Dollars & Sense: In the new edition of your book, ARMED MADHOUSE, you report on the theft of the 2008 election. How do know what they're doing? Any way to stop them?
Palast: I know because I have Karl Rove's emails. No kidding. He and his team aren't the sharpest knives in the drawer. They sent copies of their plans to GeorgeWBush.ORG instead of GeorgeWBush.COM addresses -- and, heh heh, they ended up in my in-box. Who says this job ain't fun?
Dollars & Sense: Bush fired eight prosecutors. You were behind the scenes on that story long before it broke in the US. What are they still withholding from us?
Palast: Look, it's all about VOTES. You'll see that the prosecutor that Karl Rove insisted in putting in place is a slithery character named Tim Griffin. He's the guy I busted as the spider-mind behind the "caging lists" which purged thousands of Black voters. The prosecutors fired, as you'll see in Armed Madhouse, include those, like David Iglesias in New Mexico, who refused to bring phony cases of fraud against legitimate voters.
It's a matter of economics: the Republican party is systematically knocking out lower-income voters; that makes their purges racially biased -- but my data show that's just the effect of hunting down and attacking the ballot power of working class and poor voters. Disenfranchisement is class war by other means.
Dollars & Sense: Why the hell hasn’t the U.S. press covered the story of Bush’s vultures, election’s theft, Iraq’s oil or any of the other stories you've put on the front pages in Europe?
Palast: Robert Kennedy Jr. just complained to the head of ABC News about the blackout on my stories. (ABC has the right to take my stuff from BBC for free.) I'm not holding my breath for an answer. I call it, The Silence of the Media Lambs. We've got loads of terrific investigative reporters in America, but gutless editors. So the suck-ups to power get the choice posts in metropolitan dailies and on the networks. Think of the punishment inflicted for the crime of investigative reporting. Seymour Hersh told me he was forced out of the New York Times and Bob Parry, the guy who busted open the Iran-Contra story, was pushed out of the Associated Press.
On the other hand, Bob Woodward, who had his journalistic tongue up George Bush's rectum, who went from writing 'All the President's Men' to being one of the President's men, is doing just fine.
Dollars & Sense: Many progressives are focused on privatization of the Iraqi economy, including its oil industry, as Bush’s real goal for the invasion. But you write about two radically different plans within the administration, the neo-cons’ versus Big Oil’s—and Big Oil’s plan was the one opposed to privatization. What’s going on here? Plus: any update on how privatization and the whole neo-liberal reshaping of the Iraqi economy are going?
Palast: A lot of intelligent folk believe Bush had a secret plan to grab the oil fields of Iraq before the tanks rolled. That's wrong. He had TWO plans. In Armed Madhouse, I show you both -- the result of two years undercover for BBC. The plans conflict. There's the neo-con plan: Privatize -- that is, sell off -- everything, "especially the oil" industry. That's a quote from the 101-page document which I learned was written by the neo-cons. That didn't happen -- because a Jim Baker team -- he's the lawyer for both Exxon and Saudi Arabia -- secretly wrote a 323-page plan that called for CONTROLLING the oil flow, not owning it. The purpose was to LIMIT the supply of oil from Iraq and keep prices high. This would, "enhance [Iraq's] relationship with OPEC" -- the oil cartel. That's a quote from the document you're not supposed to see. So here it is: the invasion was about LIMITING the flow of oil from Iraq, keeping prices high, not grabbing the oil to bring prices down for your SUV. The secret Baker plan is now the law in Iraq and prices are over $50 a barrel. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
Dollars & Sense: We’ve covered some of the less-told stories of Venezuela under Chavez—for example, how he’s dramatically expanding the co-operative sector of the economy. Some progressives worry though: is he a populist demagogue, maybe in the Juan Peron mold, or is he really committed to worker autonomy, democracy, and all that good stuff? You’ve talked with Hugo Chavez. What’s your take?
Palast: Chavez recommends that everyone read my book, so obviously I think he's the greatest statesman since Lincoln. But seriously, folks, what makes the guy an astonishing threat to the Bush World Order is that he insists on keeping the cash from the sale of Venezuela's oil -- shock of shocks! -- in Venezuela! With some lent to the rest of Latin America. Up until now, Venezuela sold us oil then immediately shifted the funds back to the US Federal Reserve. Chavez withdrew the funds from the Fed and, Heaven help us, spent it on building his own nation's economy. Is he a "demogogue"?
The word means, spokesman for the people. That he is. Fun trivia: RFK Jr. reminded me that Chavez picked up the line, "Whiff of sulfur" in speaking of Bush from my last book which he had just read.
Dollars & Sense: You write about how, depending on the price of oil over time, Venezuela’s oil could turn out to be a pivot point of huge geopolitical change. Can you explain?
Palast: Internal US Department of Energy analysis (I got my hands on it for BBC; it's in the book) shows that Venezuela, not Saudi Arabia, has the largest reserve of crude. That's a geo-political earthquake.
Dollars & Sense: Are you really convinced that a big devaluation of the Chinese currency would be meaningless in terms of saving U.S. manufacturing jobs by making Chinese exports more expensive? Then why are U.S. policymakers across the political spectrum so obsessed with getting China to devalue its currency?
Palast: You're really asking, Why do politicians feed us bullshit? That's a whole book right there. Both parties are winking and nodding and giggling behind your back that the way to save jobs is to change the value of China's money. It's a brilliant cover for the bi-partisan banging the American worker received with the one-two punch of NAFTA and 'Most Favored Nation' trade status for China. There are 700 Wal-Mart plants in China -- zero in the USA. Hillary Clinton was on the board of Wal-Mart when that shift went into full swing. No wonder she's joining George Bush in talking about baloney like "exchange rates."
Greg Palast is author of ARMED MADHOUSE: From Baghdad to New Orleans -- Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild, by Greg Palast, newly released in an updated, expanded edition; now in paperback.
For more info go to www.GregPalast.com
Catch Palast, Randi Rhodes and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. - live from New York at http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=6C0F65AB2719BDF5