Monday, October 09, 2006


No need to connect the dots

Years go by when I can't find something for which to praise the New York Times. Today breaks the losing streak: The sordid Mark Foley controversy has diverted public attention from another major Washington ethics scandal - the influence peddling involving the disgraced former superlobbyist Jack Abramoff. That's good news for the Bush administration, given freshly heightened suspicion that its dealings with Mr. Abramoff and his sleazy K Street operation were far cozier than it is willing to admit. ...A newly released report, prepared with unusual bipartisan backing by the House Government Reform Committee ... reveals that between January 2001 and March 2004, Mr. Abramoff and members of his staff had some 485 contacts with key White House officials, including at least 10 direct contacts between Mr. Abramoff and Mr. Rove. Billing records and e-mail messages unearthed by the committee indicate that Mr. Abramoff and his colleagues spent nearly $25,000 on meals and tickets for White House officials. ...An assistant to Mr. Rove, Susan Ralston... had formerly worked for Mr. Abramoff. The report suggests that she sought Mr. Abramoff's help to obtain seats for Mr. Rove and his aides at popular sporting events, and often acted as a conduit, passing messages between the lobbyist and top White House official... Indeed, it appears that Mr. Rove sat with Mr. Abramoff in the lobbyist's box seats for an N.C.A.A. basketball playoff game in 2002 [that single act of accepting free tickets cost Mike Espy his job, many tens or hundreds of thousands in legal bills, and five years out of his life]... [T]he idea that Mr. Abramoff exerted no influence with the administration seems about as believable as Mark Foley's early claim that his only interest in 16-year-old pages was "mentoring." A CIA agent outed for political reasons. Corruption in Iraq contracts. A male homosexual prostitute visiting the White House at nights, dozens of times. Corruption in the rebuilding of New Orleans. A House leadership that can't detect abuses of pages by a member of the leadership six years after he was first confronted with his misdeeds. The Majority Leader under indictment. Two Congressman having pled guilty to corruption charges. Jailhouse contacts between the Intelligence Committee chairman and a convicted congressman. Pretty soon, you won't have to connect the dots, because it will be there in 300 dpi clarity. Defeating the Republicans is not just about ideology. It is about fighting crime.
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