Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Nobody's Business But the Turks 

Via Zemblan patriot K.Z.: The new issue of Vanity Fair is arriving at newsstands as we write, and although its contents have yet to appear online our distinguished colleagues at the Project on Governmental Oversight have done us the kindness of posting a scanned version, in .PDF format, of "An Inconvenient Patriot," David Rose's feature article on Zemblan favorite Sibel Edmonds. Edmonds, the former FBI translator turned whistleblower, has long alleged that the Bush administration's attempts to silence her by invoking the state secrets privilege have nothing to do with national security and everything to do with protecting the powerful. Raw Story summarizes:
"Edmonds has given confidential testimony inside a secure Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility on several occasions: to congressional staffers, to investigators from the OIG, and to staff from the 9/11 commission," Rose continues. "Sources familiar with this testimony say that, in addition to her allegations about the Dickersons, she reported hearing Turkish wiretap targets boast that they had a covert relationship with a very senior Republican indeed—Dennis Hastert, Republican congressman from Illinois and Speaker of the House since 1999. The targets reportedly discussed giving Hastert tens of thousands of dollars in surreptitious payments in exchange for political favors and information. 'The Dickersons,' says one official familiar with the case, 'are just the tip of the iceberg.'

"Some of the calls reportedly contained what sounded like references to large scale drug shipments and other crimes," writes Rose. "One name, however, apparently stood out—a man the Turkish callers often referred to by the nickname “Denny boy.” It was the Republican congressman from Illinois and Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert. According to some of the wiretaps, the FBI’s targets had arranged for thousands of dollars to be paid to Hastert’s campaign funds in small checks. Under Federal Election Commission rules, donations of less than $200 are not required to be itemized in public filings.

"Hastert himself was never heard on the recordings, Edmonds told investigators and it is possible that the claims of covert payments were hollow boasts," Rose says. "Nevertheless, an examination of Hastert’s federal filings shows that the level of un-itemized payments his campaigns received over many years was relatively high. Between April 1996 and December 2002, un-itemized personal donations to the Hastert for Congress fund amounted to $483,000. In contrast, un-itemized contributions to the same period to the committee run on behalf of the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, were only $99,000. An analysis of the filings of four other senior Republicans shows that only one, Clay Shaw, of Florida declared a higher total of un-itemized donations that Hastert during the same period: $552,000…

"Edmonds reportedly added that the recordings contained repeated references to Hastert’s flip-flop in the fall of 200," Rose pens, "over an issue which remains of intense concern to the Turkish government—the continuing campaign to have Congress designate the killings of Armenians between 1915 and 1923 a genocide. 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… Then on October 19, minutes before the full House vote, Hastert withdrew it. He attributed it to a letter from President Clinton.

Vanity Fair insists, however, “there is no evidence that any payment was ever made to Hastert of 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 $50,000.”

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