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America is not corrupt! Special people unfortunately yes!

America is not corrupt! Special people unfortunately yes!

by Genc Pollo

Two facts and two comments

Fact 1: the Bilali case

In February 2017, a federal court in New Jersey, USA sentenced the Albanian-American Bilal Shehu to conditional imprisonment; in September 2019, the same court sentenced the American William Argeros to prison (without bail) as an accomplice. The charge was illegal campaign financing of a presidential candidate. But the court found that the defendants did not intend to influence the election result and considered this a mitigating circumstance. In v. 2012, The Argeros transferred 80,000 dollars to your bank account from a businessman in Albania who was elected deputy of the Socialist Party and benefited from government tenders. Argeros handed this money to Bilal Shehu, who donated it to the Obama Victory Fund. This made it possible for Edi Rama, accompanied by Bilal Shehu, to be present at an electoral event of Barack Obama and photographed with him. In the public memory, this case has remained as "Bilal's wife" since the two visitors were surprisingly marked as "Mr. Shehu and spouse" in the event register. 

Argeros' lawyer stated that his client had acted on behalf of Edi Rama, currently Prime Minister of Albania. According to the Associated Press, Rama's office had denied having anything to do with the case. 

Fact 2: the McGonigal case 

In January of this year, the US Department of Justice published the indictment against former FBI agent Charles McGonigal, who had ended his career as a director for the state of New York. From that text where Rama's name appears more than a dozen times, as well as from the sources of the accusation contacted by some American media, McGonigal had received money from people trusted by Rama, information from Rama's office that would serve to pressure and neutralize the chairman of the Democratic Party. American sources increasingly suspect that McGonigal was also used to blacklist the former chairman of this party and the current chairman Sali Berisha. In addition, McGonigal, through the Rama government, tried to make profits in the oil industry with private investigations on behalf of politicians and extorted millions from government oligarchs through blackmail. 

Prime Minister Rama reacted by saying that he did not commit any illegal or unethical activity in this matter but acted in the service of the state's interest. He further asserted that America is incorruptible and that the "narratives" surrounding the McGonigal scandal are "bottlenecks." 

Comment 1: on the claim America is incorruptible

The history of the United States has countless cases of corruption and abuse of office. Just like other states have, whether functional democracies, hybrid regimes, or dictatorships. The most well-known are recruitment cases through the financial enticement of CIA and FBI agents, officials, and scientists from the espionage of unfriendly states such as sh: the Soviet Union and later Russia and China. The most numerous are cases with police officers, mayors, and congress members. With the current political polarization, accusations of moneybag corruption were heard recently, even in the debate between the candidates for the White House. It was unpleasant! But in functional democracies, there is the separation of powers, parliamentary oversight, an independent judiciary, and free media. This causes cases of corruption and abuse to be denounced, exposed, investigated, and judged. It doesn't always happen that way; even democracy, like everything human, is imperfect. But in general, it occurs because the democratic system enables it. What cannot be said about hybrid regimes and dictatorships? In this light, the statement, Mister, the claim that "America is not corrupt," seems well-founded. But fear that Rama tries to confuse particular Americans with America.

Because American citizens without an office (as in Fact 1) or with an office (as in Fact 2) can be lured and corrupted and then break the law. The way things have turned out, it seems that no one else on the globe knows this better than Edi Rama. 

Comment 2: on the sui generis influence from Albania                      

The Bilali-Argeros court case in the USA had media coverage and numerous comments. Among the latter, I remember the analysis of a political scientist who saw Rama's attempt to meet and take a photo with Obama as unique. According to him, many politicians from all over the world invest much more than 80 thousand USD to have access to American decision-makers. But they do this to influence American policies in favor of their countries, as a rule, in security, development aid, and trade. The Rama-Obama case was first known when the investment was made for a photo that would likely influence public opinion and the electorate's vote in the other state - concludes the political scientist. 

We would be curious what this political scientist would write if he knew all the aspects of the McGonigal scandal reported by the media. The contrast remains strong: Soviet and later Russian agents paid a fortune to recruit American spies to find military and strategic secrets, while from Albania, we have the head of the government personally handling the recruit and directing him against the political opposition; and when they finished this work, they were engaged in business, blackmail, and extortion. Sui generis squared, I would bet. 

*Former minister and MP

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