No Joke: Obama/Soros Promote “Open Government”
By Cliff Kincaid September 22, 2011
The Obama State Department and a George Soros-funded organization calling itself Global Integrity have launched an “Open Government” international initiative that should be a cause of late-night jokes.
“Here in the United States, we’ve worked to make government more open and responsive than ever before,” Obama said, as his administration fights congressional requests for information about the Solyndra bankruptcy and the U.S.-Brazil alliance to help the socialist and pro-Castro Latin American country develop its own oil resources.
The Obama Administration’s failure to produce documents related to a $535 million federal loan guarantee issued to solar panel maker Solyndra prompted the Republican majority on a House Energy and Commerce Committee panel to subpoena the material.
Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, says the congressional probe has been “hampered by a lack of cooperation from this Administration, which forced us to issue a subpoena for certain records.”
“Since the first day of his Administration, President Barack Obama has made Open Government a high priority,” declares the “Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.”
This would be laughable were not for the fact that the initiative and its cheerleaders, including at the Soros-funded Center for American Progress, are apparently talking it seriously.
But the conservative legal group Judicial Watch has filed a number of lawsuits, complaints and Freedom of Information Act legal proceedings against President Barack Obama and his administration “in pursuit of the president's repeated violations of the law and his contempt for the public's right to know.”
Obama used his U.N. speech on Wednesday to urge the world to “harness the power of open societies” in order to fight corruption. This sounded very much like George Soros, a funder of this new project who has been spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year promoting “open societies” in the U.S. and around the world. Soros, one of the richest men in the U.S., named one of his foundations the “Open Society Institute” but runs a secretive off-shore hedge fund, the Quantum Group of Funds, based in the Caribbean country of Curaçao, a tax haven.
Investigative reporter Matthew Vadum notes, “Soros talks a good game when it comes to openness and transparency. With an obedient media in tow, he postures as a defender of business ethics and good government but the lofty ideals he espouses apply only to other people. In the end, when his personal interests are at stake, his professed ideals get discarded like yesterday’s racing form. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that this man who has described himself as ‘some kind of god’ now doesn’t want to comply with new disclosure rules that accompany the Dodd-Frank law. To avoid complying, he is closing his $25 billion Quantum funds to investors outside his family.”
Vadum points out that Soros objects to simply registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) because “it would open up Soros’s shady dealings to unprecedented public scrutiny.”
Soros, convicted of insider trading in France, engaged in a complex financial transaction that resulted in the Bank of England losing billions of dollars defending the British pound before having to devalue it. He has controversial investments in places like Colombia, where the banks have been penetrated by drug cartels eager to launder their drug money.
In a major court case filed by the law offices of David H. Relkin, Soros was charged with “money laundering, bankruptcy fraud, and bid rigging” and of having a “pattern of money laundering activities.” A Soros representative was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying that the lawsuit was completely without merit.
The Soros role in the U.S. housing market collapse continues to be a subject of much controversy, stemming from a meeting he had with John A. Paulson, a Wall Street trader who made billions of dollars on the decline in housing prices.
A possible Soros role in the Obama Administration’s dealings with Brazil continues to generate controversy.
The administration officially launched an “energy partnership” with Brazil in August. “We want to work with you. We want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers,” Obama had told a group of Brazilian business leaders in May 2011.
The U.S. Export-Import Bank had proposed $2 billion in loans to the Brazilian oil company Petrobras to ensure the purchase of U.S. goods as the company explores for oil.
However, in an April 29, 2011, letter to Fred Hochberg, President of the Export-Import Bank, Senator David Vitter complained that the administration was stonewalling his request for specific information as it relates to ExIm loans to Petrobras. He said, “I was very specific about the information I requested from ExIm more than a month ago. I requested the particulars of the return on investment the American taxpayer can expect from these loans as well as the U.S businesses intended to benefit from the financing arrangements. Is it safe to assume that ExIm does preliminary analysis before issuing loans that evaluates the return on these loans to the U.S. Government and U.S. Businesses? Is it also safe to assume that ExIm should readily be able to provide that information to congress upon request?”
Vitter was referring to a March 17 letter to Hochberg in which he requested:
The Ex-Im Bank had approved the loans to Petrobas on April 14, 2009, during a time when Soros was buying and selling millions of shares in the company.
While potentially embarrassing facts and figures continue to be withheld by the Obama Administration, the Open Government Partnership is making use of U.S. taxpayer dollars to create the public impression that Obama is open and accountable to the American people.
The Global Integrity group is managing the project and says that it is “supported by a diverse mix of charitable foundations, governments, multilateral institutions, and the private sector.”
The list includes:
Google is listed separately as having provided $350,000.
OGP says that it is “overseen by a multi-stakeholder International Steering Committee comprised of government and civil society representatives” that includes Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive.
The National Security Archive receives millions of dollars from left-wing foundations, including a recent grant of $300,000 from the Open Society Institute.
One of the original sponsors of the National Security Archive was Morton Halperin, now a top aide to Soros, who was Washington director of the American Civil Liberties Union and director of the Center for National Security Studies.
Although Halperin’s bio says that he had held “senior positions at the State Department and Pentagon, and served on the NSC staff during the Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton administrations,” it fails to note that his nomination as an Assistant Secretary of Defense in 1993 by President Clinton was withdrawn under fire. Senator John McCain said that the nominee’s “own writings and statements” display views that “are clearly inimical to the security interests of the United States.” Other national security experts said Halperin had an unhealthy animus and hostility toward the FBI, CIA, and other intelligence agencies that are supposed to protect the U.S. from foreign and domestic threats.
In their 1976 book, The Lawless State: The Crimes of the U.S. Intelligence Agencies, Halperin and his co-authors attacked the CIA for its role in overthrowing the Marxist president of Chile, Salvador Allende, and the FBI for investigating the communist connections of Martin Luther King Jr. after being requested to do so by then-Attorney General Bobby Kennedy. Halperin wrote, “Communist party affiliation is hardly evidence that someone is a subversive foreign agent. Many members of the Communist party are and were patriotic citizens.” In fact, the FBI had evidence that the Communist Party USA was funded and controlled by the Soviet Union.
The National Security Archive was among several organizations presenting Obama with an “anti-secrecy award” at a ceremony last March that was closed to the public and the press. Politico reported, “Obama met quietly in the Oval Office with Gary Bass of OMB Watch, Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive, Danielle Brian of the Project on Government Oversight, Lucy Dalglish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and Patrice McDermott of OpenTheGovernment.org, without disclosing the meeting on his public schedule or letting photographers or print reporters into the room.”
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish said that Obama was given the award for “encouraging agencies to release information to the public”
Even some left-wingers were offended by this, saying that the award should be rescinded and that “Such false awards only stand to backfire and hurt the cause of open government.”
FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, the founder and president of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, posted a video about the Obama award, exposing funding for some of the pro-Obama groups from George Soros and others.
The office of Senator Vitter has informed us that, despite his follow-up April 29, 2011 letter on the matter of the Brazil oil deal which complained about a lack of a response from the Export-Import Bank, a letter was in fact received from Bank President Fred P. Hochberg. It answered some, but not all, of the questions about the questionable financial arrangements with the Brazilian oil company Petrobas, a company that Obama supporter and billionaire hedge fund operator George Soros had invested in. “Over the years,” he said, “Petrobas has been a valued customer of the Bank and has supported the exports of many U.S. companies’ goods and services, both large and small.” He named some companies that have benefitted from past transactions “of this type.” He had no information about what the return on investments in Petrobas would be over the next 5 to 10 years. In regard to the critical question about “requested names and other information associated with investors in Petrobas,” Hochberg said it was “not information we track or have access to.” Vitter had asked for “The names of all U.S. and foreign investors, including institutional investors, that increased their shareholdings in Petrobras in excess of $50 million within a 6 month period before and after the ExIm loan.” Hochberg did not indicate that he would try to locate a federal source with such information and provide it to Vitter.