They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

The Legacy of Pious Jack: Forced Abortions For Sweatshop Workers

Ms. Magazine visited the Northern Mariana Islands recently to determine the legacy of Jack Abramoff's work on behalf of sweatshop owners there. What did they find? Forced abortions, unemployment, and a thriving sex trade -- comprised mostly of unemployed garment workers. Nice work, Jacko.

Abramoff went to bat for the Islands' power brokers, so they could keep their sweatshops operating free of U.S. worker protection laws. With Rep. Tom DeLay's (R-TX) help, he kept our laws off their island, which allowed these conditions to develop, the magazine concludes.

Meanwhile, Abramoff -- "who is praised by friends for his devotion to Judaism," the NYTimes tells us -- spent Passover at the luxurious 300-acre Turnberry Isle Resort and Country Club in Aventura, Florida. The disgraced (but devout) superlobbyist managed to scrape together more than $500 a night for his family's accomodations. (Alternet, NYTimes)

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Over at, Laura Rozen puts her excellent sources to work explaining how Wilkes' poker/hooker parties may have put Wilkes' longtime pal Kyle "Dusty" Foggo on Porter Goss' radar, and eventually landed Foggo the #3 spot at the CIA when Goss became its head:

I'm told these poker parties may have indirectly helped put Dusty Foggo on Porter Goss's radar through the person of Goss's deputy Patrick Murray. . . Writes one source, "...Wilkes and Foggo played cards together in washington in the late 1990s and early 2000s. . . It is apparently through this connection that Foggo came to the attention of Goss when Goss' first choice for executive director, Michael Kostiw, was nixed..."

More details this morning about the Brent Wilkes-Mitch Wade hooker ring, courtesy of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

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.

And I'll be darned: Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, now the executive director of the CIA, liked to come to those "parties." The same ones now-CIA Director Porter Goss may have attended:

People who were present at the games said one of the regular players was Kyle Dustin "Dusty" Foggo, who has been Wilkes' best friend since the two attended junior high school in Chula Vista in the late 1960s. In October, Foggo was named the CIA's executive director -- the agency's third-highest position.

In fact, Foggo didn't just attend, he occasionally hosted the parties at his Virginia home, the paper reports.

The SDUT has a couple other "names" of participants: Former Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-TX) says he was there, although he never stuck around for the prostitutes, he says. Others tell the paper a CIA agent was present known as "Nine Fingers" because, yes, he only had nine fingers.

Who else? More lawmakers? As Young Sherlock Holmes might say: The game is afoot.

This just in:

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former Republican Party chairman, arranged the startup financing for a GOP telemarketing company implicated in two criminal cases involving election dirty tricks.

. . . Barbour's investment company arranged a quarter-million dollar loan to GOP Marketplace in 2000 and also gave a promotional plug to the telemarketer several months later.

. . . According to [an] operating agreement, the loan gave the investors a stake in the company.

Does that mean Barbour profited off the dirty tricks campaigns?

Also interesting: The company's founder, Allen Raymond, once worked for Barbour at the Republican National Committee, according to the AP article. Raymond's now serving a three-month prison term for jamming phones in New Hampshire on election day 2002. His company was implicated in an earlier scheme in New Jersey to make harrassing phone calls to voters.

(Ed. Note: Updated 8:26 AM.)

Late Update: There's more at the Senate Majority Project.

Ken Silverstein reports at Harper's blog on the spreading Cunningham-Wade-Wilkes prostitute scandal. He says more lawmakers, past and present, are being investigated. Sounds like he thinks House Intel Chair-turned-CIA Director Porter Goss is one of them:

I've learned from a highly-connected source that those under intense scrutiny by the FBI are current and former lawmakers on Defense and Intelligence comittees -- including one person who now holds a powerful intelligence post. [emphasis added]


Actually, make that a double-yowzah: Remember that Goss is the one who plucked one of Wilkes' old San Diego friends, the unusual and colorful Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, out of CIA middle-management obscurity to be his #3 at the agency. At the time of Foggo's appointment, no one could figure out where he came from, or how Goss knew him.

But if Goss was at the "parties," I wonder, was Foggo there too? Did they see each other? Is this where Goss had an opportunity to gauge Foggo's abilities, and determine he was qualified for the CIA executive director post?

As we noted in an italicized euphemism earlier, it appears that one of the young college students partying with Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) was smoking something that may not have included tobacco. Others -- the Stakeholder, <cough cough> -- had similar suspicions.

Here is the original of that picture:

We jumped on the story at once. We tracked down someone from the party, and even got our hands on more photographs, including a high-resolution copy of the photograph that appeared in the local college paper. Our photo-forensic team pored over the snaps, and came to a unanimous conclusion: it's a legitimate smoke. You can see the definitive close-up below ...
That's not to say the dude isn't a major tokaholic -- there's a picture of Bob Marley pinching a joint on his shirt. But it's no spliff he's holding in the pic. Sometimes, a cigarette is just a cigarette:

A reportedly inebriated Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY) took a break from kissing babies last Friday to hug some frat boys. I wonder if they're of drinking age?

Bonus: Notice how he appears to be in the er, smoking section of the frat house.

Sweeney's appearance was reported by the Concordiensis, Union College's newspaper. Full text of the article below. You can see the article as it ran in hard copy here.

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After abruptly pulling the lobbying reform bill earlier and retreating to a private room, it looks like House Republicans have hammered out some sort of compromise on the earmark mutiny, because they've brought the reform bill back to the floor.

According to the AP:

Grievances were aired at a closed two-hour meeting at which House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and other party leaders pledged that the final bill that comes out of House-Senate negotiations will expand the earmark language to cover all bills.

I'm watching C-SPAN now, and Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) just euphemistically referred to that meeting as an opportunity to hear "more input." Right.

So they won't change the bill, but have sworn that they'll change it down the line. We'll see how that flies with Rep. Lewis (R-CA) and his fellow earmark mutineers.

The company belonging to Mitchell Wade -- the guy who helped Duke Cunningham get laid -- had a contract to provide staff to the National Counterterrorism Center, and may still, according to former employees. NCTC is the hub of the intelligence community's counterterrorism efforts, and keeps a master list of over 200,000 names associated with terrorists or terrorist organizations.

NCTC is a super-secret place, for good reason: its computers have access to more classified data than those of any other government installation in the world. It was created in large part to "fuse" the reams of intelligence generated and held separately by the many different U.S. spy agencies, and it does a respectable job at it, from what I hear. It looks kind of like a bigger, fancier version of CTU from the TV show "24" -- although, I'm not kidding you, it has a Starbucks.

The employees once placed in NCTC by Wade's company, MZM Inc., may still be there under the corporate banner of Athena Innovative Solutions -- that's what MZM was renamed after Wade left. Athena has not returned my call, and NCTC declined to comment.

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How long did Duke Cunningham -- and other lawmakers, possibly -- have sex with hookers, courtesy of Brent Wilkes and Mitchell Wade?

The Wall Street Journal piece this morning doesn't say. From talking with sources, I gather that most of the indiscretions in the piece probably happened over the past few years, ending only when the San Diego Union Tribune ran its first piece on Cunningham last June.

But many people looking into the case believe it started long before that -- as far back as 1994, some say. After all, Wilkes was working D.C. from the early 1990s, with Wade by his side, winning friends and influencing legislation.

I'm hearing that Wilkes and Wade regularly hosted Congressmen and others to drink, play cards, smoke cigars -- and, yes, be entertained by prostitutes. (Remember that "hospitality suite, with several bedrooms?")

And I'll stick by my statement from earlier today: We're going to hear more about this. We'd better -- we haven't had a sex scandal in this town since forever, it seems like.