The American Conservative

May 04, 2009 Issue

Deep Background

When congressmen eventually leave the public trough on Capitol Hill,
they regularly move over to K Street to become lobbyists, a richly
deserved reward after years of selfless government service. Dennis
Hastert of Illinois, the longest serving Republican speaker of the
House of Representatives when he retired after the 2006 elections, is
no exception. He is a senior adviser in the lobbying firm Dickstein
Shapiro, home to former Arkansas senator Tim Hutchinson.

Justice Department records indicate that Hastert will now be
`principally involved' on a $35,000-a-month contract providing
representation for the Turkish government. He will work as a
subcontractor for another former House speaker, Dick Gephardt, who
runs the eponymous Gephardt Group.

As Hastert, a former wrestling coach, presumably knows little about
the country paying him, his true role will be networking with Congress
to block any legislation that Turkey considers to be not in its
interest. In that capacity, Hastert would be just one more
ex-congressman on the make. But his relationship may be more
complicated. FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds claimed that Hastert was
investigated by the Bureau for accepting tens of thousands of dollars
in illegal payments from Turkish lobbying groups in exchange for
`political favors and information.' Edmonds's claims have never been
pursued, presumably because there are so many skeletons in both
parties' closets. She has been served with a state-secrets gag order
to make sure that what she knows is never revealed, a restriction that
the new regime in Washington has not lifted.

In Hastert's case, it certainly should be a matter of public concern
that a senior elected representative who may have received money from
a foreign country is now officially lobbying on its behalf. How many
other congressmen might have similar relationships with foreign
countries and lobbying groups, providing them with golden parachutes
for their retirement?

Hastert will, according to a letter from Dickstein partner Robert
Mangas to the vice president of Gephardt's firm, be working `in
connection with the extension and strengthening of the
Turkish-American relationship.' His primary focus will be on the
Armenian genocide resolution that has been re-introduced in Congress
and already has nearly 100 co-sponsors.

There have been few congressional resolutions as idiotic or harmful to
the national interest, but the House seems intent on pressing forward,
egged on by a powerful Armenian diaspora concentrated in southern
California. Last time around, the resolution passed through the House
Foreign Affairs Committee, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi intervened to
prevent a vote of the entire House, effectively killing the bill. This
time that tactic might not work. President Barack Obama has already
described the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 as
genocide, though he avoided that word on his recent trip to Turkey.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer, is a fellow with the American
Conservative Defense Alliance.

The American Conservative welcomes letters to the editor.
Send letters to: [email protected] 2009/may/04/00016/

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress