U.S.

Blog Promoting Torture in Iraq, Bombing Al Jazeera Published Under Name of Prominent Treasury Official

A blog advocating for torture was published under the name of a high-ranking Trump Administration Treasury Department official, Vice News reported. 

Posts written in the 2000s under name of Geoffrey Okamoto, who serves as the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Finance and Development, promoted conservative politics. 

The blog has since been deleted but was viewed through the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. Titled "TheOka(DOT)Net," it says, "Our goal is to advance the conservative agenda." 

Vice News had not confirmed the posts were written by the Acting Assistant Secretary. The outlet noted that Okamoto's resume is on the blog, which is linked to a Google Plus account bearing his name. 

Posts discuss topics including political ideology on college campuses, conservatism in America and the Iraq war. 

"I’m sorry, but when did America stop interrogating prisoners in effective ways to gather information and protect ourselves? I don’t see what the outrage is about. These aren’t American citizens deserving of the rights we grant ourselves. And another thing, WHO DIED IN THAT PRISON DUE TO THESE 'CRIMES?' I’ll tell you what, if a military interrogator found out a name, a place, a location, or any information to help our cause or defend our homeland, then it I applaud the military for using humiliating and such tactics to garner such information," a May 2004 post says, referencing to the U.S. torture of prisoners held at Abu Ghraib. 

In the same post, the author also expresses approval of bombing news channel Al Jazeera, which is headquartered in Qatar. In 2003, Al Jazeera's Baghdad office was struck by a U.S. missile during a bombing, which killed a journalist for the outlet. The State Department said the strike was accidental.

"This is only proving another idea that I have been supporting since Day 1. This is War. There is no such thing as freedom of speech or freedom of the press. There should be a complete and unwavering media blackout in the entire region," the blog post says, speaking of Al Qaeda referencing photos of torture at Abu Ghraib and using the images to encourage resistance to the U.S. invasion. "Bush, Powell, Powell, Rumsfeld, Rice, whoever is reading this, buy Ted Kennedy a Happy Meal and lock down the media in that region. If we have to bomb Al Jazeera TV antenna arrays, do it. If we have to humiliate prisoners, do it. For our own sake, let’s have a damn backbone for once in American foreign policy."

GettyImages-1052460858 A blog advocating for torture was published under the name of a high-ranking Trump Administration Treasury Department official, Vice News reported.  MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

A post from September 2004 argued that oil was worth fighting a war for and that the Iraq war was being fought for oil. 

"Is it worth American lives? Sadly, yes," the post says. "So why did we go into Iraq? Ultimately I think the answer lies with oil. Turning Iraq into a friendly, oil-exporting country is something we’re going to need in the not so distant future. Furthermore, turning Iraq friendly and democratic puts a lot of pressure on the other countries in the region (which also have lots of oil) to turn friendly and democratic as well."

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and a Treasury Department spokesperson did not respond when asked if they had known about the posts when hiring Okamoto. The Acting Assistant Secretary did not immediately respond when contacted LinkedIn. Newsweek also tweeted to a Twitter handle named "TheOka," which featured an image of Okamoto, but did not receive a response.

The White House announced on January 9 that it had sent Okamoto's name to the Senate for nomination as Deputy Under Secretary of the Treasury.

Okamoto's LinkedIn says he worked for the House of Representatives and the Senate Banking Committee before joining the Treasury Department in 2017. 

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