bureaucracybusters

A REMEDY FOR BLACKMAIL

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on April 18, 2016 at 12:06 am

On May 28, 2015, Hastert, the former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives (1999-2007) was indicted for violating Federal banking laws and lying to the FBI.  

He had tried to conceal $3.5 million he had paid since 2010 to a man whom he had molested as a high school student. The student had been on the wrestling team that Hastert had coached.

The relationship had occurred while Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School in Yorkville, Ill. 

Later, in 1981, Hastert entered Congress. 

On October 28, 2015, Hastert pleaded guilty to structuring money transactions in a way to avoid requirements to report where the money was going.  

Dennis Hastert

“I felt a special bond with our wrestlers,” Hastert wrote in his 2004 memoirs, Speaker: Lessons From Forty Years of Coaching and Politics. “And I think they felt one with me.”

Apparently that “special bond” extended to activities outside the ring.

In the pre-sentence  report, Justice Department prosecutors charged that Hastert had abused four young boys when he was their wrestling coach.  One was only 14 years old.  

Hastert had claimed that a coach should never strip away another person’s dignity.  

But, said federal prosecutors, “that is exactly what defendant did to his victims. He made them feel alone, ashamed, guilty, and devoid of dignity.”  

Hastert’s sentencing, delayed because of health problems, is now scheduled for April 27.

Thus, irony: By giving in to blackmail, Hastert:

  • Lost $3.5 million;
  • Unintentionally engineered his arrest and indictment; and
  • Ensured that his darkest secret would be revealed.

There is a lesson to be learned here–one that longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover well understood: Giving in to blackmail only empowers the blackmailer even more.

As William C. Sullivan, the onetime director of the FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Divison, revealed after Hoover’s death in 1972:

“The moment [Hoover] would get something on a senator, he’d send one of the errand boys up and advise the senator that ‘we’re in the course of an investigation, and we by chance happened to come up with this data on your daughter.

“‘But we wanted you to know this. We realize you’d want to know it.’ Well, Jesus, what does that tell the senator? From that time on, the senator’s right in his pocket.”

“Boy, the dirt he [Hoover] has on those Senators!” John F. Kennedy–a former Senator now President–gushed to his journalist-friend, Benjamin C. Bradlee.

Kennedy soon came to know that even Presidents could be targeted for blackmail.

In May, 1962, Hoover privately informed Kennedy that the FBI had learned that Judith Campbell, the mistress of Chicago Mafia boss Sam Giancana, had another bedmate: JFK himself.

John F. Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover and Robert F. Kennedy

Hoover had feared being retired by the President’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. It had been RFK who had ordered Hoover to attack the Mafia as he had long attacked the Communist Party USA.

Now, as a result of that anti-Mob effort, the FBI had picked up evidence linking the President with the mistress of a top Mafia boss.

Hoover’s tenure as FBI director was thus assured–until his death on May 2, 1972, of a heart attack.

Narcotics agents have their own methods of blackmail in dealing with informants.

When a drug-abuser and/or dealer is coerced into becoming a “snitch,” the narcotics agent orders him to call another user/dealer he knows.

The agent then tapes the call–and makes sure his new informant knows it.  From that moment, the “snitch” knows there’s no way out except cooperating with his new master.

The only effective way of handling blackmail was demonstrated by Arthur Wellesley, known to history as the Duke of Wellington.

The Duke of Wellington

In 1815, he had defeated Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo, ending France’s longstanding threat to England.  With that victory came the honors of a grateful nation.

Then, in December, 1824, Wellington found himself the target of blackmail by Joseph Stockdale, a pornographer and scandal-monger.

“My Lord Duke,” Stockdale write in a letter, “In Harriette Wilson’s memoirs, which I am about to publish, are various anecdotes of Your Grace which it would be most desirable to withhold….

“I have stopped the Press for the moment, but as the publication will take place next week, little delay can necessarily take place.”

Wilson was a famous London courtesan past her prime, then living in exile in Paris.  She was asking Wellington to pay money to be left out of her memoirs.

From Wellington came the now-famous reply: “Publish and be damned!”

Wilson’s memoirs appeared in installments, naming half the British aristocracy and scandalizing London society.

And, true to her threat, she named Wellington as one of her lovers–and a not very satisfying one at that.

Wellington was a national hero, husband and father. Even so, his reputation did not suffer, and he went on to become prime minister.

Click here: Rear Window: When Wellington said publish and be damned: The Field Marshal and the Scarlet Woman – Voices

Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the House, might now wish he had followed the example of the Duke of Wellington.

His reputation might have been trashed, but he wouldn’t now be facing prosecution.

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