InfoReset Seminars presents John Perkins, Conchita Sarnoff and Sean Stone. We catch up with these interesting people to find out a bit about them and their beliefs.
Can you summarise your journey from economist to involvement in assassination?
My official title was chief economist of a very influential consulting company. My job, which is often referred to as an economic hit man, was to identify countries with resources US corporations wanted, like oil, and then to convince that country’s leaders to accept huge loans from the World Bank or its sister organisations. The money never actually went to the country. Instead, it went directly to US corporations, like Bechtel, Stone & Webster, Halliburton, and General Electric, to build big infrastructure projects in the country, such as electric power systems, industrial parks, and highways.
These made fortunes for the US corporations and also benefited a few wealthy families in the country, the ones who owned the industries, commercial establishments, banks, and so on. However, the majority of the people suffered because money was diverted from education, healthcare, and other social services to pay the interest on the loans.
In the end, the country could not pay back the principal. So, we economic hit men went back and demanded that the leaders of the country sell their resources, oil or whatever, cheap to our corporations with very few environmental and social regulations; or that they privatise their electric utilities, water and sewage systems and other public businesses and sell them to our corporations cheap; or that they allow us to build a military base on their soil. Those sorts of things that in essence were building an empire.
If the leaders of the country refused to do this, then what we referred to as ‘jackals’ came in and assassinated or overthrew them. I was never directly involved in assassinations.
Two of my clients, the democratically-elected president of Ecuador, Jamie Roldos, and the head of state of Panama, Omar Torrijos, refused to accept the deals I offered. They died in private plane crashes less than three months apart from each other in 1981, crashes that had all the markings of CIA-sponsored assassinations.
What most fills you with hope?
There is a Consciousness Revolution happening around the world. I spend a great deal of my time travelling throughout much of the world, having the opportunity to speak in public and to meet with people from all walks of life, including world leaders. Everywhere I go I see that people are waking up to the fact that we are living on a very fragile space station, the Earth. It has no shuttles. We can’t get off. And our space station is being navigated toward disaster. The oceans are rising, the glaciers melting, species are going extinct at unacceptable rates, and wars rage.
We have created what many economists refer to as a Death Economy, a system that is based on ravaging the earth, destroying the very resources upon which it depends. We know that we need to change. We must create a Life Economy that is based on cleaning up pollution, regenerating destroyed environments, and developing new technologies that recycle, use renewable resources, and that do not ravage the earth, an economic system that is itself a renewable resource. People are waking up to that. The awakening, the Consciousness Revolution, is underway. Now we need to commit to taking actions to turn things around.
What is your biggest professional regret?
I have to live with the things I did as an economic hit man, but I also recognise that I learned a lot from that experience and that, because I was Chief Economist at a highly respected consulting firm, I have credibility with CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations and heads of state. Instead of focussing on regrets, I chose to concentrate on writing books and teaching about the need to change and presenting and promoting strategies for transforming a Death Economy into a Life Economy.
Most significant lessons learnt growing up around the movie industry?
The glitz and glamour comes few and far between. Mostly, it’s a whole lot of people working their butts off, for hundreds of hours for every minute of entertainment we get to watch. And no matter how wonderful you may think someone’s life is, you really know nothing about what they’ve had to do to get there, or what they’re going through. It’s ‘show business’, meaning it’s all a show to spin public perception and sell magazines, commercials and tickets.
Were you treated differently at uni?
We all were. Princeton University creates a rarefied air that you should feel privileged just to be there. But if you mean because my last name was Stone, not to my knowledge. I never joined the elite eating clubs or anything to that effect.
Your father’s [director, Oliver Stone] work is often political, which has obviously rubbed off on you — do you feel a certain responsibly with the clout your name carries to use it to promote social justice?
My father taught me not to become overly caught up in my own personal life’s dramas, or to isolate myself too much. He believes in a sense of civic duty that you could date back to the origins of democracy with the Greeks and Romans. So toward that end, he’d engage me in political discourse since the age of about 13, though I was aware of it since he made JFK and Nixon when I was seven and 10, respectively. So while he’d regale me with political stories and intrigues, I felt I had to educate myself to better hold conversations with him. Hence my early interest in history, and especially the dark side of politics and conspiracy. I’d credit that to his JFK film. But when travelling to third world countries with him as a teenager, especially beginning with Vietnam and Cambodia, and seeing the consequence of murdering millions of Indochinese for futile colonial wars, I decided that I could use my education to promote dialogue and awareness, to avoid such conflicts in future. I think art can play a tremendous diplomatic role for the world, since like sports, it tends to bring people to common grounds of understanding and civilised disputes rather than promoting barbarism.
Would you ever enter politics?
If I was compelled to be in politics, I might consider it. But as it currently stands, I don’t desire to be a politician. I’m much more interested in the arts, and beauty, than I am in placating people with disingenuous promises to satisfy my corporate sponsors. I’d probably only go into politics if I could find out what’s really going on behind the current – and here, I mean secret space programs, cosmic level intelligence, alien interactions with earth, the whole nine yards. But let’s give it twenty years and see where we stand as a planet.
Do you think the world is becoming worse or better, if better, how; if worse, are you hopeful it will get better?
A lot of my friends with strong psychic abilities see apocalyptic times – ecological disasters and collapses, potential nuclear conflicts, total breakdowns of economic systems and some major cities, mass migrations of people, etc. That’s a possibility. But if you were in countries at war, like Syria and Iraq recently, you already experienced ‘World War III’. So these things can happen without the entire planet going into the Dark Ages. So despite my documentary A Century of War, I’m optimistic. Not because the signs portend great infrastructure improvements for America, or an end to war, but because I have faith in God. Even ignorance, darkness, and evil serve the evolution of human consciousness; that consciousness can change absolutely in a single night.
Are you hopeful that we will ever reach a point where rich powerful men can no longer act with impunity?
I am hopeful men will gain greater consciousness and understanding of female/male relationships. With this greater consciousness will come respect and trust. The 2017 cases exposing powerful men sexually abusing and harassing women might have been the tipping point for change.
Power wielded by the wrong person, man or woman, is a dangerous tool. In cases where men receive lax prosecution for crimes such as violations of human rights or human trafficking, immunity is usually given the defendant because ‘the system’ believes the criminal (he) has something far more valuable to give the government than time served or penalties paid. Serving time in prison and paying restitution for crimes against children or human rights violations is perceived to be of secondary significance.
An example of this was during the defence and prosecution of Jeffrey Epstein. Mr Epstein, a Wall Street billionaire hedge fund manager, is a level three sex offender. Mr Epstein’s attorneys were some of the most influential and powerful criminal attorneys in the United States. As a result of their combined efforts and relationships in government, the defence team focused their primary strategy on discrediting the underage victims while simultaneously showcasing Mr Epstein’s high profile relationships with politicians, opinion leaders, heads of state, and so on.
In spite of the multiple crimes committed by Mr Epstein against underage girls, his relationships with these powerful men and women, some of them predators, protected him from prosecution and continue to protect him to this day.
His relationships with HRH Prince Andrew, former president Bill Clinton and Secretary Clinton, Leslie Wexner, L Brands billionaire founder and first client, Governor Bill Richardson, Hollywood producers: Harvey Weinstein, Brett Ratner, film director Woody Allen, Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Barack, weighed heavily throughout the criminal investigation and the final negotiations.
Was there a specific reason that led you to investigate trafficking?
In 2006, three events happened back to back that influenced me to change course in the middle of my career. At home in Washington DC, I met a lady who had started an NGO to raise awareness of human trafficking. Through her I met a victim that to this day haunts me.
Days later during a business trip to Mexico, a high level government official in Mexico City singled out the issue and what was occurring to children in Mexico. He mentioned the U.S. was “stealing” Mexican children and “trafficking” them back to the US.
The third occurrence, happened during the initial research phase when I stumbled across the Jeffrey Epstein case. Mr. Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were social acquaintances since the nineties. I was stunned when my close friend and their neighbour revealed Epstein was in jail for solicitation of prostitution with a minor. At that moment, I decided to investigate his case. His case was so sensational it pushed me even further down the rabbit hole.
Is there anything that still shocks you?
Yes, everyday new cases of human trafficking shock me regardless of the type of trafficking being committed: sex, organ or labour. Mr. Epstein’s case, even 13 years later continues to disturb. Perhaps this shock will subside when I give up on humanity. It is difficult to accept there are so many damaged souls roaming our planet wanting to hurt the most vulnerable.
What’s the process of being offered substantial bribes, presumably it’s not just done outright? Are you often threatened instead?
I was offered a bribe once so I’m not an expert. My life was also threatened once as a result of another human trafficking investigation. The threat to my life was not a consequence of the Epstein case rather a Mexican human trafficking investigation. The manner in which the bribe was presented and the threat was carried out were quite different.
My life was threatened in 2006. A woman who was apparently the director of DIF (Departamento de Infancia y Familias) in San Miguel de Tenancingo, Mexico, where I was investigating the largest Mexican trafficking case at the time, told me she would ring a bell and the town people would come and lynch me if I continued to ask her questions.
At first I did not believe her. Then my body guard walked toward me pulled me out of the chair by my shoulders and proceeded to threaten her. I realized then she was serious. It seems to be a common occurrence in Mexico to prevent journalists from investigating important cases. Two weeks before that incident, two American journalists had been lynched to death according to a young women who was in the room during my interview. She followed me outside. As I was leaving the trafficker’s home which had been converted to a local chapter for DIF in Tenancingo, she told me to be careful and leave straight away. The young woman described how two American journalists had been killed across the street by the townspeople for investigating a similar case.
During the past 16 years I have read plenty of high profile cases were the modus operandi seems similar. In my case, the bribe and threat were done outright. The person offering the financial bribe came to Florida where I was investigating the Epstein case and asked to meet. The bribe was $5 MM USD. According to the person offering the bribe that amount was a ‘life changer.’ I would be given the money if I stopped writing the book, “TrafficKing.”
There are different types of bribes not all have a cash value attached. Bribes can be offered for protection. Most bribes offered to vulnerable victims fall under this category or the cash variety. The Mafia in Southern Italy usually offers bribes to proprietors of businesses for protection. This is called extortion in the US.
There are multiple forms of bribes. Bribes offered to prosecutors, District Attorneys or high level government officials in the United States are usually veiled as job opportunities rather than cash bribes. Perhaps a better employment opportunity will be immediately made available. Doors otherwise closed will suddenly open or vice versa.
In the case of Jeffrey Epstein, the Florida prosecutor claimed, in a letter he gave to me for publication that Epstein and his attorneys, “assaulted the prosecution.” See “TrafficKing,” page 310.
- Alex Acosta, lead prosecutor at the United States Attorney Office in Southern District of Florida, during the Epstein criminal investigation said, “What followed was a yearlong assault on the prosecution and the prosecutors. I use the word assault intentionally, as the defence in this case was more aggressive than any, which I , or the prosecutors in my office, had previously encountered. Mr. Epstein hired an army of legal superstars: (former) Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, former Judge and then Pepperdine Law Dean Kenneth Starr, former Deputy Assistant to the President and then Kirkland Ellis partner Jay Lefkowitz, and several others, including prosecutors who had formally worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and in the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Justice Department. Defense attorneys next requested a meeting with me to challenge the prosecution and the terms previously presented by the prosecutors in their meeting with Mr. Black.”
Mr. Acosta left United States Attorney’s Office (2005-2009) shortly after the Epstein case (2007) closed. In 2009, he was named Dean of FIU Law School. Apparently, prior to Epstein’s case he was on a fast track to return to Washington DC. Not until 2017, did Mr. Acosta return to Washington DC when he was appointed by President Trump as U.S. Secretary of Labor.
What do you wish you knew when you first started out on your career?
Back in 2006 when I began my research, wish I had a better understanding of the IT world, banking industry and how money was moved around without a trace. It would have been easier to investigate and navigate within certain human trafficking cases. Transnational criminal organisations moved human trafficking transactions offline. Lastly, most criminal activities surrounding trafficking (labor, sex and organs) are currently executed online.