Some of you may recall my earlier post about Republican child abusers
. Specifically, I spoke about Mel Sembler, a long-time Bush family crony and heavy donor, who was until quite recently the ambassador to Italy. Sembler has a sick secret: He used to run a nationwide network of abusive concentration camps -- brainwashing centers, in effect -- which masqueraded as drug rehab clinics for young people.
The Sembler program was called Straight. The program modeled itself after the notorious "Seed" program of the Nixon era, which was shut down after a congressional investigation. Most Straight clinics were closed during the Clinton years, due to lawsuits and media exposure.
Today, mysterious Sembler-esque figures are quietly reconstituting the abusive program under other names. As we shall see, Jeb Bush has been directly linked to one "neo-Straight" operation.
Youngsters in the Sembler program were starved, beaten, tortured, humiliated, sexually abused, raped, kept under surveillance even when gong to the bathroom, and forced to participate in non-stop group "thought control" sessions. Teens were forced to defecate on themselves and to "confess" to crimes they never committed. The program destroyed all sense of individuality or self-worth; victims often ended up torturing themselves
In short and in sum, the Straight program was a hyperbolized version of the "brainwashing" techniques that Americans of an earlier generation commonly ascribed to the Communist Chinese. Straight victims often had no drug problems whatsoever. High-pressure salesmen, using the argot of recovery, would convince parents that children with no history of drug abuse were "dry druggies" living "in denial."
Over the past year, Jeff Gorenfeld has done incredibly good work
on this story. And now Mark Levine's Inside Scoop radio program offers a long expose on Sembler and Straight. This show is an absolute must-listen
. (You can skip past the commercials.) You'll hear plenty of Straight victims tell astonishing, infuriating tales of abuse. At the end of the broadcast, you'll be screaming one question:Why the hell was Sembler ambassador to Italy?
I cannot say for sure, but we have every reason to suspect that the story here is far stranger than we can guess. There are indications that Sembler is connected to the shadowy, endlessly-intertwining group of "rogue" intelligence agents that Joseph Trento exposes in his book Prelude to Terror
Sembler has long been on intimate terms with "Poppy" Bush, a key figure within this "old boy" gang long before he came to head the CIA. According to Joshua Marshall, Sembler also has a long-standing relationship with another notorious figure associated with the Agency (even if we cannot technically call him an operative): Michael Ledeen
Sembler played a still-mysterious role in the 2002 interactions between Ledeen and the notorious Iran-contra figure Manucher Ghorbanifar. He played an even odder role in the tale of the alleged terrorist kidnapped in Milan by CIA personnel
. Sembler denied that American intelligence personnel were involved in the kidnapping, even though both an Italian judge and former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer identified the operation was a joint CIA/SISMI venture. Sembler also may have helped to obfuscate the strange circumstances surrounding the "friendly fire" attack on Guiliana Sgrena in Iraq (which some believe was other
While we do not yet possess all the facts, those we do
have indicate that Sembler may function as a trusted asset of the rogue clandestine operatives who set this country onto its current disastrous course.
All of which makes his history as a "drug counselor" even more distubring.
What the hell was
Straight? Did Sembler have intelligence connections when he ran the program? If so, what was the real purpose of his abusive approach? Yes, Straight was clearly a money-making venture -- but did it also have a deeper
agenda? (Seed, the predecessor program of the early 1970s, was widely rumored to have links to the Agency's MKULTRA program. I've never seen any proof backing that suspicion.)
In this morass, one thing is clear: Straight did not
help teens. The victims' stories conjure up an image of institutionalised sadism -- cruelty for the sake of cruelty.
So what was Mel Sembler really up to?
We may further ask: What the hell is the Bush family
really up to? Poppy's Rolodex contained contact info for both "drug counselor" Mel Sembler and drug-smuggler Don Aronow. The elder Bush also put Manuel Noriega on the CIA payroll when Noreiga was involved with drug smuggling.
Definitely an interesting group of associates.
If you think this story could not possibly get stranger, we also
have allegations that a Straight off-shoot -- the Drug Free America Foundation -- was involved with hacking the vote in Florida
. Jeb Bush is a listed "advisor" to this foundation.
The allegations of DFAF involvement with vote fraud come to us by way of the Jeff Fisher imbroglio, which was one of the more frustrating aspects of the 2004 election controversy. Some have argued that Fisher was fed disinformation, as perhaps he was. Still, I would encourage others to do some follow up research into the allegation; the Fisher story never did reach a satisfactory conclusion.