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eXiled Alert! / Fatwah / May 12, 2009
By Mark Ames


Georgian riot police attack anti-Saakashvili protesters in November, 2007

Freedom House recently issued a report placing Georgia 128th in the global press freedom ranking–lower than coup-plagued Mauritania and tied with authoritarian Egypt. This is ironic, because in the same day’s section as the Kerry-Deier op-ed praising Georgia’s democracy and calling for it to be rewarded with a free trade agreement, the Washington Post published an editorial that condemns Georgia’s autocratic equal, Egypt, and President Obama specifically for “appeasement” toward Egypt’s strongman, Hosni Mubarak. But thePost then veers into the sort of bizarre non sequitur for which its editorials have become famous, claiming that the Obama administration blamed the worst crimes of the Bush administration–torture in Guantánamo Bay and the disastrous Iraq War–on President Bush’s brief, half-assed lip service he gave to democracy-promotion in Egypt. Say what?That’s right–despite all of the reasons Obama has publicly stated as to why he opposed Guantánamo and the Iraq War (wrong, illegal, distracts us from the real war, creates new terrorists, diminishes America’s moral authority, etc.), the Post ignores all of that and instead puts words into Obama’s mouth. With that fake claim “established,” the editorial then flips it around and throws it back in Obama’s face: today, by “embracing” the “autocrat” of Egypt, Obama is guilty of “appeasement” and of producing the next “Osama bin Laden, Hamas and Saddam Hussein.”

Here are some excerpts:

The Obama administration’s policy assumes that the Bush administration’s attempts to promote democratic reforms in Egypt produced yet another case of damaged ties and bad public relations to remedy, such as Guantanamo Bay or the war in Iraq. So Mr. Gates, like Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton before him, heaped praise on Mr. Mubarak while making clear that the new administration will not trouble him about his systematic and often violent repression of the country’s liberal politicians, bloggers and human rights activists.

Mr. Bush won credit from many Egyptians for pressing for democratic change; he was criticized because he failed to follow through. Now, Arabs around the region are learning that the Obama administration is returning to the old US policy of ignoring human rights abuses by Arab dictators in exchange for their cooperation on security matters–that is, the same policy that produced the Middle East of Osama bin Laden, Hamas and Saddam Hussein.

Once again, the Washington Post‘s editorial page is being used to whitewash President Bush’s disastrous wars and war crimes, which the newspaper encouraged and defended all along.

The juxtaposition of an editorial blasting Egypt’s human rights record, and blaming Obama for creating future wars because he has not tried to overthrow Egypt’s leader, with the Kerry-Deier editorial in the same section whitewashing Egypt’s brother-in-autocracy, Georgia, isn’t just bizarre; it also reveals the extent of Washington’s corruption, from the intellectual corruption of the Post‘s editorial page to the corruption of our political culture.

That’s because earlier this year, it was reported that Georgia’s autocrat hired three lobbying/public relations firms to improve the republic’s image in the United States. Relations with the United States are the key to power in Georgia–unlike in Egypt, we really can make or break the Saakashvili regime’s power, since both he and the pro-Western opposition look to America for political, strategic and moral support against their bullying neighbor to the north, Russia. America played the key role in putting Saakashvili into power in 2003; were we to withdraw support now, he’d be out in a matter of months or weeks.

saakashvili-dr-dotSaakashvili also hired out notorious Def Leppard groupie/masseuse “Dr. Dot”

According to a report in The Hill in March, Saakashvili signed a $300,000 contract with Public Strategies Inc., a powerful lobbying firm with deep Democratic Party ties (it features at least two former Kerry-Edwards campaign staffers) and a Republican CEO, Dan Bartlett, to improve Georgia’s image in the media. Georgia also hired the Glover Park Group, another Democrat-heavy lobbying firm featuring a former top aide to Richard Gephardt, and put two Americans, one the son of a prominent former Democratic Party governor, the other a self-described Democrat, on a nearly $500,000 retainer to improve Georgia’s image. That’s not to say Georgia’s leader doesn’t like Republicans–until last year, Georgia paid Orion Strategies, a lobbying firm featuring the McCain campaign’s foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, to do the same job.

Less than two months after news broke of Georgia’s revamped lobbying campaign, voilà!: a perfectly honed bipartisan article that slyly avoids mentioning the name of the controversial Georgian leader, repeats variations on the word “democracy” and pushes for a free trade agreement between Georgia and America not because it would benefit American workers but because, in the words of the op-ed, it would “significantly bolster the Georgian people’s democratic and economic aspirations.”

The goal of the FTA is obvious: Saakashvili needs the high-level photo-ops that such an agreement would offer him, tying the new administration as close to Saakashvili’s fortunes as the last administration.

We know what’s in it for Public Strategies Inc., Saakashvili and Kerry-Deier, but what’s in it for the Washington Post? And more important, what’s in it for us?

This article first appeared in on May 11, 2009.

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Add your own

  • 1. Chema Pino Suarez  |  May 12th, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Get em’ Ames.

  • 2. napoleonkaramazov  |  May 12th, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Investigative article of the year. Quality.

  • 3. napoleonkaramazov  |  May 12th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    And I forgot. The present Georgian regime can be summed up in one sentence…
    George W Bush avenue.

  • 4. napoleonkaramazov  |  May 12th, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Meanwhile, the British newspaper The Guardian has an article critical of the WAPO regarding it’s refusal to label waterboarding as torture.
    I commented and posted a link to your article.

    Enjoy. Hope it helps.

  • 5. ed austin  |  May 12th, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Reminds me of Michael Bass outside the then Chesterfields circa 1997…

  • 6. buginthebox  |  May 12th, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    So what’s the greater form of torture? Waterboarding, or listening to a pacifist whine about waterboarding?

  • 7. RanDomino  |  May 12th, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    The important question is, what’s going on with that guy on the right? Why is his baseball cap pulled over his eyes, and is he pushing something or waving his arms around in front of himself like a buffoon?

  • 8. Brokenrecord  |  May 12th, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Goddamn, Saakashvili’s folks have their claws deep in DC, and some mighty effective lobbysists.

  • 9. Andrew  |  May 13th, 2009 at 12:55 am

    Actually quite a few factual errors in this article.

    1. The protestors attacked a police station in which 3 of their number were being held for beating (severely) a female journalist who was reporting the comments of residents in the Tavisuplebamovidan district about the behaviour of said protestors.
    Giorgi Gachecheladze was injured after climbing the fence surrounding the police compound. His own stupid fault.
    Try attacking a police station in ANY democratic country and see where it gets you.

    2. Nino Burjanadze is INCREDIBLY unpopular with the Georgian public. She left the governing party after her husband was refused a “safe” seat in Parliament.

    3. The evidence of the “trumped up charges” against the husband of Burjanadze include him being filmed attempting to purchase military firearms up to and including anti-tank RPG’s and explosives, and discussing with a government agent an attempt to seize government buildings.

    4. Alasania is not supporting Burjanadze (thank God) except in the matter of general umbrella support, and is the most moderate of the opposition leaders.
    He is the one who wants (in true democratic fashion) to continue dialogue with the current President and governing party, and is interested in structural reforms.

    5. I really do suggest you get a bit more of an education Mr Ames. For your info, I am actually in Tbilisi, and live in a regular (not rich) part of the city, I have a Georgian wife, and love this country greatly. I want to see it as a fully fledged parliamentry democracy.

    6. I won’t comment on the criticisms by Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, or all the human rights NGOs in Georgia who have been warning about Saakashvili’s turn to authoritarianism. But that doesn’t mean I have an agenda here–it’s just that I don’t feel like commenting on those things. I have better things to do.

    6. If you call me a “tool” of Saakashvili, well, congratulations to you, mister. If you’re saying that I’ve profited from his regime, again, what’s that have to do with the facts I’m laying out? In fact, what am I doing married to a Georgian and living here? Don’t force me to answer that, too depressing. Anyway, scratch everything. I support a tyrant, you don’t. Let’s leave it at that.

  • 10. Scott  |  May 13th, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Funny thing about Egypt: Rice did push Mubarak to stage elections, but eventually compromised and allowed Mubarak to basically select which candidates could run against him.

    Mubarak chose the hardline Muslim Brotherhood. That way when the results came in, and the polls showed huge votes for the Muslim Brotherhood (because they were the only opposition)Rice, Bush and co flipped out. Mubarak essentially created the illusion that the US needed him to be repressive otherwise Egypt would go Islamist. A few weeks after the elections Mubarak hauled many of the reps that won seats and threw them in jail. The US said nothing, and never pressed him again.

    Obama will not push him either, Egypt will continue to be a major recipient of US military aid while it perpetrates more terror and impoverishment upon its people than Syria and the other mid-eastern boogeymen.

  • 11. Skööby Döö  |  May 13th, 2009 at 2:35 am

    If those are Georgian riot cops in that photo, why do their shields say “police” in Turkish?

  • 12. cut it out  |  May 13th, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Yeah, free trade is the problem. I’m assuming you wrote this on a computer that was made in Philadelphia?

  • 13. Chema Pino Suarez  |  May 13th, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Skooby the cops are Georgian. I can tell you that for two reasons.

    1. The Soviet era gas masks. 2. The MARPAT (Marine Corps camo) which they are using. The Georgians are the only ones in the region that use it.

  • 14. porkers-at-the-trough  |  May 13th, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Nice to see an understated Ames article.
    Of course, when dealing with the Washington Ho Post’s abject corruption, & (Bushesque) in-your-face lies, not only do you not need to “go postal,” but doing so undermines your case.
    Mark either forgot, or intentionally downplayed, the Jewish/neo-con/Israel-Saakashvili angle. Which, when no less than (uber neo-con) Time magazine splashes it (that angle) all over a entire article, can hardly be overstated –,8599,1834785,00.html
    And here is hitting the Washington Post pretty damn hard (for Consortium’s usually understated sytle) for being a “Neo-Con Propaganda Sheet” is actually posting a good number of articles on the Post’s treacherous Neo-Con double standards (browse that index link) including this one about the NY Times –

    The bigger question is, “what could Obama possibly be thinking?” taking the _entirety” of his “advice” from his Emanuel/Rubin/Summers/Liberman Neo-Con crew. There is a very real possiblity that Pakistan and/or Afghanistan will go down the tubes in the coming year or two, and that the economy will continue to shed 500,000 jobs per month – including the bankruptcy of GM & Chrysler, not only shutting down thousands of down-stream venders, suppliers, and auto dealers, but shutting down the pensions of thousands of auto company pensioners (future & current) as well.
    Obama may be having fun with the DC gliterati – and all his “loyal” neo-cons now, but Bush Sr., and Bush-Jr. both enjoyed _80%_ approval ratings (at end of Gulf-War 1 and “Mission Accomplished”, respectively.)
    How would YOU feel if you went door to door for Obama in 2008, then lost your GM union job, AND GM pension, while Obama sits on Stimulus dollars, and hands tens upon hundreds of billions of dollars to the bankers?
    THAT scenario is unfolding even as Obama masters the DC glitter show…

  • 15. aleke  |  May 13th, 2009 at 6:13 pm


    I’m glad you found out free trade isn’t the problem. I assume you get your clothes personally made by a happy, healthy young boy in Malaysia who only works 1 hour a day. Free trade’s even better now that the American middle class lives longer, has less diseases, is growing, and has increasing wages! (starting since around the 70s and accelerating after Reagan)

    What a lovely world we now live in!

  • 16. Tam  |  May 13th, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    @14 porkers-at-the-trough : Thanks for the links.

    It’s a revelation to discover Time is capable of publishing interesting articles. In my experience, Russians and Israelis seem to have curiously similar temperaments so it’s always fascinating to see how the two countries are getting on with each other.

  • 17. Roy15  |  October 22nd, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Here’s what happened the week, back in 1982, I spent with Rocky. ,

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