Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ken Silverstein goes undercover to report on D.C.'s lobbyists for hire

For some time now, I’ve been reading Ken Silverstein’s blog, Washington Babylon. Silverstein is the Washington Editor of Harper's magazine and always fascinating.

A couple of weeks ago, I jumped at the opportunity to read Silverstein’s article online, now available in the July issue of Harper’s, Their Men in Washington - Undercover with D.C.'s lobbyists for hire. This is a not-to-be-missed article and well worth the price of the magazine at the newsstand if you aren’t a subscriber.

As you read this article, keep in mind Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s declaration in March of this year that “…[W]e are recommitting ourselves to call every government to account that still treats the basic rights of its citizens as options rather than, in President Bush’s words, the non-negotiable demands of human dignity.”

Silverstein has caught our government at its apex of hypocrisy and at its nadir in championing human rights by its actions, not its words. How did he do this? He went “undercover” by presenting himself as a consultant for the “Maldon Group, a mysterious (and fictitious) firm that claimed to have a financial stake in improving Turkmenistan’s public image.”

Turkmenistan? Silverstein explains that he picked Turkmenistan because if was "...a suitably distasteful would-be client.... Any opposition to the Turkmen government is considered to be treason, and thousands of political dissidents have been imprisoned. In 2004 a man seeking permission to hold a peaceful demonstration was sent to a psychiatric hospital for two years.”

Silverstein’s targets were various D.C. lobbying firms, which were known to help repressive regimes win favors from the government. As Silverstein-as-consultant-for-the-Maldon-Group makes his way from lobbying firm to lobbying firm, it becomes very clear that these firms were prepared to do anything and everything to secure a contract to improve a repressive regime’s public image. It’s also very clear that our government is willing to go along with the lobbyists’ efforts.

(photo of Silverstein “incognito” –


Anonymous said...

Shame on us for tolerating such goings on!

Where has our sense of decency gone?

Anonymous said...

Ken Silverstein will be on Bill Moyers' Journal this evening, Friday, discussing the very topic of his article in the July Harper's.


Anonymous said...

I saw the Silverstein interview by the great Bill Moyers last Fri. Wish we had more investigative reporters of Silverstein's quality. Excellent exposer of what has become of our democracy.
David Herr.