[Debate] Strauss-Kahn affair: 'Perhaps I was naive. I didn't believe they'd go that far'
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat Apr 28 05:00:43 BST 2012
I find this report deeply unsatisfying. Reinford, maybe you can ask him:
* why no questions about DSK's other 'private trysts' that weekend?;
* with an open acknowledgement here that Nafissatou Diallo had nothing
to do with any conspiracy going on at the Sofitel (amazing since she
worked for the French-owned hotel), why the ridiculous emphasis on
cloak-and-dagger politics, with DSK's central dementor - his own
addiction to violent sex - obviously not the creation of Paris spooks?;
* how, from May-August, did DSK deploy the most powerful criminal
defense lawyers in NY to smear Diallo and wreck her life?;
* given the attention to the Greek rescue plan, why nothing critical
about the IMF's role in the world, including southern Europe and Ireland
where DSK was already hated for bailing out banks on the backs of the
masses, and North Africa where DSK was buddy-buddy with the dictators
that were falling in early 2011?;
* why nothing here about how the same Greek plan was used - and failed -
by other IMF staff?; and
* with an acknowledgement that DSK treats women - as he does the poor
and working people of weak countries - as 'material', should he have any
public life whatsoever aside from pure punishment and schadenfreude?
Seems like this writer is a bit of an apologist for neoliberalism, and a
conspiracy theorist at that, a truly revolting combo. However, maybe the
book answers those questions - though the 'three days in May' is, like
Frank Chikane on Thabo Mbeki ("8 Days in September") too frivolous to
raise my expectations. Prove me wrong, and if you or Riaz or anyone gets
this book, do please report back, we are very interested in how this
continues to play out, in terms of gender power relations and the
world's class struggle, in which - on both terrains - DSK played an
extremely important and unusually self-destructive role.
I'm cc-ing to the Jubilee list where there are many other victims of
DSK's relentless abuse of power lurking.
On 4/27/2012 11:37 PM, Reinford Mwangonde wrote:
> Quite an interesting read. I have been trying to get hold of this
> author for quite a bit now. Would you by chance have Edward's contact
> details? I would really appreciate it highly.
> Greetings from Malawi.
> On Apr 27, 2555 BE, at 11:00 PM, Riaz K Tayob <riaz.tayob at gmail.com
> <mailto:riaz.tayob at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> Strauss-Kahn affair: 'Perhaps I was naive. I didn't believe they'd
>> go that far'
>> Ex-IMF chief tells investigative author Edward Jay Epstein that he
>> thinks furore over sex attack case was created by opponents
>> o Share
>> Edward Jay Epstein
>> * guardian.co.uk <http://www.guardian.co.uk>, Friday 27 April 2012
>> 18.16 BST
>> * Article history
>> Dominique Strauss-Kahn claims he was targeted by French intelligence
>> and had his calls intercepted Link to this video
>> The Pavillon de la Reine is a luxury hotel in the heart of the Marais
>> in Paris. It carries an air of a 19th-century establishment, with its
>> crisp and elegant decor designed to attract globetrotters in their
>> quest for a quiet and discreet place of rest.
>> It is here, on Friday 13 April, that I arranged to meet Dominique
>> Strauss-Kahn <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/dominique-strauss-kahn>
>> for his first major newspaper interview since his downfall. For a man
>> who has spent years operating at the highest levels of French and
>> global politics, he clearly retains an ingrained habit of
>> punctuality, arriving precisely at the appointed time -- 11am --
>> walking over and shaking hands with a firm grip. "Thank you so much
>> for your interest in this case," he says.
>> Strauss-Kahn is much smaller than I had expected, about 1.7 metres
>> (5ft 7in). Impeccably dressed, he was wearing a dark suit and
>> loafers, and an open-necked blue shirt that showed off a deep tan set
>> against white hair and deep set eyes. Though I'd never met him
>> before, he was instantly recognisable. We sit in sofas in a corner of
>> the hotel lobby, and for the next two and a half hours, over double
>> espressos, we discuss what amounts to one of the most public and
>> extreme falls from grace of any major public figure in recent times.
>> Eleven months earlier, on 13 May 2011, Strauss-Kahn had stepped out
>> of a yellow New York <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/new-york> cab
>> in front of the Sofitel, another high-end hotel, in midtown
>> Manhattan. CCTV footage that I have obtained and studied in the
>> course of writing a book on the Sofitel scandal, Three Days in May,
>> shows him entering the hotel, sporting a rain coat and pulling a
>> black suitcase behind him.
>> At that moment, he was a man at the very top of his game. He was one
>> of the most powerful and respected politicians and economists in the
>> world. A former French economics minister, he was presiding over the
>> 178-nation International Monetary Fund. The next day he would be
>> departing New York on his way to Berlin to see the German chancellor,
>> Angela Merkel, to try and enlist her support for a plan he had
>> devised, codenamed "Comprehensive", to head off the impending
>> disaster of a Greek default on its sovereign debt default. "If
>> Germany backed it, the other European governments would follow," he
>> explains in our interview. Otherwise, the crises "would quickly
>> spiral out of control and spread to Spain, Italy and other Eurozone
>> He was also poised to announce his candidacy for the French
>> presidency. "I planned to make my formal announcement on 15 June and
>> I had no doubt I would be the candidate of the Socialist party," he
>> says. Nor were there any doubts in his mind about his chances of
>> winning the election, as he obtained his key card for the Sofitel's
>> aptly named presidential suite. (He had not solicited the upgrade to
>> the $3,000-a-night suite but it was the sort of royal treatment he
>> had received from the hotel before and to which he had become
>> accustomed, entitled even, paying only the $525 rate for an ordinary
>> room.) Polls at the time suggested he was nearly 20 points ahead of
>> the incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy
>> <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/nicolas-sarkozy> and he had more
>> than a fighting chance to replace him as occupant of the Elysée Palace.
>> *Presidential ambition*
>> Dominique Strauss-Kahn is taken out of a police station in New York
>> on May 15, 2011. Photograph: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
>> As things turned out, he would not reach Berlin, nor would he run for
>> president. Instead, over the next few days he would be arrested, made
>> to do the "perp" (perpetrator) walk and charged by a grand jury with
>> sexual assault. By August 2011 when the New York prosecutors decided
>> that the only witness against him, a maid at the Sofitel, had not
>> been reliable and dropped all charges, the scandal had so sullied his
>> reputation that his leadership of the IMF as well as his French
>> presidential ambitions were at an end.
>> I was expecting to find a depressed Strauss-Kahn given his downfall
>> and the fact that three weeks before we met he was charged with
>> complicity in a French prostitution ring. But as we begin to discuss
>> what happened at the Sofitel he is strikingly upbeat.
>> He makes it manifestly clear to me that he now believes that his
>> public undoing did not occur in isolation from his plans to challenge
>> Sarkozy and his centre-right UMP party in the 2012 French elections.
>> Strauss-Kahn says there is considerable evidence that he had been
>> under surveillance in the days immediately before his stay at the
>> Sofitel and that the unfolding drama there had been orchestrated in
>> such a way as to derail his presidential ambitions. The events had
>> been "shaped by those with a political agenda" into an international
>> attempted rape scandal, he tells me.
>> When he was taken off an aeroplane destined for Paris at JFK airport
>> and put in handcuffs on suspicion of having attempted to rape the
>> Sofitel maid Nafissatou Diallo, he said he had no idea what was going
>> on. But over the past 11 months he and a private detective service
>> he's hired, Guidepost Solutions, have been carrying out their own
>> studies of the hotel's closed circuit videos, electronic key swipe
>> records, mobile phone records and other evidence that reveals a great
>> deal of behind-the-scene activities at the French-owned Sofitel.
>> Even Strauss-Kahn's arrival at the hotel was odd. He did not call
>> ahead to notify it of the time when he would be arriving, nor tell
>> his office at the IMF. Yet to his surprise he was met by a hotel
>> doorman. My research has uncovered CCTV footage that shows a hotel
>> employee, the chief engineer Brian Yearwood, rushing out of the hotel
>> with a phone pressed to his ear shortly before the then IMF chief's
>> arrival. I ask Strauss-Kahn whether he has any idea who was on the
>> other end of the call. He gestures no.
>> On the film, Yearwood seems to appear just before Strauss-Kahn goes
>> inside the hotel, and as soon as the latter leaves, he seems to
>> follow the same route. These near-encounters, which would continue
>> the next day, may have been pure coincidence, or Yearwood may have
>> been tasked by the hotel to make sure that the guest's arrival, and
>> departure, went smoothly. But how did he, or the person on the phone,
>> know when Strauss-Kahn's cab was arriving? (I requested an interview
>> with Yearwood, but he, like all other Sofitel employees I approached,
>> declined to speak to me.)
>> The Sofitel hotel in New York. Photograph: 97/Flynetpictures.com
>> The director of safety and security at the Sofitel, John Sheehan,
>> held the same title for its parent company, Accor, which is a part of
>> the France-based Accor group. On the day of the Diallo incident,
>> Sheehan was off work but was in frequent touch with Yearwood,
>> exchanging no fewer than 13 text messages with him between 10.21am
>> and 10.35am, according to mobile phone records that I have studied.
>> Sheehan headed to the Sofitel after 1.03pm on the 13 May having
>> received a call and while en route, according to his phone records,
>> he called a 646 number (Manhattan area code) belonging to Accor.
>> Sheehan's ultimate superior is René-Georges Querry, a well connected
>> former chief of French police anti-gang units, who was now head of
>> security for Accor group. Before joining in 2003, Querry had worked
>> closely in the police with Ange Mancini, who then became Sarkozy's
>> intelligence co-ordinator. At the time that Sheehan was making his
>> call to the 646 number, Querry was arriving at a football match in
>> Paris where he would be seated in Sarkozy's presidential box. Querry
>> denies receiving any information about the unfolding drama at the
>> Sofitel at this time, or until after Strauss-Kahn was taken into
>> custody about four hours later.
>> The Sofitel said that it had co-operated fully with authorities and
>> had no further comment.
>> Then there was the question of the IMF chief's BlackBerry and mobile
>> phones. Strauss-Kahn tells me that he had long been suspicious that
>> his communications were being intercepted by his political opponents
>> in France. There had been many blatant signs, he says, such as the
>> discovery made by someone sympathetic to him who had been working
>> inside the headquarters of the UMP. He or she discovered a copy of
>> one of Strauss-Kahn's emails to his wife, Anne Sinclair, stuck inside
>> a photocopying machine.
>> Strauss-Kahn says that he had been sufficiently worried that he was
>> being tracked that in the spring of 2011 he instructed his security
>> staff to set up a sophisticated encryption system for his seven
>> phones so that his conversations could not be snooped on. "I took the
>> threat seriously," he tells me with a look of frustration.
>> But then, one by one, all his encrypted phones began to break. He was
>> so frustrated that before he came to the US last May he had the
>> encryption removed from all his devices.
>> It puzzles me that he had decided to remove the encryption even when
>> he was anxious about being followed, and even though some of the
>> emails he was sending related to his personal life including, we now
>> know, his attendance of sex parties. I ask him hadn't he been
>> concerned that removing the encryption would leave him vulnerable to
>> surveillance by intelligence services? "I had to make calls," he
>> replies with a shrug. But he does acknowledge that he may have
>> underestimated the dangers of his communications being intercepted by
>> Sarkozy's people.
>> "Perhaps I was politically naive but I simply did not believed that
>> they would go that far ... I didn't think they could find anything
>> that could stop me."
>> The "they" to whom he is referring is clearly in the context of our
>> conversation operatives working for Sarkozy.
>> *Inside the room*
>> Nafissatou Diallo arrives at the office of the New York County
>> district attorney. Photograph: Andrew H. Walker/WireImage
>> The exact nature of what happened inside the presidential suite of
>> the Sofitel on the morning of 13 May 2011 will never be known because
>> there are no witnesses other than Strauss-Kahn and Diallo, a
>> 32-year-old from Guinea in West Africa. Both parties agree there was
>> a sexual encounter. The then IMF head says it was consensual. Diallo
>> by contrast holds that he dragged her first to the bedroom and then
>> to the end of the interior corridor across from the bathroom where,
>> after molesting her, he forced her to perform oral sex on him.
>> Strauss-Kahn does not want to go into detail about the encounter,
>> though he does not deny it took place. He claimed he was just getting
>> out of the shower and rushing to meet his daughter for lunch, set for
>> 12.30pm. When he stepped out of the bathroom, still naked, he says he
>> was surprised to see a woman in a housekeeper's uniform looking
>> directly at him.
>> He tells me that from his perspective, it did not look as if she had
>> come to clean the suite. "I am certain that she had no cleaning
>> equipment, there was no cleaning cart," he says.
>> They had a brief exchange of words and gestures, from which he
>> surmised that she was offering him a sexual service, he says. What
>> followed, he insists, was consensual, though that conflicts with
>> Diallo's account to police that he brutally, sexually attacked her.
>> She is suing him in the New York civil courts.
>> In the more than two hours we speak, it becomes clear that
>> Strauss-Kahn is convinced that his downfall was choreographed by his
>> political enemies. They may not have gone so far as to set up the
>> encounter with Diallo, he now accepts, but he believes they did play
>> a role, through intercepted phone calls, in making sure that the
>> hotel maid went to the police and thus turned a private tryst into a
>> public scandal.
>> The media in France has recently reported, based on interviews with
>> French intelligence officers, that he had become a target of the
>> country's intelligence service in 2011. I ask him whether he believes
>> the targeting of him by French intelligence, the interception of his
>> calls, and the surveillance in New York are related. "It would appear
>> that more was involved here than mere coincidence," he replies, with
>> characteristic understatement.
>> He also blames French officials for the fact that he had to languish
>> in jail in New York and had to undergo the public humiliation that
>> brought. He thought he would be released immediately on bail -- as
>> would be normal for someone as prominent as he was. But later that
>> day the deal was abruptly terminated. It has been reported in the
>> French press that the New York prosecutor, Cyrus Vance, had received
>> information bearing on the case from one or more French officials. At
>> the bail hearing, the assistant district attorney said that
>> unverified "additional information [was] being provided on a daily
>> basis regarding [Strauss-Kahn's] behaviour and background."
>> Partly on the back of that intervention, he spent a week in jail --
>> another huge blow to his global reputation.
>> The only area Strauss-Kahn is unable to discuss, owing to legal
>> restrictions, is the prostitution case in which he was recently charged.
>> Before arriving in New York last year he attended about six sex
>> parties, beginning in 2009, including two in Washington, at which
>> some of the women were prostitutes. He did not pay any of these
>> women, he says, though that would have been legal under French law.
>> He is charged instead with "aggravated pimping".
>> In the course of French police investigations into a sex ring centred
>> on the Carlton hotel in Lille, in which Strauss-Kahn was not
>> involved, detectives found out about the sex party in the W hotel in
>> Washington; they also discovered that prostitutes had been brought to
>> it; and that he had sent text messages, requesting to know from the
>> parties' organisers, whether there would be "material" provided --
>> his codeword for women.
>> Those charges are still pending, hence his inability to discuss them.
>> That he took such breathtaking risks -- knowing that he was about to
>> put himself forward as a French presidential candidate, and
>> suspecting as he did that he was under surveillance from his
>> opponents -- speaks of a certain sense of invulnerability. The party
>> at the W hotel took place on 12 May -- a day before he checked in at
>> the Sofitel. That makes one wonder about his mindset. Was it that, as
>> a man of huge international renown used to being courted around the
>> world, he perhaps felt he was invincible, a Master of the Universe?
>> If he had any of that sentiment, it has been thoroughly tested over
>> the past 11 months. It's striking though that he still speaks with
>> notable confidence.
>> Despite everything that has happened, he still harbours hopes of a
>> return to public life as an economist. He recently addressed an
>> economic gathering in Kiev, Ukraine, on the consequences of
>> globalisation and he continues to be deeply engaged in other issues
>> that absorbed him while at the IMF.
>> One of his great regrets was that in the end he never did get to meet
>> Merkel and put to her his plan for saving Greece. "I am not entirely
>> sure that I could have convinced her," he says, but he believes that
>> he might have persuaded her to back him, and with Germany's help the
>> Greek crisis could have been nipped in the bud. "Now we will never
>> know," he adds wistfully.
>> /Edward Jay Epstein is an investigative journalist and an author/ of
>> 15 books/. His new book, //Three Days in May: Sex, Surveillance and
>> DSK/ <http://mhpbooks.com/books/three-days-in-may/>/, is published
>> next week by Melville House/
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