American Swastika: The Shocking Story of Nazi Collaborators in Our Midst from 1933 to the Present Day RIP #CharlesHigham
An excerpt from the introduction to the book American Swastika by Charles Higham
American Swastika/the Shocking Story of Nazi Collaborators in Our Midst from 1933 to the Present Day
Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1985 – Hard cover
It was announced in the issue of Time magazine for December 19, 1983, that Hermann Abs, honorary chairman of the Deutsche Bank, had led a consortium that included the West German Government in purchasing at Sotheby’s, in London, the twelfth-century German illuminated manuscript The Gospels of Henry the Lion* for the equivalent of 11.7 million dollars, the highest auction price ever paid for an artwork. Time quoted Abs as saying, regarding his native country of Germany and in terms that may provide some bleak amusement to students of economic history, “Future generations will know the good side of our history—its more noble moments—and not just the horrible days of its recent past.” One has charitably to assume that the editors and researchers of Time magazine neglected to comment on this statement through an oversight, rather than through deliberate negligence. However, when the Emmy-Award-winning French film director Pierre Sauvage wrote in protest, the magazine refused to print his letter.
|*The subject was a favorite of Heinrich Himmler.|
Almost exactly a year before, on December 7, 1982, Time‘s rival publication, Newsweek, published, also without comment, the fact that the aforesaid Hermann Abs had been appointed head of a special banking council at the Vatican, heading up an investigation into the Ambrosiano and Calvi banking scandals which had engulfed the Italian economy and in which an archbishop from Chicago, Gregory Marcinkus, had allegedly been involved. I was struck at the time by the peculiarity of the fact that the Holy See had chosen to engage for this post the former personal banker of Adolf Hitler and head of the Deutsche Bank, which played an important role in the German economic despoliation of Nazi-occupied Europe. It was interesting also to note that Abs had been on the supervisory board of I.G. Farben, the Nazi industrial trust, at a time when a substantial sum was appropriated by that company for the construction of the rubber factory of Auschwitz.
I drew the matter to the attention of Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper of the Wiesenthal Center of Holocaust Studies shortly after the Newsweek item appeared. The rabbis called a press, radio, and television conference at which the three of us expressed dismay at the appointment by the world’s most powerful religious leader, Pope John Paul II, of a former financier of Hitler who had at one time employed that selfsame pontiff in one of his subsidiary companies as a slave laborer in Poland. We made clear that the matter had been brought to the attention of the Papal Nuncio and the Vatican Secretary of State, who were weighing the matter at the time the press conference took place.
It was agreed that because of their great importance, the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal would be given special consideration in the matter. Hence, the rabbis and I gave the Times and the Journal interviews ahead of other media representatives. The Times‘s Ralph Blumenthal filed a lengthy story. It was editorially withdrawn just hours before press time and replaced by an innocuous column item. Similarly, the Journal prepared a lengthy story, including reports from Bonn, Berlin, and Rome, and again the story was pulled—this time in its entirety.
The result of the conference at the Wiesenthal Center was that there was some public discussion but, in effect the matter sank without a trace. When the aforementioned rabbis thereafter made an official visit to the Vatican, they were advised that they should not discuss the Abs issue while in audience with the Pope. They were advised privately, “The matter will take care of itself.” However, like most matters of its kind, it did not; in short, at the time of this writing, Herr Abs is still in office, as well as officially representing the West German Government in art purchases.
Preface to the book Trading with the Enemy: An Exposé of The Nazi-American Money-Plot 1933-1949 by Charles Higham
Delacorte Press – 1983, hard cover
It would be comforting to believe that the financial Establishment of the United States and the leaders of American industry were united in a common purpose following the Day of Infamy, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Certainly, the American public was assured that Big Business along with all of the officials of government ceased from the moment the war began to have any dealings whatsoever with the enemy. That assurance sustained the morale of millions of Americans who bore arms in World War II and their kinfolk who stayed at home and suffered the anguish of separation.
But the heartbreaking truth is that a number of financial and industrial figures of World War II and several members of the government served the cause of money before the cause of patriotism. While aiding the United States’ war effort, they also aided Nazi Germany’s.
I first came across this fact in 1978 when I was declassifying documents in the course of writing a biography that dealt with motion picture star Errol Flynn’s Nazi associations. In the National Archives Diplomatic Records Room I found numerous cross-references to prominent figures who, I had always assumed, were entirely committed to the American cause, yet who had been marked down for suspected subversive activities.
I had heard over the years about a general agreement of certain major figures of American, British, and German commerce to continue their relations and associations after Pearl Harbor. I had also heard that certain figures of the warring governments had arranged to assist in this. But I had never seen any documentary evidence of it. Now, pieces of information began to surface. I started to locate documents and have them declassified under the Freedom of Information Act—a painfully slow and exhausting process that lasted two and a half years. What I found out was very disturbing.
I had been born to a patriotic British family. My father had raised the first battalions of volunteers against Germany in World War I, and had built the Star and Garter Hospital at Richmond, Surrey, for ex-servicemen. He had been knighted by King George V for his services to the Crown and had been a member of Parliament and a Cabinet member. I feel a strong sense of loyalty to Britain, as well as to my adopted country, the United States of America. Moreover, I am part Jewish. Auschwitz is a word stamped on my heart forever.
It thus came as a severe shock to learn that several of the greatest American corporate leaders were in league with Nazi corporations before and after Pearl Harbor, including I.G. Farben, the colossal Nazi industrial trust that created Auschwitz. Those leaders interlocked through an association I have dubbed The Fraternity. Each of these business leaders was entangled with the others through interlocking directorates or financial sources. All were represented internationally by the National City Bank or by the Chase National Bank and by the Nazi attorneys Gerhardt Westrick and Dr. Heinrich Albert. All had connections to that crucial Nazi economist, Emil Puhl, of Hitler’s Reichsbank and the Bank for International Settlements.
The tycoons were linked by an ideology: the ideology of Business as Usual. Bound by identical reactionary ideas, the members sought a common future in fascist domination, regardless of which world leader might further that ambition.
Several members not only sought a continuing alliance of interests for the duration of World War II but supported the idea of a negotiated peace with Germany that would bar any reorganization of Europe along liberal lines. It would leave as its residue a police state that would place The Fraternity in postwar possession of financial, industrial, and political autonomy. When it was clear that Germany was losing the war the businessmen became notably more “loyal.” Then, when war was over, the survivors pushed into Germany, protected their assets, restored Nazi friends to high office, helped provoke the Cold War, and insured the permanent future of The Fraternity.
From the outset I realized that in researching the subject I would have to carve through an ice cream mountain of public relations. I searched in vain through books about the corporations and their histories to find any reference to questionable activities in World War II. It was clear that the authors of those volumes, granted the cooperation of the businesses concerned, predictably backed off from disclosing anything that would be revealing. To this day the bulk of Americans do not suspect The Fraternity. The government smothered everything, during and even (inexcusably) after the war. What would have happened if millions of American and British people, struggling with coupons and lines at the gas stations, had learned that in 1942 Standard Oil of New Jersey managers shipped the enemy’s fuel through neutral Switzerland and that the enemy was shipping Allied fuel? Suppose the public had discovered that the Chase Bank in Nazi-occupied Paris after Pearl Harbor was doing millions of dollars’ worth of business with the enemy with the full knowledge of the head office in Manhattan? Or that Ford trucks were being built for the German occupation troops in France with authorization from Dearborn, Michigan? Or that Colonel Sosthenes Behn, the head of the international American telephone conglomerate ITT, flew from New York to Madrid tot Berne during the war to help improve Hitler’s communications systems and improve the robot bombs that devastated London? Or that ITT built the Focke-Wulfs that dropped bombs on British and American troops? Or that crucial ball bearings were shipped to Nazi-associated customers in Latin America with the collusion of the vice-chairman of the U.S. War Production Board in partnership with Göring’s cousin in Philadelphia when American forces were desperately short of them? Or that such arrangements were known about in Washington and either sanctioned or deliberately ignored?
For the government did sanction dubious transactions—both before and after Pearl Harbor. A presidential edict, issued six days after December 7, 1941, actually set up the legislation whereby licensing arrangements for trading with the enemy could officially be granted. Often during the years after Pearl Harbor the government permitted such trading. For example, ITT was allowed to continue its relations with the Axis and Japan until 1945, even though that conglomerate was regarded as an official instrument of United States Intelligence. No attempt was made to prevent Ford from retaining its interests for the Germans in Occupied France, nor were the Chase Bank or the Morgan Bank expressly forbidden to keep open their branches in Occupied Paris. It is indicated that the Reichsbank and Nazi Ministry of Economics made promises to certain U.S. corporate leaders that their properties would not be injured after the Führer was victorious. Thus, the bosses of the multinationals as we know them today had a six-spot on every side of the dice cube. Whichever side won the war, the powers that really ran nations would not be adversely affected.
And it is important to consider the size of American investments in Nazi Germany at the time of Pearl Harbor. These amounted to an estimated total of $475 million. Standard Oil of New Jersey had $120 million invested there; General Motors had $35 million; ITT had $30 million; and Ford had $17.5 million. Though it would have been more patriotic to have allowed Nazi Germany to confiscate these companies for the duration—to nationalize them or to absorb them into Hermann Göring’s industrial empire—it was clearly more practical to insure them protection from seizure by allowing them to remain in special holding companies, the money accumulating until war’s end. It is interesting that whereas there is no evidence of any serious attempt by Roosevelt to impeach the guilty in the United States, there is evidence that Hitler strove to punish certain German Fraternity associates on the grounds of treason to the Nazi state. Indeed, in the case of ITT, perhaps the most flagrant of the corporations in its outright dealings with the enemy, Hitler and his postmaster general, the venerable Wilhelm Ohnesorge, strove to impound the German end of the business. But even they were powerless in such a situation: the Gestapo leader of counterintelligence, Walter Schellenberg, was a prominent director and shareholder of ITT by arrangement with New York—and even Hitler dared not cross the Gestapo.
As for Roosevelt, the Sphinx still keeps his secrets. That supreme politician held all of the forces of collusion and betrayal in balance, publicly praising those executives whom he knew to be questionable. Before Pearl Harbor, he allowed such egregious executives as James D. Mooney of General Motors and William Rhodes Davis of the Davis Oil Company to enjoy pleasant tête-à-têtes with Hitler and Göring, while maintaining a careful record of what they were doing. During the war, J. Edgar Hoover, Adolf A. Berle, Henry Morgenthau, and Harold Ickes kept the President fully advised of all internal and external transgressions. With great skill, he never let the executives concerned know that he was on to them. By using the corporate leaders for his own war purposes as dollar-a-year men, keeping an eye on them and allowing them to indulge, under license or not, in their international tradings, he at once made winning the war a certainty and kept the public from knowing what it should not know.
Because of the secrecy with which the matter has been blanketed, researching it presented me with a nightmare that preceded the greater nightmare of discovery. I embarked upon a voyage that resembled nothing so much as a descent into poisoned waters in a diving bell.
Why did even the loyal figures of the American government allow these transactions to continue after Pearl Harbor? A logical deduction would be that not to have done so would have involved public disclosure: the procedure of legally disconnecting these alliances under the antitrust laws would have resulted in a public scandal that would have drastically affected public morale, caused widespread strikes, and perhaps provoked mutinies in the armed services. Moreover, as some corporate executives were never tired of reminding the government, their trial and imprisonment would have made it impossible for the corporate boards to help the American war effort.
Therefore, the government was powerless to intervene. After 1945, the Cold War, which the executives had done so much to provoke, made it even more necessary that the truth of The Fraternity agreements should not be revealed.
I began with the conveniently multinational Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland. The activities of this anomalous institution in wartime are contained in Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau’s official diaries at the Roosevelt Memorial Library at Hyde Park, New York. Other details are contained in reports by the estimable Lauchlin Currie, of Roosevelt’s White House Economics Staff, whom I interviewed at length by telephone at his home in Bogotá, Colombia, to which city he had been banished, his citizenship stripped from him in 1956 for exposing American-Nazi connections. Another source lay in reports by the late Orvis Schmidt of Treasury Foreign Funds Control. German records were a useful source: Emil Puhl, vice-president and real power of the Reichsbank, a most crucial figure in The Fraternity’s dealings, had sent reports to his nominal superior, Dr. Walther Funk, from Switzerland to Berlin late in the war.
I turned to the matter of the Rockefeller-controlled Chase National Bank, which had conducted its business for the Nazi High Command in Paris until the war’s end. Evidently realizing that future historians might want to examine the highly secret Chase Bank files, Morgenthau had left subtle cross-references at Hyde Park that could lead future investigators to Treasury itself. I asked Ralph V. Korp of Treasury for access to the sealed Chase boxes, which had been under lock and key since 1945. Under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Korp obtained permission from his superiors to unseal the boxes and to declassify the large number of documents contained therein.
From the Chase Bank it was a natural progression to Standard Oil of New Jersey, the chief jewel in the crown of the Rockefeller empire. Records of Standard’s dealings with the Axis were contained in the Records Rooms of the Diplomatic Branch of the National Archives were specially declassified. There, too, I found records of Sterling Products, General Aniline and Film, and William Rhodes Davis, whose FBI files were also most revealing. Documents on ITT and RCA were declassified. After waiting out the better part of the year, I was able to obtain them from the National Archives. Classified SKF Industries files are held in the Suitland, Maryland, annex of the Archives. General Motors matters are covered in the James D. Mooney public access collection of Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. The unpublished post–Pear Harbor diaries of Harold Ickes were invaluable; they are to be found in the manuscript room of the Library of Congress.
The most elusive files were those on Ford in Occupied France. I could find no reference to them in the Treasury documentary listings. I knew that a Treasury team had investigated the company. I wondered if any member of the team could be alive.
Something jolted my memory. I remembered that a book entitled The Devil’s Chemists had appeared after World War II, written by Josiah DuBois, an attorney who had been part of the Treasury team at Nuremberg. The book was a harrowing account of the trial of the executives of I.G. Farben, the Nazi industrial trust, that showed Farben’s links to Wall Street.
I reread the book’s pages, looking for a clue. In it DuBois mentioned that he came from Camden, New Jersey. I decided to call information in the Camden area because I had a theory that, embittered by his experience in Germany and Washington, DeBois might have returned to live there after the war. It was only a hunch, but it paid off. In fact, it turned out that DuBois had gone back to his family law firm in Camden. I wrote to him, asking if he had records of the Ford matter. I figured that these might have been so important that he would have been given personal custody of them; that Secretary Morgenthau might not even have risked leaving them at Treasury.
DuBois replied that he believed he still had the documents, including the letters of Edsel Ford to his managers in Nazi-occupied France after Pearl Harbor, authorizing improvements in automobile and truck supplies to the Germans. After several weeks, DuBois wrote to say that he had searched his attic to no avail. The documents were missing. However, he would keep looking.
He was admitted to a hospital where he underwent major surgery. Although enfeebled, he returned to the attic and began searching again. Compelled by a desire to disclose the truth, he pursued his task whenever he could find the strength. At last, when he was about to give up hope, he uncovered the documents.
However, he explained that the main files was so incendiary that he would not send it by mail or even by messenger—I was at liberty to examine it in his office. I was faced with a new dilemma. Since I was expecting delivery of an important set of documents, I couldn’t risk an absence from my house for a prolonged journey to the East. I said I would call him back.
I knew that Rutgers University was close to DuBois’s offices. I called the Law department and asked for a student researcher. Within an hour I received a call from a young man who needed work. I contacted DuBois’s secretary and arranged for the student to copy the documents of the premises. He did so; I sent an air courier to his home to pick them up. As I read the documents, the last details of the puzzle fell into place.
I have tried to write this book as dispassionately as possible, without attempting a moral commentary, and without, of course, intending implication of present corporations and their executive boards. It will be claimed that the people in this book, since they are dead, cannot answer and therefore should not be criticized. To that I would reply: Millions died in World War II. They, too, cannot answer.
Banned from commenting on #Spitfire. Apparently I was using terms deemed too “radical” for his listening audience: “globalisation” and “neoliberalism.” A safe hunch Mr. Emory is under the employ of AIPAC: A small minority of rich “Jewish” Americans who control US public opinion (ie #NYTimes) on the so-called “war on terror,” the Israeli Occupation, amongst other foreign policy atrocities. Mr. Emory’s “conspira-racist” tendencies are quite disturbing, to say nothing of intellectually dishonest.
Enter Peter Beinart, a political scientist and former editor of the liberal (and pro-Israel) weekly, the New Republic. At J Street next week he will launch a book, “The Crisis of Zionism” (Times Books), which has already sent plenty of people into a spin.
On Israel and many other issues, American Jews are well to the left of organisations, such as AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents of Jewish organisations, that claim to represent them. Unhappily, says Mr Beinart, that does not matter, because the organisations are sustained by a small number of rich donors and not accountable to the community.
Compendium of Information on Greece the Corporate and Fake Left (@democracynow @TheNation) Media Ignore
Greece Will Once Again Say No! (Oxi!) To German Economic Imperialism
ce399fascism on Twitter! 1/6/11 (*Important*)
http://spitfirelist.com/?s=Greek+Tragedy (Search Results)
Robbed of our dignity… humiliated. I can’t take this. I won’t allow it. Greece could do without the German boot. http://t.co/ZPDV7tlC21 hours ago
CIA Inspector General Admits to Contra Drug Connection (WaPo 1998)
The CIA did not “expeditiously” cut off relations with alleged drug traffickers who supported contra Nicaraguan rebels in the 1980s, CIA Inspector General Frederick R. Hitz told the House intelligence committee yesterday.
Hitz for the first time said publicly that the CIA was aware of allegations that “dozens of people and a number of companies connected in some fashion to the contra program” were involved in drug trafficking.
“Let me be frank,” Hitz added, “there are instances where CIA did not, in an expeditious or consistent fashion, cut off relationships with individuals supporting the contra program who were alleged to have engaged in drug-trafficking activity or take action to resolve the allegations.”
Hitz said some of the alleged trafficking involved bringing drugs into the United States. But, he added, investigators “found no evidence . . . of any conspiracy by CIA or its employees to bring drugs into the United States.”
The allegations about drug traffickers linked to the CIA and the U.S.-backed anti-Sandinista rebels, as well as the response to the charges by CIA case officers and top officials, will be detailed in a 600-page classified report scheduled to be sent to Congress later this month, Hitz said.
The inspector general also said that under an agreement in 1982 between then-Attorney General William French Smith and the CIA, agency officers were not required to report allegations of drug trafficking involving non-employees, which was defined as meaning paid and non-paid “assets [meaning agents], pilots who ferried supplies to the contras, as well as contra officials and others.”
This agreement, which has not previously been revealed, came at a time when there were allegations that the CIA was using drug dealers in its controversial covert operation to bring down the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
According to Hitz, this policy was modified in 1986 when the agency was prohibited from paying U.S. dollars to any individual or company found to be involved in drug dealing.
Where the allegations “were flimsy,” he said, agency officers continued operating with the individuals involved and
investigations into whether they were dealing in drugs were not done “as expeditiously as they should have been.”
Yesterday’s hearing was called to review the inspector general’s report, which was triggered by a series of articles
published in the San Jose Mercury News in August 1996 that alleged a CIA connection to the introduction of crack cocaine into South Central Los Angeles by Nicaraguan drug dealers. Hitz has reported he found “no evidence” to indicate that past or present CIA employees, or agents acting for the agency were associated with the drug dealers mentioned in the newspaper’s series.
Yesterday Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said Hitz’s initial report “lacks credibility and its conclusions should be
Hitz’s disclosures led Rep. Norman D. Dicks (Wash.), the ranking Democrat on the intelligence panel, to call for more committee hearings, including possible testimony from former Reagan White House aide Oliver L. North, who coordinated fund-raising for the contras.
INSPECTOR: CIA KEPT TIES WITH ALLEGED TRAFFICKERS
By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 17, 1998; Page A12
Sullivan & Cromwell Chairman: Trauma Surgeon of Wall Street (NYT 11/2009)
Earlier this fall, after a busy month of shuttling to Washington, H. Rodgin Cohen, the dean of Wall Street lawyers, settled into a table upstairs at the Red Hat, a favorite restaurant overlooking the Hudson River here in the Westchester village where he lives. He and his wife of 40 years, Barbara, ordered modestly (and identically) — salad, swordfish steak, glasses of Chardonnay — and the table talk was undemanding in a casual, nerdy way.
Mr. Cohen, who is known as Rodge, wondered at one point how many Hitchcock films revolved around “high places” as a leitmotif. Barbara did not know — and did not seem to care — so he rattled them off himself with enthusiastic detail: “Saboteur,” “To Catch a Thief,” “North by Northwest,” and, of course, “Vertigo.”
After they had paid their check, they went to fetch the car, and Mr. Cohen, a Boston fan since his days at Harvard Law, glanced down at his BlackBerry to check on the Red Sox. He drives a Subaru, a humble ride for a man who earned millions last year arranging shotgun weddings for the busted firms of Wall Street, and standing next to Barbara in the darkness, Rodge Cohen, a titan of the banking bar, struggled with his automated key, initially unable to — woop woop woop — release the lock.
It was a typical, and typically disarming, moment with Mr. Cohen, the chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell and the man who, aside from government officials like Henry M. Paulson Jr., Ben S. Bernanke and Timothy F. Geithner, played perhaps the largest role of all in the gruesome doings of the Wall Street bailout last year. All told, from March 2008, when Bear Stearns was purchased for a song by JPMorgan Chase (both Sullivan & Cromwell clients), to mid-September, when A.I.G. (another client) was handed several billion by the government, Mr. Cohen, 65, took part in a breathtaking 17 financial deals, often hurrying among negotiations like a surgeon running between O.R.’s.
“Every time I looked up, it seemed like Rodge was in the room,” said Mr. Paulson, the former Treasury secretary. It is a testament to Mr. Cohen that Mr. Paulson’s spokeswoman initially said he was no longer “doing interviews” (he is working on a book), then called back to say the secretary would make himself available, given the subject.
For those of a populist bent — those, that is, who saw last fall as a potentially disastrous shift of risk from Wall Street to the taxpayer — there is certainly an urge to discern two horns and a tail on Mr. Cohen, whom the blog Zero Hedge recently referred to as the “overlord and viceroy of all Western capitalism.” He is not, after all, a government employee confirmed by, and accountable to, Congress, but a lawyer in private practice, a Man Behind the Curtain who, by way of billable hours, earned his keep on the near financial ruin of the country.
Mr. Cohen’s influence over Wall Street is both legendary and pervasive, reaching back to the 1980s, when he helped to consolidate the industry, and then to the 1990s, to shape the regulatory scheme that permitted last year’s unprecedented outlay of federal dollars. And some of the deals that he advised on, like Wachovia’s purchase of the mortgage lender Golden West, turned very sour and may have helped contribute to the meltdown.
Still, it can be difficult to drum up rage against a man who is so mild, courtly and uncommonly unassuming. Indeed, in dozens of interviews with clients, competitors and government officials, it was difficult to scare up a critical word about him.
“He looks like Mr. Peepers,” said Robert K. Steel, a board member of Wells Fargo bank and a former top official at the Treasury Department. “He’s not a demonstrative person, not 6-4, dark and good looking. But you forget about the fact that he’s 5-2 and weighs 100 pounds wet. He’s a trusted adviser. When I worked in Washington, he would always give a balanced read of the pros and cons of a situation with a knowledge so expansive you’d have to go to five other places just to get his level of sophistication.”
A few characteristics tend to crop up regularly in conversations about Rodge Cohen: his vast knowledge of the banking sector (he has worked in the industry since joining Sullivan & Cromwell in 1970); his diligent, perhaps obsessive, work habits (he sets his alarm for 4:58 a.m. so he has a two-minute grace period to check for faxes before the televised financial reports begin); and his old-school, other-directed, gentlemanly style, which has served him well in dealing with the large portfolios (and larger egos) of his clients on Wall Street.
Edward Crutchfield, the former president of First Union Bank in Charlotte, N.C., met Mr. Cohen in the early 1970s when Mr. Crutchfield was, as he put it, a “young guy on the move, hellbent to make a lot of acquisitions.”
“I needed a lawyer,” Mr. Crutchfield recalled in a recent interview. “I mean, a good lawyer — not a domesticated lawyer, a killer.”
But when he arrived at Sullivan & Cromwell, the partners told him, to his great dismay, that their senior mergers and acquisitions man was not available. “They told me, ‘We have this young lawyer, though, who’s very good, and you won’t be disappointed.’ ” It was, of course, Mr. Cohen; Mr. Crutchfield remembers thinking, “Damn, they handed me off to the second string.”
But in the intervening decades, the two men worked together on as many as 80 deals.
“He is a killer, so he’s feared, but he’s also trusted,” said Mr. Crutchfield, who is now retired and mainly hunting quail. “He’s a diminutive fellow, but he’s got a brain the size of Chicago and a heart to match. I’ve never met anyone who combines that kind of calm humanity and integrity. You just don’t find that kind of emotional and intellectual package in one head.”
H. RODGIN COHEN — the H is for Henry, his maternal grandfather; Rodgin is his mother’s original name — was born in 1944, in the middle-class Fort Hill section of Charleston, W.Va. His father, Louis, earned a living running drugstores and his mother, Bertie — who is 95 and still lives in the same house he was raised in — was a high school debate and speech teacher involved in the United Way, the PTA and the garden club. Mr. Cohen’s younger brother, Alan, is the director of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
His father served as president of their Orthodox synagogue, and took a dim view of the reigning injustices of the Jim Crow South. Mr. Cohen recalled that when he was a boy, the film “Around the World in 80 Days” arrived at one of Charleston’s three theaters and attendance was so robust that his father agreed to sell tickets at one of his stores. “But when he found out that the theater was segregated, he simply stopped selling the tickets,” Mr. Cohen said.
A few years earlier, when the authorities insisted that Louis Cohen segregate his soda fountains, he refused — and instead removed them from his stores. “The most important lesson I learned from him,” said Mr. Cohen, “was how to deal with people. He just treated all people according to who they were, not what they were.”
After studying in the local public schools through junior high, Mr. Cohen was sent north to Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. Then Harvard (class of 1965), followed by Harvard Law (1968). “I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a lawyer,” he said. “Law school was just the closest thing to continuing a liberal arts education.”
He planned, in fact, to become a historian (though he claims, a little slyly, to see no relevant connection in his interests: American history, 19th-century British history and the Roman Empire). But he was drafted into the Army in 1968 and, while virtually everyone else in his basic training group was shipped off with the infantry to Vietnam, he wound up as a military lawyer at Fort Monmouth, N.J., where he spent much of his war trying to disqualify a miscreant manufacturer of radios from a government contract.
He had met Barbara at a wedding of some college friends and they were married in 1969 in Minneapolis, not far from Grand Rapids, Minn., where she was raised in a family that owned a clothing store. When Barbara was in the 10th grade, her family moved to Fargo, N.D., where her parents ran a drive-in restaurant called King Leo’s. “I felt it was a very unworldly place,” she said of North Dakota. “Even though I’d grown up in a smaller town, people in northern Minnesota at least looked outwardly a bit.”
In 1970, Mr. Cohen interviewed at Sullivan & Cromwell and, after he accepted a position — “I liked the intersection of contracts, the law and the regulatory overlay” — the couple moved to Tarrytown, N.Y., where they lived, moving only once (from an apartment to a house), until 1997. They had a son and a daughter — Mr. Cohen refused to discuss them at all — and eventually moved downriver to Irvington, to a comfortable though hardly opulent home at the end of a private drive, furnished tastefully with pastel walls and Japanese vases.
As for leisure, Mr. Cohen tends toward reading (a busman’s holiday, of late, with several books about the meltdown); the symphony; the theater (“Ruined,” about the civil war in Congo, was a recent favorite); and walking at a nearby aqueduct with his rescued boxer named Bacall.
Bacall, in fact, stood on her hind legs pawing at his lap throughout an hourlong interview in Mr. Cohen’s living room last month. At one point, she jumped up onto the couch, prompting his wife to say: “No, Rodge, not up there. Not unless you want me to reupholster the sofa.”
Mr. Cohen removed the dog. “That would be expensive,” he said.
ONE bright day in mid-September, Mr. Cohen spent his morning in Washington, then flew back on the Delta shuttle for afternoon meetings in his office on the 30th floor of Sullivan & Cromwell’s building on the bay in Lower Manhattan. When he walked in, his assistant handed him coffee — in a “World’s No. 1 Dad” mug — and he sat down at a table surrounded by pictures of his former dogs, a signed portrait of Sheryl Crow (he’s a fan) and a view of the Statue of Liberty.
Other than the 6:56 a.m. train from Irvington, the New York-to-Washington route may be Mr. Cohen’s most-traveled path of late. After all, as the nation’s banks recover (or claim to), there has been a radical shift in where they earn their money: away from Wall Street and corporate America and toward the capital and federal largess.
Mr. Cohen is perhaps unique among lawyers of his stature in having what a New York investment banker, Gary W. Parr, called “trusted relationships with people in government.” Those relationships are, in fact, so strong that the former Treasury official in charge of financial institutions during the bailout often called Mr. Cohen to ask, “So O.K., Rodge, how do we make this work?”
“He was one of my kitchen cabinet of advisers,” said the former official, David G. Nason. Sometimes that meant getting advice on loan guarantees or on investing private equity in banks, though whatever the subject, Mr. Nason said, “he was always available as a sounding board.”
Mr. Cohen’s role as a sounding board could not, of course, be divorced from his representation of the very banks that stood to gain from the federal programs he advised on; Mr. Nason said that these conflicts of interest were managed with both openness and trust.
“When you’re dealing with a Rodge Cohen, you begin by saying, ‘This is sensitive information, and you’re not going to use it for your own personal benefit,’ ” Mr. Nason explained. “If they do use it for personal or client gain, they’re not going to be part of the discussion anymore — and they like being part of the mix.”
But the conflicts, or perceived conflicts, apparently became insurmountable last spring, when Mr. Cohen was under consideration for the No. 2 spot at Treasury, then suddenly — and somewhat clumsily — withdrew his name. He refused to discuss the matter (the only subject he declined to entertain other than his children), but two former government officials suggested that his deep ties to Wall Street created an uncomfortable air at a time when, among other things, the scandal over bonuses at A.I.G. had just erupted.
Mr. Cohen is a Democrat — he has, over a decade, given tens of thousands of dollars to Charles E. Schumer, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Harry Reid, as well as Republicans like Elizabeth Dole and Alfonse M. D’Amato — and described his politics as “progressive socially and middle-of-the-road on foreign policy.” But by nature and vocation, he is a friend to the banks. “Even the firms that have done the best,” he said, “the Goldman Sachs and JPMorgans, fully understand how close we were to an abyss. They’re not out there beating their chests saying how great they are. Rather, they’re saying how close we came ourselves.”
Unlike some on Wall Street, though, Mr. Cohen supports ideas like increased capital requirements for banks, the creation of a government body to oversee the dissolution of failed institutions and the establishment of some still-hazy audit board — an internal “risk committee,” he called it — to ensure that banks do not again leverage themselves off cliffs.
“We have clearly seen the burial of the idea that government should step aside and simply let the markets do what they will,” he said. “You have to have government as a watchdog over excessive risks and abuses.”
The only time, in four interviews, that Mr. Cohen appeared to become defensive was while discussing the taxpayers’ role in cleaning up those excessive risks on Wall Street.
“Almost all the burden is now being borne by the banking industry itself,” he said, making reference to “fees,” “warrants” and various “special assessments.” When pressed, however, he acknowledged that ordinary citizens are — at least potentially — on the hook.
“They are at risk,” he allowed, “though if the banks stop lending, the taxpayer will be more at risk.”
His gaze sharpened slightly, his eyebrows arched. Sitting in his office over Wall Street, the likable lawyer had just gone somewhat stiff.
By ALAN FEUER
United Fruit Company, Sullivan and Cromwell, Dulles, CIA, Guatemala
The capital of the United Fruit Company empire was in Guatemala, in the town of Bananera, where it made its headquarters. From here it master-minded its empire and corrupted every level of government and politics in Guatemala. United Fruit also managed to exempt itself from virtually all taxes for 99 years. UFCO had its fingers in almost every pie in Guatemala. UFCO had the unconditional support of right-wing dictators who maintained their power by terrorizing the people and arresting prominent citizens who were either killed on the spot or tortured in prison to extract confessions. During one wave of repression under Jorge Ubico, hundreds were killed in just two days.
In 1944, the people of Guatemala overthrew the right-wing dictator then in power, Jorge Ubico. Guatemala held its first true elections in history. They elected Dr. Juan Jose Arevalo Bermej to the presidency. A new constitution was drawn up, based on the U.S. Constitution. Arevalo was a socialist and an educator who built over 6,000 schools in Guatemala and made great progress in education and health care.
At this time in Guatemala, just 2.2 percent of the population owned over 70 percent of the country’s land. Only 10 percent of the land was available for 90 percent of the population, most of whom were Indians. Most of the land held by the large landowners was unused. Arevalo was succeeded in another free election by Jacobo Arbenz who continued the reform process begun under Arevalo. Arbenz proposed to redistribute some of the unused land and make it available for the 90 percent to farm. Here is where the problem arose: United Fruit was one of the big holders of unused land in Guatemala. The pressure mounted against UFCO and finally the company complained to the many friends it had within the U.S. government including President Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, saying that Guatemala had turned communist.
The U.S. State Department and United Fruit embarked on a major public relations campaign to convince the American people and the rest of the U.S. government that Guatemala was a Soviet “satellite”.
“It [United Fruit] began with enviable connections to the Eisenhower administration. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and his former New York law firm, Sullivan and Cromwell, had long represented the company. Allen Dulles, head of the CIA, had served on UFCO’s board of trustees. Ed Whitman, the company’s top public relations officer, was the husband of Ann Whitman, President Eisenhower’s private secretary. (Ed Whitman produced a film, “Why the Kremlin Hates Bananas,” that pictured UFCO fighting in the front trenches of the cold war.) The fruit firm’s success in linking the taking of its lands to the evil of international communism was later described by one UFCO official as “the Disney version of the episode.” But the company’s efforts paid off. It picked up the expenses of journalists who traveled to Guatemala to learn United Fruit’s side of the crisis, and some of the most respected North American publications – including the New York Times, New York Herald Tribune, and New Leader – ran stories that pleased the company. A UFCO public relations official later observed that his firm helped condition North American readers to accept the State Department’s version of the Arbenz regime as Communist-controlled and the U.S.-planned invasion as wholly Guatemalan.” (Quoted from Inevitable Revolutions – The United States in Central America by Walter La Feber, 2nd ed. 1993, pp. 120-121.
The campaign succeeded and in 1954 the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency orchestrated a coup, code-named “Operation PBSUCCESS”. The invading force numbered only 150 men under the command of Castillo Armas but the CIA convinced the Guatemalan public and President Arbenz that a major invasion was underway. The CIA set up a clandestine radio station to carry propaganda, jammed all Guatemalan stations, and hired skilled American pilots to bomb strategic points in Guatemala City. The U.S. replaced the freely elected government of Guatemala with another right-wing dictatorship that would again bend to UFCO’s will.
The history of Guatemala since the Spanish conquest is one of continuous domination and repression. For a brief ten years from 1944 to 1954, Guatemala experienced the fresh air of democracy. However, with a right-wing dictatorship back in power, Guatemala was thrown back into the dark ages and the stage was set for the next 30 years of repression and killing. As part of their efforts in the coup, the CIA made a list of 70,000 “questionable individuals”. During Guatemala’s 36 year civil war that just came to an end this year (1996), the government often referred to this list originally put together by the CIA.
The US Military’s Quest to Weaponise Culture (Bulletin 2008)
The Pentagon seems to have decided that anthropology is to the war on terror what physics was to the Cold War. As an anthropologist, this makes me very nervous.
Where former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld believed that the United States would vanquish its enemies through technological superiority, his replacement Robert Gates has said that cultural expertise in counterinsurgency operations will be crucial in the future wars he anticipates.
When research that could be funded by neutral civilian agencies is instead funded by the military, knowledge is subtly militarized and bent in the way a tree is bent by a prevailing wind.”
For those anthropologists who don’t judge the vitality of our discipline solely in terms of revenue streams, the Pentagon’s new interest in culture is worrying. So far the Pentagon has announced two major initiatives to mobilize anthropological knowledge for war. The first is the Human Terrain Team system, to which Gates allocated $40 million in September 2007. The Pentagon plans 26 Human Terrain Teams–one for each combat brigade in Iraq and Afghanistan. The five-person teams include three military personnel. Each team also includes an anthropologist–or another social scientist–who will wear a military uniform and receive weapons training. Described as doing “armed social work” by David Kilcullen, an Australian expert in counterinsurgency who advises Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq, the teams elicit information from villagers for Pentagon databases and provide cultural orientation to U.S. military leaders.
According to a scathing article in Newsweek, thus far, few of the embedded social scientists recruited speak local languages or know much about local culture. For example, the best-known embedded anthropologist, Marcus Griffin of Christopher Newport University in Virginia, is mainly knowledgeable about Filipino hunter-gatherers and Freegan dumpster-divers in the United States. One wonders how useful his military colleagues find his “cultural expertise.”
Last year, the Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) issued a statement condemning the use of anthropologists in Human Terrain Teams. Why would the AAA object to anthropologists doing their bit for the war on terror? After all, perhaps anthropologists could help smooth out some of the cultural misunderstandings between U.S. troops and locals that have exacerbated violence in Iraq and Afghanistan? Is this political correctness run amok?
One cannot grasp AAA’s concerns without understanding that anthropologists have a unique research method that brings with it special ethical responsibilities: We engage in what one anthropologist has called “deep hanging out” with people, passing the time with them, often day after day for months, painstakingly earning their trust and getting them to tell us about their worlds. What distinguishes anthropology from espionage (apart from anthropologists’ impenetrable jargon) is that we seek the consent of our subjects, and we follow an injunction to do no harm to those we study. According to the anthropological code of ethics, our obligations to those we study trump all others–to colleagues, funders, and nation. (It’s for this reason that Franz Boas, the father of American anthropology, famously condemned four colleagues for using anthropological research as cover for spying during World War I.)
Embedded anthropologists are on shaky ethical terrain because they cannot realistically get free consent from their interlocutors while dressed in camouflage and traveling with U.S. soldiers in Humvees. Similarly, they cannot control the use of the information they collect for the military, and thus, cannot ensure it isn’t used to harm communities they study. For instance, during the Vietnam War, under Project Phoenix, anthropological knowledge was used to target villagers for assassination.
There’s also the obligation to colleagues. Most anthropologists report at some point being suspected of working for U.S. intelligence by those they study. I experienced this myself when doing research in Russia. Therefore, every anthropologist in camouflage casts a pall of suspicion over the rest of us.
The second Pentagon program is Project Minerva, which Gates announced in April. Funded at $50 million over the next five years, Minerva is designed to mobilize social scientists for open research related to the war on terror. Gates mentioned his hope that anthropologists would apply. The projects envisaged under Minerva include translating and analyzing captured Iraqi documents, helping collate open-source documents pertaining to Chinese military policy, researching the relationship between Islam, violence, and terror, and proposing new experimental fields, which as Gates put it in his speech, might be as useful in the war on terror as game theory proved during the Cold War.
Minerva doesn’t entail the obvious ethical liabilities for anthropologists that mar the Human Terrain Team experiment. Also, to give the Pentagon its due, military program officers have striven to make this program as open as possible: Captured Iraqi documents and information about Chinese military programs will be posted to websites where they will be accessible to scholars, or curiosity-seekers, anywhere in the world. Likewise, the call for proposals to research Islam and violence, or to develop new inter-disciplines, emphasizes that the research will be unclassified and that scholars from any country are free to apply.
Still, following the announcement of Minerva, Setha Low, AAA’s president, wrote to Gates and others expressing some concerns about the program’s implementation. (Full disclosure: I was consulted about the letter’s phrasing.) AAA’s core concern is that the Defense Department has a well-established track record funding research in science and engineering, but not the social sciences– and especially not anthropology. There are, however, federal agencies–the National Science Foundation (NSF) comes to mind–that have great experience in funding exactly the kind of research at Minerva’s core. If the federal government wants to fund free and open scholarly research on, say, Islam and terror, why not do so through the normal channels for inviting and adjudicating such research? NSF is skilled and practiced at doing peer review of such research; Defense is not.
While the obvious danger that concerns the AAA is of an amateurish and misshapen review process that produces a research program that isn’t all it could be, there’s a deeper and less obvious danger, too. When research that could be funded by neutral civilian agencies is instead funded by the military, knowledge is subtly militarized and bent in the way a tree is bent by a prevailing wind. The public comes to accept that basic academic research on religion and violence “belongs” to the military; scholars who never saw themselves as doing military research now do; maybe they wonder if their access to future funding is best secured by not criticizing U.S. foreign policy; a discipline whose independence from military and corporate funding fueled the kind of critical thinking a democracy needs is now compromised; and the priorities of the military further define the basic terms of public and academic debate.
For all of these reasons, I know that Franz Boas would have been as worried as I am.
Abuses of Census Data : From Counterinsurgency to Genocide
Homeland Security and Arab Americans
The Census Bureau has provided specially tabulated population statistics on Arab-Americans to the Department of Homeland Security, including detailed information on how many people of Arab backgrounds live in certain ZIP codes.
The assistance is legal, but civil liberties groups and Arab-American advocacy organizations say it is a dangerous breach of public trust and liken it to the Census Bureau’s compilation of similar information about Japanese-Americans during World War II.
The tabulations were produced in August 2002 and December 2003 in response to requests from what is now the Customs and Border Protection division of the Department of Homeland Security. One set listed cities with more than 1,000 Arab-Americans. The second, far more detailed, provided ZIP-code-level breakdowns of Arab-American populations, sorted by country of origin. The categories provided were Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, Moroccan, Palestinian, Syrian and two general categories, “Arab/Arabic” and “Other/Arab. ”
Christiana Halsey, a spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection, said the requests were made to help the agency identify in which airports to post signs and pamphlets in Arabic. “The information is not in any way being used for law enforcement purposes,” she said. “It’s being used to educate the traveler. We’re simply using basic demographic information to help us communicate U.S. laws and regulations to the traveling public.” [ ! ]
But critics of the information sharing said general demographic snapshots could be derived without such detailed information and that the ZIP-code-level data with its breakdowns of ancestral origin seemed particularly excessive because for all of the groups only English or Arabic need be used.
“The real question is to Homeland Security,” said Samia El-Badry, an Arab-American member of the Census Bureau’s decennial census advisory committee. “What are they hiding? Why do they need this?”
James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, said the data sharing was particularly harmful at a time when the Census Bureau is struggling to build trust within Arab-American communities. “As this gets out, any effort to encourage people to full compliance with the census is down the tubes,” Mr. Zogby said. “How can you get people to comply when they believe that by complying they put at risk their personal and family security?”
In 2000, the bureau issued a formal apology for allowing its statistical data to be used to round up Japanese-Americans for internment during World War II.
The New York Times
Census Records and The Third Reich
Only after Jews were identified — a massive and complex task that Hitler wanted done immediately — could they be targeted for efficient asset confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, enslaved labor, and, ultimately, annihilation.
In every European nation the Third Reich conquered, they immediately scoured the census records, then sent the data back for cross-tabulation and processing in Germany on IBM Hollerith punchcard machines.
Historians have always been amazed at the speed and accuracy with which the Nazis were able to identify and locate European Jewry. The fact is, IBM technology was used to organize nearly everything in Germany and then Nazi Europe, from the identification of the Jews in censuses, registrations, and ancestral tracing programs to the running of railroads and organizing of concentration camp slave labor.
(A guest contributor provided the above book excerpt / article)
IBM and the Holocaust : The Strategic Alliance Between Nazi Germany and America’s Most Powerful Corporation New York, NY, U.S.A.: Crown Publishing Group, Incorporated, 2001.
Phuong Hoang / The Phoenix Program
A census, if properly made and exploited, is a basic source of intelligence. It would show, for instance, who is related to whom, an important piece of information in counterinsurgency warfare because insurgent recruiting at the village level is generally based initially on family ties.
…a census is an effective way of controlling large numbers of persons. Thus, while CIA paramilitary officers used their covert Census Grievance Program to gather intelligence in Viet Cong controlled villages, CIA police advisers were conducting a census program of their own…
…the National Police in 1962 initiated the Family Census program, in which a name list was made and a group photo taken of every family in South Vietnam. The portrait was filed in a police dossier along with each person’s political affiliations, fingerprints, income, savings, and other relevant information, such as who owned property or had relatives outside the village, and thus had a legitimate reason to travel. This program was instrumental in identifying persons who could be blackmailed into working in their villages as informers. By 1965 there were 7,453 registered families.
Through the Family Census, the CIA learned the names of Communist cell members in government-controlled villages. Apprehending the cadre that ran the cells was then a matter of arresting all minor suspects and “softening them up” until they informed.
Excerpt From “Chapter 5: PICS” in The Phoenix Program, Douglas Valentine (NY, Wm Morrow, 1990)