Monitor Group, a Cambridge, Massachusetts international consulting firm, has admitted it did not register as a foreign agent from 2006 to 2008, despite multi-million dollar contracts with Libya’s regime of Muammar Khadafy.
Monitor Group’s failure to comply with the Foreign Agent Registration Act despite doing lobby and public relations work for the Libyan dictator is purportedly because of a “misunderstanding” of the law’s requirements. A hard sell like that requires a good mouthpiece and Monitor went to the A-list of law firms.
Attorney General Eric Holder left Covington and Burling to become the nation’s top law officer. The law firm, with offices in a half-dozen foreign cities, boasts numerous former United States government lawyers in its ranks filling a list nine pages long. Eleven Covington and Burling lawyers used to work in the White House.
While Monitor Group was conducting its unreported lobby work for Khadafy’s regime, Michael Chertoff was Secretary of Homeland Security and on guard against Libyan terrorism. Now Chertoff works at Covington and Burling and if things heat up at the Justice Department might find himself working for Khadafy’s touts at Monitor Group.
Covington and Burling knows all about the Foreign Agent Registration Act because the law firm is itself a registered foreign agent for the Ivory Coast, Liechtenstein, and the Philippines.
Justice Department prosecutions under FARA are rare and voluntary compliance is urged. However, occasionally a high-profile case draws enough attention that prosecution commences. One example of a FARA conviction that may have Monitor Group CEO Mark Fuller sweating is that of a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Mark Siljander is a former U.S. Representative from Michigan and represented the United States in the United Nations. Siljander also worked, without registering under FARA, for an Islamic charity linked to Osama Bin Laden.
Siljander ran a consulting business called Global Strategies but ended up pleading guilty. In July 2010, Siljander pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice over his unreported lobby work to remove the charity from a terrorist watch list.
In a news release announcing Siljander’s guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips quickly disposed of the “misunderstanding” defense that Monitor Group is attempting to use for its Libyan work.
Phillips said, “Federal law requires anyone who serves as an agent of a foreign entity, including an organization, to register with the U.S. Attorney General.”
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