Friday, Mar. 29, 2002. Page XXIV

Global Eye -- High Water

By Chris Floyd

Here's an interesting thought experiment. Let's say that federal investigators raid several Muslim charities suspected of financial links to al-Qaida. Let's say that one of these suspect groups has funneled big money to a Republican Party organization. Let's say this Republican organization shares an office with the man known as "the field marshal of the American right," one of the most influential advisers to the president of the United States .

That would be big news, right? There'd be wall-to-wall coverage in the U.S. media, right? It would be plastered all over the "liberal press," right? Wrong. Although last week's raids on U.S.-based Islamic charities did garner a mention or two in the stateside media, you had to go all the way to Britain 's Guardian to learn of the connection to U.S. President George W. Bush's hard-right guru, Grover Norquist.

The little-known Norquist is actually one of the most powerful men in America today. He is chairman of the "Wednesday Meetings," a weekly gathering of the right's top players, including the National Rifle Association, the Christian Coalition, the Heritage Foundation -- and the White House. Also on hand each week are media figures, various tycoons and corporate lobbyists.

What's the purpose of these confabs? One of the regulars, conservative pollster Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, explains: "The meeting functions as the weekly checklist so that everybody knows what's up, what to do," she told The Nation. In other words, it's where the unelected Norquist -- and the unelected Bush -- issue marching orders in their elitist war against the American people.

Norquist's main focus is gutting government services to all the suckers out there sacking groceries and pumping gas. "My goal," he says proudly, is getting government "down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub." (Always excepting the military, of course.) But he's also carried on a profitable sideline in terrorist coddling.

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Grover worked with Ollie North's terrorist operation in Central America and later became a registered lobbyist for the late and unlamented Angolan terrorist murderer, Jonas Savimbi. He was also to be found on those far-flung Afghan fields where Saudi worthies like Osama bin Laden joined the Central Intelligence Agency in supporting the warlords' jihad against the Soviet-backed regime.

Grover drew on these connections to set up the "Islamic Institute," enticing Muslims into the Republican fold. His Christian Coalition buddies liked the cut of conservative Islam's patriarchal jib -- making common fundamentalist cause against the Enlightenment's "decadent" secular values -- while Norquist's corporate allies liked the long green of the institute's wealthy backers in Saudi Arabia , Kuwait and Qatar .

It was all running smoothly until a few renegade feds -- forgetting Bush's pre-Sept. 11 injunctions against probing the Saudi-bin Laden terror connections too closely, and ignoring the Leader's post-attack fudging of his royal friends' global championing of Islamic extremism -- picked on Grover's pals last week. (Maybe he should invite the agents to next Wednesday's meeting.)

Fortunately, although the lives of the charities' innocent volunteers and workers will doubtless be ruined, the "field marshal" escaped unharmed, which is the most important thing. Although floating in funny money, his "institute" was ignored by the probe while his powerful connections kept his name out of the American press. So Grover is free to keep "drowning" the baby of American democracy in the rancid bath water of his master.

Won't somebody pull the plug?

American Taliban

The Taliban came out of nowhere, led by a one-eyed rustic who managed for a time to impose a Cro-Magnon religious dictatorship on an entire land. Their regime has been shattered, their country ravaged; they've been outlawed and marked for death -- yet still they fight on. Where did these young Afghan fighters learn their fierce fundamentalism, their unbending zeal to kill all those who stray from the narrow path of righteousness?

Why, from Uncle Sam, where else? It began during the Reagan-Bush days, when Grover, Osama and the CIA were paying other people to kill and die for them in the great Cold War game in Afghanistan . While pumping in bullets and baksheesh, the U.S. also supplied textbooks so the holy warriors could educate their young while doing the Lord's (and Washington's) work on the battlefield, The Washington Post reports.

But Messrs. Reagan and Bush weren't interested in simply teaching Afghan children how to read and write; what they wanted was a generation of hardened killers who would feast on foreign blood. So the two Christian statesmen seized on jihad as the best way to manipulate oppressed and undereducated Muslim masses.

Thus U.S. taxpayers paid millions for texts promoting the most violent distortions of Islam, illustrating the lessons with images of noble terrorists killing foreign infidels. Indeed, the Reagan-Bush texts were so imbued with hard-core religious hate that the Taliban went on using them after seizing power.

The most apt of their pupils are now applying these lessons against the U.S. soldiers put in harm's way by George "AWOL" Bush and Dick "Gunshy" Cheney. Meanwhile, Bush is "scrubbing" the texts of violence for use in his new Afghan client regime. He's leaving in the religious instruction on how to be a good Muslim fundamentalist, however -- even though this violates U.S. laws against promoting religion overseas.

But what's a little thing like law when grand strategy is at work? After all, the best way to keep a nation on the leash is to make sure its people stay mired in blinkered, uninformed, unquestioning obedience to their fundamentalist masters, right?

Just look how well it's working in America .

FBI Raids Pro-Republicans
The Guardian, March 25, 2002

Grover Norquist: Field Marshal of the Bush Plan
The Nation, May 14, 2001

Raid Seeks Evidence of Money-Laundering
New York Times, March 21, 2002

Muslim Businesses Had Raised Suspicion
Washington Post, March 23, 2002

From U.S., the ABCs of Jihad
Washington Post, March 22, 2002

Blowback Chronicles
The Guardian, Sept. 15, 2001

One-Year Gap in Bush's National Guard Duty
Boston Globe, May 23, 2000

Bush Dodged Draft, Court Told
The Guardian, Sept. 30, 1999

Chicken Hawks Defend the Roost, March 18, 2002

Osama bin Laden: How the U.S. Helped Midwife a Terrorist
Center for Public Integrity, Sept. 13, 2001

Ex-Clinton Veteran Affairs Official Slams Bush and Cheney War Records, August 1, 2000