The Abramoff Torpedo
By Serge Truffaut
Tuesday 10 January 2006
The Republican Party - the American one, needless to say - is at bay. Ever since the powerful lobbyist Jack Abramoff has acknowledged his guilt for fraud, tax evasion, and corruption of elected officials, le Tout-Washington is obsessed by one question. Who are the dozen elected officials against whom Abramoff has agreed to testify in exchange for a reduction in his sentence? Their identities should be revealed during the preliminary hearings scheduled for March.
In anticipation of that event, this scandal - which many describe as the most important in decades - has already garnered one victim. Tom DeLay, ex-leader of the Republicans in Congress, has just thrown in the towel. Three days ago, he still hoped to reclaim the position he was forced to renounce for electoral misappropriation last autumn. Abramoff's confessions have obliterated his remaining aspirations.
Today we can propound the idea: in essence DeLay was the shock lobbyist's Trojan horse. A definite fact: the Republican boss was his preferred and trusted interlocutor. We will pass over the golf trips and the other pastimes of corrupt politicians to better focus our attention on the fact that the money Abramoff harvested through his swindles, some of which targeted Indian nations, was in part transferred into the coffers of elected officials. And notably DeLay's.
Ever since the revelation of the mechanism Abramoff employed, congressmen, senators, as well as President Bush himself have knuckled down to giving away sums bearing the crook's fingerprints. If charitable organizations are the principal beneficiaries of the indulgences various politicians are purchasing for themselves, this episode continues to illuminate their cynicism or their arrogance.
In fact, it has been known for at least two years that Abramoff is dishonest. Six years ago, he joined the law firm of Greenberg, Traurig - the firm that represented Bush during the legal battle that followed the 2000 elections. Then, consequent to an internal investigation, that firm decided to end its association with Abramoff on account of the twisted deeds he made his specialty.
And now, here we are, almost two years after that fact was reported by the Washington Post, with these gentlemen screaming that they didn't know and, in the same breath, making gifts on every side. The attitude that DeLay, Bush, and several others are adopting these days is quite simply immoral. To feign disgust with a man they have long known to be an adept of fraud amounts to taking Americans for imbeciles.
Translation: t r u t h o u t French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher.