Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bush Nominates G.O.P. "Cleaner" As Pentagon I.G.

After a long delay - since September in fact - Bush has finally nominated a new Inspector General for the Defense Dept. And what a nominee. On the face of it, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Laufman looks like a Bush crony in every way, singularly ill-qualified for the position.

As Kos diarist smintheus has noted in an extended version of his Kos diary over at his own blog, Laufman's main claim to fame so far has been the successful prosecution of some high profile terrorism cases - including getting Ahmed Omar Abu Ali imprisoned for 30 years for plotting to assasinate Bush himself. But there's no military service, no previous experience as an inspector of any kind. It would be easy to write Laufman off as another in the tradition of his predecessor Schmitz, who has joined mercenary-for-hire firm Blackwater USA after leaving his post under a cloud of investigation for conspiracy to rig bidding and for obstructing the course of justice.

But there is a bit more to Laufman, although you have to dig to find it, which proves that while Bush may play tiddlywinks and the Dems may play checkers, the likes of Cheney and his military/industrial pals play a fine game of chess.

David Laufman was part of the Republican team of lawyers on the Congressional Task Force which investigated allegations that highly placed Republicans had torpedoed Jimmy Carter's "October Surprise" - widely thought to have been a negotiated release of hostages from Iran. The failure of the "October Surprise" to materialize is thought to have been a major factor in Reagan's victory. That task force cleared Republicans of allegations of conspiracy in what was widely seen as a "fixed" result - and so created a clear playing field for what would become Iran/Contra.

From there, Laufman went straight to a special team put together by Republican special prosecutor Joseph diGenova, when ordered by the State Dept. IG to investigate Bush Snr. campaigner wrongdoings in the leak of an alleged passport scandal which involved accusations that Bill Clinton had tried to renounce his US citizenship.
DiGenova's team went to work explaining away the obviously criminal acts involved in the passport case. Though Clinton's privacy rights had been violated and the leaking of a confidential criminal referral was a felony, diGenova said he could not figure out who had committed the misdeeds. So he constructed elaborate rationales to clear all the Republicans of any wrongdoing.
...Later, one senior Clinton administration official reviewed the whitewashing of the October Surprise issue and similar handling of the passport case. The official shook his head in disgust. "They're the cleaners," he said about the investigative team, a reference to ruthless intelligence experts who are brought onto the scene of a botched operation to clean up the incriminating evidence.
Indeed, Laufman's expertise seems to lie entirely in making unhelpful investigations disappear. Salon asks the nominee:
For months, the office of the U.S. attorney from the Eastern District of Virginia, where you work, has been sitting on 17 detainee-abuse cases, including allegations against civilian contractors for contributing to abuse in Iraq. One case in particular involves Daniel Johnson, a contractor for CACI International, who was photographed at Abu Ghraib interrogating a detainee by using what Army investigators have called "an unauthorized stress position." Nearly two years after the Army investigation was completed, why has there been no resolution to these cases? When can the American people expect action?
And now we get to the truth - that David Laufman's nomination is not incompetence at all but competence of the nastiest sort. It is clear that his task as IG at the Pentagon will be to ensure that no more of these troubling and embarassing investigations into Halliburton price gouging, Boeing bribing or Blackwater violent excesses go anywhere at all. From the point of view of BushCo's backers and financiers, the "Cleaner" is the very best man for the job.

Want to bet the Dems make nary a murmur at his confirmation?

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