Interview: Larry Beinhart (1 of 2)

by Joseph Matheny on May 10, 2007

Interview: Larry Beinhart

Part 1 of 2

Wes Unruh

Author of the non-fiction books Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin and How To Write A Mystery, Larry Beinhart now blogs regularly for the Huffington Post online, and in the following two part interview he discusses the war in Iraq, the current administration’s various scandals, and reveals some interesting elements from his next work of fiction. When we started this interview, I pointed out that the vast majority of Alterati and Greylodge readers are fans of The Daily Show, partly because I’d just watched an episode before calling in to do the teleconference. What follows is part one of an interview, where we discuss the issues facing the administration and how they got that way.




Larry Beinhart:
Daily Show watchers are the most politically knowledgeable people in the United States. Now I don’t know which is the cause and which is the effect…

Wes Unruh:
Well I suspect just to be able to get the jokes you have to know what’s going on.

LB:
Yeah but, well actually they analyze the news in a superior way to the way the mainstream media does. THe mainstream media is stuck in the present. You know, if George Bush makes a comment, the only response is if Harry Reid (D-NY) makes a comment, right? And until recently the George Bush comment was weighed about ten times more than a Harry Reid comment. But the Daily Show will go and resurrect all Bush’s comments on the same subject for the last six years.

pull_ff1.png

WU:
Right, so they provide a context.

LB:
Well they provide a context and they have a historical memory. And in a peculiar way the mainstream media has not figured out how to pick up that burden.


WU:
One of the things that I’ve been trying to understand for a while now is, first off, ‘Prosecutorgate‘ or ‘Attorneygate‘ appears to me to be very similar to some of the things that were in play during Nixon’s administration right before the impeachment. And some of the players appear to be the same. But what exactly IS “Prosecutorgate?” For people who have been following it, and have caught Alberto Gonzales forgetting things on television, you know, that’s interesting, but what is behind it? What is happening?

LB:
ff6.jpg
Okay, first of all it’s hard to discuss in mainstream news what is behind it, because we don’t know. What is behind it is as yet undocumented. There are no documents, nobody’s made statements, or anything like that. So we’re tracking the story backwards like in a mystery novel. We’re seeing kind of the ambiguous end results, some visible end results without knowing what it stated with… what it started with was this: It starts with a basic condition, the basic condition is this, is that Federal Prosecutors are even if they belong to a party and they always do, they’re often 90% Republicans or 90% Democrats. And they’re always reasonable, reasonably political loyalists. In spite of that, there’s a very high standard of professionalism and commitment to following the Constitution and following the law and taking the cases as they come. And the way that this is insured and the reason that that is insured, is because they are very powerful people. A prosecutor can ruin your life. Even if you’re found innocent, the cost of proving your innocence is ruinous. It is not true that we are presumed innocent. In a technical legal sense we are, but in a realistic sense, once the system siezes upon you, at any level–low level drug dealer, big politician–you’re presumed guilty. The system presumes you guilty, and the public except for maybe members of your immediate family presume you’re guilty. So these are very powerful dangerous people. As a result, the technical means of holding them to a high standard is actually adhered to.. so the Senator from the state recommends people for his state to the president, who then names them and brings them to the Senate, where they have to be approved by the Senate. And the Senate’s a weird place, a single Senator can hold up any appointment. So if a guy’s looked upon as too dangerous or too extreme, they won’t let him pass. The result is these are generally very high quality people, who maintain high standards and have a tradition as such.

This administration decided to politicize the Federal prosecutors and use them in particular in swing states, to do certain things. Primarily to engage in voter suppression under the name of prosecuting ‘Voter fraud.” “Voter Fraud” is a Republican code word for engaging in voter suppression. It’s a way to get rid of black voters, and poor voters, and minority voters. So they wanted them to do that, and then in individual cases they wanted them either to prosecute Democrats, and we saw this in either Wisconsin or Michigan, I forget which, where they got the Federal Prosecutor to prosecute somebody in such a meaningless way, that the appeals court threw the conviction out and criticized the prosecutor for ever having brought the case. I’ve almost never heard of judges doing that. But it also illustrates the power of these guys. This is a case that a judge, when the appeals court judge looks at it he says “This is a case that should never even have been brought.” And yet the federal prosecutor was able to get a conviction on it. And it was a case when you read about it, on the face of it it’s a terrible case. But the prosecutor was able to get a conviction of it and ruin somebody’s life. Alright. The appeals court tossed it out.

So they wanted people to do things like that, and then they didn’t want them to pursue other kinds of prosecutions, prosecutions that would embarrass Republicans. Which is what happened to Iglesias in New Mexico.ff7.jpg The senator from New Mexico called up Iglesias and he said I want you to hurry one prosecution, and I don’t really want you.. he didn’t say it in those words, but I don’t want you following up on another. And when Iglesias said, you know, “I can’t discuss this,” because he’s not allowed to, there are rules about this, “I can’t discuss this with you.” Senator Domenici hung up on him and he called the White House, okay, and here we have the direct connection. He calls George Bush. George Bush tells Karl Rove. Karl Rove tells Gonzales “fire him.” That’s what happened, that part is documented, although not in that language. But the fact that Bush, that Domenici called Bush and Bush either told Gonzales or through Rove told him directly do something about the guy, and then he was fired.

WU:
And then they make up reasons for it afterward.

LB:
So that’s the story we’re working our way back to, we’re not there yet. So they took eight of these guys, and fired them for generally as yet unknown reasons, but they are reasons of that type which I just described. And when and if we get all the emails that went through the RNC and we start getting people like this Gooding woman to testify, and people start getting threatened with going to prison under penalty of perjury or misrepresentation to Congress, and they start talking, then what’s going to happen with this is it’s going to roll right back up into the White House where they were getting rid of prosecutors who weren’t doing what they wanted, or who were doing things they didn’t want. That’s what the case is about.

WU:
Is it possible that this could culminate in an impeachment?

LB:
Well according to Larry Beinhart it will. (laughs) I mean, I’m on the record, I predicted that publicly. I wrote that a year from now we’re going to look back and say that Prosecutorgate was the beginning of the impeachment. I don’t know if it will be an ultimate direct path, or, you know, jump side3ways into some other.. but this is where it starts. I mean, we’ve already found out about the secret RNC.., you know, using the RNC mail service to avoid.. the actual conversations in which you find out what these guys actually say to each other… you know when they’re not talking publicly on message. Immediately becomes clear what sleazes they are. Just like if my private conversation became public you’d know a sleaze I am.

WU:
Well it certainly seems that they aren’t the evangelical christians that they make themselves out to be..

LB:
ff5.jpgWell I mean they may be. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t say “I’m going to cut that cocksucker’s nuts off and feed it to him”, I mean I know George Bush talks that way. And Rove talks that way. Rove isn’t a born-again, but Bush is. And he’s known to use very foul, violent language. And be very angry about anybody he thinks defies him. I mean, that’s why we went to war in Iraq. We went to war in Iraq because George Bush felt Saddam Hussein was saying “Fuck you” to America and we were going to double-fuck him back because you can’t say that to America.

WU:
We went to war in Iraq to get somebody in Afghanistan.


LB:
No we didn’t. We went to war in Iraq because George Bush felt Saddam Hussein was saying ‘Fuck You’ to America. I mean, really, none of the other reasons make any sense. All of the other reasons are just.. ‘dressing.’

WU:
Well, what was our stated goal in Iraq? I think that’s one of the ‘fog facts.’ Now we see our stated goal in Iraq is completely different than why we went to war.

LB:
The original stated goal in Iraq was to disarm.

WU:
This gets into this sort of weird hyper-reality, where they didn’t have anything, they weren’t armed.

LB:
Right.

WU:
So disarming them was not possible, so we couldn’t follow through on our goal.

LB:

Well the change, it’s very interesting. The change of goal, okay.. the original goal is significant because it’s the grounds for both the resolution to go to war, and for the UN resolutions. They both specified disarming Iraq. And we got to a point where.. um, and I remember this because going in I said, you know, what a great bluff George Bush is pulling here. I only wonder if he’s actually intelligent enough to be bluffing. And if he is, and he scares Saddam Hussein into letting inspectors in and having access to everything and making sure they’re disarmed he will walk out of this a great hero. And in fact he did that. The inspectors went in. Saddam Hussein rolled over, nobody thought he would.

WU:
Right, right, at the last minute there, I think it was in March of that year.

LB: Right. He rolled over and said go anywhere you want, do whatever you want, and they did, and they said, “we can’t find anything.” And we said “Can you prove there’s nothing here?” And they said “It’s hard to prove a negative but give us a couple of months to work on it, and yeah we pretty well can, but right now there’s nothing here.” And then they changed. Then Colin Powell said “It’s not enough that we can’t find anything, he has to prove that he got rid of everything.”

pull_ff2.png

Now this is coming from a country, the United States, who’s Secretary of Defense had just recently announced that the Pentagon could not track, I forgot the exact amount, but a couple of trillion dollars in transactions. Who could not find forty of its own airplanes. Who could not find its own tanks, okay? And this is the US Army which is rich. And supposedly well organized. As opposed to rag-tag Iraq.

And what they were complaining about was when Saddam turned in a 12,000 page report documenting how they got rid of the weapons. They said, well there’s stuff missing. They said it in 48 hours, this was written in Arabic there’s 12,000 pages and they said within two days “Oh there’s stuff missing, this is a bogus document.” And they changed the rules then to “He’s got to prove it.” So at that point it was “we’re going to go to war because he’s lost the receipts.”

And then, we got to the point about two or three days before the war, where we changed the rules again. We said the only way to stop our invasion is if Saddam Hussein abdicates. And it’s on the record, it’s public. It’s no secret. It was no longer about disarming. It was about forcing the guy to leave his country, and nobody made a peep.

WU:
So we pulled a sort of fast change where all of a sudden the goal is getting Saddam out.

LB:
It’s bait and switch. And then they went into the country and sure enough there were no weapons of mass destruction. And so they’re scratching their asses, you know, what are we doing here? And they were totally unprepared to occupy the country. I mean they really lived in this fantasy wherein once they remove this guy it was going to be Paris, 1945. Charles De Gualle was going to come in, and they were going to go back to democracy, and have a well functioning capitalist society with terrific food.

WU:
And that was believed, even if it wasn’t believed at the top levels it was certainly believed by the rank and file Republicans. I know it was, I spoke with a lot of them when I lived in Kansas. And all of them felt that way.

LB:
ff4.jpg
Uh-huh. Well, you know, they were wrong. And you know, they’d spoken about modeling the occupation on the occupation of Germany, that’s where this de-Baathification came from. And Paul Bremer has to be one of the world’s most criminal idiots. Bremer’s the guy who ran the occupation of Iraq, and if there were such a thing as justice for criminal idiocy he’d be doing fifty consecutive life sentences.

Anyway, they come in and they claim that they’re modeling this on the occupation of Germany and I googled ‘Occupation of Germany” because I was curious to see what it was like, and in that first page of list of ten, number 3 or 5 whatever it was is an Army history of the occupation of Germany. And you read it, and in the opening paragraphs it says one of the reasons when we occupied Germany Eisenhower had 1.3 million men in Germany to occupy a section, not the whole country, a section of Germany. And he had 3.6 million men in Europe. And that army immediately became the army of occupation. And we were there in such force, that, , this is what the Army report said, the Germans knew they were occupied. And the Army was of the opinion that that’s why there was no resistance. Because the country was so clearly and visibly occupied.

They don’t know that’s the reason because you can’t do a test case.

WU:
Sure.

ff3.jpg
LB:
But anyway this was 1.3 million boots on the ground, you know? I mean there were G.I.s on every corner. And they ran the justice system and they ran the food system and they directed traffic, and they dealt with the gas and oil rationing and all that stuff.

And another,like, really obvious fact is that was 1945, this is 2007, we’re still there. We still have troops in Japan. And this is not like deep thinking. George Bush says we need troops, where are our troops, and the guy says “Oh, they’re in Germany and Japan, from 1945, they’re still there. And in Korea, they’re still guarding the Korean border. So you have to be in a total kind of bizarre kind of fantasy world that these things don’t even enter into your mind.

WU:
Who would be capable of pulling us out of Iraq? I know I’m asking a really tough question, but I’m looking at the people who are the candidates on the Democratic side. And I know Kucinich is definitely the ‘Peace Candidate‘ and Joe Biden seems to know what he’s talking about when it comes to the military, but.. I don’t necissarily see that they’re the leaders.. I could see Wesley Clark or Al Gore leading us out of this disaster without perpetuating it.

LB:
But it’s a disaster. What do you mean without perpetuating it, it’s going to perpetuate. We flung the country into chaos. There’s only one way for ‘us’, if you think we are responsible for doing it, right, is you go do the numbers. What do the numbers say? The numbers say for 670,000 troops. Probably by now it’s got to be more than that, because the country has gone so far over the edge. And actual resistance armies and organizations and technologies and techniques have evolved, they’re in place now. So you have to re-invade the country with 600,000 or a million men which would require a draft. Which this country’s not about to sit still for to fix George Bush’s mistakes.

WU:
That’s true.

LB:
And in fact wouldn’t sit still for George Bush’s promised successes either, that’s why he never asked for it. I mean you got to understand this guy’s basic background is wildcatting for oil in Texas… which means convince people to put up enough money for an oil well and if you go bust, fuck it. You walk away. Pocket some of the money, and he always did. His companies always went bankrupt, he always made money, and he walked away and went and hustled more money. He never went and said, “Let’s get enough money to start an oil industry, even if we have fifteen dry holes or whatever.” It was always “Let’s do enough for this shot, if the shot doesn’t work we walk away.” That’s his basic background.

And that’s what he did here: “Okay, didn’t work.” And now he’s hanging on because what he’s insisting on is making the war last until the next administration so when he builds his half-billion dollar propaganda mill they’re going to be churning out papers that say he didn’t lose the war because it was still going on when he left. The next guy lost it.

WU:
I see so he’s going to perpetuate the war until he can get out of office.

LB:
This is a guy who went to Vegas with a hundred thousand dollars, he’s down a hundred and fifty. If he gets up from the table he has to admit he lost. If he stays at the table he can wait for a miracle. Right? Itff2.jpg can’t get worse. It can get worse for Iraq, it can get worse for the soldiers, it can get worse for the American people, but it can’t get worse for him. So from his point of view, there’s no choice but to stay, and to wheedle and con, and make up stories about surges and “stick a little longer, we’re making progress’ is “Just let me play one more hand.”

WU:
And what about Osama?

LB:
Osama won. Osama’s goal was to get.. Osama had a multiplicity of goals. One goal was to establish himself as an international major figure, as opposed to some crack-pot cockamamie outlaw pursuing ridiculous dreams out of a cave in Afganistan. And that’s what he’s become. He’s become an international icon. Two, was to galvanize the Moslem world against the decadent west, which he has done. And three, was to draw the United States into a quagmire. He thought it would be Afganistan, the graveyard of empires, where the British had eaten the dust and where the Soviet Union fell. But that didn’t happen. Somehow we dodged that bullet. But then George Bush somehow figured out a way to give him what he wanted. By going into Iraq and giving him the endless unwinnable terrible war that would do all the things that Osama wanted, which was to demonstrate the limits of American power, and to become a breeding ground, a recruiting ground happy territory for people who wanted to fight violently for Islam. And that’s what it’s become.

Diyala province, the province just outside of Baghdad out to the north-east, in listening to some colonels or generals being interviewed on CNN, is now considered Al Qaeda territory. Holy shit. Al Qaeda now has a territory. ff1.jpg They used to have a cave.

WU:
Now they’re almost a state.

LB:
Yeah. And George Bush created that for them. So in the war between George Bush and Osama, Osama won. Big time.

WU:
I can see that. He’s come a long way since the USS Cole.

LB:
Yeah. The guy was a crazed fanatic outlaw idiot. And the world was prepared to treat him that way. And Bush elevated him and his cause to legitimacy.




Stay tuned, on Monday I’ll present the second half of the interview, where we’ll talk about the candidates in this ongoing Clusterfuck to the Whitehouse, in the words of Jon Stewart. In the meantime, you can catch up on The Daily Show here, here or here.


Larry Beinhart

{ 4 comments }

angergyinveni December 17, 2007 at 7:01 am

When it comes to bookmakers, you can surely consider UNIBET a safe source.

Natasha Yi January 30, 2008 at 11:40 am

Hey!…Man i love reading your blog, interesting posts ! it was a great Wednesday .

Natasha Yi March 2, 2008 at 9:31 am

Hey!…. i was searching for basic korean language and i came across your post and it is definitely the most sensible thing i have seen in a long time, and in my opinion you got something good going here, i have to get my friends to subscribe to your post about Interview: Larry Beinhart (1 of 2).

Natasha Yi March 13, 2008 at 8:32 am

Hello webmaster…I Googled for basic korean language, but found your page about Interview: Larry Beinhart (1 of 2)…and have to say thanks. nice read.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: