Ex Oriente

The most interesting overnight news is that former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been "held for questioning" by police investigating allegations that he tried to influence a judge investigating a illegal contributions to his campaign. Under French law a person can be "held" for up to 48 hours without being charged. "This is thought to be the first time a French former head of state has been held in police custody."  It's not the first time a French president has been in legal trouble. Jacques Chirac was actually convicted of embezzlement, but they suspended the sentence and let the grand lad go free.

The judges were looking into alleged illegal campaign contributions from Muhammar Khadaffy -- the former Duck of Death. In order to obtain possible proof that Sarkozy was trying to pull strings investigators resorted to the tried and tested method of wiretapping.

Mr Sarkozy is alleged to have been helped to victory in 2007 with up to €50 million provided by Colonel Gaddafi and envelopes stuffed with cash from France's richest woman, L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. ...

It was in connection with [the Khadaffy investigation] that the judges last year obtained the unprecedented authorization to tap the phones of a former president. After four fruitless months they discovered that Mr Sarkozy had a secret phone registered under an assumed name and it was conversations with Mr Herzog recorded on that device that triggered the investigation.

Leaked excerpts suggest Mr Sarkozy got a friendly judge to try to influence the outcome of confidential legal deliberations related to the Bettencourt case in return for support in securing a lucrative post in Monaco.

Now they are questioning Sarkozy to determine whether what he said on his secret phone. Alas, the Duck is not available for comment. Khadaffy was toppled in NATO operation led by Barack Obama, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy. He was caught in an attempt to escape and was killed in still mysterious circumstances. The known account of his demise is found in Wikipedia.

After the fall of Tripoli to forces of the opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) in August 2011, Gaddafi and his family fled the Libyan capital. ...

At around 08:30 local time (06:30 UTC) on 20 October, Gaddafi, his army chief Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr, his security chief Mansour Dhao, and a group of loyalists attempted to escape in a convoy of 75 vehicles. A Royal Air Force reconnaissance aircraft spotted the convoy moving at high speed, after NATO forces intercepted a satellite phone call made by Gaddafi. ...

A U.S. Predator drone operated from a base near Las Vegas fired the first missiles at the convoy, hitting its target about 3 kilometres (2 mi) west of Sirte. Moments later, French Air Force's Rafale fighter jets continued the bombing. The NATO bombing immobilized much of the convoy and killed dozens of loyalist fighters. Following the first strike, some 20 vehicles broke away from the main group and continued moving south. A second NATO airstrike damaged or destroyed 10 of these vehicles. According to the Financial Times, Free Libya units on the ground also struck the convoy....

Gaddafi survived the strikes and took refuge in a large drainage pipe with several bodyguards. ... A group of rebels approached the pipe where Gaddafi was hiding and ordered him to come out, which he did, albeit slowly. ...

Gaddafi was killed shortly afterwards. ... Several videos related to the death were broadcast by news channels and circulated via the internet. The first shows footage of Gaddafi alive, his face and shirt bloodied, stumbling and being dragged toward an ambulance by armed men chanting "God is great" in Arabic. The video appears to picture Gaddafi being poked or stabbed in the rear "with some kind of stick or knife" ...

In late September 2012, reports erupted about the involvement of French secret services in the tracking and killing of Muammar Gaddafi. According to some sources, Gaddafi was in fact killed by a French spy who infiltrated the mob of rebels that captured Gaddafi, and shot him in the head after his capture. The motive for the operation was said to be to prevent Gaddafi from being interrogated and revealing his highly suspicious links with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

His body was exhibited for days in a meat freezer.

The suggestion is that Khadaffy "bought" Sarkozy; and when the arrangement was threatened with exposure it is hinted that Sarkozy, with the witting or unwitting help of Obama and Cameron, may have tied up loose ends. So far nothing has been proved.

Khadaffy, being only a middle tier oil-rich dictator, could only afford to buy a middle-tier Western country like France. It is fortunate that no other Middle Eastern potentates have made attempts to purchase Western politicians.  One wonders who Saudi Arabia, with its deeper pockets, would try to buy? Maybe they'd try Germany.

The Saudi lobby in Washington is said to be very influential with both political parties and too many people in that town never met a dollar they didn't like. In today's Vox, Ezra Klein writes of unease about the provenance of the Clinton stash.  "The problem isn’t that the Clintons are rich, it’s where the money came from, " Klein says.  The Clinton speaking fees are apparently comparative peanuts. The big bucks comes from people who don't even have to listen. Klein says:

The real money — and the really tricky sponsors — have been flowing into the Clinton Global Initiative.

CGI's funders were initially hard to track, but as part of a deal with the Obama administration, Clinton opened the books. Donors included the government of Saudi Arabia, Norway, Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Italy and Jamaica. The Blackwater Training Center threw in $10-25,000, and there were big donations from Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, AIG, and Goldman Sachs.

As Klein himself notes, it is fortunate that the Clintons are so incorruptible or we'd be in trouble.  He writes "it's a reasonable argument to say that that cash did more for the world in Clinton's hands than in Qatar's coffers. But it's also reasonable to wonder whether Qatar donated that money to make sure they had a relationship with Clinton if they ever needed one."

The media focuses Americans on big things, like whether or not Hobby Lobby should be compelled to pay for birth control or what Kim Kardashian is wearing today. In France their Gallic counterparts are similarly guided to the grave question of whether L'Oreal's actions can pass the smell test.  And as for the rest ... well let's see what the French police have to say. It would have been nice to ask the late Duck of Death what the deal was. But the Duck made a wrong turn somewhere in the desert, and was never seen again, though at least now everyone's the wiser for the experience.

Recent items of interest by Belmont readers based on Amazon click-throughs.

Second Watch: A J. P. Beaumont Novel

The Russian: Three Complete Novels (The Russian Trilogy)

Rebranding Christianity (The World of Information)

Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway

Quantum: Einstein, Bohr, and the Great Debate about the Nature of Reality

Storm Over The South China Sea

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres

Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.

Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific

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