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Abramoff  · Beirut Rules

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by Joe Trento


They are sweating at the White House and it is not over the hurricane hangover. The wide-ranging investigation into republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff which now spans from planting his cronies in the White House to a mobbed up murder investigation over the gangland style shooting of the owner of a fleet of gambling ships, has everyone’s attention.


The real fear among republicans is the unpleasant notion that the GOP’s secret deals with Israeli conservatives and the Arab-American community could become very public. Abramoff, an Orthodox Jew, had uniquely strong ties to Likud and other conservative organizations in Israel. He played a role in having his associates set up a series of think tanks and non-profits that supported and benefited major conservative politicians in the United States. His friend and partner, Grover Norquist, took care of the Arab-American clients while Abramoff concentrated on Israel and that nation’s American benefactors.


Our Justice Department sources tell us that one of the questions being examined is whether Abramoff and his colleagues were used to help spread cash among conservative ministers in the last several election cycles.


We have learned the arrest of 38-year-old David H. Safavian, an Abramoff friend and former lobbying partner who landed a job in the Bush Administration (most recently as head of procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget) is only the first casualty in a political scandal that could rival Watergate in the numbers of Presidential appointees caught in the Justice Department’s net. Safavian’s wife worked in a sensitive position on the Hill according to press reports.


Our sources in the FBI say that the probe is now looking far beyond Abramoff’s relationship with House Majority Leader Tom Delay and his staff. A local Texas probe has already resulted in Delay’s indictment on state charges. The real question people at the White House keep asking is is Abramoff about to make a deal with prosecutors and start talking about the politicians he knows so much about?


Sarkis Soghanalian, the infamous arms dealer, remains under lock up at the Krone Detention Facility in Miami. The 79-year-old supplier to Saddam for the U.S. government was approached by several of Abramoff’s associates in the mid-1990s offering a lifting of sanctions against Iraq so Soghanalian could collect $80 million he was owed by Iraq. The price for the sanctions being lifted was a multi-million cash payment through these associates that would bring help from a top republican politician. Associates of Abramoff whom Soghanalian said made the approach, were part of an FBI probe that was ended without further action in 1997. Now investigators are asking why that probe was stopped and why Soghanalian remains unavailable to the FBI agents he flew into Miami to meet with last February.


It was after this reporter interviewed Soghanlian about these matters that Immigration and Customs Enforcement removed Soghanalian from a local Miami rehabilitation facility and put him in the infamous Krone Dention Center where he is not permitted near the media.



Copyright © 2003-2005 Public Education Center, Inc. All rights reserved.


Joe Trento has spent more than 35 years as an investigative journalist, working with both print and broadcast outlets and writing extensively on national security issues. Before joining the National Security News Service in 1991, Trento worked for CNN's  Special Assignment Unit, the Wilmington News Journal, and prominent journalist Jack Anderson. Trento has received six Pulitzer nominations and is the author of five books, the most recent of which is The Secret History of the CIA. He regularly publishes a blog at  This essay is herein reprinted with the author's permission.

Posted  October 05, 2005

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