Did Adnan Khashoggi Throw the Election to Dubya?

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Dec. 4 2000 5:56 PM

Did Adnan Khashoggi Throw the Election to Dubya?

On Dec. 1, the "Washington Wire" column in the Wall Street Journal published this gratifyingly noir item about the postelection drama in Florida:

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"Madame Butterfly" Theresa LePore wasn't always an embattled Palm Beach ballots chief. In the 1980s, she moonlighted as a flight attendant on private planes owned by Saudi weapons dealer Adnan Khashoggi, a middleman in Reagan administration arms sales to Iran.

Connoisseurs of Khashoggi-centric conspiracy theories should have little difficulty using this information to finger Khashoggi as the mastermind of the plot to deny Al Gore the presidency. Khashoggi has close ties, from Iran-Contra and elsewhere, to the Republicans, and vaguely defined ties to Dubya's father. (In a 1990 court case, Khashoggi's phone records revealed that Khashoggi had spoken at least twice with George Bush's vice-presidential office during 1985 and 1986.) LePore worked for Khashoggi during the 1980s, when, according to her official biography, she was chief deputy supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County, a job she held until 1996, when she was elected supervisor of elections. Ergo, LePore has been working as a Khashoggi asset to elect the son of Khashoggi's old comrade-in-arms, George Bush!

Chatterbox doesn't actually believe this, of course. But the Journal's tidbit does provide an occasion to play one of Chatterbox's favorite games, "Six Degrees of Adnan Khashoggi," in which the shadowy international arms merchant is connected to every scandal of the past 40 years and some that occurred even earlier. (It helps that Khashoggi is a "connector," to borrow a term from Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point. Click here for Gladwell's explanation of how connectors rule the universe, and click here to read Chatterbox's favorable review of The Tipping Point in the Washington Monthly. See also Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball's classic 1987 New Republic article, "The Swami of Iranamok," which describes the connector role played by Khashoggi's spiritual adviser, Shri Chandra Swamiji Maharaj.) "Six Degrees of Adnan Khashoggi" is a slightly misleading name for this parlor game because in Khashoggi's case, it's rarely more than one or two degrees. Allow Chatterbox to demonstrate:

Iran-Contra. Khashoggi brought Manucher Ghorbanifar, Iranian arms buyer, into contact with the arms-selling Israelis. Khashoggi himself provided crucial bridge loans and lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million in the whole affair.

Imelda Marcos' Shoe Collection. In 1990, Khashoggi was tried, and acquitted, on charges that he helped the Marcoses conceal ownership of four buildings in New York.

Wedtech. Remember e.bob wallach, the crony of Ed Meese who, maddeningly, spelled his name in lowercase letters? wallach was an adviser to Wedtech Corp., a now-defunct Bronx-based minority contractor to the Pentagon. In that capacity, he tried to get Khashoggi onto Wedtech's board. Khashoggi never joined Wedtech's board. wallach was eventually convicted of defrauding Wedtech.

BCCI. The most complicated bank scandal in human history. Khashoggi had a big account with BCCI's Monte Carlo branch.

The Death of Princess Di. Khashoggi was the uncle of Dodi Fayed, Di's rich boyfriend, in whose speeding limo both Dodi and Di perished.

The Gaudiness of Donald Trump. Trump bought his yacht, the Trump Princess, from Khashoggi (apparently via the Sultan of Brunei) after Iran-Contra put Khashoggi's finances in a brief tailspin.