FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The "Vetting" of Bernard Kerik and the Culture of Corruption

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

 

I blew it. I recently wrote a CounterPunch piece on Hypocrisy and how it seems to have permeated every aspect of American life here in what Alexander Cockburn calls, “a very interesting time in the life of the Empire.”

I noted the strange “Ethics Refresher Course” that some 3000 White House employees were recently put through. I noted that White House ethics layer Richard Painter was in charge of the curriculum. All good, so far.

But, I was dead wrong in also claiming that it was Painter who “vetted Bernard Kerik” to succeed Tom Ridge at the Cabinet-level top position in the Department of Homeland Security. In actuality, the Kerik fiasco came about before Painter took the job. After being tipped off to my error by an astute reader (and after kicking myself for getting it wrong), I asked CP co-editor Jeffery St. Clair to take down the article from the website (which he did) and informed him that I would like to do this correction. (If not, the irony of my own hypocrisy would be more than I could take.)

 

Who Done It?

Of course, I also went back over the issue and have tried mightily to find out just who DID vet Kerik. I honestly cannot figure it out. It wasn’t Painter’s predecessor Nanette Everson and it doesn’t seem to have been then-White House counsel and current Attorney General Roberto Gonzales.

I’ll continue to dig; but at this time, it appears to me that no one vetted Kerik. It seems that George W. Bush just took Rudolph (Rudy) Giuliani’s word on the former New York Police Commissioner and then-CEO of Giuliani-Kerik LLC and it went forward from there, complete with Bush’s usual gushing endorsement to the press: “I’m proud to announce my nomination of Commissioner Bernard Kerik as the Secretary of Homeland Security. In every position, he has demonstrated a deep commitment to justice, a heart for the innocent and a record of great success.”

James Hamilton, who vetted nominees for Clinton when he was first elected, said about Kerik’s failed nomination; “In any good vet, tax matters, marital matters, business matters are explored in great detail.” However, I can see how this could occur: “Hey, he’s a tough cop. He was indispensable on 9/11. He’s a loyal Republican”

Naturally, the Democrats were in collusion. Both of New York’s two Democratic senators, Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton issued statements praising Kerik after the nomination was announced. Even after it blew up, Schumer defended his Big Apple-centric position, “I thought the No. 1 issue was to be a fighter for New York. Period. That’s why I supported him.”

Clinton bleated out her now customary excuse about being misled.
A Culture of Corruption

Of course, Kerik’s (and by extension, Giuliani’s) woes are far from over. Potential tax problems regarding his Mexican nanny were the justification for his withdrawal from the nomination for the Homeland Security position. But, as I noted, that was the least of his problems which include an outstanding arrest warrant at the time of nomination; charges of insider trading (in which he pocketed $6.2 million on his sale of Taser stock which he received for merely serving on the Taser board); extramarital shenanigans; violations of ethics rules covering gifts; etc.

Now, it has come out that Kerik has been accused by New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement of accepting over $200,000 in renovations from a contracting company with alleged mob ties. The contractor, Interstate Industrial Corporation also gave Kerik’s brother, Donald, an $85,000 per year job at the same time that Bernard Kerik was using his influence on behalf of Interstate. During the New Jersey agency’s investigation, Kerik took the Fifth eight times and refused to answer questions or to produce documents related to his ties with Interstate.

Both the Bronx district attorney and New York’s Department of Investigation are examining Kerik’s connections to the contractor. First item of business? Find out if Giuliani knew any of this, which took place when Kerik was Correction Commissioner in the 1990’s, at the time Giuliani appointed Kerik as Police Commissioner in 2000.

 

The Security “Watchdog”

As to Kerik these days; for the past six months he’s been serving as security consultant to the Jordanian government. Yep. The guy Giuliani praised as “one of the most capable law enforcement experts in the country” not only was New York’s top cop when 9/11 went down; it was also on his watch that the Jordanian capital Amman was bombed November 9, 2005.

With a Homeland Security “record of great success” like this, no wonder no one’s fingerprints show up on any ethics investigation into Bush’s proud nomination.

MICHAEL DONNELLY regrets having placed Richard Painter in the midst of this debacle and wishes Painter success in countering the “culture of corruption” that permeates DC. He will still — very carefully — record examples of Hypocrisy. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com

 

MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at pahtoo@aol.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 30, 2017
William R. Polk
What Must be Done in the Time of Trump
Howard Lisnoff
Enough of Russia! There’s an Epidemic of Despair in the US
Ralph Nader
Crash of Trumpcare Opens Door to Full Medicare for All
Carol Polsgrove
Gorsuch and the Power of the Executive: Behind the Congressional Stage, a Legal Drama Unfolds
Michael J. Sainato
Fox News Should Finally Dump Bill O’Reilly
Kenneth Surin
Former NC Governor Pat McCory’s Job Search Not Going Well
Binoy Kampmark
The Price of Liberation: Slaughtering Civilians in Mosul
Bruce Lesnick
Good Morning America!
William Binney and Ray McGovern
The Surveillance State Behind Russia-gate: Will Trump Take on the Spooks?
Jill Richardson
Gutting Climate Protections Won’t Bring Back Coal Jobs
Robert Pillsbury
Maybe It’s Time for Russia to Send Us a Wake-Up Call
Prudence Crowther
Swamp Rats Sue Trump
March 29, 2017
Jeffrey Sommers
Donald Trump and Steve Bannon: Real Threats More Serious Than Fake News Trafficked by Media
David Kowalski
Does Washington Want to Start a New War in the Balkans?
Patrick Cockburn
Bloodbath in West Mosul: Civilians Being Shot by Both ISIS and Iraqi Troops
Ron Forthofer
War and Propaganda
Matthew Stevenson
Letter From Phnom Penh
James Bovard
Peanuts Prove Congress is Incorrigible
Thomas Knapp
Presidential Golf Breaks: Good For America
Binoy Kampmark
Disaster as Joy: Cyclone Debbie Strikes
Peter Tatchell
Human Rights are Animal Rights!
George Wuerthner
Livestock Grazing vs. the Sage Grouse
Jesse Jackson
Trump Should Form a Bipartisan Coalition to Get Real Reforms
Thomas Mountain
Rwanda Indicts French Generals for 1994 Genocide
Clancy Sigal
President of Pain
Andrew Stewart
President Gina Raimondo?
Lawrence Wittner
Can Our Social Institutions Catch Up with Advances in Science and Technology?
March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail