The July issue of Harper’s features a brilliant exposé piece by DC Editor Ken Silverstein (the author of the Washington Babylon blog at this site) entitled “Their Men in Washington.” For this piece, Ken went undercover as the representative of a fictitious “consulting group” with shadowy ties to the government of Turkmenistan – a regime which is perhaps second only to North Korea on the gauge of human suppression.
The object of this exercise was to expose the dark underside of Washington, the lobbying groups which peddle their influence to anyone for the right amount of cash. Ken’s focus throughout his career has been the lobbying industry and its decisive role in our political culture. Added to this, he has developed an expertise in Central Asian matters that is unequaled among journalists (we first met when he was researching an important story on Kazakhstan’s ruler for the Los Angeles Times). Yet nothing reflects the corruption of the cash-for-influence culture of Washington quite so directly as his current piece.
In it, you’ll see exactly how raw influence and access are peddled for hard cash. But as an introduction, I strongly recommend that you watch Bill Moyers’s interview with Ken from last night. Moyers’s show is the new hit of the PBS line-up, and the interview with Silverstein is another demonstration of the sort of quality of which this medium is capable in the hands of two pros. Watch the interview on the Moyers website.