Monday, July 23, 2007

Sibel Edmonds and Gents against for Genocide

Michael Crowley has a devastating article (liberated in full here) in the latest New Republic.

Crowley investigates the efforts of Turkey's lobbyists in DC to block any recognition by Congress of the 1915 Armenian genocide.
"Even in modern Washington, where it's taken for granted that everyone has their price, flip-flopping on genocide has the ability to shock."


Crowley's article isn't so much about denying genocide, but rather what Sibel Edmonds rightly calls The Highjacking of a Nation:
"Today, foreign influence, that most baneful foe of our republican government, has its tentacles entrenched in almost all major decision making and policy producing bodies of the U.S. government machine. It does so not secretly, since its self-serving activities are advocated and legitimized by highly positioned parties that reap the benefits that come in the form of financial gain and positions of power."


Crowley's article is much more damning than Ken Silverstein's recent article in Harpers, Their Men in Washington, about lobbying for Turkmenistan. Whereas Silverstein's terrific undercover assignment demonstrates what lobbyists will promise to do for money, Crowley's piece deals with observable facts - and is therefore all the more shocking. This single article ought to replace all Eighth-Grade Civics 101 textbooks.

Crowley's article demonstrates conclusively that:
a) Ex-politicians-turned-lobbyists will do anything for the right price.
b) These lobbyists have enormous influence over congress man and women.
c) These lobbyists are from both parties.
d) Incumbent congressfolk of both parties are highly susceptible to the ill-gotten influence of their former associates.

Those of us who have followed Sibel Edmonds' case are familiar with the people, issues and processes that Crowley identifies.

Crowley uses former Democratic minority leader of the House of Representatives, Dick Gephardt, to demonstrate his case:
Even more striking than the historic Turkish-Armenian hatred festering in the halls of Congress, however, is the way Washington's political elites are cashing in on it. Take Gephardt.
While the Turks and Armenians have a long historical memory, Gephardt has an exceedingly short one. A few years ago, he was a working-class populist who cast himself as a tribune of the underdog--including the Armenians. Back in 1998, Gephardt attended a memorial event hosted by the Armenian National Committee of America at which, according to a spokeswoman for the group, "he spoke about the importance of recognizing the genocide." Two years later, Gephardt was one of three House Democrats who co-signed a letter to then House Speaker Dennis Hastert urging Hastert to schedule an immediate vote on a genocide resolution. "We implore you," the letter read, arguing that Armenian-Americans "have waited long enough for Congress to recognize the horrible genocide."
Today, few people are doing more than Gephardt to ensure that the genocide bill goes nowhere.

It's one thing to flip-flop on, say, tax cuts or asbestos reform. But, when it comes to genocide, you would hope for high principle to carry the day. In Washington, however, the Armenian genocide industry is in full bloom. And Dick Gephardt's shilling isn't even the half of it.
Those familiar with Sibel's case will recognize the Hastert reference. In the Vanity Fair article about Sibel, An Inconvenient Patriot, David Rose wrote:
"For many years, attempts had been made to get the house to pass a genocide resolution, but they never got anywhere until August 2000, when Hastert, as Speaker, announced that he would give it his backing and see that it received a full house vote... Thanks to Hastert, the resolution, vehemently opposed by the Turks, passed the International Relations Committee by a large majority. Then, on October 19, minutes before the full House vote, Hastert withdrew it.

At the time, he explained his decision by saying that he had received a letter from President Clinton arguing that the genocide resolution, if passed, would harm U.S. interests. Again, the reported content of the Chicago wiretaps may well have been sheer bravado, and there is no evidence that any payment was ever made to Hastert or his campaign. Nevertheless, a senior official at the Turkish Consulate is said to have claimed in one recording that the price for Hastert to withdraw the resolution would have been at least $500,000. "
For the record, I believe that Rose was mistaken. Hastert did indeed receive the $500,000, stuffed into suitcases and delivered to his home - but the bribe was for reasons other than the genocide resolution.

Crowley also discusses some of Turkey's other main anti-genocide lobbyists. There's former Republican House Speaker Bob Livingston, who has taken $13 Million from Turkey since his ignominious fall from grace (which incidentally led to Senator David Vitter's fall from grace, for the same reasons.) Former Democratic representative Steven Solarz is another who has flip-flopped on the genocide issue since he began lobbying for Turkey.

I do hope that Crowley writes another article and looks at Turkish lobbying in general - because then he'd be right in the middle of the Sibel Edmonds case. Crowley would have to take a closer look at some of Turkey's other lobbyists - past and present - and he'd find that Douglas Feith and Richard Perle used to lobby for Turkey (although he'd be hard-pressed to identify exactly what they did for their money.) And he'd find that The Cohen Group (former Defense Secretary William Cohen, General Joe Ralston, former State Dept #3 Marc Grossman) is currently lobbying for Turkey, as is Ret. General Brent Scowcroft.

Crowley would probably find that most of these lobbyists are very close to the American Turkish Council (ATC), "a front for criminal activity," according to Sibel. And Crowley would probably find that although these lobbyists purport to be working for the Republic of Turkey, that might not actually be true. Ex-CIA agent Phil Giraldi says:
"The money involved does not appear to come from the Turkish government, and FBI investigators are trying to determine its source and how it is distributed. Some of it may come from criminal activity, possibly drug trafficking, but much more might come from arms dealing. Contracts in the hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars provide considerable fat for those well placed to benefit."
If Crowley takes a closer look at the ATC, home to all these lobbyists, he'll notice that the FBI has been running a counter-intelligence operation against them since the mid-Nineties. And he'd notice that Sibel's case, in part, is about the nuclear black market. And he'd also notice that Valerie Plame's CIA front company, Brewster Jennings, was also investigating nuclear black market activities within the ATC. Crowley might even think that enabling, and covering-up, black-market nuclear proliferation, today, by Turkey, Pakistan, and other countries is weirder, and much more dangerous, than denying a genocide that took place 90 years ago. And Crowley would probably note that Stephen Solarz, author of the anti-nuclear-proliferation 'Solarz Amendment' to the Foreign Assistance Act, and current lobbyist for Turkey, had flip-flopped on the idea of illegal nuclear proliferation, for a price.

Crowley is correct that flipflopping on genocide denial for money shocks the conscience. It is demonstrably a step below plain-vanilla genocide denial. However, genocide denial is arguably 'just' a thought crime (and a crime of propaganda.) However, the people involved in Sibel's case are arguably much more deplorable, and they demonstrably, actively, endanger the lives of millions. These issues "concern not state espionage but criminal activity... selling classified military technologies to the highest bidder."

In Crowley's current piece, he writes:
"Earning a special commendation for dubious behavior is Washington's Jewish-American lobby. In one of this tale's strangest twists, the Turks have convinced prominent Jewish groups, not typically indifferent to charges of genocide, to mute their opinions."
If Crowley takes a closer look at the ATC, he'll learn that it was established by AIPAC (and JINSA) and that the groups have significant overlap in terms of members, goals and activities. When he appreciates that fact, he might begin to untangle the "strangest twists."

And if Crowley takes a closer look at the ATC and associated groups, he'd likely find that they have a habit of bribing congressfolks - Sibel says that there are four that she knows about - and Crowley would likely notice that the system of corruption has an inbuilt 'Continuity -of-Perma-Gov' plan. Sibel describes it thusly:
These successful foreign entities have mastered the art of ‘covering all the bases’ when it comes to buying influence in Washington DC. They have the required recipe down pat: get yourself a few ‘Dime a Dozen Generals,’ bid high in the ‘former statesmen lobby auction’, and put in your pocket one or two ‘ex-congressmen turned lobbyists’ who know the ropes when it comes to pocketing a few dozen who still serve.
Those 'who still serve' are 'renumerated,' in part, while they stay in office, provided that they serve their paymasters, but they are promised even greater riches when they leave office. In some cases, the ex-congressmen will be given lucrative 'lobbying' contracts where they perpetuate the machine by bribing new congressmen. With rumours that Hastert will soon resign, we can probably expect to see a newly formed Hastert Group hanging out a shiny new shingle.

In other cases, such as that of Marc Grossman, the pay-off can appear in the form of an 'advisory' position. Since Grossman resigned in 2005, one of his new roles is an advisory position with Ihlas, "a large and alleged shady Turkish company which is also active in several Central Asian countries," earning $1.2m per year. Sibel says that Grossman
"used his position within the State Department to secure future higher-level positions while in office — and I would like to emphasize this — while in office..."
In other words, there was an explicit quid pro quo.

If Crowley were to take a closer look at some of these cases, he'd learn that this isn't garden-variety corruption. As Sibel says:
"The most important facet of this influence to consider is what happens when the active and powerful foreign entities’ objectives are in direct conflict with our nation’s objectives and its interests and security..."
Treason, in other words. And a clear, present, and ongoing danger.

Crowley would also learn that this state of affairs is an open secret within the US Government. Everybody Knows (youtube). He'd also learn that any attempt to investigate these crimes were thwarted (youtube) by people at the highest levels of the Pentagon, the State Dept, and the Justice Dept.

If Crowley were to investigate all this and write an article about it, the new article would form the basis of the new Eighth-grade Civics 101 text. In the meantime, make sure you read his place-holder.

Call Waxman. Demand public open hearings:
DC phone: (202) 225-3976 LA phone: 323 651-1040 fax: (202) 225-4099 Capitol switchboard phone: 800-828-0498


I didn't want this post to focus on the Armenian genocide, or the proposed recognition of the genocide in congress, but last week Turkey's chief lobbyist Bob Livingston made the most craven appeal for genocide denial imaginable in an 8 minute video. I feel dirty just watching it (textual debunking by ANCA):

Do you think there's anything he wouldn't say for money?

(dkos, DU)


Anonymous said...

Azerbaijhan gets the same treatment.

Miguel said...

"Hastert did indeed receive the $500,000, stuffed into suitcases and delivered to his home - but the bribe was for reasons other than the genocide resolution."

I heard that fat toad on NPR this A.M. blathering on about why children shouldn't get government-backed healthcare. I guess Hastert is right- people should be responsible and entrepeneurial like he was and learn to shake down foreigners for bribes in order to pay for their own child's health care.

lukery said...

urgh - miguel. that's terrible

go wash your brain out.

Anonymous said...

Ihlas Holding "a large and alleged shady Turkish company", Luke dont you think you are over reacting.
The founder of Ihlas Holding is Enver Oren a very religious and respectable man in Turkey. In fact he is a man that is hated by our secular elite and military because of his strong religious beliefs. He is the last man in Turkey to be in in cahoots with the military. Enver Oren is an Islamist why do you demean this man and his company? Get your facts straight luke.


lukery said...

Orrin - the "a large and alleged shady Turkish company" quote is from Sibel, which I linked in the piece.

I don't know anything else about them.