All of France is a buzz, and why not? New revelations suggest that former IMF head, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the once preeminent obstacle to French president Sarkozy’s reelection, may have been set up by hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo, who accused him of rape when she entered his room at the Sofitel Hotel in New York on May14.
We know that New York police initially regarded the case as credible, only to drop the case given a plethora of inconsistencies in Diallo’s account. Additionally, she had been overheard on a telephone call, telling a friend there was a good deal of money to be made. The Guinea-born maid had also lied at several points on her immigration application.
What’s reignited the bonfire is a just released surveillance video showing two hotel security personnel conversing with Diallo after the alleged rape, then dancing after her departure. Strauss-Kahn supporters say it lends evidence that Diallo was part of a set-up. Wallace Thomas, Diallo’s lawyer, says it does nothing of the kind; that, in fact, it supports Diallo in showing her reporting the incident to security personnel.
What may matter, however, is that one of the two individuals, the other unknown, has been identified as Brian Yearwood, who had been recently in communication with John Sheehan, security expert with Acor, which owns Sofitel and whose boss, Rene-Georges Querry, had once worked with a man presently in Sarkozy’s intelligence.
Before one scoffs in unbelief, I strongly recommend he/she read veteran investigator reporter Edward Jay Epstein’s detailed account appearing recently in the Dec. 22, 2011 New York Review of Books. Epstein’s no slouch when it comes to investigative reporting, possessing a special acumen for coming up with what others miss.
Key swipe records, to which Epstein had access, indicate a waiter enters the suite at 12:05, allegedly to clear the breakfast trays. We don’t know when he left, since key swipe records only record entrances. The waiter later refused to talk with police investigators.
At 12:06, Diallo enters. We don’t know when she left, except that she reenters at 12:26. In short, she and Strauss-Kahn may have been together 20-minutes. We do know that Strauss-Kahn called his daughter at 12:13 to tell her he would be late for their lunch. It’s likely that Diallo was with Strauss-Kahn for seven minutes, or in the interval between her entering the suite and Strauss-Kahn’s call.
Mysteriously, Strauss-Kahn’s BlackBerry has its GPS circuitry disabled at 12:51, which required technical know-how.
At 12:52, Diallo is brought to the hotel security office for questioning. Present are Brian Yearwood; the hotel’s chief engineer, Adrian Branch; the hotel’s security chief; and an unidentified tall man who had escorted Diallo to the office.
At 1:31, Branch calls the police, or one hour after Diallo first reported the incident.
Two minutes after the call, Yearwood and the tall man move into an adjacent room and “high-five each other, clap their hands, and do an extraordinary dance of celebration that lasts for three minutes.”
Strauss-Kahn has admitted to the sexual encounter. The big unknown is whether Diallo initiated it to obtain forensic evidence against Strauss-Kahn.
And who was in nearby room 2820, which Diallo entered before proceeding to the Presidential Suite, room 2806? She would tell police she didn’t enter room 2820 after the assault, but key swipe records indicate she did. Why did she lie?
Why hasn’t the tall man been identified?
Why haven’t we been told who was the occupant in room 2820? Was it the tall man? Did she consult with him just before going into the Presidential Suite, then afterwards? We know he escorted her to the security office. Where did he come from?
Strauss-Kahn’s BlackBerry has never shown-up. BlackBerry records indicate it never left the hotel. Was it stolen to eliminate Strauss-Kahn’s intent to have it checked by technical experts for bugging? We know that he had received a text message earlier in the morning from a friend working in Sarkozy's political office warning him that his BlackBerry email to his wife had been read. He should be aware his phone might be under electronic surveillance.
Is all of this far fetched? Consider that Sarkozy was facing a good probability of defeat up against Strauss-Kahn in next April’s elections.
The lust for power often drives politics and is surely up there with those two other primary motivators in the repertoire of human behavior, sex and money.
Think about the farce of the recent Russian election.
Think back to Watergate.