The Multinational Monitor


T H E I R    M A S T E R S '    V O I C E

Defending Dictators,
Counseling Killers

THE REAGAN ERA "BOOM," which left the rich richer and the rest of the country poorer, has long since faded. But for many of the shock troopers of the Reagan Revolution, the good times are still rolling.

Take Bruce Fein, who served as associate deputy attorney general to Edwin Meese between 1981 and 1983. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Fein played a big role in formulating the Reagan administration's policies on civil rights, school prayer, abortion and crime. He backed the failed bid to grant tax-exempt status to Bob Jones University, which does not accept black students.

After leaving government, Fein linked up with right-wing think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. He also cashed in on his government experience by lobbying for foreign clients. Though Fein was a strong critic of leftist governments, like Nicaragua's Sandinistas, he had no qualms about taking money from peace-loving nations such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Fein hit the jackpot in 1991 when he signed on to represent Mozambique's notorious guerrilla army, RENAMO, which was seeking to overthrow its country's leftist government. When Fein came on board, RENAMO's reputation has hit bottom. This was just a few years after the State Department had issued a report denouncing the guerrillas for the wholesale slaughter of civilians, using such methods as "shooting executions, knife/axe/bayonet killings, burning alive, beating to death, forced asphyxiation, forced starvation, forced drownings and random shootings."

Even the Reagan and Bush administrations kept their distance from RENAMO, despite their anti-Communist rhetoric. So reviled was the group and its president, Afonso Dhlakama, that Reagan held several face-to-face meetings with Mozambiques's president to demonstrate his support for his Marxist government!

Fein, however, eagerly signed up to flack for Dhlakama's terror army. Like most foreign lobbyists, he bilked his client for huge sums of money while performing virtually no work. Fein's chief endeavor was writing The Dhlakama Papers, a collection of the wise leader's theoretical musings, and RENAMO's constitution. The latter document is a loose plagiarism of the U.S. constitution with a few pet projects of Fein's -- the death penalty and privatization -- thrown in for good measure.

Following his work with RENAMO, Fein dropped out of the lobbying world. He founded a consulting firm with the recently deceased Albert Blaustein, a conservative ideologue and Rutgers Law School professor, which specialized in "advising foreign governments in drafting constitutions."

Blaustein's claim to fame was having written the Liberian constitution under contract to dictator Samuel Doe, who was slain in 1990 after a decade of bloody rule. Fein's partner also was a long-time adviser to Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Party in South Africa. He wrote a 1992 constitution for the Inkatha which provoked a huge uproar because it laid the foundation for a secessionist KwaZulu-Natal "state."

Now, Fein has returned to lobbying and is working for a client that has the dubious distinction of making RENAMO look good: The Sudan. That country's government is barred from receiving U.S. foreign aid because of its support for terrorism and because of its revolting human rights record. Amnesty International reports that the Sudanese government not only assassinates and tortures its "enemies," but that paramilitary forces have kidnapped scores of children, who are believed to be held in domestic slavery by their abductors or taken to camps in remote rural areas, where they are trained for military service.

Another common practice of the Sudanese government is to flog "criminals." According to Amnesty, many of the victims are women convicted of brewing alcohol and convicted by rubber stamp Public Order Courts.

Explaining away a record like that is a delicate task indeed, which is where Fein comes in. Having already billed his client $20,000 for "legal and historical research," Fein has now begun lobbying -- he plans to meet with Congress, the Executive Branch, newspaper editorial boards and think tanks -- on the Sudan's behalf for a monthly fee of $10,000.

Fein's contract, on file at the Justice Department's Foreign Agents Registration Unit, says he will offer the Sudan "advisory and advocacy services" with the goal of fostering "warming relations" with the U.S. He'll also seek to have the country delisted as a supporter of terrorism and urge the U.S. government to lift all sanctions against the Sudan, including prohibitions on military aid.

As part of his effort, Fein promised his client that he would prepare favorable pamphlets, monographs and magazine and newspaper articles. Since Fein has a regular column in The Washington Times, expect to soon see him penning articles lauding the Sudanese government's devout commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

"There is a vast amount of misperception about what is going on in the Sudan," says Fein, calling this a "media problem."

"It is not that the Republic of Sudan does not have warts, it does," Fein told Multinational Monitor. "But I am convinced they are serious about making improvements."

Fein, who authored Nicaragua's Constitution: Echoes of Mein Kempf during the Sandinista years and never displayed much sympathy for the Sandinistas when they were under attack from the Reagan administration-backed contras, insists the Sudanese government should be cut some slack. "You've got to remember, they are in the midst of a civil war," he says.

-- Ken Silverstein

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