OK, WE ALL KNOW THE REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS ARE AS CORRUPT AS POSSIBLE, BUT HOW MANY WERE ALSO SELLING STATE SECRETS TO OUR ENEMIES?
I think the first Republicrook scandals I started writing about on DWT had to do with the GOP one-party state in Ohio and the plethora of deprecations then in full swing by the likes of Thomas Noe (indicted), Bob Taft (found guilty), and Bob Ney (subpoenaed and just now in the midst of a dizzying downward spiral). But soon after I found crooked pols much closer to home: Duncan Hunter, Jerry Lewis, Dick Pombo, John Doolittle and, lowest hanging fruit of all, Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Well, Cunningham hasn't been sentenced yet and, supposedly he's as busy as a beaver trying to help the Feds nail some of his former partners in crime. Now an admitted mega-bribe-taker, Cunningham's former admirers in the Republican Party have abandoned him utterly and completely. I'm sure he had no one with whom to commiserate when the SAN DIEGO UNION completely savaged whatever was left of his tarnished reputation yesterday in an exhaustive expose called "Shooting Down Cunningham's Legend". Turns out he was always a self-promoting egomaniac with poor leadership skills and a decidedly unintellectual world view. The men who served with him in Vietnam thought of him as a buffoon and an insufferable bore with a highly developed sense of self-entitlement and a mind that could best be described as... simple. What a perfect candidate for the GOP!
The UNION article is like a love paean compared to Laura Rozen's piece in the new issue of AMERICAN PROSPECT,
"Duke of Deception". Rozen realizes that the Cunningham affair-- the biggest legislative bribery case in U.S. history-- is far from over. (And Rozen isn't even addressing the hushed up episode of Cunningham selling advance presidential pardons on behalf of George Bush, something I started writing about last July, when the rotund congressman was still refusing to deign to answer any "politically-motivated insinuations" about any improprieties.) Nevertheless, to Rozen all the filth and corruption Cunningham was mired in still leaves him as just a "small fish" compared to what law enforcement officials are investigating. She believes the Feds could soon be reeling in Tom DeLay (R-TX), Bob Ney (R-OH), Virgil Goode Jr. (R-VA), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), and Jerry Lewis (R-CA), all very senior and very powerful right-wing leaders, as part of their investigation.
And then there's the little matter of Cunningham's role on the very sensitive House Intelligence Committee. As it becomes clearer and clearer that these greed-obsessed Republican scum were selling whatever they could to the highest bidder, Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), the committee chairman, is frantically trying to find out if Cunningham compromised any vital American counterintelligence. "Viewed as a corruption case, the Cunningham matter has an arc that suggests the possibility of more high-profile indictments to come. But looked at from a counterintelligence angle, it is even more disturbing. The case is still more worrying if it is turned around, and focused not only on the congressman for sale, but on the defense contractors and foreign-linked financiers who cultivated Cunningham -- and potentially other lawmakers -- precisely because of their position on the Intelligence and Appropriations Committees."
Cunningham has only admitted to what the Feds already knew-- like that he accepted "$2.4 million in bribes from two men who sought and received not only U.S. government contracts, but particular types of contracts. They were awarded defense and intelligence contracts, including counterintelligence and counterterrorism programs so sensitive their precise details are confined to those with security clearances. Some of the contracts awarded to companies whose executives Cunningham has admitted accepting bribes from are both national-security sensitive and highly controversial. Indeed, MZM Inc., the company founded and until recently chaired by Wade, the alleged number-two co-conspirator from the Cunningham plea agreement, has an active contract from the Pentagon’s troubling Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) agency to conduct domestic surveillance on Americans, according to The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus."
Back on December 5, DWT readers were treated to a preview of the future treason charges against Cunningahm. Too hard to believe that hard right, supernationalists who routinely go into hysteria about flag-burning amendments would sell American secrets to potential enemies? Who would have thought-- before last night-- that America-First-Phony Bob Ney was taking bribes to try to convince the State Department to let one of his "contributors" sell crucial American airplane parts to Iran (which Bush now wants to attack)?
Although never mentioning the $400,000 Cunningham accepted for his "help" with getting Bush to promise crooked developer and Republican funder, Thomas Kontogiannis a presidential pardon as he leaves office, Rozen does bring up the Kontogiannis connection. "The third alleged co-conspirator in the Cunningham plea agreement, Thomas T. Kontogiannis, a Long Island–based, Greek-born financier and real-estate developer, was picked up in Athens by the private plane flying Cunningham and [Congressman Ken] Calvert to Saudi Arabia in December 2004. Accompanying the group -- and paying for the trip -- was Ziyad S. Abduljawad, a naturalized American of Saudi origin living in San Diego. Calvert’s press spokesman told the Prospect that no staff members went on the trip, during which the congressmen met with 'the former Crown Prince, who is now King,' as well as several other Saudi ministers and business leaders... A close reading of the 33-page Cunningham plea agreement raises troubling questions about the relationships that connect Wilkes, Wade, Kontogiannis, and those whom the Cunningham plea agreement describes as “others.” The indictment describes multiple instances when Wilkes and Wade used companies owned by Kontogiannis and his wife’s nephew essentially as the banking vehicles to launder bribes to Cunningham through the purchase of real estate, boats, and other valuables. In other words, Wilkes and Wade would seem to have had some degree of knowledge of Kontogiannis being central to the corruption scheme. While we know how companies belonging to Wilkes and Wade benefited from their bribes to Cunningham -- with a few hundred million dollars in sensitive U.S. government contracts -- it is still opaque what precisely Kontogiannis got out of the Cunningham arrangement. One is left to wonder what other interests Kontogiannis may have been representing, interests which could have benefited from his favors to Cunningham in ways that have not yet been revealed."