The Political Party of Scandals
By Diana Lee
November 3, 2006
During the Clinton years, the Republicans and the conservative pundits blamed the Clinton administration for "scandal fatigue", dragging the nation down with too many controversies. That was six years ago. Ironically, the previous "scandal fatigue" pales in comparison to the present "scandal deluge" under the reign of the Bush administration and a Republican Congress — festering scandal after scandal that read like the tabloids. Behind the scandals lies the grip of one-party rule that has unwaveringly advocated fundamentalist Christian policies, promoted military misadventurism for profit and attributed to the erosion of American democracy.
The government has proven itself one of the worst in American history — committing white-collared crimes, involving corruption, sex, bribery, and fraud under the disguise of authority with impunity. In fact, FBI squads have tripled this year for investigating "lobbyists, lawmakers and influence peddlers", according to the Daily News.
Even historians have reached a verdict that George W. Bush is the worst president ever for his hubris and abuse of the executive office — to be remembered for his "doctrine of pre-emptive war, crony capitalism, fiscal irresponsibility, military adventurism, trampling of civil liberties, and anti-environmental policies."
Over the last six years, the GOP, dubbed as the "culture of corruption", has been entangled in a myriad of scandals, some of which have ended with court indictments and others are still under probe. The number of lawsuits not only has mushroomed as more federal whistleblowers stepped forward but also has ensnared more conservative political figures in fresh probes connected with the cases already under investigation. Most scandals seem to involve the exclusive club of GOP, netting members from almost every state in the nation. Besides the growing number of cases for prosecution, the scandals that have surfaced cover a wide range of criminal activities from sexual misconduct to fraud to war profiteering.
However, the major Republican scandals thrown in the spotlight over the last few years essentially fall under six headings: sex, bribery, 9/11, Intelligence, Iraq and Election.
The sordid sexual affair that brought down President Clinton in his fling with Monica Lewinsky is now plaguing the Republicans in the 2006 Mark Foley scandal. The seriousness of the issue here is not just about improper sexual conduct or homosexuality but the criminality of preying on congressional pages who are underage.
The 2005 Gannongate exposed a male prostitute that had been planted as a news reporter with security clearance for the daily Whitehouse Press briefings.
The 2006 Hookergate forced CIA Director Porter Goss to resign suddenly under the speculation that he had participated in poker games linked to a prostitution ring.
In probably one the worst and the most extensive probes in history, Jack Abramoff stands at the core of web corruption, touching the lives of numerous Republican lawmakers, staffers, lobbyists, and operatives. Known as the Republican "superlobbyist", Abramoff's admission to felony charges in the Indian Gaming Scandal led to the convictions of three disgraced prominent Congressmen: Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) for receiving more than $2M in bribes in a criminal conspiracy involving defense contractors; Bob Ney (R-OH) for accepting bribes in exchange for various legislative favors; and Tom DeLay (R-TX) from Sugarland for being involved in numerous ethics violations with regard to bribery and conspiracy. In cooperation with Federal prosecutors, Abramoff has touched off a string of scandals involving many more Republicans caught in various violations with regard to bribery and illegal campaign fundings.
After the World Trade Center attack, the EPA issued an official statement of minimal health risk at Ground Zero. However, a Sierra Club report claimed the government ignored alarming data while a GAO report stated no adequate study of 9/11's health effects had ever been organized. As a result, hundreds of 9/11 rescue workers ended up to this day with acute illnesses for breathing the unsafe air at Ground Zero.
The collective voices of experts and respected senior officials criticized the findings in the report of the 9/11 Commission which was created by the Bush administration.
In the 2003 Plamegate, the identity of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative working on counterterrorism efforts, was leaked to multiple journalists by administration officials in an attempt to discredit Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for writing a New York Times opinion piece stating he had investigated the Niger uranium-production allegations to be untrue, before Bush's 2003 State of the Union address. (Only Lewis 'Scooter' Libby was indicted to date.)
Larry Franklin, a Pentagon official, was indicted for passing classified United States documents about Iran to two lobbyists linked to Israel in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spy case.
Before the United Nations' vote on the Iraq war, the United States and Great Britain eavesdropped on targetted diplomats from several countries, including Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The National Security Agency (NSA) has been secretly (and illegally) wiretapping tens of millions of American citizens, using phone record data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, in which the latter two denied their complicity.
Bush and many officials in his administration made false statements about Saddam Hussein's military capabilities in order to build a case for the US to go to war against Iraq.
In 2003, Dick Cheney's former company, Halliburton, was awarded revenue of over $7 billion in no bid contracts for services in Iraq. Halliburton dealings had been dogged everywhere by scandal — bribery, fraud, corruption, lack of proper precautions for employee safety, undermining US government regulations for drinking water, and overcharging the US Army for fuel in Iraq.
In July 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq found that 34 percent of the materiel controlled by Kellogg, Brown and Root (a subsidiary of Halliburton) had gone missing and the disbursing of $600 million in Iraq reconstruction funds "did not establish effective controls and left accountability open to fraud, waste and abuse."
American soldiers physically tortured prisoners in Iraq and kept undocumented "ghost detainees" in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The Pentagon planted fake news in Iraq as a way to garner support for the war. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Pentagon secretly paid Iraqi newspapers to print fake news, and the Times reported that the articles were written by U.S. soldiers and translated into Arabic by a defense contractor.
Tom DeLay's TRMPAC (Texans for a Republican Majority PAC) illegally raised corporate contributions to help Republicans gain control of the Texas Legislature in 2002. The Legislature then re-drew Texas' U.S. congressional districts to help the GOP.
In 2002, with a tight Senate race in New Hampshire, Republican Party officials hired GOP Marketplace to depress Democratic turnout by "jamming" the Democratic Party phone bank with continuous calls for 90 minutes.
In Coingate, Thomas Noe, a coin dealer and major GOP donor, was at the center of a scandal in Ohio state government charged with illegally funneling $45,400 in contributions to President Bush's re- election bid.
Recently, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says that fresh disasters at the polls prove that electronic voting machines can't be trusted. New evidence from an industry insider has exposed Diebold's illegal installation of uncertified software in voting machines used in the 2004 presidential primaries.
On November 7, voters will have a chance to change the course of the country. As taxpayers, are Americans willing to continue supporting a Republican congress that has proven to be the worst government in the U.S. history? The above record of the Republican Party ought to speak for itself. On Election Day, it'll be up to the Americans to cast their verdict and decide their own fate!
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