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DoJ Inspector General Glen Fine is investigating Bush's ending of Abramoff's Guam Scandal

John Conyers in August asked for an investigation for possible Obstruction of Justice charges against Bush for abruptly ending an inquiry on Abramoff and Guam.  Covered this in Bush Abruptly Ended Abramoff Investigation in 2002! Obstruction of Justice? (must-see!!), my diary yesterday.  

Here is the full letter:

It was on November 19, 2002, that President Bush announced he was demoting U.S. Attorney Black. The federal grand jury took no further action in the Abramoff investigation.

The Los Angeles Times reports that an extensive effort by lobbyists connected to the Government of Guam is responsible for U.S. Attorney Black's demotion. In May 2003, U.S. Attorney Black was replaced by Leonardo Rapadas who had been recommended by the Republican Party of Guam. Fred Radewagen, a lobbyist, said he carried that recommendation to Karl Rove, White House Deputy Chief of Staff, in early 2003.

The full letter:

August 23, 2005

Honorable Glenn A. Fine
Inspector General

United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 4322
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Dear Inspector General Fine:

We write to request that the Office of the Inspector General conduct an investigation into the November 2002 demotion of former Acting United States Attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Frederick A. Black. We are troubled by an August 7, 2005, report in the Los Angeles Times that suggests this demotion was politically motivated (enclosed).1

At the time U.S. Attorney Black was demoted, he was supervising a grand jury investigation into the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff and conducting an ongoing investigation into possible corruption within the Government of Guam. U.S. Attorney Black had been serving as the Acting United States Attorney for more than 10 years when he was demoted. The timing of President Bush's decision to remove and replace U.S. Attorney Black is questionable and warrants an investigation.

The Los Angeles Times reports that in 2002, lobbyist Jack Abramoff entered into a secret agreement with Guam Superior Court officials to lobby against a court revision bill then pending in the United States Congress. For his lobbying efforts, Mr. Abramoff was reportedly paid with thirty-six $9,000 checks funneled through a Laguna Beach lawyer to disguise the lobbyist's role in working for the Guam Superior Court. These transactions were the target of a federal grand jury subpoena issued on November 18, 2002, which required the Guam Superior Court Administrative Director to release records involving the lobbying contract. It was on November 19, 2002, that President Bush announced he was demoting U.S. Attorney Black. The federal grand jury took no further action in the Abramoff investigation.

The Los Angeles Times also reports that at the time U.S. Attorney Black was demoted, he was directing a long-term investigation into allegations of public corruption in the Government of Guam. This inquiry produced numerous indictments, including some of the top officials in the government. The Los Angeles Times reports that an extensive effort by lobbyists connected to the Government of Guam is responsible for U.S. Attorney Black's demotion. In May 2003, U.S. Attorney Black was replaced by Leonardo Rapadas who had been recommended by the Republican Party of Guam. Fred Radewagen, a lobbyist, said he carried that recommendation to Karl Rove, White House Deputy Chief of Staff, in early 2003. Since taking office, U.S. Attorney Rapadas has excused himself from the ongoing public corruption case involving the Government of Guam because he is the cousin of one of the key targets of the investigation.

Again, we are troubled by the circumstances that surround the demotion of former Acting U.S. Attorney Black and request than an investigation be conducted. The Department of Justice should be concerned that a federal prosecutor was possibly removed from his position as a result of lobbying efforts by those he was investigating for public corruption. We appreciate your prompt consideration of this matter. Please reply through the Judiciary Committee Democratic office, 2142 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515 (tel:202-225-6504; fax: 202-225-4423).

Sincerely,

John Conyers, Jr.
Member of Congress

Madeleine Z. Bordallo
Member of Congress

cc: Hon. William E. Moschella
Assistant Attorney General

Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Chairman, U.S. House Comm. on the Judiciary

http://rawstory.com/...

Here is another article, from Guam:


Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo and the Democrats' highest-ranking member in the House Judiciary Committee are calling for a Justice Department investigation into what they called the demotion of Frederick Black from being the acting U.S. Attorney on Guam and in the Northern Marianas.

"At the time U.S. Attorney Black was demoted, he was supervising a grand jury investigation into the lobbying activities of Jack Abramoff and conducting an ongoing investigation into possible corruption within the government of Guam," according to a letter signed by Bordallo and Rep. John Conyers Jr.

Conyers was elected by his congressional colleagues to lead the Democratic side of the House Committee on the Judiciary, which has oversight of the Department of Justice, including the FBI and the federal courts.

"U.S. Attorney Black had been serving as the acting United States Attorney for more than 10 years when he was demoted. The timing of President Bush's decision to remove and replace U.S. Attorney Black is questionable and warrants an investigation," Bordallo and Conyers wrote.

The office of U.S. Attorney Leonardo Rapadas, who has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Black's replacement, has denied that Black was demoted. The office issued a press release recently, stating Black's title shift did not mean a demotion.

Black remains in the U.S. Attorney's Office as senior litigation counsel.

The Los Angeles Times had reported that Black was demoted after Guam Superior Court records of lobbying payments that eventually went to Abramoff's law firm were subpoenaed as part of a federal grand jury investigation Black was heading.

"Mr. Rapadas' nomination was well under way long before any suggestion of supposed subpoenas or a politically sensitive investigation in November 2002. The White House, in its Nov. 19, 2002, press release, cited Rapadas' 13-year experience as an assistant attorney general for Guam," Rapadas' office said in a previously released press statement.

Bordallo and Conyers wrote: "We are troubled by an Aug. 7, 2005, report in the Los Angeles Times that suggests this demotion was politically motivated."

An ethics watchdog organization in Washington, D.C., also has asked Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine to investigate the demotion of Black. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington stated that it sent copies of the request for an investigation to U.S. senators and congressmen who lead the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

http://www.guampdn.com/...

Raw Story:

Such an investigation could have been a major liability for Bush, and might have brought to light a web of other scandals that are now being investigated by the Senate, the FBI, and the Justice Department.

http://rawstory.com/...

Here is a letter from CREW calling for an investigation of Bush Obstructing Justice for Jack Abramoff:

http://citizensforethics.org/...

CREW SENDS LETTER TO DOJ - URGING INVESTIGATION INTO DEMOTION OF PROSECUTOR ON ABRAMOFF GUAM SCANDAL

Washington, DC - Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a non-profit ethics watchdog group, sent a letter today to Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Glenn Fine asking for an investigation into the demotion of former Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Frederick A. Black. CREW sent copies of the letter to Senators McCain, Specter and Leahy and to Congressmen Sensenbrenner and Conyers.

According to a story in yesterday's Los Angeles Times, Mr. Black had been supervising a grand jury investigation into lobbyist Jack Abramoff's secret arrangement with Guam Superior Court officials to lobby against a court revision bill then pending in the U.S. Congress. In 2002, Mr. Abramoff was retained by the Superior Court and paid with a series of $9,000 checks apparently funneled through a Laguna Beach lawyer to conceal the arrangement. These payments were the target of a grand jury subpoena issued November 18, 2002, which required the administrative director of the Guam Superior Court to release records involving the lobbying contracts.

The day after the subpoena was issued, Mr. Black who had launched the prosecution, was demoted despite holding the post of Acting U.S. Attorney for more than a decade. After the issuance of the subpoena and Black's subsequent demotion, the federal grand jury took no further action in the Abramoff investigation.

"The demotion of Acting Attorney General Black looks political and should be investigated," Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today. "The fact that Mr. Black's demotion apparently resulted in the termination of a serious public corruption investigation into a friend of the White House, makes the situation all the more egregious. This Administration needs to be held accountable for its actions. An investigation by the Department of Justice Inspector General would be a good first step."

At the time of Mr. Black's demotion, he was directing a long-term investigation into allegations of public corruption in the administration of then Governor of Guam Carl Gutierrez. Mr. Black was responsible for the indictment of some of the governor's top aides and political associates. Supporters of Governor Gutierrez lobbied for Black's demotion and he was replaced by the Bush Administration with Leonardo Rapadas, a cousin of one of the targets of Black's public corruption case. Soon after taking office, Rapadas recused himself from the case.

Earlier this year - over two years after Mr. Black attempted to initiate an investigation - Guam Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks commenced a separate investigation into Mr. Abramoff's secret lobbying on behalf of the Guam courts. Ms. Brooks' office is reviewing 36 payments of $9,000, totaling $324,000 made to Mr. Abramoff and paid through a middleman, California lawyer Howard Hills.

*

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit, progressive legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. CREW drafted the complaint against Rep. Tom DeLay, filed by former Congressman Chris Bell, for which DeLay was admonished last year.

http://citizensforethics.org/...

We need to blast this out to the media, other blogs and our e-mail lists, Kossacks!

What has Inspector General Glen Fine discovered so far?  Is the President above the law?  What about the $314,000 the RNC 2000 recount committee still owes Abramoff's firm, making that $314,000 in effect a HUGE campaign contribution?

Quid meet Pro and Quo!   DoJ Inspector General Glen Fine is apparently looking into the Shutdown of the Abramoff Guam Investigation, presumably for Obstruction of Justice violations, like the Nixon firing of Archibald Cox.

Where is the media on this?  Where are WE??

Let's dig up everything we can on Guam and what Abramoff was doing there and why it was so important for Bush to demote a sitting US Attorney.

BLOG SWARM!!

Update [2005-12-4 7:48:6 by Sherlock Google]: Here are the Obstruction Statutes:

OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE STATUTES

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 73 > § 1510

§ 1510. Obstruction of criminal investigations

(a) Whoever willfully endeavors by means of bribery to obstruct, delay, or prevent the communication of information relating to a violation of any criminal statute of the United States by any person to a criminal investigator shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

Title 18 U.S.C. § 2. Principals. (a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal. (b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal.

Note: The legislative intent to punish as a principal not only one who directly commits an offense and one who "aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures" another to commit an offense, but also anyone who causes the doing of an act which if done by him directly would render him guilty of an offense against the United States. Case law decisions: Rothenburg v. United States, 1918, 38 S.Ct. 18, 245 U.S. 480, 62 L.Ed. 414, and United States v. Giles, 1937, 57 S.Ct. 340, 300 U.S. 41, 81 L.Ed. 493.

Title 18 U.S.C. § 3. Accessory after the fact. Whoever, knowing that an offense against the United States had been committed, receives, relieves, comforts or assists the offender in order to hinder or prevent his apprehension, trial or punishment, is an accessory after the fact.

Title 18 U.S.C. § 4 (misprision of felony). Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

Update [2005-12-4 12:4:11 by Sherlock Google]: Conyers himself has replied to me, saying there is no word yet and that he agrees this is now a very important case. He asked us to keep up our vigilance! Let's not let him down Kossaks!

Also, Viget suggested in Rational Being's Diary on Black's Replacement that Sue Ralston might have been involved in letting Abramoff remove Black with Rove's help and having Bush name Rapada, who would never prosecute Abramoff (Ralston was Abramoff's secretary who became Rove's personal assistant and she is Filipino and familiar with all of Abramoff's dealings with the Saipan sweatshops). Go read A Rational Being's diary now...

Originally posted to Sherlock Google on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 02:30 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Blog Swarm Tip Jar! (4.00)
    TIP > RECOMMEND > SWARM!!
  •  All this.. (4.00)
    ..makes the Lewinsky business seem pretty mundane, eh?  They barked about dishonesty and obstruction of justice then.  What do you think they'll say now?

    Oh, that's right, "it's ok if you're a ..."

    You can never ask too many questions.

    by socratic on Sat Dec 03, 2005 at 09:32:53 PM PST

    •  Yeah, they barked... (4.00)
      and you know why the bit.  As Newt G. said, "Because we could."  The difference here is not the level of the offense.  We all know that.

      Let's see what happens if we can take back the House in 2006.

      "No self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a Party that ignores her sex." -- Susan B. Anthony

      by Yellow Dog Dem Woman on Sat Dec 03, 2005 at 09:51:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  and we are barking (4.00)
        "because we should."  

        Bush shuts down Abramoff investigation.
        Bush shuts down Niger documents investigation.

        good blogs and the law shut down Bush...

        •  Bow Wow (4.00)
          It's all tied together ....

          Abramoff Bush /DeLay/Bush /Cheney/Bush /Scooter Libby/Bush /Frist/Bush /Rove/Cheney/Bush / Hadley/Bush /Armstrong Williams here/Propoganda in Iraq Sadham's Torture Rooms/Torture Flts to Europe/CIA/WHIG/Cheney/Halliburton/Arms Merchants/Profits/Saudi Oil/ Saudi Hijackers/ Permanent Saudi Bases/Osama Bin Laudin/Our Oil Addiction/ Dependence on Middle East/War for $WMD's/Military Industrial Complex/Charlyle Group/9-11 Saudi Arabia/Project For the New Century/New Pearl Harbor/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Nixion/Johon Necrophonte/ Death Squads/Iran Contra/Arms from Iran/ Rumsfeld meeting Sahdam/ Chemical Weapons deals/ Made in USA/Use's Chemical Weapons on his own people!!/ Phosphorous/ Falluga/ Phosphorous/Freedoms On The March/Torture/ Abu Graib/USA torture flights to Europe / Plan For Victory/ Torture/Cheney Lobbies for/ "We Don't Torture"/ Bush Lies AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!Cheney runnig things/DeLay buying things Abramoff arranging deals /Bush asleep @ the wheel ...

          Start @ beginning.

          Wait 4 MSM to connect dots....

          Don't hold breath .........

        •  Yeah -- hope (none)
          we can grow some teeth in 2006, so we can bite him back -- and bite him HARD!!

          Stay strong -- keep barking!!  

          "No self-respecting woman should wish or work for the success of a Party that ignores her sex." -- Susan B. Anthony

          by Yellow Dog Dem Woman on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 11:19:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Good News? Cheer up and celebrate this: (none)
              1. La Times on Sat. has this [ article  http://www.latimes.com/... ] about the FBI reopening it's investigation of the Niger forged docs. Yippee!
              Haven't gone thru all the diaries and all the comments on DKos since yesterday so pardon if redundant, also off-diary a little.

                2.  Re: sex shops, I noted in diaries recently on this issue that  iirc 'many visits and junkets to the Marianas were arranged by Abramof and associates of his.' or to that effect..The Marianas are a depressing shithole according to friends of mine who have been there, it's probably got some scenic spots and luxury hotels etc. That it's got SEX of a creepy kind according to earlier discussions of this issue and it's sooo far away...hmmmm...
             Upthread there were good comments about the forced abortion/sterilization horror .
                I just can't keep the tinfoil hatted fella on my shoulder from squawking about this:  Far away from home and reporters, Gov't officials in a corrupt and corrupting environment = corrupted gov't. Blackmail, guilt by association, shame, whatever, all logically follow.
             Good luck to us all, and I'm so thankful for John Conyers and people like him....
            Great diary Sherlock Google, you're the man!  Hey waaait a minute, that's not your real name!

          Neocon plan for Iraq : Chaos and Corruption.

          by KenBee on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 01:37:20 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  take back the House? (4.00)
        We need Dems to sound like they want to take it back, and are going to change something once they take it back. We need Dems to scream and shout about this swarm of scandals.

        Republicans are the party of personal enrichment. Call them on it: they are selling their votes, pocketing bribes, etc. Call the Republicans criminals. Slip that one right in there. Let the Republicans scream about unfair characterizations and stereotypes, let the Republicans get shrill for a change... put them on the defensive, and let them squirm and explain how what Cunningham and Delay and Frist have done are not criminal acts...

        We need Dems to stand up to this scandal the way Murtha stood up to the Iraq war. But I'm just not hearing it. Where is the OUTRAGE?

        Without the outrage, and in light of the fact that Dems don't poll much higher than most Repubs (and that most districts are now 'safely' gerrymandered for one or the other party), I don't see how we win back the House....

        "[I]n all due respect to your profession [journalism], you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." -- George W. Bush on Oct 7, 2003

        by QuickSilver on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 02:19:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are so right. (4.00)
          I don't get a sense that the dems in DC even want to  perform the coup of the century.  They don't even look like they smell blood for god's sakes.  And I surely know that they sure the heck aren't going to offer any sort of change even if we did own all of Congress after 2006.  

          But let's say we did have a chance of taking the house and the senate back.  Let's say we did.  How in God's creation can the neocon criminal thugs allow that?  How can they 'allow' the dems to start snooping around diligently into all bush admin affairs of the previous 6 years? Can you imagine what would be discovered, who would go down?  What worries me most is what the political thugs will feel compelled to do in order to shut down any opportunity for dems to unearth the truth on anything.

          Be safe Mr. Conyers!!!

          LetsFight. re handle: Fight the radical right is the sentiment!

          by letsfight on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 06:18:47 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Are they just waiting? (4.00)
            I get the feeling they are afraid to tip the balance in case it goes the wrong way -- but that means they are just quietly hiding in the corner, hoping the GOP will implode and that they will be elected by default.

            However, 'not being the other guy' isn't enough any more. I think people are more likely to vote for JoeBob from the local diner as a write-in out of pure disgust, if we don't field some candidates with the moral courage and personal outrage and intellectual solutions this country deserves.

            I don't think people want someone to be perfect, but they want politicians who care.  The status quo won't work any more.

    •  we can handle (none)
      corruption, torture, and murder but not sex.  the vision of that sweet young girl next door doing #$&$# is destroying me.  pulling fingernails off an evil doer makes me proud to be an american.

      "Welcome to the Monkey House" by Kurt Vonnegut.

      by realheathen on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 06:19:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've started an LTE (4.00)
    Can't say I expect John Conyers' letter to raise any more action in the House until a year from January, when he's the Committee Chairman again.

    Meanwhile, the more people who know about this the better.  Destruction of justice is more appropriate.

    -4.50, -5.85 "To initiate a war of aggression is ... the supreme international crime." ---Nuremberg Tribunal

    by Dallasdoc on Sat Dec 03, 2005 at 09:36:32 PM PST

  •  Textiles (4.00)
    Why do I have a recollection that there was lobbying taking place to influence the placing of tariffs on textiles that would financially impact a Hong Kong textile magnate who had sweat shops in the Marianas?
  •  Sourcewatch article (4.00)
    Sourcewatch:
    The $324,000 was paid to Abramoff through a Laguna Beach, California lawyer by means of 36 checks of $9,000 each. If done to avoid the federal reporting requirements for payment transfers this would constitute illegal 'structuring' under 31 USC 5324(a).
    On November 18, 2002, a grand jury issued a subpoena demanding that the administrator of the Guam superior court release all records relating to the contract.

    There is more in the original article...

  •  Here's something for you Sherlock (4.00)
    Delay went to Saipan and spoke against reform laws and Abramoff is also under investigation for his Saipan lobbying.

    The DeLay trip to the South Pacific island, originally reported by a "20/20" investigation, was part of an effort by former aide Jack Abramoff to stop legislation aimed at cracking down on sweatshops and sex shops in the American territory, which is known as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

    Abramoff, who was working for the law firm Preston Gates Ellis and Rouvelas Meeds LLP at the time, was paid $1.36 million by Saipan officials and wrote in a memo obtained by ABC News that such congressional trips were "one of the most effective ways to build permanent friends on the Hill."

    Abramoff is now under federal investigation for his lobbying activities, including Saipan, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

    Andrew Blum, a spokesman for Abramoff's attorney, said on behalf of Abramoff that they did not comment on pending grand jury investigations.

    Also, Blum defended Abramoff's lobbying efforts in Saipan, including DeLay's trip. "Any money paid to Preston Gates from the CNMI was for work that Mr. Abramoff and his team did on behalf of the CNMI during the course of their six-year representation," he said. "Rep. DeLay was one of over 100 members of Congress and their staff to visit the CNMI during that time.

    After touring one garment plant, DeLay praised Saipan at the New Year's Eve party attended by top factory owners.

    "You represent everything that is good about what we are trying to do in America," DeLay said at the time to his audience, which included Saipan officials and factory owners.

    Later, according to a recording made by a human rights investigator posing as a potential customer,  one of the prominent factory owners said that DeLay had promised to stop the reform laws.

    http://abcnews.go.com/...

  •  unclear (none)
    You say "DoJ Inspector General Glen Fine is investigating Bush's ending of Abramoff's Guam Scandal."  Is this really true?  You article references lots of requests for investigations, but I don't see here that there is any actual ongoing investigation.  Am I missing something or is there an 'unclarity' in the diary?
    •  Yeh (4.00)
      I was wondering that myself 'til I found this dengre diary.

      From its quoted Bloomberg piece:

      Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine is looking into the reasons behind Black's removal as acting U.S. attorney, spokesman Paul Martin said. The Los Angeles Times reported in August that Black's demotion came after he began exploring Abramoff's lobbying efforts on behalf of court officials in Guam, another U.S. territory.
  •  this site is going (none)
    a overhaul , it's wacked . peace
  •  Outstanding diary-very important-recommended-thanx (none)
  •  Sherlock is owed an apology (4.00)
    Lots of Kossacks--not me--blasted him for his previous diary on this as "been there done that" but missed the significance of this story's resurgence. If I had more time I'd look up the federal obstruction of justice law. I'd assume this is a "specific intent" crime, and if Bush was aware this demotion would shut down an investigation that's a winner--and an impeachable offense.  Also, anyone in the WH who pushed this demotion up to him did so with that intent.

    My mind is Roving over the potential suspects ...

    Imagine: Among all the possibilities out there, Guamgate might undo President Chim-Chim.  Fine by me--the Feds got Al Capone on tax evasion.  Anyone here who thinks brush clearing should qualify as public service in sentencing raise your mouse, please.

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who will watch the watchers?)

    by The Crusty Bunker on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 04:36:38 AM PST

  •  Bush has a history of ending unfavorable (4.00)
    investigations involving his friends and political contributors.

    In 1999 he successfully halted an investigation of the Service Corporation International of Huston whose CEO was Robert Waltrip.  Eliza May, the director of the Texas Funeral Service Commission who headed the investigation was fired.  Shortly thereafter, Joe Allbaugh, hand delivered a letter demanding an end to the investigation.

    The investigation was a result of a scandal involving Waltrip's company recycling graves by removing bodies and throwing them into the woods in order to use the space for new customers.


    Have you ever heard the sound of a mother screaming for her son?...Carley Sheehan

    by nupstateny on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 05:53:42 AM PST

  •  Mr. Black should come forward.... (none)
    For his country, he should come forward and start raising a ruckus.  Can you imagine how he has felt the past few years?  Knowing, of course, that he couldn't say or do anything about the political backlash he suffered... that TRUTH suffered during the reign of terror on truth that seems to have some holes in it of late.

    Now is the time for Black to come forward and stir things up!!

    EXCELLENT DIARY!!!!  Thank you!

    LetsFight. re handle: Fight the radical right is the sentiment!

    by letsfight on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 06:02:32 AM PST

  •  asdf (4.00)
    I can't help but feel incredibly sad that this - and all of these other scandals - did not make it into the media before November 2004. What a different world we might be looking at today.
    •  What's done is done (none)
      Silver lining is that since Bush is still president, we have three years to expose all his lies and corruption to the American people. History will not be very kind to him and his cronies, but only if we are diligent in making it so.

      The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.--Winston Churchill

      by Sunqueen212 on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 08:53:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Modern-day Saturday Night Massacre.. (none)
  •  Geroge Clooney (none)
    needs to make another movie.

    Take Back the House in 2006!

    by Rona on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 06:57:05 AM PST

  •  Tom DeLay/ Jack Abramoff/sweatshops/Saipan (4.00)
    Lou Dubose in his book "The Hammer" writes about what Tom Delay and Jack Abramoff did to set up sweatshops in the Northern Mariana Islands.
    Here's an exerpt http://www.texasobserver.org/...
    from "The Hammer" published by "The Texas Observer":

    and a November 19, 2005 Daily Kos diary
    http://www.dailykos.com/...
     by "dengre" ties the recently indicted Michael Scanlon to the Tom DeLay/Jack Abramoff facilitated sweat shops in the Northern Mariana Islands.

    Also, The Wall Street Journal did a piece on this a few years ago but I don't have the date.

    I did a search on google:
    "lou Dubose" + DeLay + "northern mariana islands"
    and a wealth of stuff came up.

    •  Abramoff: GOP bagman and scandal key (4.00)
      A while ago, Josh Marshell broke the Abramoff Scandal code at Talking Points Memo:

      On paper, Jack Abramoff was a lobbyist. And he made a great deal of money for himself. But if you think of Jack Abramoff as just a crooked lobbyist most of the facts coming out about what he did don't make a great deal of sense. He was a key player in a very big political machine and he was managing a slush fund.

      Look at the pattern.

      Notice how all Abramoff's clients seemed to get 'bilked' out of large sums of money that ended up going to other conservative foundations, consulting firms, Ralph Reed, lobby shops, Grover Norquist, astroturf organizers, politicians, etc.? All of them part of Washington's Republican infrastructure?

      Jack is a 25-year GOP bagman. That is the secret.

      The entire corrupt enterprise must be brought down.

      We can help. We need to drive this story. Sherlock Google has had some great Diaries on this lately. We need to keep them and other Abramoff news above the fold.

      This is a deep scandal. It started 25 years ago. The roots and connections go very deep. Everybody in Washington is separated from Jack by three degrees (including Democrats).

      It is the multiple connection with Jack of one, two and three degrees that worry the GOP. Some like Norquist have so many Abramoff ties that it would take a "War and Peace" size post to list them all.

      Research is the key. And that is what we can do. Once new information is found we can push it to the top Diaries. Out to other blogs and then to the MSM. We can frame this issue.

      There is a rich pile of Abramoff details in all the Diaries at the Jack Abramoff tag.

      The Washington Post was the first member of the MSM to focus on Abramoff. Now they have an Abramoff page with links to their stories and the latest from the wires.

      For many source documents, you can go to the Committee on Indian Affairs and download the five PDFs of hundreds of emails, letters, spreadsheets and other documents. And for lobbying records one can turn to the searchable database of Senate Lobbying Disclosure Records.

      And then there is a Google or Yahoo news search for Abramoff or any of the many players in this scandal.

      And there are some Journalists who have earned their stripes as Abramoff Scholars. A quick search of their work will lead to many details:

      • Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi of the Washington Post.
      • Stephen Pizzo of AlterNet.
      • Franklin Foer of The New Republic.
      • Walter F. Roche Jr. and Chuck Neubauer of the LA Times
      • Sharon Theimer of AP (even with the Dem-related Abramoff stories), and
      • Lou Dubose, author of DeLay's biography, The Hammer and a writer for Salon and Texas Monthly
      • Jonathan D. Salant and Michael Forsythe of Bloomberg.

      All the above publications have had other writers working on the Abramoff scandal as well. The NYTs is playing catch-up. Time magazine and Newsweek are on the case as well. And then there is TV and radio. NPR and progressive talk radio have done some good segments of Jack.

      And often the MSM is following the lead of us--the community of Progressive bloggers.

      The point is that this story is becoming a very competitive news story. And this scandal has enough threads so almost any news organization could break BIG news by tracking Jack.

      This is a very complicated story. I have been researching Abramoff since 1999 and I am constantly surprised at the size and depth of this scandal. And I know that there are many more shoes to drop. For one example, the Chinese money flowing through Saipan to Jack to the GOP has hardly been reported.

      As recently reported, Jack claims he doesn't have money for his defense. It is because everything went bank to the Party. Sure he took his take, and he lived well, but his life has been dedicated to establishing one-party rule in the USA. He knows how the connections work.

      There is talk of him taking a deal. I say only if he comes clean on everything.

      I'm sure the party would gave up Jack and Ney and DeLay and said that's the end of it. It would not end it.

      We owe a big thanks to Sherlock Google for getting this above the fold so many days in a row.

      When all is said and done this could take hundreds out of the GOP and lead to real lobbying reform. Let's do it!

      •  Thanks Dengre! (4.00)
        We need some volunteers!

        Volunteers please take one step forward and join the You Don't Know Jack Blogger Brigade!

        Get out there and make your own diaries with the leads supplied above.  Is there an Abramoff Chart showing all the connections yet?  I haven't even checked all this out.

        Let's understand the details of exactly what Black was investigating and why Rove had Bush take him off the Abramoff case and other Guam cases.

        My hunch is that the sweatshops are what they are trying to keep quiet, so that would be some low-hanging fruit for diaries.

        We haven't even seen a photo of Frederick Black yet.  Hmmm.  Gotta Go!

        •  Maybe it's the Chinese connection. (4.00)
          The Tan family, of Saipan sweatshop fame, is from old Hong Kong. Family members and employees gave almost $200,000 to various GOP candidates and party orgs between 1997 and 2004.

          The ties to the GOP make the Clinton/China ties seem like chump change.

          This article on the Tan Family and their Saipan/China connections:

          Thanks to an entrepreneurial family from Hong Kong, the Pacific island of Saipan has been a beachhead for Asian businessmen squeezing past American trade barriers for two decades.
      •  Come on dengre... (4.00)
        ..why can't we just come out and say it:

        Jack Abramoff is helping to manage a MASSIVE international money-laundering ring.

        I don't have evidence to prove it, but even just what we know is going on here in the US vis-a-vis his "deals" with Native Americans certainly suggests it.  Leopards don't change their spots.  We already know this guy was a bagman.

        Abramoff has been knee-deep in gambling interests from virtually the day he was born (he grew up in Atlantic City, for Pete's sake!).

        The Marianas islands are a big offshore haven for gambling interests due to the proximity to Asia.  Poorly-regulated offshore gambling is often a great front for money laundering (cf. Gus Boulis's SunCruz casinos).

        I think the investigation should focus on just what exactly Abramoff (and his then assistant, Ralston) were doing in Guam and the Marianas islands.  Who were their clients?  What interests did they represent?  Are there any players that are known to have participated in money-laundering schemes in the past?

        My uncomfortably suspicion is that we don't want to know where this all leads.  That the powers-that-be have been playing this money-laundering game for quite a while, and both sides of the isle are involved.  It could be very damaging for the whole corrupt enterprise.

        O what a wicked web...

        People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

        by viget on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 11:30:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  This needs to be cleaned up.. (4.00)
          And it doesn't matter who is implicated. It will be more on the right than on the left. It Dems are dirty, so be it, the will be replaced.

          As I see it, this is one of the main differences between Dems and Repbulicans. A willingness to have something called accountability.

          After this is cleaned up, it is my hope that we can look at campaign finance reform.

          But throw the rascals out first!

        •  No doubt! (3.33)
          Jack was a player in Iran-Contra. At its root it was a money laundering scheme based on three legs: drugs, guns and cash.

          Jack's innovation is to add gambling as the fourth leg of the stool.

          One example of JAck's ambition was a June 14, 2001 article that is no longer up on the Saipan Tribune Site that talked about Sun Cruz. Back in 2002 I saved a copy. For the record here it is:

          The Saipan Tribune
          Thursday 14 June 2001

          http://www.tribune.co.mp

          Floating casino on its way to Saipan
          * Florida-based company infusing $10 million to deploy the facility in the northwestern part of the island

          By Aldwin R. Fajardo
          Staff Reporter

          A huge Florida-based leisure company is seriously looking at putting up a multi-million-dollar investment on Saipan, a development seen to alleviate the CNMI's economic conditions, which had gone sour since the Asian contagion in 1997.

          Executives of SunCruz Casinos were on island earlier this week to meet with key government officials where concrete plans for the establishment of a $10-million floating casino near the coast of Saipan were discussed.

          The 150-foot vessel, which will be moored in an area near the Saipan International Seaport, will house a fine-dining restaurant, live entertainment center and a casino of 165 gaming machines and 25 tables.

          According to SunCruz Casinos Chair Adam R. Kidan, initial infusion of investment would amount to between $10 million and $12.5 million while other business opportunities throughout the Northern Marianas are being carefully looked at for future expansions.

          Mr. Kidan's group were in the Northern Marianas in December last year to explore possible business opportunities here. Company officials also simultaneously conducted a trade visit in Guam where SunCruz Casinos also intend to bring in a floating facility.

          SunCruz Casinos is primarily engaged in the operation of floating entertainment and gaming facilities in several areas in the mainland United States and other countries in Asia and the Carribbean.

          Among the areas where the company operates floating casinos are: Key Largo, Hollywood, Florida; Jacksonville; Port Canaveral; Daytona Beach; Clearwater; Fort Myers; John's Pass TI; Myrtle Beach in South Carolina; and Panama City.

          SunCruz is also in the final stages of bringing its floating casino in some Asian countries like Hong Kong and the region's casino gaming hub -- Macau.

          "We are continuously deploying floating casinos to areas where there are good potentials. The Northern Marianas can be a casino hub in the Pacific Region, especially with its proximity to Asia where millions play cards and machines," said Mr. Kidan.

          Part of the plans for the Northern Marianas is the training of at about 200 to 250 local workers who are promised to receive a compensation package which is above the prevailing minimum wage in the mainland US.

          Mr. Kidan said the business operation will create job opportunities for local workers who may also ask to be transferred to other company-operated floating casinos in the mainland US, Asia or the Carribbean.

          SunCruz Casinos, which commenced operations in 1989, is also seriously eyeing some investment opportunities in the Northern Islands which, Mr. Kidan said, hold the potential of attracting thousands of tourists because of the area's scenic beauty.

          The company intends to bring in some of its casino employees in Florida to conduct the training of local workers who will be accepted to work on Saipan's own floating casino.

          "It is important to choose where to put investments. A myriad of things have to be considered, including the potentials of an area to sustain the business, as well as the existing laws on investments," said Mr. Kidan.

          Once the floating casino is deployed and moored on Saipan, the Northern Marianas is anticipated to witness the entry of more than a million visitors every year since Mr. Kidan noted that each of the company's vessel receives about two million visitors each year.

          He added that SunCruz Casinos is also eyeing investments in the transportation sector since a reliable transport system is essential to the company's floating casino business, which is heavily dependent on casino players from other countries.

          Mr. Kidan and other executives of SunCruz Casinos will be back on Saipan to meet with other CNMI government officials, including Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio and members of the Legislature, as well as private sector leaders.

          In his meeting with House Speaker Benigno R. Fitial earlier this week, he said the company is hoping to deploy the floating casino to the Northern Marianas by August this year.

          The floating casino can accommodate about 1,200 guests who may partake in a fine-dining experience, enjoy the vessel's in-house live entertainment groups, or play with hundreds of gaming machines and more than 20 tables.

          This CNMI connection to SunCruz has not made it to the MSM as of yet. Perhaps because the story was pulled from the ST Web site.

          A hard copy of the 6-14-2001 paper or a Web Archive would help.

          •  Found it... (none)
            It is still on the Saipan Tribune site. I had the date wrong. It was April 5, 2001.
            •  They were running the North Marianas as a GOP (none)
              Island Paradise, complete with sex slaves, money-laundering, gambling and of course, great golf courses.  No immigration control, no import tariffs, and a $3.05 minimum wage is what they were protecting for their corrupt campaign contributers, who lure young women to the islands and then, if they are pretty, make them sex slaves at the "restaurants".

              Over 100 Congressmen and their aides made the trip to the Marianas to have a taste of what was offered.  Except for a few such as Miller of California and Murkowski of Alaska, they ignored the sweatshops, the sex slavery, the corruption and the money-laundering and enjoyed themselves thousands of miles safely away from DC.

              The Abramoff Scandal now includes not only murder (of Gus Boulis), but also Delay and Bush trying to protect this GOP Destination Resort for sin, a Las Vegas without rules.

              And just as Black tried to get the records that would convict Abramoff and completely bring down the corrupt Marianas Governor, Bush yanks him off the case, protecting the GOP's Golden Boy and his own campaign contributor.

              The whole deal was for Jack and his buddies to get their own island, Tinian, which they planned to turn into practically their own criminal country, filled with gambling, money laundering and no doubt drug-running, as well as all sorts of side businesses, including more sex slavery.

              We need to get Oliver Stone interested in all this.  It would make one hell of a movie, no?

              •  On point, once again (none)
                And the new governor elect is Ben Fitial. A long time corrupt figure on the Island.

                Reagan appointed him to work out the details of the Compact (the agreement between the US and CNMI that was made when CNMI became a US territory). It was in the Compact that CNMI became exempt form US labor, immigration and custom laws. That created the perfect conditions to establish sweatshops on the Islands. Ben became the first Speaker of the House for the new CNMI government.

                By the end of the 1980s, the Tan Family (entrepreneurs from Hong Kong) had made their way to Guam and then CNMI. They set up the sweatshops and learned the garment trade. Today they are a major Chinese corporation Luen Thai traded on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

                A couple of years ago, Ben sued another CNMI House member who claimed that back in the 1980s Ben took a $100,000 bribe from the Tan Family.

                By the end of the Eighties Ben took a job with the Tan Family managing their sweatshops. While in Managment of the Tan Companies, they were found guilty of massive labor violation by both the Bush I and Clinton WHs.

                He left the "private sector" in 1999 to run, once again, for speaker. Mike Scanlon. Ed Buckaham and others traveled to the Islands to ensure Ben's election. In Dec.1999 two house members changed their vote. Ben became Speaker and the US Congress showered the districts of the two with money for various projects.

                One of the first things Ben did was to pass a law giving Enron a contract to build a power plant, over-riding a process that had cut Enron out of the deal. Later he pushed through the renewing of Abramoff's lobbying contract with CNMI when Jack switched firms.

                He frequently went to Washington and met with all the usual suspects (DeLay, Burns, Ney, Doolittle, etc). Ben became the local Chair for the 2000 Bush Campaign and was a guest at the Inauguration.

                Fitial ran for Governor in 2001. He lost, but not because of Congressional support. Many GOP members wrote letters and cut TV  commercials to support his campaign.

                By 2003 Ben was back in his post as Speaker of the House. Last month he was elected Governor of CNMI. His term begins next month.

                I hope he is an investigation target. He deserves to be and if he is, I expect he will go down soon.

                •  Also there is the Puerto Rico statehood (none)
                  involvement between the Puerto Rico GOP that gave Abramoff $400,000 and the Franco family that also gave generously to Doolittle and one of his PAC's.
                  •  Tell me more about Doolittle... (none)
                    I think he's next after Ney...
                    •  Posted a lot of stuff (none)
                      in the comment sections here:
                      http://solongjohn.blogspot.com/
                      If Abramoff flips then I think that will tell us so much. Doolittle is close to Delay and has been friends with Abramoff for a long time. I saw a bio on Abramoff before the scandal where he calls Doolittle his close friend. Then there is Kevin Ring. He is the link. He was on Doolittle's staff, and remained close. Ring
                      also worked for Ashcroft before Abramoff. I am waiting to see if they go after Ring. If he flips - wow! Ring's emails are notorious. Josh at the TPM said he could not find much on Doolittle in the emails, but I bet it will come out with Scanlon and if Abramoff flips. It is being reported that Ring maybe the one who lined Julie Doolittle up for the job with Abramoff. Looking at Doolittle's personal finances, he lists Julie's business SDFS,Inc after 2001, but he claims her income as N/A. She has had several other businesses over the years.
                      http://www.opensecrets.org/...

                      I am aware of the creepy stuff he does in his district. He has the nickname "Boss Doolittle". There is an excellent article on him by that title. I read about him and the Puerto Rico issues awhile back when I googled his name with Abramoff. The article mentioned the Puerto Rico family (Franco) and the Newstar PAC of they funded - Doolittle got money from them.
                      http://www.opensecrets.org/...
                      It was listed on No Secrets. The PAC has not been funded for years now.
                      Doolittle and other Conservative Republicans met last April and started the House Conservatives PAC. This PAC is a joint opperation between Republican Congressman and lobbyists. Kevin Ring and Doolittle are involved. In the article they say that this PAC used to go by a different name - the Republican Study Committee - RSC or rather known as CATPAC. It was headed by Doolittle and Ring was the executive director of this PAC.
                      http://www.hillnews.com/...

                      http://www.sourcewatch.org/...

                      Another issue that puzzels me is Doolittle's current staff's side business - Votenet.

                      http://www.shns.com/...

                      Doolittle is paying his guys via Votenet over   $3,000 per month for political consultations. David Lopez is on his staff and his wife Kathy has been paid some very big bucks, especially in 2001 - 2004 (about than $800,000 in one year -see No Secrets Doolittle's expenditures). It just does not look right even though it maybe legal? If anyone wants to know more, check out the Boss Doolittle article to see how much he controlls the local elections in his district. This article is fascinating and will give one a feel of just how Doolittle runs things.
                      http://www.newsreview.com/...

                      There are many bits of information, I am looking forward to learning more.

    •  The Hammer article is a must read (none)
      I read the above linked article. It is great. Deserves it's own diary. Thanks.
    •  DeLay's Office Derailed Investigation (4.00)
      From the National Journal, this excerpt:
      The two former House aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that planning was under way in mid-1998 for a congressional delegation trip to the Marianas to look into press reports of worker abuse and low wages in the islands' garment industry. At that time, the aides said, DeLay's office pressured Hoekstra to drop any plans for the Marianas trip.

      Both aides recall that Hoekstra told them that DeLay's office suggested that Hoekstra might lose his subcommittee chairmanship if he went ahead with the fact-finding trip. DeLay, a staunch ally of the Marianas government, had led efforts in the House in 1997 and 1998 to kill legislation that was aimed at ending the Marianas' exemption from U.S. minimum-wage laws. The Marianas, a chain of islands in the western Pacific Ocean, is a territory of the United States.

      "We were under very strict orders not to deal with the Marianas," recalled one of the former aides, who was a subcommittee staffer. "Hoekstra made it very clear that he was told to lay off the Marianas." Hoekstra was "absolutely beside himself," the aide added. "He was livid."

      The second former aide, who worked directly for Hoekstra, confirmed the account. This former aide recalled that when Hoekstra returned to his office one day in mid-1998 after a meeting in the majority whip's office, the congressman was "pissed off," complaining to some of his staff, "They shut us down."


      They burn our children in their wars and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

      by Limelite on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 01:18:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  memo's from Senate committee investigating Scanlon (none)
      •  correction (none)
        sorry I was in a rush before and failed to give this link:
        http://indian.senate.gov
        (the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs) which then links to the link posted above:
        http://indian.senate.gov/...
        that includes e-mails from Abramoff that mention Scanlon, Norquist, Gayle Norton, Ralph Reed, WH and Rove and involve Abramoff's efforts on behalf of his client Indian Tribe in Louisiana and their casino interests against their rival tribe who also wants a casino.
         There seems to be quite a shakedown going on.
         
  •  A Request to Investigate Blacks Demotion (3.50)
    Here (pdf) is the congressional request from August '05 by the House Judiciary Committee...
  •  Sensenbrenner went in on this? (none)
    And to think I just figured he was an insane man.. I've been had! ;-)
  •  another couple pieces to the puzzle (4.00)
    "The nomination for Lenny Rapadas was done by Felix Camacho," Cunliffe said on Monday.

    Rapadas was nominated to the position Nov. 19, 2002, according to the White House Web site, www.whitehouse.gov.

    The nomination occurred less than two weeks after the Nov. 5 General Election in which Republican Sen. Camacho won the race for governor.

    The Times report stated the Republican Party had recommended Rapadas for the job.

    At the same time, the Times reported that Fred Radewagen, a lobbyist who had been under contract to the Gutierrez administration, had said he carried the recommendation to top Bush aide Karl Rove in early 2003.

    Rapadas' nomination was sent to the U.S. Senate on Jan. 28, 2003, and he was confirmed May 9, 2003, according to the White House Web site.

    The Times report also stated that Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff had been paid a series of $9,000 checks totaling $324,000 by the Superior Court of Guam, through a California lawyer. The transactions had been the subject of a federal grand jury investigation.

    Black, who had launched the investigation, was demoted a day after records of the lobbying payments were subpoenaed on Nov. 18, 2002, according to the Times report.

    Black has declined to comment.


    He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don't let that fool you. He really is an idiot - Groucho Marx

    by AlyoshaKaramazov on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 10:28:13 AM PST

  •  Long History of Shady Dealings (4.00)
    In the Guam Pacific Daily News article published August 17, 2005 more interesting details surrounding the Abramoff scandal can be found.

    As this (emphasis mine), which highlights facts pre-dating the current Abramoff scandal that seems to eddy and flow around his secret arrangement with Guam Superior Court officials (read "Tony Sanchez") to lobby against a court revision bill then pending in the U.S. Congress.  The legislation, since approved, gave the Guam Supreme Court authority over the Superior Court. :

    Questions since 1998

    But questions about Abramoff's lobbying fees for the islands did not surface just recently.

    The Pacific Daily News reported in 1998 that the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands government had paid Abramoff's law firm at the time, Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds, more than $4 million to help the local government keep control over immigration. The local immigration system in the Northern Mariana Islands drew fire under the Clinton administration because of allegations of sweatshop conditions in Saipan garment factories.

    And in early 1998, The Hill, a Washington, D.C., newspaper, reported that a Preston Gates internal memo describes the firm's lobbying strategies for the Northern Mariana Islands ''in potentially embarrassing detail.''

    In one memo, according to Pacific Daily News files, Preston Gates gave the Northern Mariana Islands government instructions for how to arrange golf outings for a congressional delegation visiting Saipan.

    "Some of the group plan to play golf at (Saipan's LaoLao golf course) on Monday afternoon and (Kingfisher golf course) on Tuesday afternoon," one Preston Gates e-mail stated. "Please arrange for that authorization letter to the managers at each course indicating we will be renting clubs, etc. ... That worked very, very well last visit."

    They burn our children in their wars and grow rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

    by Limelite on Sun Dec 04, 2005 at 10:45:41 AM PST

  •  If Bush doesn't screw... (none)
    a woman in the white house besides Laura, he won't be impeached.  Seems he can do anything, lie and smear and bluster, but unless he has sex in the white house, the Christian Right does not have a problem.  You can kill, lie, rob, cheat etc. and you will be fine, just don't dally and lie about that and it will be jake ok!
  •  Hey Sherlock (none)
    You missed a whole bunch of Obstruction of Justice Statutes. Check out Title 18 USC, Chapter 73. There are 21 more. IANAL, but I imagine only 3 or so would actually apply in this case.
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