Bob Barr joins Baby Doc legal team

CNN is reporting that former Georgia congressman and recent Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr is on the legal team helping former Haitian leader Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier in his effort to recover millions of dollars in assets frozen in Swiss bank accounts. 

Here's what Barr, who is working with two other Georgia attorneys, had to say: 

"I deal with allegations all the time," he said. "They are the cheapest commodity on the market."

Barr said he returned to Port-au-Prince for the first time in nearly 30 years because he believed Duvalier is genuinely interested in alleviating Haiti's suffering. He said the Caribbean nation was in worse shape now than it was when Duvalier was at the helm.

"I also am reminded of others who have risen from the ashes," Barr said. "The city of Atlanta is the Phoenix city. The people of Haiti, likewise, will rise from the problems created by last year's earthquake and emerge stronger and better than before. That I know is Mr. Duvalier's deep wish and something that he knows in his heart."

Elizabeth Abbott wrote about the legacy of Duvalier's reign for FP last week. 

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images


Palestinian leaders scramble to spin Al Jazeera leaks

In case you haven't heard, Al Jazeera (along with the Guardian) on Sunday announced it had gotten its hands on more than 1,600 Palestinian documents detailing negotiations with Israeli and U.S. officials. The documents aren't all released yet, but the story is already roiling the Arab world, prompting fresh cries that the Palestinian Authority is "selling out" to Israel by offering politically sensitive concessions on Jerusalem, its holy sites, and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

Perhaps more damning, in Arab eyes, is the language used by some Palestinian leaders. Longtime peace negotiator Saeb Erekat is quoted in one document, a write-up of a Jan. 15, 2010, meeting with U.S. envoy David Hale, saying he had offered Israel "the biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history, symbolic number of refugees return, demilitarized state ... what more can I give?"

Erekat and other Palestinian leaders have made no effort to prepare their public for these kinds of concessions. In 2009, for instance, Erekat appeared on Al Jazeera and said, "There will be no peace whatsoever unless East Jerusalem -- with every single stone in it -- becomes the capital of Palestine." 

No wonder Palestinian leaders are scrambling to contain the damage, ripping Al Jazeera and even the emir of Qatar, which sponsors the satellite channel. Erekat told reporters that the documents have been "taken out of context and contain lies… Al Jazeera's information is full of distortions and fraud." For its part, the network says it has "taken great care over an extended period of time to assure ourselves of their authenticity," as has the Guardian. The State Department says it's looking into them.

So, who leaked the papers? Most likely people within the Negotiations Support Unit, the Palestinian organization that staffs Erekat and took most of the notes, the Guardian reports:

[A]s the negotiations have increasingly been seen to have failed, and the Ramallah-based PA leadership has come to be regarded by many Palestinians as illegitimate or unrepresentative, discontent among NSU staff has grown and significant numbers have left. There has also been widespread discontent in the organisation at the scale and nature of concessions made in the talks.

If this speculation is right, the leakers intended to embarrass their former bosses. Mission accomplished.

So what now? Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been ruling outside the law for some time now; there doesn't seem to be a legal means for his opponents to oust him. That means Palestinians who oppose the PA are going to need to take to the streets to voice their disapproval, Tunisia style.

And what of the two-state solution? It was probably already dead, and these documents will only reinforce the point. But I imagine the "peace process" will limp along, one way or another, until it becomes impossible to defend anymore. I hope the Obama team has an exit strategy.