Skip to main content

Biden’s transition team is filled with war profiteers, Beltway chickenhawks, and corporate consultants

A glance at the Biden-Harris agency review teams should provide a rude awakening to anyone who believed a Biden administration could be “pushed to the left.”
by Kevin Gosztola 

Part 2 - Regime change addicts and revolving doors

A prime example of the interventionist-minded establishment-oriented figures filling the Biden-Harris Defense Department agency team is Lisa Sawyer. She served as director for NATO and European strategic affairs for the National Security Council from 2014 to 2015, and worked for Wall Street’s JPMorgan Chase as a foreign policy adviser. Sawyer was part of the Center for a New American Security’s “Task Force on the Future of US Coercive Economic Statecraft,” which essentially means she participated in meetings that focused on methods of economic warfare that could be used to destabilize countries that refused to bow to American empire.

Sawyer believes the US government is not doing enough to deter Russian “aggression,” US troop levels in Europe should return to the levels they were at in 2012, and offensive weapons shipments to Ukraine should continue and increase in violation of the Minsk Agreements.

Instead of saying we will lift sanctions when Russia decides to comply with the next agreement, say that we will raise them until they do. Instead of kowtowing to Russia’s supposed spears of influence, provide Ukraine the lethal assistance it so desperately needs and increase US support to vulnerable nations in the gray zone,” Sawyer declared when testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2017.

US assistant secretary of state for African affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield was appointed leader of the Biden-Harris State Department team. She is a stalwart ally of former US national security adviser Susan Rice, who pushed for war in Libya, supported the invasion of Iraq, and was involved in the decision to remove peacekeepers from the United Nations which enabled Rwanda genocide.

As a developer and manager for US policy toward sub-Saharan Africa, she cheered President George W. Bush’s Millennium Challenge Account, a neocolonialist policy designed to privilege US corporations and facilitate the economic exploitation of so-called emerging African economies.

Thomas-Greenfield has been a part of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global consulting firm chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that lobbies for the defense industry. 

Albright Stonebridge’s client list has included the management firm of vulture capitalist GOP mega-donor Paul Singer. When the Beltway insiders teamed up to suck Argentina’s economy dry during the country’s last debt crisis, then-President Cristina Kirchner accused Albright of threatening to fund her opponents unless she ceded to her demands.

The State Department group also includes Dana Stroul, a fellow at the neoconservative Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which was originally founded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

As The Grayzone’s Ben Norton reported, Stroul was enlisted by Senate Democrats in 2019 to join the “Syria Study Group” to help map out the next phase of the US dirty war in Syria. The recommendations included maintaining a military occupation of one-third of the country, the “resource rich part of Syria” in order to give the US leverage to “influence a political outcome.

Stroul urged further economic sanctions against Damascus and the obstruction of reconstruction aid, which has already led to shortages of oil and bread.

Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada noted that Farooq Mitha, a former Pentagon official in the Obama administration, has been appointed to Biden’s Pentagon transition team. Mitha was a board member of Emgage, a Muslim American PAC which has fostered ties to the Israel lobby, provoking angry condemnation from Palestine solidarity advocates. Mitha has reportedly attended AIPAC conferences.

Multiple Biden-Harris appointees back regime change in Venezuela. Paula Garcia Tufro was a member of Obama’s National Security Council and is on the NSC team. She was at the NSC when Obama declared Venezuela a “national security threat” and has consorted with a D.C. group that represents failed coup plotter Juan Guaido.

Kelly Magsamen, the vice president of national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress and a former Pentagon and State Department official, is on the Biden-Harris NSC team. When Representative Ilhan Omar grilled Elliott Abrams, the special envoy to Venezuela, Magsamen rushed to the defense of her former boss, calling Abrams a “fierce advocate for human rights.” (Abrams supported death squads in Central America in the 1980s.) 

Former US ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson is a member of the State Department transition team. Marketing herself as an expert on “Latin American business politics,” Jacobson has also worked for the Albright Stonebridge Group consulting firm.

Jacobson helped devise the Obama administration’s designation of Venezuela as a national security threat, setting the stage for the economic blockade imposed under Trump.

In a rude and petulant manner, Mrs. Jacobson tells us what to do,” Venezuela’s then-Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez complained at the time. “I know her very well because I have seen her personally, her way of walking, chewing. You need manners to deal with people and with countries.

Derek Chollet and Ellison Laskowski, both senior staffers at the German Marshall Fund (GMF), are also on the Biden-Harris State Department group. GMF has pushed for a more belligerent US and European posture toward Russia while supporting a dubious information war project called Hamilton 68. This website claimed to be able to identify “Russian influence operations” while fueling social media censorship of accounts that promoted anti-imperialist narratives, misidentifying real people as “Russian bots,” and orchestrating smears against Black Lives Matter protests by branding them as instruments of covert Russian influence.

The Biden-Harris intelligence team features Greg Vogle, the former CIA head of station in Afghanistan and a former partner at the McChrystal Group consulting firm founded by former commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) Stanley McChrystal. Both JSOC and the CIA, as well as the paramilitary forces they trained, have committed war crimes in Afghanistan.

Vogle also found time to work for a US military contractor named DGC International that provides construction, fueling, oxygen, liquid nitrogen, and other logistical support to US military forces, cashing in on wars across the Middle East.

As Sarah Lazare reported for In These Times, “Of the 23 peo­ple who com­prise the Depart­ment of Defense agency review team, eight of them — or just over a third — list their ​“most recent employ­ment” as orga­ni­za­tions, think tanks or com­pa­nies that either direct­ly receive mon­ey from the weapons indus­try, or are part of this indus­try.” Those companies include Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and Lockheed Martin.

Vogle is joined on the intelligence team by Matt Olsen, the former National Counterterrorism Center director for Obama and briefly, the general counsel for the National Security Agency (NSA).

From 2006-2009, Olsen served as deputy attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. There, he broke down barriers that prevented prosecutors from being able to use information collected through clandestine operations and warrantless surveillance in criminal cases. He also helped craft the FISA Amendments Act, which granted telecommunications companies immunity for their role in the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program established after the 9/11 attacks.

Olsen is a defender of backdoor searches of Americans’ internet communications, having argued that the Fourth Amendment right to privacy is too cumbersome for the FBI to follow. He spent the months after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed mass surveillance programs working to discredit Snowden by accusing the whistleblower of aiding terrorists. 

Another Snowden opponent on the Biden-Harris intelligence team is Bob Litt, who was the Office of Director of National Intelligence’s top lawyer. When any media organization ran a story on some new aspect of the US surveillance apparatus, Litt was the national security state’s spokesperson deployed to downplay or dismiss the revelation.

When Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was skewered for lying to Congress about the collection of Americans’ phone metadata, for example, Litt rose to Clapper’s defense, absurdly arguing the director was “surprised by the question and focused his mind on the collection of the content of Americans’ communications.

In fact, the Biden-Harris agency review teams are packed with figures likely to enshrine lawlessness and disdain for civil liberties if they enter the administration.


Popular posts from this blog

Proof Twitter censored anyone CIA & FBI told them to!

The Jimmy Dore Show   When Viktor Shokin, a former Prosecutor General of Ukraine and notable target of onetime Vice President Joe Biden, wrote a book about his experiences in office, there were powerful individuals within the U.S. Government who didn’t want people reading this book, or even becoming aware it existed. And that’s why government agents insisted Twitter censor accounts promoting Shokin’s book, along with countless others in the tsunami of demands for censorship from government agencies that were flooding into the social media company prior to the 2020 election. Guest host Aaron Maté and journalist Matt Taibbi discuss the very dangerous precedent established by this unseemly private-public censorial partnership.

January 21, 2010: The day corporate dictatorship destroyed the last remnants of US Democracy

globinfo freexchange     As we described many times in this blog, corporate power grew rapidly since the early 70s with the rise of neoliberalism and its subsequent establishment as the dominant culture, especially in the West.  In the motherland of neoliberalism, the United States, corporations essentially legalized corruption in politics during the 70s in order to capture the entire political system and put it under their complete control. As David Harvey describes in his book A Brief History of Neoliberalism :                          The supposedly ‘progressive’ campaign finance laws of 1971 in effect legalized the financial corruption of politics. A crucial set of Supreme Court decisions began in 1976 when it was first established that the right of a corporation to make unlimited money contributions to political parties and political action committees was protected under the First Amendment guaranteeing the rights of individuals (in this instance corporations) to freedom of speec

Jeremy Corbyn on freeing Julian Assange, the working class, Brazil, Peru & ending Ukraine War

Democracy Now!   In Washington, D.C., human rights and free speech advocates gather today for the Belmarsh Tribunal, focused on the imprisonment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has been languishing for close to four years in the harsh Belmarsh prison in London while appealing extradition to the United States on espionage charges. If convicted, Assange could face up to 175 years in jail for publishing documents that exposed war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Five major news organizations that once partnered with WikiLeaks recently called on the Biden administration to drop charges against Assange.    British MP and former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is in Washington, D.C., to participate in the Belmarsh Tribunal, speaks about Assange and freedom of the press. We also speaks about the state of leftism around the globe, from labor rights in the U.K. and Europe to the war in Ukraine, to political unrest in Brazil and Peru. 

Can we save Julian Assange? Intellectuals & journalists speak out!

acTVism Munich   To close out the year, we summarize our work on the Julian Assange case by compiling excerpts of statements we recorded from Edward Snowden, Noam Chomsky, Stella Assange, Jeremy Corbyn, Glenn Greenwald, Paul Jay, Jill Stein, Nils Melzer, Chris Hedges, Tariq Ali, John Pilger, Jennifer Robinson, Srecko Horvat, and Angela Richter. We hope to continue our coverage of this case next year!  

Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges & Vijay Prashad expose NATO

acTVism Munich    

Economists Radhika Desai & Michael Hudson explain multipolarity, decline of US hegemony

Geopolitical Economy Report   Introducing Geopolitical Economy Hour: This is the first episode of a show being hosted every two weeks by economists Radhika Desai and Michael Hudson. They present the program and discuss the rise of the multipolar world and decline of US hegemony.

Free Julian Assange: Noam Chomsky, Dan Ellsberg & Jeremy Corbyn lead call at Belmarsh Tribunal

Democracy Now!   Former British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, famed linguist and dissident Noam Chomsky and others gave testimony Friday at the Belmarsh Tribunal in Washington, D.C., calling on President Biden to drop charges against Julian Assange.    The WikiLeaks founder has been languishing for close to four years in the harsh Belmarsh prison in London while appealing extradition to the United States. If convicted in the United States, Julian Assange could face up to 175 years in jail for violating the U.S. Espionage Act for publishing documents that exposed U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Friday's event was held at the National Press Club and co-chaired by Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman.   

Julian Assange and the rapid decline of liberal Democracy

by system failure We are now in 2023, and after 1362 days, Julian Assange is still in prison. If you seek something to measure the decline of liberal Democracy in our days, the Julian Assange case will help you a lot. And it's most amazing that in the era of information overflow (with plenty of means available to transfer it almost instantly in every corner of the planet), there are still many people who are unaware of the Assange case.   The origins of this deterioration go back in 1968 when the Left made a disastrous compromise with the powers of the establishment. Since the early 70s and after Nixon's shock , the cultural domination of neoliberalism paved the way for the restriction of certain types of liberties in Western societies.  The 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 became the perfect opportunity for the establishment to abolish instantly a significant portion of the civil liberties that came out of the 1968 compromise. The liberal Democracy in the West suffered a heavy

China pushes de-dollarization with gold reserves, Argentina yuan currency swap deal

Advancing global de-dollarization, China’s central bank is boosting its gold reserves while signing currency swap deals in yuan with countries like Argentina, encouraging the use of renminbi instead of US dollars.   by Ben Norton  Part 4 - China uses currency swap lines to help debt-burdened countries, while advancing de-dollarization China began conducted currency swaps with Argentina back in 2009, under left-wing President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Deals have been repeatedly renewed since then. But the South American nation is not the only country that has worked out a system like this with the East Asian giant. In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that Beijing’s central bank is using an “ unusual channel ”: “ currency-swap lines to support governments that borrowed heavily from Chinese banks ”. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has given hundreds of billions of dollars worth of yuan to dozens of countries in exchange for their domestic currencies, the newspaper repor

Ukraine’s Zelensky sends love letter to US corporations, promising ‘big business’ for Wall Street

Ukraine’s Western-backed leader Volodymyr Zelensky sent a love letter to US companies, thanking “ such giants of the international financial and investment world as BlackRock, JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs ” for buying up his country’s assets. “ Everyone can become a big business by working with Ukraine ”, he enticed, claiming that the reconstruction of his nation “ will be the largest economic project of our time in Europe ”.  [...] Zelensky’s government has imposed some of the world’s most aggressive anti-worker policies, passing legislation that “ deprives around 73% of workers of their right to union protection and collective bargaining ”, which even the US government-funded Solidarity Center of the AFL-CIO labor federation condemned as a “ significant assault on worker rights in Ukraine “. Zelensky’s staunchly anti-worker, anti-union, and pro-corporate ideology came through clear in the neoliberal rhetoric of the speech he gave to the US chamber of commerce organization. He compared