Will the Clamor from the Safavian Indictment Wake America?

Sunday, September 25, 2005 at 02:29 PM

The "Fox in the Henhouse Gang" Strikes Again.  If you think that Michael Brown's selection as head of FEMA was a joke, you're going to love the background on David Safavian, the former head of federal procurement who resigned Friday before last, and was indicted in the Abramoff probe the following Tuesday.  The FBI complaint against Safavian alleges that he made repeated false statements to government officials and investigators about a golf trip with Abramoff to Scotland in 2002, and that he concealed his efforts to help Abramoff acquire control of two federally managed properties in the Washington area. See story here

While those allegations have yet to be proved, the resignation and indictment have already prompted a reexamination of Safavian's "qualifications" for a job as head of federal procurement, a position which one would assume is reserved for those of the highest ethical and moral standards, since he "set purchasing policy for the entire government."

 According to the Wash. Post story:

"Safavian is a veteran Washington player. He is a former lobbying partner of anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and previously worked with Abramoff at another firm. Both he and Abramoff have represented gambling clients and Indian tribes with gambling interests.

"At the time of the golf trip, Safavian was chief of staff at the General Services Administration, where ethics rules flatly prohibited the receipt of a gift from any person seeking an official action by the agency. When Safavian asked GSA ethics officers for permission to go on the trip, he assured them in writing that Abramoff "has no business before GSA," according to the affidavit signed by FBI special agent Jeffrey A. Reising.

"Reising alleged, however, that Abramoff had by then already secretly enlisted Safavian in an effort to buy 40 acres of land that GSA managed in Silver Spring for use as the campus of a Hebrew school Abramoff founded. Safavian also allegedly tried to help Abramoff lease space for Abramoff's clients in an old post office building downtown."

It only took the Wash. Post one more day to add to the story: story is here

"The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee held up Safavian's nomination for more than a year, in part because of lawmakers' concerns about lobbying work for two men later accused of links to suspected terrorist organizations, according to committee documents. Safavian did not disclose his firm's representation of the men until questioned in writing by the committee's staff, and initially failed to tell the panel he had registered as a foreign agent for two controversial African regimes."

"The Senate panel nevertheless approved him unanimously and the Senate followed suit on Nov. 21, 2004"

So the president, the fighter of the potentially endless "war on terror" appointed a lobbyist with ties to suspected terrorists to be the head of federal procurment.  And the Senate had no trouble approving the nomination.  Wait, you say, maybe the "ties to terrorists" was so tenous, so innocuous as to be irrelevant.  Not according to the Wash. Post's description of them:
"The record of Safavian's confirmation shows extensive questioning by the committee staff about his alleged lobbying for local Muslim leader Abdurahman Alamoudi, who in October 2000 made widely publicized comments supporting Hezbollah and the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, at a rally in Lafayette Park.

"Lobby disclosure forms originally filed by Safavian's firm, Janus-Merritt Strategies, show that it represented Alamoudi, a prominent Muslim activist, until 2001. Alamoudi has since been convicted and imprisoned for accepting money from the Libyan government as part of an alleged plot to assassinate the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

"Janus-Merritt Strategies changed its lobby disclosure forms in 2001 to indicate that its client was not Alamoudi but Jamal Barzinji. In March 2002, Barzinji was named in a search warrant affidavit filed by a Customs Service official as "the officer or director" of a group of entities in Northern Virginia "controlled by individuals who have shown support for terrorists or terrorist fronts." No charges have been filed against Barzinji, and he has denied any wrongdoing." source here

Maybe no one could tell that Safavian was an inappropriate choice to head federal procurement?  Funny that some people had no trouble seeing "That the Bush Administration would turn the keys to the treasury over to this crew is beyond irresponsible. No one could be so blind as not to understand how utterly inappropriate it is that David Safavian is charged with overseeing the federal government's purchasing activities." source here

Of course, Safavian had the appearance of propriety on his side, having long ago learned how to say what he knows he is supposed to say.  That's why a person associated with suspected terrorists, as well as two extremely oily lobbyists, could tell a news paper "T]he best advice I've gotten was from my grandfather and that advice is that you've got to have ethics and integrity in everything you do, especially here in D.C." source here

And there is speculation that Safavian may not be the last member of Bush Inc. to grab the feds attention.  One commentator calls Safavian "something of a GOP lobbyist Zelig,
having ties to not only Jack Abramoff, but also Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, Joe Allbaugh, Rep. Chris Cannon, and Rep. Bob Ney" source here.

If you are religious, pray.  If not, hope.  Pray and/or hope fervently that this is the beginning of the unravelling of the net of sleaze that this administration has flung over the very structures of democracy.  Pray and/or hope fervently that this is the small pinhole of light that will only widen and brighten until the entire country can see exactly what has been going on in Washington sinceJanuary of 2001, and who has done it.