Blood Diamond: Double Think & Deception, Part 1
The Hollywood film Blood Diamond depicts horrific bloodshed in West Africa
spawned by the lust for diamonds. The film opens with the understatement
that thousands have died and millions have become refugees. But more
than 70,000 people died in Sierra Leones war alone. The film immediately
segues to a palatial boardroom in Antwerp, Belgium, to the G-8 Conference
on diamonds. The all-white executives are ostensibly concerned, holding
worried discussions about the fate of people? African people?
According to a devastating report by Global Witness, says one of the
G-8 execs, these [conflict] stones are being used to purchase arms and
finance civil war. The inference is that world leaders were surprised
by the revelations of Global Witnessa London-based watchdog organization
that the film clearly advertised for exposing corporate malfeasance. We
must remember that these stones comprise only a small percentage of the
legitimate diamond industry, says another G-8 exec, whose trade is critical
to the economies of many emerging nations. Excuse me? Legitimate diamond
industry? Emerging nations?
The Africans in the film are well dressed and salubrious and the African
scenes are remarkably sunny and sanitized: the effects of poverty and hunger
are made invisible. Indeed, the film plays and replays miscellaneous objectionable
stereotypes and inaccuraciesbut this is Hollywood, after all, part of
the U.S. media, where degrading racial themes are routinely peddled.
At the end of the film a disclaimer tells us that in 2003 the international
communitythose G-8 executives partnered with the diamond industryestablished
formal mechanisms to control the flow of conflict diamonds. The films
disclaimer parrots the line of the World Diamond Council, an international
organization created by the diamond industry. Both assure consumers that
more than 99 percent of rough stones today come from conflict-free sources,
thanks to the United Nations-mandated Kimberley Processa voluntary self-regulation
scheme where the industry crafts passport documents certifying all stones
as conflict free. According to the people who profit from diamonds, the
blood diamonds problem is passé.
More than 99 percent of diamonds are conflict free, the industry chorus
tells us. Thus all diamonds are conflict free. Like the Blood Diamond
disclaimer, the World Diamond Council (WDC) sweeps conflict diamonds into
the mineshafts of history. The Clean Diamond Actpassed by the U.S. Congress
in 2003does the same. All is well, they say, in Diamondville.
To be sure we all understand, the WDC in 2006 launched a blitzkreig advertising
campaignfull-page ads in the New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times,
the International Herald Tribunetouting the self-policing successes of
the Kimberley Process. The campaign was presumably coordinated to counter
the supposed negative publicity of the Blood Diamond film.
To shore up lovers hearts in the pre-Christmas 2006 diamond rush, the
New York Times echoed the WDCs statement, adding that diamond revenues
today bring health care, education and development to African countriesthose
emerging nations. This [diamond] is supposed to be a symbol of all things
good, a pullout in the NYT article readsnext to a seductive model with
a glimmering smile and a glamorous gown. The article points buyers to diamonds
from Canada: no blood spilled in Canada, right? In the same paper, on the
same day, a full-page Tiffany advertisement featured soft aquamarine hues
offsetting the sparkle of diamonds and the allure of the text: My True
Love Gave to Me.
Are blood diamonds merely polished by public relations? The Kimberly Process
was launched under the narrow definition that conflict diamonds only
originate from conflicts between rebels and governments. It refers
to smuggling by militias antagonistic to legitimate member governments.
But the examples of Angola and Zimbabwe illustrate how the new rules are
used against immigrants, refugees, and poor citizen miners. This is the
essence of diamondthink: truth and lie are inseparable, with deadly consequences.
My True Love Took From Thee
In Angola they are called artisanos or garimpeiros, and they are literally
mining for their lives. While agriculture and commerce in the region require
the direct authorization of the provincial governor, not one artisano has
been granted a license for diamond exploration or subsistence agriculture.
The legitimate government of Angola forces desperate people to resort
to illegal activities to survive.
Garimpeiros in Angola are forced into illegal mining because Angolas
mining security companies push people off their own land. Three private
military companies (PMCs) have been targeting garimpeiros in Angola. The
mercenary firms Alfa-5, Teleservices, and K&P Mineira defend Angolas big
name diamond firms like Sociedade de Desenvolvimento Mineiro (Sodiam),
Sociedade Mineira de Cuango, and Sociedade Mineira Luminas. Human rights
researcher Rafael Marques has documented case after case of PMCs arresting,
beating, and torturing garimpeiros. They stop garimpeiros from fishing
in their rivers, growing their own food, and living traditionally. The
PMCs operate behind Angolas public diamond company, Endiama, and have
exclusive rights to Angolas diamonds. Endiama owns 99 percent of shares
in Sodiam, which has a joint venture with Lazare Kaplan International (LKI)
of the Israeli-American Maurice Tempelsman family.
Sodiam also works with the Russo-Israeli Lev Leviev Group. Endiama owns
part of Alfa-5, the PMC that exploits and tortures garimpeiros. Alfa-5
and K&P Mineira provide security for ASCORPthe Angola Selling Corporationanother
Angolan monopoly. One of ASCORPs controlling investors, Lev Leviev, runs
a global commercial empire that includes: Leviev Group of Companies; Lev
Leviev Diamonds; Africa-Israel (commercial real estate in Prague and London);
Gottex (swimwear); plus 1,700 Fina gas stations in the Southwest U.S.;
173, 7-Elevens in New Mexico and Texas; and a 33 percent stake in Cross
Israel Highway (Israels first toll road); and more. Leviev partner Arcady
Gay- damak, an arms dealer, also reportedly works with Danny Yatom, a former
Mossad (Israeli secret service) chief and security advisor to former Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Leviev is connected to Russian President Vladimir
Putin, and to Sandline International, a UK/South African mercenary firm.
Angola remains a war-torn country. The União Nacional para a Indepen- dência
Total de Angola (UNITA) rebelsbacked by the CIA during the Cold War, then
targeted by the Clinton administration, then partnered with the rebels
in Congos warsare known to sell $100 million worth of diamonds annually.
While participants in the Kimberley Process complain of UNI- TAs criminality,
they gave the legitimate Dos Santos government a sparkling bill of health.
Diamond comptoirs (traders) in Kisangani, DRC, controlling the trade
for big diamond cartels—photo by keith harmon snow
economies, which perpetuate suffering and dispossession. Diamond companies
The Angola example shows how black markets are created by predatory white
do not ignore atrocities as the New York Times wrote in their December
whitewash, they create and perpetuate them.
Betrayal Is Forever
economies, which perpetuate suffering and dispossession. Diamond companies
Zimbabwe is the epitome of diamondthink. From December 2006 to January
2007, Zimbabwes police executed Operation Chikorokozaend of illegal miningagainst
illegal gold panners and diamond miners countrywide. Police set up roadblocks
and brutalized travelers. They arrested and terrorized at least 24,000
people and burned the houses of artisanal miners and others who were already
displaced by the international destabilization of Zimbabwe. Police confiscated
some 3.5 kilograms of gold worth over $57.3 million; 552,227 kilograms
of gold ore; 92 emeralds; and 7,868 diamonds. Meanwhile, Zimbabwes president,
Robert Mugabe, and his cronies and their international benefactors have
destabilized and depopulated the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
for decadeslooting copper, cobalt, timber, uranium, and diamonds.
Mugabes Zanu-PF party in recent years crashed the international media
scene for evicting white farmers under land reform, but untouched were
the largest landholdersi.e., multinational corporations. Mugabe seized
power in 1981 on the empty promise of land reform. In the 1980s Mugabe
and his liberation army terrorized the Ndebele people under the Gukurahundia
bona fide genocide. After arming Mugabes gang, the international community
closed its eyes to the slaughter. Attempts to break the story were squashed
in Britain and the U.S. Equally invisible were Mugabes ties to international
arms dealer John Bredenkamp, one of the 50 richest Britons, BAE Systems
(British Aerospace); the U.S. State Department; and Billy Rautenbach, another
Western mining cartel crony and white patron of Mugabe.
The World Diamond Council expressed concern about Zimbabwes complicity
in pillaging and smuggling rough diamonds from the DRC into neighboring
South Africa for sale on the world market using fraudulent certificates
of origin. But the threat of sanctions against Zimbabwe was not about diamonds.
While international capital is isolating and punishing Robert Mugabe, other
criminal diamond networks and racketeering of equal scale and nature are
Angola and Zimbabwe exemplify the process whereby an international certification
scheme, enforced by the United Nations, rubber stamps boxes of rough stones
according to their country of origin. Stamped Angola or Zimbabwe, the public
is assured that these diamonds are now conflict free because these nations
are members of the Kimberley certification. Coming from governmentsand
not rebels or militiasconsumers can supposedly be at peace as they slip
a diamond on their finger.
Botswana is a classic example of a peaceful country engaged in diamond
exploration. If any diamond in Africa is conflict free, one would think
Botswana would be the place to find it. But the Botswana government has
a long history of oppression against the San peopleBushmen of the Kalahariand
continues to force them off ancestral lands to make way for the worlds
premier diamond cartel, De Beers/Anglo-American Corp.
managing director in Botswana backed the removals. De Beers falsely claims
The diamondthink of De Beers knows no limitsthey have even claimed that
protecting tribal homelands leads to apartheid. Diamond finds in the Bushmens
ancestral lands have inspired government evictions. Money from diamonds
has undoubtedly funded the evictions and the relocation camps which the
Bushmen call places of death, wrote Survival International. De Beers
there were no Bushmen originally in its concession. It has also stated
that laws to protect tribal peoples should not be applied in Africa, as
they lead to apartheid.
Botswana and Namibia have been fighting over water and the flow of refugees
and dissidents brought Botswana into the crosshairs of the Pentagon in
the late 1990s. A U.S. military build-up ensuedelectronic intelligence
listening posts, an expansive air base built in the Bushmans desert, and
weapons and training programs. Construction on the base began in 1994 and
the U.S. turned the base into a staging area for [special operations]
forces involved in quelling civil wars and secessionist movements in Africa.
Botswanas opposition complained: Why should we put up such a sophisticated
and costly facility when people are starving? (See Genocide and Covert
Operations in Africa, 1993-1999 by Wayne Madsen.)
After President Clintons glowing speech in Botswana in 1998, Professor
Larry Swatuk at the University of Botswana complained: The San people
of the Central Kalahari have been relocated from within the Central Kalahari
Game Reserve to make way for new tourism ventures and mineral prospecting
by multinational corporations, including De Beers. About 3,000 San were
moved to a bleak settlement called New Xade some 45 km beyond the reserves
western border…. Unemployment, jobless economic growth, political in-fighting,
conflicts over natural resources within and between states, and increasing
mili- tarization in a region too familiar with the human and material costs
of war: these are some of the realities that Bill Clinton should have seen.
By 2003 Australian BHP-Billiton was prospecting with leases over 78,000
square kilometers of Botswana, including some 27,000 square kilometers
in the Kalahari Reserve. In a landmark court case decided in December
2006, the San won the rights to re-enter their ancestral lands in the
Central Kalahari Game Reserve, but the government stipulated that they
cannot erect permanent structures, hunt or drill boreholes, and to expect
no government services. Rapaport News called the court case the longest
and most expensive in Botswanas history. Diamonds are a $2 billion industry
in Botswana, and the government is a 15 percent shareholder in De Beers.
The Bushmen say: We as First People of the Kalahari believe that conflict
diamonds are whenever diamonds cause pain and suffering. That is why we
call Botswana diamonds conflict diamonds.
Where Do Diamonds Come From?
Belgian-born Maurice Tempelsman has a long and bloody history in Africa.
When Congos first premier, Patrice Lumumba, pledged to return diamond
wealth to the newly independent Congo in the early 1960s, Tempels- man,
who began with De Beers in the 1950s, helped engineer the coup that consolidated
the dictatorship of 29-year-old Colonel Mobutu, as well as the coup against
Ghanas Kwame Nkrumah. Diamonds were at stake in each of these coups.
I believe this was the beginning of what we now know of as conflict diamonds
in the Congo, says blood diamond expert Janine Roberts. From then on
diamonds would be extensively used to discreetly fund wars, coups, repression,
and dictatorships in Africa. According to Roberts, Tempelsmans role
in the confluence of public policy and private profit as a middleperson
for the De Beers diamond cartel may have shaped every major U.S. covert
action in Africa since the early 1950s. Declassified memos and cables between
former U.S. presidents and State Department officials over the last four
decades directly linked Tempelsman to the destabilization of Zaire/Congo,
Sierra Leone, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Rwanda and Ghana.
managing director in Botswana backed the removals. De Beers falsely claims
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni meets with mining tycoon Tony Buckingham (far
right)—photo courtesy of New Vision newspaper, Kampala
For over 35 years Maurice and his son Leon Tempelsman worked the diamond Tempelsman is the deep pockets of many U.S. politicians, donating to the
connection behind the repression of Mobutu Sese Seko and his Israeli-trained
shock troops. Now, 47 years later, the Tempelsman empire remains rock solid
behind three companies: Leon Tempelsman & Sons, De Beers, and LKI (which
supplies Tiffany & Co. and Cartier). A client of Adlai Stevensons law
firm during the first Congo crises (1960-1970), Tempelsman later hired
Lawrence Devlin, a CIA station chief responsible for covert operations
in Katanga, to maintain the Mobutu diamond/cobalt connections into the
late 1980s. In 2002 Tempelsman offered Namibias President Sam Nujoma an
$80 million interest free loan to bridge Namibias budgetary shortfall
against future sales of Namibias gemstones.
campaigns of John Kerry (D); Ed Royce (R); Tom Daschle (D); Barack Obama
(D); Maxine Waters (D); John Rockefeller (D); Richard Gephardt (D); Howard
Wolpe (D); and Patrick (D) and Edward Kennedy (D). He also contributed
to the 1988 win of George H. W. Bush. Tempelsman exploited ties with Anthony
Lake, Clintons National Security adviser, who intervened at the U.S. Export-Import
Bank on Tempelsmans behalf.
Tempelsman contributed some $500,000 to Clinton for president and he is
currently backing Hillary. He traveled at Clintons side on the 1998 presidential
Africa tour where his Botswana visit was not about an Okavango Delta wildlife
reserve safari. Botswanas President Mogae attended the 1999 Attracting
Capital to Africa Summit in Houston, organized by the Corporate Council
on Africa (CCA), the whos who of multinational corporations. Tempelsman,
as CCA chair, organized the summit, where 10 African heads of state met
with half of Clintons cabinet and 200 corporate representatives. Tempelsman
and the CCA organized the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Africa in 2001,
featuring DRC President Joseph Kabila, coordinated with an Africa Growth
and Opportunity Act (AGOA) meeting involving President G. W. Bush and Secretary
of State Colin Powell.
Tempelsman is chair of the American Jewish Congress, a Zionist pressure
group that claims it works closely with the Israeli military and he sits
on the boards of nationalist American think tanks. As vice-chair of LKI,
Tempelsmans annual base pay is $458,833, with a bonus of $80,000. As principal
director/shareholder in Leon Tempelsman and Sons he gets a comparable amount
again. SEC filings show that LKI directors are high-rolling Zionist lawyers
and investment bankers: one director belongs to the law firm that represented
President Kennedyanother Tempelsman friend. LKI is also connected to the
euphemistically named United States Agency for International Development
(USAID). Selling to the U.S. Diamond Stockpile and elsewhere, Tempelsman
companies have plundered tens of billions of diamond dollars from Congo/Zaire
alone in the past five decades.
Peace Is War, Ignorance Is Strength
In 2001 the World Peace Foundation (WPF Program) on Intrastate Conflict
at Harvards Kennedy School of Government organized a conference on conflict
diamonds that involved stakeholders of diverse interests. WPF program
director Robert Rotberg chaired the meeting. Rotberg is also on the board
of the Kennedy Schools Belfer Center Science and International Affairs,
whose directors are the core of the defense and intelligence establishmentpeople
like John Deutch, former CIA director, and Richard Darmam, a partner in
the Carlyle Group. The Harvard diamond conference actually normalized De
Beerss relations with the U.S. government. De Beers reps received a special
government amnesty to attend the conference after years of exile from the
U.S. due to anti-trust law violations.
For over 35 years Maurice and his son Leon Tempelsman worked the diamond
Tempelsman is the deep pockets of many U.S. politicians, donating to the
The 2006 DRC elections pitted Kabila vs. Bemba—photo by keith harmon snow
In 2002 a WPF report Diamonds in Peace and War: Severing the Conflict-Diamond
Connection lauded the Kennedy Schools efforts based on a rush of activity
that followed the conference at the end of November 2001. The rush of
activity included the U.S. governments Clean Diamond Trade Act (HR 722),
passed in April 2003. The Act gave the U.S. president the authority to
institute war on terror sanctions against any country that deals in dirty
diamonds. The U.S. General Accounting Office noted in 2006 that the law
was weak and deeply flawed.
The Kennedy School today peddles their report as a success. Using diamonds
to import arms and sponsor war is less likely now that the Kimberley Process
has produced a near-final agreement, the current abstract reads. Diamonds
in Peace and War is the place to learn all about this remarkably successful
initiative of conflict prevention and conflict reduction.
When contacted, Robert Rotberg praised the Kimberley Process as a remarkable
achievement and dismissed any conflict of interest between Tempelsman
and the Kimberley initiatives. Asked about the U.S. government diamond
stockpile, Robert Rotberg indicated that its existence is news to me.
The U.S. Defense Logistics Agency controls some 3.1 million carats held
at the Defense National Stockpile Centers. Pressed further about Tempelsman,
Rotberg replied, There is no contact between this side of the Charles
River and that side. This is not a conspiracy. The real problem is not
Maurice Tempelsman. The biggest problem is that the U.S. Treasury has been
really slow to put [Kimberley] structures in place.
Maurice Tempelsman and Robert Rotberg are members of the Council on Foreign
Relations (CFR). No contact between them? From 1999 to 2002 the CFR sponsored
a series of panels titled Roundtable on Private Capital Flows to Sub-Saharan
Africa. The panel director was Mahesh Kotecha and the chair was Maurice
Tempelsman. At the time, Tempelsman was funding the CFRs Africa Program.
Panelists included Walter Kansteiner, Robert Rotberg, Frank Wisner, and
Botswanas President Festus Mogae.
“Tempelsman's role…as a
middle person for the De
Beers diamond cartel may
have shaped every major
U.S. covert action in Africa
since the early 1950s.”
The Kotecha family runs illegal networks that pillage columbium-tantalite
(coltan) from Congo. Walter KansteinerNational Security Council African
Affairs director under Clintonis today director of Moto Gold, a company
involved in Congos blood-drenched Ituri region, and the Kansteiner family
of Chicago trades in coltan. Walter Kansteiner was the U.S. presidents
personal representative to the G-8 Africa Process and he is a founding
principal of the Scow- croft Group under Brent Scowcroft, former National
Security Adviser to Bush I and Gerald Ford. Kansteiner also works for the
Center for Strategic and International Studies Africa Policy Advisory Panel.
Panelist Frank Wisner was also on the National Security Council under Clinton.
Wisners father was CIA director of the Office of Policy Coordination.
An early covert operations bureau, Operation Mockingbird, designed to infiltrate
and control the U.S. media, was one of theirs. Frank Wisner a USAID and
state department official in Vietnamwas involved with the black-operations
Phoenix assassinations program. Wisners co- directors of the American
International Group include:
Marshall Cohen, a director of the Bush-connected Barrick Gold Corporation
and a Canadian government official
Harvard Professor Martin Stuart Feldstein
Clinton cabinet members William Cohen and Richard Holbrooke
Carla Hills, NAFTA negotiator and director of Chevron-Texaco and the International
Crisis Group, a flak organization active in all Africas hotspots
(William) Cohen Group partners include former top Pentagon officers, White
House officials, UK Lords, NATO chiefs, and directors of Lockheed Martin
and Dyncorp. Note that Dyncorp director Mark Ronald was previously president/CEO
of BAE Systems. Another Cohen Group director, Gen. (ret.) Paul Kern, participated
in operations in Rwanda and Zaire.
Tempelsmans affiliation with Robert Rotberg at the CFR explains the absence
of any mention of Tempelsman or his diamond interests in the Kimberley-related
conferences, policies, and papers that came out of the Kennedy School.
Seven Harvard professionals, including Michael Ignatief and Samantha Power,
who won a Pulitzer for her whitewash of the U.S.-backed coup in Rwanda,
took part in the 2001 Kennedy School conference that led to Diamonds in
Peace and War, the report that buried Maurice Tempelsmans involvement.
keith harmon snows work has appeared in publications in the U.S., UK,
and Japan, including World War 4 Report, Black Commentator, Asahi Weekly,
Yomiuri Shimbun, Toward Freedom, and Far East Economic Review. His work can be found at www.allthingspass.com. Rick Hines
is an artist, freelance writer, and independent researcher for social justice.
Part 2 of Blood Diamond covers more on the glitter and greed of capitalism.