Friday, November 16, 2007

Christmas - America's Favorite Holiday, is Under Vicious Attack

PINE BLUFFS ─ It should come as no surprise to anyone following developments in today’s secular society that there’s a concerted attempt to ban Christmas from the American scene. And it’s not a new movement, either. Who’s behind it? The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its like-minded allies, at least some federal courts staffed by liberal judges, and even, to some extent, the federal government’s Justice Department.

Attempting to remove Christmas from the public forum has become almost a full time job for the ACLU, America’s leading censor of religious liberty, and others of its ilk. While denying that there’s any prior restraint on public celebrations, “the ACLU is constantly in court fighting ‘unacceptable’ public Christmas celebrations from the previous year or planning to attack next season’s festivities,” says Bill O’Reilly of the O’Reilly Factor. They work “. . . relentlessly all year toward their ultimate goal of eliminating virtually every public mention of Christ or Christianity from the country’s most popular holiday.”[1] And it is the country’s most popular holiday, according to a Fox News opinion poll[2] which found that 95% of Americans celebrate it.

But the primarily Christian connection to Christmas provides ACLU lawyers with a target-rich setting. Each Christmas season, they and other ACLU activists travel the highways and byways hunting for . . . “public nativity scenes, religious ornaments and displays, Christmas carols, public prayers, biblical references, or any other ‘offensive’ form of free expression that violates their bizarre interpretation of the establishment clause of our Constitution, otherwise known as the doctrine of ‘separation of church and state,’ says O’Reilly.[3]

Why? Because, according to O’Reilly, “the ACLU’s efforts are part of a larger mission to erase from America’s national public memory our heritage of faith and religious freedom.”[4]

Some federal courts have also become part of the attack on our Nation’s favorite holiday. According to an article on the Catholic Exchange’s website,[5] a sharply divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently ruled that it is constitutionally permissible for New York City public schools [the largest school system in the nation, with over a million kids enrolled in its twelve hundred schools] to ban displays of Christian nativity scenes during Christmas, while permitting displays of the Jewish menorah and the Islamic star and crescent during Hanukkah and Ramadan.

This trend has been apparent for some time, and not just in the United States. In November 1998, the City Council in the English midlands city of Birmingham drew a firestorm of criticism when it attempted to rename the Christmas holiday “Winterval.”[6] Although a spokesman denied that doing so would detract from the celebration of Christmas, a representative of the Catholic Church told the Catholic Times newspaper in response, that Christmas had already become too secular. “Christmas is one of the major festivals of the Christian year and so the challenge to Christians is to reflect that,” Tom Horwood of the London-based Catholic Media Office said.

And Anglican Bishop, Mark Santor called the idea of Winterval “madness.” “No doubt it was a well-meaning attempt not to offend, not to exclude, not to say anything at all,” he remarked.

A leading member of England’s Muslim community, Majid Katme, coordinator of the London-based Islamic Concern Organization, seems to have had a grasp of the issue. “This is supposed to be a Christian country,” he said. “They [Christians] should have the right follow their own traditions. We need to understand the true meaning of the festival [of Christmas], why it is celebrated and what it means. Muslims have their own celebrations, and I wouldn’t make them more general so that everyone else can join in, so I don’t see why Christians should.”

The absurdity of the situation is clear when occupants of the White house can use taxpayer dollars to celebrate Christmas, but similar celebrations in public institutions by ordinary citizens are prohibited.

But the ACLU does not have the field all to itself. Its efforts have not gone unopposed. In 1994, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), based in Scottsdale, AZ, was launched by Dr. James Dobson, recently deceased D. James Kennedy, the late Dr. Bill Wright and the late Larry Burkett. Its mission? To defend the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy training, funding, and litigation.

Heading up the ADF is Alan Sears, formerly a highly regarded U.S. Justice Department prosecutor who also served as executive director of the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography under former President Ronald Reagan. Sears launched the ADF’s Christmas project in 2003, seeking to eliminate confusion regarding our rights to publicly celebrate Christmas, to protect those rights from the ACLU and its allies, and to reverse the gains anti-Christian groups have made in the three decades-long war against Christmas and faith. It has vigorously implemented that project since, reminding government officials, business leaders, and public school administrators that it’s okay to say “Merry Christmas,” even in the public square.

“The ACLU and its allies have tried to convince countless Americans, including public officials and even many Christians, that [they] cannot use Christian language, history or symbols in public, especially in public schools or on public property. That’s why the battle for Christmas is so important,” he said. “The truth is that the Supreme Court has never ruled that public schools must ban appropriate religious expression, including the singing of religious Christmas carols or even nativity scenes.”

The ADF has had significant successes. Its National Legal Educational Materials effort resulted in distribution of packets on the legality of Christmas religious expression to 11,000 school districts and national educational organizations in 2005, reaching 68,000 schools in 27 states. Not stopping there, it launched its National Legal Education Media campaign, reaching out to the public through mass media, with appearances on ABC’s World News Tonight, Fox News, CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, the O’Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes, and numerous talk radio venues.

But perhaps its most effective tactic has been its National Legal Resource/Action Blitz, which is designed to equip people across the country to oppose, challenge and prevail against instances of blatant religious discrimination. In many places, this involves recruiting and training lawyers to challenge ACLU-inspired school officials’ actions in court.

“The thrill of Christmas lies not in the objects, nor even in the senses it arouses,” said Father Thomas J. Mc Sweeney, a former director of the Christophers, an organization rooted in Judea-Christian service to God and humanity. “Rather it is within the heart if it’s open; in the eyes, if they are lifted up; in the ears if they are intensely alert.”

Thinking back over all my Christmases, beginning from the time I was three or four years old, the happy memories and the disappointing, sad or painful ones, I understand that they all helped make me who I am. So has the very first one. My favorite carol is a reminder of that milestone in human history:

“O holy night,
The stars are brightly shining.
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

So, for that “thrill of hope” to be felt and experienced by all each Christmas season, we must unite and continue to fight to preserve Christmas against those misguided zealots who seek to remove it from the public square. Alan Sears, again: “Please continue to publicly proclaim the message of Christmas in your community. Remember, It’s okay to say Merry Christmas.”

To help the ADF in its fight to preserve Christmas, send your tax-deductible contribution to Alan E. Sears, President, CEO and General Counsel, Alliance Defense Fund, 15333 N. Pima Road, Suite 165, Scottsdale, AZ 85260. To learn more about what they do, visit their website @

Anthony J. Sacco, Sr. a writer, author of two novels ─ The China Connection, and Little Sister Lost ─ a biography, Echoes in the Wind, and a licensed private investigator, holds degrees from Loyola College and the University of Maryland Law School. His articles have appeared in the Washington Times, Baltimore Sun, Voices for the Unborn, the Catholic Review, WREN Magazine and the Wyoming Catholic Register. E-mail him at and visit his website at

[1] Bill O’Reilly, Banning Christmas in America; 2006.
[2] Fox News Opinion Dynamics poll, 2005.
[3] For an in-depth discussion of recent erroneous interpretation of the establishment clause, otherwise known as the Doctrine of Separation of Church and State, see Anthony J. Sacco, Separation of Church and State; A History of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment in America, including its Recent Interpretation; 2004, by going to and clicking on Essays and Short Stories.
[4] O’Reilly, Banning Christmas in America; 2006.
[5] Appeals Court Allows Schools to Ban Nativity Scene While Allowing Menorah and Islamic Crescent, February 2, 2006.
[6] Really Taking Christ out of Christmas; By Catholic News Service (CNS), November 11, 1998.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Case of a Most Reluctant Witness

PINE BLUFFS ̶ In 1990, just weeks after I set up Mutual Investigative Services, I received a call from a lawyer in Towson, MD,[1] asking me to locate the missing sister of his deceased client.[2] I didn’t realize that soon I’d be figuratively rubbing elbows with Richard Nixon, Whittaker Chambers, Alger Hiss, and members of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Nor did I know that this case would set off a three-nation search to settle an estate. But that’s exactly what happened.

After leaving the lawyer’s office, my first task was to read the voluminous file he’d let me borrow, to determine what had - and what had not - already been done. Information gleaned from those folders showed that Alvin Zelinka’s only known relatives were his sister Minna Zelinka Lieber and her two young children. So if I were going to find Minna Lieber, I’d need to interview Alvin’s friends and acquaintances to see if Alvin had ever mentioned where his sister might be living. Judicious use of internet and telephone books turned up addresses and phone numbers. But after several days, I’d drawn a blank. All his friends knew he had a sister. None knew where she was.

Although not yet experienced in my new calling, I’d heard that investigators must open up many avenues of inquiry and follow each to its conclusion, never knowing in advance which will be fruitful and which will not. So, simultaneously, because Winkler had told me that Alvin’s sister’s last known address had been in Brockett’s Point, a town near Branford, CT, I attempted to locate a person there who might be helpful.

Also from Winkler’s notes, I learned that after Alvin’s death, his will had been filed for probate[3] by Baltimore County lawyer James Haynes, a close friend of the deceased. But Haynes’s attempt to settle the estate had been thwarted because he didn’t know the whereabouts of Zelinka’s sister. If still living, Minna stood to inherit her brother’s entire estate. If she were deceased, then her kids would inherit. I decided to contact Haynes.

“Alvin told me back in the early ‘50s that his sister had gone to Cuernavaca, Mexico,” Haynes said during our interview. “I tried locating her by telephone, but got zilch. After I’d done all the usual things without any luck, I decided to go down there. It was a shot in the dark. They weren’t there, and I couldn’t find anyone who’d known them.” Shortly after his fruitless trip to Mexico, Haynes traded his law practice for a job with Maryland’s State Accident Fund and turned the case over to Winkler, an experienced estate administration lawyer.[4]

But Zelinka’s file remained open in the Orphan’s Court for two more years as Winkler tried unsuccessfully to find Minna. Finally, out of time and options, he called me. “The Orphan’s court’s beating on me to close this estate and turn the assets over to the State of Maryland under the doctrine of escheat,” Winkler said during our conference. “But I’d like to make one last attempt to find Alvin’s sister.”

Because the Liebers had lived in Hartford County, CT, I decided that a search of the Land Records there was worth a try. That led to my first break. At my request, that reliable person I mentioned, Janet Gaines,[5] did the records search and found that a couple named Larch had bought the Liebers Brockett’s Point property from them in 1956. The deed showed that the Liebers were living in Warsaw, Poland at the time! Surprised, I asked Janet to contact the Larch family while I followed up with the American Embassy in Warsaw.

Janet’s Brockett’s Point interview with Jeanne Larch, the surviving purchaser[6] turned up the stunning news that Minna Lieber’s husband had been an accused spy involved in the Alger Hiss-Whittaker Chambers case.[7] Larch’s information also revealed that on a chilly night in November 1951, an unmarked ambulance had stopped in the driveway of the weathered, cedar-shingle home in which the Lieber family lived. For the benefit of anyone watching, its two-man crew carried a stretcher to the front door, placed a man on it, returned to the ambulance and quickly drove off. The guy on the stretcher was Maxim Lieber.[8] Larch said it was common knowledge that Lieber was an agent for the American Communist Party (CPUS) and the Soviet Communist Party during the 1930s and 1940s, who was wanted by the FBI as a witness against former Baltimore native and alleged spy, Alger Hiss. Larch told Janet that the bogus ambulance delivered Lieber to a local airport, but no one knew where he’d gone from there!

Again I returned to Winkler’s file. Among Alvin’s possessions at his death were five newsy letters from Minna, written to her brother from Cuernavaca. They supplied the answer. Minna’s first letter, postmarked at Thanksgiving 1951, said that Max had boarded a pre-arranged chartered plane bound for Mexico City and joined his family in Cuernavaca at Thanksgiving. That same letter also revealed that she and their two children had left Brockett’s Point by car the day before Max’s furtive plane ride and had driven through Baltimore, MD, where they visited her brother in Towson, before continuing south to Cuernavaca.[9] Her last letter was written in 1954. An unexplained silence had then ensued; one that was to last almost forty years. For that, I had no explanation.

Armed with information about Lieber’s alleged spying, and wondering if Lieber had ever been summoned to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), on a rainy spring morning in 1990 I drove to Johns Hopkins University’s Federal Records Depositary in Baltimore and entered Shaffer Hall, a foreboding, gray stone building. Interestingly, Hopkins was the same college that Alger Hiss had once attended.[10] There in a basement room, I devoured microfilm transcripts of HUAC hearings during 1948, 1950, and 1951, mesmerized by what I read.

Perusing these records produced one discovery after another.

1) That Richard Nixon, then a little-known Republican Congressman from California and a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee, had played a significant role in Max Lieber’s defection.

2) That in 1948, while investigating communist activities in America during the ‘30s and ‘40s, HUAC had subpoenaed Whittaker Chambers, a Time and Life Magazine contributing editor and confessed former spy, to
appear before it. Chambers revealed that he’d known Lieber and Hiss in Baltimore, and he outlined their activities as Soviet agents.

3) Later, studying Chambers’s testimony, Nixon concluded that Lieber possessed information that might be helpful in prosecuting Hiss for treason. Nixon then encouraged HUAC to pressure Lieber into testifying. That’s what prompted Lieber to defect.

All well and good, but none of this led me any closer to Minna Lieber. I decided to research newspaper articles about the Hiss-Chambers case, to see if they’d reveal anything more about Max and Minna Lieber. From those articles, plus HUAC transcripts, here’s what I was able to piece together.

· Summoned before HUAC in early 1951, Lieber repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. But he did answer several questions. What he revealed, together with what HUAC
already knew from other sources, sealed his fate.

· With public exposure imminent, Lieber must have realized he faced a hard choice; either go to prison or cooperate with authorities as a government witness. Reluctant to provide evidence that might send his
friend Hiss to prison, and loath to go there himself, he decided to sever his ties to the United States. He began an odyssey that took him to Cuernavaca, Mexico and Warsaw, Poland.

Why Mexico? For that answer, I needed to learn more about Cuernavaca. So I hit the books in the County library.

By the late 1940s, Cuernavaca, located in the state of Morelos west of Mexico City, was home to numerous American leftists sympathetic to the Soviet Union and the International Communist cause. Because Mexico had no extradition treaty with the U.S. at the time, Lieber apparently felt he’d be safe there. He and Minna stayed in Cuernavaca until winter 1954, when the Soviet Communist Party obtained housing and jobs for them in Warsaw. Then, without notice to Minna’s brother, they relocated behind the Iron Curtain.

After several unfruitful days of waiting for those previously-mentioned avenues of inquiry to produce something, during which time I searched telephone books in Brockett’s Point, Branford, CT and the New York City area for listings of persons with the names Maxim and Minna Lieber, my feelers reached a woman named Rhoda Loeb,[11] once a Brockett’s Point neighbor of the Liebers. She confirmed that Max had been a Communist spy, and told me that Minna had been Max’s third wife. She speculated that although not married to Max when his espionage activity was at its height, Minna probably knew about his unsavory past and understood that someday her husband might be forced to either flee to avoid prosecution, spend time behind bars, or become a government witness. “In 1951,” Rhoda said, “with the FBI breathing down their necks, Minna, Max, and their two children quietly ‘slipped outta Dodge.’”

Significantly, Loeb was acquainted with a New York lawyer who had represented Alger Hiss. A few days after our conversation, Rhoda decided that my inquiry was legit. She contacted her lawyer friend. He apparently communicated with Hiss. A week later, Minna Lieber telephoned me.

In our two phone conversations, I found Minna to be intelligent, articulate, and friendly. I asked how she’d found out that I was looking for her.

“Alger called Maxim’s son, and he asked his wife to call me,” Minna said. “[I was] told to call Rhoda Loeb. I couldn‘t remember who Loeb was at first, but I called her. She told me why you were looking for me.” Until then, Minna had not known of her brothers’ death.

Minna also filled in some gaps for me. The Liebers had remained in Poland until 1968, when, having outlived the events that had made Max a most sought after and painfully public figure, they returned to the country they’d abandoned, settling in East Hartford.[12]

The decision to leave America had not been made lightly. Max Lieber could have testified against Alger Hiss in exchange for a grant of immunity. What had shaped his thinking?

Prior to my hunt for Minna Lieber, the Iron Curtain had tumbled and Soviet Communism had been destroyed. In a spirit of openness, historians were allowed access to previously secret records, among which were facts about Alger Hiss. Newspaper articles have kept the public apprised.[13] In one such article, Hungarian researcher Maria Schmidt[14] revealed events about Lieber’s friend, Noel Field, which probably convinced Lieber he should leave.

In 1949, word of Field’s[15] double life had leaked out through Whittaker Chambers and Hede Massing.[16] Dedicated Communists, Field, his wife, daughter, and brother-in-law, fled to Hungary. While poring through records of her country’s secret police, Schmidt found transcripts of statements made by Field upon his arrival in Hungary. Field had told Hungarian authorities that Hiss was a Soviet spy who, in the late 1930s, tried to recruit him only to find that he was already working for another Soviet apparatus run by Massing.

Had the FBI been able to arrest Field prior to his defection and obtain his testimony against Hiss, he would have corroborated revelations about Hiss by Chambers and Massing, thereby enabling prosecutors to bring treason charges against Hiss. But after Field defected, unable to locate a second, constitutionally-required witness to try someone for treason, the government was forced to content itself with prosecuting Hiss for perjury. Hiss’s first trial ended in a hung jury.[17] He was re-tried, convicted and sentenced to prison for four years.[18] But because the Government still wanted to try Hiss for treason, Max Lieber, a source for that information, assumed center stage. It was then that he elected to defect.

In my second conversation with Minna, I ventured the question whether Max had known Hiss. “Yes, very well. In fact, Alger kept up with us for quite a while after we left.” Did Hiss maintain contact with them as the years passed because he felt a debt to Max Lieber ̶ one he could never repay?

Maxim Lieber died on April 10, 1993 in East Hartford. He was ninety-six. Although a death certificate was filed, no estate was opened and no will was probated. Minna buried him quietly, without publishing an obituary. The literary community, of which he’d been a member, although waxing eloquent over the death of Alger Hiss later, was silent when Lieber died.

Considering probate and non-probate assets, Alvin Zelinka’s estate was small. But to an elderly couple in the winter of their life’s journey, the money Minna received from her brother’s estate probably spelled the difference between comfortable final years and an austere end to their eventful lives.

When Bob Winkler’s initial efforts to locate Minna Lieber failed, he could have simply turned the Zelinka estate assets over to the State of Maryland and been done with it. Instead, he pursued the matter because, in the finest tradition of the American Bar, he sought to carry out the wishes of his deceased client. His decision presented me with the opportunity to learn that spies are not merely people one reads about in a Le Carre novel.

Perhaps my experience will add another small piece to the puzzle of the Hiss-Chambers case. Even if it goes unnoticed, it does confirm that spying has been around for eons, and barring a change for the better in human nature, will continue with us into well the future.


[1] Robert N. Winkler, Esquire, 606 Baltimore Avenue, Towson, MD 21204.
[2] Alvin Raymond Zelinka, a former U.S. Government clerk with the Department of Defense, who had died on April 15, 1987. The missing sister was Minna Zelinka Lieber.
[3] Office of the Register of Wills for Baltimore County, MD. File # 61552.
[4] Winkler was appointed successor Personal Representative on January 19, 1988.
[5] Gaines, an elderly woman, had lived in Branford, CT her entire life, worked at the local Historical Society, knew just about everyone in that small town, and was possessed of an inquiring mind. An investigator’s dream helper.
[6] Interview with Jean W. Larch, surviving co-tenant of Riptide Cottage, Lieber’s former home in Brockett’s Point, CT.
[7] Whittaker Chambers, Witness; Random House, Inc. New York, NY. 1952.
[8] Lieber, a successful New York literary agent whose client list contained the names of Erskine Caldwell, Carey McWilliams, and Robert Coates, was born October 15, 1897 in Warsaw, Poland.
[9] Anthony J. Sacco, Little Sister Lost; iUniverse, Inc., Lincoln, NE. 2004.
[10] Hiss, a Cum Laude graduate of the Class of 1926, went on to Harvard Law School.
[11] Rhoda Loeb, Esquire, a retired lawyer and part-time Workman’s Compensation Commissioner in New Haven, CT at the time I contacted her. For years after leaving Brockett’s Point, she’d maintained her
“summer cottage” there. It was Rhoda who confirmed that Max Lieber had been accused of spying, and set
me on the path toward finally unraveling this case.
[12] Sacco, Little Sister Lost; Ibid.
[13] See Sacco, Little Sister Lost; the Appendix contains an extensive compilation of newspaper articles
appearing between 1992 and 1997 regarding Alger Hiss, Whittaker Chambers and HUAC.
[14] A Hungarian historian at work on a study of her nation’s secret police, who was allowed access to formerly restricted files in Budapest’s Interior Ministry.
[15] Noel Haviland Field, a State Department official then working in the West European Division.
[16] Anther confessed former Soviet spy, who had operated a Communist cell for the Soviet union, along with her husband.
[17] Begun on May 31, 1949, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Samuel H. Kaufman presiding. Lloyd Paul Stryker, Esquire, a giant of the defense trial bar defended him, and two Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court testified for Hiss as character witnesses. This first trial was concluded
July 7, 1949.
[18] Hiss’s second trial began November 17, 1949 and ended January 21, 1950.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pretexting,Private Eyes,and the Law

PINE BLUFFS ─ Pretexting ─ the practice of acquiring personal information of others by subterfuges, such as impersonation ─ has been very much in the news lately. When Mark Hurd, President, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairman of the Board of Hewlett-Packard, took the witness stand before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations September 2006, he tearfully apologized for his company’s use of private detectives who employed this practice. Heretofore, Hewlett-Packard’s reputation in the public domain had been impeccable.

Labeled “The Hewlett-Packard Pretexting Scandal” by the media, the situation arose when it was discovered that H-P’s former Chairwoman, Patricia Dunn, attempting to track down the source of anonymous leaks of proprietary information by H-P insiders to reporters, hired a private detective firm, Security Outsourcing Solutions, Inc. (SOS), to investigate other members of the Board of Director, to find the source of the leaks. It also may have relied upon its own Global Investigations Unit, based in Boston. Overzealous, these agents of the company obtained reporters’ telephone records without permission, by impersonating journalists from the Wall Street Journal and other news organizations in the practice known as Pretexting. Predictably, when magazine and newspaper reporters realized that if their telephone records could be accessed by outsiders, it would be extremely difficult to keep their sources secret, a media frenzy ensued.

Never mind that in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the media ─ specifically Television ─ had helped to make Pretexting respectable with its TV shows dealing with private investigators such as the charismatic James Garner playing likeable ex-con Jim Rockford in The Rockford Files, David Janssen’s Harry O, who knew all the scams and wasn’t above using them, and Thomas Magnum of Magnum, P.I. While these TV series were running, nothing was heard from the media about violations of anyone’s rights to privacy.

Although not illegal back then, Pretexting is illegal now. In 1999, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act made it a crime to utter false or fraudulent statements for the purpose of obtaining information from a financial institution, a customer of a financial institution, or to ask another person to obtain this type of information for you.

Here’s another blatant situation, about which I’ll bet you haven’t heard. The perpetrator was a Democrat; the victim, a prominent Republican. During 2005 with the Maryland political situation heating up, Lauren B. Weiner, a former research associate for the Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC)), pretended to be Republican Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, thought to be the most-likely opponent of Congressman Ben Cardin (D-MD) in the upcoming race to replace retiring Democrat Senator Paul Sarbanes. Winning, you see, is everything to some people.

According to a Justice Department press release, Weiner conducted public records searches on Steele, discovered his social security number, and used it to obtain his credit report.

Major credit bureaus permit one to obtain a free copy of his or her own credit report online. Weiner approached Experian, but was stymied since it required Steele’s driver’s license, which she did not have. She then tried TransUnion. There she was able to set up a pass-word protected account and, using her DSCC computer, requested that Steele’s financial report be e-mailed to her Yahoo account, Her supervisor found out, reported it to the District Attorney’s office, and after an FBI investigation, Weiner was indicted.

An investigator does not have to lie, cheat or steal for a client. He can obtain much personal information on others in legitimate ways, because that information is out there. For example, if you’ve been divorced or named a party to a civil or criminal suit, your full name, home address, date of birth, the name of a former spouse, and your children, if any, are readily available to any investigator with the expertise to conduct a search.

Private Investigators DO have a professional Code of Ethics, and most of us attempt to live up to it as we go about our daily business. By calling attention to this illegal practice, hopefully it will disappear completely, before it claims any more victims.

Anthony J. Sacco, Sr., a licensed private investigator with 17 years of experience, writer, and author of two novels; The China Connection, and Little Sister Lost, holds degrees from Loyola College of Maryland and the University of Maryland Law School. His articles have appeared in the Washington Times, Baltimore Sun, Voices for the Unborn, the Catholic Review, WREN Magazine, and the Wyoming Catholic Register. His third book, a biography of Boston sports great, Guy Vitale, will be out soon. E-mail him at and visit his website at

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ellen Sauerbray: Wonder Woman or Mere Mortal?

PINE BLUFFS ─ On September 1, 2005, seated behind his desk in the Oval Office, a smiling President Bush announced his appointment of Ellen Richmond Sauerbray to become Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration। At the time, Sauerbray was serving as Ambassador to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. Almost immediately, Refugees International, Population Action International, Salon Magazine and the Washington Post, spouting the vitriol for which the Left is known, voiced opposition. What, exactly, had Ellen Sauerbray done to collect such powerful far-left opponents?

To begin: for three years, she had effectively represented the Administration on international women’s issues. Staunchly opposed to abortion, she caused a stir among assorted pro-abortion activist groups with her efforts to amend the Women’s Rights Declaration hammered out in China, to eliminate language stating that women’s rights include a right to abortion.

In November 2005, Sauerbray, newly returned from a conference of First Ladies of the Americas in Paraguay where she represented Laura Bush, appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But her confirmation was held up by a disgruntled Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who seems dissatisfied with any nomination this President makes.

Although appointments to international delegations and deputy-level State Department positions don’t require the advice and consent of the Senate, Assistant Secretaries of State posts do. Serving in the position means Sauerbray oversees a 700 million dollar budget dealing with refugee protection, resettlement and humanitarian aid.

Who is this woman in whom Mr. Bush reposed such confidence? For the answer, we need to turn back the clock to . . . a balmy Baltimore evening in June 1955, as the graduating class of Towson High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, filed from the stage, 420 strong ─ Ellen Richmond among them ─ and burst from high school as if shot from a cannon, the strains of the school’s song ringing in their young ears:

Our strong bonds can ne’er be broken,
Formed at Towson High,
Far surpassing wealth unspoken,
Sealed by friendships tie.

The class theme? That was from Shakespeare: “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances; one man in his time plays many parts . . .”

Hardly original. But this was ’55. The kids were clean-cut and unsophisticated. Most had dads who went off to work daily and moms who stayed home and took care of the house and them; Ozzie and Harriet was the favorite TV sitcom, divorce was practically unheard of, drug users were shunned by their peers, and kids stayed in school because, eager to face life’s challenges, they actually wanted to learn. Ellen’s classmates would go on to become actors, authors, doctors, lawyers, military and civilian pilots, engineers, nurses, writers, and even movie producers.

That night in ‘55, as Ellen Richmond changed from cap and gown into her Prom dress, could she have guessed what her future held? Years as a high school Biology instructor, a Republican delegate in the Legislature of a predominantly Democrat state, minority leader in that same House of Delegates, Maryland state Chairwoman for Mr. Bush’s 2000 campaign, two runs for Governor and two near misses, an appointment by the President as Ambassador to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, and culminating perhaps, like the final act of an exciting Broadway play, with this latest appointment.

Not bad for a kid from northeast Baltimore, whose father was a steel worker and whose mother was a stay-at-home mom. Ellen’s father, Edgar Richmond, toiled for years in the Hot Strip Mill Department of now-defunct Bethlehem Steel Corporation. A union man, he worked his way up to a job as foreman. When the corporation closed for a year, he drove a taxi to put bread on his family’s table. Called back when the mill reopened, he suffered a serious illness, first erroneously diagnosed as Multiple Sclerosis, and died of cancer in May 1977.

“The family had some tough times,” Ellen recalled, “but we stayed close.” One of the best things about those early years? “Playing in the back yard with my dog, Dusty,” a black and white, ahh . . . dog.

Ellen’s family moved to a row house in suburban Towson in 1951. Her parents ordered the daily newspaper delivered. It was ─ by young Wilmer Sauerbray, a neighbor kid who, years later, would marry their daughter.

In high school, Ellen “. . . liked the science subjects.” Her involved parents made sure she worked hard. A highly-motivated student, she was a leader among her classmates. Membership in the drama society allowed her to perform in high school plays, a skill she’d put to good use later.

Her favorite teacher during high school, John Dueber, a Chemistry instructor and local evening radio talk show personality, opened her inquiring mind to the world of ideas, as all good teachers do. Ellen set her heart on becoming a teacher. But for that, college was necessary. “I always wanted to go to college,” Ellen recalled. “But I didn’t know if my family could afford it. Mom and Dad committed to pay for one year. [After that] I could go to Towson State, where Mom later worked [and tuition would be free].”

Ellen traveled fifty miles from home to attend Western Maryland College, a Methodist school in Westminster, Maryland. A partial scholarship and a stint working in the college dining hall helped pay the freight. “I had to work hard to get through,” she said.

At college, Ellen excelled. She chose her major in sophomore year and sailed through school in four years, typical back then.

At WMC, Ellen’s Biology teacher, Isabelle Isenogle, Ph. D. helped shape her future. “She made Biology a fascinating subject, and because of her I changed my major to Biology,” Ellen relates. In 1959 she graduated Summa cum Laude, the proud holder of a Bachelor of Arts degree. Was she excited about having done so well? “[Yes. And] I couldn’t wait to start teaching,” she said.

After college, Ellen married her “paper boy” sweetheart, Will Sauerbray. At the time, Will worked as a Mechanical Engineer for Black and Decker, a nationally-known toolmaker headquartered in Towson. The couple is still together, testimony to their commitment to each other and their respect for their marriage vows.

In the fall of 1959, Ellen embarked upon a teaching career, which lasted until 1964. During that time, she taught Biology. Was she a good teacher? From her campaign literature, second run for Governor of Maryland, 1998: “But she did more than just teach Biology. She taught her students about life; about a commitment to excellence; about self discipline and self-respect.”

When asked about her teaching days, Ellen nodded sagely: “Today’s kids are no different than my former students. They want to be challenged.”

In the summer of 1968, Ellen and Will visited Will’s relatives in Bavaria, West Germany and Thuringen, East Germany. The Berlin Wall divided East and West Berlin, and Germany was still split into sectors controlled by the U.S., Britain, and the Soviet Union. The trip changed Ellen’s life.

During their three-month jaunt, she saw, first-hand, the contrast between lifestyles. Passing through dreary checkpoints at the ugly Berlin Wall, she started thinking about the importance of personal freedom.

An article about her in the alumni magazine at WMC ─ now McDaniel College, re-named after a primary benefactor ─ said this: “While West German farmers worked their land at night using headlights on huge modern combines, East German workers punched time clocks and rushed home from their non-productive collective farms to work their tiny garden plots with hoes, eager to reap what they could from the only thing they owned.” (The Hill, fall 2004).

This European odyssey taught Ellen: “that when government deprives people of personal freedom and property rights, it destroys incentive, risk-taking, capital investment and economic growth.”

Back home, she lost no time pursuing her new interest ─ politics ─ as a Republican Party activist, supporting Ronald Reagan’s 1968 presidential bid. That led to her election to the Republican State Central Committee. A fiscal and social conservative, she also helped found the Maryland Taxpayers Coalition, and accepted leadership roles in other Republican groups.

In 1978, she was elected to Maryland’s House of Delegates. At the time, women were rare in Maryland politics. Since The Line State was resoundingly Democrat, Ellen ran on issues that resonated with voters across the political spectrum; lowering taxes and reducing the size of state government. For the next sixteen years, voters returned her to Annapolis. By ‘86, her cohorts in the House thought enough of her to elect her Republican Minority Leader, a post she held until 1994. While there, she helped instill in Republican legislators enough backbone to articulate a coherent Republican message for Maryland voters. This would help immensely during her first run for governor.

That first run happened in 1994. Lacking widespread name recognition, she trekked from one end of Maryland to the other, speaking to whomever she could round up to listen. Before long, she was filling halls and raising campaign dollars with her message of fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and less government. When smoke from a bruising primary campaign cleared, she had wrested the Republican nomination from tired Congressional House member, Helen Delich Bentley, who’d been the odds-on favorite. Nationally syndicated columnist George Will promptly dubbed Ellen, “Maryland’s Margaret Thatcher.”

Maryland had had no Republican governor for twenty-five years, and no woman had ever been its governor. Yet Ellen lost to Parris Glendening and an entrenched Democrat organization by only 5,993 out of 1.25 million votes.

About her 1994 campaign and near miss, those in the know credit her with revitalizing the Maryland Republican Party, and energizing and encouraging its grass-roots supporters. Some claim that Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert Ehrlich was able to use the spadework done by Ellen to step into the Governor’s mansion four years later.

Republican Party workers were not the only ones energized by her surprisingly good showing in 1994. Ellen was, too. So much so that she was itching for a rematch four years later.

Her preparations began early. The editors of the Baltimore Sun noticed: “. . . A second Sauerbray-for-governor campaign, though, would be markedly different. She’ll be running against an incumbent, which is never easy. Public ire toward the Democratic Party has subsided. Republicans remain the minority party here by a 2 to 1 margin. While a promise to give voters a 24 percent income tax cut nearly got her elected in 1994, this may not be the burning issue of 1998 . . . Some Republicans worry that Ms. Sauerbray may still be regarded by undecided voters as too far right. The candidate scoffs at this notion. Still, Democrats tagged her with that label in 1994 and it worked.”

Ever willing to give Republicans advice, the Sun’s editors continued: “The best way to overcome this is for Mrs. Sauerbray to enunciate policy positions that clearly place her in the mainstream of the conservative movement . . . "

And a Washington Times, reporter wrote: “. . . in sharp contrast to that [previous] race, Mrs. Sauerbray appears set to make tax cuts a smaller part of her second campaign for governor. She’ll apparently focus on education and try to soften her public image, damaged by tough talk during that campaign and her aggressive challenge of the results.” (5/21/97). This article was penned the day after Ellen kicked off her second campaign for governor with a five-stop, statewide blitz.

Ellen did recognize the need to reach out to voters across a broad spectrum. “[While] I would never . . . take the Republican base for granted,” she said (Baltimore Sun, 5/18/97), “I believe it’s essential to broaden the base to win in November.” Attempting to do just that, she was interviewed by Jeremy Redmon (Washington Times, 8/4/97). Redmon wrote: “. . . although proud of her conservative values, Mrs. Sauerbray says she would not attempt drastic changes in current law if elected. Though she opposes abortion and gun control, she says she wouldn’t try to ban either. She says she is realistic: in polls, most Maryland voters favor legalized abortion and gun control laws.”

Her effort to re-cast herself didn’t work. Despite a loyal following, a statewide organization that sprang into action, and the kind of name recognition for which any candidate would kill, her attempt to “place herself in the mainstream of the conservative movement” by appealing to moderate Republicans and Reagan Democrats while holding onto her base supporters, failed. She lost again, this time by ten percentage points. Discouraged, she renounced her ambition to become Maryland’s first female governor and returned to her Baldwin home ─ for awhile. “I haven’t had much of a personal life in a long time,” she commented (Baltimore Sun, 11/11/98). “There could be a temptation to kick back . . . but that would last me about 30 days. The odds are I’ll soon be looking for a new challenge.”

Ellen had nothing for which to be ashamed. Listen to Maryland’s Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich, elected in 2002. “Ellen Sauerbrey altered Maryland’s political landscape in a manner unmatched by few women in Maryland’s history.”

On a pleasant morning in September 1998, Ellen trekked to Tyson’s Corner, Virginia, a bedroom community called home by many who work in Washington, D.C. It was two months prior to the election. She raised 300,000 dollars at a breakfast ─ with a little help from her friends. One of them was George Herbert Walker Bush.

Chaired by host, J.W. Marriott, Jr., CEO of Marriott International, Inc. this wildly-successful fundraiser’s guest list read like Who’s Who in American Politics; Senator Robert Packwood (R-O), Governor Edward Schafer (R-ND), Representative Thomas Davis, (R-VA), Representative Robert Ehrlich (R-MD), and many state and local dignitaries. Republicans eagerly turned out to support Ellen, thinking she had a shot at the governorship of a state securely in the Democrat’s column since the days of Spiro "Ted" Agnew.

Called upon to welcome the former president of the United States, Ellen introduced him as having brought “dignity, honor and decency” to the White House. Referring to Mr. Clinton’s antics, she remarked: “We look forward to the day when we can once again be proud of the presidency as we were with you.” She would get her wish in the person of Mr. Bush’s son, George. Two years later, the younger Bush would help her launch another new career.

President George W. Bush has always been an astute judge of competence. That showed in his Supreme Court selections of John Roberts and Samuel Alito. It’s not surprising that shortly after moving to the White House in 2000, he tapped Ellen to represent his Administration at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights Conference in Geneva. Pleased with her expertise and energy, he quickly followed up by appointing her to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. In that capacity, she represented the Administration in forums addressing social, educational, economic, and political concerns of women. In 2003 alone, she traveled to Tblisi, Georgia and Buenos Aires, Argentina, speaking on behalf of women’s rights, mentoring women’s organizations about how they might become involved in the political process.

Recognizing that success entails taking risks and accepting both victory and defeat, she delivered a powerful message to audiences throughout the world: “Women are just as capable as men,” she said. “You can make a difference, but only if you believe you can and are willing to work to make it happen.”

2004, the 10th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family, saw her attending a series of regional dialogues in Mexico City, Stockholm, Geneva, and Kuala Lumpur, preparing for the U.N.’s International Conference for the Family in Doha, Qatar, later that year. Ellen is proud of her preparatory work on that conference, which produced the Doha Declaration, affirming the family as the natural unit of society, entitled to protection by the state, as specified in Article 16(3) of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Doha Report calls upon all nations to uphold, preserve, and defend the institution of marriage.

Ellen’s confirmation hearing began in early November 2005. She wasn’t flying beneath anyone’s radar. The president of Refugees International said Mr. Bush’s plan to appoint Ellen to this major State Department post suggests “a weakening of the Administration’s commitment to refugee protection.” He apparently believed that Sauerbrey’s opposition to abortion was the only reason that the President appointed her. While acknowledging that she’d been a strong advocate for women in several areas, including education, and economic and political empowerment, he said: “Before Senate confirmation, lawmakers [must] find out whether she is up to the task of handling the Administration’s refugee and humanitarian policies.”

So battle lines were formed; those who abhor Ellen’s steely advocacy of women’s rights and pro-life stance on one side, the Administration, pro-life advocates and those who know her as a strong, effective leader on the other.

At Ellen’s hearing, Democrats repeatedly voiced concern that the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration had been vacant for so long। Yet they agreed to Senator Boxer’s request and postponed voting until after their winter break. So on January 4, 2006, a disgusted George Bush exercised an option available to all presidents; the recess appointment. Sauerbray will serve in that office until the current Congressional session terminates at the end of 2007.

This past May, she addressed the World Conference of Families and was given a warm welcome. As the end of her term nears, she expects to travel the world in furtehrance of the Bush Administration policies on population, refugees and migration issues.

One thing’s certain. Ellen Sauerbray, perhaps the latest, real-life version of TV’s Wonder Woman, has acquitted herself well in her new role, as she has in all the other roles in which she has found herself during her colorful career.

Anthony J. Sacco, author of The China Connection, a political thriller, and Little Sister Lost, a historical thriller, holds a B.S. degree in Political Science from Loyola College and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Maryland. A writer and columnist, his articles have appeared in the Wyoming Catholic Register, the WREN Magazine, the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Times, and Voices for the Unborn. His third book, a biography of Boston sports great Guy Vitale, will be out shortly. He writes from Pine Bluffs, WY.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Deeper End of the Pond: 7 Reasons For The Failure of America's Intelligence Community at the Beginning of the Iraq War

PINE BLUFFS ̶ During the 2004 Presidential election campaign, when it became apparent that Democrat candidate John Kerry was the not-so-proud possessor of glaring credibility problems, his supporters quickly developed a “strategy.” Attack the President’s credibility. Accuse him of lying about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) when he led this Nation into war, and charge that the statement in his January 2003 State of the Union address, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein sought to purchase quantities of uranium in Africa,” was false.

Hoping that damaging Mr. Bush’s credibility might level the playing field for Mr. Kerry, Democrats cited claims of former weapons inspectors Hans Blitz and David Kay, that they no longer believed Iraq possessed WMD. They also relied on former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s contention that information he gathered in Niger during February 2002 proved the president’s claim false. Although this wrongheaded “strategy” was quickly shot down, it did serve to focus Congressional attention on a serious problem; why was the intelligence given to Mr. Bush during the months just prior to the Iraq War so inaccurate?

In July 2003, a bipartisan Senate Select Intelligence Committee (SSIC) concluded that President Bush neither exaggerated nor lied about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction but, instead, was given faulty information by the CIA. The Committee also decided that British, American and other intelligence agencies had substantial reasons to believe that Saddam Hussein had indeed sought uranium in Africa. Additionally, its report thoroughly discredited Mr. Wilson’s claims, finding that “it was reasonable for analysts to assess that Iraq had sought uranium from Africa based on CIA reporting and other intelligence.” SSIC went on to list instances where Wilson himself had made false claims about the Niger affair, and questioned why the CIA had sent him on that mission, since he had no expertise in nuclear weapons.

But while exonerating Mr. Bush and shooting down Democrat allegations that he lied, the Senate Committee excoriated the intelligence community’s failure to obtain and accurately assess intelligence about Iraq. It asserted in the strongest terms that CIA capacities had been decimated in the mid-1990s, and suggested that the Agency needed fixing. How had our CIA, once the best in the world at clandestine human intelligence collection, come to such a sorry state?

The failure to obtain accurate intelligence from Iraq and elsewhere in that region was caused by these seven things:

1) A hostile attitude emanating from liberal Democrats,
2) Emasculation of intelligence budgets during the Clinton presidency,
3) Presidential appointments of two unqualified DCIs,
4) Declassification of CIA Cold War covert operations methods,
5) Restraints on what were considered to be “politically incorrect”
recruitment of agents,
6) Inclusion of more women and minorities at CIA,
7) A risk-averse mind-set among the leadership at CIA.

An examination of the Democrat Party’s recent history reveals that, at least since the McGovern era, liberal Democrats seem unwilling to defend America against her foreign enemies. Worse, Democrats often support policies which, if followed, would lead to America’s defeat. It’s well known that Mr. Clinton and fellow Democrats hated the American military. Less well known is their hatred of America’s intelligence community. Because of their hostility, during the 1990s Democrats championed deep cuts in CIA and NSA budgets.

Also during that time frame, the Agency suffered from two disastrous DCI appointments. The worst was foreign-born John Deutch. Tapped by Mr. Clinton in 1995, Deutch promptly declassified records of all Cold War CIA operations, thus exposing the Agency's methods for all to see. He also placed restrictions on recruitment of “politically incorrect” agents ̶ those previously arrested and convicted of a crime. Finally, he encouraged inclusion of more women and minorities at the Agency.

Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that people lacking ties to criminal communities such as terrorist groups will fail in certain missions. Nor does one have to be brilliant to understand that, the religion of Islam being prevalent in the Middle East, women agents would be ineffectual there.

Because of these problems, CIA moral suffered. By 2000, case officer resignations had hit an all-time high and agent recruitments had hit an all-time low. Enter George Tenet, CIA’s Deputy Director under Deutch. Mr. Clinton appointed him to the top spot in July 1997, after Deutch resigned suddenly.

Under Tenet, at CIA stations around the world very little happened. Why? Intelligence gathering is extremely risky work, and Tenet ushered in a risk-averse mentality on Langley’s seventh floor. Risk-taking activity went out of vogue. Risk-takers no longer received performance bonuses. The way to earn a promotion was to play it safe, keep your head down, and stay on the reservation.

Agent recruiting? Unpopular because risky. The seventh floor had begun to weigh every recruitment with only one idea in mind: if this becomes public, how will it look in the Washington Post? By 2000, there were virtually no risk-takers operating in Iraq and surrounding nations. CIA’s section chief in Riyadh didn’t even speak Arabic, and had no Saudi recruitments. Further, spotting, assessing, developing, and recruiting an agent can take 6 months or more. With the onset of “the 30-day assignment,” intelligence gathering tradecraft became almost nil.

What about non-official cover agents (NOCs) - operatives who assume covert roles in non-government organizations, to infiltrate suspected terrorist groups and dig out information? During the Deutch and Tenet reigns, the few who were operating used business covers. But neither Deutch nor Tenet understood that executives and salesmen would be unable to penetrate Al Quada networks. Gone were the sleazy characters recruited because they could move easily among various unsavory elements. Gone were the front groups in Germany, France, Holland, Pakistan, Indonesia, Qatar, Sudan, and the UAE, created to infiltrate Islamic Jihadists who championed the killing of Americans.

Human intelligence (HUMINT) was almost non-existent during the years prior to the Iraq war. Sure, there were a few Agency paramilitary personnel (PMs) and civilian contractors out there, but their reports were often ignored at CIA. Between organizational timidity, political correctness, risk aversion, and lack of strong leadership at the operational level, CIA had become dysfunctional. It was unable to develop the human intelligence necessary to satisfy White House requests for answers.

It was in this context that President Bush framed plans to invade Iraq and remove Saddam. And it was in this context that DCI George Tenet advised him that Saddam did have WMD, and an ongoing nuclear energy program to produce nuclear warheads.

When the commander-in-chief is given evidence developed by intelligence agencies of his own and other nations, he cannot be faulted for acting on that information even if it’s erroneous. To accuse him of lying ignores the facts and flies in the face of truth.

But here’s the deeper end of the pond. If America is not to continue flying blind in much of the World, it’s crucial that the CIA takes immediate and decisive corrective measures, beginning with the Directorate of Operations (DO), to return to its core mission of creating and sustaining a viable human intelligence collection capacity.

Anthony J. Sacco, a writer, licensed private investigator, and author of two novels; The China Connection, and Little Sister Lost, holds degrees from Loyola College of Maryland and the University of Maryland Law School. His articles have appeared in the Washington Times, Baltimore Sun, Voices for the Unborn, the Catholic Review, WREN Magazine and the Wyoming Catholic Register. His third book, a biography of an uncle who completed a fascinating CIA career, is due out soon. E-mail him at and visit his website at

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Lebanon: Why is it Important?

PINE BLUFFS ─ Lebanon, one of the few democracies and among the smallest countries in the Middle East, lies on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. Bounded by much-larger Syria on the east and Israel to the south, it has experienced internal unrest for perhaps fifty years, as dissident social and cultural groups within the country ̶ Islamic Muslims and Maronite Christians being the largest factions, although the terrorist organization Hezbollah has also made its presence felt ̶ have refused to assimilate, and continue to vie for exclusive unshared power.

No strong man of the stature of a dictatorial Joseph Broz Tito in Yugoslavia has ever emerged to control them. That’s not a bad thing, because although dictators can and do control internal warring factions, they often suppress civil liberties in the process.

In 2006, a crisis was precipitated by the assassination of well-liked Industry Minister Pierre Gemayal, 34, a member of the Phalange Party, shortly after he called upon Syria to withdraw its occupation troops from Lebanese territory and cease meddling in its affairs. His was the most recent in a string of political killings: former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005, anti-Syrian journalist Samir Kassir in June 2005, ex-Communist leader George Hawi in June 2005, and anti-Syrian Member of Parliament Gebran Teuni in December of that year. Since Gemayal’s death occurred shortly after his request for an end to Syrian influence, naturally that country is suspected of having had a hand in it.

The Beirut government’s call for an international tribunal to investigate Syria’s possible role in Lebanon’s cycle of political murders has been seconded by American President, George W. Bush, who has requested “a full investigation to identify those people and forces behind the killings.” See Lebanon: Why is it Important to American Interests? on my website,, Articles page. In characteristically slow fashion, the UN Security Council approved plans in December 2006 for a special international tribunal to try those accused of killing Hariri in February 2005. Although coming twenty-two months after the fact, this did not trouble the Europeans, who strongly believe that they can talk their enemies to death instead of taking action.

The situation in Lebanon has been further complicated by the terrorist organization Hezbollah, which inserted itself into the southern reaches of this tiny nation, between Beirut and its common border with Israel. Attempting to appease Hezbollah ̶ shades of Neville Chamberlain’s handling of Adolph Hitler’s National Socialist (NAZI) Party in 1938 ̶ the elected Lebanese government permitted candidates from that group to stand for Parliament; akin to letting the fox into the henhouse. Several were elected, and together, pro-Syrian and Hezbollah factions in Parliament have been able to exert enough influence to keep Lebanon’s fledgling army from marching to dislodge the much more heavily armed Hezbollah interlopers.

The take-over of Lebanese ground by Hezbollah’s militia ̶ a sort of nation within a nation endeavor ̶ from which it launched frequent rocket attacks against Israel, and Israeli concern that Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon and elsewhere were capable of launching attacks against Israel or its facilities worldwide, was what prompted Israel to cross Lebanon’s border to attack Hezbollah in early 2007. But that move was only partially successful. On the night of September 6, Israeli aircraft carried out a raid on a site just inside Syria, against suspected Iranian targets, such as an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) base, and an Iranian-backed arms shipment to Hezbollah. Also troubling to Israel is a recent report of a secret Syrian-North Korean nuclear facility located inside Syria.

To further complicate matters, after Gemayal’s death, Hezbollah and pro-Syrian members of Parliament resigned, seeking to bring about yet another crisis for the elected Lebanese government. For several weeks, with the aid of some ill-informed citizens, Hezbollah staged massive street demonstrations to force the government to resign. This is reminiscent of Communist tactics in the United States back in the 1930s and 1940s, after they successfully infiltrated and took control of the Labor Movement.

Today, three stark scenarios face the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora: civil war between pro-Syrian Hezbollah followers and the rest of the country, a coup d’etat which would place Hezbollah in power with Syrian backing, or the current government successfully moving to overcome Hezbollah.

For the latter to happen, Lebanon’s outgunned army must be bolstered with arms and possibly advisers from America. That move, opposed by Democrats here, was made by the Bush Administration in June 2007, when a shipment of automatic weapons and ammunition was sent.
If the Lebanese people’s efforts to defend their democracy against Syrian and Iranian attempts to foment instability and violence are to succeed, the United States must stand firmly in Lebanon’s corner. It’s well worth the effort, in order to see yet another democracy thrive in that area of the world.

Pope Benedict XVI Sets Sights on Renewal for Mexico, Central & South America

PINE BLUFFS ─ Pope Benedict’s 5-day Brazilian trip in May 2007, his first pilgrimage to Latin America as Pontiff, signaled the Vatican’s initial move in attempting to bring renewal to Mexico, Central and South America, home to roughly half of the world’s Catholics.

His official purpose for the journey? To kick off the 5th General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAM); unofficially it was to address the Church’s challenges in that part of the world; the steady secularization of Mexico and Central and South American nations, and massive inroads into Roman Catholic ranks by Evangelical Protestant churches. Benedict is no stranger to Brazil. He visited there in 1990 as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Prior to leaving Rome, Benedict reportedly said that the exodus of Catholics for Evangelical Protestant Churches was “our biggest worry,” because they have enticed millions away from Catholicism recently. Believing that this exodus shows “a thirst for God,” he said he expects to develop a strategy to answer that call; guidelines for the faithful in combating this trend.

In a press conference high above the African continent 4,500 miles from Sao Paulo, this amazing man who speaks straight from the shoulder fired an opening salvo, laying down church law on abortion and suggesting he agreed with Mexican Cardinal Norberto Rivera’s recent pronouncement that Catholic politicians in Mexico City excommunicated themselves by legalizing abortion there.

Addressing an enthusiastic throng of Brazilian youth the day after his arrival, he challenged them to forego premarital sex and instead adopt a celibate lifestyle until marriage, and to remain faithful to their spouses thereafter. See my website, Pope Sets Sights on Renewal for Mexico, Central and South America,, Articles page. The next day, he called for a more forceful evangelization throughout Latin America to counter defections from Catholic ranks, punctuating that call by canonizing Brazil’s first native born saint, Antonio de Sant’Anna Galvao, an 18th-Century Franciscan monk credited with 5,000 miracle cures. Later, while visiting a drug rehab center, he spoke about poverty and other social problems, and warned drug dealers that God will punish them.

Opening the conference in Aparecida, Benedict set a torrid schedule for the Bishops while noting his “affection for your beloved people and my shared concern to help them be disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ, so they might have life in him.”

In July 2007, The Vatican released a 130-page summary of the Bishop’s Conference, which Pope Benedict said “contained numerous pastoral indications, motivated by thoughtful reflections in light of the faith and current social context.” He expressed pleasure at “the priority given, in pastoral programs, to the Eucharist and the sanctification of the day of the Lord,” and to “Christian formation of the faithful in general and of pastoral workers in particular.”

Also in July 2007, as a happy follow-up, Archbishop Raymundo Assis, newly-elected president of the Latin American Bishop’s Council, stated that during his term he’ll concentrate the Council’s efforts to implement the Aparecida Conference directives.

Pope Benedict XVI recently returned from a much-needed 17-day vacation at a cottage in Lorenzo Di Cadore, Italy, where he spent much time in prayer, study and contemplation. Although his straight talk is disliked by a secular media and tends to make certain elements uneasy, he is immensely popular with the laity worldwide. On July 11, the Feast of his namesake, Saint Benedict, the Alpine population of the Veneto region of northern Italy hosted a concert in his honor, in front of a packed house.

Refreshed, the Pope has thrown himself into his work on numerous thorny issues. He’s addressing the breach of Eucharistic communion between Eastern and Western Catholics, which, an Eastern orthodox bishop recently said, “is a common tragedy and the quest for unity should be of equal importance to both.”

He’s also focusing on the Vatican’s emerging relationship with China. Earlier this year, he named Hong Kong Bishop Joseph Zen, outspoken advocate for the needs of Chinese Roman Catholics, as one of 15 new Cardinals. In May, he signed a letter to Chinese Catholics, part of which addressed Chinese authorities in a non-accusatory tone, citing a future reciprocal understanding that distinguishes political and religious responsibilities.

Amid all this and more, the Vatican will finalize plans for World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia, where 5 million turned-on-to-their-faith youth will congregate next year.Whether Benedict’s Brazil visit had the desired affect - lighting a fire under the Episcopate as they attempt to end the slide away from God by Mexico, Central and South American nations - remains to be seen. But one thing is crystal clear; if it does not, the countries of that region may follow France and Spain into a vortex of relativism and secularization in which the voice of the Roman Catholic Church will be difficult to hear.

Pope Benedict XVI Continues His Predecessor's Impact

PINE BLUFFS - For centuries the Holy See, also known as Vatican City, has effectively conducted foreign relations with other countries. Under John Paul II, and now under Benedict XVI, its diplomatic efforts have continued.

In May 2007, I wrote: “It’s to diplomacy that Vatican City ̶ a tiny enclave in the middle of a declining Europe ̶ owes its very existence. In the mid 19th Century, when Garibaldi united the Italian city-states ̶ including Rome in 1870 ̶ many Papal holdings were seized. That situation prevailed until disputes between several popes and the Italian government were diplomatically resolved in 1929, by the Lateran Treaties.” See Pope Benedict Continues Predecessor’s Impact, Wyoming Catholic Register, May16, 2007. Also see my website at, Articles page.

Vatican City, a landlocked sovereign city-state consisting of a walled area within the limits of Rome, is almost as large as The Mall in Washington, D.C. With an annual budget of $247 million, a geographical area of 108.7 acres, and a permanent population or 500, it’s the smallest independent nation on the globe. A token army of approximately 100 men is recruited from Catholic male Swiss citizens, who function as the Pope’s personal bodyguards.

Because of its insignificant size, worldwide influence by the Vatican’s ecclesiastical government, headed since April 19, 2005 by Chief of State Pope Benedict XVI, is astonishing. Vatican power does not come from armed might – it has no missiles, military aircraft, ships, tanks or battle-hardened troops – but rather from its moral influence over the world’s approximately 1.25 billion Roman Catholics.

For almost 2 millennia, the Catholic Church has been a significant force shaping and defining Europe and the West. Under secular attack during all recent major socio-political movements ̶ the Renaissance, Reformation, French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, communism, and fascism ̶ the Church has assumed a counter-cultural stance. Yet it has survived and even prospered.

Lately the world entered another critical historical period precipitated by the collapse of the Soviet Union and international communism, the disintegration of Yugoslavia, and the reunification of Western and Eastern Europe for the first time since 1945, when Soviet armies entered Berlin and imposed an authoritarian will upon half an exhausted continent.

A keen student of history, John Paul II’s foreign policy consisted of initiating worldwide papal contact; 129 whirlwind trips to 104 different countries in support of world peace, human rights and conservative dogma. In 1991 his papal encyclical, Centesimus annus, presented a distinct Catholic concept of a just social order for the new Europe and the new world. Only 58 when elected, this first non-Italian pope since the Dutch Adrian VI (1522-23) diligently pursued Vatican foreign policy objectives until declining health forced him to curtail his efforts.

Will the Holy See’s foreign policy change under Benedict XVI? To fully answer, look to Benedict’s emphasis and interests, first as a Cardinal, and now as Pope. As Cardinal Ratzinger, his efforts focused on the Church internally ̶ on doctrinal, theological and liturgical issues. After April 2005, his energies continued in those areas, but also expanded to include the future role Catholicism will play on the world scene.

Today, papal policy concerns embrace religious freedom, international development, the Middle East, South America, terrorism, interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, and the application of Church doctrine in an era of rapid change.

In just a bit over two years, Benedict XVI has begun ecumenical efforts toward reunification with Eastern Orthodox Churches. That, due to its huge geopolitical implications throughout Eurasia, will continue. His expressed concern over recent European secularization and a spreading relativism will lead him to confront the “dictatorship of relativism” in the West. Because of his deep respect for Judaism, efforts toward healing the Jewish-Christian rift will likely persist. And because he’s somewhat cooler toward Islam than was John Paul, he has adopted a more cautious attitude toward Muslims.

Benedict, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday, is healthy and vigorous. Trips to Turkey, Germany, and Brazil are behind him. However, don’t look for him to match his predecessor’s torrid globetrotting pace. Other ways exist to increase papal policy influence on the international scene, such as inviting heads of state to visit him in Rome. Benedict has already confirmed this tack: he has received President Mahinda Rajapaksa, of the Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, confronting him with a request that he respect human rights; he hosted the former Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami on May 4th, and saw President George W. Bush in early June. Khatami, a strong supporter of the Pope’s recent Turkey visit, seeks to promote a much-needed dialogue between Muslims and Christians. Mr. Bush met Cardinal Ratzinger at John Paul II’s funeral in 2005. They’ll discuss the Vatican’s developing relationships with the Peoples Republics of China and Vietnam, worldwide terrorism, and other common interests.

Just so, this ancient pre-modern institution is addressing the post-modern age. But the Roman Catholic Church is not only addressing the new era; guided by the Holy Spirit, it is helping to shape and define it, too.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Congressional Democrats Would Benefit From A Civics Lesson

PINE BLUFFS - Well, it didn’t take Democrats long. Only minutes after the commander of multi-national forces in Iraq, four-star General David Petraeus presented his report to a joint session of the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committees, Congressional Democrats attacked him unmercifully. But all they succeeded in doing was demonstrating their well-deserved reputation from all the way back to the McGovern years, of being soft on national defense and unwilling to protect America from foreign enemies.

Back in January 2007, Democrat Senators, after a lengthy hearing, unanimously confirmed General Petraeus for the position to which he was named by the Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush. At the time, they closely questioned the General about the strategy he was recommending; an increase of American ground forces numbering approximately 30,000, in order to seek out and destroy al Quada insurgents. Therefore, one might argue that by confirming him, they endorsed this new plan for fighting the war.

At the time, the newly elected Democrat majority was actively engaged in flaying President Bush for - according to them - failing to follow the advice of his generals, failing to adequately plan for what might happen in Iraq after the fall of Saddam, and having no strategy at all in that country of 52 million.

All this despite the fact that Democrats themselves have never had a plan for success in Iraq. Since they profess not to like the Republican strategy, what is their plan for victory? They have never had a clue about how to win this battle, and only seem at their best when insisting that the war is lost, and that we ought to immediately withdraw, thereby embracing an American defeat. Indeed, many of them have continuously denied even the existence of a “War on Terror.”

Not long after the Bush Administration published its list of countries actively aiding al Quada, Speaker of the House self-styled commander-in-chief and foreign policy expert, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) embarked on a visit to the Middle East at taxpayer’s expense. There, she was warmly received by Syrian officials, most of whom are complicit in fomenting unrest in both Lebanon and Iraq. (Anthony Joseph Sacco, Sr., Most Ethical Congress Ever is Ethically Challenged,, August 14, 2007. See also, Never mind that her actions were contrary to American Middle East policy, nor that constitutionally, the President has the sole power to conduct American foreign policy.

In the Senate hearing on Monday, September 10, General Petraeus, who has had the opportunity to view this war at close range and who authored the Army’s new counter-insurgency manual said, “There are no easy answers or quick solutions.” Recognizing what Pelosi apparently does not, he warned that both Iran and Syria are attempting to destabilize Iraq for their own purposes.

For some time, Democrats have seemed uninterested in winning the War on Terror, but rather in using the ups and downs of the Iraqi struggle as a means to prevail in the upcoming election. They, and their surrogate groups, disputed the General’s report before he even uttered a word in the Senate chamber.

Master of the ad hominem or personal attack, the left-wing group, financed extensively in the past by liberal philanthropist George Soros, bought an ad in the New York Times referring to General Petraeus as “General Betray us,” and accusing him of “cooking the books for the White House.” has a history of making independent expenditures - defined as money spent expressly for or against a candidate but not in concert with the office seeker or his campaign - to attack political opponents. In the 2006 election, it spent half a million dollars running attack ads against Rep. Thelma Drake, a Virginia Republican, but only gave $10,000 to support the unsuccessful Democrat in that race. Elsewhere, it spent $440,000 to oppose then Rep. Nancy Johnson, Connecticut Republican, but gave her successful Democrat challenger only $3,500.'s Petraeus ad prompted The Wall Street Journal to editorialize, “The Democrats have now normalized the practice of accusing their opponents of lying. If other members of the Democrats don’t move quickly to repudiate this turn, the ability of the U.S. political system to function will be impaired in a way no one would wish for.” Trashing Petraeus., and the new standards of Democratic debate. The Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2007. My response? Some liberal Democrats, members of the Hate America crowd, would like nothing better than to topple our American political system.

Also on September 11, Senator John Ensign (R-NV), Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) said, “Today, ostensibly on behalf of National Democrats, Democrat front group is calling a unanimously confirmed United States General a liar and a betrayer of the public trust. Apparently the prospect of campaign funds is enough of an incentive for Senate Democrats to stand idly by while a respected General is maligned before he has even presented his report to Congress.”

Ensign went on to say that a failure of Democrats to denounce the ad would mean they have decided re-election is more important than “moving our country forward” or being fair to Petraeus.

But Republican demands that Democrats disassociate themselves from the ad were met with at least one angry response. Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) said, “Nobody has to distance themselves from something they weren’t associated with.”

Tactics of the radical left aside, the practice of ad hominem attacks seems to have moved into the hallowed halls of Congress. On Thursday, September 6, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) said that the General’s report would not be his own, but “would be written by Administration political operatives.” Lantos followed that up by opening the hearing on September 10 with this: “We cannot take anything this Administration says on Iraq at face value.” And during that hearing, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), obviously pandering to the radical liberal base of her Party, said that to accept the General’s report at face value “requires a willing suspension of disbelief.” That’s the same as calling the General a liar.

Those who listened to General Petraeus’s presentation learned that the surge has been relatively successful militarily but needs more time. Violence is down in Anbar Province and several others in northern Iraq, where tribal chiefs, disgusted by al Quada’s bloody attacks against Iraqi citizens, have begun to fight alongside Iraqi government and U.S. forces. We learned more about the problems of nation building faced by the Iraqi government in seeking to reconcile the divergent interests of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. Also to be considered is representation of and power sharing by the many Iraqi tribes, and absorption of members of the Arab Socialist Ba’th Party, formerly loyal only to Saddam, into the mix. The fledgling Democracy in Iraq is dealing with many of the same problems that faced a young United States of America in the years immediately following the Revolutionary War. I urge everyone to read the full text of Petraeus’s instructive report by going to instead of relying on the talking heads for information.

Although our military gains in Iraq are now so clear as to be obvious to even the most partisan politicians, “. . . Democrats are doing everything they can to obscure those successes and to force a reversal in strategy that would completely erase them,” wrote David Limbaugh in his piece, Has the Left No Shame? September 11, 2007.

Some Democrats in Congress are attempting to micromanage the war, objecting to everything being done by coalition forces but offering no alternatives. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) called the Iraq mission “disastrous.” Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) accused the Administration of “playing for delay,” by sending General Petraeus to address Congress, and Senator John R. Edwards (D-NC) mocked Mr. Bush’s “so-called global war on terror,” and said America is less safe now than it was before terrorist attacks. He said this with a straight face, seeming to ignore the long passage of time since the last terrorist strike on American soil.

All of this shows a defeatist, decidedly non-Reagonesque attitude on the part of Democrat leaders. But even more basic, here’s what Congressional Democrats fail to understand, and what any high school Civics teacher could explain to them. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress authority to do several things. Among those are 1) the power to raise an army and navy, and by implication, an air force, 2) the power to declare war, and 3) the power to either raise funds to pay for a war or withdraw funds to stop paying for it.

But what Congress may NOT do is manage a war. That task is reserved to the President by Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 of that same Constitution. The founding fathers designed it so because they understood that wars cannot be fought and won by a consensus wrung from a large group of senators and representatives over time, but must be quickly and vigorously prosecuted by one commander-in chief. That’s the President of the United States.

FEC Deals Blow To Already Tarnished “Mr. Clean” Image Of Democrats And George Soros

PINE BLUFFS - Overshadowed recently by reports of the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, that two years after Hurricane Katrina the flow of federal dollars to the Gulf Coast exceeds the entire sum spent on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after WWII, and that Virginia Tech could have saved lives if campus authorities had immediately circulated a warning, was news that threatened to deal another blow to already tarnished efforts by Democrats to position themselves as “Mr. Clean” for the 2008 elections.

From the Associated Press (AP), came news that the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) has levied a $750 thousand dollar penalty against America Coming Together (ACT), an independent political group allied with Democrats and heavily financed by billionaire George Soros. It’s the third largest civil penalty ever assessed by the FEC.

What did America Coming Together do to deserve such a massive fine? According to AP reporter Jim Kuhnhenn (FEC Fines Political Group from 2004 Race, 8/30/07): “The outfit was formed in 2003 by liberal and union-related activists as a response to the voter mobilization efforts of the Bush-Cheney campaign. It raised $137 million, much of it from George Soros and the Service Employees International Union. The money was split between a political action committee, which could spend on federal candidates, and a separate organization set up under IRS rules, which could raise unrestricted funds.”

ACT was one of many 527 committees designed to support Democrat candidates in the 2004 Presidential election. Democracy 21, the Campaign Legal Center, and the Center for Responsive Politics, three independent citizen watchdog groups, filed a complaint with the FEC in January 2004 challenging three 527 outfits as illegal schemes to circumvent the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), by tossing millions of dollars of soft money into the campaign ̶ money raised outside federal limits to improperly influence the 2004 election. The other respondents were the Leadership Forum and the Media Fund. In its complaint, Democracy 21 alleged: “We do not want to see the Federal Elections Commission again license the injection of massive amounts of soft money into federal campaigns; this time not through the political parties but through section 527 groups whose major purpose, in fact whose overriding purpose is to influence federal elections.”

Siding with the watchdog organizations, the FEC found that ACT inappropriately used funds collected outside federal election limits to help federal candidates. ACT had claimed that $70 million in expenses during the 2004 election was spent on voter drives which could be financed by soft money. But the FEC investigation found that ACT spent the funds on “clearly identified federal candidates in a manner that could [legally] only be paid for with federal funds.”

What Mr. Kuhnhenn and the AP did not report is that ACT had been created by Democrat Socialist hedge fund investor George Soros in August 2003, when he declared war against George W. Bush, Capitalism, and the Republican Party. At the time, Soros stated that he would give $10 million to ACT to ensure that Mr. Bush was not re-elected. Soros’s initial announcement declared that the PAC would be named America Coming Together and it would campaign actively in 17 states.

According to an article by a Washington Post staff writer (Financier Contributes $5 Million More in Effort to Oust President, 11/11/03): “Soros’s contributions are filling a gap in Democratic Party finances that opened after the restrictions in the 2002 McCain-Feingold law took effect. In the past, political parties paid a large share of television and get-out-the-vote costs with unregulated ‘soft money’ contributions from corporations, unions and rich individuals. The parties are now barred from accepting such money. But non-party groups in both camps are stepping in, accepting soft money and taking over voter mobilization.”

And a piece in that same Washington Post a few months later (3/10/04): “The Democratic 527 organizations have drawn support from some wealthy liberals determined to defeat Bush. They include financier George Soros and his wife, Susan Weber Soros, who gave $5 million to ACT and $1.46 million to; Peter B. Lewis, CEO of the Progressive Corp., who gave $3 million to ACT and $500 thousand to, and Linda Pritzker of the Hyatt Hotel family, and her Sustainable World Corp., who gave $4 million to the joint fundraising committee.”

When announcing a grant of $5 million from the Soros Fund Management, LLC, and $43 million from the Joint Victory Campaign 2004, to ACT, Soros said, “The fate of the world depends on the United States, and President Bush is leading us in the wrong direction. ACT is an effective way to mobilize civil society, to convince people to go to the polls and vote for candidates who will reassert the values of the greatest open society in the world.”

By now most Americans have heard of George Soros ̶ multi-billionaire funder of left wing causes and self-styled enemy of President Bush ̶ who, in a November 2003 interview with the Washington Post, declared that defeating Mr. Bush in that election was “the central focus of my life.”

Well, he didn’t accomplish his goal. But apparently his life has not lost its newest self-proclaimed “central focus.” Soros and his foundations have contributed money to numerous left wing organizations since then. The Tides Foundation, the Tides Center, the National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, the American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way, Alliance for Justice, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the National Lawyers Guild,, Planned Parenthood, and Catholics for a Free Choice are just a few.

Although he’s famous for his association with radical liberals and left wingers, most of us know little about him. Who exactly is this global financier who has said: “America needs a regime change to oust President Bush,” and that he would “gladly have traded his entire fortune in exchange for a Bush defeat in 2004”?

Let’s first check out his website, There it’s stated that he “is Chairman of Soros Fund Management, LLC and founder of the Open Society Institute. Born in Budapest in 1930, he survived the Nazi occupation and then fled communist Hungary for England, where he graduated from the London School of Economics. He then settled in the United States and accumulated a large fortune through the investment advisory firm he founded and managed. Mr. Soros has been active as a philanthropist since 1979. He has established a network of philanthropic organizations that are now active in more than 50 countries . . .”

This description brings to mind the fictional Spectre, an evil international organization of James Bond movie fame, which tried to gain control of the world.

Soros arrived in the United States in 1956 at the age of 26, with very little money, but a highly developed knowledge of investing acquired at the London School of Economics. He supported himself as a stock trader and analyst, until, according to his website, “he adapted [an English philosopher Karl] Popper’s ideas [on open societies] to develop his own ‘theory of reflexivity,’ a set of ideas that seeks to explain the relationship between thought and reality, which he used to predict, among other things, the emergence of financial bubbles. Soros began to apply his theory to investing . . . In 1967 he helped establish an offshore investment fund; and in 1973 he set up a private investment firm that eventually evolved into the Quantum Fund, one of the first hedge funds, through which he accumulated a vast fortune.”

Indeed he did. In the following thirty years, the Quantum Fund yielded its long-term investors a four thousand fold increase on their initial investment.

However, during his career Soros has initiated several extremely risky and ethically questionable deals. In 1992, in a $10 billion deal, the success of which was contingent upon the devaluation of the British pound sterling, he earned a $1 billion profit and the dubious title, “the man who broke the Bank of England.” Since then he has amassed a fortune of at least $7 billion, to become one of the world’s richest men, and has given away huge amounts of money to fund “open societies” in the former Soviet Union, Africa, and Asia. In the process his activities have put him in conflict with the governments of many nations, as his own peculiar ideas of what an open society should be and how governments must go about supporting it, have developed.
One might think that a philanthropist financier of his scope would revere the capitalist system upon which he depends and because of which he was able to make his fortune. Not so. For the reason why, we must return to England and the year 1947.

While a young man there, Soros broke his leg. George applied to various Jewish relief agencies but they refused him the help he believed he was owed. He was given medical care by England’s National Health Care Service free of charge. His father was among those paying the taxes it took to support such a system. These events produced in the young Soros a favorable opinion of Democratic Socialism, and an unfavorable view of many Jewish groups.

But why has Soros developed such intense feelings of hatred for President Bush? “America under Bush is a danger to the world,” he said. And with that he has become a major financial player on the left, contributing the sums previously mentioned and more.

Soros seems to see in this White House “a supremacist ideology,” which brings back memories of his childhood in occupied Hungary. “When I hear Bush say, ‘You’re either with us or against us,’ it reminds me of the Germans. It conjures up memories of slogans on the walls, Der Feind Hort mit (The enemy is listening). My experience under Nazi and Soviet rule have (sic) sensitized me.”

And this: “Neo-conservatives are exploiting the terrorist attacks of September 11th to promote a preexisting agenda of preemptive war and world dominion. Bush feels that on September 11th he was anointed by God,” says this nonbeliever from his upscale home in Westchester, NY. “He’s leading the U.S. and the world toward a vicious circle of escalating violence.”

This remarkable but puzzling view held by an obviously bright individual, ignores much of what has gone before, stretching all the way back to the first World Trade Center bombing in ‘92, and other terrorist attacks by radical Islamic Muslims since then. It also sets him at odds with scholars and important thinkers on today’s world scene, including Pepperdine University’s Professor of Public Policy, Robert Gordon Kaufman. In Kaufman’s latest book, In Defense of the Bush Doctrine, University of Kentucky Press May 2007, he mounts a full-scale defense of Mr. Bush’s strategy announced on June 1, 2002 at the U.S. Military Academy, of promoting free societies as a means to world peace and stability, and advocating the concept of preemptive self-defense. These are changes in American foreign policy which do take into account conditions in the present world. Kaufman refers to his own effort as moral democratic realism, which he defines thus: “Moral democratic realism offers a . . . compelling framework for American grand strategy. . . because it takes due measure of the centrality of power and the constraints of the dynamics international politics impose, without depreciating the significance of ideals, ideology, and regime type. It grounds American foreign policy in Judeo-Christian conceptions of man, morality, and prudence that inoculate us against two dangerous fallacies: a utopianism that exaggerates the potential for cooperation without power, and an unrealistic realism that underestimates the potential for achieving decency and provisional justice even in international relations. It rests on a conception of self-interest, well understood, and respect for the decent opinions of mankind, without making international institutions or the fickle mistress of often-indecent international public opinion the polestar of American action. . .

“Moral democratic realism follows Augustine in its determination to see things as they are, and Thomas Acquinas in its resolve not to leave things as they are, when prudence indicates that positive change is possible.”

Whatever his philosophical motivation, George Soros has joined forces with the Democrat Party, allies in organized labor, and a network of politically left-leaning organizations, to make war against Mr. Bush and the country which offered him shelter in 1956. Further, according to former Republican National Committee spokeswoman, Christine Iverson: “It’s incredibly ironic that George Soros is trying to create a more open society by using an unregulated, under-the-radar-screen, shadowy, soft money group to do it.”

Perhaps with this ruling and fine, the FEC has put an end ̶ at least for a time-to another of George Soros’s fantasies; massive financing of left-wing causes in an attempt to elect Democrats and change America into a Socialist regime.