Profit Motive Spins Revolving-Door Policymaking at State

Article excerpt

The Washington Post has reported that an official abruptly left the National Security Council after his efforts to influence a diamond negotiation for Maurice Tempelsman, chairman of Lazare Kaplan International, were publicized. (Tempelsman, a major Democratic Party supporter, is attempting to become the primary broker for Angolan diamonds.) But Washington has not been told about the quiet stampede of State Department officials into the welcoming arms of the Angola lobby. The issue needs to be aired and merits congressional scrutiny.

According to guidelines established by the Clinton administration's Office on Government Ethics, "Former senior and very senior employees are restricted for one year after leaving Government service from representing, aiding or advising foreign governments or foreign political parties before an agency or department of the United States. If the matter was under the employee's official responsibility during the last year of Government service, then the employee is barred for two years after leaving Government service from representing anyone back to the Government on the same matter."

In 1992 Herman Cohen, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, publicly declared candidate Bill Clinton would, if elected, recognize the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, government -- the longtime ally of Russia and Cuba -- without the runoff election ordered by the United Nations. Two days later, an MPLA pogrom in Luanda was launched against the supporters of MPLA nemesis, Jonas Savimbi, while the embassies of the United States and other Western powers shunned asylum-seekers. Shortly after Clinton granted official recognition to a new "democratic" Angolan government in 1993, former secretary Cohen, in partnership with the Pentagon's former chief Africa official James Woods, signed a lobbying contract with the Angolan regime. Another high-ranking State Department official-turned-MPLA lobbyist, Robert Cabelly, left the State Department in 1995 and became an employee of Fleishman-Hillard International Communications. While there, Cabelly helped his firm win a $1.2 million contract from the MPLA. Cabelly later founded his own firm on the basis of an Angolan government contract. The former U.S. ambassador to Angola, Edmund De Jarnette, quit the Foreign Service in 1995. Eight months later he assumed leadership of the U.S.-Angola Chamber of Commerce, which has close ties to U.S. corporations doing business in Angola.

Many of Angola's election observers now question whether pending contracts between these officials and the lobbyists influenced the balloting procedures of Angola's first-ever democratic elections in 1992, which were marred by charges of fraud at dozens of locations. …