Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Thugs and Dead Enders in the White House and Congress

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006

Forced Abortions & Sweatshops: A Look at Jack Abramoff's Ties to the South Pacific Island of Saipan & How Tom DeLay Became An Advocate for Sweatshop Factory Owners

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We speak with ABC News' Brian Ross who exposed in 1998 the horrific labor conditions in the U.S. territory of Saipan. At the time, Jack Abramoff was Saipan's hired gun on K Street and Tom DeLay was one of the island's chief advocates on Capitol Hill. DeLay backed the sweatshop owners even though it was exposed that the factory was forcing women to have abortions and treated workers like indentured servants. [includes rush transcript]

Controversy is nothing new to Jack Abramoff. The Los Angeles Times reports Abramoff’s first political scandal dates back to 1972 when he ran for student council president at the Hawthorne School, an elementary and middle school in Beverly Hills California. Abramoff was reportedly disqualified for exceeding the spending limit in the race. In college Abramoff teamed up with two students who would become household names in Washington to take over the College Republican National Committee. They were anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed, founder of the Christian Coalition. After college Abramoff’s resume was diverse, from his brief Hollywood career to his secret dealings with the South African apartheid regime.
A 1995 investigation by Newsday revealed that Abramoff helped run a think–tank called the International Freedom Foundation. The organization was set up in 1986 and its goal was to improve the white South African apartheid government’s image in the West while demonizing Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress as communist tools. The Newsday report also quoted sources saying that the South African military helped finance the 1988 movie "Red Scorpion" which Abramoff wrote and produced. The movie was a sympathetic portrayal of an anti-communist African guerrilla commander and loosely based on Jonas Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader who was an ally of both South Africa’s apartheid government and the U.S government.

We turn now to Abramoff’s special relationship with the South Pacific island of Saipan and how it connects to his ties to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. Saipan is an American territory in the South Pacific also known as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. In the mid-1990s Abramoff was on the payroll of Saipan officials aiming to stop legislation that would crack down on sweat shop conditions, which run rampant on the island. In 1997, Abramoff arranged a lavish trip to the island of Saipan for Delay.
The Delay
trip was originally reported by Brian Ross, Chief Investigative Correspondent for ABC News. We are going to play 2 excerpts from the report that aired on ABC’s 20/20 on March 13th, 1998. In this first excerpt, Ross interviews Allan Stayman, a Clinton administration official in the Department of Interior who was investigating labor conditions in Saipan. Brian also talks to a worker in one of the factories and ends with Eric Gregoire, a human rights worker. Most of the workers in these factories are from mainland China. {Thanks to WITNESS/Oxygen for providing addittional footage.)
We are joined on the phone by ABC News' Brian Ross.
Brian Ross, Chief Investigative Correspondent for ABC News


BRIAN ROSS: In fact, American authorities have discovered many Chinese workers are forced to sign secret agreements, known as shadow contracts, before they leave China, severely and, in some ways, illegally restricting their activities while on American soil. For example, in this agreement translated into English by American authorities, workers are forbidden to participate in any religious or political activity or to ask for a salary increase or even to fall in love or get married, much as might be the case in mainland China.

ALLAN STAYMAN: To allow them to bring that on to U.S. soil is a very deep concern. We've now documented the facts that management coerces female workers who become pregnant into having abortions.


BRIAN ROSS: The bosses at the factory said they didn't want to talk about what they called ridiculous allegations. But human rights workers say it's common practice at this factory and others.

ERIC GREGOIRE: With 11,000 Chinese workers here, I have never seen a Chinese garment factory worker have a baby in my entire four years on Saipan.

BRIAN ROSS: There are no children in those barracks?

ERIC GREGOIRE: None. Inside that factory Chinese law applies, and Chinese law is supreme.

BRIAN ROSS: Even though it's the United States of America?

ERIC GREGOIRE: That’s right. The flag doesn't fly inside there


The flag is flying upside down in the hearts, minds and eyes of the world, indicating the acute distress of American democracy, decency, integrity and compassion before the world.
The death of a once great nation, fallen prey to thugs and dead enders of slavery, facsism and greed - in the name of God, while hyprocrisy has replaced democracy.


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