The lefty internets are all atwitter in anticipation of an article about Sibel Edmonds -- the FBI translator who has been gagged by the Bush Administration from revealing information about conversations she translated surrounding a seemingly major corruption scandal involving Turkish nationals and U.S. lawmakers -- in the September 2005 issue of Vanity Fair:
My initial reaction? Any fool who uses the code-name "Denny boy" for someone named "Dennis" is far more likely to be the source of "hollow boasts" and "sheer bravado" than he is to be a source for international bribes.
One counter-intelligence official familiar with Edmonds’s case has told Vanity Fair that the F.B.I. opened an investigation into covert activities by Turkish nationals in the late 1990’s. That inquiry found evidence, mainly via wiretaps, of attempts to corrupt senior American politicians in at least two major cities — Washington and Chicago. Toward the end of 2001, Edmonds was asked to translate some of the thousands of calls that had been recorded by this operation, some dating back to 1997.
Edmonds has given confidential testimony inside a secure Sensitive Compartmented Information facility on several occasions: to congressional staffers, to investigators from the O.I.G., and to the staff from the 9/11 commission. Sources familiar with this testimony say that, in addition to her allegations about the Dickersons, she reported hearing Turkish wiretap targets boast that they had a covert relationship with a very senior politician indeed — Dennis Hastert, Republican congressman from Illinois and Speaker of the House since 1999. The targets reportedly discussed giving Hastert tens of thousands of dollars in surreptitious payments in exchange for political favors and information. ***
In her secure testimony, Edmonds disclosed some of what she recalled hearing. In all, says a source who was present, she managed to listen to more than 40 of the Chicago recordings supplied by Robertz. Many involved an F.B.I. target at the city’s large Turkish Consulate, as well as members of the American-Turkish Consulate, as well as members of the American-Turkish Council and the Assembly of Turkish American Associates.
Some of the calls reportedly contained what sounded like references to large scale drug shipments and other crimes. To a person who knew nothing about their context, the details were confusing and it wasn’t always clear what might be significant. One name, however, apparently stood out – a man the Turkish callers often referred to by the nickname "Denny boy." It was the Republican congressman from Illinois and Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert.
According to some of the wiretaps, the F.B.I.’s targets had arranged for tens of thousands of dollars to be paid to Hastert’s campaign funds in small checks. Under Federal Election Commission rules, donations of less than $200 are not required to be itemized in public filings.
Hastert himself was never heard in the recordings, Edmonds told investigators, and it is possible that the claims of covert payments were hollow boasts. Nevertheless, an examination of Hastert’s federal filings shows that the level of un-itemized payments his campaigns received over many years was relatively high. Between April 1996 and December 2002, un-itemized personal donations to the Hastert for Congress Committee amounted to $483,000. In contrast, un-itemized contributions in the same period to the committee run on behalf of the House majority leader, Tom Delay, Republican of Texas, were only $99,000. An analysis of the filings of four other senior Republicans shows that only one, Clay Shaw of Florida, declared a higher total in un-itemized donations than Hastert over the same period: $552,000. The other three declared far less. Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton, of Texas, claimed $265,000; Armed Services Committee chairman Duncan Hunter, of California, got $212,000; and Ways and Means Committee chairman Bill Thomas, of California, recorded $110,000.
Edmonds reportedly added that the recordings also contained repeated references to Hastert’s flip-flop, in the fall of 2000, over an issue which remains of intense concern to the Turkish government – the continuing campaign to have Congress designate the killings of Armenians in Turkey between 1915 and 1923 a genocide. For many years, attempts had been made to get the house to pass a genocide resolution, but they never got anywhere until August 2000, when Hastert, as Speaker, announced that he would give it his backing and see that it received a full house vote. He had a clear political reason, as analysts noted at the time: a California Republican incumbent, locked in a tight congressional race, was looking to win over his district’s large Armenian community. Thanks to Hastert, the resolution, vehemently opposed by the Turks, passed the International Relations Committee by a large majority. Then, on October 19, minutes before the full House vote, Hastert withdrew it.
At the time, he explained his decision by saying that he had received a letter from President Clinton arguing that the genocide resolution, if passed, would harm U.S. interests. Again, the reported content of the Chicago wiretaps may well have been sheer bravado, and there is no evidence that any payment was ever made to Hastert or his campaign. Nevertheless, a senior official at the Turkish Consulate is said to have claimed in one recording that the price for Hastert to withdraw the resolution would have been at least $500,000.
Hastert’s spokesman says the congressman withdrew the genocide resolution only because of the approach from Clinton, "and to insinuate anything else just doesn’t make any sense." He adds that Hastert has no affiliation with the A.T.C. or other groups reportedly mentioned in the wiretaps: "He does not know these organizations." Hastert is "unaware of Turkish interests making donations," the spokesman says, and his staff has "not seen any pattern of donors with foreign names."