Thomas Barton, Illinois Pay-to-Play Political Commentator
The photo above originally appeared in a “Middle East website” and shows, left to right, Nadhmi Auchi, then Governor Rod Blagojevich, and a man who appears to be the then Iraq Minister of Electricity, Aiham Alsammarae, pictured alone below.
Alsammarae now lives in a northern suburb of Chicago.
Previously on Illinois PayToPlay, you were introduced to Andrew Walden’s 2008 piece, posted by Accuracy In Media, entitled “Iraqi Billionaire Threatens Reporters Investigating Rezko Affair.”
Bin 2008, Walden doggedly examined Nadhmi Auchi’s involvement in Illinois politics. His piece below was posted by WikiLeaks. It focuses on the extensive efforts taken by Auchi’s lawyers to suppress references to their client, worldwide. Some of the links in the original may no longer work.
Debunking the Carter Ruck defence of British-Iraqi billionaire Nadhmi Auchi
May 30, 2008 By Andrew Walden (Hawai'i Free Press)
“Nadhmi Auchi, seen here with the Governor of Illinois, Rob Blagojevich (middle) at a 2004 Chicago dinner in Auchi's honor arranged by Antonin Rezko (potentially, right ) [It’s not Rezko in the photo.] All three men have been convicted of corruption related charges (Auchi 2003, Rezko 2008, Blagojevich 2009).
“A British-Iraqi billionaire lent millions of dollars to Barack Obama's fundraiser (dual US-Syrian citizen Tony Rezko) just weeks before an imprudent land deal that has returned to haunt the presidential contender, an investigation by The Times discloses. The money transfer raises the question of whether funds from Nadhmi Auchi, one of Britain’s wealthiest men, helped Mr. Obama buy his mock Georgian mansion in Chicago.” -- The Times of London February 26, 2008
The Auchi-Rezko-Obama connection came to public attention with federal marshals pounding on the door of Tony Rezko’s Wilmette Chicago mansion in the early morning of January 28, 2008. They hauled Rezko to jail after his bail was revoked for concealing a $3.5 million Auchi loan from the court. The Times outlines the story in two sentences. It should be of tremendous interest to the American public and the world.
But there is more to this story than run-of-the mill political corruption. Nadhmi Auchi is alleged to have a long affiliation with Iraqi Baathism and Saddam Hussein—which his attorneys deny. How close were they? According to a 1960 US Embassy report, Auchi was convicted along with Saddam by an Iraqi court for his part in a failed 1959 assassination attempt against then-Iraqi Prime Minister Qassim. For his crime, Auchi earned a sentence of “three years rigorous imprisonment.”
Journalists digging into stories involving Auchi often find themselves peppered with threats of libel litigation from a London law firm known as Carter-Ruck. Auchi’s litigation threats have chased eight articles from the internet sites of the UK Guardian, Observer and New Statesman.
WikiLeaks itself is now under legal attack by Auchi’s lawyers.
What is so stifling about English libel law? In the U.K., as Carter-Ruck explains and Slander Cases.html on its own website: “A libel claimant does not have to prove that the words are false or to prove that he has in fact suffered any loss. Damage is presumed.”
In a December, 2003, obituary, former C-R partner David Hooper wrote:
“The libel lawyer Peter Carter-Ruck, who died on Friday, had a chilling effect on the media. He was a chancer, out for the maximum fee. And he did for freedom of speech what the Boston Strangler did for door-to-door salesmen.”
Posted on the Carter-Ruck website, Injunctions.html an article by C-R partner Nigel Tait outlines the limited legal bases for “prior restraint” in England but then explains that some publishers can be convinced to censor themselves by “the first two (sic) weapons of the Spanish Inquisition. Fear, surprise and ruthless efficiency.”
Perhaps hoping to inspire “fear and surprise” with “ruthless efficiency” Carter-Ruck demand letters—laden with misspellings and what appear to be cut-and-paste formulations--have been going out not only to large British newspapers, but also to American newspapers and both well-known and obscure bloggers.
Posted on April 23, 2008—in the midst of the US Presidential race--an article on Auchi’s Middle East Online website boasted of knocking six articles off of the Guardian and Observer websites. Bloggers began receiving Carter-Ruck letters demanding that allegedly defamatory comments be removed from their comments section. MEO displayed a sphinx-like image of Auchi. The caption: "Tracking even the search engines."
It worked. When the November election came and went, the American public barely knew Rezko and knew Auchi even less. Obama won.”…
Read Walden’s thorough refutation of Carter-Ruck’s position here on WikiLeaks.