Special Reports
Neocon �disaster capitalism� in practice
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Oct 2, 2008, 00:11

(WMR) -- Naomi Klein�s book �The Shock Doctrine,� introduced the notion of �disaster capitalism.� The nation and the world have seen this policy play out in New Orleans in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and now the Texas coast will experience disaster capitalism in the wake of hurricane Ike. Unscrupulous land speculators will descend on the Texas coast, just as they preyed on New Orleans and vicinity to buy up or just plain steal devastated properties, including public lands, to build upscale developments for the filthy rich.

On September 11, 2008, WMR reported: �WMR has learned from a senior Democratic congressional source that the Bush family, most notably former President George H. W. Bush, is reaping windfall profits from the transfer of title of public federal and state lands to private hands. The elder Bush, according to our sources, has a vested financial interest in land title companies that specialize in the transfer of public lands to private interests. The revelations represent the first evidence that the elder Bush has benefited from the transfer of public lands to private hands in a giant scheme to defraud federal and state governments, as well as the American taxpayers and native Americans. The land-grabbing scheme primarily involves the transfer of federal lands, including Native American lands and national forest system lands, in the Rocky Mountain West, state lands Texas, and both federal and state lands in California, Mississippi, and Florida to private entities. The scheme is also at the center of he scandal surrounding jailed GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff who conspired to privatize federal lands and assets around the country to benefit his corporate clients.�

WMR also reported that devastating fires in California, either set by arsonists or by the federal government as part of the Healthy Forests Initiative to clear away old trees and brush, were allowed to blaze out of control in order to destroy older homes to make way for new and more expensive dwellings.

WMR has learned of one such example in which the government purposely fanned a forest fire to drive it toward homes. The fire was the 2003 Old Fire in Cedar Glen, California, in the San Bernardino mountains. The fire destroyed 330 homes. An eyewitness reported to WMR that a helicopter purposely used its rotor blades to fan fires up a hill toward homes. The process was repeated three times. The areas selected for destruction are known as �Red Zones.� In the case of the Cedar Glen Old Fire, about three dozen homes were rebuilt. Many homes were originally built for less than $100,000. Insurance policies did not begin to cover the cost of rebuilding at a cost starting at a quarter million dollars. Out-of-town investors began arriving to buy up devastated properties to build expensive �McMansions.� Title transfer companies made a windfall profit, with the Bush family benefiting handsomely from the deal.

WMR�s September 11 report stated: �In 2003, California law enforcement concluded that a number of devastating fires that destroyed 718,000 acres in the state were the result of arson. Some within the Bush administration suggested that �Al Qaeda� terrorists could be behind the blazes. It now appears that it was the Bush administration that was the actual terrorists in carrying out the arson to enrich their friends in the real estate, Indian gambling casino, mining, and other exploitation industries.�

California Republican Representative Jerry Lewis was also reportedly involved in the land scam scheme and is currently under federal investigation for steering earmarks to his friends and family in return for lucrative campaign contributions. In 2003, Lewis was chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. U.S. Attorney Carol Lam was fired by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as she began to focus in on Lewis� malfeasance.

San Bernardino Republican County Supervisor Dennis Hansberger also conveniently placed Cedar Glen into a redevelopment agency after the Old Fire in order to develop 4,400 new homes. Hansberger displays the usual thuggish tactics for which the neocon Republican Party has become infamous. In 2007, Hansberger sued a local activist, William Fanning, who registered a website called www.dennishansberger.com and used it to expose what he believed were the corrupt practices of Hansberger to benefit his pals and family.

Another player in the land swap scam is powerful California Senate Republican leader Jim Brulte, a close adviser to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, President George W. Bush, and friend of Karl Rove. Brulte was part of the electricity deregulation scam in California that resulted in Enron�s profiting from usurious electricity rates, a scam that ultimately led to the recall of Democratic Governor Gray Davis and the installation of Schwarzenegger in the governor�s chair in Sacramento.

The person charged with carrying out the Healthy Forests Initiative was Ann Veneman, Secretary of Agriculture under George W. Bush, and a former California Secretary of Food and Agriculture. Veneman was appointed the Executive Director of UNICEF in 2005.

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright � 2008 WayneMadenReport.com

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).

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