I’m not sure how Biden could say this with a straight face considering the only campaign promise he’s lived up to so far is to Wall Street bankers and corporate oligarchs when he told them that nothing will fundamentally change, but he did say it, and this hypocrisy is proving to be glaring once again as a report published in the Washington Post reveals that the National Intelligence Council has exposed the legal and illegal efforts at influencing American politics that have been carried out by the government of the United Arab Emirates.
Oh, you thought I was going to say China or Russia didn’t you? Well, this investigation into the influence operation of a foreign government focuses on the ally of the US, the dictatorship of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and how they used above-board lobbying and campaign contributions in the hundreds of millions of dollars to think tanks and even universities to produce position papers and curricula to steer public policy and public sentiment in their favor.
But there were other efforts that weren’t above board, that were actually criminal. The report reveals that the UAE hired three former U.S. intelligence and military officials to help them surveil dissidents, politicians, journalists, and U.S. companies. Court documents reveal that U.S. prosecutors said the men helped the UAE break into computers in the United States and other countries. The whole time we were told that Russia hacked the DNC servers and the elections, but the UAE literally had former US spies and military members actually hacking actual computers. Last year, all three admitted in court that they did provide sophisticated hacking technology to the UAE, agreed to surrender their security clearances, and pay about $1.7 million to resolve criminal charges. The Justice Department touted the settlement as a “first-of-its-kind resolution,” but this is not a good thing, as the admitted spies for the UAE are not going to prison for their actions.
The Washington Post also highlights the case of Thomas Barrack, a longtime adviser to former president Donald Trump, who was acquitted this month of charges alleging he worked as an agent of the UAE and lied to federal investigators about it.
U.S. prosecutors tried to get Barrack prison time for exploiting his access to Trump to benefit the UAE and working a secret back channel for communications that involved passing sensitive information to Emirati officials. The evidence introduced in court included thousands of messages, social media posts, and flight records, as well as communications showing that Emirati officials provided him with talking points for media appearances in which he praised the UAE. After one such interview, Barrack emailed a contact saying, “I nailed it … for the home team,” referring to the UAE.
Barrack was never convicted because prosecutors couldn’t prove that his actions rose to the level of a crime because I guess the jury figured that’s just how politics in the US works. It sure is funny though that an entire political party’s platform was built on this idea that Trump was in the pocket of and colluding with Putin and Russia, and here Trump’s adviser was comfortably in the pocket of the UAE instead. But not a peep from Democrats and Biden about that, because Biden is firmly in the same pocket!
In their defense, the UAE’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al Otaiba, said he is “proud of the UAE’s influence and good standing in the U.S.”
“It has been hard earned and well deserved. It is the product of decades of close UAE-US cooperation and effective diplomacy. It reflects common interests and shared values.”
Shared values like . . . democracy, of which there really isn’t one in the US, and there definitely is none in the UAE, as there are no elections or political parties there, and no independent judiciary. Criticism of the government is banned, and trade unions and homosexuality are outlawed.
Freedom House, a non-profit that states that its mission is to monitor the state of freedom and democracy around the world and help shape the debate on the most pressing issues of our time, ranks the UAE among the least free countries in the world. And that’s saying a lot for Freedom House, which is not at all unbiased in its definition of freedom and democracy because its board of directors consists of prominent business and labor leaders, former diplomats and senior government officials, scholars, and journalists; so you know that they favor capitalist countries as the most allegedly free and democratic. The fact that even they recognize that the UAE – the longtime ally of the US – isn’t a democracy is saying a lot.
Nevertheless, the US has sold the UAE some of its most sophisticated and lethal military equipment, the only Arab country to receive such equipment since the US doesn’t want to give any other country in the region – certainly not any Arab nation – a military edge over Israel, which lets you know where the UAE stands in its relationship to that other undemocratic apartheid state.
A previous Washington Post report also revealed that over the past seven years, 280 retired U.S. service members were paid very very well to work as military contractors and consultants for the UAE. This report showed that there are more former US military members working for the UAE than for any other country in the world with the approval of the US government, but that it is actually a partial accounting of all US officials working for the regime. And while the UAE pays these consultants and contractors handsomely for their military and military equipment expertise, these former US service-members still receive pensions paid for by the US government (aka you and me).
Although the Biden Administration continues to have friendly ties diplomatically and militarily with the repressive UAE regime regardless of all the computer hacking and spying and influence they’ve paid for, some politicians are trying to address this issue of foreign influence even from allies in US politics, such as a bill introduced last year by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) that would prohibit political campaign committees from accepting money from lobbyists registered with a foreign country, and other proposed increased disclosure requirements, efforts to provide more resources to the Justice Department’s foreign influence unit and efforts to standardize filing data.
But the fact is that it is simply standard operating procedure for US politicians to write legislation and issue policy positions favorable to countries that pay them the most.
And according to this latest US intelligence report, those countries are not named Russia or China.