How the representative from American Samoa became Bahrain's man in Washington

For ProPublica, Justin Elliot tells the unlikely story of Eni Faleomavaega, the non-voting congressional delegate from American Samoa who has become the Bahraini government's staunchest defender on Capitol Hill: 

But this week he is taking a trip to Bahrain, his second in the past year, both paid for by the Bahraini government. It's part of a year-long friendship the congressman has developed with the tiny Gulf nation.

Last March, just weeks into the crisis, Faleomavaega emerged seemingly out of nowhere -- he has no history of commenting on Mideast affairs -- to enter a 2,500-word statement [5] into the Congressional Record that closely echoed the Bahraini government's spin. "Bahrain is under attack," he said, painting protesters as violent, Iran-backed vandals representing "the worst kind of seditious infiltration from a foreign enemy." He praised the Crown Prince for supposedly meeting protesters' demands for democratic reforms.

"Mr. Speaker," Faleomavaega said. "I have to ask why the demonstrators returned to protesting again, even after all their demands were agreed to."

Just days before, the government had torn down [6] the iconic Pearl Monument at the center of the protests and Saudi Arabian tanks had rolled into Bahrain to back up the government crackdown.

Not surprisingly, there's a lobbyist connection behind Faleomavaega's sudden interest in Bahrain, but also cameo appearances by the Northern Virginia Mormon community and the tuna industry. In the past, Faleomavaega has used his position to defend Kazakhstan's human rights record as well. 

SAM YEH/AFP/Getty Images


Romney campaign embraces radical transparency

Romney's camp seems to be pushing its luck with the aftermath of last week's "hot mic" incident judging by this response to a request from the Obama campaign for the candidate's tax records from his time at Bain capital:

“The Obama campaign is playing politics, just as he’s doing in his conduct of foreign policy," Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul wrote. "Obama should release the notes and transcripts of all his meetings with world leaders so the American people can be satisfied that he’s not promising to sell out the country’s interests after the election is over.”

The argument that all statecraft should be conducted in public so that voters can be sure there's nothing nefarious going on is a pretty impractical one, as quite a few people pointed out when WikiLeaks was making it. (Romney described the WikiLeaks CableGate release as "treason" for what it's worth.)

But questions of practicality aside, it's tempting to wonder just what might be in those transcripts -- or what Romney hopes is in them:

Obama: Mahmoud, I've got to keep up this sanctions stuff until the election. Then I'll get you those centrifuges. 

Ahmadinejad: I will transmit this information to the Supreme Leader. 


Obama: It's an election season, Hu. You know I've got to talk tough. Next year, I promise I'll get you those 100,000 American jobs I promised.

Hu: I will transmit this information to Xi.


Obama: Stephen, this Keystone stuff is just until November. Then we open up the border and roll out the plan for the Amero.

Harper: I will transmit this information to the NAFTA supercouncil.


Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images