The Cover-ups of John McCain – Abramoff & the GOP Foreign Money Machine

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Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

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Senator John McCain likes to claim credit for rooting out the corruption of lobbyist Jack Abramoff to burnish his alleged "maverick" reformer image.  Yeah, not so much.  McCain’s job was actually to limit the scope of the damage caused by Abramoff’s lobbyist ties to GOP legislators and the White House.

McCain did not entirely succeed in his task.  On Monday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee released hundreds of pages of documents which show that Abramoff regularly communicated with former White House political adviser Karl Rove and his deputies regarding the administration’s domestic agenda.

Abramoff, who pleaded guilty two years ago to corruption charges, had 485 lobbying contacts with White House officials between January 2001 and March 2004, including 170 meetings over meals and 16 meetings over drinks, the report said. Read the report here http://oversight.house.gov/abramoff/docs/abramoff.pdf

Part 3 of the investigative report by Mark G. Levey explores "Senator McCover-up: Abramoff & the GOP Foreign Money Machine."  Read the full article here Election Fraud News and The Money Party .  Snippets from the report:

"Senator John McCain has proved to be Jack Abramoff’s best friend.

As Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee from 2005-2007, McCain was instrumental in suppressing evidence of Jack Abramoff’s role in directing illegal foreign payoffs to ranking members of the Republican Party.

McCain also did a big favor for Abramoff’s principal partners in crime, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed , identified in the 2006 Committee report as key players in the Choctaw Indian and Marianas Island scandals. Not one of the principal witnesses in the matter were compelled to publicly testify by McCain’s panel. The Committee also sequestered 99 percent of the documents it received, and these remain locked away, unseen by the public, in Senate files.

But there’s much more to the scandal than the Indian tribes rip-off McCain did disclose. The strand that runs through all the Abramoff-McCain relationship is foreign money – many, many millions – that Jack, Grover and Ralph funneled to GOP leaders from some of the world’s worst bad guys as part of a foreign influence-peddling operation.

Senator McCover-up: Why McCain Was Chosen by GOP Leadership to Oversee the Abramoff Investigation

By late 2005, it was becoming clear as the Justice Department started scratching the surface of Abamoff’s influence-peddling network that its exposure was going to be politically explosive, and that it was going to blow up the Republicans. Details started coming out that showed the scandal was more sinister than the mere rip-off of Indian tribes by their Washington lobbyists.

* * *

The Republican Congressional leadership recognized the problem. McCain was perfectly positioned to be the one to manage it. He had previously served as the Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, and most importantly, he had some credibility as a “maverick” reformer and a track record of highly publicized enmity with one of the primary suspects as a base to build on. McCain’s talent for damage-control was demonstrated early-on in his Senate career, when he survived his involvement in the Keating Savings & Loan scandal.

McCain Covered Up the Malfeasances of his Fellow Senators

So, in 2005, “Straight-Talk” McCain was the natural pick as Chairman of Indian Affairs to replace the former Chair Ben Nighthorse Campbell after his sudden resignation.

* * *

The inquiry initially had a limited mandate. The committee stated it would look into the exploitation of several American Indian tribes by Abramoff and a close circle of GOP lobbyists, including Michael Scanlon, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist.  Amazingly, none were ever put on the stand under oath and publicly questioned by the Senate Committee. Norquist and Reed were never issued subpoenas to appear. Abramoff and Scanlon refused to testify after being subpoenaed.  Chairman McCain settled without much apparent fuss on hearing from a few underlings.

(Note: Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney (R., Ohio), and Rep. John Doolittle (R., Calif.), are the subjects of ongoing Justice Department investigation into Abramoff’s lobbying activities.  Bob Ney has plead guilty to corruption charges).

* * *

That McCain’s mission was primarily to contain political fallout and minimize damage to the GOP was never in doubt. Prior to hearings in 2005, Roll Call reported McCain “assured his colleagues that his expanding investigation into the activities of a former GOP lobbyist and a half-dozen of his tribal casino clients is not directed at revealing ethically questionable actions by Members of Congress.” Paul Kane, Roll Call, “McCain Won’t Target Members” ( March 9, 2005). When a batch of Abramoff e-mails were released in March, 2006, McCain’s office redacted all the names of the members of Congress who had a “positive response” to Abramoff’s lobbying.

McCain’s Missing Documents

Indeed, the Abramoff scandal seems to have become “The Case of the Amazing Vanishing Corruption Investigation”, as Scott Horton recently described it in Harper’s.

While the Committee never heard from the principals in the case, what it did receive were their records. As Committee Chairman, John McCain made shrewd use of Senate rules to subpoena 750,000 pages of documents related to Abramoff’s lobbying — literally tons of Abramoff scandal documents – billing records, memos, appointment calendars — keeping 99.7 percent of them out of the record, and buried the rest in locked files in the basement of the Hart Senate Office Building .

* * *

[M]cCain misused his power as Chairman to limit the scope of public hearings into how Abramoff, Norquist and a circle of GOP lobbyists and politicians sucked up millions from foreign sources linked to terrorism and espionage, violated lobbying laws to change U.S. policy, and then funneled huge wads of cash back to the Bush White House along with Republican Congressional campaign coffers.

McCain’s Trusted Role in Protecting the GOP Foreign-Money Machine.

Abramoff and Norquist operated a foreign influence-peddling network that funneled money to the Bush White House and selected Republican Congressmen from the dirtiest of dirty money sources, including terrorist bankers and ex-KGB oil barons.

* * *

Much of that money came out of GOP slush funds controlled by Abramoff and his confederates. What the public wasn’t told by McCain was that a large portion of the income taken in by Abramoff and others came from sources under investigation by U.S intelligence and counter-terrorism. McCain withheld from public release the vast bulk of subpoenaed lobbying records related to a period when Abramoff engaged in extremely serious improprieties on behalf of those non-Indian tribe clients, including:

In the months immediately after 9/11, Abramoff worked with Grover Norquist to lobby the Bush Administration on behalf of a Saudi banker, Saleh Abdullah Kamel, Chairman of Dallah al Baraka Group (DBG), accused of being a longtime financier of Osama bin Laden. Kamel, who is worth a reported $2.6 billion, was the primary owner of the Sudanese and Saudi banks used by bin Laden to build his al-Qaeda network after his 1991 expulsion from Saudi Arabia. As owner of Dallah Avco, Kamel employed Omar al-Bayoumi, who shepherded the Flight 77 hijackers immediately after their arrival in the U.S. The 373-page Senate Indian Affairs Committee Final Report mentions neither Kamel’s name nor Dallah al Baraka.

In 2002, Abramoff and Scanlon received a $1.2 million fee to set up a White House meeting between George W. Bush and the leader of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamed.

* * *

Western intelligence services linked a Malaysian holding company, Kaspudu Sendirian Berhad, which is owned by the Malaysian prime minister’s only son, Kamaluddin Abdullah, to [A.Q.] Khan’s network. Time Magazine reported that Abdullah’s holding, Scomi Precision Engineering, fulfilled a $3.5 million contract to build components for 14 uranium enrichment centrifuges that ended up being shipped to Libya’s nuclear program. The 373-page Senate Indian Affairs Committee Final Report mentions neither Mohamed’s name nor makes reference to Rove’s involvement.

Abramoff and Scanlon set themselves up as intermediaries for deals involving Malaysian gas and oil interests in Sudan, where U.S. companies are legally banned from doing business.

* * *

Sudan was among several oil-rich nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East that Abramoff eyed as venues for lucrative energy deals. Abramoff told associates he wanted to become a go-to person for U.S. companies seeking to do business with oil-patch nations.”  The 373-page Senate Indian Affairs Committee Final Report makes no mention of Abramoff’s lobbying on behalf of Malaysian interests in Sudan.

The fees paid Abramoff and Scanlon by Malaysia funneled through AIC were allegedly laundered through Edward Fuelner, President of the Heritage Foundation.

* * *

Feulner worked for Belle Haven Consultants as a senior advisor. Official travel disclosure stated that the Heritage Foundation sponsored the travel. However, Time magazine reported that former Wyoming Senator Malcolm Wallop, a Heritage senior fellow who was on the trip, said Heritage did not pay for the trip and that Belle Haven Consultants, a for-profit, Hong Kong-based firm linked to the Malaysian government, played a key role. According to Wallop, "Heritage had nothing to do with it… Belle Haven did." Both DeLay’s office and the Heritage Foundation insist Heritage paid for the trip. (Time, 4/25/05; Washington Post, 4/17/05; Member Travel Disclosure Form, 3/19/02]. The 373-page Senate Indian Affairs Committee Final Report mentions neither Fuelner’s name, the Heritage Foundation, nor Belle Haven Consultants.

Also withheld by McCain were documents related to $3.4 million in fees received from executives of NaftaSib, a Russia energy company…  Other sources specify that Abamoff and DeLay received that money from operatives working for the GRU (Russian military intelligence) as part of an influence operation.  Abramoff worked from 1997-2005 with former Tom DeLay advisor Ed Buckham. About $60,000 was spent on a six-day 1997 Russian trip for Tom DeLay, Buckham, and Abramoff. In 1998, $1 million was sent to Buckham via his organization U.S. Family Network to "influence DeLay’s vote in 1998 on legislation that helped make it possible for the IMF to bail out the faltering Russian economy." DeLay voted for the legislation.  The 373-page Senate Indian Affairs Committee Final Report makes no reference to Abramoff’s Russian lobbying, Russian intelligence, or to NaftaSib.

* * *

McCain’s inquiry touched on issues that went far astray from a look into the exploitation of several American Indian tribes by Abramoff and a close circle of GOP lobbyists, including Robert Scanlon, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist. However, where the investigation unearthed other, more serious illegalities, these were simply skipped over, and omitted from the record.

About a year after it began its formal investigation, however, the Committee subpoenaed all of Jack Abramoff’s recent lobbying records, along with those of Norquist, Reed and Scanlon. The Committee staff received the electronic files from Jack’s former employers: the lobbying firm, Preston Gates, from 1995 to 2000, and Greenberg Traurig, LLP, a law firm with close GOP ties, where Abramoff worked from 2000 to 2004. These firms were tied to the scandal and McCain held their fate in his hands. When printed out, these amounted to an estimated 750,000 pages. McCain’s Committee would end up releasing only a small faction of these, a mere 4800 pages. Dozens of boxes of documents remain sequestered in Committee files pursuant to arrangements that McCain and the GOP majority imposed on the committee. See, page 6 of the Final Report…

* * *

Conclusion

By withholding most of the evidence received in response to his broad subpoena, McCain managed to cover-up the larger picture of the political work Abramoff did for his clients, some of which was clearly contrary to the U.S. national interest. This has thwarted the efforts of investigators outside McCain’s committee to independently examine the bulk of the record, which remains hidden…

Note:  A special thanks to Mark G. Levey for doing the kind of research and investigative reporting that one expects from a professional journalist.  Be sure to read his full reports with far greater detail than the points highlighted in snippets in these posts.