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August 2004

James Kershaw & the Wonga List

The person I'm currently most intrigued by in the Equatorial Guinea Coup scandal is 20-something computer expert James Kershaw. He is either cooperating with South African police, or has fled, depending on which current news story you read.

According to testimony, he was the mystery voice on the other end of the telephone that recruited Raymond Stanley Archer, fresh from guard duty during the Aristide coup, for the alleged Equatorial Guinea coup project.

The IOL write-up on Kershaw is even more intriguing:

A key witness in the Scorpion investigation may be James Kershaw, described as Mann's right-hand man.

Kershaw, a computer expert in his late twenties, is believed to have played a central role in recruiting mercenaries, buying arms and ammunition and collecting money from "investors".

Kershaw is believed to be in possession of "the Wonga List" - details of rich and influential people who allegedly bankrolled the coup attempt.

The Daily News has learned that Kershaw is preparing to give crucial evidence in South Africa in any future trial of Thatcher. The decision by Kershaw to do a deal with the police means the secret list is likely to be in the hands of the Scorpions.

Kershaw, who was born in South Africa but holds a British passport, has been named in court by a number of arrested mercenaries as one of the recruiters in the coup attempt.

Has he disappeared? Or did he temporarily disappear to confer with his attorney? I can't say, from this distance.

The story of Archer's recruitment is especially interesting. I wonder how Kershaw knew to contact Archer, since the man had  been without a job for less than a week, and how Kershaw knew Archer's cell phone number even though Archer says he knew nothing about Kershaw prior to the contact. Kershaw must know some really interesting people.

In a mystery novel, Kershaw would turn up dead now since, potentially, so many powerful people have so much to lose through his testimony and cooperation. If he has fled, I do wonder if he's in Dallas.

UPDATE: Here's another interesting IOL piece which discusses both James Kershaw and some of Thatcher's other projects.

About Kershaw:

But it has been learned that the keeper of the secrets - accountant and computer expert James Kershaw - has become a witness for the prosecution in South Africa and the explosive list of names is said to be in possession of the police.

The list could provide key evidence in any trials against the men accused of involvement in the coup plot.

A number of the men arrested as suspected mercenaries have named Kershaw, 24, in court as one of the recruiters in the alleged plan to depose President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.

He allegedly made a down payment of $90 000 in Harare, Zimbabwe, and also allegedly gave last-minute instructions, by telephone, to the team.

Kershaw decided to co-operate with the authorities after seeking legal advice.

It is believed that he met officials recently in South Africa.

According to a source close to those involved in the controversy: "James is co-operating with the South African authorities and will give evidence on behalf of the state. He is young. He got caught up in something he could not really control."

Regarding Thatcher, this new article says that Nick Du Toit testified regarding Thatcher's mining operations in Sudan. The mention of Sudan in this context rings alarm bells for me. It is a country that companies with any concern for human rights avoid.

Thatcher, who is alleged by the South African police to have financed the coup plot, has strenuously denied culpability.

Attention, however, is now focused on his other supposed business ventures in Africa.

Nick du Toit, a South African on trial in Equatorial Guinea with other men arrested on suspicion of being mercenaries, claims Thatcher wanted to buy helicopters for use in Sudan.

Giving evidence in court this week, Du Toit said: "In my business I also sold military helicopters and I had some available. Thatcher had a mining operation going in Sudan and he wanted two Mi-8 helicopters for Sudan."

Sudan. The very last thing Sudan needs is Mark Thatcher.

Continue reading "James Kershaw & the Wonga List" »


Wolfowitz's Utopia: a network of friendly militias

Here's an important bit I missed back when we had relatives visiting: The Pentagon wants $500 million in order to train "a network of friendly militias" to govern the ungovernable places. This bizarre bit of military privatization may be the single worst piece of policy to come out of GWB's presidency. I mean, if you were setting out to replicate the "successful" terrorist Osama bin Laden, I certainly could not come up with a more effective way.  This is exactly the means by which the US created Osama bin Laden, and now Wolfowitz wants to expand the program.

Certainly this is a recipe for Reagan-style proxy wars in which hundreds of thousands of people who live in inconspicuous places die. But worse than that, it is a design for an ongoing source of deadly terrorist enemies.

Wolfowitz shouldn't just be fired. He should be arrested.

Kathryn Cramer at August 26, 2004 06:45 PM | Link Cosmos | Purple Numbers  | Edit

Comments

That is insane!
Why isn't this in the news as:
Remember the program that created Osama bin Laden and other terrorists? Wolfowitz is increasing the budget, because it was so successful.

Posted by: deena at August 27, 2004 08:01 PM

Mark Thatcher, Entitled

Somewhat to my surprise, I find the answer to the timing of the Mark Thatcher arrest: he was getting ready to move to the US where presumably his attempts to liberate the oil of Equatorial Guinea from oppression would be more appreciated.

Over the past week, Thatcher had sold four vehicles, put his house on the market, reserved flights to the U.S. for his family and enrolled his two children in American schools, ThisDay, a Johannesburg-based newspaper reported today, without saying where it got the information. Ngwema confirmed the report in a telephone interview.

I'll bet they were moving (back) to his wife's home state of Texas.

There is a really juicy piece by Keith Dovkants of the Evening Standard on the This Is London site. One again, Thatcher was under mother's wing:

Margaret Thatcher was on sparkling form. Despite her frailty, she insisted on meeting all the guests at her son's lavish Christmas party. There were more than 70 of them, gathered around a sumptuous buffet laid out by the swimming pool at Mark Thatcher's sprawling mansion in Cape Town's Constantia suburb. 

The guests, some of whom had flown in from London, were charmed by the iconic 78 yearold ex-prime minister who, according to one, displayed an irrepressible cheerfulness. 

Baroness Thatcher might not have been so genial if she had known she was meeting the key plotters in a highly illegal plan to overthrow the president of an oil-rich African country. And she would have been distinctly unhappy if she had known that her beloved son Mark was to be accused of being at the heart of the plot - something he has strenuously denied. 

The article also discuses the matter of Mom's old friend, the disgraced Lord Archer:

Our investigation reveals that Mann, 51, sought money to finance the coup from individuals in his influential social and business circle. Leaked legal documents show a payment of $134,980 (£74,000) was made to Mann's company, by a "J.H. Archer", four days before Mann was seized.

The initials are those of Lord Archer, the disgraced Conservative peer and bestselling author who is an old friend of Baroness Thatcher. His friendship with Eli Calil, a London-based businessman who has been accused of being involved in the coup attempt, goes back even further - more than 30 years.

Soon after Mark Thatcher's arrest yesterday, Lord Archer's lawyers sought to quell speculation that the peer might have been involved in bankrolling the mercenary operation and said in a statement that he had "no prior knowledge". His lawyers also denied he had issued a cheque for the amount shown on the bank statement from Mann's company. When it was pointed out the sum was paid by credit transfer, his legal spokesman said Lord Archer "considers the matter closed". 

Here's another good bit from the article:

Barrie Penrose is researching a book on the attempted coup. He said: "If this had worked, it would have been one of the poshest coups in history. Simon Mann, the well-connected Old Etonian ex-SAS officer, went around his well-heeled friends asking them if they wanted to invest in a little project. How much he told them about what he was planning is not clear. Some doubtless knew the full story, but others probably did not." 

And why should an accused cannibal be allowed to sit on 10% of the world's oil reserves in darkest Africa and keep the profits for himself? Aren't the well-heeled and well-connected entitled to take it from him? Isn't that what having a title is all about?

So this seems to be the peak of Sir Mark's career -- combatting his "distinct lack of brains, charm and business acumen" with a deep sense of entitlement, to scale the heights. Wow. What a guy.

MEANWHILE, more arrests are imminent.

UPDATE: Josh Berthume tells a joke I wish I'd thought of:

HERE IS A JOKE FOR MY BRITISH READERS:  Mark Thatcher claims he wasn't trying to overthrow the government, necessarily, its just that "Equatorial Guinea has so much that needs privatizing."  Zing!     

ALSO, I've been wondering where Mark Thatcher was intent on moving to. He and his wife appear on the client list of Harold Leidner a landscape artist whose website claims he did 15 of the 100 most expensive yards in Dallas. This could be from back when the Thatchers used to live in Dallas, or it could be the Mark Thatcher, sandal inventor. But a journalist should enquire whether Mr. &  Mrs. Thatcher have any current projects with the firm.

AHA! I was right! According to the Guardian, the Thatcher family was bound for Dallas:

Police in South Africa, where Thatcher has lived since 1995, have information that the 51-year-old businessman had put his $3.3 million home up for sale and had booked flights for his American wife and two children to Dallas, police spokesman Sipho Ngwema said. Thatcher's two children had already been enrolled in schools in Dallas.

Next question: Who are Thatcher's buddies in Dallas?

Regarding the Texas connection, the Evening Standard remarks:

In 1987 he married Diane Burgdorf, the daughter of a millionaire Texas car dealer he met while working as a salesman for Lotus. Settled in Dallas, he created a complex web of companies, helped along by the contacts he had made through his mother. His ability to alienate people also continued. Neighbours were left aghast at the occasion he stormed into a house across the street and ordered the woman who opened the front door to move her car from outsidehis house. At a get-to-know you party he refused a name tag, saying: "If they they don't know who I am by now they never will." 

But he also made friends. Intriguingly,a 1994 newspaper article reported among his powerful Texan allies were  one George W Bush Jr, then running for state governorship.

As is remarked upon in the Scotsman, Dallas is also home to Triton Energy:

Dallas-based Triton Energy, which has close ties to President George Bush, Exxon Mobil and Chevron Texaco have together invested more than US$5billion in Equatorial Guinea's burgeoning oil production, predicted soon to provide five percent of US oil needs.

Triton has been an important source of Bush campaign funds:

Commerce Secretary Donald Evans is a key link to many of the Bush money sources. . . .  Evans then became Bush's national finance chairman, and from that post organized the pioneers -- a group of more than 100 individuals who pledged to each raise $100,000. In addition to Kenneth Lay, and the Kinders of Enron, the pioneers included executives of First Energy Corp., Texas Oil and Gas, CSX Transportation, Occidental Chemical, Triton Energy Corp., Reliant Energy, the Texas Utilitites Co., Vaughn Petroleum, Sanchez Oil and Gas, and Jerry McCutchin Drilling Co.

And by the way, where's Maggie? Fobes has just ranked her number 21 on their newly released list of the World's Hundred Most Powerful Women. Their article on the list begins:

"I don't mind how much my ministers talk," Baroness Margaret Thatcher once said, "as long as they do what I say." The former British prime minister long ago defied the conventional wisdom that women can gain power only by studiously working behind the scenes to forge consensus. That's why she and 99 other leaders in politics, business and social causes have made it to our first ever ranking of the world's most powerful women.

Kathryn Cramer at August 26, 2004 06:45 AM | Link Cosmos | Purple Numbers  | Edit

Comments

Mark thatcher really IS "entitled," doubly. I am
a former African explorer, with European roots,
and we are the migrated (from captivity in what
became Parthia, then Iran (=Aryan), thru to Greece
andRomaina and the heartland of Europe to Britain)
LOST TRIBES OF ISRAEL (not to be confused with
Jews) to whom Christ came (Mat 15:24 & 15:25)
and he didn't abolish our empowering Israel-favoring laws... such at the fact we we given vast
new lands (2 Sam 7:10-17) and are to take others
slaves forever (Lev 25:44-46), just as our Father
Adam was given dominion over ealier "chay" or
living beings (cl;early including pre-Adamic humans whose remains I saw in Africa). But we are
to obey this law.... which we fail to do!

Our Queen (I'm in land still recognizining her, unlike USA in manmade law rebellion) swore to
uphols this law at her coronation (as did most
European monarchs). But she does not!

Our noblemen (ie Mark thatcher) are to bind the
monarch to this (Magna Carta 1215, Ps 149-150 calls for us "saints" to so bind nobles and king)
But they don't. We let REVISIONISTS destroy our
law and we (illegally) let parliaments/tyrants
make any laws they wish....

And since this madness has infected Africa for
40+ years, it has gone to decay, with lowest of
locals running places like Equatorial Guinea.

It's time for us to RECOLONISE AFRICA (see
www.Rense.com article with less ideology).

WE MUST DEMAND MARK THATCHER, NICK  DU TOIT,
and the others be freed... or focus on retaking
such lands for a new, Bible-LAw-based imperialism

About 120 years ago European rulers partitioned
Africa in the great Berlin Conference which we
should recognize as authority for recolonization
(Britain out of German SWA & Ost-Afrila etc.)

see www.geocities.com/royalguardiansweb

 

Posted by: Wise One at August 26, 2004 07:22 PM

I think we disagree.

Posted by: Kathryn Cramer at August 26, 2004 07:53 PM

James Kershaw has apparently disappeared, taking the list of coup backers with him:

https://www.theherald.co.uk/news/22939.html

Posted by: Steven Kaye at August 26, 2004 10:16 PM

Africa's going to the dogs. If the indigionous population don't pull the ribs out of the African carcass before they all die of AIDS, Muslim fundamentalists will take over, victimise them, and afterwards turn the place into one massive wasteland to be potholed by brainwashed natives performing ethnic cleansing or whatever the hell other excuse they can manage to vocalise from their towelhead "edukashun". Free Mark Thatcher. Free Nick du Toit. Take out Mugabe and stabilize the continent before the maggots devour every last bit of infrastructure still in existence. And sell sub-Saharan Africa to the West who could do something constructive with it.

Posted by: Prophet J at September  1, 2004 09:29 AM

Africa's going to the dogs. If the indigionous population don't pull the ribs out of the African carcass before they all die of AIDS, Muslim fundamentalists will take over, victimise them, and afterwards turn the place into one massive wasteland to be potholed by brainwashed natives performing ethnic cleansing or whatever the hell other excuse they can manage to vocalise from their towelhead "edukashun". Free Mark Thatcher. Free Nick du Toit. Take out Mugabe and stabilize the continent before the maggots devour every last bit of infrastructure still in existence. And sell sub-Saharan Africa to the West who could do something constructive with it.

Posted by: Prophet J at September  1, 2004 09:30 AM

Mark Thatcher, Son of Margaret Thatcher, Arrested in South Africa in Connection with Coup Plot

Check out this story in the Guardian:

Police Arrest Son of Margaret Thatcher         

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) - South African police arrested Mark Thatcher, the son of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, early Wednesday on allegations he was involved in a plot to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea, police said.

Police spokesman Sipho Ngwema said Thatcher was arrested at Cape Town home and is expected to be charged with violation of the Foreign Military Assistance Act.

``We have evidence, credible evidence, and information that he was involved in the attempted coup,'' said Ngwema. ``We refuse that South Africa be a springboard for coups in Africa and elsewhere.''

Police raided Thatcher's home in the upscale suburb of Constantia shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday armed with search warrants. Investigators searched his records and computers for evidence.

Investigators believe Thatcher helped finance a plot to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea.

``We believe Mr. Thatcher assisted in finance and logistics,'' said Ngwema, who declined to elaborate.

I wonder what took them so long. Given the timing, I assume the arrest in connected to information revealed in one of the two ongoing trials of mercenaries, one in Zimbabwe and the other in Equatorial Guinea. It could also be connected to the recent raid on the PMF  International Intelligence Risk Management.

(Thanks to Charles Stross & Chris Williams!)

PS: There are several amusing graphics of Mark Thatcher on the cover of the magazine Private Eye from the 80's here.

UPDATE: Reuters is now reporting that the arrest was precipitated by Nick Du Toit's testimony in the Equatorial Guinea trial. I would think that this, by itself, would not be sufficient for the arrest, since Du Toit is testifying trying to save his own life under extremely coersive circumstances. It occurs to me that this may be part of the deal South Africa made to gain assurances from EQ that if convicted, the mercenaries would not be executed.

FURTHER UPDATE: Sir Mark had his shoes, jacket, and cell phone stolen while awaiting his bail hearing. Now he's under house arrest, though out on bail.

MEANWHILE, Jack Straw, who is in Cape Town is "keeping mum" on the subject of Thatcher's arrest.

A FURTHER THOUGHT: Earlier this month there were reports that author/poltician Jeffrey Archer was one of the coup's investors. I wonder if the Thatcher case will shed any light in the matter. (This probably means nothing, but at least one attorney at the firm that represents Archer formerly worked for the firm that represents or represented the PMF Sandline.)

Kathryn Cramer at August 25, 2004 08:09 AM | Link Cosmos | Purple Numbers  | Edit

Comments

https://psychologist.blogspot.com/2004_03_29_psychologist_archive.html

Posted by: Hello at August 26, 2004 06:22 AM

The blog liked to above  alleges to be the diary of a South African mercenary. I hope it is fiction (see, for example "June 16, 2004: Is it OK to Kill a child? ), though I suspect that at least in part it is for real.

Posted by: Kathryn Cramer at August 26, 2004 07:38 AM

Enjoying your thorough blog coverage of the Thatcher case. 

  --Ryan.

Posted by: Ryan Schultz (Quiplash) at August 29, 2004 08:43 PM

The Equatorial Guinea Coup Trial Has Begun

On Equatorial Guinea, the trial of mercenaries alleged to have plotted a coup in coordination with Simon Mann, currently standing trial in Zimbabwe, has begun. I have been trying to get a clear picture from news reports of what has been happening, but reports conflict. IOL explains:

 

Reporting of the case is difficult as South African journalists have been denied entry to the country and an agency report on Monday suggested Du Toit had agreed to the main charges.

Nick Du Toit and others have not let been asked to plead on charges. Du Toit has apparently been extensively crossexamined. IOL reports:

Alleged mercenary Nick du Toit denied in an Equatorial Guinea court on Monday that he had organised an attempted coup, said South Africa's ambassador Mokgethi Monaisa.

When the prosecutor put it to him his denial was inconsistent with a confession he had allegedly signed in prison in Malabo, Du Toit said his evidence in court was right and he knew nothing about a confession.

Du Toit's denial of the main charge against him was relayed to the Cape Argus by Monaisa, who is attending the trial.

Whereas South Africa's News 24 reports:

Du Toit told the court on Monday, when the trial opened, that he was in charge of logistics for an attempted putsch to oust the long-time leader of the oil-rich central African nation.  . . .

The South African told Equatorial Guinea's attorney general on Monday that he had accepted the job at the request of Simon Mann, the alleged leader of 70 other suspected mercenaries arrested in Zimbabwe days after Obiang announced the coup had been thwarted.

The mercenaries held in Zimbabwe were allegedly due to join Du Toit and the others in Equatorial Guinea to carry out the coup.

Du Toit, who served with the South African special forces in the apartheid era, was evasive on Monday when questioned about his exact role, in particular whether he was involved in the planned attack on a police barracks.

"It was more than six months ago," he said. "I don't remember any more but I think so."

He also said his co-accused were not aware of what was being planned and that he had just asked them to meet people at the airport.

The state prosecutor said on Monday he is seeking the death penalty for Du Toit and prison terms ranging from 26 years to 86 years for the other defendants.

Here's the Guardian's take on the testimony:

Prosecutors said the leaders planned to oust President Obiang using arms obtained in Zimbabwe and soldiers recruited in South Africa. The plotters allegedly hoped to replace him with Severo Moto, an opposition figure living in exile in Spain.

Mr du Toit repeated much of his previous confession in court today, saying he was to have been paid $1m for supplying information on the whereabouts of the president and other coup targets. He was also to have arranged for vehicles for the mercenaries, he said.

"I was told he [Mr Moto] would land in an aircraft 30 minutes after the main force had landed," Mr du Toit said in his opening testimony.

The defendant said that the alleged coup leader, British ex-SAS officer Simon Mann, had told him that the Spanish government would recognise the Moto government. "It had the blessing of some American higher-up politicians," he told the court. . . .

The criminal charges were read out to the largely English-speaking defendants in Spanish only, after an electronic translation system failed, and they had access to lawyers during only three hours shortly before the trial.

It will be interesting to see whether any evidence is offered other that the testimony of the prisoners trying to save their own lives.

Kathryn Cramer at August 24, 2004 11:34 AM | Link Cosmos | Purple Numbers  | Edit

Comments

News just in - the RSA has nicked Mark Thatcher for involvement in the coup plot. Normally I'm wary of cheering on states, but right now I'm prepared to make an exception. Way to go, South Africa! Throw away the key!

It's about time that the Boy Mark, deprived of the protection of his increasingly gaga mama, spent a long time contemplating the nature of his career of crime from inside a cell.

Posted by: Chris Williams at August 25, 2004 07:39 AM

Liberals allow unspeakable cruelty to continue everyday by hamstringing those who would take action if it weren't for the liberal outcry that would come.  EG.  Unspeakable cruelty goes on in EG everyday. I have heard the screams from EG jails and know!!!

You know the real reason the UK supported us in Iraq was because the US gave a thumbs up to the UK establishment to do the coup in EG and get the oil contracts.  That I am sure is what happened.  I can't believe no one this page figured it out!!   Surely Bush was behind it!! (rubish of course)

But please note.  The bothched coup attempt should show clearly how even little conspiracies are almost impossible to carry out.  This is about as "vast" a right wind conspiracy as there has ever been, and it didn't even get off the ground, litterally..  Incredible that people think Bush is the head of a vast right wing conspiracy and not see that some people simply see what is right to do and do it and there is no conspiracy at all.    The EU won't stop genocide even in it's own backyard much less way off in a forgotten back water of Africa.  With Post Modern Europe dominating things we will simply have more, and more, and more, genocide (like sudan) right now.  Only as long as some traditionalist in the US and Europe hold on will the tide of genocide be held back.  When they are finally all gone from power, a dark, dark, dawn awaits us all. 

Posted by: t at August 28, 2004 11:12 AM

Raymond Stanley Archer

I realized when I woke up this morning that when writing my post Is This World a Little Too Small?I had misread IOL's discussion of Raymond Stanley Archer. His testimony at the N4610 trial does not so much suggest that he worked for the American security company the Steele Foundation (which guarded Aristide prior to his removal from power), but rather that he was with Aristide after or perhaps even during.

One of the 70 alleged South African mercenaries on trial in Zimbabwe was guarding deposed Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide days before he was taken into custody. . . . He said he had arrived back in South Africa three days earlier after an assignment as a bodyguard to Aristide . . . when a man whom he identified as James Kershaw contacted him on his cellphone.

Not much time passes between Aristide's last day in power, February 28th, and Archer finding himself in jail in Zimbabwe on March 7th. And according to Archer, he was at home in South Africa for three days in between. (Here's an Aristide timeline.)

On March 1st, Aristide was flown directly from Haiti to Central African Republic in a US chartered jet. He does not leave CAR for Jamaica until March 15th, by which time Archer is already in jail.

So there are only a few possibilities here: (1) I was right in the first place; Archer worked for Steele even though Steele's usual folks are former US special forces. (2) Archer was in Haiti and then in CAR with Aristide. Or (3) Archer was with Aristide only in CAR. Of the three possibilities, number 3 makes the least sense, because Archer is finished with the job and home by March 4th. And if he worked for Steele (1), wouldn't there have been fuss about American involvement if one of the men on N4610 had been employed by a US private military firm less than a week earlier? What looks most likely is that Archer's assignment was to help get Aristide out of Haiti to CAR; that he was part of the group that escorted/abducted (depending on your source) Aristide from Haiti.

Another question: who hired him to "guard" Aristide? If it wasn't Steele, it looks to be either the US government or a subcontractor. The US chartered the plane that took Aristide out of Haiti. Presumably whoever chartered the plane also took care of personnel needs. Was it the US Department of State? Colin Powell's choice of pronouns immediately after the fact suggests as much:

Mr Powell insisted: "He was not kidnapped. We did not force him onto the airplane. He went onto the airplane willingly. And that's the truth."

Aristide's phone calls to the outside world immediately following his flight were apparently placed on a cell phone that had been "smuggled" into his room, so I doubt he did the booking, (unless of course Archer worked for Steele).

So this leaves us with a number of questions: First of all, how did a man who would have been vetted for security work either by a reputable US security firm or by the US government end up on N4610? Secondly, were any of the 10 men Archer said he recognized among the N4610 bunch similarly vetted? And had they had similar recent employment? And finally, who is "James Kershaw"?

The darkest interpretation of this odd linkage is that Archer is some kind of coup specialist, experienced at escorting heads of state from their home countries into exile.

UPDATE: In the comments on a nearby post somone who claims to have worked for Steele identifies Archer as a former Steele employee. Thanks!


Is This World a Little Too Small?

I've been reading the coverage of the N4610 trial, waiting for something interesting to happen. The defense has concluded its arguments; the mercenaries will not be extradited to Equatorial Guinea.

But here's an interesting bit: Mercenary accused 'guarded' Haiti's Aristide:

Harare - One of the 70 alleged South African mercenaries on trial in Zimbabwe was guarding deposed Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide days before he was taken into custody.

Raymond Stanley Archer told a makeshift court in Zimbabwe's maximum security jail on Thursday that he was having lunch with his ex-wife in Johannesburg when he got a phone call offering him a job to guard a mine.

He said he had arrived back in South Africa three days earlier after an assignment as a bodyguard to Aristide - who has since been granted temporary asylum in South Africa - when a man whom he identified as James Kershaw contacted him on his cellphone.

"He said if I could get to the airport within an hour, I could have the job. I met the rest of the accused and flew out. I had met about 10 of them before.

"As far as I was concerned, we stopped in Harare to refuel."

Now, I know it's a Small World After All, but wasn't a San Francisco-based company provinding Aristide's security? Wasn't it the Steele Foundation? Did Raymond Stanley Archerwork for Steele? How peculiar.

MEANWHILE, Derek Davids (aka Johnathan Constable), chief executive of International Intelligence Risk Management, has been released by South African police following a raid of his company's offices for suspected mercenary activity.


Ted Kennedy & the No-Fly List: a Comedy of Errors

I just wish Michael Moore had video footage of Ted Kennedy being stopped and questioned (not once, but five times) because "T. Kennedy" appeared on the "No-Fly" list (Washington Post).

And I note, at the end of the WP article, that my college friend David Fathi, who I haven't seen in about 20 years,  is quoted:

David C. Fathi, who said he is apparently on the no-fly list, obtained such a letter but said it hasn't done him much good. "By the time I show the letter, it is already too late," he said.

Fathi, a U.S. citizen of Iranian ancestry and an ACLU attorney, said he has been stopped seven or eight times at airports, but not on every flight. Once he was led from the counter by armed police and questioned extensively at the airport. 

"There really is a no rhyme or reason" to getting delayed, Fathi said. "It illustrates the ridiculousness of the system. If it stops them because they're on the list they should stop them every time. Not every third time." 

(He look a bit older in his ACLU picture, but then it's been nearly 20 years.)

Kathryn Cramer at August 20, 2004 03:18 PM | Link Cosmos | Purple Numbers  | Edit

Comments

Civil rights hero/Georgia congressman John Lewis, who was beaten up by racist goons in Alabama back in the sixties, said today that he had been stopped, and sometimes searched on the plane, almost forty times. I don't have the link but it's on the CNN site.

This looks deliberate. If they're going after high-profile Democrats already one can only imagine what will happen after the election.

Posted by: Jon Meltzer at August 20, 2004 09:19 PM

Watching this story in the TV media is frustrating - its treated as a light-hearted anomaly in the 'war on terror' - the story should be that there are ''No-Fly Lists' at all!

The freedom to travel is a right for all.

Posted by: redjade at August 22, 2004 07:21 AM

Trying to Lose the Post in Postimperial

Oh, this is tasty. From the Independent: UK to fund 'security advisers' for Sierra Leone:

Britain is to pay for a private security firm to provide intelligence training and advice to Sierra Leone, the West African country slowly recovering from a 10-year civil war.

The revelation will raise fresh questions over the Government's close relationship with the security firms after the Sandline arms-to-Africa scandal.

The Department for International Development (DfID) is offering a 12-month contract to provide "intelligence and security advice" to the government of Sierra Leone, headed by President Ahmad Kabbah.

As well as training, the winning firm will work "at the highest level" with the country's new security service and even draft an official secrets act.

Security industry sources said Control Risks, Erinys International and Aegis Defence Services are possible bidders.

A bid from Aegis would embarrass the Government. The company is headed by Col Tim Spicer, the former Scots Guard who was at the centre of the arms-to-Africa affair. His former company, Sandline International, tried to smuggle arms to forces in Sierra Leone in 1998 in contravention of a UN arms embargo and in apparent collusion with the Foreign Office.

A spokeswoman for Mr Spicer refused to say if Aegis would bid for the contract in Sierra Leone. A DfID spokeswoman said: "All applications will be judged on their own merits."

It seems to me that some in the British government are so hot to lose the post in postimperial power that they do not stop to contemplate what they are creating when they fund these companies. I especially like the part about the winning company getting to draft an official secrets act. My guess such a law would make it illegal for the Independent to report on such contracts.


Bushworld: Atrazine & Private Jails

Elizabeth had trouble sleeping and so was awake until after midnight -- I think she's teething. So I'm short of time this morning. But here are a couple of items I want to blog even though I have no time this morning:

• Bush's EPA thinks it's not a problem if the pesticide atrazine disrupts your hormones. From the Washington Post:

Herbicide approvals are complicated, and there is no  one reason that atrazine passed regulatory muster in this country. But close observers give significant credit to a single sentence that was added to the EPA's final scientific assessment last year. 

Hormone disruption, it read, cannot be considered a "legitimate regulatory endpoint at this time" -- that is, it is not an acceptable reason to restrict a chemical's use -- because the government had not settled on an officially accepted test for measuring such disruption. 

and

• the freelance jailers are standing trial in Kabul: BBC: Americans appear in Kabul trial:

The BBC's Andrew North, who is in the courtroom, says Mr Idema sometimes flung up his arms in apparent frustration, saying he had no access to the evidence he needs to defend himself.

Mr Idema claims this includes videos, photos and documents which he says were removed by US FBI officers after his arrest.

He said FBI agents had been present at one interrogation he had carried out of a man he described as a "terrorist".

In juxtaposition, these two unrelated news stories seem like elements from a satirical novel. If I had time, I could collect more. (Well, actually, if you skim down the main page of this blog, you will find more.)  But I have to stop now.

Oh, I almost forgot this gem from the New York Times. Okay, so here we are busily encouraging private military enterprise, and contracting with the likes of Victor Bout and Tim Spicer, but whom does the FBI chose to investigate as potential terrorists? You might think it would be the guys with the weapons. Guess again: it's peace activists.


John Cramer Writes to New Scientist

[NOTE, 12/13: I have included the comment section of this post when resrrecting it in Typepad.]
John Cramer (my dad, for those who came in late) responds to issues raised in the the New Scientist Letter Column regarding the Afshar experiment. This just in via email:

Dear Kathryn,

        I sent the following letter-to-the-editor to New Scientist:

=======================================================

A number of your readers have pointed out that Afshar's grid wires are
placed in just the positions that would form a diffraction grating creating
an image of pinhole 1 at the position of the pinhole 2 image.  Does this
destroy the purity of Afshar's "which-way" measurement?

I raised the same question with Afshar earlier this year, and the answer is
no.   Reason: the wires intercept no light and so cannot diffract.  He has
done a variation of his experiment using ONLY A SINGLE WIRE and recorded all
the light in the focal plane of the pinholes under three conditions: (1)
wire in, one pinhole; (2) wire in, two pinholes; and (3) wire out, two
pinholes.  Measurement (1) shows lots of scattering from the wire away from
the image points, indicating that with only one pinhole open the wire is
intercepting and scattering light  Measurements (2) and (3) show clear
images of the pinholes with nothing in between and are indistinguishable.

Conclusion: no light is scattered or intercepted by the wire in measurement
(2) because the interference pattern is present, and the wire is at an
intensity-zero position of the pattern.  A single wire cannot function as a
diffraction grating.   Bohr is still wrong.

John G. Cramer
Professor of Physics
University of Washington

Kathryn Cramer at August  6, 2004 01:13 PM | Link Cosmos | Purple Numbers  | Edit

Comments

Cramer says ( see his power point ): Copenhagen-influenced expectation: The measurement-type forces particle-like behavior, so there should be no interference, and no minima. Therefore, 6% of the particles should be intercepted.

This means (following Cramer) that Bohr will predict that there is no interference in front of the lens. But I have a reply evident to Cramer : Are you sure that you have a which path experiment ???? If you have such proof (I have the proof of the opposite) I think that Afshar could give you his 1000 $ (that he proposed to me and to others ) because you will prove in the same time that Schrodinger equation is wrong or that 1+1 =3.

My conclusion (or my introduction):
A quantum system can not carry enough information to provide definite answers to all questions that can be questionned experimentally ....

my former boss who wrote this sentence and knows quite well quantum mechanics is certainly right...

Think a little to it: the most important word is experimentally but the rest is nice too...
Aurel.: a advocate of Bohr and Einstein (and of beer)

NB: even If dont like the point of view of Bohr it seems that Bohr will win again and again ( always?) . It is sad but Ok we can continue to drink beer ....nevertheless.... perhaps

NB(2): If you can give me a preprint of the  Afshar paper I can write you a comment for FREE  to incredible physics letters  a new journal about donald duck in the quantum word   

 

Posted by: le grand schtroumph at August 10, 2004 02:01 PM

Raymond Archer was an employee of the Steele Foundation he had been hired sometime around March or April of 2003.

He is not a coup specialist...he was hired as part of the dignitary protection team assigned to protect aristide.

His employment ended when aristide was ousted as did they employment of other Steele members who were not reassigned to contracts in the middle east

Posted by: Former Steele Member at August 24, 2004 04:06 PM

For further clarification:

The protection detail assigned to Aristide was a US State Dept approved contract awarded to The Steele Foundation

The protection team was an international team consisting former US military, former British military, and a few former South African Special Forces.

The protection detail was forced to leave by the U.S. with Aristide. For more info concerning this go to Interview with Kenneth Kurtz, Steele Foundation conducted by Amy Goodman on Tuesday March 2nd 2004 in the Democracy Now (www.democracynow.org) 
There are major flaws in the answers provided in this interview

Posted by: Former Steele Member at August 25, 2004 09:03 AM

I am surpised by the presence of th South Africans, since the news reports I had read of the Steele Aristide group portrayed them as exclusively US special forces.

When you say "The protection detail was forced to leave by the U.S. with Aristide," I presume that what you mean by "with" is simultaneous with, as opposed to accompanying; which is to say that you are not telling me they were forced onto the plane with him?

(That interview on Democracy Now is pretty evasive, isn't it?)

Posted by: Kathryn Cramer at August 25, 2004 09:59 AM

The protection detail left Haiti on the same  aircraft as Aristide. There was a meeting late in the evening the night before we departed the country with protection team members and reps from the U.S. Some of us (protection team) inquired about staying behind and not leaving with Arisitde. We were told we had no choice in the matter and refusal could put in jeopardy our military retirement (US personnel only). This information never was reported or printed anywhere to my knowledge and was certainly not covered by Mr. Kurtz in his interview. The entire detail left with Aristide. Mr. Kurtz denies in the article they (protection team) were forced to leave. This is simply not true. For a more detailed account of the departure and ruse employed by the US Government go to interview with Aristide and his bodyguards conducted by Amy Goodman March 16, 2004 in Democracy Now (democracynow.org) or (www.thirdworldtraveler.com/haiti/aristide&bodyguard_DN.html) 

Posted by: Former Steele Member at August 26, 2004 07:40 AM

Thanks. This is fascinating.

Posted by: Kathryn Cramer at August 26, 2004 07:43 AM

Peter Mandelson's Alleged Links

The delay in the N4610 trial combined with Simon Mann's smuggled note calling upon powerful friend with connections in UK conservative circle for help provide rich opportunities for the UK's investigative journalists. The Observer has a fine example of what is to come:

Mandelson rented flat from oil tycoon in coup claim: The European Commissioner's alleged links with a millionaire accused of backing a putsch bid in Africa are prompting questions

Peter Mandelson, the twice-sacked minister who is to be Britain's new European Commissioner, rented a luxury London home from the Lebanese millionaire now accused of funding an illegal African coup.

Mandelson's links to Ely Calil - the British-based tycoon who was Lord Archer's financial adviser - will once again raise questions about the former minister's links to rich businessmen.

Mandelson was forced to resign as Northern Ireland secretary in 2001 after he was accused of helping one of the Hinduja brothers obtain a British passport.

Calil, who made his fortune trading oil in Africa, is being sued in Britain for allegedly funding a coup to overthrow the president of the oil-rich west African state of Equatorial Guinea.

The Observer has now established that while Mandelson was Northern Ireland secretary he rented a luxury flat in the prestigious Holland Park area which had been offered to him by Calil. The property was then owned by one of Calil's trust funds.

The N4610 trial doesn't resume until August 18th, which given plenty of time for journalists to crawl all over this and other conservative connections. Enjoy.

MEANWHILE, in the comments, Steven Kaye points out an Independent article:

Mercenaries in trouble spots to be regulated

New laws to regulate mercenaries and private security firms who supply armed guards in trouble spots such as Iraq and Afghanistan are being considered by the Government.

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, is said to believe that the arguments in favour of a new law have been strengthened by events in Iraq. Ministers say the companies play a valuable role in keeping the peace but acknowledge the "new situation" must be addressed.

Ministers had argued a law would be unworkable, but the growing reliance on the companies in Iraq has prompted a rethink. Contractors employed by the US supervised interrogations at the Abu Ghraib prison, where Iraqis were abused.

The article does not give any specifics about what regulations they are considering, but does contain a plum toward the end:

Sir Menzies Campbell, the Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman, said: "It is almost impossible to prevent the spread of the use of private military companies. It makes sense to ensure they are regulated."

It is NOT impossible to prevent the spread of the use of PMFs, but the UK lacks the national will. "Security services" are one of the top UK exports since the beginning of the Iraq war. Politicians lack the political will to turn off the taps even though the privatization of military force is a huge power give-away on the part of the government. They could stop it now if they wanted to. Later they won't be able to.

There was some discussion of regulation of PMFs in Parliament following the Sandline Affair. I don't know if anything came of it.

But for starters, there is an additional protocol to the Geneva Convention, International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, 4 December 1989, that the UK should sign onto. That would be a step in the right direction. Then Parliament could pass laws aimed at bringing the UK into compliance (as in the case of New Zealand). Those are a couple of concrete steps the UK could take but almost certainly won't. Too much money is at stake.

ALSO, the Guardian's piece on the Mandelson connection quotes a few more intriguing details from Mann's jailhouse correspondence:

New documents suggest Thatcher had financial ties with Mann. A letter written by Mann and smuggled out of his prison cell in Zimbabwe shows that Mann was expecting Thatcher to make a $200,00 investment in a 'project', although he does not specify what project. 

The letter states: 'This is a situation that calls for everyone to act in concert. It may be that getting us out comes down to a large splodge of wonga! Of course investors did not think this would happen. Did I? 

'Do they think they can be part of something like this with only upside potential - no hardship or risk of this going wrong. Anyone and everyone in this is in it - good times or bad. 

'Now its bad times and everyone has to F-ing well pull their full weight. Anyway... was expecting project funds inwards to Logo [Mann's firm] from Scratcher (200)'. Scratcher is Mann's nickname for Thatcher. A spokesman for Mr Thatcher has denied that he had any knowledge of the coup plot. 

Does anyone know if Mann's letter appears anywhere on the Internet in its entirety?