Sunday, July 13, 2008

Cash for access

Follow the money, that's the old saying. In this case the money was being dangled by an undercover reporter acting alongside a representative for the former president of Kyrgyzstan:
A lobbyist with close ties to the White House is offering access to key figures in George W Bush’s administration in return for six-figure donations to the private library being set up to commemorate Bush’s presidency.
Worldwide Strategic Partners is just one of many security companies specializing in well, getting stuff done. Access, media, recommendations, referrals, the stereo back scratch and so forth.

This tape mentions cash for access to several Bush officials with the intent on helping America improve it's image in Kyrgyzstan, a country recently in turmoil due to upheavals in its democratic process. According to the CIA factbook the former president is Askar Akayev. The blurred out guy in the video was apparently acting in his stead. Why, though? What's the motive for the former president to participate in a sting on the Bush administration?

Perhaps his daughter, interviewed in 2007 two years after her father's ouster, can shine some light on the matter:
EurasiaNet: Does Iran have any influence in Kyrgyzstan?
Akayeva: Iran is very popular here. It is the leading Islamic country in the world, I think. They are popular here because of their stance with the United States. Iranians are very clever people. There is a huge and clear division between the Shiite and Sunni, but not here. This is a bit strange. The Saudis don’t have any influence at all. They’re just financing things. Even the Kuwaitis have more influence than the Saudis. Nobody really cares (about the Saudis).

EurasiaNet: How is the United States viewed in Kyrgyzstan?
Akayeva: Screwed up (laughs). In the ’90s, there were such high hopes for the West in general and the United States in particular. People were very much pro-American. Maybe because America is seen as a stick, or whip. Also, because we see America though Russian eyes. Also, of course, there is Iraq, which is the major cause (of anti-American feeling). People don’t see any help from the United States. And they are not happy with all of the political meddling, through NGOs and the shooting (of a Kyrgyz national by an American serviceman in 2005). [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. I really doubt that [US President George W.] Bush or anyone in the Republican administration even knows where Kyrgyzstan is.
Her last statement might explain some things. It's evident the US, through the NGOs she mentioned, was instrumental in helping overturn her father's reign:
The arrangement highlights the delicate balance Washington must strike as democratic movements begin stirring across the former Soviet Union. To avoid provoking Russia and violating diplomatic norms, the U.S. can't directly back opposition political parties. But it underwrites a web of influential NGOs whose support of press freedom, the rule of law and clean elections almost inevitably pits them against the entrenched interests of the old autocratic regimes.

The stakes for the region are high. In 2003, peaceful demonstrators, some carrying roses, ousted Georgia's longtime president, former Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevarnadze, in what became known as the "Rose Revolution." Two months ago, thousands of Ukrainians wearing orange seized control of Kiev's main square to protest voting fraud, setting the stage for opposition candidate Viktor Yuschenko to win the presidency. Now, opposition figures hope to go three-for-three -- this time using yellow as their color -- in a bid to push Mr. Akayev from power.
So why would the Bush crew desire face time with the former president? Are they beginning to see the value of realpolitik on the way out the door or was Payne simply trying to scam these guys into giving Bush some library loot as a final in-your-face? Does radical Islam or oil have any bearing? Questions remain.

What is apparent is the smell--it doesn't smell good. Bush's library fund is now tainted from the get-go. Just add this to the GOP hit parade of late--it's rare to see such a total implosion with folks shooting off their feet with howitzers all over the place. Obviously some of this could rub off on McCain, who at last check still has an R by his name and who the left have busily been trying to paint as the lobbyists' best friend. Where have you gone, Newt Gingrich? the midst of the inevitable Bushco bashing will anyone notice that Payne mentioned the name Joe Biden, along with "some Democrats"? Why did he specifically drop Biden's name? We know Joe has occasionally been mentioned as a possible running mate for Obama. It'll be interesting to see which way this goes. Maybe Pelosi has started to play around with Kucinich's impeachment resolution for a reason.

MORE 7/13/08

Hot Air is covering this story, but surprisingly few sites/blogs are making it a top story, including the left sites. Could that be because Joe Biden was mentioned on the tape or is it just scandal fatigue? Or the weekend?

Anyway, after more thought here's a few more questions.

1. The stated goal of the undercover ops were to get Bush officials to say some good things about the ex-prez, presumably because he might be interested in getting back into power. Yet, the comments from the ex-prez's own daughter suggest that anything coming from the Bush administration wouldn't be worth much anyway.

2. Bush (and perhaps Rice) needs to step forward and speak to this immediately, otherwise his library will be tainted before the first rock is turned. W was supposed to represent a return to responsible government, not a Texas version of Clinton. He owes it to those of us who've supported him on that vision through the years.

3. Unless some alternative explanations come soon this video certainly appears to be stark proof of the selling of American foreign policy. Unlike the liberal canard that our reputation was trashed for taking out Saddam Hussein, this kind of impression is much more harmful to the United States of America.

1 comment:

Debbie said...

It could be it's the weekend, people are out, busy with company, who knows.

Maybe they are waiting until tomorrow to start spreading this. I have had company for a week and am suffering from a lack of time for information of any kind.

This sounds bad for bush on the surface.

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