Obama's October Surprise

Pat Racimora -------------------------------

Updated 10/2/08

Surrogates of Senator Hillary Clinton suggested back in May that her Democratic rival faced a possible doomsday scenario before the general election, calling it an "October Surprise". Naturally, everyone assumed Clinton herself would be instigating Armageddon.

The assumption turned out to be off base. Clinton was simply doing her due diligence, praying there was someone left in the national press corps who would recognize an undressed emperor when they saw one. After all, there was that fraud trial going on in Chicago at the time. And what about the two Iraqi agents associated with Tony Rezko? How did those reconstruction funds wind up in the presidential candidate's campaign coffers? And does he really prefer to bank with pimps, as the Chicago Tribune suggested in an article, not picked up by NBC News?

While the answers to these intriguing questions are getting short shrift from the mainstream media, you can bet there's another shoe that will drop this month. However, since Obama has the backing of Bush campaign pioneers, investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Alan Greenspan's voodoo economists at the University of Chicago, the McCain-Palin ticket may have more to worry about than the Chosen One. After all, as Obama's longtime fundraiser, Rezko helped generate $4 million for the Bush reelection campaign in 2003. That's why it may be Obama, and not McCain, who represents Bush's third term.

Surprises, then and now...

The term October Surprise dates back to 1980, the year President Jimmy Carter ran for re-election against Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush. By most accounts, he lost as a result of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and many suspected the Reagan campaign intervened in international affairs to set that ordeal into motion. In fact, many of the names, events and places from yesteryear seem to be popping up again today. Carter, Bush, Iran, the spike in oil prices, a U.S. presidential election, etc. etc. And just like 1980, this year's election cycle began with the assassination of a Bhutto.

At the time of the execution of Benazir Bhutto's father in 1979, the CIA was busy in Pakistan outfitting Osama bin Laden and his Islamic jihad to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. However, most Americans were focussed on Iran in those days. The U.S. backed Shah Reza Pahlavi was overthrown in 1979 after a popular uprising, and in the aftermath, an ayatollah named Khomeini flew in from Paris to take over. In order for Khomeini's scheme to succeed, a shock and awe type of diversion wa needed. So Henry Kissinger called President Carter and asked him to let the deposed shah into the United States for cancer treatment.

The embassy staff in Tehran warned Carter of the ruse. Carter let the Shah in anyway, prompting angry demonstrations in Tehran,where rumors circulated saying the U.S. intended to reinstall Pahlavi. Then a group of students with allegiance to Khomeini stormed the U.S. embassy, taking 52 Americans hostage.

Although the Pentagon disputes it, two former embassy captives insist that the country's current civilian president, Ahmadinejad, was in charge of that operation. And 444 days later - about 20 minutes after Reagan delivered his inaugural speech - the hostages were released. By then, Khomeini and his "supreme council" of mullahs had rammed through an Islamic constitution and began purging the country of the moderate, secular folks responsible for overthrowing the shah in the first place. (Remnants of that dissident wing, known as the MEK-NCRI, are still holed up in Europe and maintain an army base on Iraq's border.

Ater Reagan assumed the presidency, his campaign manager William Casey was appointed CIA director. Casey immediately started selling missiles to the Islamic dictatorship. (The sales continued until the scheme was exposed during the Iran-Contra Scandal in 1986.) In Washington, people wondered. Did the Reagan campaign cut a deal with Khomeini to make sure he wouldn't free the hostages before the November election - hence Carter's October Surprise? Congress held hearings on the subject, chaired by Indiana Democrat Lee Hamilton, who now supports Obama. Hamilton's committee eventually ruled there was no conspiracy. (Twenty years later, this same congressman would be tapped by President Bush to co-chair the Iraq Study Group.)

Fast forward back to this election cycle. The G.O.P. knew that winning the White House after George W. Bush's disastrous reign would be an uphill climb, especially with another Clinton coming down the pike. In the little-known state senator from Illinois, they found reason to hope. Barack Obama had already compiled a lot of dirt under his finger nails from 17 years of Chicago machine politics. His principle benefactor, Tony Rezko, was a Syrian slumlord under investigation by the federal government for fraud and influence peddling. Undoubtedly, these were the kind of people who could carry on the Bush-Cheney legacy..

By using Obama as their trojan horse to sieze the apparatus of the Democratic Party, the neocons saw their odds for November improve dramatically. It didn't matter that Obama was little more than a smug, petulant, unaccomplished hack. He was African American, which meant that neither his Democratic nor Republican opponents could criticize him without getting slammed by liberals in the mainstream media. And once Obama was nominated, the Bush camp, if it wanted to. could make its case to the electorate along these lines: "Jeez, would you look at this guy's proximity group. He's got convicts, foreign agents and tainted campaign contributions coming out of the woodwork. And if he can't even obtain an F.B.I. clearance as a border patrol agent, do you really think we should be handing him the nuclear launch codes?" So far, however, no one has effectively made that case.

Here's a closer look at Obama's potential downfalls:

An indictment from the U.S. Attorney: It turns out the federal prosecutor in the trial of Chicago political fixer Tony Rezko was Patrick Fitzgerald, the special counsel who handled the Valerie Plame C.I.A. leak case. No one knows for sure, but the Justice Department could conceivably indict Obama on corruption charges in the wake of the recent Rezko verdict. To date, the senator has been identified as a participant in crafting legislation to reduce the number of members on the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board from 15 to 9, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The prosecution alleges that as a result, in 2003, the board was stacked by Rezko in order to steer big government contracts his way. Obama had previously helped Rezko and his partner Allison Davis acquire at least 11 housing redevelopment projects in his senate district, in addition to representing the landlord (as his attorney) when the City of Chicago sued over slumlike conditions and unheated apartments. The government's principle witness, Stuart Levine, has acknowledged in sworn testimony that Davis (Obama's former boss at a law firm) acted as go-between in the shakedown scheme of a Hollywood financier. Whether there is a crime here involving the candidate remains to be seen.

On another front, the New York Times has reported that Rezko's role in the purchase of Obama's South Chicago estate in 2005 may have been an attempt to shield assets from creditors in several lawsuits pending at the time. How much Obama himself knew about Rezko's finances is unknown. We do know that Rezko did a walk-through of the home prior to the sale, even though his wife would be listed as the new owner of the empty lot next door.

Links to Iraqi money men exposed: Shortly before the Obama property deal, Rezko received a $3.5 million loan from an Iraqi exile, Nadhmi Auchi. The Pentagon has identified Auchi as a former bagman for Saddam Hussein. This London-based financier is one of the world's richest men, convicted of fraud in 2003 over the notorious European Elf affair, the largest scandal in post-war Europe. Needless to say, the suggestion that it was Saddam's banker who made Obama's dream home possible will probably not play well among Independents and Reagan Democrats in November.

Another longtime Rezko chum, Aiham Alsammarae, was appointed Iraq's minister of electricity in 2003. (Both men attended college together in Illinois during the 1970s.) In 2005, Alsammarae was charged with stealing $650 million in Iraqi reconstruction funds. Wanted by Interpol, Alsammarae posted more than $2.7 million in property as collateral last April to help spring Rezko from jail. While Bush Administration officials won't tell anyone what the warrant is for, his arrest is not imminent.

The minister fled Iraq in December 2006. Prior to that, Newsweek has reported that Alsammarae'a son sent several faxes to Obama's office in Washington when his father was incarcerated in a Baghdad jail. A spokesman for Obama described it as a routine constituent request. It was forwarded to the Department of State, and thereafter, with the aid of Blackwater security guards, Alsammarae escaped. The fugitive now resides comfortably in his private compound outside of Chicago, where he donated online to the candidate in January, February and March.

A presidential campaign that banks with crime figures: According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, in 2006 Obama endorsed and appeared in campaign commercials for Alex Giannoulias, a banker who ran for Illinois state treasurer. Obama backed Giannoulias despite reports that his family-owned Broadway Bank made loans to bookmakers, prostitution rings and other criminal operations. "Records show Giannoulias and his family had given more than $10,000 to Obama's campaign, which banked at Broadway," the story read.

Martial Law declaration: Were the majority of Americans to become disenchanted with or remain uninspired by either candidates McCain or Obama, President Bush could potentially pull off a coup d'etat without a lot of grumbling from voters. After all, the Democratic Party has already managed to do pretty much exactly that with their Barack is the Nominee declaration in June. Perhaps savoring the prospect of a third term, President Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51, an executive order that allows him to suspend the constitution without prior congressional approval. In other words, he declares a state of emergency in the event of a major terrorist attack or other “decapitating” incident against the United States, then cancels the election. According to the directive, the attack need not even take place inside the country. 

As for Gov. Palin, it's clear that a campaign of sabotage and character assassination against her will run right up to November 4th. If she's forced to resign, it's possible Karl Rove will slip in a Bush successor candidate as McCain's running mate. But don't rule out the possibility that Obama is his man in 2008. With the bankruptcy of federal government looming on the horizon, who better to preside over the dissolution of a host of social service and civil rights agencies than a former community organizer from the south side of Chicago?

For an analysis of how Karl Rove and the neocons have manipulated the Democratic nominating process for fun and profit, see Bamboozling the American electorate again.

For more on the CIA in Pakistan and Iran, see our foreign affairs section.

- Rosemary Regello

Copyright 2008

More stories on the presidential race:

Behind the Clinton Superdelegate Murder

The Donna Brazile - Karl Rove Connection

Why Obama Represents Bush's Third Term

Still Under the Bus with Senator Clinton

Who is Nancy Pelosi? (PDF file)

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