On Monday, June 16, The Seattle Times reported that Boeing had named its first partners in the much-sought-after 7E7 airliner project. They include Vought Aircraft Industries of Dallas, a longtime company supplier that builds most of the 747's fuselage and hopes to be a major player in the 767 Air Force tanker boondoggle. What the Times didn't report is who owns Vought: the Carlyle Group, the secretive $14 billion private investment firm with deep connections to the Bushes. Former President George H.W. Bush is a Carlyle adviser; former Secretary of State James Baker is senior counsel; former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci was company chair (he left that position late last fall); and former British Prime Minister John Major runs their European operations. In a profile last March, The Washington Post said Carlyle has a reputation as "the CIA of the business world." Indeed, they are something of a magnet for the conspiracy-minded. It doesn't help that the day before 9/11, former President Bush was hobnobbing with Osama bin Laden's brother at a Carlyle event in Manhattan. Nevertheless, their winning business formula (they started with a $5 million investment in 1987) is summed up thusly by the Post: "If you put powerful people next to rich people, some of the power rubs off on the rich guys and some of the money rubs off on the powerful guys." Apparently, life is good on the corporate Dreamliner. KNUTE BERGER
Iraqi refugee Hussain Alshafei was probably not a terrorist, but he was out for a buck. That's the conclusion to be drawn from a plea agreement Friday, June 13, between authorities and the Edmonds immigrant who ran a business transmitting money from Iraqi expatriates to their families back home (see "An Iraqi Within," Feb. 26). The case against Alshafei had sinister overtones when it was announced in the charged, prewar atmosphere of last December. Authorities linked Alshafei and five of his associates to "a sprawling illegal financial network." A federal anti-terrorist task force was said to be responsible for his arrest. The feds, however, never came up with proof of terrorist ties. Originally charged with 34 counts of money laundering, Alshafei admits in the plea to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The plea outlines how his business, which violated the now-lifted embargo against Iraq, was part of a scheme to aid his brother-in-law in Iraq, who bought auto parts and other goods abroad and sold them on the Iraqi black market. The plea also has Alshafei concede that his motivation was not just to help his people but to make money. This is an important point to authorities, who seem concerned about appearing uncompassionate toward a population America is supposed to be liberating. But is it all that shocking that Alshafei, now an American citizen, wanted to make a profit? He faces up to 10 years in jail. NINA SHAPIRO