Sunday, July 13, 2008

Presidential Library scandal (updated again)

At the beginning of March, I blogged about the Bush presidential library (with video) at Southern Methodist University. At that time, the biggest question was whether or not the $200 million for the thing was coming from Our Fearless Leader's good buddies in Saudi Arabia. Bush would not even discuss the source of the funding with the media.

Ironically, the library remembering one of the most corrupt administrations in American history is being funded, at least in part, on bribes. (Aside: why is it that we have to learn about this stuff from the British press?)

Bush lackey lobbyist Stephen Payne was caught on tape offering to arrange a meeting with VP Cheney or Sec. of State Condi Rice for the ousted president of Kyrgyzstan Askar Akayev Kazakh politician Yerzhan Dosmukhamedov, AKA Eric Dos. It would cost as much as three quarters of a million dollars. Apparently, Our Fearless Leader does not meet with former world leaders much anymore.

Here's the quote from the Times of London Online:
The exact budget I will come up with, but it will be somewhere between $600,000 and $750,000, with about a third of it going directly to the Bush library,” said Payne, who sits on the US homeland security advisory council.
As there are no overhead costs involved in this transaction, I am wondering where the other two-thirds of the money is going. At any rate, this sounds a lot like a bribe to me.

Incidentally, Askar blamed the U.S. government for the 2005 coup that swept him from power. He has been living in exile in Moscow ever since. Askar would have had to have been involved in this media "sting." Coincidence? I doubt it. (struck, due to updated information.)

SMU, which is the host site of the library, ought to reconsider and rescind their offer to allow this memorial to corruption to be built on their campus. This will be worse than those recruiting violations.

h/t to Think Progress for staying on top of this.

Update I: The Department of Homeland Security is investigating Payne for possible violations of federal law. Payne sits on the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Separately, House Oversight Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Ca.) has opened his own investigation. Bonus: if Payne was authorized by any member of the administration to solicit these bribes donations, that official could be guilty of bribery, too.

Update II: Contrary to the original report, Payne was actually speaking to a Kazakh politician. This is the problem with media speculation. Originally, the Central Asia politician who agreed to be secretly taped did so with the understanding that his name not be made public. The original name was an educated, but wrong, guess.

Bonus: Think Progress is now reporting that a McCain aid may have been involved, too.

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