By Pam Martens: July 28, 2011
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and aspirant to the Elysee Palace, has left a trail of DNA from Davos to Paris to Gotham (and that’s just what he’s acknowledged). But that’s not the only mess he’s left others to clean up.
Putting aside the criminal charges and allegation of attempted rape on two continents for a moment, Strauss-Kahn, or DSK as his compatriots like to call him, has singlehandedly humiliated the International Monetary Fund, the luxury Sofitel Hotel, his current wife (Anne Sinclair), his daughter (Camille), his second wife (Brigitte Guillemette), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (where he is alleged to have had sex between the file cabinets), the luxury Porsche auto brand (prior to his arrest in New York, the French Socialist Party member was tooling around Paris in a Porsche Panamera which is priced in the range of $150,000 and whose ownership was tied to a French media/armaments conglomerate, Lagardère), his fellow Caviar Socialists, the lovable entertainer Zippy the Chimp (accuser Tristane Banon called DSK a “rutting chimpanzee”). He’s accomplished for the image of powerful French politicians what Guantanamo accomplished for the image of U.S. justice: a law free zone.
Given this trail of smoldering ash, one might expect a little humility from DSK and his take-no-prisoners lawyers and advance men. But no. The whole pack is suing left and right – that’s literally the political left and the political right.
In May 2010, the French publishing house, Plon, released the book DSK: Les Secrets d’un Présidentiable (Secrets of a Presidential Contender) by an anonymous author, Cassandre. The book contained allegations involving Strauss-Kahn and women, including a hotel housekeeper in Mexico. The author, who claims to have been an insider, paints the following portrait of DSK:
“When he enters a room, whether a café, an office or a private place, the ritual is always the same. He surveys the room for attractive women and having spotted his prey, bombards them with text messages, usually with the opener: ‘I want you.’ He is direct and makes no concessions.”
Cassandre also profiles employees of the big public relations and marketing house, Euro RSCG, implying they are a “gang” that deftly molded the image of Strauss-Kahn to create a candidate capable of being elected President of France. The gang of four consisted of Ramzi Khiroun, Stephane Fouks, Gilles Finkelstein and Anne Hommel, all working for Euro RSCG during the periods described in the book. The four filed a lawsuit against Plon and this past December the police went to the offices of the publisher to ascertain the real name of Cassandre. Of course, the publisher refused. But, really, a police action at a book publisher over a pseudonym? Have they not heard of Deep Throat and Watergate and Washington Post and Pulitzer in Paris judicial circles?
The Euro RSCG communicators, through their lawyer at the time, said the word “gang” suggested the four were “gangsters.” The defense team might want to sprinkle their briefs with less offensive examples: Spanky and Our Gang, Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine, or the U.S. Senate’s current “Gang of Six,” who have had that name splashed in thousands of newspapers, magazines and web sites with no attendant lawsuits to my knowledge.
In an email exchange on July 12-13, I inquired as follows of Euro RSCG:
“Reuters previously reported that Euro RSCG had stated it was not working for DSK. There are press photos showing Stephane Fouks and Anne Hommel arriving at DSK’s townhouse in New York recently. Is it correct to say that Euro RSCG is currently working for DSK?”
A spokeswoman for Euro RSCG responded:
“Following upon your request about Mr Dominique Strauss Kahn, I am sorry to inform you that there is no positive continuation granted to the demands of interview.”
I didn’t translate the above sentence from French to English; that response came precisely as you’re reading it from this global communications firm. The publisher, Plon, has confirmed that the lawsuit is still ongoing but would not comment further than that.
One of the gang of four is now soloing as le petite gang. Ramzi Khiroun is suing over a tweet; that’s right, a tweet. According to multiple French press reports, Khiroun has hired a lawyer, Marie Burguburu, to file legal complaints for defamation or insults against a tweeter, another journalist, and multiple French media outlets that suggested he used heavy handed tactics to smother negative press coverage of Strauss-Kahn.
On June 1 of this year, the French publication, Le Point, explained the charges against the journalists as follows:
“…two charges are directed first at the Atlantico site’s editor, alleged to have accused Ramzi Khiroun of making unspecified ‘threats’ and ‘inflammatory remarks’ during the France 3 television program Ce soir ou jamais…hosted by Frederic Taddei (May 18), and secondly at Arnaud Dassier… whose Twitter message mentioned Ramzi Khiroun’s ‘possible misappropriation of public resources in working for Lagardère or perhaps Euro RSCG (it is not clear which) while employed by DSK.’ ”
The threatened lawsuits by Khiroun against the media and journalists have likely had a silencing effect on the press. But in the almost two months since they were announced, have the lawsuits actually been served? I sent an email query to Arnaud Dassier, the tweeter that the press believed had been served with a lawsuit. He responded that “…my personal conviction is that it was just a media strategy in order to scare people and journalists.” To his knowledge, none of those mentioned have been served with a lawsuit. (Humm; threaten to file but never actually serve the lawsuit so that it is never actually entered into the court docket and a real judge never sees it? Hold that thought to the end of this article.)
In the U.S., if a lawyer files a frivolous lawsuit, a judge can levy fines and sanctions. That’s a big negative for a lawyer’s career. There are two additional books on Strauss-Kahn where Khiroun either brags or admits to getting negative information about Strauss-Kahn removed in the press. If you have admitted to manipulating press coverage, how can you claim defamation for others saying it? The books are Le Roman Vrai de Dominique Strauss-Kahn (The True Story of Dominique Strauss-Kahn) by French writer Michel Taubmann, released in May of this year; and Sexus Politicus, by journalists Christophe Dubois and Christophe Deloire, published in 2006.
The French press also reported earlier this year that Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers were suing France-Soir, a Paris newspaper, for reporting that DSK was using a certain tailor whose suits cost upwards of $7,000 to $35,000. (Is that really a legitimate legal issue for a man spending $3000 a night for hotel accommodations, $50,000 a month to rent a townhouse in New York City, and cruising through Paris in a $150,000 sports car?)
Then there is Strauss-Kahn’s publicly announced slander lawsuit against the French novelist, Tristane Banon, who has presented corroborating support for allegations he attempted to rape her in 2003. I was unable to learn if that lawsuit has now been officially served but it was not filed after Banon first made her allegations public on television in 2007. (Strauss-Kahn’s name was bleeped by the television station but just whom she was accusing was known to many as a result of that broadcast.) Strauss-Kahn’s ex-wife, Brigitte Guillemette, has recently publicly threatened a lawsuit against Banon’s mother, Anne Mansouret, for making allegedly false accusations related to Strauss-Kahn that present Guillemette in a bad light.
Let’s face it, police demanding a book publisher turn over the name of an anonymous source; suing over the price of a suit and a tweet are not going to get you named the Communication Industry’s Man of the Year or win over voters for Strauss-Kahn. Why this heavy handed effort?
There is the strong suggestion that what we’re looking at here is a clumsy campaign of press censorship and intimidation to effectuate the same kind of continuity government in France that we’ve had in the U.S. Whether it’s Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, or Obama, we’re still looking at corporate controlled continuity government. Granted, the corporate puppet masters are much more subtle about it here in the U.S. Instead of running around threatening to file or actually filing lawsuits against the press, corporate funded front groups posing as grassroots citizen movements feed their stories to the corporate media and watch with admiration as their progeny gobble it up and spit it out as hard news.
Karl Laske is an investigative reporter for the three year-old Mediapart, an independent French news site with hard-hitting investigative articles available in English. Writing on June 3 of this year, Laske reveals the following:
“Ramzi Khiroun is a principal communications advisor for Strauss-Kahn and a consultant for the marketing and communications agency Euro RSCG. He is also employed fulltime as spokesman and member of the management committee of the Lagardère media and armaments group, led by Arnaud Lagardère, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s close entourage.
Lagardère — wasn’t that where the Porsche Panamera came from? Sarkozy — isn’t that the guy on the right that Strauss-Kahn would be running against from the left? Here’s what the Lagardère web site says about its aerospace and defense business, EADS:
“EADS was created in July 2000 following the merger of Aerospatiale Matra, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG (“Dasa”) and Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA (“CASA”). Lagardère owns a 7.5% stake in EADS, over which it exercises joint control with the company’s other shareholders. With consolidated sales of €42.8 billion in 2009, EADS leads Europe and ranks second worldwide in the aerospace and defense industries. In terms of market share, EADS is one of the world’s top two manufacturers of commercial aircraft, civil and semi-public helicopters, commercial launch vehicles and missile systems. It is also a major supplier of military aircraft, satellites and defense electronics.”
Think Dick Cheney, Halliburton, and a President that had so much dirty linen in his closet that he was most pleasing to the corporate controllers.
And, finally, as I’ve noted in prior articles in this series, when a Wall Street law firm, Morgan Lewis, has played a pivotal role in exonerating Strauss-Kahn in the past and the Sofitel housekeeper alleging attempted rape against him is represented by lawyers who were previously at that same law firm (and the law firm refuses to answer the very basic question as to how they came to take over her legal representation) there is a legitimate basis for red flags.
Supporters of the Sofitel housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo, who has this week gone public, were buoyed by the news that her lawyers, Kenneth Thompson and Douglas Wigdor of the law firm, Thompson Wigdor, had filed a libel suit against the New York Post for the paper’s unsupported front page allegations that Diallo worked as a prostitute at the Sofitel and her union had placed her there for that very purpose. Equally incredible, the Post alleged she continued to do tricks while under the protection of the New York County DA’s office.
In an email dated July 9, Erin Duggan, spokesperson for the DA’s office, had confirmed to me that the DA had been providing a hotel and security for Diallo. So it struck me as nonsensical for the Post to be suggesting that Johns went sneaking by the DA’s security detail to have a go with a material witness under protective custody. (Who would write this stuff?) Further, her Union, which had been recklessly slammed by the Post for placing her at the hotel to do tricks, had provided the Post with advance documentation showing it was the International Rescue Committee, a respected humanitarian organization, that had given her a referral to the hotel. The union had nothing to do with placing her there. According to the New York Daily News, Diallo has never missed a day’s work or shown up late for her job. And it is only common sense to know that one doesn’t get assigned the most important suites in the hotel, the Presidential suites, unless one is a meticulous worker, leaving no extra time for quickies.
So why would a Murdoch paper publish not one but three of these stories based on a single anonymous source who offered zero evidence. A libel lawsuit could prove malicious intent and render the Post the joke of the newspaper business. And that libel lawsuit has been filed by Diallo’s lawyers, right? I mean, we have all read that very fact how many times. But when I could not find the lawsuit on the web site of the Bronx Supreme Court, I called the court clerk’s office. I was told that the lawsuit, Index Number 305953-2011, was filed with the county office. Their office shows it has not been served on the defendants and until it is served with an affidavit filed to say it was served, it will never make its way into the court system to be assigned an RJI, Request for Judicial Intervention. Without an RJI, the case will never be assigned to a judge.
The lawsuit was filed with Bronx county on July 8. Why wouldn’t a lawyer seeking justice for his client serve the defendants and expedite getting the case before a judge to clear Diallo’s name? An email request to Kenneth Thompson for clarification went unanswered.
In the meantime, Diallo met with the DA on July 27. The next court hearing for Strauss-Kahn which had been scheduled for August 1 has now been postponed by agreement of both the DA and his lawyers to August 23.
This article originally appeared at www.CounterPunch.org.