Why exactly did Denny Hastert flip-flop at the last moment, derailing a Congressional resolution designating as genocide the killings of Armenians between 1915 and 1923? He initially attributed it to a letter from Bill Clinton, but new FBI wiretaps show Turkish foreign agents mentioning Hastert’s name in the context of a bribe, right before the resolution was scheduled to pass.
Is Denny Hastert taking bribes from foreign officials and why is the Justice Department trying to squelch an investigation into the matter? What are they trying to hide? These new allegations, if allowed to surface, will make Tom Delay and Karl Rove look like Mother Teresa and Gandhi. Call it Genocide-Gate, Traitor-Gate, or Hastert-Gate, the American public and American law enforcement deserve to know and must take a close look at this unfolding scandal.
For many years, attempts had been made to get the House to pass the genocide resolution, but they never got anywhere until August 2000, when Hastert, as Speaker of the House, 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 suddenly and without explanation withdrew it.
Vanity Fair’s September edition, which has yet to hit national newsstands, has an article about Sibel Edmonds, an FBI translator who has been gagged by the Bush administration from revealing information about conversations she translated surrounding a seemingly major corruption scandal involving Turkish nationals and U.S. lawmakers.
The following are some brief excerpts from RAW STORY surrounding the allegations Edmonds has made—some of which the FBI has confirmed—about the specifics surrounding her case:
· According to those briefed on the case, Edmonds says she has heard classified wiretaps, which indicate Turkish nationals tried to bribe lawmakers in Chicago and Washington.
· Edmonds was fired from the FBI after trying to persuade her bosses to investigate a Turkish family, the Dickersons, she said was trying to trade on her status as an FBI operative. She suspected that the American Turkish Council, which the family tried to persuade her to join, was a front group for criminal activity.
· On top of the usual prohibition against disclosing classified information, the Bush administration has smothered her case beneath the all-encompassing blanket of the “state-secrets privilege”—a Draconian and rarely used legal weapon that allows the government, merely by asserting a risk to national security, to prevent the lawsuits
· Edmonds has filed contesting her treatment from being heard in court at all. According to the Department of Justice, to allow Edmonds her day in court, even at a closed hearing attended only by personnel with full security clearance, “could reasonably be expected to cause serious damage to the foreign policy and national security of the United States.”
Edmonds’ attorney, who works for the ACLU, says: “It also begs a question: Just what in the world is the government trying to hide?” One counterintelligence official familiar with Edmonds’s case has told Vanity Fair that the FBI opened an investigation into covert activity by Turkish nations and found evidence, mainly via wiretaps, of attempts to corrupt senior American politicians. One name apparently stood out—a man the Turkish callers often referred to by the nickname “Denny boy.” According to some of the wiretaps it was Denny Hastert. 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.
An examination of Hastert’s federal filings shows that the level of un-itemized payments his campaigns received over many years was very 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 than Hastert during the same period: $552,00.
Edmonds reportedly added that the recordings contained repeated references to Hastert’s flip-flop in the fall of 2000, “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.” Hastert’s spokesman denied the allegations that he was bribed by a foreign agent, and said he knew nothing of the Turkish group.
Hastert’s defense is sounding a lot like some parallel Republican defenses to ongoing criminal investigations, namely Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, and Randy “Duke” Cunningham. They claim to have no involvement in the crime until it becomes obvious they are involved, and then they try to smear anyone willing to talk about it. This has become an ongoing pattern in the Republican administration and a danger to democracy. Only the justice system running its proper course can shed light on what crimes, if any, have been committed by Denny Hastert, and obstruction of the investigation should be roundly condemned by all.