Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Hastert Case Isn't Just About Him Raping A Handful Of Underage Boys-- Is It Bigger Than Watergate?


On the day the House was bidding a fond adieu to one corrupt Speaker, the corrupt Republican who played Speaker before Boehner, Denny Hastert, pleaded guilty to one carefully constructed charge of "structuring," evading reporting requirements in connection to a multimillion dollar blackmail scheme. As part of the deal Hastert admitted he knew what he was doing was illegal and said "I didn’t want them to know how I intended to spend the money." The part of the indictment that charged Hastert with lying to the FBI was dropped as part of the plea deal. The sentencing isn't until February 29 but federal prosecutors recommended a teeny-weeny wrist slap-- a fine and between zero and six months in prison.

For several years, we've covered the actual basis of Hastert's dilemma-- his serial rapes of underage males. But there's another aspect of this that been whispered about in Washington also for as many years. Yes, Hastert was being blackmailed by some of the boys-- now grown men-- who he used to rape. But was he also being blackmailed by foreign intelligence agencies? DWT has been writing about it since 2006. Last week, Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, writing for the American Conservative brought up Israel and Turkey.
As former House Speaker Dennis Hastert prepares to plead guilty in accordance with a deal he has made with federal prosecutors, most media will focus on the crimes the FBI mentioned in his indictment. Since Hastert was charged in May, the public has been shocked to learn that the former high-school wrestling coach allegedly spent large sums trying to cover up past sexual abuse. But one prominent whistleblower has been speaking up about the possible misdeeds of Hastert for years now-- and the way that they may have compromised national security.

Longtime readers of the American Conservative are familiar with the Sibel Edmonds saga. Edmonds, an FBI translator who revealed large-scale corruption throughout the government, has received multiple gag orders under the State Secrets Act. She has nevertheless persevered in spite of concerns that she would be prosecuted and possibly imprisoned. TAC interviewed her for a feature article in 2009, and I also reviewed her claims multiple times over the last few years, including when her book Classified Woman came out in 2012.

Many of Edmonds’s claims involved Turkish and Israeli front groups seeking to influence U.S. policy while sometimes also engaging in illegal activity. The scope of the corruption allegedly involved bribery of senior government officials and congressmen, arranging for export licenses to countries that were embargoed, and the exposure of classified information. Edmonds has been questioned by a congressional committee, by individual congressmen and staffers, as well as by the FBI inspector general, and her information was found to be “credible,” “serious,” and “warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review.” She also provided interviews for “60 Minutes” and Vanity Fair, both of which were able to confirm key elements of her story.

...In the course of her various media appearances, Edmonds provided significant information on Congressman Hastert, who was under FBI investigation while he was speaker of the House, a role he assumed in 1999 and held for eight years. In her TAC interview, Edmonds related that “In early 1997, because of the information that the FBI was getting on the Turkish diplomatic community, the Justice Department had already started to investigate several Republican congressmen. The number-one congressman involved with the Turkish community, both in terms of providing information and doing favors, was Bob Livingston. Number-two after him was Dan Burton, and then he became number-one until Hastert became the speaker of the House. Bill Clinton’s attorney general, Janet Reno, was briefed on the investigations, and since they were Republicans, she authorized that they be continued… In 1999, [FBI agents in the Chicago field office] wiretapped the congressmen directly.”

In a deposition given in August 2009, Edmonds identified Hastert as “one of the primary U.S. persons involved in operations and activities that are not legal, and they’re not for the interest of the United States but for the interest of foreign governments and foreign entities.” She detailed what she believed to be Hastert’s wrongdoing: “This information has been public. The concerns, again would be several categories. The acceptance of large sums of bribery in forms of cash or laundered cash and laundering is to make it look legal for his campaigns, and also for his personal use, in order to do certain favors and call certain-- call for certain actions, make certain things happen for foreign entities and foreign governments’ interests, Turkish government’s interest and Turkish business entities’ interests.”

When asked in the deposition, “Did you have reason to believe that Mr. Hastert, for example, killed one of the Armenian genocide resolutions in exchange for money from these Turkish organizations?” she responded, “Yes, I do… Correct… and not only taking money, but other activities, too, including being blackmailed for various reasons.” At the time of the deposition Hastert had left Congress and was working for the Washington lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro as a registered lobbyist for Turkey, reportedly earning millions of dollars in commissions.

Edmonds described her work on Turkish-language transcripts of investigations relating to Hastert covering the period 1996 until January 2003, elaborating on the possibility of blackmail. She recalled that Hastert “used the townhouse [in Chicago] that was not his residence for certain not very morally accepted activities. Now, whether that was being used as blackmail I don’t know, but the fact that foreign entities [Turkey and Israel] knew about this, in fact, they sometimes participated in some of those not maybe morally well activities in that particular townhouse that was supposed to be an office, not a house, residence at certain hours, certain days, evenings of the week. So I can’t say if that was used as blackmail or not, but certain activities they would share. They were known.”

In testimony before congressional staffers and committees, Edmonds has reported hearing Turkish wiretap targets boast of their secret relationship with a “Hastert.” They discussed giving him tens of thousands of dollars in clandestine payments in exchange for political favors and information. Many of the transcripts involved a suspect at the city’s Turkish Consulate, as well as several members of the American-Turkish Council and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations, business entities that some FBI agents believed served as occasional covers for organized crime. Some calls appeared to be referring to drug shipments and other possible crimes.

...Fast forward to the Dennis Hastert case making the rounds today, which focuses on relatively minor federal banking laws and ignores the other evidence that has been collected by the FBI on Hastert for the past 20 years. One has to ask, “Why Hastert and why now?”, but there does not seem to be a simple answer. It might be little more than the result of frustrated FBI investigators demanding that some action be taken.

Edmonds, for her part, has described how the Hastert case has been ignored by the media and has predicted that it would eventually be made to go away by the government. Indeed, legal action following up on the original indictment has been delayed through postponement after postponement and more recently sidetracked into a plea bargain that will allow the former congressman to plead guilty to reduced charges while at the same time sealing forever the unsavory details linked to his being blackmailed.

Hastert and his lawyers understand that they are well placed to effectively threaten the government prosecutors because Hastert knows where a lot of bodies are buried, metaphorically speaking. By demanding that the investigative files on him-- which could include reports of illegal activity by a broad range of former officials-- be released as part of his defense, he can force the government to drop or mitigate the charges against him. It is a ploy similar to that used by alleged AIPAC spies Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman in 2009, which led to the presiding judge’s dismissal of the case.

Glenn Greenwald writes that “Those with political and financial clout are routinely allowed to break the law with no legal repercussions whatsoever. Often they need not even exploit their access to superior lawyers because they don’t see the inside of a courtroom in the first place-- not even when they get caught in the most egregious criminality.” There is a particular irony here: criminals in high office may avoid punishment through their willingness to implicate their peers who are engaged in much the same practices, in effect blackmailing the government to leave them alone or face the consequences. That is what the Dennis Hastert story appears to be all about.
Oh, and you might want to listen to this report too if this case interests you and you think we should have less corrupt people in government. If not, nevermind.

UPDATE: Irony?

On the same day that Hastert plead guilty, the House Republicans seem to have ended the odious Hastert Rule which dictated that only legislation that had at least 50% of Republicans backing it could come to the floor for a vote. Yesterday, within hours of Hastert's judicial disgrace, Patrick Meehan (R-PA) brought up the compromise Budget-- with co-sponsors Tom Reed (R-NY) and Peter Roskam (R-IL)-- and it passed with just 79 Republican votes. 167 GOP nihilists and extremists voted NO. The Southern Republicans were foiled when every single Democrat-- 187-- joined with the 79 Republicans to pass the budget and prevent another of the government shutdowns that Ted Cruz and the crazed and venal anti-USA faction love so much.

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At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Turkey. Follow the money.


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