Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Will Askar Akayev Become an Issue in the Upcoming U.S. Congressional Election?

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Ex-President Askar Akayev meeting with President Bush at the White House in 2002

NBC news investigative reporters apparently got their hands on leaked information from the FBI on the Askar Akayev investigation.
While the investigation has been public knowledge for some time
, this new report ties the Akayev family’s economic empire into criminal activity that may have also taken place on U.S. soil. It is, of course, questionable as to whether this would have made NBC news if it were not for the vicious political battles presently ongoing in Washington in connection with upcoming Congressional elections. For NBC and the U.S. public in general, the question is of course whether there the Defense Department, through Ganci airbase activities, might be implicated in any of Akayev’s criminal links through the money paid to companies owned by Akayev’s family.

While Nathan of Registan.net writes that he does not feel that the DOD can be held accountable for corruption in foreign governments, he does express concern over whether money funneled to the Akayevs from the DOD could have been used to undermine U.S. security interests in other ways. I think, however, that a different ethical question should also be raised about the DOD’s payments to companies owned by Akayev’s son and son-in-law. According to the NBC report, the Defense Department instructed U.S. companies bidding on the fueling contract for Ganci to use only the two companies associated with the Akayevs as fuel-supply sub-contractors because “these were the only registered companies to provide services.” The question in my mind is whether directing contractors to hire these sub-contractors is akin to a laundered bribe. How, for example, does this differ from the alleged payments made by U.S. oil companies to Kazakh officials through James Giffen? Are we looking at the beginning of a “Manas-gate,” and if so, how will Secretary Rumsfield be implicated? Looks like it could be more ammunition for the Democrats, as if anymore was needed.

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