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This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used.
This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used. Because most of our readers read the NYT we usually do not include the paper's stories in HIGHLIGHTS.
Name of source: Times (UK)
SOURCE: Times (UK) (4-11-09)
John Wallis, whose breaking of the French codes was pivotal in thwarting England’s longstanding enemy, shared his techniques only with his son and grandson, who took the secret to their graves. He claimed he was obliged to guard his methods to prevent rival European powers from improving their codes but he also knew that his knowledge ensured that those in power would always need him.
Philip Beeley, editor of Wallis’s correspondence at Linacre College, Oxford University, has called upon Times readers to use their skills to break the code so that Wallis’s techniques may be revealed for the first time.
SOURCE: Times (UK) (4-9-09)
Four hundred years ago today King Philip III signed an order to expel 300,000 Moriscos - or part-Muslims - who had converted from Islam to Christianity.
Over the next five years hundreds of the exiles died as they were forced from their homes in Spain to North Africa at the height of the Spanish Inquisition.
There are no plans to mark the date officially, although the occasion is being remembered in a series of exhibitions, conferences and public debates.
Name of source: AP
The weapon had been in the hands of the U.S. Army. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the automatic rifle is chrome-plated and has a photo of Hussein near the sight.
ICE agent Peter J. Smith calls the AK-47 "a priceless symbol of Iraqi history."
SOURCE: AP (4-11-09)
The 21st century reality, though, is a far cry from that. There are no treasure-laden islands or Blackbeards in this part of the world, no wooden schooners flying skull and crossbones flags.
Instead: a vigilante movement that years ago tried to defend Somali shores morphed into full-blown pirate scourge — after fishermen on defense stumbled upon an astoundingly lucrative bounty waiting to be had on their doorstep: around 25,000 ships, most unarmed, transiting the Gulf of Aden each year.
Demjanjuk's son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said the family would appeal to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court closed Friday without receiving a filing of appeal.
The 89-year-old suburban Cleveland man had filed a motion to the board in Falls Church, Va., saying he is in poor health and that being forced to travel to Germany would amount to torture.
The board rejected that argument Friday. Demjanjuk's son, John Demjanjuk Jr., said his father would immediately appeal to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
SOURCE: AP (4-9-09)
Obama's request, including money to increase U.S. troops in Afghanistan, would push the costs of the two wars to almost $1 trillion since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to the Congressional Research Service. The additional money would cover operations into the fall.
Budget office spokesman Tom Gavin said the White House would send an official request to Congress Thursday afternoon. Congressional aides who had been briefed on the request revealed its overall cost in advance.
The activity includes exhibits by the Museum of the City of New York and the New-York Historical Society, a recreation of the Half Moon's voyage of discovery up the Hudson, and scores of events here and in the Netherlands.
In addition, the New-York Historical Society plans two exhibits, and the Dutch consulate in New York lists more than 50 events in both cities, ranging from "New York Nights" in Amsterdam to concerts, walking tours, and art and flower shows.
SOURCE: AP (4-9-09)
Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had urged all Iraqis to turn out for the protest at Firdous Square _ where Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled on April 9, 2003. Protesters set fire to Bush's effigy as it hung from the pillar where Saddam's statue once stood.
The demonstration coincides with an uptick in bombings of Shiite targets around the city, undermining public confidence in Iraq's army and police. At least 53 people have been killed in bombings in Shiite areas of Baghdad this week.
Name of source: Google Book Settlement
SOURCE: Google Book Settlement (4-11-09)
Claim your Books and Inserts: You can do this at any time, but in order to be eligible for Cash Payments for Books, you must complete your Claim Form on or before January 5, 2010.
Opt out of the Settlement:Must be submitted online or postmarked on or before May 5, 2009.
File an objection or notice of intent to appear at the Fairness Hearing: Must be postmarked on or before May 5, 2009.
Name of source: New YorK Times
SOURCE: New YorK Times (4-10-09)
The old gang is getting back together next week in Dallas for a reunion of sorts, the Bush team’s first since leaving the White House. On tap is a dinner with the former president and a daylong discussion of the future George W. Bush Policy Institute.
Barely 80 days after turning the Oval Office over to President Obama, a tanned and rested Mr. Bush is emerging from seclusion to begin his postpresidency. He has started giving speeches, joined an off-road bicycle club, thrown out the first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opener and scheduled a trip to China to speak at an economic forum.
More important, Mr. Bush is trying to map out what he wants to do with the rest of his life. Relatively young, at 62, and in good health, he plans to build a library, write a memoir and make some money, but he is also eager to use his time to promote the policies he cared about most while in the White House — and to help define his legacy.
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (4-10-09)
Officials in South Korea claim the new book, which will be used in schools from next year, has whitewashed Japan's history of colonising Asian states before and during the Second World War.
The complaints centre on attempts to justify Japan's invasion of Asian states while playing down the brutal role of the army.
The textbook, published by a right wing organisation, reportedly claims that Japan annexed Korea in order to ensure national security and to protect its democracy.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (4-11-09)
Taken between 1870 and 1871 by the Scottish photographer John "China" Thomson, the images reveal with often startling intimacy a cast of characters from orphans and street gamblers, to beautiful peasant girls and their high-born ladies.
Hailed as a pioneer of photojournalism, Thomson spent two years travelling more than 5,000 miles in pursuit of the images that historians say are unique in their empathy towards their subjects.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (4-9-09)
Scientists have managed to "virtually restore" the faded hues of his 28ft long tapestry using coloured light beams.
The Manchester University researchers looked at the back of the heavy wool and silk tapestry, which has been less affected by sunlight, to gauge what the original colours might have been.
Kathryn Hallett, conservation and science manager at Historic Royal Palaces, which runs Hampton Court, said the aim was to "help our visitors see how bright they would have been originally" rather than faded after centuries
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (4-10-09)
Radio carbon dating carried out in 1988 was performed on an area of the relic that was repaired in the 16th century, according to Ray Rogers, who helped lead the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STRP).
At the time he argued firmly that the shroud, which bears a Christlike image, was a clever forgery.
But in a video made shortly before his death three years ago, he said facts had come to light that indicated the shroud could be genuine.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (4-9-09)
The men were found guilty of insulting the memory of fallen soldiers, while the women, who stripped off at the memorial, were convicted of exhibitionism.
The memorial pays tribute to hundreds of Canadian soldiers who fell at the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge, one of the bloodiest battles in the Somme.
Name of source: BBC
SOURCE: BBC (4-11-09)
The 16th-Century paintings were returned to the heirs of their former owners, Jakob and Rosa Oppenheimer, who died during the Holocaust.
After World War II, the paintings ended up in the collection of US newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst.
They have been on display at a California museum for over 30 years.
This is the 25th time US authorities have returned artwork taken from Jews by the Nazis.
The flints were unearthed in a ploughed field near Biggar in South Lanarkshire.
They are similar to tools known to have been used in the Netherlands and northern Germany 14,000 years ago, or 12,000 BC.
They were probably used by hunters to kill reindeer, mammoth and giant elk and to cut up prey and prepare their skins.
The discovery conjures up a picture of wandering groups of hunters making their way across dry land where the North Sea is now, after the end of the Ice Age.
SOURCE: BBC (4-8-09)
Kristina and Ali sit side by side in their history class and together they learn about the Phoenicians and the Romans, the Greeks and the Ottomans.
But when it comes to Lebanon's more recent, turbulent past - their school teaches them nothing. Modern history is not part of the curriculum in Lebanon and, just like thousands of other children, Kristina and Ali - who are both 14 - turn to their families for answers their history teacher cannot provide.
SOURCE: BBC (4-7-09)
Veteran politician Winnie Ewing was joined by Parliamentary Business Minister Bruce Crawford to cut a special birthday cake for the event.
The party was formed following a merger between the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party.
First Minister Alex Salmond, who is in China, has sent an email to the party's 15,000 members to mark the occasion.
In it he told them the last 75 years had seen "Scotland and the SNP journey together".
The finds were revealed at the end of a seven year refurbishment project at Crarae Garden near Inverarary.
The National Trust for Scotland, which owns the garden, said a ditch and stone bank dating back to the 7th - 9th century had been uncovered.
SOURCE: BBC (4-7-09)
Many who fought Nazi Germany during World War II did so to defeat the vicious racism that left millions of Jews dead.
Yet the BBC's Document programme has seen evidence that black colonial soldiers - who made up around two-thirds of Free French forces - were deliberately removed from the unit that led the Allied advance into the French capital.
The leader of the Free French forces, Charles de Gaulle, made it clear that he wanted his Frenchmen to lead the liberation of Paris.
Allied High Command agreed, but only on one condition: De Gaulle's division must not contain any black soldiers.
Sources told the BBC that Kosovo Serbs, ethnic Albanians and gypsies were among an estimated 2,000 who went missing.
This took place both during and after the war in Kosovo, which ended in June 1999.
Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, the former KLA political director, has rejected the allegations.
The BBC News investigation also studies claims that some of those held in Albania were killed for their organs, and that physical evidence gathered by UN investigators in Albania was destroyed by the International War Crimes Tribunal.
When she became leader of her party in 1975, many of them declared that she would never last.
Fifteen years later, when she had won three elections and survived as prime minister for over a decade, they often suggested that the serious thinking behind her policies had been done by other people.
Nigel Lawson, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1983 and 1989, believed that he himself was the first Conservative to use the term Thatcherism, adding that this was not "whatever Margaret Thatcher herself at any time did or said".
Riddled with contradictions
In one sense, no one was a Thatcherite, because Thatcherism was never a unified idea.
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (4-9-09)
“I don’t think he should come back,” said Marissa Jaross, a senior anthropology major. Though Ms. Jaross said she believed the university was looking for a way to get rid of him, she added: “I think he’s kind of a shoddy academic. I wouldn’t look at his work as great, or even worthy of my time.”
SOURCE: NYT (4-9-09)
“I think I may cry when I see the ovens,” said Johancy, 11, adding that she planned to take a copy of “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” when she leaves later this month.
The Holocaust lessons are part of an unusual effort by P.S. 86’s teachers to expose students to a world far from their Spanish-speaking neighborhoods near the No. 4 train in Kingsbridge Heights. About 95 percent of the school’s 1,700 students are Hispanic or black. More than three-quarters of them are poor enough to qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
SOURCE: NYT (4-8-09)
The sentences handed out at the Special Court for Sierra Leone said that the crimes for which the three men were responsible were of a “massive scale” and that their impact had been enormous. Judges cited an instance in which “men were disemboweled and their intestines used as makeshift checkpoints,” and one in which a boy had all four limbs hacked off and was then thrown into a pit and left to die. They said civilians “were made to choose between their lives or those of family members.”
The court sentenced Issa Hassan Sesay to 52 years, Morris Kallon to 40 years, and Augustine Gbao to 25 years. Mr. Sesay and Mr. Kallon were part of the country’s ruling council; Mr. Gbao was a rebel commander. The three were considered the most senior surviving leaders of the Revolutionary United Front.
Name of source: Deutsche Welle
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (4-9-09)
US District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin rejected requests by several countries that the lawsuits should not go ahead to protect relations between the United States and South Africa.
The judge, who issued the decision in writing on Wednesday, allowed claims made by tens of thousands of South African plaintiffs in two lawsuits in the US federal court to proceed against Germany's Daimler and Rheinmetall AG, as well as General Motors, Ford and IBM. The plaintiffs claim they were forced from their homes and resettled, arrested and imprisoned without cause and beaten and tortured by the authorities.
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (4-10-09)
"I have directed our agency personnel to take charge of the decommissioning process and have further directed that the contracts for site security be promptly terminated," he said.
Panetta said the CIA still reserved the right to hold suspects for a brief period before handing them over to military authorities.
The CIA statement is said to confirm that the spy service was carrying out an order from President Barack Obama to shut down the secret detention centres.
Name of source: Daily Camera
SOURCE: Daily Camera (4-9-09)
Ken McConnellogue, spokesman for the CU system, said the university is relying on its findings that Churchill engaged in repeated and flagrant academic misconduct to support its stance that having the controversial former professor back on the Boulder campus is a “bad idea.”
“CU’s reputation for academic integrity is the foundation for all we do and having him return to the classroom would be an ongoing threat to that reputation,” McConnellogue said. “We expect higher standards from our faculty and our students.”
A Denver jury decided April 2 that CU unlawfully fired Churchill for expressing his political beliefs. The four women and two men on the jury awarded him $1 in damages.
A judge will decide at a yet-to-be-scheduled hearing whether the former professor gets his job back.
Name of source:
Well, no need to worry about 2017 anymore. Thanks to the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, the moment of reckoning is already almost here: according to both the budget proposed by the White House in February and projections issued by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in March, Social Security benefits ($659 billion, according to the CBO) will exceed payroll taxes ($653 billion) in fiscal 2009 for the first time since 1984. Payroll-tax receipts generally hold up much better in recessions than do income taxes, but job losses have been so severe that the CBO expects them to decline slightly from 2008, while benefits rise almost 9% because of cost-of-living adjustments and the beginnings of the baby-boomer retirement wave. (See five reasons for economic optimism.)
If you count the $17 billion in income taxes expected to be paid on Social Security benefits, the system will still manage to provide a slight surplus for federal coffers in fiscal 2009. But from 2010 through 2012, there are small projected deficits, and after heading back into the black from 2013 to 2015, the program will then become a growing drain on federal finances, projects the CBO.
Back in 1983, when Social Security last faced deficits, Congress approved a set of Social Security reforms that included a graduated hike in the payroll tax and an increase in the retirement age. Thanks to those changes, payroll-tax receipts surpassed benefits in 1985, and the system has been operating at a surplus ever since.
HNN Hot Topics: Social Security
Name of source: MSNBC
SOURCE: MSNBC (4-10-09)
There are no "eyewitness" accounts written about Jesus during his lifetime, so historians have to rely on interpretations of the four main canonical gospel texts, mostly scrawled several decades after his death.
The "Jesus" of history isn't a complete mystery to Biblical scholars, who often make a distinction between the man and the religious figure depicted in the scriptures.
"We do know some things about the historical Jesus — less than some Christians think, but more than some skeptics think. Though a few books have recently argued that Jesus never existed, the evidence that he did is persuasive to the vast majority of scholars, whether Christian or non-Christian," said Marcus Borg, a retired professor of religion and culture at Oregon State University and current fellow of the Jesus Seminar, a group of preeminent academics that debate the factuality of Jesus' life as portrayed in the Bible.
SOURCE: MSNBC (4-10-09)
According to a report in the latest British Archaeology, the flint artifacts constitute the most northern evidence for the earliest people in Britain.
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (4-10-09)
Shimon Gibson, a Holy Land specialist, said the traditional start of the Via Dolorosa, north of the Old City, should be at the other end of the city.
Since medieval times, Christians have assumed that the Praetorium, the starting point of the route and the Roman headquarters mentioned in the Gospels as the scene of Jesus's trial, was the Antonia Fortress which stood in the north of Jerusalem.
But Professor Gibson said there was 'no historical basis whatsoever' for this being the site where Jesus was tried and condemned to death by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (4-8-09)
The women who exposed themselves for the cameras at the Vimy memorial in northern France were also sentenced for exhibitionism.
The poignant monument pays tribute to hundreds of Canadian soldiers who fell at the 1917 Battle of Vimy Ridge, one of the bloodiest battles in the Somme.
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (4-8-09)
But now the sound of neo-Socratic dialogue can be heard in primary school classrooms throughout the land as infants debate life's great mysteries in philosophy lessons.
Children as young as five are grappling the big questions that have troubled speculative thinkers from Aristotle through to Darwin, Freud and Kant.
Philosophy lessons are being introduced in dozens of primary schools in a bid to get more children reading and open their minds.
Name of source: Philadelphia Inquirer
SOURCE: Philadelphia Inquirer (4-9-09)
A group led by real estate titan Ira Lubert won approval for a casino of 500 slot machines in the Valley Forge Convention Center. The license was the first of two resort permits to be issued by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which intends to issue 14 of them. The resort license limits the casino to 500 slot machines.
The investors will spend $107 million on the project. A spokesman for the group estimated the casino could be built and operating within a year.
Name of source: Foxnews
SOURCE: Foxnews (4-10-09)
If members of Congress are planning to attend the Tax Day Tea Party protests on April 15, they're keeping awfully quiet about it.
The tea party movement has garnered nationwide attention since its launch on Feb. 27, and scores if not hundreds of tea parties are expected to be held across the country on Wednesday.
Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Texas Rep. John Culberson, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, say they will attend the protests to show their opposition to the government's massive spending bill. That leaves roughly 530 senators and congressmen who haven't been heard from.
Name of source: CNN
SOURCE: CNN (4-10-09)
But they're all taking the wrong route, according to Israeli archaeologist Shimon Gibson. In a new book, titled "The Final Days of Jesus," Gibson says he has found the location of Jesus' trial, where Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, condemned him to death by crucifixion.
Traditionally it is believed that the trial took place at the Antonia Fortress, outside the Temple Mount, near Lion's Gate. But Gibson believes the trial was actually conducted in an area just outside what is now the western wall of the Old City.
Name of source: Civil War News
SOURCE: Civil War News (4-1-09)
Rawls seeks to remedy the situation with “The Rebel Yell Lives!” the museum’s recently produced audio CD. He says it reveals the true sound of the famous Southern battle cry.
Many written accounts attest that this remarkable sound would provoke fear in Union troops as they faced a Confederate assault and stir the hearts of the Men in Gray as they summoned their martial spirit in battle.
Name of source: Guardian (UK)
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (4-8-09)
Almost four years in the making, the World Digital Library will launch on 21 April, functioning in seven languages – Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish – and including content in additional languages. A prototype of what will be on offer includes a voice recording of the 101-year-old grandson of an American slave, a 17th-century map of the world and 19th-century Brazilian photographs.
The brainchild of James Billington, from the US's Library of Congress, the project has been developed by Unesco and the Library of Congress, along with 32 other partners from around the world, including national libraries from Iraq, Egypt, Russia, Brazil, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Uganda.
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (4-9-09)
François Bizot testified before Cambodia's UN-backed tribunal for a second day in the trial of Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch‚ the chief jailer for the Khmer Rouge during its 1975-79 regime.
"The shot didn't happen. I was still blindfolded," said Bizot, who said he did not know whether the Khmer Rouge failed in the attempt to kill him or if it was a mock execution staged to frighten him.
Duch commanded Phnom Penh's S-21 prison, also known as Tuol Sleng, where as many as 16,000 men, women and children are believed to have been tortured before being executed.
Name of source: WaPo
SOURCE: WaPo (4-8-09)
The scene of their heroism has been listed by the Civil War Preservation Trust as one of the 10 most-endangered battlefields in the country.
The site [near Richmond] has one roadside marker describing the battle. Little of the land on which the fighting occurred is protected from development, officials from the trust said at a news conference last month.
Name of source: AFP
SOURCE: AFP (4-9-09)
"The government strongly protests that the Japanese government Thursday approved the history textbook which justifies and beautifies past wrongdoings based on false historical perception," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"The government calls for a fundamental correction to this."
The textbook published by a right-wing group will be available to middle schools from next year until 2011. Seoul officials say it glosses over Japan's invasions of Korea and other Asian states before and during World War II.
Name of source: Time Magazine
SOURCE: Time Magazine (4-9-09)
The small inlets in Cilicia, now part of southern Turkey, were the lairs of pirates who terrorized the eastern Mediterranean in the two centuries before Christ. The abduction of their most famous victim, however, proved to be a miscalculation. A band of Cilician pirates kidnapped a 25-year old Roman nobleman on the way to Rhodes. He charmed them, telling his captors to double their ransom demand and joking about how he would punish them. When the ransom was paid and he was released, Julius Caesar returned at the head of a Roman fleet. The future master of the Mediterranean captured all of his ex-captors and crucified each one....
Name of source: Latin America Herald Tribune
SOURCE: Latin America Herald Tribune (4-7-09)
Previous archaeological digs in Ichkabal indicated the existence at this site of a vast Mayan settlement comprising many buildings, of which the biggest is some 200 meters (656 feet) wide at the base and 46 meters (151 feet) high, the institute said Friday in a communique.
“This is a city whose construction began in preclassic times, 250 years before Christ,” INAH said.
The director of the INAH center in Quintana Roo state, Adriana Velazquez, said that while no architectural details are visible on the surface and all that can be seen are mounds covered by “the exuberant vegetation” of the area, their characteristics seem to indicate Peten-style constructions.
Name of source: McClatchy
SOURCE: McClatchy (4-8-09)
In fact, the pressures of modern life may be speeding up the pace of human evolution, some anthropologists think.
Their view contradicts the widespread 20th-century assumption that modern medical practice, antibiotics, better diet and other advances would protect people from the perils and stresses that drive evolutionary change.
Name of source: China View
SOURCE: China View (4-8-09)
Scientists are planning its second excursion next week when it will go into an ancient tomb in Xi'an, China's ancient capital in the northwestern Shaanxi Province.
The robot completed a successful trial probe in July last year, when it revealed hidden fresco paintings in a narrow shaft inside a 1,300-year old tomb in Xi'an.
The cylinder-shaped robot, 27 centimeters long and 9 centimeters in diameter, is the first robot ever used by Chinese archaeologists to explore ancient tombs, said Tie Fude, a researcher at the National Museum.
Name of source: Spiegel
SOURCE: Spiegel (4-9-09)
The art connoisseur Sir Norman Rosenthal may be a British institution, but the equanimity often attributed to his compatriots is not one of his distinguishing features.
Rosenthal, the son of Jewish refugees from Germany and Slovakia, called for an end to the restitution of so-called Nazi looted art in an article in the journal The Art Newspaper.
The fact that someone who lost members of his own family in the Holocaust is now opposing restitution and is calling for an end to the practice has injected a provocatively dissonant note into an already angry debate -- and has triggered fierce protest. At issue is nothing less than the permanent whereabouts of some of the icons of art history.
Name of source: Frontline/PBS
SOURCE: Frontline/PBS (4-7-09)
"Over the past two years, the U.S. government has collected almost a billion and a half dollars in fines in foreign bribery cases," says Mark Mendelsohn, the Department of Justice prosecutor in charge of more than 100 ongoing cases, one of which culminated in a record seven-year prison term for the former CEO of a subsidiary of the Halliburton Corp., and another which ended in a record $800 million fine against the German giant Siemens. "There's a whole world of conduct that rarely sees the light of day."
In Black Money, FRONTLINE correspondent Lowell Bergman investigates this shadowy side of international business, shedding light on multinational companies that have routinely made secret payments -- often referred to as "black money" -- to win billions in business.
"The thing about black money is you can claim it's being used for all kinds of things," the British reporter David Leigh tells Bergman. "You get pots of black money that nobody sees, nobody has to account for, ... you can do anything you like with. Mostly what happens with black money is people steal it because they can."
Leigh knows. In his groundbreaking reporting for The Guardian newspaper, he helped uncover one of the biggest and most complicated cases currently under investigation -- a story involving a British aerospace giant, the Saudi royal family, and an $80 billion international arms deal known as Al Yamamah, or "The Dove" in Arabic. "If there was one person who was the main man behind this arms deal, it turned out it was the U.S. ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan," says Leigh.
It all started back in 1985, when the charismatic Prince Bandar was put in charge of acquiring new fighter jets for the Saudi Arabian air force. The Israeli lobby in Congress reportedly stood in the way of the United States making a deal with the Saudis, so President Ronald Reagan sent Bandar to the British. The prince approached a willing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and they sealed the massive deal between the United Kingdom, BAE Systems (formerly British Aerospace) and the Royal Saudi Air Force.
Rumors swirled that billions in bribes had changed hands to secure the deal, but British officials denied wrongdoing. "Of course there is suspicion, and of course people are entitled to be suspicious," says Lord Timothy Bell, who was involved in the deal from the beginning on behalf of the Thatcher government. "But as far as I'm concerned, if the British government ... and the Saudi government reached a sovereign agreement over an arms contract that resulted in a tremendous number of jobs in Britain, a great deal of wealth creation in Britain, ... and enabled Saudi Arabians to defend themselves, ... I think that's a jolly good contract."
But then, as a growing, international anti-bribery movement -- led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development -- spread, Britain signed onto a binding treaty. Soon after, a whistleblower came forward with documents and firsthand knowledge of alleged corrupt payments. Peter Gardiner, a high-end travel agent in London, laid bare the details of how he provided luxury services for Saudi Prince Turki and his family -- charter airplanes for massive shopping sprees, the purchase of expensive cars and extravagant honeymoon trips -- all paid for by BAE Systems. "It's the lifestyle that many people would like to have if they could afford it," says Gardiner. "It's a little bit beyond that of a film star, because you've got the diplomatic passport with it."
Gardiner took his allegations first to The Guardian's Leigh, and then to the British agency that investigates white-collar crime, the Serious Fraud Office, which began an investigation. That probe would turn up evidence of huge payments from the Al Yamamah funds to bank accounts controlled by Prince Bandar in Washington, D.C.
As the investigation grew, the Blair government was pressured by the Saudis and by Prince Bandar himself, who went to 10 Downing Street and threatened to end cooperation with the British in the fight against terror if the investigations into Al Yamamah continued. "The expression was, 'You know, there's going to be a lot of people dead on the streets,'" a senior British fraud prosecutor tells Bergman of the Saudi threats that ultimately led to the shutting down of the British BAE investigation. "If we go forward with an investigation into these accounts in Switzerland, we may find we're not going to be able to do what we can do to stop terrorism."
There was widespread frustration among corruption fighters about the British capitulation, and fears that the fledgling international anti-bribery movement would be undermined. Soon thereafter, the U.S. Department of Justice began its own investigation into BAE's worldwide network of suspicious payments. The case is now being watched closely by countries around the world interested in seeing whether the United States is willing, in a depressed economy, to press forward with an investigation and possible legal case against a company like BAE Systems, whose major client is the Pentagon, and which currently employs some 40,000 American workers. For its part, BAE says that it is cooperating with the investigations.
Black Money includes exclusive interviews with current and former prosecutors involved in the cases against BAE Systems, as well as with Prince Bandar's legal representative on this matter, former FBI Director Louis Freeh.