Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Road to Corruption Leads to Albania

In December, 2007 Transparency International, an international organization dedicated to monitoring the level of corruption in more that sixty countries, released their list of the top most corrupt "countries". Albania topped their list of "most corrupt countries"(and the contiguous Albanian populated areas of Kosovo and Macedonia were also in the top 5.)

So it should not come as a surprise that if US officials were involved in corruption and/or some "less than legal" dealings, "Albania" would be part of the equation.

Two news stories yesterday, hit the jackpot on that linkage:

NYT: American Envoy Is Linked to Arms Deal Cover-Up


An American ambassador helped cover up the illegal Chinese origins of ammunition that a Pentagon contractor bought to supply Afghan security forces, according to testimony gathered by Congressional investigators.

A military attaché has told the investigators that the United States ambassador to Albania endorsed a plan by the Albanian defense minister to hide several boxes of Chinese ammunition from a visiting reporter. The ammunition was being repackaged to disguise its origins and shipped from Albania to Afghanistan by a Miami Beach arms-dealing company.

The ambassador, John L. Withers II, met with the defense minister, Fatmir Mediu, hours before a reporter for The New York Times was to visit the American contractor’s operations in Tirana, the Albanian capital, according to the testimony. The company, under an Army contract, bought the ammunition to supply Afghan security forces although American law prohibits trading in Chinese arms........Continued at NYT

And then there is the recent activities of former Homeland Security Chief and PA Governor, Tom Ridge, as investigated by Roll Call:

Roll Call: Ridge Files Very Late for Albania

Former Bush Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge busted by the Justice Department for failing to register for two years for lobbying for Albania, at $40k a month:

For almost two years former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge failed to register a nearly half-million-dollar lobbying contract that he had with the government of Albania. Ridge filed a registration statement on behalf of the country earlier this month after being contacted by the Department of Justice.

'It was brought to my attention after the contract expired and my lawyer said under the circumstances I probably should have filed,' said Ridge, who is a national co-chairman of Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign and has been mentioned as a potential vice presidential running mate. 'I didn't think it was [necessary] to register.'

The Foreign Agents Registration Act requires agents to register with the DOJ within 10 days of signing a contract with a foreign government and before performing any duties for the client. Additionally, 'foreign agents' must file biannual reports detailing any agreements, income received and expenditures on behalf of foreign countries or corporations owned by countries.

Ridge, the former Pennsylvania governor, represented Albania from October 2006 through the end of August 2007 on issues ranging from homeland security to NATO membership.

On May 7, 2007, Ridge and Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha met with Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) to discuss 'various reforms undertaken by the government of Albania to comply with NATO and EU requirements,' according to the FARA supplemental statement. Ridge and Berisha met with Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) to discuss the same issues on May 8.

The time stamp on Ridge's registration statement with the Justice Department is dated June 12, 2008. ... Ridge's registration was spurred by a DOJ inquiry after press accounts surfaced noting Ridge's connection to the country. ...

After a meeting with Justice and his counsel at Blank Rome, Ridge decided to file his FARA registration.

'Once we were made aware of certain contacts by Gov. Ridge, we advised him to register, which he did,' said Topper Ray, a spokesman for Blank Rome. ...

Ridge is in good company. One becomes aware of a lot of unregistered foreign lobbying in Washington, although not always as blatantly in violation as this. ....

So, curious if Ridge knows something about the strange DOD-US embassy-Albanian government-AEY-mothballed $300 million Chinese ammo weapons deal, now under investigation by the Feds and Congress?"

1 comment:

Arius said...

Is everyone in Washington on the Muslim payroll?