Monday, November 28, 2005

Bugs in the White House? (updated)

Cunningham's gone, but MZM -- the "defense and intelligence" firm that paid him off -- lives on. MZM has had other clients -- among them, George W. Bush.

Toward the end of this Washington Post piece on the firm, you'll stumble across one of those sneaky little grafs that seems to hint at a much larger story:
Government procurement records show that MZM, which Wade started in 1993, did not report any revenue from prime contract awards until 2003. Most of its revenue has come from the agreement the Pentagon just cut off. But over the past three years it was also awarded several contracts, worth more than $600,000, by the Executive Office of the President. They include a $140,000 deal for office furniture in 2002 and several for unspecified "intelligence services."

A White House spokeswoman declined to comment.
The firm didn't make any real money until 2003 -- but the year before, it got a contract with the White House? That doesn't make much sense.

Even more surprising..."office furniture"? Why the hell would anyone ask an "intelligence" firm to provide chairs and desks and those nifty little green bankers' lights? Don't they have an Ikea in the DC area?

Two possibilities come to my mind:

1. W tasked MZM to plant bugs in the office furniture.
2. W hired MZM to sweep for bugs; the "office furniture" bit is just a blind.

It's worth noting that Bush's Chief Procurement officer was David Savafian, who was arrested for obstructing a federal probe into Abramoffian shennanigans. So...just who got MZM the gig?

Update: After musing on this matter while slurping up a serving of Wendy's low-fat, digit-free chili, a third possibility occurred to me: Perhaps MZM was installing bugs in the office furniture on behalf of someone else. A third party.

This "office furniture" buisness reminds me of another Abramoff-related scandal. Yes, I know -- there have been so many; who can keep track of them all? But you may recall that another Abramoff partner -- congressman Bob Ney, chairman of the House Administration Committee -- arranged for an Israeli communications firm called Foxcom to install communications equipment (which, in this case, basically means wireless connections) in the Capitol building. Ney seems to have done so at the bidding of Abramoff, who received the usual substantial lobbying fee.

Foxcom also sunk a nice chunk of change into an Abramoff-controlled charity called Capital Athletic Fund, which (according to some accounts) paid for the infamous golf junket which brought Ney, Ralph Reed, Abramoff and David Safavian to the bonny highlands of Scotland. ("Athletic fund." Heh heh. You can't say these guys don't have a sense of humor.)

By applying a liberal dose of grease, Foxcom managed to edge out another firm whose security arrangements had been cleared by the FBI and the NSA. For some reason, the Israeli company really, really wanted to set up the wireless network used by your congressfolk.

Bottom line: Whatever else he may be, Abramoff is one of those Israel-ueber-alles types. Seems to me that he went out of his way to curry favor with Ney and Savafian, both of whom were awfully well-positioned to help anyone who wanted to "listen in" on both Capitol Hill and the White House.

Am I speculating? Yeah. Is my speculation outside the limits of possibility or probability? Judge for yourself.
I am reminded of that scene in Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas, where Santa Claus pulls on a thread of the Bogeyman's garment. As the cloth unravels, we see that underneath is nothing but a crawling mass of worms.

MZM is also a prime contractor working with the odious Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), the Pentagon agancy that has recently recieved authorization to spy on innocent Americans.

According to the WaPo:
One CIFA activity, threat assessments, involves using "leading edge information technologies and data harvesting," according to a February 2004 Pentagon budget document. This involves "exploiting commercial data" with the help of outside contractors including White Oak Technologies Inc. of Silver Spring, and MZM Inc., a Washington-based research organization, according to the Pentagon document.

Also: Major Increase In Surveillance of Innocent People
"Yeah. Is my speculation outside the limits of possibility or probability? Judge for yourself."

I'm gonna go waaaaay out on a limb, here, Joe, and say your conclusions are not, in fact, outside the realm of possibility. Or probability. At all. They are quite comfortably inside the sphere of plausibility and liklihood.
this all brings to mind the crutches that Libby was hobbling around on in the midst of Fitzmas. some people seemed to think he was trying to play the sympathy card. i wonder though... did he really have a broken foot? or were those things wired for sound?
All these names and companies and time-lines and reporters and back room deals and war profiteering and selling out of the US and, my God my mind boggles at the immensity of it all! The larger the animal is and the harder it struggles as you bring him down, the tighter he becomes entangled in the net. Let's keep the pressure up and see what kind of beast we are really wrestling with!
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