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Published on July 15th, 2010 | by Eli Clifton


Emergency Committee Based at Old Committee for the Liberation of Iraq

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With Jim Lobe

Some things are just too good to be true.

It seems that the new Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) is based out of the same office as the old Committee for the Liberation of Iraq (CLI), suggesting that, Yes, Virginia, the same people who led the march to war in Iraq are behind the new Emergency Committee, which, in its very brief existence to date, has attracted a lot of mostly critical attention in the blogosphere.

The evidence lies in a a letter from ECI’s executive director (PDF), Noah Pollak, to Comcast regarding the attack ad the group has been running in Pennsylvania. The letterhead bears the following address: “918 Pennsylvania Ave., SE · Washington, D.C. 20003.”

That address happens to be the same as that of Orion Strategies, a public-relations consultancy owned and operated by renowned GOP lobbyist Randy Scheunemann, who, in addition to serving as president of the CLI, has been retained since the 2008 elections as Sarah Palin’s personal — and Bill Kristol-approved — foreign-policy trainer.

(The same Pennsylvania Ave. address is listed for the CLI.)

Now, this may just be an amazing coincidence, and Scheunemann may have no ties whatsoever with the Emergency Committee, although, as an old chum of Kristol’s at the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and co-signer along with Gary Bauer, of a number of PNAC letters, that seems somewhat unlikely. So, does Orion have the ECI account?

The CLI, which was organized in large part by the White House, was also closely tied to Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress (INC) as Jim found back in 2003 shortly after the invasion. On April 8 of that year, he happened to type in the CLI website (http://liberationiraq.org/), and, to his great surprise, got the INC website instead. He immediately printed out what appeared on his screen, a scanned copy of which you can see here. (Note the address on the bottom and the destination at the top.) He then phoned Scheunemann at Orion‘s offices. He mumbled something about how both the CLI and the INC used the same server in London. But it seems that the two sites were being run by the same entity or, worse, that the INC, which, perhaps not coincidentally, was based in London, used U.S. taxpayer money to run CLI’s website, as well as its own. Like other neo-cons, Scheunemann, who no doubt was handsomely paid by the INC, appears to have been duped by Chalabi whose loyalty to the United States — as opposed to, say, Iran — is now very much in doubt.

Like the new ECI, the CLI appears to have been the proto-typical astro-turf group or letterhead organization (LHO). In an interview with Deborah Solomon published by the New York Times Sunday Magazine last week, the chairman of CLI‘s advisory board, former Secretary of State George Shultz, had this to about his role and involvement:

Shultz: There was a group — there was a committee that didn’t really exist, was a name, and it supported the war.

Solomon: What do you mean it didn’t exist?

Shultz: It didn’t exist in the sense that it never met, and I don’t even know who the members of it were.

That’s often how neo-cons work.

Of course, the invasion of Iraq, so ardently championed by the CLI, ultimately resulted in a serious deterioration in U.S. influence throughout the Middle East to the benefit of both Syria and Iran, not to mention Hezbollah and Hamas, and, conversely, to the detriment of Israel’s security. That some of the same geostrategic geniuses are now behind the creation of the Emergency Committee for Israel should give pause to anyone who actually cares about that nation’s future.


Matt Duss reminds us that the Weekly Standard‘s Michael Goldfarb is another link between the ECI and Scheunemann.  Politico’s Ben Smith referred to Goldfarb as an “adviser” to the ECIBack in January, Goldfarb joined Orion as a senior vice president of communications.

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About the Author


Eli Clifton is a reporting fellow with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute who focuses on money in politics and US foreign policy. He previously reported for the American Independent New Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.

17 Responses to Emergency Committee Based at Old Committee for the Liberation of Iraq

  1. avatar Jon Harrison says:

    The establishment hated Ike? Depends on what you mean by establishment. There were people in the CIA and elsewhere that disliked his overtures to the Soviet Union, but the “Establishment” generally supported him. The military-industrial complex speech came out of the blue, after Ike had served 8 years a chairman of the MIC board. Ike was delighted by the coups in Iran (1953) and Guatemala (1954).

    The American establishment during the Cold War period was divided into two camps: the old Eastern Establishment based in New York and the Council on Foreign Relations (the “Yankees”) and the Sunbelt Conservatives (the “Cowboys”) to their right. Carter was the candidate of the Easterners, not an “outsider” as some misinformed people still like to believe. Given that there are definite boundaries to what is acceptable in the thinking and policies of a president, Carter was about the best the Democratic Party of the time could produce. But he was largely ineffective on the policy side, and even more hapless politically. Hence his defeat after one term.

  2. avatar scott says:

    Ike evidently kept his JCS on a pretty tight leash. Some real crazies came out of that clique, Cheney and the neo-cons were mere interns for these folk. That JCS produced “Operation Norwood” and when considered in that light the Military, Congressional, Industrial Complex speech was appropriate.

    Regarding Iran, I think all were all surprised at how quickly and easily that happened. I pick on you for your occasional exceptionalism and to be honest, I’d do it too; but more sparingly and better than you(lol). I wouldn’t rule out covert actions and like I say, Ike didn’t put much on the line in those actions.

    As to Carter, there’s much Conservatives should rightly applaud about him; he and Zbig definitely had their impetuous side as this Afghan problem attests. He basically fell pray to what Tolstoy warned of in his “Letter to Liberals” http://www.lewrockwell.com/snyder/snyder14.html
    (this is from LewRockwell a libertarian site and has a libertarian introduction, the letter is about a page down)

    In the letter Tolstoy shows that an honest and earnest politician stands no chance against a, well… a politician–a lying, sophistic, venal bastard with no regard… Ultimately, he argues that good people–a fair enough definition of “liberal” as any; presumably all Americans, liberal and conservative alike would be “liberal” in this classic sense–all good people should avoid gov’t or any hegemonic institution for that matter. That it is precisely these good people that give these corrupt institutions a good name. Good people should flee them, leaving them exposed for the corrupt leviathans they are.

    It’s a compelling argument for libertarianism that is hard to answer. Read the Tolstoy, that’s a blessing in itself.

  3. avatar Jon Harrison says:

    That’s Operation “Northwoods” which was conceived (by the JCS, correct) AFTER Eisenhower left office.

    I didn’t say Eisenhower’s farewell speech was inappropriate. It was in fact overdue. The odd thing about it was that Ike had been a loyal board member of the MIC for many years, and (in effect) its chairman for eight. He did little to restrain it while in office, then decided to warn the nation as he was leaving power. An odd business.

    Sounds like you support the 1953 Iran coup. A very unfortunate event in that we overthrew a democratic government in order keep control of Iranian oil. All the bad things between the U.S. and Iran over the past thirty years (not to mention the sufferings of the Iranian people under the Shah) flowed from the Anglo-American action in 1953. And of course Ike was also a supporter of the 1954 Guatemala coup, which overthrew another democratic government and led to a long civil war that killed tens of thousands of people.

    I wasn’t aware that Cheney was a JCS intern in the Eisenhower years. Remarkable in that he was barely out of his teens at that time. Sure you’ve got your facts straight?

  4. avatar scott says:

    Operation Northwooods was drafted by IKE’s JCS, which Kennedy had inherited. Kennedy balked at Northwoods and the Bay of Pigs was the fall back position.

    I didn’t mean to assert support for the coup. I understand that if you engage in covert activities–something we stopped after ww1 save for one nation, Japan–you’re cheating. Cheating can earn blowback. My point was that Iran didn’t take a great effort to overturn. I wasn’t commenting on the disastrous affects of that coup. It consisted of just a couple of small crowds rioting and well circulated photos of those protests in papers.

    Covert action is a lot like rugby, where there’s just one ref, so the tenor is often set by the players. There are things you can do to get an advantage, though you’re likely to take a beating for cheating. Our activities in Iran would have amounted to a thrown elbow, something so small it’s hardly noteworthy. In this case that elbow delivered a knock out blow.

    I don’t know about Cheney specifically, but he did work for Nixon, and the whole cadre was there from those days. What about Rummy, Cheney, Wineberger and the lot? I’m talking out of my ass, but I’ll bet a fortune you’ll find Nixon/Ford cabinet members in those ranks. Maybe they were interns who demonstrated a great capacity for sociopathic sophistry. Do we know what the role of Congressmen is in the Military/Intel realms (Scoop Jackson)? Is the Borne series off the mark relative to the corrupt Senator?

    Rummy “In 1957, during the Eisenhower administration, he served as Administrative Assistant to David S. Dennison, Jr., a Congressman representing the 11th district of Ohio. In 1959, Rumsfeld then moved on to become a staff assistant to Congressman Robert P. Griffin of Michigan.

    He then did a two-year stint with investment banking firm A. G. Becker from 1960 to 1962

    Rumsfeld was elected to the United States House of Representatives for Illinois’ 13th congressional district in 1962, at the age of 30, and was re-elected by large majorities in 1964, 1966, and 1968. [12]

    In the Congress, he served on the Joint Economic Committee, the Committee on Science and Aeronautics, and the Government Operations Committee, as well as on the Subcommittees on Military and Foreign Operations. He was also a co-founder of the Japanese-American Inter-Parliamentary Council. [13]

    As a young Congressman, Rumsfeld attended seminars at the University of Chicago, an experience he credits with introducing him to the idea of an all volunteer military, and to the economist Milton Friedman and the Chicago School of Economics. [14] He would later take part in Friedman’s PBS series Free to Choose.

    I don’t know, maybe Jim could do more, but this unread, bozo found some smoke. If I had the inclination I’m sure that we’d find many connections from Ike’s JCS right through to Reagan, (and right into Johnson and Carter)

    I don’t know if this is an oligarchy but the names don’t seem to change that often.

  5. avatar scott says:

    Wiki on Lyman Lemnitzer (the last ChairJCS under Ike):

    Lemnitzer approved the plans known as Operation Northwoods in 1962, a proposed plan to discredit the Castro regime and create support for military action against Cuba by staging false flag genuine acts of terrorism and developing “a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington”. Lemnitzer presented the plans to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on March 13, 1962. It is unclear how McNamara reacted, but three days later President Kennedy told the general that there was no chance that America would take military action against Cuba. Within a few months, after the denial of Operation Northwoods, Lemnitzer was denied another term as JCS chairman.[1]

    In November 1962, Lemnitzer was appointed as Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, and as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (the US European Command is the crown jewel of regional commands) in January 1963.[2] This period encompassed the Cyprus crisis of 1963-1964 and the withdrawal of NATO forces from France in 1966.
    Major-General Arsa Jovanović, Major-General Fitzroy MacLean, Field Marshal Harold Alexander & Major-General Lyman Lemnitzer in Belgrade, February 1945.

    Lemnitzer retired from the military in July 1969. In 1975, President Ford appointed Lemnitzer to the Commission on CIA Activities within the United States (aka the Rockefeller Commission) to investigate whether the Central Intelligence Agency had committed acts that violated American laws and allegations that E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis (of Watergate fame) were involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

    No possible connections there between Ford’s Chief of Staff and the appt to that position; nothing to see here, please move along.

  6. avatar Jon Harrison says:

    The Northwoods plan was not drafted under Ike. The fact that Ike, in the final days of his administration, supposedly expressed a desire for an excuse to invade Cuba does not mean that he advocated the killing of Americanm citizens as a provocation (which Northwoods called for). Northwoods was drawn up in early 1962, almost a year after the failure at the Bay of Pigs. As for the rest of what you have to say, it’s the typical ghoulash of truth, half-truth, supposition and paranoia. You are indeed “talking out of your ass.” As usual.

  7. avatar scott says:

    Jim has a story linking us back again to Nixon, with plan B, more nepotistic links.

    I’m not saying Ike approved Northwoods, but James Banford’s Body of Secrets suggests that it was drafted under Ike, and of course it was Ike JCS that drafted it. That has been my contention all along and you’ve misread what I wrote.

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