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Harut Sassounian: Former House Majority Leader Sells His Soul for Fistful of Dollars

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Tuesday, 19 August 2014 10:05


Washington has long-suffered from unethical politicians, but the prize for the top hypocrite on an Armenian issue goes to former Cong. Richard Gephardt who served as House Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995 and Minority Leader from 1995 to 2003.

After championing the recognition of the Armenian Genocide for over two decades, Gephardt retired from the House of Representatives in 2005, and began enriching himself by lobbying against the very issue that he had staunchly defended in Congress!

Taking advantage of Turkish paranoia on the eve of the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, the Gephardt Group Government Affairs expanded earlier this year its long-standing lobbying relationship with the Republic of Turkey. The new contract, worth $1.4 million per year, includes subcontractors Dickstein Shapiro ($531,000 per year), Greenberg Traurig ($314,000 per year), Lydia Borland ($180,000 per year), and Brian Forni ($78,000 per year). The Gephardt Group and its subcontractors agreed to provide the following services to Turkey:

"(a) Proposing and pursuing passage of legislation and other U.S. government action that promotes Turkey's interests and provides a positive image of Turks, Turkey and the United States-Turkey relationship,
(b) Preserving and enlarging the Congressional Caucus on Turkey and Turkish Americans,
(c) Educating members of Congress and the Administration on issues of importance to Turkey,
(d) Promptly notifying Turkey of any action in Congress or the Executive Branch on issues of importance to Turkey,
(e) Preparing brief analyses of developments in Congress and the Executive Branch on particular issues of concern to Turkey,
(f) Identifying official gatherings and social events to which [Turkish] Embassy personnel ought, in the Gephardt Group's opinion, attend, including to the extent possible, obtaining the necessary invitations,
(g) Identifying and/or arranging speaking engagements locally and nationally for [Turkish] Embassy personnel or their appointed or suggested proxies in fora that will improve Turkey's image and advance its causes on Capitol Hill. Such would be, if so directed by Turkey, coordinated with Turkey's existing public relations service provider(s), and
(h) Maintaining and forging alliances with other interest groups whose goals are similar to or shared by Turkey."

Significantly, subcontractor Greenberg Traurig's responsibilities include: "develop and utilize contacts at the State and Defense Departments, and the National Security Council to convey the seriousness of the genocide issue and the potential threat it poses to the U.S./Turkey relationship."

While there are plenty of sleazy lobbyists in Washington, none can match Gephardt's shocking transformation from a leading supporter of Armenian Genocide recognition to a genocide denialist! The early years of Gephardt's shameful flip-flop on this critical moral issue was revealed by The New Republic in its July 23, 2007 article titled, "K Street Cashes in on the 1915 Armenian Genocide." Throughout his 26 years in Congress, Cong. Gephardt co-sponsored several genocide Resolutions and repeatedly spoke on the importance of recognizing the Armenian Genocide. In 2000, Gephardt and two other House Democrats co-signed a letter to then-Speaker Dennis Hastert urging him to schedule an immediate vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

In January 2005, barely days after leaving his House seat, Gephardt opened his consulting and lobbying firm in Washington, D.C. From 2005 to 2009, he became a strategic adviser on government affairs for the international law firm of DLA Piper, which was paid $100,000 per month to represent the interests of Turkey, including lobbying against the pending House Resolution on the Armenian Genocide! The New Republic reported that Gephardt arranged meetings between members of the Turkish parliament and House Democratic leaders, helped Turkey's U.S. Ambassador to gain an audience with "a skeptical Nancy Pelosi," and circulated a booklet titled "An Appeal to Reason," that denied the Armenian Genocide.

Armenian-Americans and all people of good will should not remain silent while Gephardt enriches himself with Turkish blood money! They should warn his lobbying firm's clients -- Anheuser-Busch, Boeing, Chevron, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Google, Los Angeles Airport, National Football League, Port of Oakland, and United Airlines -- that they will boycott their products and services unless these firms cancelled their contracts with the Gephardt Group. Letters of complaint should also be sent to Ford Motor Company and The Scripps Research Institute for giving Gephardt a seat on their Board of Directors.

Finally, readers should write directly to Dick Gephardt, Gephardt Government Affairs, 1101 K Street, N.W., Suite 310, Washington, D.C. 2005 or send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , admonishing him for his highly unethical behavior!

By Harut Sassounian

Aroutin Hartounian: Short of Putting Boots on the Ground, US Must Spare no Effort to Stop ISIS

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Monday, 18 August 2014 00:22

AroutinIn a relatively short time, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a new fundamentalist movement has made a name for itself and has garnered a "reputation" as being one of the most brutal and bloodthirsty non-state actors of the Middle East. While ISIS was originally composed of and supported by Al-Qaeda and other infamous jihadist groups, the sheer brutality and the indiscriminate nature of ISIS's methods employed by the ISIS has led others to distance themselves from it.

ISIS has taken control of and consolidated its power over large swaths of Syria and Iraq. In doing so, ISIS has forcefully converted the so-called "infidels" or nonbelievers of the regions under its control using the power of its sword. Recently, the Christians living in the territories controlled by the ISIS, ethnic Arab or otherwise, including the Assyrian minority woke up to find their doors marked with the Arabic letter "N," for [Jesus of] Nazarene, leaving them exposed and vulnerable to religious-based attacks. Also, those who questioned the ISIS' authority on political grounds, such as the Kurds who seek autonomy and eventual independence, have been targeted by the ISIS. To establish its "caliphate," ISIS has become responsible for the murder of thousands and thousands of innocent civilians, including Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Yezidis, as well as Arab Shias and Christians. Hundreds of thousands more have been forced to flee their homes with no hope in sight. Through its mass executions, as well as burying alive of men, women, and children, ISIS has caused the outrage of the international community. The latest horrific images of Yezidis fleeing into the mountains once again reminded us of the evil and cancerous nature of the ISIS. As human beings, and as citizens of a Nation which champions human rights and justice, we cannot fail to share the pain endured by the victims of ISIS.

ISIS was once, and perhaps still to a large degree is the worst nightmare for Syria's Assad and his allies. Yet, as time goes on, it becomes clear that in the case of ISIS, the concept of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" has failed miserably. Already, hundreds of jihadist fighters and supporters from the Western nations have flocked into the region to support the ISIS. In the coming years, these disillusioned men and women who carry American and European passports, yet harbor strong anti-American and anti-Western beliefs will be the greatest threat to our national security. And many more will be emboldened by ISIS' continued and unchecked advances and join its ranks. US is no longer in a position to be a passive bystander.

While we are not ready for yet another Gulf War, short of placing American boots on the Iraqi or Syrian sands, America and its allies have a moral responsibility to take any and all measures to stop the ISIS. On a humanitarian front, US should continue to provide aid to and assist the evacuation of the refugees fleeing the ISIS. Without risking the lives of our soldiers, America can and should arm and train those fighting the jihadist group. While there is a certain risk in any military operation, consistent and to a large degree precise airstrikes can cripple the ISIS thus allowing the anti-ISIS forces to stop its expansion and even drive it back into hiding. And while a perfect political solution to a fragile Iraq is difficult to imagine, it is in the interest of all parties to deal with the ISIS in a coordinated manner and through a unified front.

The time to act is now. Otherwise, the genocidal campaign of the ISIS will march on to other corners of the Middle East and beyond.

Aroutin Hartounian, Esq.


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