Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
BILL MOYERS: American soldiers, sailors and marines fought hard to liberate the Northern Marianas during World War II. Today, this string of islands in the Pacific Ocean is U.S. territory, promoted as a tropical paradise with first class hotels, sandy beaches, and championship golf. But there are other realities here, too. Over the years, tens of thousands of people, primarily Chinese and mostly women, have been lured to the main island, Saipan, told they were coming to a job in America.The disregard for human life and human dignity in these abuses is far more appalling than the publicized behavior by Jack Abramoff and his cronies which I had already thought of as an appalling abuse of power.
Slave Labor: Made in the U.S.A. (Excerpt)
Under the influence of disgraced super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former House Majority Whip Tom DeLay became an apologist for slave labor camps -- on American soil. Deep in a humid tropical island jungle, in poorly ventilated buildings ringed with barbed wire and patrolled by armed guards, impoverished Asian women -- most of them Chinese -- toil for 80 hours a week making brand-name apparel for export to the United States.
As is the case wherever the Chinese Communist Party claims jurisdiction, the female garment workers are subject to the regime's repulsive one-child policy. They are forbidden to marry or have boyfriends. Those who become pregnant are forced to have their children aborted.
As part of Abramoff's lobbying, Tom DeLay took a trip with his family and some staff members there in 1998. While there, as ABC News caught on tape, DeLay extolled the factories as the way capitalism ought to operate. When he returned he declared the Clinton Administration efforts to raise wages and clamp down on immigration dead on arrival.That's right, a Right to Life Republican isn't so right to life when money can be made and power can be obtained at the expense of others. DeLay is gone, but his mentality isn't. Morality in public, exploitation in private.
Facade politics is what it should be called and it goes far beyond being a hypocrite with inconsistent views and becomes an outright scam heedless of those hurt by the scam.
When politicians put the interests of employers who deceive and exploit and imprison above the interests of those harmed because it benefits them personally and as a group, they show us what their values really are. Intential ignorance of the ugly details is no excuse because saying "How was I to know?" is just another part of the facade.
Update: From the LA Times:
Newly disclosed e-mails suggest that the ax fell after intervention by one of the highest officials at the White House: Ken Mehlman, on behalf of one of the most influential lobbyists in town, Jack Abramoff. The e-mails show that Abramoff, whose client list included the Northern Mariana Islands, had long opposed Stayman's work advocating labor changes in that U.S. commonwealth, and considered what his lobbying team called the "Stayman project" a high priority. "Mehlman said he would get him fired," an Abramoff associate wrote after meeting with Mehlman, who was then White House political director.Now that's dedication. Too bad the dedication seems to be in opposition to human rights.
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