by Joan Swirsky
Beside figuring out how he’ll weasel out of his recent arrest – and probable conviction – for trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s senate seat to the highest bidder, I wonder if the disgraced governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, is contemplating the fates of Lee Harvey Oswald, Alexander Litvinenko, Vince Foster, Jim McDougal and Ron Brown – all of whom were summarily disposed of to keep them from talking.
Oswald, we know, was shot by Jack Ruby, a smalltime Dallas nightclub owner with suspected ties to the Mafia. The death effectively cemented the government’s case against the odd loner, and precluded any of the theories that tied Fidel Castro or the New Orleans mob or other numbers of people to being implicated in JFK’s assassination.
Litvinenko was a former officer of the Russian State security service, turned dissident and writer. After he accused his superiors of assassinating the Russian tycoon Boris Berzovsky, he was arrested but eventually fled to England, where he wrote two books antagonistic to the former USSR. In 2006, he died from radioactive polonium-210, suspected of having been administered by the KGB.
The deaths of Foster (chalked up to suicide), McDougal (chalked up to a heart attack) and Brown (chalked up to a plane crash) joined a long list of mysterious deaths – known as the “Clinton body count” – that took place before and during the Clinton administration.
Foster was found dead in Ft. Marcy Park in Virginia on July 20, 1993. There was a curious absence of blood at the scene and the forensic photographs disappeared. Rumor had it that the conscience-stricken Chief White House Counsel was on the verge of testifying against the president over a scandal involving the Children’s Defense Fund.
McDougal was found dead on March 8, 1998, ostensibly of a heart attack, while he was in solitary confinement in an Arkansas jail, having been convicted of 18 felony counts that had to do with bad loans made by the bank he owned, Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan. He and his wife Susan were financial partners with Bill and Hillary Clinton in real estate dealings that led to the Whitewater scandal. During the case, prosecutor Ken Starr asked for a reduced sentence for McDougal because he was cooperating in the investigation.
Brown, a former DNC Chairman and Clinton’s Commerce Secretary, was scheduled to testify in a campaign-finance scandal related to one of his employees, James Huang, who had been a multimillion-dollar fundraiser for the Democrats but was also suspected of funneling money from the Chinese government to the Clinton campaign. In the first week of April, 1996, Brown delayed testifying to travel to Bosnia-Croatia for a trade mission. The plane crashed and all 34 people aboard were killed. Subsequent investigations found a hole in Brown’s head, which appeared to be made by a bullet. But the X-rays were stolen (sound familiar?) and the theory that he was murdered because he planned to testify against President Clinton went nowhere.
The Lesson: Dead Men Don’t Talk!
Is the self-serving, wheeling-dealing Blagojevich now shaking in his boots as he realizes that the same dirty politics he’s been playing for years, with the same thugs and hardball players like convicted felon Tony Rezko, domestic terrorist William Ayers, master manipulator Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and shakedown artist Jesse Jackson – all part of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Chicago Machine – will deal with him in the same draconian ways they’ve dealt with so many others? After all, the Chicago “body count” is formidable in its own right.
Will Blag promise prosecutors that he’ll sing like a canary to save his own hide? Come to think of it, will Rezko?
According to writer Larry Johnson, “Rezko provided the prosecutors information used to build the case against Blagojevich.” Johnson goes on to say: “Barack Obama is not sleeping well tonight… I doubt that David Axelrod is sleeping well either…Axelrod had close ties with Blagojevich. He ran his first campaign for the House. He very well may not see the inside of the White House as a Senior Advisor… Patrick Fitzgerald and the FBI could be sitting on some other tapes/wiretaps that are damaging to Obama. We also do not know what Rezko is saying at this point nor do we know what Blagojevich and Harris will spill…This scandal is not going away.”
If so, is Blag not worrying about a stray bullet or the American version of polonium-210 or a “suicide” notice or untimely “heart attack”? And is Obama not worried that his house of cards will come tumbling down?
WHY BLAG SHOULD BE QUAKING
Prosecutors of the investigation- led by U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald – have called Blagojevich’s actions “a political corruption crime spree.” Fitzgerald himself called the breadth and depth of charges against the governor “sinister” and “staggering.” FBI taps revealed that Blag planned to sell Obama’s senate seat for campaign cash, cushy jobs for himself and his wife, and perhaps being named a cabinet secretary in the Obama administration. The following is a tiny sample of the 76-page criminal complaint against 52-year-old Blagojevich and his 48-year-old Chief of Staff, John Harris. These are words Blag was caught saying on wiretaps:
- “I’ve got this thing and it’s fxxking golden,” he said about his prerogative of appointing a new senator. “And I’m just not giving it up for fxxking nothing. I’m not gonna do it.”
- “is there a play here, with these guys, with her” [his wife] to work for a firm in Washington or New York at a significantly better salary than she is making now?
- Blag wanted to know whether the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) could do something to get his wife a position at Change to Win [seven unions with six million workers] until he, Blagojevich, could take a position there.
Blag discussed the open Senate seat during a two-hour conference call in which various individuals participated….
- In the call, he mentioned the Senate seat and the dynamics of a new Presidential administration with the strong contacts that he had in it, and asked: “Can [the President-elect] help in the private sector…where it wouldn’t be tied to him?”
- Said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant believed to be on the call at that time) were telling him that he had to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherfxxxker [the President-elect] his senator. Fxxk him. For nothing? Fxxk him.”
- After being told by Advisor A that a “President-elect…can do almost anything he sets his mind to,” Blagojevich said that he would appoint “[Senate Candidate 1 [ostensibly Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s first choice, and now his Senior Advisor] . . . but if they feel like they can do this and not fxxking give me anything . . . then I’ll fxxking go to [Senate Candidate 5].” Note: Candidate 5 is now known to be Jesse Jackson, Jr., currently a Representative from Illinois, who represents the southeast suburbs of Chicago].
- Asked an Advisor(s), on November 11, 2008, whether “they” (believed the President-elect and his associates) could get Warren Buffett and others to put $10, $12, or $15 million into the 501(c)(4) organization. Advisor A responded that “they” should be able to find a way to fund the organization.”
- Blagojevich and Harris conspired to demand the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members for editorials critical of the governor in exchange for state help with the sale of Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium owned by Tribune Co.
Not too subtle. In fact, a prosecutor’s dream! And why was Michelle Obama obliquely named on page 64 of Fitzgerald’s lawsuit against Blagojevitch, as PajamasMeida has reported?
WHY OBAMA MUST BE QUAKING
I haven’t mentioned David Axelrod, the chief strategist for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and recently appointed Senior Advisor to president-elect Obama. He, too, is a longtime operative in the Chicago Machine. But I have mentioned Blagojevich, Rezko, Ayers, Wright, Jackson, and Daley.
Who is missing from this picture? C’mon… guess!
Of course, it’s Obama himself, the man who recently dodged a bullet of his own when, last week, the Supreme Court passed on a petition to declare him ineligible for the presidency by virtue of his having failed to produce an authentic, verifiable birth certificate that attests to the fact that he meets one of only three criteria of the U.S. Constitution for the job, namely that he be a natural-born citizen of the United States. Note: Another suit is due to be heard by Justice Scalia on 12.12.08, and several other suits are pending.
What, if any, is the connection between Obama, the convicted felon Rezko, and the soon-to-be-convicted Blagojevich?
On November 23, David Axelrod was asked by a reporter on a Fox affiliate in Chicago if Obama had expressed a preference for his Senate replacement.
“He has not. I know he has talked to the governor,” Axelrod said. “There’s a whole range of names, many of which have surfaced. And he has a fondness for a lot of them.”
But the minute Blag’s indictment hit the news, Axelrod said he “misspoke.”
Misspoke? In such detail and with such intimate knowledge? As they say in my New York environs: Gimme a break!
James Taranto from the Wall St. Journal wrote: “One of these statements is false, but which one?”
As writer and editor of Newsmax Magazine, David A. Patten, has outlined, the roots of the Blag-Obama-Rezko relationships are long and deep.
- Obama’s ties to Blag run primarily through Chicago slumlord and felon Tony Rezko.
- Rezko helped both Blag and Obama rise in Chicago and Illinois politics.
- Obama himself has credited Rezko with helping to his political career.
- Rezko raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for both Blag and Obama.
Rezko was Obama’s second-largest individual contributor when he began his run for an Illinois state Senate seat in 1995.
- Rezko was one of Obama’s biggest contributors when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2003 and 2004, and he was a member of Obama’s campaign finance committee.
- In 2005, as news began to spread that federal authorities were investigating Rezko, Obama bought a house in Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood for $1.65 million. Rezko’s wife, Rita, paid $625,000 for a lot adjacent to Obama’s new home, and the two deals closed on the same day. Seven months later, Rezko’s wife sold one-sixth of her lot to Obama for $104,500.
- In March 2008, Obama said Rezko had raised up to $250,000 to help underwrite his prior campaigns in Illinois – a much higher figure than had previously been reported.
What what are Rezko;s ties to Blagojevich? Patten reports that:
- The FBI says between June 2001 and August 2004, Rezko raised over $1.4 million for Blagojevich’s political campaigns, according to the Los Angeles Times.
- Rezko hosted Blagojevich’s first post-election party at his mansion.
- Rezko’s June 2008 trial on corruption strongly implicated Blagojevich. Blagojevich allegedly discussed a state job for a donor, after that donor wrote a $25,000 check for his campaign. During the trial, prosecutors maintained that Rezko routinely arranged shakedowns while serving as a top Blagojevich adviser.
- In all, prosecutors said, Rezko squeezed various companies for some $7 million in kickbacks. Following his conviction on 16 counts of fraud, money laundering, and aiding and abetting bribery, Rezko said federal authorities tried to pressure him “to tell the wrong things” about Obama and Blagojevich. The Sun-Times reported prosecutors pushed Rezko to cooperate in the corruption probe against Blagojevich.
So now we know why both Blag and Obama should be quaking. The arrested governor and the president-elect have been connected at the hip for decades!
One e-mailer wrote: “Blagojevitch is bloodless, resentful and ruthless – and a loose cannon! He could very well spill a whole lotta beans on both of the Obamas, in exchange for a lighter sentence from Fitzgerald. He’s only out for himself, and if he can shave five years off of a probable 10-year sentence in federal prison by giving up explosive information on the Obama duo, he might just do it.”
And, as David Nason has written in The Australian: “The longer this takes, the more the world will learn about the rotten political culture from which Obama has emerged and the more tainted his January 20 inauguration will be. But whatever short-term discomfort Obama might feel from a shakedown merchant stupid enough to get caught on a wiretap, it’s a walk in the park compared with the dangers ahead. This was clear when Fitzgerald…made pleas yesterday for anyone with information about corruption in Illinois to come forward. Not satisfied with getting the Governor, Fitzgerald intends to use the Blagojevich scandal to peel back whatever other layers of political corruption in Illinois he can find. Right now, the president-elect is clear. At his press conference, Fitzgerald said there was no evidence of misbehavior from Obama…It will all come down to where the concentric circles around Blagojevich and Obama overlap, but if his past record is any guide, this is where Fitzgerald, who already has the scalps of terrorists, Mafia kingpins and the likes of Conrad Black to his name, will be at his most aggressive.”
But one blogger was not so measured: “Barack Obama is now part of a cover up. He needs to be hauled before Congress and made to swear under oath…under the penalty of perjury. These are the same things which got Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton in trouble.”
THE HILLARY FACTOR
“What do the Clintons have on Obama?” asks Obama supporter Camille Paglia. “I must admit to puzzled disappointment with his recycling of Clinton era veterans, who reek of dÃ©jÃ vu. …Obama’s team may have underestimated the labyrinthine personal interconnections and habit-worn loyalties of that cliquish crew…both Clintons constantly view the world through the milky lens of their own self-interest.
“Given Obama’s elaborate deference to the Clintons,” Paglia continues, “beginning with his over-accommodation of them at the Democratic convention in August, a nagging question has floated around the Web: What do the Clintons have on him? No one doubts that the Clinton opposition research team was turning over every rock in its mission to propel Hillary into the White House. There’s an information vacuum here….”
Indeed, it is well known that Hillary is a good friend of Philip Berg, the Pennsylvania attorney who brought the first birth-certificate lawsuit against Obama. Coincidence?
And is it only me who thinks the timing of Blag’s arrest – after a three-year investigation! – is another “coincidence”?
More than one e-mailer has suggested to me that another of Obama’s acolytes, Rahm Emanuel – the Illinois Congressman who succeeded Blagojevich in the House and is now Obama’s Chief of Staff – may have leaked the Blag scandal to the FBI. But why would he do this? At the Clinton White House, he was initially a senior advisor, then Assistant to the President for Political Affairs, and then Senior Advisor to the President for Policy and Strategy – all lesser positions than the position he has now.
Why? Because loyalty runs deep. As one blogger put it: “I seem to recall Mr. Emanuel was working for the Clintons a few years ago. I guess it pays to have a Deep Throat in the White House if you are Hillary Clinton just waiting for the phone to ring with the words, `Madam President, are you ready for your close-up now?'”
Could we be witnessing a Clinton coup? Why have Obama’s cabinet and staff choices been overwhelmingly comprised of Clinton-era leftovers? What do the Clintons have on Obama?
If Obama survives the birth-certificate scandal and the Blag scandal, what other December or January Surprises – intended to sabotage his presidency – can we expect? And who will be pulling them out of her hat?
That will be a moot point if Blag blabs!
Joan Swirsky (http://www.joanswirsky.com/) is a New York based author and journalist who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.