The debate over whether the Fadhil brothers' Iraq the Model blog has covert US backing continues, with Ali Fadhil finally responding to questions posed four days earlier at the Martini Republic.
Are the brothers now or have they ever been in any kind of American pay (beyond the largesse of their rightwing PayPal contributors)?"OK, let's have a look at the "Spirit Of America" group (SoA). Who are these people? Well, basically they are a fund-raising and PR arm of Paul Wolfowitz's neo-conservative coterie, in league with Bush's buddies in the US oil and gas industry, masquerading as peace-loving fans of US-style "democracy".
Yes and no. Yes we were promised by "Spirit of America" to pay for the costs of our NGO "Friends of Democracy" and its projects to help build democracy in Iraq, and they said they have sent some money but we haven't got it yet...
Here's a critical piece of information for you "freedom"-loving ITM and SoA folks:
Spirit of America operates under the auspices of Cyber Century Forum, a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. And Cyber Century Forum's tax return for 2003 shows that it is financially supported by $109,440 in corporate stocks from Schlumberger Ltd, "the leading oilfield services technology company supplying technology, project management and information solutions to the oil and gas industries."
Isn't that a big surprise? "Freedom and Democracy for Iraq", sponsored by the US oil and gas industry.
Now, when Omar and Mohammed from ITM were invited to a White House meeting with President Bush, they were accompanied by Jim Hake, chairman and founder of Spirit Of America, plus another SoA executive, Kerry Dupont. What's more, Paul Wolfowitz - who has previously championed the ITM blog, was also present (I assume that it was Wolfie who set up the meeting, for the benefit of both SoA and ITM).
Here's a first-hand account of that meeting from Spirit of America head Jim Hake himself (link courtesy of Shot In The Dark):
On Thursday, Omar and Mohammed from Iraq the Model and Friends of Democracy, Kerry Dupont from SoA and I met with President Bush in the Oval Office. It was a half-hour meeting with the President. Paul Wolfowitz was also there.Yeah, you gotta love your private sector when it comes to making things happen for the GOP. Let's just take a look at how SoA and ITM operate, for instance...
I'll be posting more information in the next two days but here are two items.
About half way into the meeting the President said to Omar and Mohammed, "I want you two to know that we are going to stay until the job is done. It doesn't matter what the rest of the world says. It doesn't matter what the UN says. We are going to stay until the job is done. It's important that your country knows that." It was a powerful and moving moment.
After talking about Spirit of America, Pres. Bush turned to Omar and Mohammed and said, " You see gentlemen, that is the beauty of America. I never met this man before but he's out there helping to win this war on terror just as much as Wolfie here. That's what I believe in." He went on to talk about the importance of private-sector, grass roots initiatives like SoA.
SoA have just finished running a Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge. To enter the challenge, "all you have to do is link to your fundraising page and encourage your visitors to donate." The ITM site won the Individual Blog category, raising over $17,000, well ahead of other right-wing blogs like Little Green Footballs and Roger L. Simpson. The Challenge raised a total of $90,177 for SoA.
In return for winning the challenge, the ITM brothers get a free SoA cap and T-shirt. No money. I'd love to know if Ali plans to wear the SoA cap and T-shirt around downtown Baghdad.
Iraq The Model were also recently the winners were for best non-American blog at Right Wing News' "Annual Warblogger Awards". That's right, Right... Wing... News.
And yet Ali Fadhil protests that he does not want to be associated with right-wing US politics!
I was never invited to meet Bush (neither my brothers knew until they were there) and we don't know why he wanted that, but this is where I agree with you that those who did set up this meeting had their own motives that we don't share with them...Do you know what, Ali? This is something I can actually agree with you on, to some extent. I am always accused of being a pro-Kerry leftist (if not a Communist) because I oppose Bush and virtually all his policies. It's really frustrating.
The world is bigger than you and your partisan conflicts and frankly I'm getting sick of it. Take this crap somewhere else and leave us alone! We have enough problems to deal with and we are not interested in supporting any party anwhere, as simply we cannot afford the time or the effort.
But do you know what else, Ali? If you and your brothers are not working covertly with the CIA or other US agencies, then you must be the most gullible, foolish and pathetically manipulated stooges in Iraq, if not the world. I mean, you have just raised over $17,000 for people whose motives you do not share? Come off it.
Are you going to tell us you were duped by the people from Spirit of America? Or are you just trying to disassociate yourself from Bush's neoconservatives at this late stage because there are elections coming soon and that sort of thing just doesn't play too well with the average Iraqi (i.e. you are out of touch with mainstream Iraqi opinion, which was exactly what Juan Cole said in the first place).
(Follow the debate here or at Juan Cole or at Martini Republic).
UPDATE 1: Schlumberger provide over 90% of the financial support for Spirit of America's parent company, Cyber Century Forum. The rest is provided by Transocean Sedco Forex, the world's largest offshore drilling company.
UPDATE 2: When asked what three things Iraqis would most like from the US, ITM blogger Omar replied, "Support, love, and encouragement." Compare that with Riverbend's Christmas wish list, which includes gasoline, kerosine, landmine detectors and diesel generators. Who do YOU think is more in touch with real Iraqis?