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US senators re-introduce Russian sanctions ‘bill from hell’

 

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ). ©REUTERS / Yuri Gripas
RT February 13, 2019

A group of senators have introduced a bill suggesting a wide range of sanctions against Russia.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Democrat Bob Menendez (New Jersey) will target Russia’s banking and energy sectors, as well as its foreign debt. The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019 may affect individuals who the US would deem to “facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Putin.”

Graham introduced a similar bill last year, dubbed the “sanctions bill from hell.” The bill that failed to pass would have also called on Congress to declare Russia a “state sponsor of terrorism,” would have make it harder for the US to leave NATO, and would have accused Russia of committing war crimes in Syria, among a laundry list of other provisions. Similar ideas were relocated to the new proposal.

“President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress,” Menendez said in a statement on Wednesday.  Graham, an ally of Trump, echoed the sentiment of the fellow lawmaker, minus his criticism of the president.

“The sanctions and other measures contained in this bill are the most hard-hitting ever imposed – and a direct result of Putin’s continued desire to undermine American democracy,” he wrote.

Russian interference in American elections has never been proven. A handful of Russian nationals have been charged with interference, but those indictments are largely symbolic.

Graham and Menendez’ bill comes one day after the Senate Intelligence Committee announced it had found no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. Another House investigation came to the same conclusion last year.

Regardless of the committee’s conclusion, Graham and Menendez’ bill promises a raft of hard-hitting sanctions on Russia. These sanctions target banks that “support Russian efforts to undermine democratic institutions in other countries,” sanctions on Russia’s cyber sector, and sovereign debt.

They also include sanctions on Russia’s energy sector, mainly its crude oil projects inside the country and liquefied natural gas projects abroad. Russia currently provides almost 40 percent of Europe’s natural gas imports, a share that the US is keen to muscle in on. Despite both Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker promising to step up the US-EU gas trade, business has floundered, mostly due to the logistical headache of transporting the gas across the Atlantic Ocean.

The proposed sanctions also include penalties on Russia’s shipbuilding sector, a response to the confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait last November. Russian authorities accused the Ukrainian navy of performing dangerous maneuvers and denounced their actions as “provocation.”

Many of the bill’s other measures are carried over from Graham and Menendez’ failed legislation last year. It includes a statement of support for NATO and a two-thirds Senate vote to leave the alliance, as well as weapons shipments to any NATO countries that rely on Russian military equipment.

Provisions that would punish the Russian government for alleged chemical weapons production remain in the bill, as does the call for Russia to be declared a “state sponsor of terrorism.”

The reintroduced bill is “the continuation of the insane campaign conducted by the US,” said deputy chairman of the Russian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Aleksey Chepa, adding that he was certain that the bill won’t float. Russian MP Leonid Slutsky earlier dismissed the planned sanctions, saying whatever damage they would do if imposed would not be critical. “Russia will certainly not perish,” he said.

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Neocons Demand ‘Crushing’ Sanctions on Russia

By Ron Paul | August 6, 2018

You can always count on the neocons in Congress to ignore reality, ignore evidence, and ignore common sense in their endless drive to get us involved in another war. Last week, for example, Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-NC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and others joined up to introduce what Senator Graham called “the sanctions bill from hell,” aimed at applying “crushing” sanctions on Russia.

Senator Graham bragged that the bill would include “everything but the kitchen sink” in its attempt to ratchet up tensions with Russia.

Sen Cory Gardner (R-CO) bragged that the new sanctions bill “includes my language requiring the State Department to determine whether Russia merits the designation of a State Sponsor of Terror.”

Does he even know what the word “terrorism” means?

Sen Ben Cardin (D-MD) warns that the bill must be passed to strengthen our resolve against “Vladimir Putin’s pattern of corroding democratic institutions and values around the world, a direct and growing threat to US national security.”

What has Russia done that warrants “kitchen sink” sanctions that will “crush” the country and possibly designate it as a sponsor of terrorism? Sen. Menendez tells us: “The Kremlin continues to attack our democracy, support a war criminal in Syria, and violate Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

There is a big problem with these accusations on Russia: they’re based on outright lies and unproven accusations that continue to get more bizarre with each re-telling. How strange that when US Senators like Menendez demand that we stand by our NATO allies even if it means war, they attack Russia for doing the same in Syria. Is the Syrian president a “war criminal,” as he claims? We do know that his army is finally, with Russian and Iranian help, about to defeat ISIS and al-Qaeda, which with US backing for seven years have turned Syria into a smoking ruin. Does Menendez and his allies prefer ISIS in charge of Syria?

And how hypocritical for Menendez to talk about Russia violating Ukraine’s sovereignty. The unrest in Ukraine was started by the 2014 US-backed coup against an elected leader. We have that all on tape!

How is Russia “attacking our democracy”? We’re still waiting for any real evidence that Russia was involved in our 2016 elections and intends to become involved in our 2018 elections. But that doesn’t stop the propagandists, who claim with no proof that Russia was behind the election of Donald Trump.

These Senators claim that sanctions will bring the Russians to heel, but they are wrong. Sanctions are good at two things only: destroying the lives of innocent civilians and leading to war.

As I mentioned in an episode of my Liberty Report last week, even our own history shows that sanctions do lead to war and should not be taken lightly. In the run-up to US involvement in the War of 1812, the US was doing business with both France and the UK, which were at war with each other. When the UK decided that the US was favoring France in its commerce, it imposed sanctions on the US. What did Washington do in response? Declared war. Hence the War of 1812, which most Americans remember as that time when the British burned down the White House.

Recent polls show that the majority of Americans approve of President Trump’s recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among Republicans, a vast majority support the meeting. Perhaps a good defeat in November will wake these neocon warmongers up. Let’s hope so!

August 7, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Graham, Menendez team up for bipartisan anti-Russia bill

RT | July 24, 2018

Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) are working on a draft law that would impose sanctions on Russian sovereign debt and demand Senate approval for US quitting NATO, among other things.

The two senators announced on Tuesday they will be introducing the new sanctions law “to ensure the maximum impact on the Kremlin’s campaign against our democracy and the rules-based international order.”

The US must make it clear it will “not waver in our rejection of [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future,” Graham and Menendez said.

Although the bill is still being drafted, Graham and Menendez said it would include increased sanctions on Russian energy and financial sectors, “oligarchs and parastatal entities” and on sovereign debt as well as sanctions against “cyber actors in Russia.”

It will also establish a National Center to Respond to Russian Threats and a sanctions coordinator office at the State Department, demand reports on implementing the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), and authorize financial aid to “bolster democratic institutions across Europe to defend against Russian interference.”

Last, but not least, the bill would impose a Senate approval requirement for US withdrawal from NATO.

Graham is an outspoken foreign policy hawk and long-time wingman of the Russia-obsessed Senator John McCain (R-Arizona). Last week, he called for the World Cup soccer ball, presented as a gift to President Donald Trump by his Russian counterpart at the summit in Helsinki, Finland to be examined for surveillance devices.

As the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez is a powerful voice among the Democrats, who continue blaming Russia for the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election.

It is unclear how much support the Graham-Menendez bill will get in the Senate. However, CAATSA was approved 98-2 last year.

Just last week, the Senate voted 98-0 on a nonbinding resolution expressing the sense that the “United States should refuse to make available any current or former diplomat, civil servant, political appointee, law enforcement official or member of the Armed Forces of the United States for questioning by the government or Vladimir Putin,” in response to false reports that former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul would be “handed over” to Moscow.

July 24, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Senate Democrats Demand Probe of Putin-Trump Summit

Sputnik – July 18, 2018

Democratic leaders are demanding an open hearing in which Trump administration officials, including the American translator, would explain what transpired in Monday’s meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“This is too important not to get the full story out before the Senate and the American people,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a press conference on Tuesday while flanked by senior Democratic lawmakers.

In addition, Schumer demanded that the administration turn over to Congress all contemporaneous notes from the summit.

Trump’s first official summit with Putin featured a two hour long one-on-one meeting, followed up by an expanded bilateral meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

The two leaders positively assessed the results of the summit, where they discussed the most pressing international issues as well as Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 US election. Trump said after the meeting Washington was to blame for the poor state of bilateral relations, and cast doubt on the US intelligence community’s conclusion on the interference in the US vote.

Schumer and other Senators said the investigation should feature testimony from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman and the American translator in the one-on-one meeting between Trump and Putin.

Senator Bob Menendez called Monday a “day of infamy” for the United States, borrowing a phrase used by President Franklin Roosevelt to describe the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

“He violated his oath of office to protect and defend the constitution of the United States,” Menendez added.

Senator Ben Cardin called for immediate action to protect the United States from alleged Russian aggression.

“We need to use the independence of Congress to protect the national security of America, particularly in light of what President Trump has done with Mr. Putin,” Cardin said.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen called on the Foreign Relations Committee to hold a hearing with the American translator who was present during the private, two-hour meeting between Trump and Putin to determine what was discussed and what Trump agreed to on behalf of the United States.

July 18, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , | Leave a comment

Senate Democrats threaten to block Trump-North Korea deal

Press TV – June 5, 2018

US Democrats have warned President Donald Trump that they will block any deal with North Korea that does not guarantee a “verifiable” dismantlement of the country’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

In a letter to Trump on Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Bob Menendez said their party was not going to support a deal to ease sanctions on North Korea if the White House failed to meet their conditions.

“Sanctions relief by the US and our allies should be dependent on dismantlement and removal of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs,” the two Democrats wrote. “Any deal that explicitly or implicitly gives North Korea sanctions relief for anything other than the verifiable performance of its obligations to dismantle its nuclear and missile arsenal is a bad deal.”

An acceptable deal in Schumer and Menendez’s view had to ensure a “complete and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea,” an end to Pyongyang’s ballistic missile tests, and “robust compliance inspections.”

Pointing to the important role that Congress had in enacting a sanctions relief, the opposition leaders warned that they would opt for “tougher sanctions and oversight” if they thought the Republican head of state was moving in the wrong direction.

“If we think the president is veering off course, we won’t hesitate to move, but let’s see where he’s headed,” Schumer told reporters later in the day.

The letter came days ahead of a highly-anticipated summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12.

Trump called of the meeting a short while back, after a brief war of words broke out between the two countries over the terms of a possible deal.

“Now that the meeting will proceed as planned, we want to make sure the president’s desire for a deal with North Korea doesn’t saddle us… with a bad deal,” Schumer said. “The president needs to be willing to walk away from the table if there isn’t a good deal to be had.”

June 5, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Will Trump Defy McCain & Marco?

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • December 13, 2016

When word leaked that Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, a holder of the Order of Friendship award in Putin’s Russia, was Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of state, John McCain had this thoughtful response:

“Vladimir Putin is a thug, a bully, and a murderer and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying.”

Yet, Putin is something else, the leader of the largest nation on earth, a great power with enough nuclear weapons to wipe the United States off the face of the earth. And we have to deal with him.

McCain was echoed by the senior Democrat on foreign relations, Bob Menendez, who said naming Tillerson secretary of state would be “alarming and absurd … guaranteeing Russia has a willing accomplice in the (Trump) Cabinet guiding our nation’s foreign policy.”

Sen Marco Rubio chimed in: “Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a Secretary of State.”

If just three GOP senators vote no on Tillerson, and Democrats vote as a bloc against him, his nomination would go down. President Trump would sustain a major and humiliating defeat.

Who is Tillerson? A corporate titan, he has traveled the world, represented Exxon in 60 countries, is on a first-name basis with countless leaders, and is endorsed by Condi Rice and Robert Gates.

Dr. Samuel Johnson’s observation — “A man is seldom more innocently occupied than when he is engaged in making money” — may be a bit of a stretch when it comes to OPEC and the global oil market.

Yet there is truth to it. Most businessmen are interested in doing deals, making money, and, if the terms are not met, walking away, not starting a war.

And here is the heart of the objection to Tillerson. He wants to end sanctions and partner with Putin’s Russia, as does Trump. But among many in the mainstream media, think tanks, websites, and on the Hill, this is craven appeasement. For such as these, the Cold War is never over.

The attacks on Tillerson coincide with new attacks on Russia, based on CIA sources, alleging that not only did Moscow hack into the Democratic Party and Clinton campaign, and leak what it found to hurt Hillary Clinton, but Russia was trying to help elect Trump, and succeeded.

Why would Moscow do this?

Monday’s editorial in The New York Times explains: “In Mr. Trump, the Russians had reason to see a malleable political novice, one who had surrounded himself with Kremlin lackeys.”

Backed by Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, McCain has announced an investigation. The goal, said the Times, is to determine “whether anyone within Trump’s inner circle coordinated with the Kremlin and whether Moscow spread fake news to hurt Mrs. Clinton.”

What is going on here? More than meets the eye.

The people who most indignantly condemned Trump’s questioning of Obama’s birth certificate as a scurrilous scheme to delegitimize his presidency, now seek to delegitimize Trump’s presidency.

The Times editorial spoke of a “darkening cloud” already over the Trump presidency, and warned that a failure to investigate and discover the full truth of Russia’s hacking could only “feed suspicion among millions of Americans that … (t)he election was indeed rigged.”

Behind the effort to smear Tillerson and delegitimize Trump lies a larger motive. Trump has antagonists in both parties who alarmed at his triumph because it imperils the foreign policy agenda that is their raison d’etre, their reason for being.

These people do not want to lift sanctions on Moscow. They do not want an end to the confrontation with Russia. As is seen by their bringing in tiny Montenegro, they want to enlarge NATO to encompass Sweden, Finland, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova.

They have in mind the permanent U.S. encirclement of Russia.

They want to provide offensive weapons to Kiev to reignite the civil war in the Donbass and enable Ukraine to move on Crimea. This would mean a war with Russia that Ukraine would lose and we and our NATO allies would be called upon to intervene in and fight.

Their goal is to bring down Putin and bring about “regime change” in Moscow.

In the campaign, Trump said he wanted to get along with Russia, to support all the forces inside Syria and Iraq fighting to wipe out ISIS and al-Qaida, and to stay out of any new Middle East wars — like the disaster in Iraq — that have cost us “six trillion dollars.”

This is what America voted for when it voted for Trump — to put America First and “make America great again.” But War Party agitators are already beating the drums for confrontation with Iran.

Early in his presidency, if not before, Trump is going to have to impose his foreign policy upon his own party and, indeed, upon his own government. Or his presidency will be broken, as was Lyndon Johnson’s.

A good place to begin is by accepting the McCain-Marco challenge and nominating Rex Tillerson for secretary of state. Let’s get it on.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.”

Copyright 2016 Creators.com

December 13, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

US Senate Unanimously Passes Resolution Supporting Israeli Assault on Gaza

By Chris Carlson | International Middle East Media Center | July 18, 2014

341142_GrahamFollowing a similar resolution passed last week by the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate voted Thursday night to support Israel’s ongoing invasion of the Gaza Strip.

No dissenting vote was cast, and no mention was made of the hundreds of Palestinian civilians, most of whom are women and children, that have been killed by Israel in the past ten days.

Senate Resolution 498 was authored by Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), with additional support by Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

Paul is urging the Senate to pass his own bill, S. 2265, which would end all U.S. foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority until Hamas is barred from the new Palestinian unity government, among other stipulations.

The resolution was passed on the very same night Israel launched its current ground offensive into the Gaza Strip.

The United States and Israel, this past week, signed an agreement under which $429 million of American taxpayers’ money “will be transferred immediately to Israel” to further fund the Iron Dome missile system, which has recently come under scrutiny by prize winning Israeli defense and aerospace engineering expert Dr. Moti Shefer.

July 18, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , | 4 Comments

Ecuadorian Fugitives Gave Large Sums of Money to US Politicians

Prensa Latina | March 13, 2014

Washington – Ecuadorian bankers Roberto and William Isaias, current fugitives, donated large sums of money to campaigns of U.S. politicians, the press revealed today.

Reports underline that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating cases that involve Congressional Republican Senator Marco Rubio, Democrat Robert Menendez and Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, among other politicians.

New York’s NBC network says the FBI suspects that Menendez, through phone calls and recommendation letters to the Department of State and other bodies, helped the Ecuadorian brothers establish themselves in the U.S. in exchange for donations to his reelection campaign.

Journalist and blogger Alberto Padilla claims he can confirm that, since they arrived to live in Miami, the Isaias have financed an active lobbying campaign against the Rafael Correa administration in Ecuador and have also aided senators, in exchange for being allowed to remain in the United States.

The Isaias were sentenced in absentia to eight years of imprisonment on April 11, 2012 by the National Court of Justice after a judicial process that lasted 13 years and in which 54 judges participated.

In the Ros-Lehtinen case, the Daily Beast website assured that she recently received money from the former bankers in exchange for help.

The Isaias had donated at least $23,700 USD to Ros-Lehtinen during the 2010, 2012 and 2014 electoral cycles, according to federal contribution campaign registers.

The Isaias also contributed to the campaign funds of Florida’s Senator Bill Nelson, and Congresswoman and also President of the National Democrat Committee Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Representative Joe Garcia.

March 14, 2014 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Administration Considering Targeted Sanctions against Members of Venezuelan Government

By Jake Johnston | CEPR Americas Blog | March 4, 2014

Members of Congress and the Obama administration have consistently placed the blame for the violence stemming from protests on the Venezuelan government, while overlooking or ignoring violent incidents by opposition protesters, including the decapitation of motorcycle riders, the burning of government buildings and metro stations, attacks against state media companies, and the killing of individuals seeking to dismantle barricades, including a National Guard officer. Officials have referred instead to “systematic” human rights abuses and government repression, without citing evidence.

Based on these assertions, momentum is building to implement sanctions on members of the Venezuelan government. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) told the press on Monday that, “There should be sanctions on individuals. … The administration is looking at those.” Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, cited a “high-level” State Department official that she had recently spoken to.

That the administration is considering sanctions comes on the heels of demands from members of congress that the Obama administration go further in its application of pressure on the Venezuelan government. After introducing legislation “supporting the people of Venezuela as they protest peacefully for democracy,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) stated that:

“But this resolution can only be the first step to hold Maduro and his fellow regime thugs accountable for their violent response and their abuses of the Venezuelan people’s liberties and human rights. I have already begun circulating a letter amongst my colleagues in the House, addressed to President Obama, asking him to take immediate actions against Maduro and other Venezuelan officials who are responsible for violations of their people’s human rights. We are calling for the President to enact immediate sanctions against these officials, under authorities granted to him under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), including denying them visas to enter the United States, blocking their property and freezing their assets in the U.S., as well as prohibiting them from making any financial transactions in the U.S.”

Ros-Lehtinen also plans to introduce a bill that would require the administration to take these steps. The moves from the House of Representatives have been echoed in the Senate, where the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have introduced a resolution calling for sanctions. Menendez stated:

“Now is the time to pursue a course of targeted sanctions by denying and revoking visas, and freezing the assets of Venezuelan officials complicit in the deaths of peaceful protestors. Human rights violators should be held accountable for the crimes they committed and their presence should not be welcome in our nation. Venezuelans today are denied basic rights, freedoms, and the ability to peacefully protest the dire economic circumstances caused by President Maduro and his government. We stand with the Venezuelan people and the brave opposition leaders in their pursuit to build a more hopeful Venezuela that embraces a bright future while discarding a failed past.”

Marco Rubio even made the case for sanctions on NBC News’ “Meet The Press,” telling host David Gregory that, “I would like to see specific U.S. sanctions against individuals in the Maduro government that are systematically participating in the violation of human rights and anti-democratic actions.” Florida Governor Rick Scott has also called for sanctions. Although neither the House nor the Senate have passed these resolutions calling for sanctions, Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters last week that, “with respect to Venezuela, Congress has urged sanctions.”

The call for sanctions has also been trumpeted by the press, with Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer saying that if Venezuela does not respond to “international diplomatic pressures,” then the Congress “should revoke the U.S. visas of Venezuelan government and military leaders.” Further, Otto Reich, the former U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela and Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the time of the U.S.-backed coup of 2002, wrote an opinion piece for the National Review titled “It’s Time for Sanctions in Venezuela.”

None of the members of congress nor any of the resolutions mention the fact that of the 18 tragic deaths in Venezuela since the protests began, many were not protestors, but individuals removing barricades and motorcyclists killed by wires strung across streets, or by crashing into barricades. In one case, a member of the Venezuelan National Guard was shot and killed. The Senate resolution makes no call for both sides to refrain from violence nor does it condemn the violent actions of some from the protest movement, however it does deplore “the use of excessive and unlawful force against peaceful demonstrators in Venezuela and the inexcusable use of violence…to intimidate the country’s political opposition.”

While, undoubtedly, excessive force has been used by members of the Venezuelan security forces, over 10 individuals have been arrested for these actions and further investigations are under way. According to the Attorney General (AG) of Venezuela, there are currently 27 investigations into violations of human rights. The AG, Luisa Ortega Diaz, stated that her office “will not tolerate violations of human rights under any circumstance and that any official turns out to be responsible will be sanctioned as established by the laws of Venezuela.” Far from censoring information or trying to hide the extent of the arrests or of those killed in the last few weeks, Diaz has provided regular updates to the press and has kept the public informed about the status of investigations.

March 5, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Federal Probe Into Senator Menendez Widens To Include Help To Fugitive Bankers

By DSWright | FireDogLake | January 24, 2014

Already under investigation for trying to help a contributor who may have been defrauding Medicare, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is reportedly facing another federal criminal probe this time focusing on his relationship with two fugitive bankers from Ecuador.

William and Roberto Isaias were sentenced in abstentia for embezzling millions from Filanbanco, a bank they ran that collapsed in Ecuador. The United States has so far refused to hand them over to Ecuador despite an Interpol international arrest warrant and recommendations from officials within the State Department to return the convicted bankers back to Ecuador.

In 2005, U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador Kristie Kenney wrote a cable to the State Department saying the Isaias brothers absconded “with $100 million” and “used their ill-gotten wealth to buy safe passage from Ecuador.”…

“The fact that the Isaias brothers continue to live a life of luxury in the U.S. while their account holders are suffering in Ecuador has been a constant concern between the U.S. And Ecuador since their flight,” said Linda Jewell, a former U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador.

Enter Senator Bob Menendez who has allegedly been advocating on the brothers’ behalf. Menendez is said to have used the power of his office to assist the Isaias brothers writing letters to the State Department and Department of Homeland Security.

While Senator Menendez was writing letters the Isaias family was giving money to his campaign and the Democratic Party.

Federal election records show relatives of the Isaias brothers who are residents donated more than $10,000 to the senator’s 2012 campaign. And records show that the family of Roberto Isaias also donated at least $100,000 to the Democratic party in 2012.

If a connection between the donations and the letters can be established Senator Menendez might once again have to face ethics charges if not criminal charges.

Menendez previously paid $58,000 to a campaign contributor as reimbursement for two round trips he took to the Dominican Republic on the contributor’s private jet. The contributor was Dr. Salomen Melgen whom Menendez had assisted in dealing with allegations of improperly billing Medicare. Melgen had contributed $33,000 to Senator Menendez and traveled with him throughout the Caribbean for “political fundraisiers.”

~~~

Backgound:

Ecuador Seizes Banking Firms

January 25, 2014 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sen. Graham: Israel ‘apoplectic’ about US approach on Iran

Press TV – November 11, 2013

US Senator Lindsey Graham has warned about a possible easing of economic sanctions against Iran, saying Israel is “apoplectic” about the Obama administration’s approach.

Graham, a hawkish Republican from South Carolina who has repeatedly called for military strikes on Iran, said Sunday that lifting sanctions would send the wrong message to Israel and other US allies in the region.

“The Israelis are apoplectic about what we’re doing,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I’ve never been more worried about the Obama administration’s approach to the Middle East than I am now.”

The White House offered a “very modest sanctions relief” as Iran and the six major world powers– the US, Britain France, China, Russia and Germany– engaged in talks over Iran’s nuclear energy program in Geneva, Switzerland over the weekend.

The talks ended inconclusively on Sunday when France rejected a list of demands on Iran, saying they were too generous to result in an easing of sanctions. More negotiating sessions are scheduled for November 20.

Sen. Graham said the sanctions should be kept in place, and coupled with the threat of military force, to compel Iran to stop its uranium enrichment activities.

“If it ends with anything less, the world will regret this,” Graham said. “My fear is that we’re going to end up creating a North Korea kind of situation in the Middle East.”

Senate leaders showed bipartisan support Sunday for tougher sanctions on Iran.

Senator Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a key architect of anti-Iran sanctions, called on Congress to consider new economic sanctions against Iran.

“I think that the possibility of moving ahead with new sanctions, including wording it in such a way that if there is a deal that is acceptable that those sanctions could cease upon such a deal, is possible,” Menendez said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

The US lawmakers’ outburst happened after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced a possible agreement with Iran as a “historic blunder.”

November 11, 2013 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ecuador snubs US trade ‘blackmail’ over Snowden, offers human rights training

RT | June 28, 2013

Ecuador renounced trade benefits which the US threatened to revoke over the Latin American country’s consideration of harboring NSA leaker Edward Snowden. It offered $23 million a year to fund human rights education for Americans instead.

The government of leftist President Rafael Correa came up with an angry response on Thursday after an influential US senator said he would use his leverage over trade issues to cut preferential treatment of Ecuadoran goods at the US market, should Ecuador grant political asylum to Snowden.

“Ecuador will not accept pressures or threats from anyone, and it does not traffic in its values or allow them to be subjugated to mercantile interests,” government spokesman Fernando Alvarado said at a news conference.

He added that Ecuador is willing to allocate $23 million annually, an equivalent of the sum that it gained from the benefits, to fund human rights training in the US. It will “avoid violations of privacy, torture and other actions that are denigrating to humanity,” Alvarado said.

US Senator Robert Menendez, who heads the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, said this week that Ecuador risks losing the benefits it enjoys under two trade programs because of its stance on the NSA whistleblower.

“Our government will not reward countries for bad behavior,” he said.

The US is Ecuador’s prime trade partner, with over 40 percent of exports going to the US market.

Both programs were due to expire by the end of next month and were subject to congressional review. Before the Snowden debacle arose, the US legislature was expected to scrap one of them while renewing another one.

Snowden has applied for political asylum, hoping to find protection from American prosecutors, who charged him with espionage over his leaking of classified documents on US surveillance programs.

He is currently thought to be staying in the transit zone of a Moscow airport. He became stranded in the Russian capital after arriving from Hong Kong, because the US annulled his travel passport as part of its effort to get him to American soil for trial.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment