Royally Kranked

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The original attempt with this post can be found HERE

While responding to a forum post, I went back & realized a few things about this combination of stories

First off, out of all the Abramoff scandals, I'd say this one-the suppression of the Dept Homeland Security report-is definitely the most serious, and the questions it raises about President Jr's role in protecting the GOP's top lobbyist are unsettling

And the questions regarding why the DHS report was suppressed only become more maddening when considering how truly horrific the results of such a terrorist attack could end up

And what I really overlooked was that the FBI & DoJ have both conducted their own inquiries as to the timing of Black's demotion

But first, let's recap the key info

A google cache for the now pay-archived LA Times story, as it was printed on numerous other sites

A google cache for the now pay archived NY Times story, as it was also printed on numerous other sites

And the Bloomberg article


For easy reference, a graph with either (LAT), (NYT) or (BLMB) will identify the story’s original sources/passages

The U.S. Justice Department never acted on a post-Sept. 11 proposal, contested by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, calling for increased federal control over immigration to the Mariana Islands.

The agency reassigned the two officials who produced a 34- page report that contained the proposal, and House members of both parties who oversee the Homeland Security and Justice departments said they were never told about it. The 2002 report, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News, warns that continued local control over the Marianas' borders will ``seriously jeopardize the national security'' of the U.S.” (BLMB)

It wasn’t actually the Agency so much did the reassigning as it was someone slightly higher up the chain of command

“A U.S. grand jury in Guam opened an investigation of controversial lobbyist Jack Abramoff more than two years ago, but President Bush removed the supervising federal prosecutor and the inquiry ended soon after...... In Guam, an American territory in the Pacific, investigators were looking into Abramoff's secret arrangement with Superior Court officials 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.” (LAT)

What we have here is independent confirmation-from two separate stories-about a Dept of Homeleand Security report-that ended up suppressed or permanently delayed, in spite of the fact that it's release to the top democrats & republicans in both the House & the Senate was congressionally mandated, and it's a role Abramoff either performed himself, or complained about so loudly that only someone higher up the political food chain could get away with suppressing it on behalf of the GOP's top lobbyist

What we learn from multiple sources as well is that the FBI & DoJ have already launched their own investigations into the timing of Black's demotion

Also, notice the very last paragraph quoted next, especially about Black's orders after being demoted

The Justice Department's inspector general and the F.B.I. are looking into the demotion of a veteran federal prosecutor whose reassignment nearly three years ago shut down a criminal investigation of the Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, current and former department officials report.

They said investigators had questioned whether the demotion of the prosecutor, Frederick A. Black, in November 2002 was related to his alert to Justice Department officials days earlier that he was investigating Mr. Abramoff. The lobbyist is a major Republican Party fund-raiser and a close friend of several Congressional leaders.

Colleagues said the demotion of Mr. Black, the acting United States attorney in Guam, and a subsequent order barring him from pursuing public corruption cases brought an end to his inquiry into Mr. Abramoff's lobbying work for some Guam judges.(NYT)

Who issued that order "barring him from pursuing public corruption cases"?

The DoJ, of course

The colleagues said that Mr. Black was also surprised when his newly arrived bosses in Guam blocked him from involvement in public corruption cases in 2003. Justice Department officials said Mr. Black was asked instead to focus on terrorism investigations, which had taken on new emphasis after the Sept. 11 attacks.(NYT)

Black was royally screwed here-he couldn't investigate Abramoff, yet when he focused on Homeland Security & lax immigration standards on the Northern Marianas islands, and showed that there was a threat to US naval interests in the area for routine stopovers/port calls, he was reassigned after being demoted

To put it more simply

Black was punished for doing EXACTLY what he was told

At the time of Abramoff's complaints regarding the DHS report, he was pulling in $3.5 million annually from his Northern Marianas Islands clients, including family owned sweatshops that lobbied against strengthening any environmental or workplace safety standards/laws passed by the US Congress

It's important to note that having a highly transient labor pool is to the Sweatshop owners financial advantage on the NM islands, it's also important to note that the DHS report painted this fact in a negative light for Abramoff & clients

Restricting immigration could be a blow to the economy of the Marianas, which is located about three-quarters of the way to the Philippines from Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean......The Marianas have almost five times as many foreign workers as native workers and aren't subject to U.S. minimum-wage laws. That helps them export such goods as T-shirts, caps and pants cheaply to the U.S., all labeled ``made in USA...... Abramoff lobbied against efforts to tighten those laws. The islands have 28,717 foreign workers, compared with 6,006 natives, in the labor force, according to Central Intelligence Agency statistics.'' (BLMB)

It’s this group, the Northern Marianas Islands interests, that prevailed upon Abramoff to constantly lobby their most dependable ally in the Congress, one who would stand fast against the do-gooders intent on tightening up the Islands abysmal workplace safety & environmental laws

Tom DeLay

Before moving on with more of Abramoff’s actions, just how much clout he really had in the GOP, it’s important to notice what the report is about that’s got Abramoff so concerned with it’s release, a mindset in which he actually saw the DoJ as an obstacle to his lobbying efforts

The 2002 report, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News, warns that continued local control over the Marianas' borders will ``seriously jeopardize the national security'' of the U.S.”(BLMB)

Black also arranged for a security review in the aftermath of Sept. 11 that was seen as a potential threat to loose immigration rules favored by local business leaders. In fact, the study ordered by Black eventually cited substantial security risks in Guam and the Northern Marianas.(LAT)

The Justice Department report on the Marianas said the islands, which rely on tourism and are home to military facilities and visiting U.S. Navy vessels, ``offer a target-rich environment for terrorist activity.''

Under a 1976 covenant between the commonwealth and the U.S., immigration laws don't apply to the Marianas ``except in the manner and to the extent made applicable to them by the Congress.'' (BLMB)

Lets consider a few things here

Regarding a possible attack on US Naval interests in the NM Islands

I apologize in advance if it turns out that treaties block just the scenario I'm about to peruse, but would ask if another government should EVER take this Administration's claims at face value, with no attempt at verifying comments & facts?

Just for the sake of argument, what happens if there's an attack on a ship that's carrying a nuclear payload, say a submarine stopping over for a port of call?

Even scarier, what happens if a delayed-time explosive is set to go off just as such a ship or sub carrying a nuclear payload is pulling into it's home port or first stop?

It’s that focus on money to the exclusion of everything else that makes Abramoff’s lust for money so brazen & defiant of all logic

Abramoff, whose law firm was paid $3.5 million by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory, to lobby between 1998 and 2002, tried to block the report, according to an e-mail released this month by House Democrats.(BLMB)

Even more brazen is who tipped him off to that impending DHS report commissioned by Black & Meissner, one of the bigger guns at the DoJ

“In an Oct, 1, 2001, e-mail to the Marianas government, Abramoff said he was alerted to the pending immigration report by the Justice Department chief of staff, whom he hosted in his luxury box at a Washington Redskins football game. He said he would pass on to the government any information he received from the official. At the time, David Ayres was chief of staff...... In the e-mail, Abramoff warned that some ``bad guys'' in Justice had been saying the commonwealth ``if not taken over, will be a major entry point for terrorists. This, of course, is patently ridiculous and we have been working to counter this.''(BLMB)

“Patently Ridiculous” would usually apply to someone this filled with pure greed, except that in this case, it’s hard to see how Abramoff was exaggerating about the clout he possessed as the GOP’s superlobbyist

Abramoff said he would meet with then-Attorney General John Ashcroft. One of Abramoff's associates was Kevin Ring, who joined the firm after serving as counsel to a Judiciary subcommittee that Ashcroft chaired when he served in the U.S. Senate.

``We'll hope the higher ups will take some time to squash this on their own,'' Abramoff wrote.(BLMB)

Abramoff, who then represented the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, alerted his clients in a memo about the expected report and warned: "It will require some major action from the Hill and a press attack to get this back in the bottle."

The lobbyist also wrote that he and his aides expected to meet in the near future with Justice Department officials, according to Abramoff billing documents released this year by the Marianas government.”(LAT)

And now a more sinister puzzle-piece emerges, one in which the President himself actually obstructs an active DoJ investigation into the GOP's top lobbyist the day after it started, also picking that same day to announce the demoted US Attorney's successor

In Guam, an American territory in the Pacific, investigators were looking into Abramoff's secret arrangement with Superior Court officials 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.

In 2002, Abramoff was retained by the Superior Court in what was an unusual arrangement for a public agency. The Times reported in May that Abramoff was paid with a series of $9,000 checks funneled through a Laguna Beach lawyer to disguise the lobbyist's role working for the Guam court. No separate contract was authorized for Abramoff's work.

The transactions were the target of a grand jury subpoena issued Nov. 18, 2002, according to a copy obtained by The Times. The subpoena demanded that Anthony Sanchez, administrative director of the Guam Superior Court, release records involving the lobbying contract, including bills and payments.”(LAT)

Interesting, how records can be kept on someone who worked without a signed contract

Understand now that Abramoff's trying to rig the system, no other word for it, and the only logical reason that suggests itself is that Abramoff was buying insurance for an occasion such as having any kind of legal action stymied

So what was Abramoff so worried about that he attempted to game an overseas legal system for motives other than the financial?

And what could he offer the President to perform something as blatantly audacious as demote & reassign the US Attorney and the author of the DHS report?

A day later, the chief prosecutor, U.S. Atty. Frederick A. Black, who had launched the investigation, was demoted. A White House news release announced that Bush was replacing Black.(LAT)

The announcement came only days after Mr. Black had notified the department's public integrity division in Washington, by telephone and e-mail communication, that he had opened a criminal investigation into Mr. Abramoff's lobbying activities for the Guam judges, the colleague said. The judges had sought Mr. Abramoff's help in blocking a bill in Congress to restructure the island's courts.(NYT)

One Day Later, one day after launching the public investigation into Abramoff & his clients, Black was demoted & his successor appointed

The acting U.S. attorney was a controversial official in Guam. At the time he was removed, Black was directing a long-term investigation into allegations of public corruption in the administration of then-Gov. Carl Gutierrez. The inquiry produced numerous indictments, including some of the governor's political associates and top aides.

Black also arranged for a security review in the aftermath of Sept. 11 that was seen as a potential threat to loose immigration rules favored by local business leaders. In fact, the study ordered by Black eventually cited substantial security risks in Guam and the Northern Marianas.(LAT)

The DHS report Black commissioned that painted lax immigration standards as enabling a possible strike on US Naval interests in the region of the Marianas islands not only gets suppressed from politicians required, by statute, to receive a copy, but also ends up getting Black & it's author Meissner reassigned

There’s no positive or logical spin that can be applied here, no way for the President to appear as anything but a hired enforcer of the most thuggish type, one more at home amongst the Saddam Hussein’s of the World as opposed to speaking unscripted in front of a hostile/skeptical audience asking questions not preapproved in advance of the proceedings

Which now brings us to the part of the puzzle Rove himself played a huge part in, Setting up Black's successor as US Attorney for Guam & the Marianas islands

Black's successor, Leonardo Rapadas, was confirmed in May 2003 without any debate. Rapadas had been recommended by the Guam Republican Party for the job. Fred Radewagen, a lobbyist who had been under contract to the Gutierrez administration, said he carried that recommendation to top Bush aide Karl Rove in early 2003.

After taking office, Rapadas recused himself from the ongoing public corruption case involving Gutierrez. The new U.S. attorney was a cousin of "one of the main targets," according to a confidential memo to Justice Department officials.(NYT)

Oh the double unintended irony here, a lobbyist under contract to an investigated Governor makes the recommendation of who should take over said investigation, and one of his first acts is to recuse himself from the case against Gov Gutierrez due to family members being investigated

All of which is particularly ironic, as an op/ed article Rapados wrote is full fo the Fire & Brimstone Thundering Legal Authority Bushco & crew are so smitten with-have to scroll down to see the entry, but the title is

Mandatory Minimum Sentences Keep Streets Safe

Keep this "Tough Line" approach to incarceration in mind when considering the damage that Abramoff, Ralph Reed, Michael Scanlon & Sen. John Cornyn did to the Tigua Tribe, approx. 1000 employees thrown out of well-paying jobs with real benefits, a genuine economic turnaround for a group of people who desparaterly needed it, and all taken away by the State of Texas, which claimed that even though it ran the lottery, there was no gambling allowed in the State of Texas, an argument cheerfully & enthusiastically backed by Tx Attorney General John Cornyn, one of the Senate's dimmest of bulbs

Even more interesting, check out the date W publicly announced Rapados nomination

Date of Announcement: November 19, 2002

The day Rapados was nominated was the SAME day as Black's demotion from investigating the GOP's top lobbyist, effectively ending the day-old investigation and both actions were carried out by President Jr

Now it becomes almost blindingly obvious that the President actively obstructed not only a DoJ investigation, but also at the very least, turned a blind eye towards the suppression of a Congressionally mandated report dealing with lax immigration standards that could jeopardize US Naval interests on the Northern Marianas islands

So why would the President engage in jaw-droppingly blatant investiagtion obstruction, what could Abramoff possibly offer W to undertake such a public action?

What if W didn't financially or materially gain from carrying out such a request, what if, instead, he was obstructing the investigation by, say, paying back an Abramoff debt that was hanging over his head as a result of a interestingly-timed campaign contribution by Abramoff himself, and the headline itself provides one possible payoff for W to obstruct an active DoJ investigation

Bush Florida 2000 recount committee still owes lobbyist's former firm $314k


There’s a backstory that lurks behind Bush’s decision to stand by DeLay. It involves Greenberg Traurig, the firm that employed the powerful lobbyist who paid for palatial DeLay junkets, and Abramoff staffers, who were footsoldiers in the Florida recount. Greenberg Traurig has yet to receive more than $314,000 in legal fees charged to a Bush committee during the 2000 Florida recount, RAW STORY can confirm.

As a corporation, Greenberg’s unpaid tab represents a massive in-kind campaign contribution, far larger than anything that went unreported by DeLay. But it appears to be legal: corporations are allowed to donate any amount to the nebulous type of committee employed during the recount. It would, however, violate the committee's self-imposed $5,000 contribution limit from individual donors.

We also find out another form of the clout so important to the GOP's method of governing, "show us the money"

Abramoff relationship with Bush

Bush has largely ducked the scandals surrounding Abramoff, but he was certainly a beneficiary of the lobbyist’s fundraising: Abramoff was a Bush Pioneer, raising more than $120,000 for the 2004 presidential campaign.

He had the largest lobbyist accounts of any Pioneer, at $26 million.....Those close to Abramoff—including his partner Michael Scanlon, a former DeLay press secretary who is also being investigated for lobbying deals—bragged about their access to the president....."Jack has a relationship with the President," Scanlon told the New Times Broward-Palm Beach in February 2001. "He doesn't have a bat phone or anything, but if he wanted an appointment, he would have one."

So, Abramoff having major access to the top levels of the GOP & Bush Administration isn't just hyperbole, it's a known policy throughout the GOP, and I would venture that W paying off a campaign debt by not only obstructing an ongoing investigation into the GOP's top lobbyist, but by replacing the US Attorney with a loyal party apparatchik who talked the tough "Law & Order" talk, but did NOT walk the "Law & Order" walk when it came to going after public corruption charges against Abramoff, isn't the oddest of charges, but one seriously worth considering, especially in light of past hapless personnel appointed by President Bush Jr

In effect, it appears one can infer that Rapadas nomination was cleared by both Abramoff & Karl Rove before being announced by the President on the same day as US Attorney Black's demotion after a one-day investigation of Abramoff's lobbying & clients

So, if Abramoff did indeed go about setting up the legal system to his liking-until the bill passed that gave judicial superiority to the Guam Supreme Court over the Guam Superior court-then what was he planning on doing next?

Bypass registration with www.bugmenot.com and this is an article that will really fill in the gaps on the short explanation below

Well, again, infer from what would fit the facts, but we know this

Untangling a Lobbyist's Stake in a Casino Fleet


The Sun Cruz line of Casino Yachts-ships which sailed outside jurisdictional waters, so as to then allow gambling among the passengers-that seemed like such a wonderful acquisition for Adam Kidan & Jack Abramoff, a transaction in which they swindled both the casino yachts' owner & their creditors by forging a $23 million letter of credit, was going down publicly, after a particularly nasty flap that ensued between Abramoff's political lackeys Bob Ney & Tom DeLay and the ripped off owner legally required to sell his share of the Sun Cruz casino yachts line

It's at that point, while Abramoff's most brazen chicanery was coming unraveled publicly, that he may have thought that Sun Cruz might be more at home in foreign waters

After Boulis's slaying, Kidan and Abramoff conducted business as usual at SunCruz. They asked Foothill Capital for another loan to clear up their debts. They stepped up plans to expand casino operations to the Northern Mariana Islands, where the government had been a client of Abramoff's. They also hired Greenberg Traurig as their lobbyists in Washington.

Not only would such an undertaking be in a welcome part of the world for Abramoff, the Northern Marianas, where he was their chief lobbyist who didn't have a problem ethically with making money off the females working in god-awful sweatshop conditions, but with a legal system ginned up to ensure that Abramoff's interests (Sun Cruz) & clients could operate with a friendly blind eye on the part of the NM islands political & legal authorities, this scheme could have rewarded Abramoff far more than even ripping off the Tribal Clients did

But that dream borne of desperation sank harder than the Titanic, when legislation passed that affirmed the legal primacy of the Guam Supreme Court over the Guam Superior Court

Still troubling though is the entire story around the demotion of US Attorney Frederick Black, rpublicly demoted one day after launching an investigation into Abramoff's Superior Court Clients, then reassigned due to his commissioning of a DHS report that pointed up a possibility of an attack against a US Naval interest due to lax immigration standards on the Northern Marianas islands

The same lax immigration standards faulted by the ultimately delayed/suppressed DHS report are the same standards which ensure a highly transient workforce, and constant turnover at the sweatshops is financially beneficial to the owners' fiscal health, a fact attested to by the fact that they were paying Abramoff $3.5 million annually at the height of his crushing GOP clout

And there's one other loose series of threads to tie up, and that would be the other reason for why Black was demoted & ultimately reassigned

The acting U.S. attorney was a controversial official in Guam. At the time he was removed, Black was directing a long-term investigation into allegations of public corruption in the administration of then-Gov. Carl Gutierrez. The inquiry produced numerous indictments, including some of the governor's political associates and top aides.(LAT)

Now one other thing is interesting here

A lawyer for Gutierrez discussed hiring Abramoff to represent Guam's territorial government in 2002 before the grand jury inquiry began. The discussions were held at Abramoff-owned Signature's Restaurant here, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the meeting. They provided details on condition of anonymity.(LAT)

Interesting

The investigated Governor sent a lawyer to meet with the about-to-be-investigated superlobbyist, both of whom had the same legal problem-Frederick Black

How's this for a scenario?

Abramoff gets tipped off to the DHS report alleging lax immigration standards by October 1, 2001-at the latest-and by November 2002, after consultation with both Rove & the DoJ under John Ashcroft, Rove & Abramoff decided to have the troublesome US Attorney Black replaced with Leonardo Rapadas, a scenario that fits the following

In a statement on Monday, the department said it was natural for the Bush administration to replace Mr. Black, whose assignment to run the United States attorney's office was never meant to be permanent, with a White House selection.

The department said the vetting process for Mr. Black's replacement, Leonardo Rapadas, the current United States attorney, was ''well under way in November 2002,'' when the nomination was announced.(NYT)

No reason to think all these decisions aren't tied in together, absolutely no reason to think that DoJ vetting of Rapadas, "well under way in November 2002" was done in conjunction with both Abramoff & Karl Rove

We know the FBI & DoJ have run their own investigation regarding Black's demotion, the question is whether they'll follow up on the investigations or not

2 Comments:

  • Well, well, well, so, where do we go from here.

    Fine reporting KC.

    By Anonymous Susan, at 12:54 PM  

  • Excellent totally awesome. I wish this could make the front page of some big magazine Then what would the cronies say

    By Blogger AMYADOPTEE, at 8:42 PM  

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