Remember the report that Bush had bought land in Paraguay?
We now learn that the White House has denied the story.
Furthermore, we are supposed to believe that a foreign intelligence service placed the rumor. Presumably, this is a reference to Cuba, since a Cuban News Service was one of the earliest sources for the story. The earliest non-Cuban piece on the topic known to me appeared on October 11 of last year. It's here.
Note that author April Howard is careful to use the word "rumor":
The Governor of Alto Paraguay, Erasmo Rodríguez Acosta has admitted to hearing that George Bush Sr. owns land in the Chaco region of Paraguay, in Paso de Patria. Acosta says that rumor has it that Bush owns near to 70 thousand hectares (173,000 acres) as part of an ecological reserve and/or ranch. However, the governor said he had no documents to prove the rumor. Acosta said that some stories credited the land to the Fundación Patria, which Bush would be a member of. The spokespeople of the organization were not available to comment. Supposedly, Timothy Towell , the U.S. Ambassador in Asunción (the capital of Paraguay) is the present administrator of the land. First accounts signaled that Bush had acquired 40,000 hectares (99,000 acres) in the Chaco zone of Fuerte Olimpo, near the Bolivian Border. A spark of the interest in this property may have been Jenna Bush's private visit to Paraguay with Unicef, which started Saturday, October 7, 2006. Supposedly Jenna will travel to the ranch to ''observe'' several indigenous villages are located on the property.Back in October
, I referenced these data with the following caveat:
I cannot verify this information at this time, so apply a strong note of caution to all of the above.
In the ensuing months I have, rather less responsibly, taken the Paraguay accusations at face value -- if only because they entered the "mainstream" blogosphere via Wonkette and other high-profile sources, with no refutation.
Frankly, I could not understand -- still
cannot understand -- why a foreign intelligence service would make up such a tale. It's not the sort of thing destined to arouse the attention of a vast number of citizens. Even if the report were confirmed, most Americans file it under "odd" rather than "outrageous."TPM cafe
notes that there are some oddities about the manner of denial:
A government office forbidden by law from disseminating information domestically was the mouthpiece of choice for the administration to deny rumors that the Bush family purchased thousands of acres in a remote portion of northern Paraguay...
The State Department's response is posted on the USINFO website in its "media archives." Curiously, the official denial (below) was not issued separately but was appended to an earlier statement responding to equally persistent rumors of a U.S. military base in Paraguay.
After the official denial is quoted directly, TPM Cafe's truthista continues:
Note that, while Timothy Towell's response apparently came directly from him, the responses of the President and former President were issued by anonymous persons in the "White House" and the "office" of George H.W. Bush. This is a classic method for creating plausible deniability. If the allegation is not true, why not issue the denial directly rather than through an obscure web page?
A TPM cafe reader adds this snippet:
I don't know about the Bush family owning property in Paraguay but Bush ally, the Reverend Moon owns large tracts of land there and in Brazil. Khalid Sheik Mohammed who is or was married to a Brazilian also owns property in southern Brazil.
Khalid Sheik Mohammed is the alleged Al Qaeda leader who was captured -- if captured he was -- under very mysterious circumstances. I did not know, previously, about the southern Brazil property he supposedly owns or owned. Frankly, I cannot find confirmation for the claim of ownership (perhaps a reader could help?), although CNN has reported that KSM did make frequent trips
to this area, and a rather mysterious Wikipedia
entry (without citing sources) claims that he did so to promote a firm that secretly funded Muslim militants in Southeast Asia.The Moon investment is well-known
, as is the Moon sect's closeness to the Bush clan. The alleged Moon enclave is located in Paraguay near the borders with Brazil and Bolivia. In so wild an area, national boundaries would, of course, matter little.
If the entire Bush-in-Paraguay meme was concocted by one of Fidel Castro's spooks -- well, it's certainly no worse than the whoppers concocted by our own
spooks. What troubles me is the sheer strangeness
of the accusation.
Suppose, for example, the Cubans had planted a story that Bush had personally sold short one of the firms whose interests were harmed on 911. The political value of that
kind of disinformation would be obvious. But...Paraguay? Most Americans simply don't give a damn about anything
that happens in Paraguay. Why improvise on that
My gut tells me that something odd is going on here. (Note: The original version of this post contained an error of geography; see the comments.) UPDATE:
So just where IS the alleged Bush compound? This Guardian story
says the Chaco
region in the North. The earliest story to give this rumor mentions both the Chaco area in the North and the Paso de Patria, which is in the south. Also, the Moon story
The scorching sun beats relentlessly on one of Latin America's most desolate zones. It is here in the northern province of Chaco, directly above the Guarani aquifer, the largest resource of fresh drinking water in the world, where Moon's associates claim he wishes to build an ecological paradise.
But the Chaco
area and the aquifer
are on different sides of the country. And is the Chaco region really so scorched desolate? This map
indicates that the area is mostly forest; the desert parts are to the south.
Do any readers know what the hell is going on in Paraguay?
Labels: Bush, Cuba, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, Moon, Paraguay