Saturday, March 22

Therese Shaheen is real piece of work

According to Jeff Stein,

Lawrence B. Wilkerson, the U.S. Army colonel who was Powell’s chief of staff through two administrations, said in little-noted remarks early last month that “neocons” in the top rungs of the administration quietly encouraged Taiwanese politicians to move toward a declaration of independence from mainland China — an act that the communist regime has repeatedly warned would provoke a military strike.

The top U.S. diplomat in Taiwan at the time, Douglas Paal, backs up Wilkerson’s account, which is being hotly disputed by key former defense officials...

While Bush publicly continued the one-China policy of his five White House predecessors, Wilkerson said, the Pentagon “neocons” took a different tack, quietly encouraging Taiwan’s pro-independence president, Chen Shui-bian.

“The Defense Department, with Feith, Cambone, Wolfowitz [and] Rumsfeld, was dispatching a person to Taiwan every week, essentially to tell the Taiwanese that the alliance was back on,” Wilkerson said, referring to pre-1970s military and diplomatic relations, “essentially to tell Chen Shui-bian, whose entire power in Taiwan rested on the independence movement, that independence was a good thing.”

Wilkerson said Powell would then dispatch his own envoy “right behind that guy, every time they sent somebody, to disabuse the entire Taiwanese national security apparatus of what they’d been told by the Defense Department.”

“This went on,” he said of the pro-independence efforts, “until George Bush weighed in and told Rumsfeld to cease and desist [and] told him multiple times to re-establish military-to-military relations with China.”...

Rumsfeld’s former spokesman Lawrence DiRita called Wilkerson’s allegations “completely ridiculous—clear and simple . . . absurd.”

“The idea that there was some kind of DoD attempt to favor some faction in Taiwan, as described by Wilkerson ... is just crazy,” DiRita said in a brief telephone interview...

Another key character in the minidrama was Therese Shaheen, the outspoken chief of the U.S. office of the American Institute in Taiwan, which took on the functions of the American embassy after the formal 1979 diplomatic switch.

Shaheen, who happens to be DiRita’s wife, openly championed Chen and the independence movement, at one point even publicly reinterpreting Bush’s reiteration of the “one China” policy, saying that the administration “had never said it ‘opposed’ Taiwan independence,” according to a 2004 account in the authoritative Far Eastern Economic Review.

“Therese Shaheen . . . said don’t sweat it, the president didn’t really mean what he said,” Wilkerson said.

Coming from the wife of Rumsfeld’s spokesman, Shaheen’s remarks sent off angry alarms in Beijing.

Powell asked for her resignation.

Douglas Paal was then head of the American Institute in Taiwan, effectively making him the U.S. ambassador there. He backed up Wilkerson’s account.

“In the early years of the Bush administration,” Paal said by e-mail last week, “there was a problem with mixed signals to Taiwan from Washington. This was most notably captured in the statements and actions of Ms. Therese Shaheen, the former AIT chair, which ultimately led to her departure.”..

DiRita defended his wife, saying “she understood U.S. policy and executed it to the very best of her abilities and wasn’t trying to play games with” Taiwanese independence forces.

“That was always kind of a mythology of what happened over there,” he said.

Shaheen presumably got her post because of her connection with her husband, not to mention a $20,000 contribution to the Republican National Committee in 2000. Indeed, as Charles Snyder was cited in the pro-DPP Taipei Times,
Shaheen comes to AIT well connected with the Bush administration. Her husband, Lawrence Di Rita, is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's chief of staff, and her former partner in US-Asia Commercial Development, Richard Lawless, was recently appointed the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific affairs.

Lawless, who founded US-Asia Commercial Development with Shaheen in 1987, was previously a close confidant and business partner of President Bush's brother, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, with whom he conducted millions of dollars in real-estate and import-export business between 1989 and 1993.

The new AIT chairman contributed US$200,000 to Bush's presidential campaign in 2000. According to the campaign watchdog The Center for Responsive Politics, she initially donated US$200,000, but Bush, under a self-imposed US$100,000 limit, returned half of the money.

According to Michael Scherer, she also

...wrote a $250,000 check so that her Asian business clients can rub shoulders this week with George W. Bush. "Outsiders are fascinated by the president's inaugural, so it's nice for them," says Shaheen, who resigned her post as the head of the U.S. diplomatic mission to Taiwan last April and returned to the private sector. "The inauguration is always good for business development."

But only a few people, including the president's staff, know that Shaheen is responsible for the donation, which entitles her clients to tickets to top-tier events with President Bush and Vice President Cheney. That is because she donated the funds through the Strongbow Technologies Corporation, a company that lists no phone number and whose mailing address is a post office box in the Maryland suburbs of Washington D.C. According to the State of Delaware, the company no longer even exists under that name, having been reincorporated in December as U.S. Asia Strongbow Technologies Corporation. "I'm just starting it back up," Shaheen explains, adding that the company has several new contracts, which she would not discuss...

Shaheen, the owner of Strongbow, has no plans to identify the foreign clients she is bringing to dine and dance with the President. But it is not hard to guess why they are working with her. In addition to her State Department experience, Shaheen's former business partner, and the former co-owner of Strongbow, was Richard Lawless, an ex-CIA agent who now works at the Pentagon as deputy undersecretary of defense for Asia-Pacific affairs. He has recently been discussed as a candidate to replace the head of the CIA's clandestine unit. Lawless and Shaheen founded a company in 1987 called U.S. Asia Commercial, which partnered with the president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, to work on deals with Asian investors. Shaheen's husband is Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita, who also serves as a special assistant to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Nonetheless, she said her involvement in the inauguration was not political. "We are not taking any Taiwanese government officials," she said. Her guests, she added, are "business people and business people only."

Writing of rumors that Shaheen was going to give media interviews to say that Ma Ying-jeou's U.S. “green card” was still valid, Hugo Restall wrote,

I had dinner with her Sunday night, and it was clear that while she has very little understanding of Taiwanese politics, she is unreservedly committed to Mr. Chen and the DPP. If Mr. Ma is right and Ms. Shaheen does speak today, it is likely that in the little time left before the election Taiwanese voters will not be able to learn about her vested interest in helping the DPP. As a former U.S. official, her statements may be taken at face value, unless specifically refuted by current AIT officials.

I’ve spoken to current and former Bush administration officials about Ms. Shaheen, and the word on her is unanimous: She is politically naive and often shoots her mouth off without thinking — in other words, a loose cannon. Ms. Shaheen told me that she was fired because China wanted her out. That is directly contradicted by one who was involved — because she is a Republican loyalist, Ms. Shaheen got many second chances, but in the end the president recognized that she was damaging U.S. interests...

So why would Ms. Shaheen be willing to be used in this sleazy effort (if indeed Mr. Ma is correct)? One clue comes from her business background. She has been involved in business in Asia and Republican politics for decades, including the nexus between the two. She was in business with Richard Lawless, a former CIA officer who was recently deputy assistance secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific affairs. When Jeb Bush was Florida secretary of commerce, he hired Mr. Lawless to represent the state of Florida in Asia, and was later involved in other business deals with him. Ms. Shaheen gave $100,000 to George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign.

I don’t usually read Mother Jones, a left-wing magazine, but this article [referred to above] gives a good indication of the typical Beltway operation Ms. Shaheen has been running. In essence it is money for access. If Frank Hsieh wins the presidency, Ms. Shaheen stands to benefit by continuing to provide an “in” with the Republican establishment, which is a key constituency for maintaining the U.S. commitment to defend Taiwan. As the saying goes, follow the money.
Finally, the pro-KMT China Post noted,

the United Evening News (also pro-KMT) reported yesterday that Shaheen's foundation, set up in 2007, after she had been fired as AIT chair, received US$400,000 from the Taipei representative office in Washington.

Quoting "reliable sources," the afternoon paper said Shaheen demanded financial support from Taipei for her "service" to President Chen.

The vernacular quoted Joseph Wu, Taipei representative in Washington, as admitting to the cash contribution to Shaheen for holding a number of seminars in Los Angeles for promoting Taiwan tourism.

The original report:
夏馨對陳水扁政府可說有求必應、仁至義盡。但她卸任後,也尋求陳水扁政府的「回報」。

可靠消息人士透露,夏馨曾用幾項計畫,向陳水扁政府示意。但隨著勞勒斯、狄立塔和倫斯斐分別去職,夏馨在布希政府的「靠山」不再,加上美國行政部門口中對夏馨早有負面的評價,她的影響力早已消失,因而到處碰壁。

例如她曾尋求華府一所和台灣關係密切的保守派智庫「靠行」合作,想推台灣計畫。但這所智庫的負責人十分謹慎,拒絕了夏馨的要求。

因此,包括國安會秘書長邱義仁及外交部長黃志芳在考量夏馨提出的計畫時,態度相當保留,黃志芳甚至曾直接回絕。即便如此,夏馨還是經常全家跑台灣,不放棄尋求陳水扁政府的「守護」,只是「回報」已遠不如夏馨預期。

不過,可靠消息人士透露,最近夏馨用自己設立的基金會名義,還是向駐美代表處拿到一筆40萬美元(新台幣約1225萬元)的經費。

駐美代表吳釗燮對此表示,他已經忘了這筆錢的確實數目,但夏馨的確在洛杉磯替台灣辦了幾場很大的宣傳活動,協助拓展台灣的觀光和介紹高科技產業,並曾邀請前美國駐聯合國大使波頓演講,還是物超所值啦!
Of course, who knows, maybe the KMT will work with her.

UpdateDays after the election, she suddenly speaks out to say "I traveled to Taiwan as a private citizen, to speak to a private sector conference, the 2008 Taiwan Global Technology and Industry Summit Forum." Funny she couldn't have made herself available to reporters during the election frenzy.

1 comment:

lawrick said...

Larry Wilkerson was terribly jealous of Larry Dirita and Doug Paal was very jealous of Therese Shaheen's popularity in Taiwan. This is how history is distorted.