Democrats.com Chat with Greg Palast
Author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy
Details of Greg's upcoming US tour, including interviews and appearances, are at http://gregpalast.com/events2.cfm
March 8, 2002
Hosted by Bob Fertik with David Lytel
Moderated by LoyalAmerican, Conestoga11 and Necco27
Transcribed by Necco27
[bob] Thank you all for joining us for our chat with Greg Palast! Greg has just published an outstanding book, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" You can buy it on Amazon.
[gregpalast] Have you read it, Bob, or are you just pulling my...
[bob] As an Enron executive, I take the 5th!
[gregpalast] It's a hit in Dublin!
[david] Europeans have an endless appetite for American foibles.
[gregpalast] They ARE an American foible. In truth, I do get very defensive - very PATRIOTIC - when I'm over here All this bitching and moaning by the English snots about the USA. Hey, that's OUR job.
[bob] Here is an absurd question, but humor me. Are you the ONLY investigative journalist covering Republican political crimes?
[gregpalast] The only one still alive.
[bob] Seriously Greg, where all the rest of the investigative journalists in the US? You seem to be the ONLY one we have.
[gregpalast] Seriously, Bob, they want to keep their jobs. That's no joke. I was with Sy Hersch at the Columbia School of Journalism in September. He pointed out the guy from the NY Times who pushed him out. If Hersh can't get keep a job by telling the truth, who can?
[bob] Greg, You broke the Florida felon purge scandal. The knowing disenfranchisement of non-felons by Katherine Harris, Clay Roberts, and Bucky Mitchell would appear to be a criminal act.
Why has there been no investigation, no prosecution?
[gregpalast] Is theft of a democracy a crime? Well, there was an investigation - US Civil Rights Commission - effectively endorsed my findings. But that would require Mr. Ashcroft to act on the criminal aspects? Any bets there?
[bob] So that's it, the crime was covered up by the Attorney General? End of story?
[gregpalast] I've directed US government racketeering cases. There's just no chance. The new evidence shows intent - it's grim. We'll see what the NAACP can do in their civil action. Don't hold your breath.
[bob] OK, let's switch to Enron. What is Cheney hiding in the Energy Task Force?
[gregpalast] I have one of Lay's memos to Cheney… He asked for, among other gifts from Dubya, a lifting of the caps on electricity sold to Calif. Within two days of the inauguration, Dubya gave KennyBoy what he wanted. I reported that back in May when no one knew who Enron was. They still don't really know.
[bob] When the Enron scandal exploded in January, the Bush administration cut a firewall, saying it was purely a business scandal, not a political one. The corporate media bought this story completely. If Bill Clinton's biggest lifetime donors had brought about the largest bankruptcy in history, republicans would have burned Clinton at the Congressional stake. What will it take to expose Bush's involvement with the massive corruption of Enron and Ken Lay?
[gregpalast] Yes, the corporate media swallowed the big one on Enron. The Bush family and Enron grew each other, like honey on a petri dish.
[gregpalast] I just interviewed on camera the Argentine Public Works ministers, a friend of Neil Bush, who swears W called him in 1998 to push him to give away a pipeline to Enron. Oops, 1988 – 6 years before W said he 'really got to know 'Dubya
[bob] The Argentine – is that Terragno?
[gregpalast] Terragno, yes. But he added something he's never said before…which I must hold as a BBC TV exclusive. Deeply disturbing stuff. sorry to be mysterious.
[bob] In 1994, David Corn wrote in the Nation that GWB called Terragno. Corn asked Karen Hughes to confirm. She denied it adamantly, Corn quoted her. Can you prove Hughes is a liar?
[gregpalast] Yes, Corn's a friend – gave me his documents – this is follow-up. Bush's dogsbodies seem to have pulled a fast one: providing Bush's diary showing he was not in Argentina. It was a call, not a meeting.
[bob] Also, Corn says Terragno met with GWB in Texas in 1988. Is that confirmable?
[gregpalast] No, that story is wrong – and that's how Bush is covering himself. Terragno never reported a meeting. That was an erroneous report in the Argentine press. Enough confusion though, to let Dubya sneak out the back door of the truth.
[bob] OK, but a phone call is good enough – if Terragno will confirm it… So you can prove that GWB lobbied Terragno for Enron in 1988?
[gregpalast] Yes. But back to 2002.
[bob] I'm listening…
[gregpalast] It looks like Enron pulled two cute stunts in California: 'false congestion' and 'kilowatt laundering.' Wanna translation?
[gregpalast] Kilowatt laundering: Enron apparently sold power (price capped) from California to a related entity across the border, then sold it back at the federal higher or uncapped price. In truth the electricity never left the state, but like hot cash, was 'laundered' to appear as if it did, allowing higher charges. It's pennies that add up: PGE listed owing Enron half a billion on the date of PGE's bankruptcy.
[gregpalast] Then there's 'false congestion.' Enron apparently practiced that in Britain five years ago before they took the game to California.
[bob] Are you publishing this, or doing a TV story?
[gregpalast] I'm trying to, but I've got a nervous network. They have more guts than the US media chiefs, but the supply of courage is not unlimited. Courage is expensive.
[bob] I don't think Enron can sue anyone, given its financial and credibility problems…
[gregpalast] Not Enron, but Lord Wakeham, Enron Board of Directors AND head of the UK Press Complaints Commission which regulates what I say. Nice, eh?
[bob] So how do we get you a job with a US media outlet???
[gregpalast] Take hostages.
[bob] Careful! Ashcroft is watching…
[gregpalast] Actually, MSNBC asked me to host an Enron show, but I was out of London that day. A crack in the Great Media Wall.
[bob] Did you get a rain check from MSNBC?
[gregpalast] And what about Global Crossing? A $20 billion company that went under without a whisper. Those are the cats that gave Poppy Bush $13 million in stock for a single speech. A Potemkin village corporation.
[bob] Save that for next time! Do you need help from activists to get booked on more TV and radio talk shows?
[gregpalast] Yes, though I'm doing nicely in Dublin – on the tube today with smiling morning show types? How can they be so happy at 7:30 am?
[bob] What can we do to help? Should we contact any specific shows?
[gregpalast] Yes, note where I'm going on the tour and hit the local talk hosts, TV especially, but radio fine.
[bob] How about national shows?
[gregpalast] Yes indeed especially those I've never heard of. I produce television, but I never watch it except "ER".
[bob] Charlie Rose?
[gregpalast] Yes, I think he's important. By the way, no tears for Koppel please.
[bob] No tears from us. He covered the 27,000 votes lost in Duval, but blamed the voters – never mentioned the 2-page ballot.
[gregpalast] Yeah, Koppel said, in effect, Blacks are too friggin' dumb to figure out the ballot. No mention that in the White counties, machines were set to reject wrongly marked ballots to re-vote; in Black counties, the machines ate the bad ballots and did not count them. See the book, page something or other.
[bob] Thanks!!! Now Holly will offer some questions from the floor.
[Conestoga11] First off, thanks again Greg for being our guest this evening! And I should remind everyone to visit Greg's website at http://gregpalast.com. Get those emails flying! Write to C-Span, MSNBC, Charlie Rose, Larry King, etc. (even Faux) and demand to hear and see him!
[Conestoga11] OK, first question…
[Conestoga11] David Lytel asks: What is your take on the thesis of the Dasquie and Brisard book "Bin Laden—Hidden Truth" that the 9/11 attack came only after a breakdown of secret negotiations with the Taliban. They believe that the attacks represent the greatest failure of American diplomacy in history. Do you give their version credence?
[gregpalast] By the way, is there anything in the US press about what is happening in Venezuela right now?
[bob] Nope. We'll save that for the next time also! How about David's question?
[gregpalast] Brisard and Dasquie raise points, as I discovered separately, about the US, especially Bush, ordering US intelligence agencies not to look at Saudi financing of terror. That I can confirm. As to Bush having any foreknowledge of the attack, or planning it, I have no information.
[Conestoga11] Ok, Irwin asks: Do you think there will be further attempts to block the elections in 2002 or 2004? Do they have more tricks up their sleeve?
[gregpalast] Oh god yes. These boys have chutzpah to spare. They are using 'reform' in the face of Florida to push for MORE computer-aided voter purges. Katherine Harris is already resisting the Florida law banning outside purge consultants from generating the lists to ethnically cleanse the voter roles. Where are the Dems? WHERE ARE THE DEMS????
[gregpalast] Maybe Dem leadership is waiting for Bush to make it illegal to vote Democratic.
[Conestoga11] Let's hope not!
[david] The Democratic Party is "waiting" to be captured once again by an angry mob and used as a vehicle for reform.
[gregpalast] I wrote 'god save us from reform' in the Washington Post in June... hasn't slowed down the Republican voting 'reform' efforts in more than dozen states. Ill-making.
[bob] That's why we need you here full time!
[Conestoga11] Necco27 asks, Mr. Palast: In your item, "The Great Florida Ex Con Game How the 'Felon' Voter Purge was Itself Felonious," you mention two Florida Secretaries of State who ordered ex-felons to be removed from Florida voter rolls—Harris, and Sandra Mortham. From what I understand, Mortham once considered being Jeb Bush's running mate. She was fined by the State of Florida, Commission on Ethics, on April 18, 2000. I haven't...
[gregpalast] I'm liquoring up a producer here tonight in hopes he'll join on to send me back into Florida with cameras.
[gregpalast] Mortham was more of Jeb-ster than Harris. Then she got involved in some hanky-panky with public money and the R's had to dump her before she barfed on their parade.
[Conestoga11] Well they've certainly done a good job of hiding her.
[gregpalast] It's after 2 am and the twins will be up in four hours, so I'll have to log off in ten minutes, ok?
[Conestoga11] No problem. On a different topic Nickscrusade asks: I have a situation here in Alabama where home care benefits are totally cut off at age 21 and people with disabilities are relegated to nursing home care that's often deadly and more expensive. Nursing home lobbyists squash attempts to fix the problem. Do you have any advice on how I could get journalists interested in reporting this story? I have a website and petition at http://nickscrusade.com.
[gregpalast] Journalists are chronically uninterested in stories involving reminders that there are losers in this land of winners. So I'd try a press conference, with doctors, victims and photos that you hand out. Can you get, say, one state representative interested?
[Conestoga11] He's done an inspiring job at that so far, and has gotten as far as getting a bill offered, thanks for the advice!
[gregpalast] I will be in San Francisco next Friday giving a talk to raise funds for Pacifica radio…then down to LA and San Diego. Come by and say hello. April 1-9 in New York/DC/ Chicago then back to LA to tape Politically Incorrect. At least we can laugh at the end of our democracy.
[Conestoga11] That sort of fits with the last question from sheewolf. Since much of what you do (at least what we North Americans are aware of) is about US politics and the underbelly…can you tell us more about the US media reaction to your work? Is there anything else you've got cooking that we should watch for?
[gregpalast] Yes, I really want to explain how globalization works from the inside – in Venezuela and Argentina. These are the prizes that Bush's buddies hunger for. Well, watch this space…and my website for reports at http://www.gregPalast.com.
[Conestoga11] I want to remind everyone again to visit Greg's site and to join his list and email him with your comments. Thanks for coming Greg!
[bob] We'll be watching - we never miss a Palast story!
[gregpalast] And now, I have to rescue my wife from the Irish moonshine – I can't pronounce it nor drink it.
[Conestoga11] That's half the fun!
[LoyalAmerican] Keep up the good work, Greg, and if you can, please tell the BBC World Service that they need to get some transmitters aimed at the Midwest in the mornings and afternoons again…
[david] Thanks Greg, see you in DC!
[gregpalast] You are giants. Thank you – I can't tell you how much this support keeps me going. Cheers!
[bob] Cheers! Get that producer drunk as a skunk!
[Conestoga11] Cheers! (but it's not the same without the Irish Moonshine)
[LoyalAmerican] opens a bottle of Patron Anejo...