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Abramoff Tied to NSA Government Contracting Scandal

 
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Fintan
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 2:51 pm    Post subject: Abramoff Tied to NSA Government Contracting Scandal Reply with quote

Enron-Global Crossing-Qwest common link: Jack Abramoff

Yet another scandal-plagued corporation with close ties to GOP fixer Jack Abramoff is in the news. Telecommunications giant Qwest bid on huge NSA contracts for outsourced IT services to develop secret surveillance capabilities that ended up being used by the Bush Administration for illegal domestic spying.

A federal judge in Denver yesterday denied former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio's plan to use classified government contracting documents in his defense against insider trading charges. Reuters reported:

"Qwest in 2002 had to restate $2 billion in revenue for the two preceding years. The fallout from the scandal triggered civil and criminal action against Qwest and its former executives, including Nacchio.

Nacchio's attorneys, in another filing unsealed on Monday, said the former executive's knowledge of classified government contracts anticipated by Qwest in 2001 "is one of the key elements to his defense."

Even before revelations of massive NSA domestic spying, Big Telecoms appear to have engaged in a whole host of dirty dealings and intrigue that involved Abramoff. As UpInArms pointed out at DU yesterday, Qwest was previously implicated in improper transactions with Enron to inflate both companies' bottom lines.

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=102x2061397

Global Crossing -- yet another bankrupted market-maker -- was doing shady business with Qwest, a spin-off of Verizon.(1)

Jack Abramoff presents a common link between all these scandal-plagued companies. Abramoff's former law firm, Greenberg Traurig (GT) has operated as a deal-maker and arm of the GOP and the Bush White House at a number of crucial junctures.(2);

Abramoff's close associate, former Tom DeLay Chief of Staff Ed Buckham, was Enron's registered lobbyist.(3)

Here we see Abramoff at the center of yet another web of corporate and government corruption. As we pull back a layer of his incredibly convoluted influence-peddling career, Jack appears to be a link in the emerging NSA domestic spying scandal.

NOTES:

1)Qwest and Verizon Wireless are the same company, according to the company's FCC filing: http://www.fcc.gov/transaction/qwest-verizon.html

Qwest Wireless - Verizon Wireless
Timeline | Orders & Public Notices | Record Documents | Applications | Background | Contacts
Qwest Wireless, LLC and Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless Seek Commission Consent for the Assignment of Sixty-two Broadband Personal Communications Services Licenses

2) According to the Center for Public Integrity, Verizon is one of the five biggest lobbying clients for Jack Abramoff's former law firm, Greenberg Traurig.

Lobbying firm information for Greenberg, Traurig, Hoffman, Lipoff, Rosen & Quentel

Lobbying Records

Lobbying by client
Company Name Total %
Forstmann Little & Co. $220,000 32.35%
Covad Communications Co. $180,000 26.47%
Viacom Inc. $120,000 17.65%
Singapore Technologies, Inc $100,000 14.71%
Verizon Communications Inc. $60,000 8.82%
Total $680,000

Source: U.S. Senate Office of Public Records lobbying disclosure records from 1998 to 2004.

3) According to the Washington Post, one of Abramoff's closest associates, former Tom DeLay Chief of Staff Ed Buckham, was registered lobbyist for Enron. also, see, SourceWatch for more on Buckham's Alexander Strategy Group,

WaPo: "Buckham, a former chief of staff to DeLay, was at the time (of the much-publicized Scotland golf trip paid for by Abramoff) was registered lobbyist for AT&T, Enron Corp., and the Nuclear Energy Institute. DeLay's wife was employed, at the time of the trip, by Buckham's lobbying firm, the Alexander Strategy Group, and was receiving a salary from it, according to DeLay's personal financial disclosure statement for that year, on file with the House clerk."

Source: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=364x225637

Comment:

leveymg: That was for contracts to outsource NSA's IT infrastructure

At that time,before 9/11, the Agency was undergoing a major transformation of its technology infrastructure, and Information Technology (IT) capabilities -- the ability to tap into web-based communications networks -- was outsourced to private sector contractors. Previously, all that work was done in house by NSA employees.

The NSA today is largely a privatized entity -- particularly domestic surveillance. It really is the telephone company (the descendants of ATT, anyway)that is spying on us. You should see the 1960s spy comedy with James Coburn, "In Like Flynt" to appreciate the reference.

Private sector contractors took over many NSA functions in 2000 and 2001. There were obvious security concerns about that, but money and expedience won out. As to whether that provided an opening to anyone who would have wanted to exploit that vulnerability for penetration and misuse of data before 9/11, we may or may not ever know. It raises a line of inquiry for investigation.
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