Since the beginning of Op. Firedump, some readers have asked for me to comment on an article by one Wayne Madsen alleging that Bout, Chichakli and Co. have close contacts with various Texas Republicans. Well, if so it would be rather what I was expecting, but I have to say I've read the article and it's not what it's cracked up to be. Madsen correctly identifies the close similarity between Viktor Bout's activities in Africa in the mid-90s and those of Pierre Falcone and his friends in the Angolagate scandal, and draws the obvious inference from Falcone's association with Republican high society after he fled French justice back in 2000.
To recap, Falcone arranged for a French state arms-export company, SOFREMI, part of Charles Pasqua's Interior Ministry, to sell armaments bought in Slovakia and Bulgaria to the Angolan government. In exchange, the Angolan state oil company Sonangol gave the French oil firm Elf-Aquitaine (as was) several gigantic contracts to develop Angolan oilfields after the war. Elf kicked back the cash needed up front to buy the guns, thus permitting Francois Mitterand's government to evade public scrutiny in the deal, and huge sums from both sides stuck to Falcone's fingers. In 2000, as the investigation led by juge d'instruction Eva Joly closed in, Falcone got his friends in Angola to give him a diplomatic passport. Clutching same, he levanted from Paris and headed for the US via London.
Now, given that he was buying guns from the same arsenals and delivering them to the same country (the other side, mind) as Viktor was, you have to wonder how they got there. But that is as far as the available evidence goes; it's purely circumstantial, to say the least. Madsen doesn't actually produce any new facts at this point - he just deploys the well-worn Internet debating trick of flipping rapidly from assertion 1 to assertion 2 in the hope that the reader won't notice the join. I strongly suspect there was a connection, but I don't have any data to support it, which is why I haven't asserted it until now.
The core of the suggestion that the Texas Republican party, or part of it, has been corrupted by the Bout system is based on Falcone's fairly well-known activities after he reached the U.S. Specifically, he and his Brazilian beauty queen wife Sonia moved to a posh suburb of Phoenix, Arizona, where they attempted to ingratiate themselves with society. Sonia Falcone plunked down a $100,000 donation to the party and offered to host a big fund-raising shindig, and it has been reported that the pair even blagged themselves an invite to the Bush ranch. Unfortunately, Falcone's political sense seems to have deserted him - had he settled in Texas and offered his cash to someone of the stripe of Tom DeLay or Phil "Enron" Gramm, or moved to California and fronted up a few grand to Randall Cunningham, or enter your favourite political scumbag here, presumably he could have had the keys of the kingdom. Instead, he attempted to suborn John McCain, he of campaign finance reform and torture-ban fame. The money was eventually returned with a big FUCK OFF note and Sonia's kind invitation allowed to gather dust.
Further, Madsen draws on extremist cleric Pat Robertson's equally well-known African business interests - Liberian diamonds, for shame! - and points out that Robbo was putting his money into Liberia at the same time as San Air General Trading was taking it out of the Liberian shipping register. All this is interesting, it is probably significant, it is cracking gossip, but it is also quite well-known, especially to readers of TYR. Certainly, there is much that needs explaining - how did SOFREMI's guns get from ZTS-Osos of Slovakia to Angola? what exactly passed between M. Falcone and the future President? how could the pious Reverend invest in Liberian diamonds and gold without dealing with Charles Taylor, as he maintains? - but this doesn't take us very far towards explaining it, as opposed to restating it.
By now, no doubt, you will be expecting the odd link or two. I'm not going to link to Madsen's article, for reasons I'm about to make clear, and the Falcone paragraph needs to be enriched with material I have on another computer, so you'll have to wait.
Unfortunately, Madsen's surname appears to be worryingly apposite, something you don't have to worry about if yours is Harrowell. He refers constantly to "Hasidic diamond dealers" (surely it's the diamond dealing that is the important bit?) and insists on repeatedly pointing out the Jewishness of every Jew he mentions, and tends to make spectacular allegations in passing as if they were commonplace - for example, he alleges without any further detail that missionary aircraft hired by Rev. Robertson were used to smuggle arms to the DRC and Rwanda. Now, I wouldn't put that past him, but I would like to see some supporting detail. Names? Places? Dates? Registrations? There are none, and I rather suspect he mixed up Liberia and the Congo, as I've never heard of any Robertsonian business interests there. This is why I'm not going to link to him.