Wednesday, August 29, 2007

China go-between stokes Clinton warchest

Check out yesterday's Wall Street Journal for a sharp piece of investigative reporting on seemingly shady contributions to Hillary Clinton's campaign.

A businessman named Hsu who is a big backer of Hillary and Democrats seems to have used a working class Chinese family in San Francisco to funnel $55,000 to Clinton's campaign and another 150k in lolly for other Dems. The businessman was an early promoter of "engagement" with the Chinese communist government, the Journal noted.
In today's edition, Hsu claims the contributions were by a man named Paw who is now working for him and that nothing illegal had occurred. Paw's father, a mail carrier, and other members of the Paw family live at an address in San Francisco previously used by Hsu.

The Journal pieces appeared during the transition from Bancroft control to Murdoch takeover. Given Murdoch's own coziness with Chinese reds and his detente with Hillary, it looks like the staff chose their publication time wisely.

Update Aug. 30
Hsu has been a fugitive from California for 15 years, reports the LA Times. He was facing three years in prison in a stockholder swindle. Rather than escaping to Hong Kong, as was assumed, he went to New York and resumed his wheeling and dealing, this time becoming a major Democratic Party contributor.

He was hiding in plain sight, often being photographed at Democratic events. Yet, Clinton's staff evidently did no check on Hsu's background to forestall questions about "Asian moneymen" that dogged her husband's campaign.

Hsu may have felt that being politically connected would protect him, as well it might have, had not the WSJ staff had the nerve to run a story that the incoming Murdoch may well have found objectionable.

I'm also wondering about the source of Hsu's wealth. Did Beijing have anything to do with his obtaining seed money for new ventures? Did a connection with Beijing have anything to do with his ability to evade arrest? These are questions for the FBI, of course -- if we could trust that bureau, which we can't.

Wiretap wobbles
Intelligence chief Mike McConnell's public admission that telecom companies are a crucial part of warrantless wiretapping may have damaged the government's claim that lawsuits against those firms must be barred based on the "state secrets" privilege.

But, even had he not said so, wouldn't introduction of the state secrets argument imply that the telecom companies were involved? So the secrets must be about specific aspects of the raft of surveillance programs authorized by Bush after 9/11. Yet it is hard to believe that judges aren't competent to winnow out those aspects that must remain classified.

Upon signing the bill into law, Bush himself said that he wants Congress to pass better (he meant retroactive) lawsuit liability protection for entities that "allegedly helped" American security. The term "allegedly" was no doubt inserted by a lawyer, but its use is logically absurd. That is, "allegedly" means "yes or no." So if telecom firms didn't help, they don't need liability protection. They only need that protection if they helped the NSA or other spook outfits. So we have Bush and McConnell both in effect lifting the states secret ban when it suits their public policies.

As I said in a Znewz1 circular, though Congress rushed through a bad provisional warrantless wiretap law, what we really see is that the control clique is scrambling to try to regain their accustomed unfettered access to anybody's communications. In the wake of the New York Times' NSA disclosures, a number of news reports pointed out that long before 9/11 feds had enjoyed special "national security" arrangements with telecom firms whereby company executives simply looked the other way and didn't inquire about warrants.

The lawsuits have forced these firms to tighten up and make sure that laws are obeyed. Their best protection against liability is a warrant issued by a court.
But even a crooked judge is not going to grant the unfettered access that spook control freaks, representing the Council of Oligarchs, want. This lack of access may not have much to do with terrorists, but it has a lot to do with the economic advantage that comes with being an insider.

Bush is right about the current law being inadequate: it's inadequate for the oligarchs. Because telecom lawyers will be watching every P and Q for the remaining five months of the interim law's time span. Telecom statisticians, who are top rank, will be, or should be, watching government activity for signs of irregularity that could imply abuse.

The "system" has always relied on the power of intimidation. We can listen in at any time. So don't cross us. But now that effect is greatly weakened. The intimidators and control freaks have to go to all the bother of sending out spook crews to monitor specific political or economic "undesirables."

But even if a pro-oligarch law eventually is passed by Rockefeller and others, the telecom firms could still face hassles. A judge might view a hold-harmless clause with jaundiced eyes if their is sufficient evidence to indicate the firm should have had reason to believe that the government order was illegal. Obeying an illegal order can itself be illegal.

Kryptograff blog back
My Kryptograff blog came back to life (coincidentally with Gonzales' ouster) and after I asked Google/Blogger whether a federal agency had ordered the blog censored.
So far they haven't replied to my email.

That account has been beset with morphing bugs. I take that as a back-handed compliment to our influence.

Fisk joins 9/11 doubters
Go to The Independent and search Fisk to read British journalist Robert Fisk's puzzlement about a number of 9/11 mysteries.

He denies being a witting part of a coverup conspiracy but says some facts are just too hard to ignore. Though his column indicates he doesn't know much about 9/11 inconsistencies, at least we are seeing a shift in attitude by a well-known journalist. And, his paper didn't kill the piece.

In the age of the internet, a British journalist can have quite an impact in America. Remember the Downing Street memos?

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