Skip to comments.Lies, Inc. - Making a Killing on Terror
Posted on 03/05/2002 7:13:34 PM PST by nunya bidness
The dust had hardly settled on September 11th before Americans pulled together and brought our country back from the brink of disaster. City, state and federal governments eventually followed suit in the only way they knew how, which was to spend our money to try to solve the problem. However, the spirit of philanthropy escaped some in both sectors.
While most of the country was immersed in the immediate relief effort in New York and Virginia, Wall Street was investigating possible shady deals through the SEC. So far, the stock deals have been determined to come to a total of $100 million in profits on contracts for "put" options, which gain value if a stock falls below the contract price. The contracts were specific to American Airlines and United Airlines.
"If his [bin Laden's] network is in fact profiting from financial turmoil in the aftermath of the attacks, any transactions that take placed can be traced and provide an opportunity for law enforcement," said P.J. Crowley, executive director of the Insurance Information Institute and former White House National Security spokesman in September.
The dragnet spread worldwide and assets were frozen whenever anomalies were found. And it wasn't just airlines that were targeted by investors. One of the biggest occupants of the World Trade Center was Morgan Stanley, the investment bank. In the first week of September, an average of 27 "put" option contracts were bought each day in its shares. The total for the three days before the attacks was 2,157. Merrill Lynch, another WTC tenant, saw 12,215 "put" options bought in the four days before the attacks, when the previous days had seen averages of 252 contracts a day.
More recently, a Saudi businessman named Yasin al-Qadi of Karavan Construction was implicated in Albania for funding bin Laden's al-Qaida network through an organization known as the Muwafaq Foundation or Blessed Relief which receives millions of dollars from wealthy Saudi businessmen. The law enforcement effort was the result of several countries working with the UN sanctions committee.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, charitable donations by Americans had accumulated over $1.5 billion in just eight weeks following 9-11. Estimates are that anywhere from 60 to 75% of Americans donated to the families affected by the attack. Not only was money donated, but also over a million pints of blood and hundreds of thousands of pounds of food and supplies. But the relief effort did not come without controversy.
Due to the efforts of Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, the Red Cross and the United Way came under scrutiny for dragging their feet on releasing all of the funds donated to them in the names of the victims. Both eventually reversed their policies. The effort paid off for the victims to the tune of $350 million. The following is a brief review of the relief effort as detailed by the Capital Research Center, a non-profit watchdog group.
The Major Victim Compensation Funds
At least 200 charities and more than 300 corporations have established funds to aid families of the victims. More than 30 major organizations are conducting nationwide charitable campaigns. But three funds are handling the bulk of the relief assistance.
The largest is the Red Cross' Liberty Disaster Fund. Established immediately after September 11, it has raised an estimated $564 million. By November, the Red Cross distributed about $137 million to victims: this includes emergency checks averaging $18,000 to 2,800 individuals and families to cover basic expenses such as mortgage, rent and utility payments. The Liberty Fund plans to distribute another $111 million in emergency checks by the end of 2001. In addition, the Red Cross has provided assistance to 25,000 families that were injured, unemployed or displaced by the attacks. At least $67 million was spent on disaster relief such as onsite food, shelter, counseling, relocation assistance and other support for rescue workers as well as victims' families.
The September 11th Fund, created by the United Way of New York and the New York Community Trust, has raised $337 million. This includes $150 million raised by the entertainment industry from its September 21 "Tribute to Heroes" telethon. By November 21, the September 11th Fund awarded $50.5 million to agencies aiding victims and communities, mainly by channeling money to local United Way chapters and other select nonprofits. The largest grantee is Safe Horizon, one of New York City's major providers of victim assistance and violence prevention services. It has received about $27 million and distributed more than half the money to victims' families as emergency cash. According to Joshua Gotbaum, CEO of the September 11th Fund, Safe Horizon has written over 20,000 checks to assist victims' families. It has set up five emergency family assistance centers authorized to disburse immediate financial aid to cover such basic expenses as rent, utilities, groceries and funeral expenses.
For instance, a dishwasher at the World Trade Center's Windows on the World restaurant, off-duty at the time of the attack, was given immediate cash aid to help pay his rent and take care of his family until he was eligible for state unemployment benefits. Safe Horizon assistance also went to an elderly couple who lost their daughter and could not pay rent on the apartment they shared with her. Safe Horizon staff also worked with relatives of the missing to assist them with long-term counseling and other support services, and they set up a hotline to help people complete paperwork required by many charities to apply for aid. Through Safe Horizon and other charities, the September 11th Fund distributed about $33 million in financial assistance to victims' families.
Unfortunately, this worthwhile accomplishment has been marred by other actions taken by the September 11th Fund. It owes donors an explanation for its decision to award more than $6 million to politically controversial organizations and other nonprofits that hardly merit victim assistance.
The Twin Towers Fund was established by the City of New York to assist the families of the rescuers who died at the World Trade Center. On November 9, New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani announced that the fund had sent its first 73 checks to families. By December, the fund had raised $113 million. The mayor says it will be disbursed to the families of rescuers killed at the World Trade Center: 343 firemen and emergency technicians, 37 New York Port Authority officers, 23 police officers and three New York state court officers. These 406 families will receive checks ranging from $50,000 to $325,000-the amount based on the size of the family. Each surviving spouse will get at least $50,000 and assistance will increase with the number of children. For example, a widow with ten children will receive $325,000.
In Washington, D.C., the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region is organizing assistance to victims of the Pentagon attack which took the lives of 189 people. The foundation distributes donations to specific charities based on their needs. By late October, it had raised more than $16 million. On October 8, Fannie Mae, the District-based mortgage finance company, gave the foundation $5 million to meet the needs of survivors of the Pentagon attack. The 28-year-old Community Foundation acts as a conduit for philanthropic donations made by area residents and businesses for various local organizations. It currently has assets of $200 million, held in more than 240 philanthropic funds it administers. Last year, the foundation made $30 million in grants. For the September 11 relief effort, the Community Foundation Survivors' Fund plans to donate the $16 million raised to date to organizations providing health care, grief counseling, job training, rehabilitation and other services.
Firefighters and police have received well-deserved publicity for selflessly rescuing Trade Center victims. More than 50 charities have been set up exclusively to help their families, and they have raised at least $353 million. That is nearly 30 percent of the $1.3 billion raised for the entire relief effort. Each deceased rescuer's family stands to gain more than $880,000, and several may collect $1 million or more. Money is still flowing into rescuer charities.
It has been estimated that at the very minimum, families of fallen firefighters are immediately eligible for $270,000 in aid from the Twin Towers Fund, the International Association of Fire Fighters and the New York Stock Exchange Fallen Heroes Fund. Families of deceased police officers stand to receive a minimum of $120,000 from the Twin Towers Fund, the New York City Police Foundation and the New York Stock Exchange Fallen Heroes Fund. Not including education assistance and the value of lifetime pensions, the families are eligible to receive this year from charities and government programs anywhere from $370,000 to $570,000.
Windows on the World: How A Restaurant Looks After Its Families
Seventy-six employees of Tower One's Windows on the World Restaurant lost their lives, and, unlike the brokers and tech personnel at Cantor-Fitzgerald, many were low-wage workers. Waldy Malouf, co-owner of Beacon Restaurants, which operated Windows on the World, was concerned that the bus boys and waitresses would be overlooked. So he and his business partners created a $2.5 million fund called the Windows of Hope Family Relief fund. That amount will yield an average grant of $35,000 to each family of a fallen restaurant employee. In making the decision to create the fund, Malouf said, "We had to take care of our own." Malouf said the company had to work through certain legal and ethical issues in deciding who gets aid. For example, three carpenters working in the restaurant died in the attack. While not Windows on the World employees, Malouf decided to include the carpenters' families in the relief effort: "They might not have been washing dishes, but they were working in the restaurant."
Source: Capital Research Center
The September 11th Relief Effort
As you can see, the generosity of the American people was unbridled and indeed the problem wasn't not enough money but too much. Victims of the WTC attack have been quoted as saying that families of fallen rescue workers were getting more money than families of ordinary citizens. Also controversy surrounded some of the funds being used to support questionable organizations. Case in point the following information obtained by CNSNews.com.
The September 11th Fund awarded a grant of $31,000 to the Children's Defense Fund (CDF). CDF, according to their literature, has been at the forefront of lobbying for "children's rights," gun control and expanded welfare programs. This grant to CDF was "to get out information about subsidized health insurance expanded in response to September 11th." Hillary Clinton served as a CDF board member between 1986 and 1992.
The September 11th Fund also awarded $30,000 to the Asian American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (AALDEF) to provide "legal help and preventative measures against hate violence." AALDEF is a member of Alliance for Justice, a consortium of left-of-center groups including National Organization for Women Legal Defense Fund, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, Planned Parenthood and Earth Justice Legal Defense Fund. Margaret Fung, executive director of AALDEF, told CNSNews.com the $30,000 grant was "to hire community organizers to assist in providing information and legal assistance to victims of hate violence, especially in the South Asian community here in New York City" and to fight "workplace discrimination." Arab-American Family Support Center (AAFSC) received a grant of $60,000 from September 11th Fund "to provide emergency assistance" and combat "attacks on Arab-Americans." AAFSC spokesman Mahdis Keshavarz told CNSNews.com the grant money was going to a hotline to help fight "hate crime or biases" perpetrated against Arabs in New York.
September 11th Fund gave a grant of $81,150 to Independent Press Association (IPA) "to use community and ethnic newspapers to distribute information about victim assistance to immigrants and non-English speaking people and to prevent bias-related violence," according to the fund. IPA's Internet site features an article titled "Observers Cast Doubt on the Objectivity of the American Press." The article criticizes the American media coverage of the terrorist attacks and military action in Afghanistan for allegedly being pro-American. The article states that the American media "did not hide their sympathy for Americans and in particular New Yorkers in this difficult period."
Another beneficiary of September 11 Fund is Legal Services of New York, which received a grant of $40,000 "to replace phones, computers and other office equipment destroyed in the attack." Spokeswoman Edwina Martin said the $40,000 grant was necessary because, "If we don't have our phones and computers, we can't do anything, and people are left with nothing." She noted that the offices were "fairly close" to the World Trade Center, and that "equipment wasn't functioning." Martin said Legal Services was providing civil legal help to individuals facing eviction because of unemployment.
Other grants given by September 11th Fund include one for $57,575 to New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, a "disability rights" and "environmental justice" organization. New York Immigration Coalition collected a $450,000 grant to help "access relief assistance to immigrants harmed by the disaster." The group's stated purpose is to secure "immigrant rights." Not all September 11 Fund grant recipients have such clearly defined political goals. Olive Leaf Wholeness Center received a grant of $100,000 to provide "massage therapy to rescue workers, medical examiners, staff and victims' family members at various relief locations," according to the fund.
September 11th Fund recently was criticized for a $171,000 grant it gave to Legal Aid Society (LAS), a group fighting for expanded government programs and welfare rights in New York City. LAS is also defending a number of detainees held on immigration charges in connection with the terror attacks. Steven Banks, spokesman for LAS, maintains the men are being held on civil violations and are not criminal suspects. He added that if any of the detainees were charged in connection with the terror attacks, LAS would "withdraw from the case." But the Immigration and Naturalization Service said that just because a detainee has not been charged with a crime, it doesn't mean that person is not part of the government's investigation into the terror attacks.
Two interesting footnotes to the attacks were the gasoline price gouging and possible mafia connections in the WTC clean up. Ohio Attorney General Betty D. Montgomery is prosecuting the owners of four small filling stations for violating the Consumer Sales Practices Act a nebulous state statute that apparently outlaws whatever aspects of capitalism the attorney general finds distasteful. The owners will be fined $25,000 each. The owners of 13 other stations were threatened but avoided prosecution by donating to charity and, as it happens, generating publicity for Montgomery. The owners had committed the crime of selling gasoline for more than $3 a gallon.
Source: Columbus Dispatch
The Manhattan district attorney's office is conducting a grand jury probe into mob-connected truckers who allegedly stole tons of scrap metal (from the WTC site) - and sold it - instead of transporting it to the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, where it was supposed to be examined for evidence. At least five of the trucking companies being used to haul wreckage from the site are flagged on a list of vendors involved in alleged corruption or with ties to organized crime. Investigators are also looking in to reports that some workers on the site have been forced to pay kickbacks to mob-connected union officials in order to keep working there.
Source: ABC News
Not that there's anything wrong with the mafia especially when it's our duly elected politicians. Under the federal government's victims compensation fund families can expect to receive anywhere from a low of a few hundred thousand dollars to a high of more than $4 million. The average family will receive $1.6 million, though the awards would be reduced by the amount of a victim's life insurance or the value of his or her pension. Private charity donations would not count against the award.
Congress created the fund to encourage families not to pelt the financially vulnerable airline industry (that was recently bailed out at a cool $15 billion) with lawsuits. But as Steve Push, treasurer of a group called Families of Sept. 11, said, "In case we're not successful in changing their minds during the public comment period, we are exploring our legal options and lining up attorneys."
And you can bet the lawyers are lining up. Just like the lawyers for Johnny Jihad and anyone else who sat on a bus next to someone who might look like a terrorist.
On January 23rd President Bush signed a law granting two-year tax exemptions for families of victims killed in the terrorist attacks. The Victims of Terrorism Tax Relief Act applies to families of those killed by terrorists on September 11 and victims of the anthrax attacks in the weeks that followed. Families of victims killed in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a federal building are also eligible.
Source: Washington Times
When America was attacked we responded instantly and in an overwhelming fashion. There is no doubt that we the people rose to the challenge and that the victims will be taken care of for the rest of their lives. And depending on their circumstances they will live comfortably. However when the federal government stepped in to offer assistance, the funding for its programs will come from our pockets and go to whomever the Hungry Thing dictates at the barrel of a gun.
I'm reminded of a story about Davy Crockett that has grown to mythical proportions. Here's an excerpt:
Not Yours to Give
One day in the House of Representatives, a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of the widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support. The Speaker was just about to put the question when Mr. Crockett arose:
"Mr. Speaker - I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the suffering of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this house, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please to charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him.
"Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week's pay to the object, and, if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks."
"From The Life of Davey Crockett, compiled by Richard S. Ellis (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1884)."
Next time: Send in the lobbyists!
January 25, 2002
A technician for the movie industry, Sean Finnegan is a contributor to Sierra Times and harbors malcontent intentions to spread whatever contains the truth. He currently resides in a row home in the city that breeds otherwise known as Baltimore which is in a state that is always forgotten.
Ethical, indeed. I like this man's cut ... he took care of his own.
Contrast this man with the slash and burn CEO's of the post-perestroika 5-Year Plan capitalist US where thousands' upon thousands' of the masses are Downsized or have their nesteggs shattered by sharps.
Something to be said for ethical men when it comes to the exercise of truly Just "corporate governance".
As for the rest, "no comment". I think the facts speak for themselves.
okay, don't throw anything at me...
Thanks for the heads up.
What's even more sad is that the usual suspects line up to the trough to get some and the obvious indication is that we didn't need the likes of Tommy Thompson and the rest.
Meanwhile Linda Daschle and her "friends" stick us with worthless machines in airports while they cruise on by the security checkpoints.
And all the while "we the people" took care of the problem without so much as a phone call from the idiots from the swamp to tell us what to do.