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William Rivers Pitt: Like the Mafia, Only Dumber

Like the Mafia, Only Dumber

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Wednesday 18 October 2006

Josh Marshall, who runs the excellent blog Talking Points Memo, recently posted a reader's take on "The 5 Stages of Republican Scandal." As follows:

1. "I have not been informed of any investigation or that I am a target."

2. "I am cooperating fully, but this whole thing is a political ploy by the Democrats."

3. "I'm SHOCKED by the mistakes made by my subordinates."

4. "I'm deeply sorry for letting down my friends and family. I now recognize that I am an alcoholic. I will be entering rehab immediately, so I have no time for questions."

5. "Can I serve my time at Eglin Federal Penitentiary (aka Club Fed)?"

We have seen a fair amount of this already, and will soon see a lot more of it. The news media is all abuzz about Republican scandals, from Foley to Abramoff, but simply hearing about it from the television does not do the situation justice, if you'll pardon the bad pun. You have to see it all in one place to understand the depths to which the GOP has sunk.

Bear in mind, as you peruse the following roll call, that these guys are getting busted for this stuff while their party has absolute control over the House, the Senate, the White House and the Justice Department. Huffington Post columnist Stephen Elliot pegged it recently when he wrote, "The fact is if you control the Senate, the White House, and the courts, and you're still getting busted for bribery, stalking children, and money laundering, then something is really sick at the Republican core."

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Indeed. Thus, without further ado and in no particular order ...

Jack Abramoff: The disgraced "super-lobbyist" has been nailed for wire fraud, and is cooperating in the investigation into the bribing four Republican members of congress.

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas): Once the most powerful man in the House of Representatives, Texas congressman DeLay now stands indicted on three counts of money laundering, charges stemming from his all-out attempt to secure a permanent Republican majority in the House. His story isn't finished; the Abramoff investigators have been sniffing around his door for months now.

Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio): Ney has pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from Jack Abramoff. Ney pulled #4 out of the bag of GOP excuses above, announcing that he has entered a rehab clinic for alcohol addiction.

Tony Rudy: Once the deputy chief of staff for Tom DeLay, Rudy has pleaded guilty to bribing a Republican House member, said member widely assumed to be Bob Ney. Rudy also pleaded guilty to accepting bribes from Abramoff in return for favorable actions on Abramoff's behalf by his former boss.

Mike Scanlon: Another Republican lobbyist and former DeLay press secretary, Scanlon has pleaded guilty to stealing millions of dollars from Native American tribes, on whose behalf he was supposed to be lobbying Congress regarding casinos. Scanlon is also cooperating with federal investigators.

Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.): The California congressman has pleaded guilty to accepting $2.5 million in bribes, in exchange for steering federal contracts to a number of defense firms. Cunningham is currently staring down the barrel of eight years in prison.

Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.): There isn't much more to say about this fellow, who has joined Rep. Ney in the I'm-an-alcoholic-going-to-rehab club.

Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) : Long considered to be little more than the mush-mouthed front man for Tom DeLay, Speaker of the House Hastert has found himself swept up in the Foley scandal. Several fellow congressmen have said that they warned Hastert about Foley's improper behavior, but nothing was done about it until the Foley emails went public. The watchword for today is "cover-up."

I. Lewis Libby: Cheney's former chief of staff, "Scooter" Libby, has been indicted on five counts of lying to investigators regarding the outing of deep-cover CIA agent Valerie Plame.

David Safavian: Once the head of the White House Office of Federal Procurement, Safavian has been convicted of four counts of lying to investigators regarding a bribe he took from Abramoff.

Claude Allen: Formerly a domestic policy advisor to the White House, Allen was arrested for shoplifting thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from various retail stores.

Brian Doyle: Formerly the Department of Homeland Security's deputy press secretary, Doyle was arrested for attempting to seduce a 14-year-old girl over the internet.

James Tobin: Tobin, who served as the northeast field director for the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, has been convicted on two counts of conspiracy stemming from a phone-jamming scheme in New Hampshire during the 2002 midterms. Tobin made dozens of phone calls during this time to the White House political affairs office. He was sentenced to ten months in prison.

Susan Ralston: An aide to White House political advisor Karl Rove, Ralston resigned recently after her multiple meetings with Jack Abramoff became public knowledge. Ralston was also in the habit of accepting gifts, such as tickets to sporting events, from the disgraced lobbyist.

Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.): Doolittle hasn't been convicted of anything yet, but has rolled out the "not a target" line regarding the investigation into Abramoff's bribery scheme.

Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.): Like Doolittle, Burns has deployed the "not a target" line regarding the Abramoff probe. He is, however, apparently a "target" of the probe, a fact that has his staffers splitting rhetorical hairs at warp speed.

Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.): Rep. Dale Kildee, the only Democrat on the House Page Board, dropped an interesting brick the other day. While commenting on a conference call between page board members regarding "other allegations" beyond those directed at Rep. Foley, Kildee said, "It was about other allegations and I'd like to leave it at that. Let me just say, not about Mr. Foley." These "other allegations" appear to be augering towards Rep. Kolbe, who took two former pages on a camping trip several years ago. A federal investigation has been opened to look into the matter.

Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.): The senate majority leader is currently under investigation by the SEC for seemingly taking advantage of insider information to make a killing on stocks, the company attached to said stocks being owned by his family.

Lester Crawford: Once the Bush administration's FDA commissioner, Crawford has been charged in federal court for conflict of interest, and for making false statements related to his investments. He recently pleaded guilty to the charges.

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.): The home of Weldon's daughter was raided by federal investigators on Monday. The investigators are looking hard at her lobbying firm, and whether her well-connected father improperly steered business her way. Weldon has pulled out #2 above, laying the whole thing off on a Democratic plot to destroy him.

Tom Noe: A four-star Republican fund-raiser in Ohio, Noe has just gone on trial for stealing millions from a fund for injured workers and spending it on himself.

Here's the best part: George W. Bush has officially declared that this is now National Character Counts Week. Seriously. You can't make this stuff up.

"America's strength is found in the spirit and character of our people," reads the Bush proclamation. "During National Character Counts Week, we renew our commitment to instilling values in our young people and to encouraging all Americans to remember the importance of good character." Someone apparently forgot to circulate the "Character Counts" memo among the ranks of the Republican Party, it seems.

At the end of it, you have to think of this crew as being like the Mafia, only a lot dumber. Think about it. The Mafia's criminal enterprises operate under heavy scrutiny from local, state and federal officials, all of whom have subpoena power, not to mention the ability to tap phones and kick down doors.

The Republican criminal enterprise that is currently unraveling in all directions, on the other hand, operated virtually free from restraint or scrutiny. They own the government, from the Oval Office to the FBI to the Capitol Dome, and yet somehow they are managing to get busted left and right.

And, of course, the really serious criminal behavior - lying about weapons of mass destruction to initiate a war of conquest that has enriched White House allies while killing untold tens of thousands of people, including almost three thousand American soldiers, for starters - continues to operate with impunity.

For now. Rumor has it there is an election in November. Depending on how it shakes out, things might get really interesting after the New Year. These people above got nailed even though their allies are running the show. If that should change, several dozen varieties of Hell are likely to break loose.


William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence. His newest book, House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation, will be available this winter from PoliPointPress.

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