Beginning March 23, the National Enquirer published two major stories claiming that 2016 presidential contender Ted Cruz had had affairs with five women, thereby undermining his claims of conservative, moral leadership.
Today’s column provides an approach to understanding such allegations, which are increasingly common against high officials and candidates. Targets include Alabama Gov. Gov. Robert Bentley (R), who faces vast public pressure to resign or face impeachment. Bentley is shown below at left in a collage via WKRG-TV with his purported lover and top aide Rebekah Caldwell Mason, and former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency chief Spencer Collier, whom the governor fired after Collier protested what he called a scandal costing taxpayers huge sums.
Claims of sex scandal are increasingly common regarding high officials and would-be officials, as we reported this month here.
Our recommended approach, as voiced in a talk this month at the National Press Club, is for those in the public to remember four factors:
- First, recognize that a shockingly high percent of such allegations are likely true, as shown via books, confessions and documents that are typically available years after the fact. But such evidence may be augmented by a Supreme Court decision later this spring regarding the records of the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, dubbed by the media as “The DC Madam.”
- Second, however, any specific individual — including Cruz and his five alleged lovers cited by the Enquirer — may be completely innocent and smeared solely as part of the often vicious, effective, and highly paid “opposition research” operations of major candidates. Cruz has vigorously denied the allegations.
- Third, sex scandals involving important government officials are often tied to efforts to disgrace them and their causes, or to blackmail them into favorable government actions. Government contracts or tax policies for favored businesses and foreign policy intrigues are often involved. These involve such high stakes that the costs of escorts and secret video equipment are relatively modest; and
- Finally, valid and important accusations can come from tabloid and other alternative publications, in part because the mainstream publications often suppress or fail to investigate valid allegations for political or "national security" reasons implicating CIA, NSA and other intelligence agencies.
Those were the core points of my talk April 13 before the McClendon speaker society at the press club, which amplified the April 8 column DC Madam Attorney: Client Revelations This Week; Cruz News?
it described how Palfrey's attorney, Montgomery Blair Sibley, threatened April 8 to release the government and business names of her clients unless federal courts grant a hearing on his request to release at least one customer name he describes as vital to the 2016 presidential race.
The Supreme Court, after initially rejecting via Chief Justice John Roberts Sibley's request to consider lifting a 2007 gag order on client names and phone numbers, reconsidered the matter via a separate appeal to Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.
Today's column focuses heavily on the recommendations above. We provided much of the supporting material as an appendix to our April 8 column.
We update and cross-index that material in two ways here: Sample illustrations are organized immediately below according to recommendations 1. to 4. above. Also, news stories are arranged by topic in an appendix below.
1. Likely true?
Alabama's governor Bentley, a Republican, and his advisor Mason are compromised by a tape recording in which Bentley professes his love for his younger, married aide -- and his fond recollection of intimate moments together. Bentley's wife of 50 years apparently became suspicious and left a cellphone on its "recording" application when she left the couple's beachhouse during the summer of 2014.
Friends of the wife put photos into the hands of Alabama attorney Dana Jill Simpson, who placed the information with Alabama blogger Roger Shuler, Simpson has written. Beginning a decade ago, Simpson and Shuler became the pioneering whistle blowing critics against the federal and state corruption prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman (D) and have undertake many civic actions since then. One of Shuler's many columns on the matter beginning last fall was on April 15, Robert Bentley's trip to Las Vegas with Rebekah Caldwell Mason helps prove the governor has been lying for months to the people of Alabama.
Mason is married to Jon Mason, who is employed as the Bentley administration's director of faith-based programs worthy entities in Alabama. Al.com, a consortium of the state's major newspapers, has reported that the Masons have received about a million dollars from funding via the governor in recent years and that Rebekah Mason took about 250 trips with the governor compared to just one the governor took with his wife during that period.
Bentley and Rebekah Mason have denied impropriety in various ways. But they are increasingly on the defensive because of widespread outrage in the state and reported federal and state investigations.
2. Possibly innocent?
Presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) has denied allegations of infidelity, saying he never committed adultery. So, have several of those alleged to have been his lovers.
The National Enquirer did not identify them but instead printed photos with the identities blacked out. Others have matched photos and asserted that three are political strategists and commentators becoming well-known during the current campaign.
More specifically, Cruz accused his GOP rival Donald Trump of hawking a false narrative to a tabloid as the presidential candidates feuded over their wives. “Let me be clear, this National Enquirer story is garbage,” Cruz told reporters. “It is complete and utter lies. It is a tabloid smear, and it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen.”
Trump responded that he had nothing to do with the story's genesis and no knowledge of whether it was true. “Ted Cruz’s problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone," Trump said, "and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz.”
The ultimate truth of the extensive allegations and denials are beyond the scope of today's column, except to illustrate the point that sometimes allegations are wrong. That means denials are sometimes true.
An even more clear-cut example of a false accusation appears to be Sweden's long-running sex-misconduct probe of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange based on disgraceful Swedish legal procedures stemming from now dubious accusations of two women who invited him to sleep with them on a separate occasions during this August 2010 speaking trip to Sweden.
Much of the news reporting since has smeared Assange as a suspect in what are implied as serious crimes under Sweden's arcane and secretive legal system. But Swedes have never formally charged Assange with a crime. Instead, the government has relentlessly pursued him for further questioning despite his initial questioning in 2010 and the decision of the initial Swedish prosecutor that no charges were merited. Higher authorities replaced the prosecutor with one who has mounted a monumental cross-nation investigation at vast cost .
Sweden's six-year effort bears many clear cut signs as political prosecution. The two alleged victims, one of whom has long disappeared, appear to have been used at tools of the intelligence community and compliant law enforcement officials to capture Assange, as widely reported in the alternative media.
Our Justice Integrity Project undertook cutting edge reporting on this six years ago, as noted in our column last month: Noted Swedish Journalist, Assange Critic Exposed As Sapo Agent. We shall soon will readdress the topic in depth. We shall focus for the first time on the two women who invited Assange to sleep with them. Lurking in the background, we now know, were such covert operatives as the "journalist" who worked with Sweden's secret police to attack Assange.
3. Disgrace, blackmail, extortion, contractor fraud?
Many instances that the media report merely as sex scandal actually stem from more complex plots use either female or male "honeytraps" to compromise officials, often with hidden video cameras.
The ultimate goals of plot perpetrators could be simply to disgrace those involved, as may be the case of a former Russian prime minister filmed in a hotel room with a prominent critic of Russia, with the film them released to the media. The anti-Putin Daily Mail in London reported the matter this way: Former Russian PM filmed in Moscow sex sting with scantily-clad British activist in apparent attempt to destroy his chances of rivaling Putin. A variety of interpretations are possible, however.
The concept of releasing a compromising video to disgrace an official for political purposes was part of the plot of the 1960s James Bond thriller and movie From Russia With Love. Ian Fleming, author of the Bond series, had been both a high-ranking British Naval Intelligence executive and later a newspaper editor, and so was well-acquainted with real-world activities before his began writing fiction.
Another use of honeytraps and/or scandal for covert purposes involves those motivated to exert pressure on government officials to seek favorable governmental actions, including such varied matters as media regulation or government contracts.
In the United Kingdom, the new site Byline reported this month: Culture Secretary John Whittingdale caught in prostitution scandal. Specifically, Whittingdale, shown in a screenshot from last year, regulates the United Kingdom's news media, among other responsibilities as culture minister in the Conservative Party administration of Prime Minister David Cameron. Byline is a crowd-funded journalism site launched in 2015 to report otherwise suppressed or under-reported news stories. Mainstream outlets might be reluctant to report such matters about a regulator, as one might imagine.
In the United States, there have been many scandals in which both high-ranking government officials and those lower in rank have been enticed by prostitutes (both male and female) and then pressured to award government contracts or other favorable personnel and policy decisions.
For example, the Washington Post reported this month The fall of Edward Lin, the Navy officer accused of espionage and hiring a prostitute.
Separately in 2009, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, the CIA's third-ranking official, was sentenced to three years in prison for making favorable awards growing out of a prostitution scandal that involved a number of others, including former California Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Cunningham, a former war hero, was imprisoned for what was described as one of the largest contracting scandals in American history.
In another example slow to make the news cycle, blogger Wayne Madsen in 2006 published a three-part series exposing then House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) as a gay pedophile subject to blackmail because of his secret life as a high school wrestling coach molesting young men. Nearly a decade later, the Washington Post reported April 25 in its print edition this week: Former Dennis Hastert aides wonder if his secret affected his decisions.
But Madsen had specifically raised that possibility as a motive for pressuring Hastert (shown below during a C-SPAN appearance) and others in Congress with their secret scandals. Amanda Terkel and Sam Stein of the Huffington Post had raised the issue shortly after Hastert's arrest last year in Dennis Hastert Hid His Skeletons As He Helped Push GOP's Anti-Gay Agenda.
We surveyed the situation here in depth last year in Media Protected Hastert, Then Pounced Like Hyena Pack On Scapegoat. Political reporters failed for years to connect the dots on former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s involvement in the national capital’s gay scene, we reported, continuing:
Even now, the mainstream and alternative media's "pack journalism" style remains focused almost solely on a near-frenzy to publish details about Hastert's story while refraining from probing the broader implications of the clout once held by a man second-in-line to the presidential succession after the vice president.
4. Mainstream scandal suppression or failure to investigate?
The mainstream media seldom dig into the most politically sensitive of issues. This is partly because of the expense and difficulty of such investigations, of course. But sometimes the evidence is available and so the motive for self-censorship lies elsewhere. One such factor is that both U.S. and foreign intelligence operations are heavily involved in setting up and exploiting sex scandals, as documented by numerous books and court cases based on insider accounts such as Madsen's.
The CIA's involvement with the so-called DC Madam scandal was a missing ingredient in the massive coverage her prosecution otherwise received. Palfrey's former attorney Montgomery Blair Sibley, author of true crime treatment of the case Why Just Her, and independent investigative reporters such as Madsen have long chronicled how Palfrey's call girl ring provided an outstanding opportunity for intelligence services to compromise both U.S. officials and thought-leaders in the media and elsewhere, as well as foreign visitors to the Washington, DC metro region.
Both mainstream and alternative media usually suppress any hint of these practices. The secrecy is fostered by judicial gag orders and the usual difficulties of finding conclusive evidence in sex scandals.
Our Justice Integrity Project shall soon publish additional columns and talks on these topics. Madsen, Sibley and this editor are scheduled to spoke April 26 at one such invitation-only conference on hidden persuasive techniques (such as sex scandals) affecting the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Highlights will be provided in this space later.
Editor's note: This column was updated in minor ways, such as reflecting that the April 26 conference has occurred.
Related News Coverage (reverse chronological order)
The Indicter (Sweden and Italy), How To Understand Political Sex Scandal Allegations, Andrew Kreig, April 30, 2016 (republished from Justice Integrity Project). Claims of sex scandal are increasingly common regarding high officials and would-be officials. Scandals involving important government officials are often tied to efforts to disgrace them and their causes, or to blackmail them into favorable government actions. Government contracts or tax policies for favored businesses and foreign policy intrigues are often involved. These involve such high stakes that the costs of escorts and secret video equipment are relatively modest.
Allegations Against Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz and His Denial
Amo Probos, Justice Thomas and My Supreme Court Application, Montgomery Blair Sibley, April 13, 2016. Today, Justice Clarence Thomas -- apparently disagreeing with Chief Justice John Roberts' denial of my application -- has referred my application for determination by the entire Supreme Court at their conference on April 29th. At least all of the Justices will be on record as to whether they will continue the muzzling of my First Amendment political speech.
WTOP (Washington, DC), Ex-lawyer starts disclosing who called ‘D.C. Madam,’ Neal Augenstein, April 11, 2016. Montgomery Blair Sibley has started to identify those who called the escort service of his former client, Deborah Jeane Palfrey. Saying he has “waited long enough,” the ex-lawyer of “D.C. Madam” Deborah Jeane Palfrey has released some of the names of companies, government agencies and organizations that had called her escort service between 2000 and 2006. In a court filing in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia obtained by WTOP, Montgomery Blair Sibley included the names of 174 of the entities that had dialed Palfrey’s business, Pamela Martin & Associates.
No individuals’ names were listed. In 2007, as he mounted a defense in Palfrey’s racketeering case, Sibley sought, and was granted permission to identify 5,902 telephone numbers that showed up in Palfrey’s telephone records. In response to a subpoena, Verizon Wireless provided Sibley with a CD containing 817 account holders’ names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and home and business telephone numbers.
In April 2008, a federal jury in D.C. found Palfrey (shown in a file photo) guilty of racketeering, money laundering and mail fraud. Palfrey’s defense team never utilized — or shared — the information contained on the Verizon Wireless CD, because the judge eventually quashed the subpoena. Since February of this year, Sibley has been attempting to be released from a 2007 restraining order, which he says prevents him from releasing the records Palfrey entrusted to him in the early days of her defense against charges related to the escort service she ran in the nation’s capital from 1996 through 2007.
Sibley has said previously that information gleaned from the Verizon Wireless subpoena would “contain information relevant to the upcoming presidential election.” Sibley has not elaborated how the information might affect the 2016 election.
The list of released entities includes the following government agencies: Department of Health and Human Services, FBI, General Services Administration, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, Internal Revenue Service, National Drug Intelligence Center, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Information Systems Command, Department of Commerce, Department of State, U.S. Postal Service and U.S. Forest Service. Others listed in the filing include the Archdiocese of Washington, Embassy of Japan, Bethlehem Steel, Constellation Energy/BGE, Hewlett-Packard, Johns Hopkins University, Washington Gas and several large law firms.
Sibley’s license to practice law was suspended in 2008 for three years by the D.C. Court of Appeal. In addition, Sibley has sued the former chief judge and court clerk for $1 million each.
Justice Integrity Project, DC Madam Attorney: Client Revelations This Week; Cruz News? Andrew Kreig, April 8, 2016. The DC Madam’s attorney threatened April 8 to release the government and business names of her clients by the middle of next week unless federal courts grant a hearing on his request to release at least one customer name he describes as vital to the 2016 presidential race. Montgomery Blair Sibley, former attorney to the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey when she was notorious as “The DC Madam” during her federal prosecution a decade ago, said he will fight the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection this week of his case without a hearing.
WHNT-TV (Channel 19, Huntsville, AL), Gov. Robert Bentley a no-show for State Auditor’s hearing, Staff report, May 2, 2016. It probably didn’t surprise many people that Governor Robert Bentley didn’t come to State Auditor Jim Zeigler’s office on Monday morning. Neither did any members of his staff, but Zeigler pushed forward, saying he is now prepared to take the case to Montgomery County Circuit Court. He will request the court issue an order for Gov. Bentley to appear, bring the documents to court, and if he fails to do so, he would face contempt of court charges.
Legal Schnauzer, More sex tapes might surface of Gov. Robert Bentley and Rebekah Caldwell Mason -- and these reportedly are much more graphic than the first batch, Roger Shuler, May 2, 2016. More sex tapes exist of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and former advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason--on top of those already made public, which had Bentley talking about caressing Mason's breasts and exploring her nether regions. The new tapes, according to a report from Birmingham attorney Donald Watkins, are more graphic than the ones already made public.
When might the new tapes be made public? We don't have an answer to that question, but Watkins reports (via his Facebook page) that federal subpoenas are being issued in Montgomery and Tuscaloosa, seeking documents related to Bentley, Mason, and her husband, Jon Mason.
Washington Post, Alabama is no stranger to sex scandals. It just never expected one from this guy, Neely Tucker April 17, 2016. In the mortuary of disaster that is Alabama politics, it is important to note that Gov. Dr. Robert J. Bentley (shown in an official photo) is still in charge, for now. The 74-year-old balding grandfather and star of sexy phone chats to the senior political adviser three decades his junior is accused of being at the center of a complex web of deceit, betrayal and mendacity that falls somewhere between the better parts of the Old Testament and the steamy Southern plays of Tennessee Williams.
Al.com, Gov. Robert Bentley, Rebekah Mason flew to Vegas, attended Celine Dion show, John Archibald, April 15, 2016. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley Scandal Explained. On Nov. 17 of last year, Gov. Robert Bentley boarded a state airplane for Las Vegas, along with his former political adviser Rebekah Caldwell Mason, communications director Jennifer Ardis, Deputy Chief of Staff Jon Barganier and his security detail.
They went to attend the Republican Governors Association Annual Conference. Oh. And to catch a show. They didn't have to think twice before going to the Colosseum at Caesar's Palace for an elaborate concert by Celine Dion.
Bentley went backstage and made Dion an honorary Alabamian. Bentley's staff argues that there is no foul. Ardis said Bentley himself paid for all the Celine Dion tickets, and the Republican Governors Association reimbursed the Bentley campaign for the cost of the conference and the flight.
The campaign reimbursed the state, and no taxpayer money was used, she said. She did provide a copy of a deposit to the state of Alabama in the amount of $11,641.35. It was dated March 25 of this year. It came almost 19 weeks after the trip. And it came 3 days after former Alabama Law Enforcement Agency chief Spencer Collier went public with claims that Bentley and Mason had been engaged in an affair, and that Bentley had been warned that using state or campaign assets to carry out an affair could be illegal.
Legal Schnauzer, Robert Bentley's trip to Las Vegas with Rebekah Caldwell Mason helps prove the governor has been lying for months to the people of Alabama, Roger Shuler, April 15, 2016. Gov. Bentley .... goes on to blame his problems, for the most part, on bloggers. Considering that I was the blogger who broke the story of the Mason affair on August 31, 2015, it seems safe to say much of his vitriol is directed at me. It's also likely much of it is directed at attorney Donald Watkins, who has written extensively about the sex scandal at his Facebook page.
How despicable is Bentley's behavior? Well, we know that on November 17 of last year, he was trying to rearrange his security detail so he could get "personal time" with Rebekah Caldwell Mason -- in Las Vegas. Roughly five weeks later, the governor was telling the press "the rumors were untrue," and blaming others for the story getting out.
We now know the "rumors" were more than rumors. The posts that Watkins and I published were right on target -- a classic example of citizen journalism serving the public good, unearthing a story that the mainstream press, at the time, seemingly did not want to touch. We also know the Bentley/Mason coupling apparently went well beyond the borders of Alabama--with no expenses being spared in the process.
WJHL (Johnson City, TN) and WKRG (Mobile, AL), 2 criminal investigations launched into Ala. Gov. Bentley’s relationship with adviser, Peter Albrecht, March 28, 2016. 14 times in 43 minutes, Gov. Robert Bentley tells Rebekah Mason that he loves her in the complete recorded phone conversation between the two from August, 2014. Last week the most sexually explicit moments of the recordings were released, but today the full recording was released by the website Yellowhammer.
Alabama Political Reporter, Bentley Ordered Law Enforcement to Target Critics, Bill Britt, March 28, 2016. Gov. Robert Bentley pressured law enforcement officers to use federal and state resources to target those critical of his relationship with senior advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason, according to high ranking officers and staff. In an effort to find potentially damaging information on those who spoke out against the couple, Bentley instructed top law enforcement agents to investigate private citizens, in direct conflict with the law, said those close to the matter.(
Two individuals with detailed knowledge of the incidents say Bentley ordered the use of the National Crime Information Center, (NCIC) and the Law Enforcement Tactical System (LETS) to find any incriminating evidence that might be used against attorney Donald V. Watkins, and Legal Schnauzer blogger Roger Shuler. These powerful databases serve as a “Google-style” search engine for law enforcement, allowing agencies to search the most private aspects of a person’s life.
Former ALEA [Alabama Law Enforcement Agency] staff and attorneys refused to cooperate with Bentley [shown in an official photo and also with Mason, as recorded by an anonymous photographer at an event at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC].
In a four part series entitled, “Forbidden Love – Robert Bentley’s Secret Love Affair,” Watkins wrote in detail about events which have now been confirmed by former State Law Enforcement Chief Spencer Collier and tapes discovered by al.com’s John Archibald.
Assange Sex Misconduct Claims
Justice Integrity Project, Noted Swedish Journalist, Assange Critic Exposed As Sapo Agent, Andrew Kreig, March 20, 2016. A prize-winning Swedish journalist noted for his left-wing, pro-NATO and anti-Wikileaks commentary was revealed this month to have been a paid agent of Säpo, his nation's security service.
Martin Fredriksson (shown in a file photo), winner of a major investigative reporting prize in 2014 for his work exposing right-wing groups opposed to NATO, has been secretly paid for years by Säpo, the Swedish Security Service, according to news reports based on his own admissions. In deep intrigue that resembles a spy novel, Fredriksson's story undermines conventional wisdom on both sides of the Atlantic that journalists work independently from power centers, including government agencies. The matter is especially timely because of Sweden's ongoing persecution of Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange for what appears to be a trumped up sex scandal probe extending nearly six years in reprisal for massive and ongoing disclosures by Wikileaks of Western governments' darkest secrets.
Guardian, Julian Assange is in arbitrary detention, UN panel finds, Esther Addley, Owen Bowcott, Jessica Elgot, Paul Farrell, and David Crouch, Feb. 4, 2016. A United Nations panel has decided that Julian Assange’s three-and-a-half years in the Ecuadorian embassy amount to “arbitrary detention,” leading his lawyers to call for the Swedish extradition request to be dropped immediately.
A Swedish foreign ministry spokeswoman confirmed that the UN panel, due to publish its findings on Friday, had concluded that Assange (shown in a file photo) was “arbitrarily detained.” The WikiLeaks founder sought asylum from Ecuador in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations, which he denies.
Svenska Dagbladet (SVD) (Swedish daily newspaper), When the real Salander sold out to Sapo, Sam Sundberg, March 2, 2016. (Translated by Google, with JIP editorial revisions). Have you heard rustling in powerful stereo from the political perimeter? It is the sound of quivering extremists. Outer Edge Rabulist Erna has every reason to be nervous, because one of the more nationally famous left activists, Martin Fredriksson, released this day a bomb in social media. In a groovy Twitter, he reveals that he was for many years a paid Sapo informant during a time when he has been active in the Antifascist Action and Research Group.
The Indicter, Former paid agent of Swedish Security Police dictated Amnesty Sweden’s stance against Assange, Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli, PhD. (Chairman of Swedish Doctors for Human Rights), March 6, 2016. Svenska Dagbladet (SVD), one of Sweden’s leading newspapers, has now revealed that a well-known journalist and ‘left activist’ – who, among other things, exerted considerable influence with Amnesty International Sweden – was a paid agent of Sweden’s Security Police (SÄPO).
The Swedish media establishment awarded this SÄPO secret agent its highest investigative journalism prize, ‘Guldspaden’ (Golden Spade), in 2014. The rationale on which the award was given to Fredriksson referred precisely to the work he had implemented as a paid agent of Sweden’s Secret Police.
Byline, Culture Secretary John Whittingdale caught in prostitution scandal, Nick Mutch, April 1, 2016. Culture Secretary has questions to answer over whether he exposed himself to blackmail over his relationship with a dominatrix. Byline can reveal a year-long relationship between a senior figure in David Cameron’s government and a dominatrix which potentially jeopardized government security and left ministers open to blackmail. John Whittingdale, now Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, was involved in a long relationship between at least November 2013 and January 2015 with Olivia King, a well-known escort who specializes in domination and sado-masochistic practices. It is unknown whether the relationship continues.
During this period, Whittingdale was accompanied by her at locations including the MTV Awards in Amsterdam in November 2013, the SportBall, attended by Kate Middleton, also in December 2013, and a New Years Eve party at the House of Commons in 2014-15. The photos [with this story on the Byline site] were taken the night following the SportBall. During this period, his movements and private conversations with her were well known by the tabloid press, allowing photographs of the couple to be photographed at these locations.
Whittingdale’s relationship has been an open secret in Westminster and Fleet Street circles, and major tabloid and broadsheet papers, including The Mail on Sunday and The Independent, have undertaken extensive investigations and written stories, only to have the stories abandoned at the last minute. The editor of The Independent, Amol Rajan decided in October that he had made the decision to not run the story on ‘editorial grounds.’
However, the previous day, Rajan had met with Whittingdale and Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre at the Society of Editors Conference in October 2015. When [Whittingdale] delivered the keynote address, he stated that he was minded not to implement a major recommendation of the Leveson inquiry and passed by Parliament as part of the Courts and Crimes Act.
We can also reveal that while she was involved with Whittingdale, Ms. King was also involved in a relationship with a member of the London underworld who has a previous firearms conviction. Whittingdale’s relationships with prostitutes are said to be well known in the London underworld and could potentially leave him exposed to blackmail considering his senior position in the government.
John Whittingdale has questions to answer over whether the possession of this story by a number of media publications ever influenced his political actions as Culture Secretary and when he was Chair of the Culture, Media and Sports Committee. This is the first installment of a developing story.
Former Russian Prime Minister
Russian Prime Minister Michael Kasyanow and Vladimir Putin (October, 2000)
Daily Mail, Former Russian PM filmed in Moscow sex sting with scantily-clad British activist in apparent attempt to destroy his chances of rivaling Putin, Michael Stewart, April 2, 2016. One of Vladimir Putin's most prominent rivals has been filmed in a sex sting with a British woman who is also a leading opposition campaigner.
Grainy bedroom footage purports to show former Kremlin prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, 58 and prime minister from 2000-2004, with playwright and activist Natalya Pelevine, 39, in a Moscow apartment. The release by Kremlin-friendly television channel NTV is apparently aimed at destroying one of the few opposition leaders seen as remotely capable of being an alternative president to Putin.
It appeared to have been filmed by a hidden camera in a dressing table in the bedroom of a Moscow flat apparently used for covert liaisons between the couple. Who was behind the filming is unclear, but the purpose was evidently to embarrass the opposition figures who are also heard savaging other so-called allies in an anti-Putin front ahead of upcoming elections. [Kasyanov is a chairman of the People's Freedom Party, the leader of People's Democratic Union, and a critic of Putin.]
Pelevine (shown in her Twitter photo) has been active in the Russian opposition for around a decade. Soviet-born, her parents emigrated to Britain before the collapse of the USSR when she was a child. She has appeared as a political commentator on has appeared as a political commentator on Al Jazeera, RTVi, PressTV, the BBC and other TV and radio channels.
Daily Mail, UK woman caught in Kremlin-inspired hotel sex sting accuses Putin of being behind leaking of footage of her with lover, Will Stewart and Martin Delgado, April 2, 2016. A woman who was caught in a Kremlin-inspired hotel sex sting has claimed the Russian state was behind the leaking of grainy monochrome footage showing her with lover Mikhail Kasyanov, 58, a leading opposition politician. Natalya Pelevine, 39, has vowed to take legal action after she was filmed in bed with married Kasyanov, Vladimir Putin’s former prime minister.
Ms. Pelevine, who came to the UK as a child and who has an art history degree from the University of East London, said that the broadcasting of the intimate images by pro-Kremlin television channel NTV appeared to be an attempt to discredit the former premier and finance minister, who is seen as one of the few credible potential challengers to President Putin.
In the broadcast, NTV claimed Ms. Pelevine traveled regularly to the US for meetings with former presidential candidate Senator John McCain and investment banker William Browder.
Honeytrap Allegations Involving Navy Contracts
Washington Post, Navy commander sentenced to 78 months in bribery scandal, Julie Watson, April 29, 2016. A Navy commander who fled Cambodia’s killing fields as a boy to grow up to become a decorated U.S. military officer was sentenced Friday to 78 months in prison for providing classified ship schedules in exchange for the services of prostitutes, theater tickets and other gifts from a Malaysian defense contractor. A federal judge in San Diego gave Captain-select Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 48, the longest sentence handed out so far in one of the worst bribery scandals to rock the Navy. The contractor overbilled the Navy by more than $34 million.
Washington Post, The fall of Edward Lin, the Navy officer accused of espionage and hiring a prostitute, Dan Lamothe, April 11, 2016. The lieutenant commander is one of a handful of active-duty service members to face espionage charges in the last few decades. Edward Lin faces charges of espionage, attempted espionage and patronizing a prostitute in a rare spying case involving an active-duty member of the U.S. military. It’s a steep fall for a lieutenant commander who has served on some of the Navy’s most advanced maritime surveillance aircraft.
A layer of secrecy shrouds Lin’s case: The Navy examined charges against him Friday during a preliminary hearing in Norfolk, Va., but provided little advance notice about it — aside from notice on a docket temporarily posted on a Navy website. The proceeding, known as an “Article 32” hearing, examines the facts of the case and is open to the public, but Navy officials have declined to comment on the case or identify Lin before or afterward, citing concerns about his privacy, said Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Hawkins, a service spokesman.
ABC News, US Navy Officer Charged With Espionage, Luis Martinez, April 8, 2016. A Navy officer assigned to a maritime reconnaissance unit has been charged with espionage and attempted espionage, according to charging documents. The officer was arrested approximately eight months ago, but the details of his case were first made public Friday at a preliminary court hearing that will determine whether the case will proceed to a court martial.
The unidentified officer is currently assigned to Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, a maritime patrol and reconnaissance unit in Norfolk that provides airborne anti-submarine warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance using P-8A Poseidon aircraft, P-3 Orion aircraft and MQ-4 unmanned aircraft. A U.S. official says the lieutenant commander has been in pre-trial confinement since being arrested approximately eight months ago at an airport in the U.S. Pacific Command region while bound for a foreign country. He is being held at the Naval Consolidated Brig in Chesapeake, Virginia. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the FBI are still investigating details of this case.
Hastert Pedophilia / Blackmail Scandal
Washington Post, Former Dennis Hastert aides wonder if his secret affected his decisions, Matt Zapotosky, April 24, 2016. The ex-House speaker could be sentenced to prison Wednesday. In the Illinois town where Hastert coached and in the corridors of the U.S. Capitol where he once wrangled fellow legislators, the revelations about the purported sexual misdeeds have been met with shock, outrage and soul searching.
Chicago Tribune, Letters in support of Dennis Hastert, Staff report, April 23, 2016. Forty-one of the 60 letters submitted in support of Dennis Hastert in advance of his sentencing on hush money charges were released on April 22, 2016.
USA Today, Tom DeLay, ex-CIA director ask judge to go easy on Dennis Hastert, Staff report, April 22, 2016. Former House Speaker Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican shown in an official photo, recalled in his letter that Hastert started a Wednesday Bible study that the two men took part in. "So I know his heart and have seen it up close and personal," DeLay wrote. "We all have our flaws, but Dennis Hastert has very few. He is a good man that loves the lord. He gets his integrity and values from Him. He doesn't deserve what he is going through. I ask that you consider the man that is before you and give him leniency where you can."
Former CIA Director Porter Goss, a former GOP House member from Florida, called also for mercy.
Huffington Post, How Dennis Hastert Demonized Gays as Predators While He Was the True ‘Super-Predator,’ Michelangelo Signorile, April 13, 2016. No, it wasn’t African-American young men of the ‘90s — supposedly feral, “fatherless” and “godless” urban youth hell-bent on murder and mayhem — who were “super-predators,” a myth since exposed and which was created by the Princeton political science professor John DiIulio (who later became George W. Bush’s first director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives) based on junk science.
Meanwhile, the true example of a “super-predator” appears to have been former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a man who prosecutors now say molested at least 4 boys, including a 14-year-old and one who years later took his own life. Since the statute of limitations on those crimes, which took place decades ago, has expired, Hastert will only receive up to six months in jail on charges stemming from bank withdrawals of large sums of cash in violation of federal law, in what prosecutors say was for the purpose of “hush money.” Worse yet, through the years, as he covered up the sexual assaults he committed as a wrestling coach back in Yorkville, Illinois, Hastert pushed policies and positions as a House member and as the Speaker of a far-right GOP majority from 1999 to 2007 that demonized gays in part by portraying gay men as sexual predators.
“We must continue to be proactive warding off pedophiles and other creeps who want to take advantage of our children,” the Illinois congressman stated in promoting a bill to stop exploitation of children online shortly before he became House Speaker. That was brought to light in a Politico report last year which revealed that Hastert had a file in his office labeled “Homosexuals,” which included the sexual predator smear against gay men.
Washington Post, Prosecutors offer details on Dennis Hastert’s alleged sexual abuse of teenagers, Matt Zapotosky, April 8, 2016. Federal prosecutors on Friday detailed some of the lurid allegations of sexual misconduct against former U.S. House speaker Dennis Hastert and asked a federal judge to subject the Illinois Republican to a sex offender evaluation. In a memo in advance of an April 27 sentencing hearing, prosecutors spelled out in graphic detail how Hastert sexually molested or inappropriately touched five teenagers who trusted him as their wrestling coach. And as Hastert rose to power, believing that his wrongdoing would never be made public, his victims struggled with the effects of the abuse, prosecutors wrote.
Hastert, 74, pleaded guilty last year to violating federal banking laws, admitting in a deal with prosecutors that he withdrew money from banks in increments low enough to avoid mandatory reporting requirements. That charge, though, always belied the case’s actual underpinnings. Prosecutors and defense attorneys had already agreed that federal sentencing guidelines in the case called for a prison term between zero and six months, and prosecutors recommended a term inside that range Friday, coupled with a sex offender assessment. A federal judge is not bound by that recommendation and could sentence Hastert to as much as five years in prison.
In their memo, prosecutors also spelled out for the first time how investigators came to learn of the abuse. In 2012, prosecutors wrote, a bank official noticed the former House speaker had made seven $50,000 cash withdrawals over a two-year stretch.
Justice Integrity Project, Media Protected Hastert, Then Pounced Like Hyena Pack On Scapegoat, Andrew Kreig, June 8, 2015. Political reporters failed for years to connect the dots on former House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s involvement in the national capital’s gay scene. Even now, the mainstream and alternative media's "pack journalism" style remains focused almost solely on a near-frenzy to publish details about Hastert's story while refraining from probing the broader implications of the clout once held by a man second-in-line to the presidency.
Whether from timidity or complicity, the media are focusing as usual in holding up one miscreant as a scapegoat while remaining nearly silent regarding a long term pattern of links between sex scandal, blackmail, federal contracts that bilk taxpayers, selective prosecution, and other corrupt policy making. A tradition of such silence has enabled Hastert, 73, and other vice-seeking politicians and their blackmailers/controllers to wield vast power over the public. That’s the real story. His photo is from a C-SPAN appearance after he lost weight during recent years.
Politico, Dennis Hastert’s legal troubles echo the scandals of his speakership. Peter H. Stone, June 9, 2015. Congress today has among the lowest approval ratings that it’s ever had — down there with cockroaches and root canals. Dennis Hastert helped get it there, tolerating, and at times even fostering a culture of sleaze. During his speakership — the longest ever by a Republican — the House’s morass of scandals, both in breadth and depth, was unprecedented, blow after blow for an institution that on its best day is still the punchline of too many jokes. As House speaker, Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) didn’t really do anything about it.
Worse, Hastert caved on reform legislation and was oblivious to early warnings about at least one scandal. What Hastert did do was protect his closest ally and mentor, Majority Leader Tom DeLay, from tough investigation of misconduct by intervening with the House ethics oversight committee. “Hastert clearly took steps to insulate DeLay from proper investigation,” former Majority Leader Dick Armey, who preceded DeLay in that job and then left Congress in 2002, told me in a recent interview. Armey's blunt criticism is an indication that old conservative allies are washing their hands of a man who was once well respected in Republican circles now that Hastert, who was arraigned Tuesday in Illinois, is facing criminal charges himself. Those charges include lying to the FBI about improper bank withdrawals that skirted reporting requirements. Those withdrawals are allegedly connected to hush money payments by Hastert to hide what reportedly was an old incident of sexual abuse of a young boy.
Huffington Post, Dennis Hastert Hid His Skeletons As He Helped Push GOP's Anti-Gay Agenda, Amanda Terkel and Sam Stein, June 6, 2015. During the 2004 elections, George W. Bush's campaign, managed by a closeted gay man, pushed a series of anti-gay ballot initiatives across the country. The House of Representatives, led by a male speaker who allegedly sexually assaulted a male minor, moved a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage after beating back attempts to strengthen hate crimes legislation. And the White House, led in part by a vice president with a lesbian daughter, eagerly encouraged a conservative evangelical base hostile to gay rights. Though only slightly over a decade ago, that election seems increasingly like the relic of a far-off era as the country moves closer toward acceptance of legalizing marriage equality nationwide.
But it's being revisited in light of recent revelations that former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) may have sexually abused at least two male students during his time as a high school teacher and wrestling coach, and later lied to the FBI about the hush money he was paying one of them. Hastert wasn't a strident culture warrior during his time in Congress. But he was a vital cog in the anti-gay political machinery that the GOP deployed for political benefit. And now it appears his involvement carried the same elements of duplicity and deceit as that of other Republican operatives of that era.
Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), In 2006, WMR reported on Hastert's blackmailable "misconduct," May 29, 2015. (Subscription required and excerpted with permission.) Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) was indicted in Chicago on May 28 for lying to FBI agents about his cash withdrawals from his various bank accounts. Hastert withdrew the money, allegedly beginning in 2010, to pay an individual described only as "Individual A" in the federal indictment as blackmail over "prior misconduct" on the part of Hastert. The Chicago Tribune only referred to the blackmail as "Dennis Hastert's dark secret," but northern Illinois was abuzz with credible rumors that dark secret had something to do with Hastert's earlier years as a wrestling coach for boys at Yorkville High School outside of Chicago.
The indictment indicates that Individual A had something to do with Hastert's coaching years because it begins, "from approximately 1965 to 1981, defendant John Dennis Hastert was a high school teacher and coach in Yorkville, Illinois." The indictment also states that from 2010 Hastert paid Individual A, who is said to be from Yorkville, a total of $3.5 million to "compensate for and conceal (Hastert's) prior misconduct" with the unnamed person from Hastert's past. There is no mention of his having been blackmailed as a result of his activities as Speaker. Since leaving Congress in 2007, Hastert has been a lobbyist for the Washington law firm of Dickstein Shapiro.
Hastert met with the individual in question, believed to be a male, several times in 2010 and agreed to pay him $3.5 million to prevent the person from going public with Hastert's past wrongdoing.
In 2006, WMR scooped the Washington media by reporting that Hastert was involved with the cover-up of a major sex scandal involving Republican congressmen and underage male pages.
This column was updated April 26.