Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Forthcoming Corruption Investigation Concerning SMU's Presidential Library?

There might be:
Homeland Security officials are looking into allegations that a member of the department's advisory council offered to arrange meetings with senior administration officials in exchange for a large donation to the Bush presidential library.

The story is worth reading. Not only does it give a good overview of this emerging controversy, it tells us something about Stephen Payne. He's had some sort of working relationship with President Bush for twenty years (here). He had been appointed as a member to the Homeland Security Advisory Council's subcommittee. My favorite part:
In promotional materials marked "confidential" that he later said were in draft form, Payne touted his work with an Uzbek opposition leader in a section titled "From alleged terrorist to U.S. ally -- The transformation of Muhammad Salih."

Salih, an author and opposition leader who stood unsuccessfully against Uzbek strongman Islom Karimov in the country's first presidential election in 1990, and afterwards was first jailed, then placed under house arrest, has lived in exile since 1992.

In 1999, he was tried and convicted in absentia by an Uzbek court of involvement in a series of terrorist bombings in the capital, Tashkent. Although some international observers questioned the trial's fairness, Salih was placed on the U.S. terrorism watch list and an Interpol warrant was issued for his arrest.

According to Payne's promotional materials, his company, Houston-based Worldwide Strategic Partners Inc., "worked with the White House and the Departments of State and Justice to facilitate the removal ... from the terrorist watch list and the waving of the Interpol warrant" for Salih, and helped secure him a visa to visit the United States.

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