And if that's not the clearest sign yet of Bush's waning influence within his own administration, how about this - SOMEBODY JUST GOT FIRED!
Department spokeswoman Laura Keehner confirmed to United Press International that Stephen Payne was asked to resign after being surreptitiously videotaped by a British newspaper apparently offering to arrange meetings with senior administration officials in return for a six-figure fee, including a quarter-million-dollar donation to the library.This is a guy who clears shrubbery with Bush on the ranch and goes shooting with Cheney. And now the big Dick has some (more) big questions to answer too:
Dos said that in the autumn of 2005 he had been asked by the Kazakh government, via Kulibayev, to arrange a visit by Cheney. The intention was to improve the country’s international standing.Let's be clear what's going on here: US foreign policy is being dictated by personal profiteering and partisan budget building. And of course it's not just Cheney:
Dos had spent several days negotiating with Payne. A deal was eventually agreed, he said, and he understood that a payment of $2m was passed, via a Kazakh oil and gas company, to Payne’s firm.
The following May, Cheney made a brief trip to Kazakhstan. His visit was remarked upon in the media at the time, both for the lavish praise which he publicly heaped on Nazarbayev and for the stark contrast between this and a speech he had made just a day earlier at a conference in Lithuania in which he had lambasted Russia for being insufficiently democratic. Now he was lauding Nazarbayev, who has effectively made himself president for life and in whose country it is an offence to criticise him.
“Why did Cheney castigate Russia’s imperfect democracy while saying not a word about Kazakhstan’s shameless travesty of the democratic system?” said one newspaper following the visit. “Cheney’s flattery of the Kazakh regime was sickening,” said another.
Dos believes some of the money paid to WSP may have found its way to “entities” connected to the Bush administration.
“Cheney’s possible, definitely the national security adviser [Stephen Hadley], definitely either Dr Rice or . . . I think a meeting with Dr Rice or the deputy secretary [John Negroponte] is possible.”Payne will of course get a pardon, if he ever actually gets charged with anything by the pro-GOP DoJ. Just like Marc Rich got a pardon from Clinton after his ex-wife donated $450,000 to the Clinton library.