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November 15, 2008

FDL Book Salon: Turkmeniscam with Ken Silverstein

I'll be hosting a live discussion with Ken Silverstein of Harper's about his new book Turkmeniscam at Firedoglake from 5:00-7:00pm this afternoon.

Silverstein went undercover to discover how foreign countries hire American lobbyists to shape U.S. foreign policy. To gain entry to the inner sanctums of the Washington lobbying establishment, Silverstein posed as a potential customer, a representative from the Maldon Group, a shadowy cartel with ties to the government of Turkmenistan.

The Maldon group wanted to hire an expensive lobbying firm to convince elite American opinion leaders that Turkmenistan is a nascent democracy. In fact, it's a Stalinist dictatorship.

Join us for a peek at the seemy underbelly.

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Comments

"Seemy underbelly"? Of what? The lobbying profession or the GOTCHA! journalism parcticed by Ken Silverstein?

Laurence, I don't understand why the lobbying industry is so defensive. Surely they're proud of what they do.

I'm a professional lobbyist and yes, I am proud of what I do. I represented World Trade Center families who were working to get their loved ones' remains moved off Fresh Kills landfill in Stantan Island. I represented Colombian refugees who fled Colombia to escape the FARC. I represented a D.C. citizens group trying to get voting rights. Silverstein tries to lump all lobbyists together as scumbags and he's absolutely wrong.

By the way, when Silverstein's original Harper's story came out, I was interviewed about it and I said, at some point in the interview, that I would represent the Devil himself for the right price, but I wouldn't do anything unethical. That quote has been all over the net and I saw that Amazon is using a version of it in their promotion of the book. I still stick by that quote because I believe that if an entity wants to meet with Members of Congress, the decision makers in this country, that entity deserves the best representation possible. It's not up to me, or you or Ken Silverstein to determine whether that entitty is good or bad. What is "good" to you may be evil to me.

"I represented World Trade Center families who were working to get their loved ones' remains moved off Fresh Kills landfill in Stantan Island. I represented Colombian refugees who fled Colombia to escape the FARC. I represented a D.C. citizens group trying to get voting rights."

It seems you're obviously characterizing these causes as good and honorable, your representation of them something to be proud of. Then...

"I believe that if an entity wants to meet with Members of Congress, the decision makers in this country, that entity deserves the best representation possible. It's not up to me, or you or Ken Silverstein to determine whether that entitty is good or bad. What is 'good' to you may be evil to me."

So, your representation of disenfranchised D.C.ers is evidence of how honorable and virtuous your profession is; but if you'd chosen to represent the opposite side on these issues, or in fact any other entity (an NGO, the government of Zimbabwe), in any case, we really should consider you just as honorable and virtuous, because after all, who the hell are we to say what honor and virtue are?

Cass, who are you talking about when you say "we"? People who believe the same things you do? If so, I say, so what! I not particularly interested in making you or anyone happy. I'm interested in representing, to the best of my ability, organizations that hire me.
Again, who are you to judge what is right, wrong or honorable?

Laurence, if that's your position, why are you criticizing Ken Silverstein? I mean, who are we to judge what's right and honorable?

Exactly! But Silverstein's whole premise is that the lobbying firms are bad because they were going to represent a country that a lot of people feel is evil. I say, so what? Would he feel the same way about a lawyer who represents a child molester?

So, you think lobbying the government for special favors on behalf of a client is analogous to defending a client who's been accused of a crime within the criminal justice system.

You seem to think that Ken Silverstein did something wrong when he went exposed APCO et al. But if nobody is allowed to judge anyone, why are you criticizing him?

Indeed. And who cares if the remains of a bunch of a 9/11 victims end up in a landfill? Are you judging the NYC bureaucrats, or whoever it was who didn't want to bother with their extraction? Who cares if some Columbians die because they aren't granted asylum in the US? Are you judging the officials who wanted to deny their applications? Are you judging the terrorists you say wanted to kill them? And would it change your mind at all if those terrorists were shelling out for their own officially licensed lobbyists on Capitol Hill?

Laurence

I wouldn't be too proud of being involved in lobbying to have ( what you say are ) remains from Staten Island.

I am very close to the World Trade Center situation, having worked there, and being close to many who died, and some of the families.

If I understand correctly, what you propose would be to move millions of tons of debris that had been trucked from Manhattan to Staten Island back to the WTC site because microscopic remnants of those who died are in the debris.

This is about the most idiotic proposal I've ever heard of. It will never happen. You should be ashamed to be involved in this, which is a kind of exploitation of a few families who remain emotionally vulernable.

Cass @ 1:57 pm -- yes. Cass @ 2:17 --- I'm not judging anyone. And yes, the FARC and other worldwide terrorists probably do have their own lobbyists.

Lindsay @ 1:58 --- as I said, Silverstein is making the determination that all lobbyists are bad because a couple a firms spoke with him about representing Turkmenistan. That is judging. I'm not judging --- I'm saying he is wrong because all lobbyists are not as he depicts them. That is a fact, not a judgement.

Phantom --- I'm sorry but I don't agree with you.

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