Donald Trump continues to surround himself with unsavory characters, calling into question his judgement and ability to identify capable associates. Not only is his “foreign policy team” an assortment of radical neocons and dangerous religious extremists, his most recent hire was a lobbyist for the intelligence agency of a foreign country – with American blood on their hands.
Top Trump aide Paul Manafort spent decades lobbying at Black, Manafort, Stone, and Kelly – with fellow Trump wingnut Roger Stone (who, incidentally, believes the Clintons assassinated JFK). Their clients included the Kashmiri American Council, a US-based “nonprofit” purportedly advocating for peace in the contested area between India and Pakistan but was actually a front for the notorious Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the military’s secret service and spy agency that created the Taliban and al-Qaeda during the 1980s and is deeply connected to them still to this day – even as their Western “allies” spend billions of dollars and thousands of lives fighting the group on the ground.
The Kashmiri American Council was found to be a “false flag operation that Mr. Fai was operating on behalf of the ISI” reports assistant U.S. attorney Gordon D. Kromberg. “While posing as a U.S.-based nonprofit funded by American donors sympathetic to the plight of Kashmiris, it was actually bankrolled by the ISI in order to deflect public attention away from the involvement of Pakistan in sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir and elsewhere.”
Manafort and his cronies received $700,000 from the ISI for his work during the 1990s – which brings us to the problem with all of this. Manafort had no misconceptions about what he was doing – a former senior Pakistani official said that “there was never any doubt on Pakistan’s part that Manafort knew of his government’s role in backing the Kashmiri council.” The ISI has a long history of supporting terrorism across the world; leaked emails indicate that the agency knew for years where Osama bin Laden was but never told us, despite the fact that we provide Pakistan with billions in aid money every year. Making matters much worse, however, are the recent revelations which show that the ISI are responsible for killing American servicemen.
On December 30th, 2009, Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al Balawi walked into Forward Operating Base Chapman, a CIA listening post in eastern Afghanistan, posing as an informant with information for the CIA. The Jordanian then detonated a suicide vest and killed seven American CIA officers. Recently declassified emails allege that $200,000 for the attacked was funneled by the ISI to their puppet group, the Haqqani Network, which is allied with al-Qaeda. That money then went to a local Taliban commander – who conveniently died during the attack – and to Mr. al-Balawi.
Manafort has also was a prime mouthpiece for what became known as the “torturer’s lobby.” Brutal foreign dictators – and would-be dictators – would hire Manafort to repackage them as valiant freedom fighters fighting the evil communists. The war profiteer arranged for the Reagan administration to funnel $42 million to Jonas Savimbi of Angola’s UNITA guerilla army, which went on to “maim or killed tens of thousands, creating one of the largest amputee populations in the world through its laying of landmines in farm fields, roads, and school yards. UNITA continued to forcibly recruit men and teenage boys to fight. Girls were held in sexual slavery and used as a source of forced labor.” Manafort’s agency would work to clear up the reputations of evil men like Mobutu Soso Seke of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ferdinand Marcos of the Phillippines, Sani Achba of Nigeria, and Viktor Yanukovych of the Ukraine.
The point being is that this is the kind of man Donald Trump thinks is an acceptable policy adviser. A man who delights in profiting from the slaughter and slavery of Angolan children. A man who colludes with foreign governments against the interests of the United States. A man whose work directly encourages repression and the deprivation of freedom to people around the world. One shudders to think at what kind of “advice” this man would give.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.