Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Will Charlie Wilson's War Hurt Jack Murtha [and Others?]

The Influence Peddler has a nice little piece on Jack Murtha's grasping fingers and hands concerning Charlie Wilson. Last night I saw the trailer, shone on Influence Peddler and laughed when Dan Rather's face with an Afghan cap and jersey reported on TV "from the Pakistan/Afghan border." During my brief media career, I worked with a CBS cameraman who had accompanied Dan during his adventures in "Afghanistan," where CBS showed him breathlessly reporting on a "firefight" while he huddled in a foxhole. The CBS fellow, named Hartigan if I recall, said that Dan's producer hired a Pak movie crew in Islamabad, moved outside of Rawalpindi a few miles away on a screen set, staged a "son et lumiere" rendition of a "firefight" which CBS filmed as Dan played war correspondent. I have no way of knowing if this story is true, but Dan's subsequent career allows one to give creedance to Hartigan's account. Here's a letter I posted to Influence Peddler on my own tiny contribution to Charlie Wilson's saga of single-minded [along with girls and booze] overthrow of the Soviets:
Ha! Aaron Sorkin also skated past Denis Neal's involvement with Charlie Wilson, which I as an employee of Neal & Company implemented. Back in '88 Denis & Charlie asked me to start up a PAC to raise a large sum of money. I did so after weeks of scrounging [and bumping into Bob Torricelli at several functions asking for cash only], we had around $25K, which Denis matched in a certified check which he asked me to take to DNC HQ by hand. I gave it to the DNC sherpa of John Kerry, who was DSCC chair that election cycle. That was July.

At his office Christmas Party in December, Denis asked me & Charlie into his office and shook my hand. He informed me that that $50K & "other considerations" had caused John Kerry & Chris Dodd to vote with the Republican minority on the Senate Foreign Relations Cte on aid to the Pak military. Denis said $450 million got by the House & Senate to Zia [who was killed that year] largely due to Kerry's behind-the-scenes manipulations.
Charlie winked, we all raised our glasses of single-malt, and lit cigars.

That wasn't in George Criles' book either, but that's the way Washington "works." And I'm sure that would have been too "real-life" for Aaron Sorkin!

And the Influence Peddler quotes John Fund on another issue Sorkin will skirt as the Dems get credit for opposing the Soviet Union at the same time Jimmy Carter was plucking the hem of the Kremlin's robes [according to KGB records recently opened] to get USSR support for Mondale in the '84 election. Here's Johnny!!! [Fund] on Jack:
But in 1981, the House Ethics Committee became concerned that Mr. Murtha had, at a minimum, violated House rules that required he report any attempt at bribery, which he had not. A special prosecutor, Barrett Prettyman, was appointed to oversee the committee's investigation. He soon expanded his probe beyond the six House members who were directly involved and began moving against Rep. Murtha. He was also rumored to be offering deals in exchange for testimony that would take the scandal inside the office of Speaker O'Neill.

That was the final straw from the irascible O'Neill. He determined to shut the investigation down, and the story of how he did it makes up a fascinating part of Mr. Crile's book, "Charlie Wilson's War" (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003)...

Crile reported that in early 1981 Speaker O'Neill called Rep. Wilson into his office and told him he wanted him to join the Ethics Committee right away. The Texas congressman had been pestering him for years to get a lifetime seat on the board the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. "It's the best perk in town," Mr. Wilson told Crile. "It means that I get the box right next to the president's box for the ballet when I want it. I get to go to all the cast parties, meet all the movie stars, and I get an extra invitation to the White House every season."

O'Neill made it clear he would appoint Mr. Wilson to the board he coveted, but that he would have to join the Ethics Committee to take care of the Murtha matter. "It's a package deal, Chally," O'Neill is said to have told Mr. Wilson.

"The word on Charlie was that he didn't talk," ex-Rep. Tony Coelho, who became majority whip after O'Neill's retirement, told Crile. "From time to time the speaker needed to mount irregular operations, and Wilson was one of those irregulars Tip could count on." Mr. Wilson didn't need any prodding for his task: "He was a happy warrior as he raced to the rescue of his imperiled friend John Murtha," Crile wrote.

Crile reported that prior to Mr. Wilson's arrival on the Ethics Committee, it had largely given Mr. Prettyman, the special counsel, a free hand in his probe. That quickly changed: "Before Prettyman could fully deploy his investigators to move on the Murtha case, he was informed that the committee had concluded there was no justification for an investigation." The Ethics Committee chairman, Rep. Louis Stokes of Ohio, suddenly declared "This matter is closed."

Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss.

Crime does pay.

No comments :