgent group accused of killing over 1,000,000 civilians in Mozambique. After Norquist visited RENAMO-held territory in 1987, he wrote a report praising RENAMO for calling for free elections and the free practice of religion, while falsely accusing RENAMO’s opponents of anti-Semitism. Norquist even met with President Ronald Reagan and urged him to support RENAMO, but the administration declined to aid RENAMO’s cause because of the group’s human rights record.
In July 1985, Norquist attended a conference hosted by the National Student Federation (NSF) in Johannesburg, South Africa. The NSF supported apartheid in South Africa and was allied with the pro-apartheid South African Defense Force (SADF). The SADF enforced apartheid policies and fought in the Angolan Bush War to preserve discriminatory treatment of Africans.
North was a central figure in the Iran-Contra Affair. The political scandal, which came to light in November 1986, involved U.S. officials violating an arms embargo to sell weapons to Iran, and then using the residual profits to fund Contra rebels in Nicaragua. North oversaw the transfer of the arms profits to the Contras, who engaged in widespread human rights abuses, including the rape and murder of civilians. They also had links to drug traffickers. In July 1987, North admitted to lying to Congress and shredding important documents related to the Iran-Contra scheme, which he referred to as a “neat idea.” He was later indicted on 16 felony counts before being convicted on three of them in 1989. The conviction was vacated in 1990.
On September 17, 1987, North sought leniency for Honduran General José Bueso Rosa. Rosa tried to ship $40 million worth of cocaine to the United States in order to fund an attempt to assassinate Honduran President Roberto Suazo Córdoba but was caught by the FBI. North was afraid that if he did not help Rosa avoid a long jail sentence, the general would expose the extent of the United State’s support of the Contra rebels.
On May, 5 1985, North wrote to Admiral John Poindexter, “You will recall that over the years Manuel Noriega in Panama and I have developed a fairly good relationship.” At the time North was attempting to strike a deal where the United States would help improve the dictator’s image in exchange for Noriega’s help in defeating the Sandinistas. North’s exchange with Poindexter also revealed that North had met Noriega on a boat on the Potomac River.