Whitefish, Montana, population 6,500, is something out of a Stephen King novel. It’s unprepossessing on the outside, and strangers in town stick out like the proverbial sore thumb. But if you scratch the surface and hang around, you’ll find some unusual characters. The main cast of Whitefish includes Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Blackwater mercenary Erik Prince, neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, plus a couple of tiny reclusive companies called Whitefish Energy, totally unheard of prior to a few months ago, and Amyntor: a security company perhaps soon to be famous. How do those seemingly disparate characters connect up in a small western town? You’d be surprised.
Incongruously, the least of the connections to the White House is the Whitefish Energy deal which, as you recall, started out with Whitefish Energy being retained at a cost of $300Million to get the power grid back up in hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico. The firm had two employees and had been in business for less than two years, but it was awarded the Puerto Rico contract over far more qualified candidates, until the Puerto Rican government, sensing unethical dealings, insisted that the contract be voided out.Despite it’s short time on the job, Whitefish claims that it was owed $80Million in fees for work done through November; not bad for a few weeks work. The matter is still under investigation. Ryan Zinke steadfastly maintains that he did not broker the deal between Puerto Rico and Whitefish Energy, although he doesn’t deny knowing Whitefish CEO Andy Temanski because Whitefish, “Is a small town and everybody knows everybody else.”
That being the case, everybody must know the neo-Nazis because they abound in Whitefish, which is a hotbed of white supremacy, if not the white supremacy capital of the west. None other than neo-Nazi poster child Richard Spencer calls it home. Buzzfeed via Alternet:
The town is home to white supremacist leader Richard Spencer and Chuck Baldwin, a radical-right extremist minister who preaches Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and homophobia among other strains of hate. Buzzfeed News looked into the remarkable growth of white supremacism in this isolated region, and explained the trend of neo-Nazis moving to the area as follows:
“Flathead County, population 96,000, is one of the whitest places in the nation (95.2%). There are other allures for people at odds with mainstream American culture: the large pockets of open space, the ability to live off the grid, the lack of restriction when it comes to gun ownership. The Montana political ethos—some mix of libertarian, conservative, and ‘don’t f**k with me'—is inviting that way. As a local pastor put it, ‘It’s a place where people can feel safe when they say outrageous things.'"
Neo-Nazis in Spencer’s camp planned to march on Whitefish around the same time as the Women’s March earlier this year, in a rally targeted “against Jews, Jewish businesses and everyone who supports either.” The Daily Stormer promised around 200 skinheads would invade the town “carrying high-powered rifles” to defend Spencer’s honor. In response, counterprotesters gathered, local residents handed out matzoh ball soup and the skinheads never showed up.
To the city’s credit, it issued this statement:
“The city of Whitefish repudiates the ideas and ideology of the founder of the so-called alt-right as a direct affront to our community’s core values and principles. The city of Whitefish rejects racism and bigotry in all its forms and expressions.”
Ryan Zinke is steeped in white supremacy up to his eyeballs. Fusion:
In October, Zinke threw his support behind a newcomer to Republican politics, Taylor Rose, who was running for a seat in the Montana House. Rose’s candidacy came under fire almost immediately for his involvement in Youth for Western Civilization, a now-defunct group that Rose led as a student at Liberty University. The Southern Poverty Law Center classified YWC as a white nationalist organization for its virulent opposition to multiculturalism and its stated goal of defending “Western civilization”–both frequent dog whistles for white supremacists. When the co-director of Montana Human Rights Watch suggested that Rose’s candidacy was “no different than David Duke,” Rose pointed to endorsements from elected officials like Zinke as evidence that he couldn’t possibly be a flaming white supremacist.
There’s a thought; if a Republican politician endorses you, how could you possibly be a racist? Also take note that this candidate attended Liberty University, haven of Jerry Falwell. In the modern GOP, once you find the white supremacists/Nazis the other two splinter groups, the evangelicals and the KKK are only steps away. Many alt right leaders, Spencer among them, are considered cross-overs, the Nazis and the KKK being virtually indistinguishable in much of their platform.
This year, journalist Wayne Madsen reported that Zinkes' two sons were friends of Richard Spencer and that one reason Spencer moved his headquarters to Washington, D.C., after the election was to be closer to the Zinkes and his friend, Stephen Miller.
Zinke made news during his 2014 election campaign when he accepted a $500 donation from Earl Holt of the Council of Conservative Citizens, whose writings about “brutal black on white murders” inspired Dylann Roof, who gunned down nine black worshippers the following year in a Charleston, South Carolina, church.
To this group of alt right luminaries operating out of Whitefish, introduce another one, Blackwater mercenary, evangelical bankroller of Mike Pence, none other than Erik Prince. Prince is in Whitefish because he wants to provide Donald Trump, as authoritarian a leader as this country has ever had, with his own private CIA, via a contract with a reclusive company called Amyntor; and Oliver North is onboard to sell the idea to Washington. Alternet:
The resurfacing of Oliver North in Trump’s deliberations is telling. North, a frequent Fox News commentator, was brought on to sell the idea in Washington.
Thirty years ago, North was a National Security Council staffer when Congress forbade the Reagan administration from spending any money on military intervention in the civil wars of Central America. With White House approval, North set up a secret, “off-the-books” network to wage a covert war against the leftist government of Nicaragua, which was soon uncovered by investigative reporters.
“It was a shadow CIA, hidden from Congress, unaccountable to the American public and answering only to the White House,” wrote Robert Parry and Brian Barger in the New Republic in 1986.
Evidently, that sounds just fine to Erik Prince. Amyntor is a reclusive company located in Whitefish, and if the saga of Whitefish Energy teaches us anything, it would be that being a tiny firm in rural Whitefish is not only no impediment to sudden and immense success, it may in fact be the shortcut to same. BuzzFeed:
Amyntor’s website describes its mission as “providing extraordinary security solutions.” It claims to “maintain an experienced cadre of cleared professionals that possess Subject Matter Expertise (SME) in the areas of intelligence training, collections and analysis, risk assessment, and counterintelligence to support U.S. and friendly foreign government activities around the globe.”
The pitch to the Trump administration began in the summer, according to the former intelligence official familiar with it. It involved at least three components: collecting intelligence on terrorists using “a network of assets in a denied area” (meaning spies in hostile countries), an online propaganda operation to counter Islamic extremism, and the rendition plan.
One source saw the plan presented in a PowerPoint. He says it appeared that the pitches coincided with a widely publicized effort by Erik Prince — the private security official, founder of Blackwater, and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — to privatize the war in Afghanistan. [...]
As BuzzFeed News reported earlier in November, a CIA official assigned to the NSC once worked on an assassination plan at a time when the agency had contracted it to Prince.
If this seems alarming and new to you, au contraire, the United States has been down this road before when Reagan was in office; although Reagan’s administration was a model of governance compared to what’s in Washington, D.C. today. The White House is literally sounding out proposals from Erik Prince to create a private organization that can mount secret operations in places where the CIA and the military prefer not to. What could possibly go wrong? The Intercept via Alternet:
Like Reagan, Trump is considering a private clandestine service to bypass his own government and achieve his foreign policy dreams.
Like North, the Amyntor Group is offering a belligerent president the tantalizing possibility of a foreign policy “win.”
As the Intercept notes, Prince and North have long chafed at the failure of the U.S. government to bring two suspects from “a high-profile terrorist event in the 1980s” to justice. That sounds like a reference to the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship by Palestinian commandos. An American hostage, Leon Klinghoffer, was murdered during the hijacking.
"Pompeo says he's going to quit pussy-footing around," the colleague said, "but a Blackwater for renditions is not going to fly."
The Prince and DeVos families have contributed heavily for years to Mike Pence’s political career. Mike Pence, Erik Prince and Betsy DeVos are theocrats, dedicated not only to anti-gay initiatives of which they have spearheaded plenty over the years, but to the implementation of a theocratic government. Erik Prince was an unofficial member of the transition team and he took a now-famous meeting in the Seychelle’s Islands in January, 2017 with a representative of Vladimir Putin for the purpose of setting up a back channel communication between the Kremlin and the Trump transition team. Erik Prince is also on the slate of candidates that Steve Bannon wants to use to remake the Senate in his own image. Prince is planning to primary Wyoming Senator John Barrasso — or at least he was pre-Roy Moore.
The dots all connect and they all connect in Whitefish, Montana — the weird, weird, west.