From The Washington Post:
Charles R. Black Jr., one of McCain’s most senior political advisers, said in an interview with Fortune magazine that a fresh terrorist attack “certainly would be a big advantage to him.” He also said that the December assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto, while “unfortunate,” helped McCain win the Republican primary by focusing attention on national security.
“His knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who’s ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us,” Black told the magazine in its upcoming issue.
What’s with all the terror talk lately from the Rethugs? Newt Gingrich, John Bolton. and Rudy Noun Verb 9/11 Giuliani have all been flapping their lips and doing their best Chicken Little imitations. Who told them that these kind of scare tactics would work? Oh wait….now I remember…..
Original DVD cover.
The comment reinjected the fear of terrorism into the campaign as both candidates had been shifting their conversation to the economy and $4-per-gallon gasoline. It also vividly recalled the 2004 contest between President Bush and Democratic Sen. John F. Kerry, in which Republicans repeatedly questioned Kerry’s ability to protect the country from terrorists.
The comments also returned the political spotlight to McCain’s advisers and, in particular, to Black, who has drawn criticism for his long lobbying career and his representation of controversial foreign governments.
Black earlier this year severed ties to the lobbying firm he founded. Records show that his firm had represented the Pakistan People’s Party, which Bhutto led until her death.
Asked about the comments by reporters while campaigning in California, McCain said: “I cannot imagine why he would say it. It’s not true. I’ve worked tirelessly since 9/11 to prevent another attack on the United States of America. My record is very clear.”
In a strongly worded statement issued yesterday afternoon, the campaign of presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama called Black’s comments a “complete disgrace.”
“The fact that John McCain’s top adviser says that a terrorist attack on American soil would be a ‘big advantage’ for their political campaign is a complete disgrace, and is exactly the kind of politics that needs to change,” spokesman Bill Burton said.
Traveling with McCain, Black faced reporters in California to acknowledge his mistake. “I deeply regret the comments.
Here’s a little history on Charlie Black, from The Nation via Yahoo News:
Black has a long history of rough-and-tumble politics, on behalf of some of the most controversial figures in this country and abroad.
Black was a protege of the late GOP operative Lee Atwater, who coldly implemented the Republican Party’s racially divisive “Southern strategy.” Both Atwater and Black were longtime advisors to former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms.
When he wasn’t working on GOP political campaigns, Black was a leader of what the Center for Public Integrity termed “The Torturers Lobby.” As a lobbyist for Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, Black represented the likes of Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines and Jonas Savimbi of Angola.
In 1992, as Ken Silverstein of Harper’s recently noted, Spy magazine ran a profile of Black’s lobbying firm. “Spy reviewed the operations of a number of top beltway lobbying firms and ranked Black, Manafort as the ‘sleaziest’ of the firms it surveyed, giving it a ‘blood-on-the-hands’ rating of four,” Silverstein writes. “That was a full bloody hand more than the rating accorded to lobbyist Edward van Kloberg, whose clients included Saddam Hussein and Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania.”
More recently, as the chairman of BKSH & Associates (a subsidiary of Mark Penn’s firm Burson-Marsteller), Black flacked for disgraced Iraqi exile Ahmad Chalabi and the Lock, the shadowy PR firm that covertly placed US military propaganda in Iraqi news outlets.
Since 1999, BKSH earned over $4 million in lobbyist fees on behalf of 11 Iraq war defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin and United Technologies. As recently as February, Black was conducted his lobbying work from aboard McCain’s campaign bus, the “Straight Talk Express.”
On a lighter note, if you are in the mood to read a little about another kind of ghost, check out my post over at American Street!