Skip to main content

Why are the billionaires always laughing?

Because they know the corporate media will never call bullshit on their bullshit.

Why are the billionaires laughing?

It’s easy to laugh when the corporate press treats you as a glorious success instead of the epitome of a broken social order. Billionaires laugh because they know the corporate media prefers to fawn over them rather than hold them to account.

Today, we ask you to support our nonprofit, independent journalism because we are not impressed by billionaires flying into space, their corporations despoiling our health and planet, or their vast fortunes safely concealed in tax havens across the globe. We are not laughing.

We are hard at work producing journalism for the common good. With our Fall Campaign underway, please support this mission today. We cannot do it without you.

Support Our Work -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Every donation—large or small—helps us bring you the news that matters.

"Why the selective leaks?"(Photo: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr/cc)

"Why the selective leaks?" (Photo: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr/cc)

Why is Intel Community Targeting Kushner?

What we really should be asking is what McMaster and NSA director Mike Rodgers want to do that Kushner is standing in the way of.

Juan Cole

 by Informed Comment

US intelligence agencies are gunning for Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner and have leaked charges to the Washington Post that officials in the United Arab Emirates, Israel, China, and Mexico have privately strategized how to use him as a pawn in their power plays with Washington. 

Despite denials by his office, the charge against Kushner is clearly being led in some part by National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster, who apparently was frozen out of Kushner’s diplomatic activities for months and only recently received a commitment that the National Security Council would be read into his meetings with foreign dignitaries.

While the charge that Kushner is at least naive and very possibly corrupt is entirely plausible, we should also be suspicious of the leaks. (And remember, Ed Snowden was villified by the same people for his leaks, but they think it is all right when they do it).

The most troubling aspect of the WaPo story is that Kushner himself was not being accused of doing anything wrong by the intel sources. The central reveal was that the Emiratis, Israelis, Chinese and Mexicans think he is a useful idiot because a) he is inexperienced in the ways of the world and almost terminally gullible and b) because he has a nearly $2 billion balloon note coming due on 666 Park Avenue and hasn’t been able to refinance, and so has been going around hat in hand to Gulf, Chinese, (Israeli?) and other investors.

But that foreign officials have had such conversations is not surprising and Kushner could not control them. Why are they a black mark on himin and of themselves? And is Kushner really thought more naive or corrupt than Trump himself? Why the selective leaks?

How do US intel officials know about these discussions within the halls of the Israel and UAE prime ministers’ offices and the presidential palaces of Mexico and China? They are eavesdropping on the foreign leaders with exactly the tools Ed Snowden told us about, which are apparently more often used for economic espionage than busting terrorism, as in this case. And the most troubling aspect of the US “total information awareness” doctrine of spying on everyone all the time is that US citizens are inevitably caught up in it, in an assault on the Fourth Amendment.

So look, Kushner probably has played a sinister role in some Trump foreign policy fiascos. It is alleged that he was cultivated by UAE ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba as an ally in the assault on little Qatar, after Qatar pulled out of a finance deal regarding 666 Park Avenue. If so, that truly is criminal, and, as Talleyrand said of Napoleon, even worse than a crime, it was a mistake. The Trump stance on the June 5 blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and the UAE likely destroyed the Gulf Cooperation Council that had grouped Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar since the early 1980s, and the destruction of the GCC is a great gift to Iran. If Kushner played a role in that, he helped destroy the security architecture of the Gulf and gave Iran a leg up in the Middle East. But of course the impetus for all that came from Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and UAE mover and shaker Muhammad Bin Zayed; Kushner was just a way to get to Trump and to get Trump to tweet approval of the propaganda against Qatar.

Kushner has also been criticized for appearing to imply that his company, in which he still has a minority stake, could smooth the way to visas for Chinese investors in the US.

It would be interesting to hear more about alleged quid pro quos for Kushner et al. with regard to moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which will knee-cap US diplomacy in the Muslim world for decades to come. The main impetus for that piece of stupidity, however, appears to have come from sketchy casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

But these issues are already well known and have been reported on. The intel leaks clearly are intended to get Kushner out of the White House, and they aren’t actually charging him with anything, only saying that people out there are talking about him. 

Michael Wolff’s potboiler Fire and Fury depicted Kushner as essentially a liberal Democrat inside the Trump circle. 

What we really should be asking is what McMaster and NSA director Mike Rodgers want to do that Kushner is standing in the way of.

© 2021 Juan Cole
Juan Cole

Juan Cole

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His newest book, "Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires" was published in 2020. He is also the author of  "The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East" (2015) and "Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East" (2008).  He has appeared widely on television, radio, and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. 

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'When We Organize, We Win': Ocasio-Cortez Joins India Walton at Rally in Buffalo

The two progressives joined striking hospital workers on the picket line at Mercy Hospital after the early voting rally.

Julia Conley ·

Fatal Film Set Shooting Followed Outcry by Union Crew Members Over Safety Protocols

"When union members walk off a set about safety concerns, maybe 'hiring scabs' isn’t the solution you think it is."

Julia Conley ·

New Whistleblower Sparks Calls to 'Crack Down on Facebook and All Big Tech Companies'

Hours after another ex-employee filed a formal complaint, reporting broke on internal documents that show the tech giant's failure to address concerns about content related to the 2020 U.S. election.

Jessica Corbett ·

'Catastrophic and Irreparable Harm' to Wolves Averted as Wisconsin Judge Cancels Hunt

"We are heartened by this rare instance of reason and democracy prevailing in state wolf policy," said one conservation expert.

Brett Wilkins ·

West Virginia Constituents Decry 'Immorality' of Joe Manchin

"West Virginia has been locked into an economy that forces workers into low-wage jobs with no hope for advancement, and after decades of this our hope is dwindling," said one West Virginian. "The cuts that Sen. Manchin has negotiated into the agenda hurt our state."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo