BBC, April 11 2016:… All the victims “struggled and are still struggling” with what Hastert did to them, prosecutors argue. Hastert made them feel “alone, ashamed, guilty and devoid of dignity”, they say. Hastert, who retired in 2007 after serving as House Speaker for eight years, will be sentenced later this month for concealing the large sums of money he paid to Individual A to buy his silence. Between 2010 and 2012 he withdrew $750,000 in lump sums of $50,000 …
Maryam Rajavi’s lobbyist convicted for child sexual abuse
Dennis Hastert ‘paid hush money to cover up sex abuse’
Hastert has pleaded guilty to lying and breaking financial laws
Prosecutors are seeking a six-month jail sentence for disgraced former US House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who is alleged to have paid hush money to cover up sex abuse.
Court documents say Hastert agreed to pay $3.5m (£2.5m) to a person he sexually abused when the victim was aged 14 and Hastert was working as a teacher and wrestling coach.
Prosecutors allege he abused five boys.
The 74-year-old has admitted lying and breaking financial laws.
The plea represents a dramatic fall for the former senior Republican politician, who has had his portrait removed from the House of Representatives in the US Congress.
The alleged abuse happened while Hastert was working in Yorkville, a suburb of Chicago, between 1965 and 1981. Three of the victims were wrestlers on a team he coached.
He cannot be charged with sexual abuse as the statute of limitations has expired in the cases.
One of the victims – referred to in court documents as Individual A – said Hastert had stayed with him in a motel room on the way back from a trip to a wrestling camp and touched him inappropriately.
Two of the others, aged 14 and 17, said Hastert had performed sex acts on them in the locker room at the high school in Yorkville.
All the victims “struggled and are still struggling” with what Hastert did to them, prosecutors argue. Hastert made them feel “alone, ashamed, guilty and devoid of dignity”, they say.
Dennis Hastert along side other American paid speakers in Mojahedin Khalq terrorists gathering in Paris
Hastert, who retired in 2007 after serving as House Speaker for eight years, will be sentenced later this month for concealing the large sums of money he paid to Individual A to buy his silence.
Between 2010 and 2012 he withdrew $750,000 in lump sums of $50,000 before learning of rules requiring banks to report large transactions.
After that he withdrew a further $952,000 in lump sums of less than $10,000 between 2012 and 2014.
He was able to pay Individual A $1.7m in payments of $100,000 before being questioned by the FBI in 2014 about his withdrawals.
One of the reasons he gave for the large withdrawals was that he was being blackmailed by someone making a false claim of sex abuse.
He agreed to let investigators record phone conversations he had with Individual A, but prosecutors said the “tone and comments” of Individual A in the conversations were “inconsistent with someone committing extortion”.
In a deal with prosecutors, he admitted the charge of “structuring and assisting in structuring currency transactions” by removing small sums of money to avoid the transactions being reported.
However, the charge of lying to FBI investigators is set to be dropped.
Defence lawyers want Hastert to be spared jail because they say he is suffering from ill health.
He is due to be sentenced on 27 April.
Dennis Hastert before the fall – Maryam Rajavi’s Villepinte speaker 2014
JOSH GERSTEIN, Poitico, June 12 2015:… Hastert, 73, was arraigned Tuesday on charges that he arranged nearly $1 million bank withdrawals to avoid filing disclosure reports, then lied to the FBI about it. The money was allegedly part of a $3.5 million payment Hastert agreed to make to an unidentified former male student over what was reportedly …
Dennis Hastert before the fall
Papers from the former House speaker’s congressional years suggest there was more than a touch of hypocrisy in his long record as a staunch social conservative.
Just before his election as House speaker in 1999, Dennis Hastert spearheaded legislation to prevent use of the Internet to encourage sexual acts with children. As he often did, Hastert invoked his personal history “as a father and a person who has dealt with public schools for a long time” to urge passage.
“We must continue to be proactive warding off pedophiles and other creeps who want to take advantage of our children,” Hastert said, according to an account of an Internet forum he held in his congressional district.
Known among his colleagues as “the Coach,” Hastert cultivated a nice-guy image and man-of-the-people persona during his years on Capitol Hill. But papers from Hastert’s congressional years suggest that there was more than a touch of hypocrisy in Hastert’s long record as a staunch social conservative.
Long after he’d become a powerful figure on Capitol Hill, Hastert reflected often about the values and strategy he learned in 16 years teaching at Yorkville High School in Illinois. He never gave a hint that there was a darker side to his early career as a teacher, coach and Explorer Scout leader, a picture that has begun to emerge since his May 28 indictment on federal charges.
“I’m sure you can understand how important wrestling is for the development of adolescents in their crucial high school years,” he wrote in a 2005 letter to a retiring Maryland wrestling coach. “And in my role as Speaker of the House, I still employ many of my old coaching techniques while trying to achieve our goals here on Capitol Hill.”
Hastert, 73, was arraigned Tuesday on charges that he arranged nearly $1 million bank withdrawals to avoid filing disclosure reports, then lied to the FBI about it. The money was allegedly part of a $3.5 million payment Hastert agreed to make to an unidentified former male student over what was reportedly past sexual misconduct. The sister of another former Hastert student, who died two decades ago — Steve Reinboldt — has accused Hastert of victimizing her brother but said the family never sought money.
Hastert’s extensive collection of personal papers and memorabilia, housed at Wheaton’s Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, offers few clues about his relationships with former students or insights into any of the ethical scandals that rocked the House during his tenure as the chamber’s longest-serving Republican speaker. A Wheaton archivist gave POLITICO permission to review the files but asked that extensive document use be approved by Hastert’s former chief of staff, Scott Palmer. Palmer did not return phone calls or emails.
The records show that Hastert’s office kept a legislative file titled “Homosexuals,” filled with policy statements from social conservative groups like the Traditional Values Coalition and the Family Research Council that criticized same-sex marriage and Clinton administration efforts to prevent discrimination against gays and lesbians. The file also includes a 1996 Weekly Standard article, “Pedophilia Chic” that warned that “revisionist suggestions about pedophilia” were being embraced by the left.
Hastert co-sponsored a successful effort to impose stiff federal criminal penalties for Web-based pedophiles, a cause that he said was inspired by a mother’s visit to his Batavia district office. The woman told Hastert that her 9-year-old daughter had been targeted on the Internet by a sexual predator, creating such fear that the family moved to a city in Hastert’s district. Hastert issued a concerned letter to constituents to flag the dangers.
“This bill sends a strong message to the most heinous of criminals who prey upon our children — you will be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Hastert said at the time.
Hastert billed himself as a social conservative from his earliest days in the Illinois Legislature, when he sided with the Moral Majority to fight a bill barring discrimination against gays.
The Hastert congressional files show that his influence escalated dramatically with his selection as speaker. Republican members wrote him to try to schedule floor debates and appealed to him for seats on their favorite committees. His mailbox was filled with requests from members like former former Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe who wanted re-appointment to the board that supervised the House page program, and Florida Rep. Mark Foley, who wanted to join a parliamentary exchange with NATO countries.
“The need to represent U.S. interests and work to strengthen our ties with NATO is more pressing now than ever before,” Foley, from West Palm Beach, wrote to Hastert in December 2004.
Two years later, Foley led Hastert into one of the biggest scandals of his career. Foley was accused in 2006 of sending sexually explicit text messages to male teenagers in the House page program and showing up inebriated at the page dormitory. Hastert’s office was criticized for failing to act promptly when Foley’s behavior was first reported. The House page program never recovered and was disbanded in 2011. There appear to be no hints of that scandal in Hastert’s papers.
Throughout his congressional years, Hastert traveled widely on taxpayer-funded congressional delegations with staff and other members, leading CODELS to Russia, Korea, Israel and Colombia. He collected gifts — a sterling silver clock from 10 Downing Street, an etching from Russia — and eventually donated them to the archives, along with boxes of awards from groups like the National Pork Producers Association and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
After resigning in 2007 to pursue a lobbying career, Hastert again ventured far from his Plano, Illinois, home with adventures in Singapore and Saudi Arabia. Some of the travel and push for greater income came in 2010, when federal prosecutors contend the former speaker struck a deal to pay an acquaintance $3.5 million to keep quiet about Hastert’s “past misconduct.”
Because of the federal charges, Hastert’s early dealings with legal and judicial figures are getting special scrutiny. The federal judge assigned to Hastert’s criminal case, Thomas Durkin, formally recused himself Tuesday because of perceptions about his ties to the former speaker and others involved in the case. However, the judge said he would not ultimately step aside if both the prosecution and defense agree he should continue.
At Hastert’s arraignment, Durkin detailed his work with Hastert’s son Ethan at a Chicago-based law firm and $1,500 in donations made to the former speaker’s reelection campaigns over a decade ago. Durkin also noted that his brother Jim is the Republican minority leader of the Illinois House.
Hastert’s archival files reveal yet another connection: Jim Durkin once lobbied Hastert to block proposed federal legislation that would have ended a program offering prosecutors a public-service forgiveness for student debt. “This is not a time in which government should be eliminating resources but rather investing resources in a system whose integrity has been challenged,” Jim Durkin wrote to Hastert in 2000.
If the current judge gives up Hastert’s case, the former speaker’s files show ties to other judges who might take it over.
In a 2005 thank-you note, then-Illinois Solicitor General Gary Feinerman said he was “deeply grateful” to Hastert for his support in a potential nomination for a federal judgeship in Chicago. Feinerman didn’t make it to the bench at that time but got the nod from President Barack Obama in 2009 and was confirmed to the lifetime post the next year. (Judge Durkin acknowledged in court Tuesday that he’d sought similar help from Hastert’s office to win his appointment.)
The Hastert records also show federal judges in Illinois reaching out to him for help funding courthouse renovations and increased security after the 2005 murders of the husband and mother of U.S. District Court Judge Joan Lefkow. One such plea came from the chief district court judge in Chicago at the time, Charles Kocoras, who asked Hastert to give more resources to the U.S. Marshals Service for security systems for judges’ homes and other security measures.
Hastert’s files don’t appear to contain a reply. Kocoras is now overseeing a federal civil lawsuit filed against the former speaker by an ex-business partner, David John, who claims Hastert used taxpayer funds to advance his lobbying career. Kocoras has dismissed the case twice but another attempt to refile the suit is pending.
Hastert’s files also show that in 2005, Hastert met with top leaders of the FBI in Chicago to urge them to combat money laundering in connection with drug trafficking. Hastert now stands charged with a type of money-laundering offense, known as structuring, for breaking nearly $1 million in cash withdrawals into increments of less than $10,000 in order to avoid federal reporting requirements.
In the main, though, the records illustrate the rise of an Illinois farm boy to a government leader who mingled with presidents and foreign potentates. The files also show how ordinary folk from Illinois— including some former students — streamed into Hastert’s Capitol Hill office and signed the guest register.
The archives include notes of thanks and friendship from nearly every former U.S. president alive during Hastert’s tenure as speaker. “I am so very proud of your leadership,” George H.W. Bush wrote on a Walker’s Point card in 2001, adding a “#41” to his signature.
“Thanks for coming to the ranch,” President-Elect George W. Bush wrote in December 2000. “Together we can make a real difference for our country.”
President Bill Clinton penned a handwritten thank-you note to Hastert for coming along on a trip to South America. “The day in Colombia was great,” Clinton wrote in 2000.
A 1999 note from former President Jimmy Carter said he and wife Rosalynn enjoyed Hastert’s appearance on a PBS show and “appreciate the difficulty of your job and also the way you are approaching your duties.”
There are personal notes from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. A letter from singer Bono declined an invite to a St. Patrick’s Day event but called a Hastert-hosted party at the 2004 GOP convention “hugely memorable.”
Hastert’s 2005 surgery to remove kidney stones brought well wishes from politicians of all stripes. “I don’t know what brings those on — raising hell with Democrats?” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) joked.
The papers also hint at Hastert’s religious devotion. One file includes a copy of music from a church hymnal and, on the opposite side, an extremely ornate cross hand-drawn in ink.
In the lower right hand corner, the sketch is signed: “Dennis Hastert.”
Tarini Parti contributed to this report.
Poe’s Financial Ties To MEK May Explain Maryam’s House Testimony
Eli Clifton, Lobelog, April 30 2015:…The group, which went into exile after losing a violent power struggle in the early years of the Islamic Republic, aligned itself with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war and, despite claims to being Iran’s viable democratic government in exile, is widely believed to have little …
Poe’s Financial Ties To MEK May Explain Maryam’s House Testimony
Wednesday’s scheduled congressional hearing on “ISIS: Defining the Enemy” is rapidly shrinking in size. Two key witnesses are refusing to attend due to the invitation to testify that Ted Poe (R-TX), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, extended to Maryam Rajavi, leader of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK).
Former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and former State Department counterterrorism director Daniel Benjamin have both said that they won’t appear for the hearing after learning that Rajavi would also be a witness on the same panel. She is scheduled to participate via videoconference from Paris, the headquarters the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a MEK front.
MEK, which the State Department removed from terrorism list in 2012 following a lengthy and expensive lobbying campaign, is believed to have been responsible for the killing of six Americans in Iran between 1973 and 1976.
The group, which went into exile after losing a violent power struggle in the early years of the Islamic Republic, aligned itself with Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war and, despite claims to being Iran’s viable democratic government in exile, is widely believed to have little or no grassroots support in Iran. The group has long faced criticism from Iran specialists and rights groups such as Human Rights Watch that it has devolved into a cult based on devotion to Maryam and her long-missing husband, Massoud Rajavi. According to numerous accounts, the group exerts a high degree of control over its followers, going so far as to mandate divorces and celibacy for their soldiers.
But, as Ali Gharib and I documented in February, MEK’s influence in Washington, particularly with Iran hawks, has coincided with a flow of money from the group to American politicians, in particular, to embattled Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) who is currently under indictment on unrelated federal corruption charges.
So why did Poe and the Republican majority on the terrorism subcommittee decide to invite Rajavi (a copy of whose testimony was obtained by Ali who previewed it Tuesday on The Nation’s website) Campaign finances may offer at least part of the answer.
Poe received $17,900 in campaign contributions from supporters of the MEK between 2009 and 2014, according to an analysis I conducted of campaign finance data. Surprisingly, nearly half—or $8,600—of the total flowed into his campaign while the group was still on the State Department’s terrorism list between 2009 and its delisting in 2012.
In contrast, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), returned a $2,600 campaign contribution from a MEK supporter in Virginia in 2013. “During routine due diligence by campaign staff, it was discovered that a few donors had associations the campaign was uncomfortable with,” a spokesman for Graham’s campaign told Politico. “In an abundance of caution, the contributions were refunded.”
Poe seems less concerned about the association. His insistence on inviting Rajavi adds to the irony of his chairmanship of the terrorism subcommittee (shades of Sen. James Inhofe’s chairmanship of the Senate Environment Committee).
With Ford and Benjamin out, Rajavi will be joined on Wednesday by only one other witness: Walid Phares, a pro-Israel Lebanese-American Maronite Christian with a long association with hard-line neo-conservatives and a terrorism “expert” for Fox News. During Lebanon’s civil war that raged from 1975 through the 1980’s, Phares served as an ideologue for the Lebanese Forces, an umbrella group of various Christian militias. Some of these militias carried out the Sabra and Shatila massacres in September, 1982, in which at many as 3,000 Palestinians—mostly women, children and the elderly—were killed following Israel’s conquest of Beirut. Among other positions, he served as co-chairman of the Middle East working group of Mitt Romney’s foreign policy advisory team.
Anne Khodabandeh and Massoud Khodabandeh, Iran Interlink, April 25 2015:… Whatever threats are faced by the residents of Camp Liberty, one thing is certain. The reason they cannot leave is because the MEK leaders refuse to allow them to leave. Members of Congress should robustly question Maryam Rajavi …
Congress cannot rely on Rajavi’s testimony – Camp Liberty residents must be taken to safety now
Al-Monitor’s Congressional Correspondent Julian Pecquet writes that the “leader” of the controversial Mojahedin Khalq is going to testify before Congress next week. The subject of the House Foreign Affairs terrorism panel is “ISIS: Defining the Enemy”.
A careful reading of this informative article reveals just how wrong it is for anyone in the American political establishment to be associated with the Mojahedin Khalq (MEK) – masquerading here as the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) – in any way and for any reason.
Firstly, for the record, the MEK is still led by fugitive leader Massoud Rajavi who is the cultic mastermind behind the group. Maryam Rajavi, his wife, is not particularly clever or politically minded and has acted essentially as her husband’s public mouthpiece in the west since she arrived back in France in 1993. She will now testify to Congress by videoconference rather than in person. After trying for two decades to obtain a visa to visit the USA and/or the UK, wise people in those countries still refuse her entry, for good reason.
The fundamental contradiction the article exposes is the assumption of the House Foreign Affairs terrorism panel that “Maryam Rajavi will discuss the threat the Islamic State poses to members of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) at Camp Liberty.” She won’t. She can’t. Because the MEK are friends of the Islamic State (IS), they support the Islamic State. Maryam Rajavi has spoken in Farsi in favour of the Islamic State. The Islamic State do not pose any danger to the MEK in Camp Liberty. In fact, before the Iraqi army and militias drove IS back from its encroachment, it was clear to all those who know the MEK that the leaders were hoping that when IS reached Baghdad, the MEK would be liberated from Camp Liberty and join the terrorist forces.
Instead of condemning the Islamic State, Maryam Rajavi will speak about how the Iranian government wants to kill the people in Camp Liberty and is plotting every day to find ways to massacre them all. This is an old script. It has been the MEK script for thirty years. Does Ted Poe think the MEK has suddenly flipped sides and will line up with Iran against the Islamic State?
Whatever threats are faced by the residents of Camp Liberty, one thing is certain. The reason they cannot leave is because the MEK leaders refuse to allow them to leave. Members of Congress should robustly question Maryam Rajavi about that. They need to ask why the UN is unable to progress its work with these vulnerable people. Why, if they are in such direct danger, she doesn’t allow the Iraqi authorities to remove them to separate accommodation. The Iraqis have offered to place the MEK in various secure hotels and apartments in order to make life safer and more comfortable for them. The MEK have refused. Congress needs to ask Maryam Rajavi why the residents of Camp Liberty are not able to make contact with their relatives. Hundreds of families have travelled to Iraq since 2003 attempting to make contact with their loved ones. The MEK have accused them all of being ‘agents of the Iranian regime sent to kill them’. Is this plausible? Most of the family members are old people; the parents and siblings and in some cases the children of people trapped in Camp Liberty. Are they really desirous of massacring their loved ones?
If this is not enough to convince members of Congress that this is a group which lies and deceives, and only follows its own agenda, then there is plenty more evidence to help convince them. It is easy to debunk the myths.
Certainly the MEK has never made a public statement in English or in Farsi that it has renounced violence. If anyone knows of such a public statement, they should urgently produce it. Indeed, Maryam Rajavi’s speeches all revolve around the need for ‘regime change’. Nobody in the American political establishment is naïve enough to believe that this would not involve a violent intervention. Nor can they interpret Rajavi’s speech as other than an advertisement for her own group to undertake that violent intervention.
Sadly, for Rajavi and her supporters, happily for the rest of us, the MEK is incapable of undertaking any such task. Massoud Rajavi is, however, and this is where the danger lies, not only capable of training and advising groups like Al Qaida and IS on manipulating their own forces in terrorism, but is expert in how to spin this through deceptive media and internet campaigns to manipulate and eventually win grudging western support. He is an expert cult manipulator.
The Rajavis’ agenda may coincide today with efforts by some in America and Israel to derail the nuclear negotiations, but investigative journalist Gareth Porter has already revealed that most of what the MEK said against Iran was simply fabricated. Knowing that the Rajavis will obey no other needs except their own for their own survival, this must surely signal that any reliance on Rajavi’s evidence is profoundly misguided.
Let’s hope that Congress does its job and asks searching questions rather than acting as cheerleaders for a deeply unpopular and totally unrepresentative terrorist cult.
The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture
Iran Interlink, February 04 2015:… A review authored by Massoud and Anne Khodabandeh has been published in Asian Politics and Policy, Media Reviews. The article titled ‘The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture’ looks at the MEK’s historical manipulation of various media over thirty years …
Asian Politics and Policy
The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture
A review authored by Massoud khodabandeh and Anne Khodabandeh (Singleton) from Middle East Strategy Consultants has been published in Asian Politics and Policy, Media Reviews. (Volume 7, Issue 1, January 2015)
The article titled ‘The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture’ looks at the MEK’s historical manipulation of various media over thirty years. Other terrorist entities such as Al Qaida and ISIS have only recently shown themselves media savvy and have been able to create artificial reputations through exploiting both media and internet communications. In this review the authors demonstrate that the MEK has long pursued this propaganda strategy.
“… this overview seeks to demonstrate how and why, through a sophisticated and persistent media campaign, the MEK has created a place for itself on the Iranian political scene totally disproportionate to its capabilities and support base; and how from this aggrandized position the MEK has exerted a negative influence over Western opinion and policymaking toward the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) and Iraq, which began long before and reaches far wider than its role in Tehran’s nuclear dossier. Also, this review seeks to indicate that while this propaganda campaign has been highly successful for the MEK, it has been deliberately detrimental to the growth of a civil opposition movement in Iran as well as significantly affecting Western foreign policy toward the IRI in adverse ways.
“The MEK stands out as perhaps a unique example of a belligerent entity that exploits to the maximum a range of propaganda methods and outlets in the West to project itself in the international community as a constructive, almost benign, force. Far from avoiding publicity, the MEK has done everything in its power to maximize what can be described as its virtual presence. In addition to its native Farsi, the group disseminates information about and projects an image of itself in English, French, German and Arabic, in print, in broadcast and on Internet media. But insofar as it has no popular support among indigenous or diaspora Iranians, its image as a popular resistance movement has been largely invented.”
Read the full article at:
Khodabandeh, M. (2015), The Iranian Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and Its Media Strategy: Methods of Information Manufacture. Asian Politics & Policy, 7: 173–177. doi: 10.1111/aspp.12164