Hampton Roads' own mega local embarrassment, Pat Robertson is making news again. This time, however, it's not because of his latest insane batshit crazy remarks but instead because his is threatening film makers who did an expose on Robertson's alleged charity, Operation Blessing, that would indicate that the charity has skimmed off large amounts of money and diverted the funds to Robertson's diamond mining operations. In my opinion, the only god Robertson has ever really worshiped is money. The trappings of religiosity have in my view always merely served as a means Robertson uses to fleece the ignorant and gullible. The Guardian looks at the film and Robertson's reported
lies misrepresentations. Here are excerpts:
One of the stranger sights of the refugee crisis that followed the 1994 Rwandan genocide was of stretcher-bearers rushing the dying to medical tents, with men running alongside reciting Bible verses to the withering patients.
The bulk of the thousands of doctors and nurses struggling to save lives – as about 40,000 people died of cholera – were volunteers for the international medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The Bible readers were hired by the American televangelist and former religious right presidential candidate, Pat Robertson, and his aid organisation, Operation Blessing International.
But on Robertson's US television station, the Christian Broadcasting Network, that reality was reversed, as he raised millions of dollars from loyal followers by claiming Operation Blessing was at the forefront of the international response to the biggest refugee crisis of the decade. It's a claim he continues to make, even though an official investigation into Robertson's operation in Virginia accused him of "fraudulent and deceptive" claims when he was running an almost non-existent aid operation.
"We brought the largest contingent of medicine into Goma in Zaire, at least the first and the largest," Robertson said as recently as last year on his TV station.
Now a new documentary lays bare the extent of the misrepresentations of Operation Blessing's activities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, that it says continue to this day.
Mission Congo, by David Turner and Lara Zizic, opens at the Toronto film festival on Friday. It describes how claims about the scale of aid to Rwandan refugees were among a number of exaggerated or false assertions about the activities of Operation Blessing which pulls in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in donations, much of it through Robertson's televangelism. They include characterising a failed large-scale farming project as a huge success, and claims about providing schools and other infrastructure.
But some of the most damaging criticism of Robertson comes from former aid workers at Operation Blessing, who describe how mercy flights to save refugees were diverted hundreds of miles from the crisis to deliver equipment to a diamond mining concession run by the televangelist.
Robertson claimed that Operation Blessing sent plane-loads of doctors. . . . . But the film was of MSF medical staff at work. Operation Blessing had just one tent and a total of seven doctors. MSF officials who worked in Goma told the documentary-makers that they had no recollection of even seeing Operation Blessing – let alone working with it.
The documentary describes how dredges, used to suck up diamonds from river beds, were delivered hundreds of miles from the crisis in Goma to a private commercial firm, African Development Company, registered in Bermuda and wholly owned by Robertson. ADC held a mining concession near the town of Kamonia on the far side of the country.
"Mission after mission was always just getting eight-inch dredgers, six-inch dredgers … and food supplies, quads, jeeps, out to the diamond dredging operation outside of Kamonia," Hinkle told the film-makers.
Right Wing Watch looks at Robertson's spittle flecked threats of legal action against the filmmakers. Here are highlights:
Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network is already weighing legal action against two filmmakers over their documentary depicting the televangelist’s egregious misrepresentations of the activities of his charity, Operation Blessing.An Operation Blessing spokesman told The Virginian-Pilot that they are “considering legal action” against Lara Zizic and David Turner, whose film “Mission Congo” will hold its premier at the Toronto International Film Festival, over the film’s supposed “false and defamatory” content.
Robertson should remember that truth is an absolute defense to claims of libel and slander. The last thing he should want is for the filmmakers prove the truth of their allegations in a court of law. Moreover, if litigation ensues, the defendants could use discovery to force Robertson to turn over documents and information.