[Readings] | Many People Have Done Worse, by Benjamine Levine | Harper's Magazine

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[Readings]

Many People Have Done Worse

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From a video recording of a July meeting in London between Stephen Payne and Yerzhan Dosmukhamedov. Payne is president of the lobbying firm Worldwide Strategic Partners. Dosmukhamedov, a.k.a. Eric Dos, is a former politician who is currently in exile from Kazakhstan. In an undercover operation arranged by the Sunday Times of London, Dosmukhamedov posed as a representative of Askar Akayev, a former president of Kyrgyzstan who was ousted from power three years ago. After the video was released, Payne resigned as a member of the advisory council to the Department of Homeland Security.

Eric Dos: So, what would it involve to arrange that visit?

 

Stephen Payne: That’s all he wants, to arrange the visit? Who does he want to meet in Washington?

Dos: Well, of course, the president, Vice President Cheney. So he can explain the situation in Central Asia, to give his side of the story.

Payne: Sure, that can be worked out. I can’t promise that we can get to the president, but the situation in Kyrgyzstan is worse now than it was before. That’s a given. I think some things could be done. The family, children, whatever, should probably look at making a contribution to the Bush Library. How big, I don’t know yet. Not a huge amount but enough to show they’re serious. Maybe a couple hundred thousand dollars. That would get the attention of the people raising the money. The main thing is that he comes and he’s well received, he meets with high-level people in the administration, and, most important, the administration makes positive statements, like, This guy wasn’t so bad; many people have done worse. Those kinds of statements from people in the administration, maybe Senator Biden on the Democratic side. Is he interested in going back and running for president? Anything like that?

Dos: Yes.

Payne: Okay. See, I understand what he wants. He basically wants vindication from the United States. He wants the United States simply to say, He wasn’t a bad president, and the people were misled. I’ll come up with the exact budget, but it will be somewhere between $600,000 and $750,000, with about a third of it going directly to the Bush Library. That’s going to be a show of, We’re interested, we’re still your friends.

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