Friday, July 28

Icebergs & Pink Elephants

Most of the iceberg may be out of sight but you can't miss a pink elephant unless you want to. You just have to pay attention or to stop pretending.



Ethiopian Review links to Meles regime lobbying in the US: Tip of the iceberg? from the 'H.R. 5680 Task Force'. A fantastic summary of the issues revolving around Meles Inc. lobbying, part of the 'Washington Update' series, can be found at this Ethiomedia link Zenawi's lobbying firm campaigns to derail HR 5680.

Below are a few bits from 'iceberg' above
According to the Indian Ocean Newsletter (ION) of June 17, 2006, “Samuel Assefa had hardly been inaugurated as Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States when he embarked on a lobbying campaign. A Washington based firm of lawyers, DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, has just signed a contract for $50,000 a month to provide services to the Ethiopian government on legislative and public relations matters.”


Between 30%-50% of the Ethiopian Government’s budget is supported by Western economic aid in any given year. In the past 15 years, the Meles’ government in Ethiopia has spent substantial portion of the billions of dollars in aid it has received from Western donor nations and lending institutions on lobbying and other political purposes unrelated to the country’s economic development or social welfare.


DLA Piper Rudnick will receive a minimum of one-half million dollars for its work to defeat one single human rights bill, H.R. 5680 (Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2006 ). Overall lobbying expenditures in the U.S. by the Meles government this year are expected to run into the millions of dollars.
We share the writer's horror that Meles Inc. has "spent substantial portion of the billions of dollars in aid it has received from Western donor nations and lending institutions on lobbying and other political purposes unrelated to the country’s economic development or social welfare."

One must realize that this is really just the tip of the iceberg in terms of lobbying - it is likely that there is far more that has not become general knowledge. Legal agents of foreign governments have to register with the U.S. government by American law.

The US Department of Justice website links to a FAQ page about the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) which requires registration. The same link has towards the bottom of the FARA FAQ, a list of other relevant American laws and the crimes they define.

The DoJ site also has this page, 2062 Foreign Agents Registration Act Enforcement which further defines what is legal and not as well as what the FARA means. The Criminal Division of the DoJ has a page that can provide means of accessing FARA data.

After all, activities that are legal should be registered and those that aren't registered are illegal.

pink elephants

Which leads us to another vital aspect of this business is information that is not readily accessible. Filings under the Freedom of Information Act can lead to a blizzard of stuff that is hidden in plain sight or just plain hidden.
The U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law ensuring public access to U.S. government records. FOIA carries a presumption of disclosure; the burden is on the government - not the public - to substantiate why information may not be released.

Upon written request, agencies of the United States government are required to disclose those records, unless they can be lawfully withheld from disclosure under one of nine specific exemptions in the FOIA. This right of access is ultimately enforceable in federal court.
Who else is on the payroll of Meles Inc. with funds taken from Ethioipan and American taxpayers? The FOIA may be a way to find out but ultimately it will all come out one way or another, most likely as well meaning folks from within Meles Inc. and those too proud to keep such secrets let it out.

Ethiomedia and Addis Voice link to the following articles about the Meles Inc. espionage (definitely illegal agents and unregistered ones this time around!):

1) TPLF - the control freak and Diaspora Ethiopians

2) Is the “unity camp” destined not to ever get it right? aka the Triple B Plan

3) Attack on Ethiopian diaspora planned

4) ‘Minister’ demands 20,000 USD for names and photos of protesters

5) TPLF's Overseas Misadventures

Beyond how brutally it treats Ethiopians at home, the Ethiopian government has been using its diplomatic missions to quite openly run networks of agents, illegal by every diplomatic convention and by American law, with the purpose of intimidating and controlling American citizens and residents.

Those American citizens and residents have rights and America has sovereignity at home that is essential to its most basic values, dignity and identity. They are not subject to calculations of expediency. That subject is now present like a rogue pink elephant in someone's living room and can't be accepted as is.

We have written about this over the years most recently in the posts 21 months and counting ... and Consent?.

Most Ethiopian and Ethiopian-American readers can't really be too surprised at this ugly business and as for our ferenji readers - yes - a foreign dictatorship is using American taxapayer money not only to lobby in the US but also to run an espionage service in the US directed against American citizens and legal residents.

If only a known fraction of legal lobbying is as expensive as described at the beginning of this post, imagine the amount involved with every manner of illegal espionage activity.

Which brings to mind another government acronym, namely R.I.C.O. aka the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and a whole host of other diplomatic and criminal laws.

Participating in and prospering from the illegal activities of Meles Inc. is not a good idea in general and can certainly fit such definitions as racketering while easily fitting within the overall realm of federally and locally defined criminality.

The various material leaked out of Meles Inc. diplomatic venues by some very courageous individuals (groups?) that are mentioned in the links above such as this laundry list of 'diplomatic' behaviour and this blueprint for setting up criminal extortion rackets in North America and Europe. They must be translated into English and later into other languages and made available to every potentially interested source.

Appropriate committees of both Houses of Congress, the State Department, the ACLU, the media, bloggers and the Justice Department and anyone else who comes to mind should have copies on hand yesterday.

This all matters a great deal to those concerned with the interests of America and Ethiopia.


The very notion that a foreign dictatorship can use the institutions and aid of a free society to serve its own purposes either legally and illegally, is quite frankly repulsive to us as it is to Ethiopian-Americans ... and as it will be to all Americans - when they hear about it.

For the sake of the 70 million voiceless hostages of Meles Inc., for the sake of the privileged hundreds of thousands in the diaspora, for the sake of history and for ourselves - it must be made clear to all concerned that Ethiopian-Americans, American freedoms and Ethiopian lives are not for sale at any price.

Because ultimately that is what is at stake. As for the cadres and agents of Meles Inc. - the laws of a free society also protect you from Meles Inc. Free yourself from mental slavery - indeed, nothing but the truth and courage can set us all free wherever we are.

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