Collins: US Attorney Hit List As Early As 2005?
U.S. Attorney Hit List As Early As 2005?
House of Games
What’s the Motive?
Carol Lam was one outstanding United States Attorney. She nailed down one of the biggest political corruption cases in recent history with a guilty plea from former Republican Congressman Randal “Duke” Cunningham in November, 2005. His crimes included conspiracy to commit bribery, mail and wire fraud.
The San Diego Republican admitted to taking over $1.0 million alone from San Diego defense contractor Brent Wilkes. The jailed Cunningham is now serving an eight year sentence for this and other crimes. In one of her last official acts, Lam indicted Wilkes for bribing former CIA senior executive “Dusty” Foggo, who was also indicted. These crimes allegedly took place over a period as far back to 2002.
A recently released Department of Justice email carried by Talking Points Memo Document Collection raises an interesting question. The message is dated”3/7/2005” from leoleonard to MaryBeth Buchanan:
Leo Leonard, the sender, is apparently this Republican activist. He’s listed by Media Transparency as the Director, Lawyers Division of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies.
Mary Beth Buchanan, the presumed recipient of the memo, is the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. She was a John Ashcroft protégé. Her role at Justice was central. Her bio states that, “At the request of the Attorney General, Ms. Buchanan also served from June 2004 until June 2005 as the Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys.”
If so, what was so hot that Lam was in the neoJustice crosshairs as far back as the date of the Email, March 7, 2005.
Why Target a Successful U.S. Attorney
Why not if she’s sending sheep in to a mine field filled with deadly secrets?
The McClatchy Washington Bureau noted:
On May 11, 2006, Kyle Sampson, then Gonzales’ chief of staff, sent an e-mail to deputy White House counsel William Kelley, asking Kelley to call to discuss “the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires.”
It doesn’t get any clearer than this. Sampson refers to “the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam.” But this was May 2006. We’ve got a March 2005 email to interpret, if in fact replacing Lam is the subject of the email.
Here is some convincing evidence that her early retirement (aka dismissal) was long sought. Right as she left office, Lam offered up the detailed indictment of Foggo and Bent Wilkes.
The indictment goes on to list mail and wire fraud, bribery, and other crimes that are so ineptly hidden it takes one aback.
As the indictment alleges, “Defendant WILKES and other conspirators provided things of value to defendant FOGGO and defendant FOGGO accepted these things of value.”
According to the indictment, the motive for the relationship was influence over major contracts with the US government, in this case CIA, also known as the minefield. Foggo gave Wilkes access to highly sensitive information that Wilkes had no right to see due to a lack of security clearance. Wilkes used that information to get contracts for his corporation.
Wilkes made out like a bandit with a nine figure contract to show for his investment. A good time was had by all at vacation spots and posh restaurants, as the indictment attests. One of those vacation hideaways was a mansion in Hawaii that Foggo was reported to have enjoyed.
Was There a Bigger Story to Cover Up?
Maybe there was and it would have been percolating form about the time Lam came on as a U.S. Attorney in 2002 through the April 2005 date listed in the Foggo – Wilkes indictment. What was going on at that time in Lam’s back yard?
According to Brent Wilkes, he was in the ongoing business of doling out money for congressmen in return for favorable consideration According to the San Diego Union:
Several of Wilkes’ former employees and business associates say he used the hospitality suites over the past 15 years to curry favor with lawmakers as well as officials with the CIA, where both Wilkes and Wade sought contracts.
Wilkes hosted parties for lawmakers and periodic poker games that included CIA officials as well as members of the House Appropriations and Intelligence committees. Cunningham, who sat on both committees, was a frequent guest, according to some of the participants in the poker games.
Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo was more direct:
That’s how we get into the other part of this story — those ‘hospitality suites’, that moveable feast of food, poker and love, Brent Wilkes ran in Washington for maybe fifteen years. Josh Marshall 05/05/2007
Wilkes didn’t think much of the lobbying process and said so to the New York Times: “Offering a rare insider’s view, Mr. Wilkes described the appropriations process as little more than a shakedown.”
This was much more than a pay for play scandal in Washington or a political newbie showing up and throwing some money around. We’re talking about allegations that national security officials were bribed; a chilling thought since there are Wilkes all over the world in places not too friendly to the United States. In addition, there’s the sleazy entertainment angle with a 15 year history spoken of freely by a number of publications.
Stop Right There
There’s enough evidence in this well documented scenario to justify asking if Lam’s forced retirement was linked to her aggressive exposure of the Cunningham – Brent Wilkes – CIA connection. It’s bad enough to have free-wheeling, loose cannon, West Coast defense contractor bragging about paying off lobbyist shakedowns in order to gain congressional influence. It’s even worse to see an indictment describing how the number three executive at CIA took bribes and shared national security information But it’s utterly unbearable, if you know the public taste for scandal, to think that the story uncovered will lead with information about a scene like this described in Harpers magazine:
As to the festivities themselves, I hear that party nights began early with poker games (see Clarification, below) and degenerated into what the source described as a “frat party” scene—real bacchanals. Apparently photographs were taken, and investigators are anxiously procuring copies. My heart beats faster in fevered anticipation. Harpers Magazine 04/27/2006
On March 12, 2005 “Scoop” Independent News ran this:
Exposed and disgraced, Cunningham resigned after the indictment and apparently began singing the right tunes for the prosecutor. Lam widened her investigation and connected Cunningham’s cash cow, defense contractor Brent Wilkes, with a broader potential scandal involving Wilkes and former CIA executive Dusty Foggo.
That may not be the right reason to replace a hard nosed U.S. Attorney but, given the facts, it’s certainly a logical reason. At the end of 2005, researcher and blogger Joseph Cannon reported the findings of his extensive research:
The truth: Wilkes was a mechanism by which public funds earmarked for national defense were funneled to G.O.P. candidates and causes.
We can only imagine what’s hiding behind the public face of the scandal?
We may be stuck with only our imaginations if someone doesn’t start talking soon..
Will it be MaryBeth, who now knows that she was added to the list of U.S. Attorneys targeted for dismissal? Isn’t that what got the first eight fired federal prosecutors riled up and talking in the first place?
Report: U.S. Attorney Buchanan to meet with House Judiciary investigators
06/06/2007 (Associated Press)
PITTSBURGH — U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan of Pittsburgh will meet privately Thursday with House Judiciary Committee investigators looking into the Justice Department’s firing of eight federal prosecutors last year, her attorney told a newspaper.
Buchanan’s attorney, Roscoe C. Howard J. — the former U.S. Attorney of Washington, D.C. — told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he’s representing Buchanan at the meeting in Washington.
Howard said Buchanan is cooperating with the investigation, but said it was premature to speculate about what she might be asked.
“They might go into areas that surprise us,” Howard told the newspaper.
Acknowledgement: Special thanks to internet poster mod mom for her tips and suggestions. To look into the abyss of the Wilkes scandal, see Joseph Cannon’s Wilkes, the Invisible Empire and Deeper into the Wilkes/MZM scandals (Updated).
Permission to reprint with an attribution to the author and a link to this article at “Scoop” Independent News.