Barbour, Griffith and Roger in the spotlight

Gale Courey Toensing
4/30/07

WASHINGTON - Barbour, Griffith and Roger has been in the media spotlight for activities other than its lobbying of Washington decision-makers to terminate the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation's federal acknowledgement.

The Financial Times reported recently on the Taiwan National Security Council's early termination of a $4.5 million contract with BGR, whose chairman, Ed Rogers, is a longtime Republican administration insider.

The contract termination was said to reflect ''internal political tensions'' among Taiwanese officials, but it came at a time when BGR was embroiled in litigation involving allegations that the firm and Diligence LLC, one of BGR's offshoots, engaged in corporate espionage on behalf of the Alfa Group, one of BGR's biggest clients, the report said.

The lawsuit filed by IPOC International Growth Fund, an offshore business, accuses Diligence of impersonating intelligence agents to illegally obtain information on an IPOC audit, the Legal Times reported.

Diligence and another BGR offshoot called New Bridge Strategies were set up in 2003 to take advantage of ''business opportunities'' provided by the Iraq war, according to Source Watch. The three companies are intricately connected to the Bush administration and Republican politics.

Rogers is vice chair of both New Bridge Strategies and Diligence. He served in the White House during the Reagan administration, on the Bush/Quayle campaign and in the current Bush administration. He co-founded BGR with Haley Barbour, the current governor of Mississippi, a longtime Republican insider and former longtime Republican National Committee chairman.

Robert Blackwill, former ambassador to India, former deputy national security adviser to the current administration and former Iraq administrator, is BGR's president.

New Bridge Strategies is headed by Joe Allbaugh, Bush's campaign manager in 2000 and the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency until March 2003. Lanny Griffith, CEO of BGR, is a director of New Bridge, according to The New York Times.

Neil Bush, the president's brother, has been paid a $60,000 annual consulting fee by New Bridge to aid in the procurement of contracts for companies seeking to do business in Iraq.

When the company was set up in 2003, its Web site - www.newbridgestrategies.com - said, ''The opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington, D.C., and on the ground in Iraq,'' according to a New York Times report.

The Washington Post quoted an unidentified New Bridge partner as saying: ''Getting the rights to distribute Procter and Gamble products would be a gold mine. One well-stocked 7-Eleven could knock out 30 Iraqi stores; a Wal-Mart could take over the country.''

A visit to the Web site now yields the message: ''new bridgestrategies.com expired on 04/15/2007 and is pending renewal or deletion.''

The war in Iraq has been very profitable for BGR. According to reports in O'Dwyers PR Daily, the Washington Post and The New York Times, among BGR/Diligence/New Bridge's deals are:

* $29,000 a month since 2004 from the Kurdish Democratic Party ''to ensure that Iraqi Kurdistan maintains its autonomy from Baghdad in the new Iraq Government'' and for the ''return of oil-rich Kirkuk, which Saddam Hussein had 'Arabized' as the capital of the region, to Kurdistan.''

* $300,000 in February 2005 with the government of Qatar ''to smooth relations with the Bush administration.''

* $300,000 for a six-month contract in 2006 with the ''National Dialogue Party'' of Lebanon and its chairman, Fouad Makhzoumi, a wealthy American-educated Lebanese businessman who made his initial fortune developing private industrial groups of companies in Saudi Arabia.

In March 2007, Rogers and Blackwell wrote an opinion piece in the conservative Washington Times, defending former Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, along with his fellow neoconservatives and a friend, Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi who had lived in the United States for decades and advised and encouraged the invasion of his homeland.

When asked for his opinion of the magnitude of the political power BGR brought against his 300-member tribe, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation Chief Richard Velky declined to comment.

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