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New NRA President Chairs Board Of Confederate Monument

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Carolyn Meadows, who is succeeding Oliver North as president of the National Rifle Association, is also the chairperson of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association, an organization that maintains the largest memorial to the Confederacy in the United States.

Meadows, who sits on the NRA board of directors and was serving as the group’s second vice president, was elected president of the NRA during an April 29 meeting of NRA board members. She will succeed North, who was ousted from the NRA amid infighting that pitted a faction led by NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre against North and Ackerman McQueen, an ad firm that is deeply enmeshed with the NRA and produces the NRA’s media operation, NRATV. LaPierre, who North said engaged in financial improprieties in his role as NRA CEO, was reportedly unanimously reelected CEO by the board.

Meadows is listed by the Stone Mountain Memorial Association website as chairperson of the organization’s board of directors. According to her site bio, “She has been actively involved in the Republican Party since 1964 and served as Georgia’s National Chairwoman for 12 years,” and she is also a board member of the American Conservative Union, the group that hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Stone Mountain, Georgia, features an enormous relief carving that depicts Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis on horseback. A 2017 article in Smithsonian magazine notes that “the monument in question is carved 42 feet deep and 400 feet above ground into a granite mountain” and “is a testament to the enduring legacy of white supremacy.”

Stone Mountain is also closely associated with the revival of the Ku Klux Klan. KKK leader William Simmons “ushered in the modern era of the Ku Klux Klan, founding the Second KKK at the top of Stone Mountain on November 25, 1915,” in an event that included a cross burning and signaled “a new era of white nationalist terrorism,” according to Smithsonian magazine. Plans for the memorial were already being made at the time of the Klan ceremony, but the project ended up being shuttered for several decades and was only revived following right-wing anger over the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision ending school segregation. The monument was eventually completed in 1972.

Meadows is not the only prominent NRA official to support Confederate symbols. NRA board member Ted Nugent, who was reelected during the 2019 NRA annual meeting, has long been an outspoken defender of the Confederate flag. Previous NRA President Jim Porter, who served two years as president beginning in 2013, was also an apologist for the Confederacy, having once stated, “NRA was started 1871 right here in New York state. It was started by some Yankee generals who didn’t like the way my Southern boys had the ability to shoot in what we call the ‘War of Northern Aggression.’”

The NRA often calls itself the oldest civil rights organization in America, although that isn’t true.

Danziger: Shootout At The NRA Corral

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.

Lawsuit Highlights Feuding Inside Gun Lobby Over NRATV

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

The National Rifle Association has filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma City-based Ackerman McQueen, which has been the group’s ad agency for nearly 40 years and produces the pro-gun extremist network NRATV.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit was filed on April 12 and claims that Ackerman McQueen “was obliged to provide access to to records underlying its bills” but that as of halfway through 2018, some such requests had been “rebuffed or baldly ignored.” The lawsuit also zeroes in on NRA President Oliver North, who has a contract with Ackerman McQueen to host the NRATV show Oliver North’s American Heroes. The NRA says it is required to disclose and approve its top officials’ pay, but that neither North nor Ackerman McQueen will share all the details of their contract.

The article highlights a split between the “pro-Ackerman McQueen faction” of the NRA’s board, who think that Brewer Law, the firm leading the lawsuit, is charging too much, and those who think it is “money … well spent, because it’s for the survival of the NRA,” which reportedly includes Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.

Ackerman McQueen and the NRA have long had a symbiotic relationship. The NRA’s lawyer who is handling the lawsuit is related to two top Ackerman officials, and some employees have worked with both organizations, either alternating or at the same time. The ad agency was responsible for some of the NRA’s darker videos and helped former NRA President Charleton Heston hone his image as he led the organization.

This latest bout of infighting, however, comes a little over a month after NRA board member Marion Hammer went on record to The New York Times questioning “the value of” NRATV network and less than six months after layoffs hit the network.

The gun lobby’s media platform has been a cesspool of bigotry and extremist talking points for over a decade. Those characteristics were on full display last month when NRA spokesperson and NRATV host Dana Loesch shared an image of the trains from the children’s TV show Thomas & Friends wearing KKK hoods to protest the show’s focus on diversity. The move reportedly left LaPierre “livid and embarrassed.”

How Elliott Abrams Helped To Spring A CIA-Connected Coke Trafficker

When U.S. policymakers needed to spring a convicted CIA-connected drug trafficker from doing hard time in federal prison, who did they call?

Trump’s infamous appointed special envoy to Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, according to a September 1986 National Security Council email, written by NSC staffer Oliver North.

In a U.S. House Committee hearing on Thursday, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) scorched Abrams for his covering up of the infamous El Mozote massacre and lying to Congress during the Iran-Contra conspiracy in the 1980s.

Her interrogation drew rebuke from Max Boot, the apostate conservative, and a chorus of right-wing media commentators. Boot described Omar’s comments as a “disgraceful ad hominem attack.”

Actually, the impertinent congresswoman from Minneapolis could have gone much further about Abrams’ untrustworthy behavior. One of the most revealing stories comes from an impeccably right-wing source, Oliver North, former Republican senatorial candidate and Fox News talking head.

The year was 1986. Abrams served as assistant secretary of state for Latin America under President Reagan. He was a 39-year-old lawyer and foreign policy polemicist who qualified as neoconservative royalty. (His wife was the daughter of Norman Podhoretz, the perfervid editor of Commentary magazine.) Even then his perennial scowl managed to make him look furtive and self-righteous at the same time.

The Iran-Contra conspiracy was in full swing. The conspiracy, permissively labeled “a scandal,” was a Reagan White House plot to subvert the U.S. Congress’ powers of the purse. North was the coordinator of what can fairly be described as an unconstitutional covert operation, while Abrams played the role of bagman.

To bypass the so-called Boland Amendment, Abrams took payments from the Sultan of Brunei, a petroleum potentate from South Asia, and passed them to the leaders of Reagan’s counter-revolutionary army in Nicaragua. When questioned under oath, Abrams lied. He later pleaded guilty to two counts of deceiving Congress.

As part of the conspiracy, Abrams also put in a good word for a convicted drug trafficker, General Jose Bueso Rosa. He was a Honduran general who had helped the U.S. government with “sensitive operations” in Central America. As Murray Waas and I wrote in the Washington Post, North did “a favor for a felon.”

So did Abrams.

As an episode of CIA-sanctioned drug trafficking, the Bueso story was typical. Bueso, it turns out, had helped put together a CIA-trained military intelligence unit known as Battalion 316, which served as death squad for U.S. policymakers. A Honduran government investigation found that Battalion 316 had captured, tortured and executed some 200 suspected leftists.

Bueso had also trafficked multi-kiloton shipments of cocaine. As CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz documented in Volume 2 of his report on contra drug trafficking, the agency did business with more than 50 suspected drug traffickers in the 1980s.

(Lazy reporters sometimes say that the CIA was cleared of the allegation. They didn’t bother to read the Sections 800-1148 of Hitz’s report, which detailed how the agency took no action against four dozen suspected traffickers who aided Reagan’s—and Abrams’—anticommunist crusade.)

Investigating the story for the Post, I spoke on background with law enforcement officials familiar with Bueso’s case. A wiretap had picked up Bueso repeatedly talking about shipments of “flour” into central Florida, they said. Given Bueso’s connections, no one in the Reagan Justice Department cared to make a big deal of his cocaine shipments, no matter how hefty. They just wanted a conviction that would put him out of business. Bueso got a generous plea bargain. He would only have to serve five years.

Bueso, however, was led to believe his American friends would save him from serving any time all.

In his September 1986 email, later uncovered by Iran-Contra investigators, North worried Bueso might “break his longstanding silence.” He might disclose unpleasant truths about death squads and CIA drug trafficking.

So North “cabal[led] quietly” with Abrams, as well as top Pentagon, CIA and Justice Department officials. A presidential pardon was out of the question, but transfer to a comfortable “Club Fed” facility was arranged.

At a time when U.S. prosecutors meted out 10-year sentences to young black men for the possession of a few ounces of cocaine, Abrams was part of a gang that thought a multi-kiloton trafficker should be treated leniently. Such was his advocacy of “human rights.”

Bueso got out of prison early—for “good behavior.” Abrams went on to a long career in U.S. foreign policy. Hundreds of thousands of black men remained in jails for years, if not decades.

Rep. Omar could have asked an even tougher question of Abrams, namely, “Does Trump’s policy toward Latin America today involve protection of drug traffickers as Reagan’s policy did in the 1980s?”

She was certainly justified in questioning his veracity.

“I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful,” she said.

You can watch the Omar-Abrams exchange here.

Jefferson Morley is a writing fellow and the editor and chief correspondent of the Deep State, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He has been a reporter and editor in Washington, D.C., since 1980. He spent 15 years as an editor and reporter at the Washington Post. He was a staff writer at Arms Control Today and Washington editor of Salon.  His latest book is The Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster, James Jesus Angleton (St. Martins Press, 2017).

This article was produced by the Deep State, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

IMAGE: Elliott Abrams, photography by Gage Skidmore.