From Agent Orange, to 9/11, to BP: Kenneth Feinberg is Master of Disaster
Written for the 9/11 Truth Movement. Please forward widely.
By Sander Hicks
Founder, The Truth Party
Kenneth Feinberg, a key figure in the cover-up of 9/11, has popped up again at the forefront of the BP oil spill cover-up. Appointed by President Obama, Feinberg heads the compensation fund for BP that will reduce the oil giant’s liability in the Gulf, by twisting victims into out-of-court settlements.
“Feinberg’s a BP-paid lawyer, pretending to be neutral, acting with authority granted by the President, talking to spill victims and suggesting that they deal directly with him, and not their own lawyers,” a New Orleans attorney told Wsws.org.
Kenneth Feinberg was “Special Master” of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund. This Congressionally-created cash cow was created by the Bush White House, with plenty of input from the insurance and airline lobbies, to prevent victims’ families’ lawsuits. The average family that received $1.25 million signed away their right to sue for negligence.
It was a devil’s bargain, but not everyone went along. 9/11 widow Ellen Mariani held out and sued Kenneth Feinberg, alongside Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Feinberg, et al., over the many anomalies around the White House’s official story. Although she later settled her case, due to a dispute with a family member, it’s worth reviewing her experiences with Kenneth Feinberg. Why did she go all the way and sue not only those in power on 9/11, but the Special Master of the Compensation Fund?
In her lawsuit, the 9/11 widow claimed Feinberg’s role was to “ensure all ‘9/11’ families joined the fund to prevent any questions of liability, gross or criminal negligence on the part of Defendant Bush and his administration for failing to act and prevent the ‘9/11’ attacks.”
The year was 2003, and I was reporting the 9/11 controversies for Long Island Press. I was trying to have a conversation with Kenneth Feinberg about a certain letter he had written to Ellen Mariani’s attorney Don Nolan. Feinberg had been trying to influence his acquaintance Nolan into leaning on Mariani to doubt her own sanity, and enter the Fund. Nolan was fired, shortly after acceding to Feinberg’s campaign of unethically influencing the client. Feinberg was having a hard time recalling the letter he wrote.
“DO WHAT YOU WANT THEN. DO YOU HEAR WHAT I’M TELLIN’ YA? NOW IF YOU WANT TO SAY, ‘BEFORE I WENT ON [the record], AFTER I WENT ON, I DON’T RECALL THE LETTER’ that’s up to you. Now I’m just telling you what I’m saying, on the record. And that’s all I’m saying on the record.” Feinberg shouted at me on the phone.
I hadn’t told him that the letter he wrote had already been discovered by Mariani’s legal team. Its existence was already beyond dispute. I wanted to see if Feinberg would lie about the letter. He denied having any knowledge of it at the outset of our conversation. Things went downhill from there. (See transcript below.)
Feinberg had a quick temper, an inclination to fly off the handle right away, to start shouting at a reporter at the drop of a hat. Perhaps in 2003, he was under pressure to minimize lawsuits and questions against the 9/11 Official Story. Or perhaps Feinberg’s acerbic and tempestuous manner was his core competency. His specialty as a lawyer is technically “Alternative Conflict Resolution” but in fact what he does is use strong-arm tactics, and under the table pressure, to browbeat victims into taking a quick deal that reduces the liability of big corporations, and federal government.
Feinberg was the cover-up master in a litany of important historical US Government and US Corporate cover-ups: Agent Orange, the Dalkon Shield, Long Island’s Shoreham Nuclear Plant, the 9/11 Attacks, and the Virginia Tech Shooter.
Is it really any surprise to see Feinberg pop up and deal with victims of the Virginia Tech shootings? It’s unclear just what influences shooter Seung-Hui Cho was under, but his medical files were hidden from investigators, by Cho’s own doctor. This doctor was so close to the incident, he was a part of the Investigative Team.
To top all that, Feinberg just finished a gig as Obama’s point man as the “CEO Pay Czar” allegedly “regulating” the amount of money that bailed-out CEOs got. (Average CEO pay was still at around $2.5 million, after Feinberg’s “work.”) The Obama Administration saw that public outrage over bailed-out bank CEOs taking huge bonuses. But instead of changing that, they tried to just change the perception of the reality.
Feinberg’s skills in “reality control” are indispensable. The obsequious media has followed suit. The fawning New York Times coverage of Feinberg is so selective, it’s an indictment of the bankrupt, dying genre of print-based “establishment journalism.” A simple internet search on Kenneth Feinberg puts the lie to the flattery in “Administering Fund, a Master Mediator” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, (6/16/10)
This reporter’s description of Feinberg as talented with “Solomon-like” wisdom borders on blasphemy. Personal experience shows: this guy is a bully, a pit-bull, bred to scare, growl and clamp his jaws down on living flesh. The God of Wisdom and Mercy has nothing to do with this well-connected, ruling-class, professional liar.
Just listen to Feinberg himself badgering cancer victims asking for government assistance last week:
"Ladies and gentlemen, you can wait and wait and wait for that legislation ... it's not passing!" Kenneth Feinberg, of all people, was wheeled out last Monday to bark at ground zero First Responders at their meeting on Staten Island. The First Responders were appalled when the US Congress decided not to pass the James Zagroda bill, despite a majority vote in its favor. The bill would have helped 9/11 First Responders dying of various forms of lung cancers.
Perhaps the message here is that the US Congress knows that it would be nice to give a hand to these dying heroes, but geez, it’s is just too politically risky, because then we might have to look into the glaring physical anomalies, like: How did two planes bring down three towers? Where did that molten steel come from? Why were the rules of evidence trashed when WTC steel wreckage was exported out of the country? What about the four out of four dust samples from the massive 9/11 dust cloud that tested positive for a military-grade explosive, last summer?
The official story is in deep trouble: it’s illogical and weak, but it’s propping up a huge amount of money and power waging wars in Central Asia. The Zagroda Bill failed because there’s a top-down message coming from the US Government and US Media, a sledgehammer coming down against 9/11 Truth.
Let’s look at what the Truth movement is currently suffering. In the past year, we were censored on Huffington Post, when our standard-bearer, Governor Jesse Ventura, was silenced from talking about the new scientific evidence of controlled demolition at the WTC. This jibes with the attack from the White House. Administration Czar Cass Sunstein, described in a recent paper Obama Administration plans to disrupt the political work of the 9/11 truth movement, through covert domestic infiltrations. The government will do so online as well as in “real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories.” Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com called this “truly pernicious” since the paper proposes “that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-‘independent’ advocates to ‘cognitively infiltrate’ online groups and websites.” Southern Poverty Law Center recently published a list of “Patriots” to be feared (without an objective analysis of their claims.) In July, Ford-foundation funded “Leftist” Chip Berlet attacked the 9/11 Truth Movement with unsubstantiated claims and insinuations of Anti-Semitism. Both Project Censored and the Media Freedom Foundation found this smear to be a “a diatribe of meaninglessness.”
It pays to be a student of the 9/11 tragedy. This scandalous crime and its cover-up is a perfect model for the pattern of the world’s criminality. Know the secrets 9/11, and you start to see a model for the secrets of the world.
After nine years of doing DIY citizen media activism, (and publishing with important outlets like 9/11 blogger), I am personally at a point where I think we need to take our tactics up a notch. Here in NYC, fellow activists and I are starting the Truth Party, to dissect the power dynamics, the propaganda, and information warfare being waged on the American people. There are common virtues, across political and religious lines, which unite us: truth, peace and transparency. It’s these virtues in whose name we meet, in eight days, at the Truth Gathering, in the Catskill Mountains, from August 14-16.
All are welcome.
Except if your name is Kenneth Feinberg. You weren’t very nice on the phone.
CHECK OUT more info on the Truth Gathering, and the Truth Party, here:
For more background on my trials with Feinberg, here’s a free excerpt from my book, The Big Wedding, 9/11, the Whistle-Blowers, and the Cover-Up.
In February 2004, I published a two-part-series feature article about 9/11 anomalies for the Long Island Press, a New York City area newsweekly. I covered independent researchers like Daniel Hopsicker as well as Ellen Mariani, a 9/11 widow who is suing President Bush. Ellen Mariani is a brassy, grandmotherly lady from New Hampshire, who lost her husband Louis when Mohammed Atta flew their plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Covering her case gave me an opportunity to interview the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund “Special Master,” Kenneth Feinberg.
What happened between Feinberg and me never saw print, due to space considerations. But at the time, I was very excited to report it. Ms. Mariani’s lawsuit named Kenneth Feinberg as one of the defendants, alongside both George Bushes, John Ashcroft, etc. Feinberg was named because Mariani and Berg held evidence that he had acted over and above his responsibilities as a Fund administrator. Instead of just being a paymaster who meted out an average of $1.5 million to each surviving family member, Feinberg seemed determined to recruit all victims’ families into the Fund, whether they wanted the money or not.63
Ellen Mariani was refusing the money because she didn’t like the attendant clause that prevented a victim from further legal action: against the airlines or, say, against Ashcroft. She fired her first lawyer for trying to manipulate her into taking the fund money. She then hired Chicago attorney Don Nolan, who happened to be an acquaintance of Kenneth Feinberg. On February 8, 2002, Feinberg wrote a generic thank you letter to all attorneys who had volunteered to help administer funds. But in a handwritten postscript to his friend “Don,” Kenneth Feinberg urged Don Nolan to bring the combative Mariani into the fund.
The letter would have been innocuous if it had been discarded. But shortly thereafter, Nolan urged Mariani to see a psychiatrist. Mariani retorted by suggesting that he see one. And then she fired Nolan.
Kenneth Feinberg’s extralegal influence-peddling indicated there might be some truth to Mariani’s legal claim that his role was to “ensure all ‘9/11’ families joined the fund to prevent any questions of liability, gross or criminal negligence on the part of Defendant Bush and his administration for failing to act and prevent the ‘9/11’ attacks.”
But I couldn’t just quote from the lawsuit in my story. I had to find out for myself.
In early December 2003, I got Feinberg on the phone. We started off our interview with some chatting about the percentage of victims’ families who were accepting the fund. With a deadline approaching, Feinberg was gunning for 90 percent, his “magic minimum.”
Curtailing the small talk, I asked Mr. Feinberg if he knew that he was being sued by Ellen Mariani through attorney Phil Berg. I told him that there were allegations that he had used “strong arm tactics and hostility” towards the widow. Feinberg indicated that he didn’t know who Mariani was.
I elucidated: “The allegations have to do with what they feel was a broach of attorney/client privilege. They allege that you contacted her one-time attorney; she used to be represented by Don Nolan, of the Nolan Law Group in Chicago, and they allege that you sent a letter to Don Nolan, urging Ms. Mariani to get into the fund. Do you know anything about that letter?”
Feinberg’s answer? “Uhhhhhh. Nooo.”
The “Uhhh” could perhaps be interpreted as a contemplative moment, a quick mental strategizing session, or a debate with himself as to whether to lie to a reporter. And then, the lie. The “Nooo.”
We went off the record for a second, and when we got back on, things went like this:
Hicks: So, you’re saying that you don’t have any knowledge of the letter.
Feinberg: I’m not saying that. On the record, here’s what I’m saying. I have not seen this lawsuit, or read the complaint, so I cannot comment. I know nothing about it. And therefore cannot respond.
Hicks: Right, but before we went off the record, you just said something like you didn’t know about this letter, like you weren’t familiar...
Feinberg: I’m not familiar with the letter.
Hicks: So you don’t recall sending a letter on the...
Feinberg: [a degree louder] I have no recollection...I’m telling you what I want to put on the record. All I’m saying on the record, ALL I’m saying on the record is, I haven’t seen the complaint, I don’t know about the allegations. I have no comment. Unquote.
Hicks: Right, but before we went on the record....
Feinberg: [quite a few degrees louder] DO WHAT YOU WANT THEN. DO YOU HEAR WHAT I’M TELLIN’ YA? NOW IF YOU WANT TO SAY, “BEFORE I WENT ON, AFTER I WENT ON, I DON’T RECALL THE LETTER” that’s up to you. Now I’m just telling you what I’m saying, on the record. And that’s all I’m saying on the record.
Hicks: Right, right, right. OK, because the...[pause] well, they say they have copies of this letter.
Feinberg: [sigh] I haven’t seen the complaint. I know nothing about the complaint, or the allegations. Therefore I cannot respond to anything that’s in the complaint.
Hicks: I understand you haven’t been served papers...what have your experiences been with Ellen Mariani?
Feinberg: I have no experiences with Ellen Mariani.
Hicks: Well, you never wrote a hand-written note on this letter to Don Nolan?
Feinberg: Now listen to me, I’ll tell you one more time.
Hicks: There’s no reason to become adversarial here.
Feinberg: Yes there is.
Hicks: I’m pursuing this to the utmost.
Feinberg: I understand that. You’re a good reporter. I don’t know anything about this lawsuit, or the complaint. So I don’t recall. I have no knowledge.
Hicks: That’s the Ronald Reagan...
Feinberg: Look, I gotta get off the phone. This is where I am. When I see the complaint, Sander, give me a call. Maybe I’ll have a comment on it. When I read it and see what she says and check my notes and my records, I may be able to respond. Right now, all I can tell you right now—and you’re a, you’re a good reporter—I have nothing personal, but all I can tell you right now is I have no recollection of any of this, and I will have to read the complaint before I can respond.
Hicks: Good enough. Thanks.
In her suit, Mariani’s accused Feinberg of, “questionable strong-arm tactics and hostility.” My conversation with Feinberg seemed to provide those accusations with merit.
There are other accusations in the Mariani/Berg racketeering suit that almost seem over the top. They accuse Feinberg of diverting Red Cross funds that were earmarked for victims’ families to displaced downtown renters and FEMA workers. But after meeting Feinberg on the phone, and having our candid exchange, what might once have seemed outlandish in the Mariani suit now seems more like it deserves a day in court. One thing’s for certain: Special Master Feinberg wasn’t hired for his soft touch, or his compassion for the grieving.
PALAST ON FEINBERG
Right after my Long Island Press article was on the streets, the news came in that former New York Governor Mario Cuomo was suing the investigative journalist Greg Palast. Greg was a hero of mine, and someone I had talked to during the Fortunate Son years, before he became a best-selling author for his muckraking collection, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
Cuomo was suing over a line in Democracy that he claimed had defamed him.
Palast was standing by his reporting. I thought that this would be a good follow-up story, so I phoned Greg up. He related how he’d run “one of the biggest investigations ever” into the “creepy slime ball directors of Long Island’s Shoreham Nuclear Plant,” who had “lied day in and day out about the costs and safety of that plant.” His investigation led Judge Jack Weinstein to believe that this nuclear power plant had defrauded the public of gross sums. The Judge was about to sentence plant-owners LILCO to a $4.8 million fine, when a go-between for Governor Cuomo intervened on behalf of the Long Island power company.
That go-between was Kenneth Feinberg.
Small world? It gets smaller—Judge Jack Weinstein was the same judge who suppressed NY FBI corruption related to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Weinstein refused to admit evidence from mafia scion Greg Scarpa, Jr. that proved the FBI’s Lindley DeVecchio was in cahoots with mafia capo Greg Scarpa, Sr. DeVecchio had also been FBI whistle-blower Richard Taus’s criminal squad supervisor. Judge Jack Weinstein denied Taus’s recent habeus corpus appeal.