Aletho News


Rumors of War: Washington Is Looking for a Fight

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 18.04.2019

It is depressing to observe how the United States of America has become the evil empire. Having served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War and in the Central Intelligence Agency for the second half of the Cold War, I had an insider’s viewpoint of how an essentially pragmatic national security policy was being transformed bit by bit into a bipartisan doctrine that featured as a sine qua non global dominance for Washington. Unfortunately, when the Soviet Union collapsed the opportunity to end once and for all the bipolar nuclear confrontation that threatened global annihilation was squandered as President Bill Clinton chose instead to humiliate and use NATO to contain an already demoralized and effectively leaderless Russia.

American Exceptionalism became the battle cry for an increasingly clueless federal government as well as for a media-deluded public. When 9/11 arrived, the country was ready to lash out at the rest of the world. President George W. Bush growled that “There’s a new sheriff in town and you are either with us or against us.” Afghanistan followed, then Iraq, and, in a spirit of bipartisanship, the Democrats came up with Libya and the first serious engagement in Syria. In its current manifestation, one finds a United States that threatens Iran on a nearly weekly basis and tears up arms control agreements with Russia while also maintaining deployments of US forces in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and places like Mali. Scattered across the globe are 800 American military bases while Washington’s principal enemies du jour Russia and China have, respectively, only one and none.

Never before in my lifetime has the United States been so belligerent, and that in spite of the fact that there is no single enemy or combination of enemies that actually threaten either the geographical United States or a vital interest. Venezuela is being threatened with invasion primarily because it is in the western hemisphere and therefore subject to Washington’s claimed proconsular authority. Last Wednesday Vice President Mike Pence told the United Nations Security Council that the White House will remove Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro from power, preferably using diplomacy and sanctions, but “all options are on the table.” Pence warned that Russia and other friends of Maduro need to leave now or face the consequences.

The development of the United States as a hostile and somewhat unpredictable force has not gone unnoticed. Russia has accepted that war is coming no matter what it does in dealing with Trump and is upgrading its forces. By some estimates, its army is better equipped and more combat ready than is that of the United States, which spends nearly ten times as much on “defense.”

Iran is also upgrading its defensive capabilities, which are formidable. Now that Washington has withdrawn from the nuclear agreement with Iran, has placed a series of increasingly punitive sanctions on the country, and, most recently, has declared a part of the Iranian military to be a “foreign terrorist organization” and therefore subject to attack by US forces at any time, it is clear that war will be the next step. In three weeks, the United States will seek to enforce a global ban on any purchases of Iranian oil. A number of countries, including US nominal ally Turkey, have said they will ignore the ban and it will be interesting to see what the US Navy intends to do to enforce it. Or what Iran will do to break the blockade.

But even given all of the horrific decisions being made in the White House, there is one organization that is far crazier and possibly even more dangerous. That is the United States Congress, which is, not surprisingly, a legislative body that is viewed positively by only 18 per cent of the American people.

A current bill originally entitled the “Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA) of 2019,” is numbered S-1189. It has been introduced in the Senate which will “… require the Secretary of State to determine whether the Russian Federation should be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism and whether Russian-sponsored armed entities in Ukraine should be designated as foreign terrorist organizations.” The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and is co-sponsored by Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The current version of the bill was introduced on April 11th and it is by no means clear what kind of support it might actually have, but the fact that it actually has surfaced at all should be disturbing to anyone who believes it is in the world’s best interest to avoid direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia.

In a a press release by Gardner, who has long been pushing to have Russia listed as a state sponsor of terrorism, a February version of the bill is described as “… comprehensive legislation [that] seeks to increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Russia’s interference in democratic processes abroad, malign influence in Syria, and aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The legislation establishes a comprehensive policy response to better position the US government to address Kremlin aggression by creating new policy offices on cyber defenses and sanctions coordination. The bill stands up for NATO and prevents the President from pulling the US out of the Alliance without a Senate vote. It also increases sanctions pressure on Moscow for its interference in democratic processes abroad and continued aggression against Ukraine.”

The February version of the bill included Menendez, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as co-sponsors, suggesting that provoking war is truly bipartisan in today’s Washington.

Each Senator co-sponsor contributed a personal comment to the press release. Gardner observed that “Putin’s Russia is an outlaw regime that is hell-bent on undermining international law and destroying the US-led liberal global order.” Menendez noted that “President Trump’s willful paralysis in the face of Kremlin aggression has reached a boiling point in Congress” while Graham added that “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose meaningful sanctions and measures against Putin’s Russia. He should cease and desist meddling in the US electoral process, halt cyberattacks on American infrastructure, remove Russia from Ukraine, and stop efforts to create chaos in Syria.” Cardin contributed “Congress continues to take the lead in defending US national security against continuing Russian aggression against democratic institutions at home and abroad” and Shaheen observed that “This legislation builds on previous efforts in Congress to hold Russia accountable for its bellicose behavior against the United States and its determination to destabilize our global world order.”

The Senatorial commentary is, of course, greatly exaggerated and sometimes completely false regarding what is going on in the world, but it is revealing of how ignorant American legislators can be and often are. The Senators also ignore the fact that the designation of presumed Kremlin surrogate forces as “foreign terrorist organizations” is equivalent to a declaration of war against them by the US military, while hypocritically calling Russia a state sponsor of terrorism is bad enough, as it is demonstrably untrue. But the real damage comes from the existence of the bill itself. It will solidify support for hardliners on both sides, guaranteeing that there will be no rapprochement between Washington and Moscow for the foreseeable future, a development that is bad for everyone involved. Whether it can be characterized as an unintended consequence of unwise decision making or perhaps something more sinister involving a deeply corrupted congress and administration remains to be determined.

April 18, 2019 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , , , | 3 Comments

US Dem. Senators Calls on Trump to Impose New Anti-Russia Sanctions – Reports

Sputnik – February 13, 2108

Three senior Democratic senators have introduced a resolution that urges US President Donald Trump to exercise his right to impose new restrictions against Russia under a sanctions bill, which was approved by the Congress in July, the Politico news website reported Tuesday.

The resolution was drafted by senators Ben Cardin of Maryland, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

The senators, who were reportedly deeply dissatisfied with Trump’s administration’s recent decision to delay the introduction of new restrictions against Russia, stressed that the July bill provided for the mandatory imposition of new sanctions.

“The lack of seriousness shown by the administration in the face of a clear national security threat and even clearer congressional intent is alarming and cannot continue,” Cardin was quoted as saying by the news outlet.

The official was referring to the January announcement made by Trump’s administration, saying that new anti-Russia restrictions, provided for by the sanctions bill that was passed in summer, were not necessary as the legislation served as a deterrent.

In July, US Congress approved the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanction Act, which requires the White House to slap new sanctions on defense and intelligence firms buying Russian military equipment in connection to Russia’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election in 2016. Trump signed the act into law in August. Russian officials have repeatedly dismissed claims of Moscow’s meddling in the US election as groundless.

February 13, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

US Senators Urge to Prevent Alleged ‘Russian Meddling’ in Mexico’s Election

Sputnik – February 1, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration should take steps to deter alleged Russian interference in the upcoming presidential election in Mexico and other parts of the Western Hemisphere, US Senators Tim Kaine, Marco Rubio and Robert Menendez said in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and USAID Administrator Mark Green.

“We are deeply troubled by recent news articles that Russia is reportedly using sophisticated technology to meddle in Mexico’s upcoming election,” the letter said on Wednesday. “As such, we believe it is critical that USAID continue to play an active role in providing technical assistance, education and training to support countries’ efforts to strengthen electoral systems.”

The lawmakers fear Russia’s alleged actions in the region will cause instability, especially as six contentious presidential elections will take place this year in the Western Hemisphere, including in Brazil and Colombia, the letter said.

Tillerson is set to visit Mexico City on Friday to meet with Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chyrstia Freeland for talks on regional issues.

Russian ambassador to Mexico Eduard Malayan earlier this month dismissed rumors about Russia’s “interference” in Mexico’s forthcoming election as “nonsense.”

Russia has faced numerous accusations of meddling in elections since the 2016 US presidential vote in which then-Republican candidate Donald Trump claimed victory against the odds. The US intelligence community alleged that Trump’s campaign team colluded with the Kremlin to bring him victory in the election.

Similar accusations followed France’s presidential election, Spain’s Catalan referendum and the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote.

Russian officials have repeatedly refuted such accusations. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has called the claims groundless. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stressed that the accusations of Russia meddling in the elections of foreign states were unsubstantiated.


CIA Prediction of Russian Meddling in US Midterm Elections ‘Nonsense’

February 1, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tossing bribery charges against Sen. Menendez to ‘decriminalize corruption’

Press TV – October 16, 2017

Prosecutors warn that tossing bribery charges against US Senator Robert Menendez – as being considered by a federal judge—would “decriminalize corruption” and “jettison the vast majority of bribery prosecutions.”

US District Judge William Walls suggested last week that the Justice Department’s bribery charges against Menendez may not move forward based on his reading of a 2016 Supreme Court opinion overturning the conviction of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell had been convicted of corruption charges for taking gifts from a businessman in exchange for arranging a meeting between him and state officials.

In that ruling, the top court invalidated the “stream of benefits” theory of bribery that prosecutors have used to make legal cases against Menendez and other public officials.

“I know the prosecution had a heyday before McDonnell, and now they have a doomsday after McDonnell,” Walls said.

Federal prosecutors allege that Menendez accepted bribes from his co-defendant Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist and longtime friend, in anticipation for the senator’s help “as opportunities arose” in the future.

Melgen has already been convicted in Florida for overbilling the Medicare program by millions of dollars, and faces a potentially lengthy prison sentence.

Prosecutors allege that Menendez intervened with federal agencies on Melgen’s behalf to resolve the billing dispute, to assist a $500 million port security contract, and to obtain US visas for Melgen’s girlfriends.

Menendez and Melgan have both denied the charges, with their attorneys arguing that what prosecutors call bribes were gifts exchanged between friends.

The high-profile case resumes Monday.

Both the Justice Department of defense attorneys filed motions during the weekend to bolster their arguments.

Prosecutors wrote that to dismiss charges against Menendez “would decriminalize the most egregious forms of corruption, incentivizing greedy businessmen to put politicians on retainer and immunizing lawmakers who solicit bribes in exchange for a promise to perform official acts.”

“The Supreme Court did not, and this Court should not, render a decision that has the unsettling effect of legalizing all such conduct.”

In total, the New Jersey Democrat faces six counts of bribery, three counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy, one count of interstate travel to carry out bribery, and one count of making false statements on his congressional financial disclosures.

October 16, 2017 Posted by | Corruption | , | Leave a comment

US senators introduce bill to tighten sanctions on Iran

Press TV – March 23, 2017

A bipartisan group of US senators in Congress have introduced a bill that would impose tighter sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile tests and other non-nuclear activities.

The bill was introduced on Thursday by 14 Democratic and Republican senators, including senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The legislation would set mandatory sanctions for anyone involved with Iran’s missile program and those who trade with them. It also would apply sanctions to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).

Lawmakers were expected to roll out the new sanctions ahead of a conference by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is scheduled to start Sunday.

Senators Bob Corker, Robert Menendez, Marco Rubio, Ben Cardin and Tom Cotton are among the bill’s sponsors.

Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, claimed that the new bill had been written not to interfere with the international nuclear accord reached with Tehran.

Iran and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China — plus Germany started implementing the nuclear agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), on January 16, 2016.

In February, US President Donald Trump undermined the multilateral deal by introducing a new round of sanctions against Iran following the country’s successful test-launch of a ballistic missile, which Washington said was a breach of the JCPOA.

The US Treasury Department said Washington had imposed sanctions on 13 individuals and 12 entities as part of an effort to ratchet up pressure on Iran over its missile program.

The United States claims that Iran’s recent missile test violated Resolution 2231 that endorsed the Iran nuclear agreement.

Tehran insists its missile tests do not breach any UN resolution because they are solely for defense purposes and not designed to carry nuclear warheads.

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet the Banker Brothers Who Destroyed Ecuador’s Economy

Ecuadorean fugitive bankers Roberto and William Isaias, who are currently in the U.S

Ecuadorean fugitive bankers Roberto and William Isaias, who are currently in the U.S | Photo: El Telegrafo
teleSUR – June 13, 2016

The Isaias brothers are the among the most wanted criminals, convicted for the financial meltdown in Ecuador 16 years ago.

Ecuador is seeking the extradition of banking brothers Roberto and William Isaias from the United States on charges that they embezzled funds and are largely responsible for the country’s financial crisis in 1999—but the United States has spent the last 13 years ignoring the request.

The Isaias brothers have both been found guilty of fraud and the Ecuadorean government says they need to pay back millions of dollars they stole from the savings of average Ecuadorans. So why are they being protected?


Brothers Roberto and William Isaias were the owners of one of the biggest banks in Ecuador, Filanbanco, that was part of the economic meltdown that lasted from 1999 until 2001.

This crisis led to the end of the Ecuadorean currency, the Sucre, and its replacement by the U.S. dollar, which eliminated currency autonomy in the Andean country.

The Isaias brothers were charged with embezzlement but fled the country before their trial with over US$100 million in government bailout funds that were given to Filanbanco during the country’s banking crisis.

The brothers were found guilty in absentia for a fraud worth US$600 million, and sentenced to eight years in prison in 2012 by the Ecuadorean National Court, which determined that the brothers had falsified Filanbanco’s financial statements.


William and Roberto Isaias have lost two appeals against Ecuador.

In 2014, a U.S. court ruled against the fugitives, and allowed Ecuadorean authorities to seize properties belonging to the brothers in Florida to recover a portion of the US$200 million the government of Ecuador says they owe.

For the seizure of their assets, the brothers sought to sue Ecuador for US$1 billion claiming it was illegitimate and a political prosecution, but a New York court ruled they did not have enough evidence to substantiate their claims.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee also rejected the allegations of the Isaias brothers that their conviction in Ecuador for the crime of bank embezzlement amounted to political persecution.

Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry says it is currently working with the U.S. to reach an agreement that would have a number of fugitives, including the bankers, return to face justice.


A 2005 leaked diplomatic cable from the U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador, made public by Wikileaks, said the brothers “used their ill-gotten wealth to buy safe passage from Ecuador and later pressured prosecutors to reduce criminal charges against them.”

According to The New York Times, the Isaias brothers donated US$90,000 for the re-election campaign of current U.S. President Barack Obama, and have invested at least US$320,000 in other politicians.

The Times explained that the brothers appeared to receive preferential treatment due to their connections to Democratic U.S. Senator Robert Menendez. The senator from New Jersey attempted to influence immigration officials in exchange for donations from the fugitive brothers to prevent their deportation, according to the Times. Menendez has himself been under investigation for corruption.

In a related case, Menendez lobbied to lift a ban against Estefania Isaias, daughter of Roberto Isaias, from entering the U.S. She was charged with fraudulent actions to obtain visas for her domestic employees, but after Menendez’s help high-ranking officials in the U.S. State Department lifted the ban.

Linda Jewell, former U.S. ambassador to Ecuador, said that “such close and detailed involvement by a congressional office in an individual visa case would be quite unusual, especially for an applicant who is not a constituent of the member of Congress.”

Menendez, who was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stepped down from his post after being the subject of a corruption investigation. He faces 14 charges ranging from fraud to bribery for having allegedly offered political favors in exchange for expensive gifts and donations to his political campaigns.

Media Control

The convicted Isaias brothers also used their money and political influence in international media against a leading supporter of their extradition: current leftist President Rafael Correa.

Alberto Padilla, CNN’s former news host, said the bankers have been financing an active opposition campaign against the Correa government since they arrived in the U.S.

The brothers have set up interviews with Ecuadorean opposition lawmakers and journalists, financing their trips to the U.S. to visit with several leading news outlets, such as the Miami Herald and CNN, according to El Ciudadano,

The Isaias Group is also one of the investors in CNN Latino and have funded books, magazines, articles and even other media outlets to criticize Correa’s administration.


NGOs: A New Face of Destabilization in Latin America


Money Buys Influence in US for Fugitive Ecuadorean Bankers

US Public Funding Anti-Government Media, Journalists in Ecuador

June 14, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

U.S. Senator Menendez Claims Venezuelan ‘Regime’ Obstructing Democracy

teleSUR – January 5, 2016

A key U.S. lawmaker accused the Venezuelan government on Monday of interfering in the National Assembly, which will convene for the first time on Tuesday.

“I write to urge you and your administration to take immediate steps to ensure that Mr. Maduro’s regime is denied the space to obstruct Venezuela’s path to democratic order,” U.S. Senator Robert Menendez wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama. “I believe you can accomplish this with a combination of close monitoring of key international organizations and meaningful, internationally imposed penalties.”

Mendendez suggests petitioning the Organization of American States to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which would apply pressure on member states accused of anti-democratic activity.

Menendez was indicted on federal corruption charges last year, accused of trading political favors for money and gifts.

Since the December 6 elections that saw Venezuela’s opposition win a majority in the National Assembly, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his PSUV party have organized numerous meetings to defend the Bolivarian Revolution. On Monday, Maduro announced the creation of a new block of PSUV deputies tasked with revealing what he claims is the opposition’s true agenda of rolling back gains for the poor and working class.

Maduro’s most controversial move since the election has been his announcement of an Emergency Economic Plan that grants more autonomy to the central bank, insulating it from opposition pressure. That plan drew fire for bypassing the now opposition-dominated National Assembly, which would like to overhaul the body.

U.S. Department of State spokesman John Kirby also expressed concern Monday that the Venezuelan Supreme Court could prevent 13 legislators from taking office due to election irregularities.

President Maduro has defended the court’s investigation, accusing the opposition of cheating to win. “(The right) had electoral success because they deepened their line of action outside the rules of the game: the economic, criminal and electrical warfare, among others, and then they hid behind a buddy,” said Maduro. He also reproached the United States for interfering in Venezuelan politics, saying the country would “not accept imperialism.”

January 5, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Victory for Ecuador as US Court Rejects Fugitive Bankers’ Case

teleSUR | June 2, 2015

The state of Ecuador won an important case Monday brought against it by the Isaias brothers, a pair of fugitive bankers who were convicted of embezzlement for their role as the heads of bank Filanbanco during the Ecuadorean banking crisis in the late 1990s.

Ecuador’s attorney general revealed in a communique that the court of the Southern District of New York has denied a suit by William and Roberto Isaias, which sought to sue Ecuador for US$1 billion, after the state seized approximately 200 business connected to the brothers when the pair fled the country.

The U.S. court determined that the suit did not fall under its jurisdiction, as the state of Ecuador enjoys sovereign immunity. According to the communique, the court also found that the brothers had failed to prove that the seizures were illegitimate.

The brothers have the option to appeal within 30 days. Ecuador is still seeking the extradition of William and Roberto Isaias.

However, the pair have received preferential treatment, due to their connections to U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, himself the subject of a corruption investigation.

The brothers were found guilty in absentia and sentenced to eight years in prison by the Ecuadorean National Court, which determined that the brothers had falsified Filanbanco’s financial statements. Filanbanco received millions from the Ecuadorean state in bail-outs during the country’s bank crisis.

This is the second case the Isaias brothers have lost in U.S. courts, after a 2014 ruling determined that Ecuador could attempt to seize properties belonging to the brothers in Florida in order to recover a portion of the US$200 million the government of Ecuador says it is still owed.

June 2, 2015 Posted by | Corruption | , | Leave a comment

Sen. Menendez pleads not guilty to federal corruption charges

Press TV – April 3, 2015

US Senator Robert Menendez has pleaded not guilty to 14 federal charges of corruption.

The New Jersey Democrat was indicted on Wednesday on bribery and conspiracy offenses in connection with an ongoing investigation into his unlawful dealings with Salomon Melgen, a Florida doctor and longtime political donor.

A bribery charge is among the most serious accusations of corruption the federal government can make.

Menendez pleaded not guilty in Newark court on Thursday.

The senator, who has held his seat since 2006, was charged with accepting nearly $1 million in gifts and campaign contributions from Melgen in exchange for political favors.

He will have to turn over his passport, according to multiple reports.

“Prosecutors at the Justice Department don’t know the difference between friendship and corruption and have chosen to twist my duties as a senator and my friendship into something that is improper,” Menendez said during a brief press conference on Wednesday.

Menendez is the first US senator to face federal bribery charges since 1980 when Harrison A. Williams Jr., another New Jersey Democrat, was indicted as part of the federal corruption investigation known as Abscam.

Menendez is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a key voice on Capitol Hill to call for increased sanctions against Iran.

Melgen, who was also named in the incitement, pleaded not guilty Thursday.

April 3, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | Leave a comment

Justice Dept set to charge NJ Senator Menendez with corruption

RT | March 6, 2015

An influential US senator will face federal corruption charges, concluding a two-year investigation into Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), which has scrutinized a Florida eye doctor, underage prostitutes and accusations against the Cuban government.

Department of Justice prosecutors accuse Menendez, the senior senator from New Jersey and the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, used his powerful position to advance the business interests of Dr. Salomon Melgen, a close friend and financial benefactor, in exchange for gifts, several media outlets reported Friday afternoon. Attorney General Eric Holder has signed off on the requested charges, according to CNN.

The senator has consistently denied wrongdoing since the investigation became public in 2013.

“As we have said before, we believe all of Senator’s actions have been appropriate and lawful and the facts will ultimately confirm that,” Menendez spokesperson Tricia Enright said in a statement Friday. “Any actions taken by Senator Menendez or his office have been to appropriately address public policy issues and not for any other reason.”

The investigation began in the fall of 2012, when Menendez was running for reelection. A scandal erupted days before the vote, when he was accused of “inappropriate sexual activities with young prostitutes” on a 2010 trip to the Dominican Republic. Conservative news site the Daily Caller broke the story after GOP political operatives set up several Skype interviews with several women in the Dominican Republic who claimed the senator had paid them for sex.

According to the anonymous tip that launched the probe, Melgen provided the underage women, as well as free flights on his private plane, the Washington Post reported. The women later recanted their stories about meeting Menendez on the 2010 trip.

The New Jersey lawmaker vehemently denied that he employed any sex workers in the Dominican, and accused the Cuban government of hatching a plot to derail his political career; as the son of Cuban immigrants, he is one of several key Latinos in Congress aligned against any relaxation of the embargo on the island-nation.

Despite the women changing their stories, the FBI continued to investigate Menendez’s relationship with the Florida opthamologist.

The investigation began to focus on whether the senator intervened on Melgen’s behalf, asking Medicare to change its reimbursement policies that benefited the eye doctor to the tune of $8.9 million, money that he has since repaid, according to Politico.

Melgen was accused of overbilling the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for his reimbursement for the drug Lucentis, a costly medication used to treat macular degeneration. During the billing dispute ‒ in 2009 and in 2012 ‒ Menendez urged the government agency to change its policy, which he said he considered to be unfair, the New York Times reported.

”The bottom line is, we raised concerns with CMS over policy and over ambiguities that are difficult for medical providers to understand and to seek a clarification of that and to make sure, in doing so, providers would understand how to attain themselves,” Menendez told the Associated Press in 2013.

In 2013, Menendez paid Melgen back $58,000 in return for the 2010 plane trips, and called his failure to disclose the flights ‒ as required by federal ethics laws ‒ an “oversight.” Along with the flights, the Florida doctor donated heavily to the senator’s campaign coffers, including $700,000 to a Democratic super PAC (political action committee) that spent heavily on Menendez’s 2012 reelection bid.

Prosecutors are also looking into whether the senator illegally advocated for Melgen in the Dominican Republic, where the opthamologist had a government contract for port screening equipment, CNN reported. When the US government was considering donating similar technology to the Caribbean nation, Menendez told both the State Department and the Commerce Department that the Dominican government was trying to get out of a contract with an unnamed American company that authorities there “[didn’t] want to live by.”

Melgen’s relationship with the senator isn’t the only one that might be mentioned in the government’s corruption charges against Menendez. The FBI also investigated his ties to the Isaias family. Brothers Roberto and William were banking magnates in Ecuador when they fled to the US after they were accused of embezzling tens of millions of dollars from the country’s largest bank before it collapsed, Politico reported. The New Jersey lawmaker is accused of illegally helping the brothers gain permanent residency while fighting their extradition cases, according to CNN. Menendez also assisted Roberto’s daughter Estefania with visa problems.

The Isaias family donated $10,000 to Menendez’s 2012 Senate campaign and more than $100,000 to the Democratic Party. The senator served as the chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ‒ the party’s chief fundraiser for upper chamber candidates ‒ from 2009 to 2011.

If Menendez is unable to remain in office due to the corruption charges, it is unclear who might replace him, the Washington Post reported. New Jersey Democrats are focusing on winning the governorship when current Gov. Chris Christie (R) leaves office in 2017, and members of the state’s delegation in the House are not likely to run for the Senate seat.

March 6, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Money Buys Influence in US for Fugitive Ecuadorean Bankers

teleSUR | December 18, 2014

Family members of Ecuador’s fugitive Isaias brothers appear to have received preferential treatment in the U.S. thanks to political donations to the Democratic Party, The New York Times revealed Tuesday.

Estefania Isaias — the daughter of Roberto Isaias, one of two brothers wanted in Ecuador for bank fraud — had been barred from entering the United States after committing immigration fraud. That ban was lifted thanks to the intervention of high-ranking officials in the U.S. State Department. The lifting of the ban was made possible thanks to the assistance of Robert Menendez, a Democratic Senator.

The New York Times investigation reveals that the office of Menendez lobbied extensively in support of Estefania Isaias, even reaching out to Cheryl Mills, Hilary Clinton’s chief of staff while Clinton was she was U.S. secretary of state. He succeeded in getting Ms. Isaias into the United States and wrote to her to tell her the news a mere day after the Isaias family gave a donation to the Democratic Party.

Estefania’s sister Maria also faced a ban on entering the United States and Menendez’s office once again worked to intervene in her favor — also after receiving a donation from the Isaias family.

A spokesperson for Menendez told the Times that his office’s advocacy in the case of Ms. Isaias was routine. However, Linda Jewell, former U.S. ambassador to Ecuador, told the Times, “Such close and detailed involvement by a congressional office in an individual visa case would be quite unusual, especially for an applicant who is not a constituent of the member of Congress.”

The U.S. newspaper reported that the family donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to political campaigns, which were often followed by favorable decisions by the U.S. government.

The Isaias brothers, Roberto and William, were found guilty in absentia for a fraud worth US$400 million. They were sentenced to eight years in prison. The Isaias brothers have been living in the United States, fugitives from Ecuadorean justice. The government of Ecuador has requested their extradition but the U.S. government has denied the request.

Ecuador claims that the political donations made by the family is buying them protection in the U.S. However, The New York Times also reported that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is currently working to have the Isaias brothers deported.

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating Senator Menendez for his support of the Isaias brothers. The senator is suspected of attempting to influence immigration officials in exchange for donations from the fugitive brothers.

December 19, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Senate Committee Approves Sanctions, Venezuela to Appeal to United Nations

By Z.C. Dutka | Venezuelanalysis | May 20th 2014

Earlier this afternoon in Washington, the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Senate approved 13 to 2 the “Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act.” The bill includes sanctions on key individuals of the Venezuelan government and at least $15 million to “defend human rights… and strengthen the rule of law.”

The Menendez Bill

Committee chair, Democrat Robert Menendez, who played a lead role in the writing of the proposed legislation, plans to present the bill before the whole Senate within the coming weeks.

The legal measures proposed are in regards to recent anti-government protests that have reached levels of extreme violence in certain Venezuelan cities, resulting in 42 dead, 800 injured, and millions of dollars of public property damaged, including the burning of multiple universities.

Menendez said the US can’t “play the role of bystander” while Venezuelan president is going to “dangerous extremes to silence political dissent.”

“The U.S. should always be on the side of human rights around the world,” said another lead supporter, Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio.

Rubio has prepared list of Venezuelan military and government officials who would be targeted for sanctions if the bill were to pass. Among those listed are attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz and the head of operations for the National Guard, Manuel Quevedo.

Earlier this month another piece of similar legislation, the Venezuelan Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, promoted by Florida congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, passed the corresponding foreign committee of the U.S. Congress. It has yet to be addressed by Congress as a whole.

Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, has attended the senate hearings and expressed concern on behalf of the White House.

“This is not a U.S.-Venezuela issue,” she said. “We have strongly resisted attempts to be used as a distraction from Venezuela’s real problems.”

She has displayed equal unease that the bill might distract from the important dialogue that is taking place between the Venezuelan government and the opposition.

Appeal to the UN

Even before the bill passed today’s Senate committee, Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua expressed outrage at what he considers repeated US “interference” in Venezuelan affairs.

On Thursday Jaua announced his plan to present a formal claim to the United Nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

“We’ve had enough of the United States assuming a role that belongs to multilateral bodies, Jaua said Thursday. “We must remember that as a free and independent nation we do not recognize the United States parliament… as a legislative [force] over Venezuela. There are basic principles of the United Nations Charter that must be respected.”

The minister has called a meeting with the UNASUR, to be held next week in Ecuador. He plans to bring with him a “dossier of all the declarations of interference posed by representatives of the United States, starting with president Obama, Secretary [of State John] Kerry, and others…”

May 21, 2014 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment