Monday, May 02, 2005

The Streets Are Paved With Gold Heaven, but it seems that televangelist Pat Robertson is trying to get a head start here on Earth.

While bitterly decrying "the tyranny of an oligarchy", he was busily laying up treasures in cahoots with one of the most despotic and savage tyrants in the world - Charles Taylor, former 'President' of Liberia. Now in exile in Nigeria, Taylor has been indicted by the Special Court of Sierra Leone on 17 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in contributing to the death, rape, abduction, and mutilation of thousands of civilians during Sierra Leone’s civil war from 1991 to 2002.

Bad guy? Not according to Pat. In fact, according to Demopedia
Robertson and Taylor are good friends, so much so that in 1998 Robertson negotiated a business partnership with the Taylor regime giving him the rights to gold mining interests in Liberia in exchange for a 10% kick back to the Taylor government. To move on this opportunity Robertson created a for-profit company -- Freedom Gold -- in which he was listed as President as well as Chairman of Board; Robertson being the Board's only member. The company was chartered within the tax evading borders of the Cayman Islands.

Robertson also defended Taylor in his time of need. The strongest critic of the President (When it came to Charles Taylor stepping down) is televangelist Pat Roberston, who has been lecturing his national television audience regularly about how wrong headed it would be for the US to intervene in Liberia. Indeed, Robertson has been critical of US policy toward Liberia for several years. "We're undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels to take over the country," Robertson told his 700 Club audience recently. "And how dare the president of the United States say to the duly elected president of another country, 'You've got to step down."

Strong words for the President, huh, Pat?

But, interestingly enough, there seemed to be a bit of a sticky wicket, legally, according to a 2001 article in The Perspective, a Liberian newsmagazine, which stated that

Under Liberian law, specifically Chapter V: Article 34 section (f) of the Liberian constitution states "The Legislature shall have the power: to approve treaties, conventions and such international agreements negotiated or signed on behalf of the Republic."

The Liberian Legislature refused to ratify the Freedom Gold agreement signed by President Taylor and Pat Robertson. So on Oct. 30,2000, a second contract, which is virtually identical to the first, except for one significant passage, was drawn up. Section 2 of the document was modified, according to GQ and Liberian legal experts familiar with the deal, to read that the contract will go in effect "when approved by the president of Republic of Liberia." Gone is the language that reads that the contract is to become valid only "in accordance with the constitution and laws of the Republic."

Clearly Mr. Robertson, a graduate of Yale Law School who was represented by Gerald Padmore, a Liberian-born Harvard Law School graduate, must know that his agreement with Taylor is unconstitutional.

Amazing. Just amazing. So last Sunday we find Pat holding forth with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" (here's the transcript, thanks to the Randi Rhodes Show) and opining (in all seriousness) that the worst problem facing the nation is the "out-of-control judiciary". When Stephanopoulos asks him, "How can you say that these judges are a more serious threat than Islamic terrorists who slammed into the World Trade Center?", he answers (I kid you not):
"It depends on how you look at culture. If you look over the course of a hundred years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings. I think we're going to control al Qaeda. I think we're going to get Osama bin Laden. We won in Afghanistan. We won in Iraq, and we can contain that. But if there's an erosion at home, you know, Thomas Jefferson warned about a tyranny of an oligarchy and if we surrender our democracy to the tyranny of an oligarchy, we've made a terrible mistake."

A few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings. No big deal.

I can understand why it's no big deal to Pat. It's obvious that he's not squeamish about a li'l bit o' terrorism where his financial interests are concerned. After all, another interesting but little-discussed factoid about his "Christian buddy" Charles Taylor is that the Washington Post reported that Taylor received at least $1 million for providing safe harbor to agents of Osama bin Laden in the weeks following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. According to the American Atheist Newsletter in 2003,
The operatives were there to supervise "a $20 million diamond-buying spree that effectively cornered the market on the region's precious stones." Indeed, diamonds are part of a culture where deals are struck on a handshake and often leave no trace or records, including electronic "footprints" that are monitored by international police and intelligence services. Diamonds are more convenient to use than gold or other precious metals. They can be easily transported, re-cut, and serve as the ultimate black market currency.

Taylor's wealth and political power stem from his ties to the Revolution United Front (RUF) of neighboring Sierra Leon. The RUF controls extensive diamond mining operations which ship the stones to Liberia where they often sold for hard currency at discount to willing buyers, including al Qaeda agents. For providing safe harbor and anonymity, Taylor receives a commission on each transaction.

But it's OK, cause he's a "fellow Baptist".

I get it.

I may have to continue this post later, because at this point words are kind of failing me...

No comments: