Monday, April 04, 2005

The Maiden Bleg: Council for National Policy

What can people tell me about the Council for National Policy? My attention was drawn to it by Terry Lane's column in the Age on Left Behind II, the second film adaptation of Tim La Hayes's Left Behind novels. La Hayes, it turn out, is a Council for National Policy member, as is "a virtual who's who of the Hard Right," according to an unofficial page on the organization (which seems to be a little outdated). Apparently it is no accident that the group receives little media coverage, because it is highly secretive.

A more recent article published on the website of Americans United for Separation of Church and State offers a much more detailed account of the Council, describing it as an "umbrella organization of right-wing leaders [founded in 1981] who gather regularly to plot strategy, share ideas and fund causes and candidates to advance the far-right agenda." According to this article, the Council has financial links with Coors and Amway; identities who have been affiliated with it include former US Attorney-General John Ashcroft and current Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson; and figures who have addressed its meetings include President George W. Bush (as a nominee), UN Ambassador nominee John Bolton, current Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

The group last year conferred an honorarium upon Republican Senator Bill Frist, a leading figure in the US Congress's recent intervention in the Terri Schiavo case. According to the Americans United article, when "Frist (R-Tenn.) accepted a 'Thomas Jefferson Award' from a national group at the Plaza Hotel in New York City in August, the media weren’t notified. In fact, they weren’t welcome to attend.

'The media should not know when or where we meet or who takes part in our programs, before or after a meeting,' reads one of the cardinal rules of the organization that honored Frist."

Conspiracy theory--or is there more to all this?