Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ben-Ami Kadish, free at last

Phil Giraldi, Justice Denied?:
Ben-Ami Kadish, the US Army engineer who spied for Israel in the same ring that included Jonathan Pollard, was finally sentenced today in New York City. Kadish had pleaded guilty after his arrest in December but for reasons not entirely clear his sentencing was repeatedly postponed. He received no prison sentence and only a $50,000 fine. The only time he spent in jail was the day he was arrested. The judge said that he had done a very bad thing but that the government had only sought to convict him on reduced charges instead of espionage, hence the slap on the wrist. I would note in passing that Kadish probably has a substantial pension from the US Army - almost certainly more than the fine - which he appears to retain. The ultimate insult on top of injury - getting a pension for working for the US government while spying for someone else. American justice works in strange ways.
An 85-year-old former civilian employee of the U.S. Army was fined but avoided prison time on Friday after earlier pleading guilty to giving classified documents to Israel in the 1980s in a case the sentencing judge said was "shrouded in mystery."
"Why it took the government 23 years to charge Mr. Kadish is shrouded in mystery," U.S. District Judge William Pauley said during the sentencing hearing in Manhattan federal court. "It is clear the (U.S.) government could have charged Mr. Kadish with far more serious crimes."
Giraldi, June 08:
"(Kadish's) arrest revived suspicions that Israeli agents might still be operating inside the U.S., most particularly “Mega,” whose cover name was revealed in an NSA-intercepted conversation between two Israeli intelligence officers. “Mega” was clearly at the policymaker level, as Kadish and Pollard frequently sought files by name or number. Someone more senior in Washington appeared to be directing the Israeli handlers toward sensitive information. Whoever “Mega” was, he is still at large."
Me, April 09, Who is Israeli spy MEGA?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Project Expose MSM

Over at her blog, Sibel Edmonds has announced Project Expose MSM.
I'm happy to present an experimental project, Project Expose MSM, created to provide readers with specific mainstream media blackout and/or misinformation cases based on the documented and credible first-hand experiences of legitimate sources and whistleblowers.123 Real Change is inviting all members of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), other active (covert or overt) government whistleblowers, and even reporters themselves, to publish their experiences in regard to their own first-hand dealings with the media, where their legit disclosures were either intentionally censored, blacked out or tainted.

Yes, we will be naming names -- myself included.
To launch the project, Sibel kicks off with the example of Retired Supervisory Special Agent/Covert Operations Specialist, DEA, Mike Levine.

I was interviewed by Levine in March 2007. Hour One, Hour Two. If you listen to that, you'll learn quite a bit about Mike's own case, as well as a little about Sibel's case. (The interview was at 4am my time, as usual, so I sound a little groggy.)

Levine has also interviewed Sibel when the Vanity Fair article was released - part one, two, three.

Coleen Rowley has announced that she will join the project:
"This is a good idea if only for history's sake. I've got a story involving "60 Minutes" which I'll get down and out this way."
More sunlight please.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Who do you think is lying? FBI ?

Back in March 2009, I filed a FOIA request with the FBI regarding the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) for "all records related to any FBI investigations, including counter-intelligence, counter-terrorism and criminal investigations" regarding the ATAA and "any sub-chapters / subsidiaries" of the ATAA, noting that the ATAA is an "umbrella organization representing 57 organizations."

The ATAA was mentioned in David Rose's 2005 Vanity Fair article about Sibel Edmonds:
"Vanity Fair has established that ... in December 2001, Joel Robertz, an F.B.I. special agent in Chicago, contacted Sibel and asked her to review some wiretaps. Some were several years old, others more recent; all had been generated by a counter-intelligence that had its start in 1997. “It began in D.C.,” says an F.B.I. counter-intelligence official who is familiar with the case file. “It became apparent that Chicago was actually the center of what was going on.”

Its subject was explosive; what sounded like attempts to bribe elected members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican...

In her secure testimony, Edmonds disclosed some of what she recalled hearing. In all, says a source who was present, she managed to listen to more than 40 of the Chicago recordings supplied by Robertz. Many involved an F.B.I. target at the city’s large Turkish Consulate, as well as members of the American-Turkish Consulate, as well as members of the American-Turkish Council and the Assembly of Turkish American Associates [ATAA].
The ATAA also came up in an August 2005 interview of Sibel by Scott Horton, and again in a 2006 article by Phil Giraldi on Sibel's case.

In an interview in April of this year with Electric Politics, Sibel stated that the criminal network at the center of her claims:
(A)lso set up another organization called ATA - the Association of Turkish Americans, with chapters in every 50 states, and more than several offices in each state in different cities, and if you go and look at their websites they have ATA-DC, ATA-Chicago, and so on, which again is modeled after the same Israeli lobby. And a lot of their - I would refer to it as - less than clean, the dirty activities actually are carried out through ATA and their chapters and their branches that have basically established themselves all over the country.
(The ATAA is an umbrella organization, with the various regional ATAs as subchapters.)

Similarly, in a recent interview with Rob Kall of Op-Ed News, Kall asked Sibel about some specifics regarding the scandal. Sibel replied:
Well, the fact that (Dennis Hastert) was receiving suitcases full of cash from certain Turkish organizations, to do certain things in Congress..., and that some of his activities involved, actually, narcotics in Chicago.
(These 'certain Turkish organizations' include the American Turkish Council (ATC), ATAA and TACA - the Turkish American Cultural Alliance.)

Today I got a response from the FBI stating:
Based on the information you provided, we conducted a search of the indices to our central records system at FBI Headquarters and all FBI field offices. We were unable to identify responsive records. If you have additional information pertaining to the subject and you believe it was (sic) of investigative interest to the Bureau, please provide us the details and we will conduct an additional search.

(You may file an appeal blah blah)"
To be clear, in my request I simply asked for "all records related to any FBI investigations" into the ATAA, or any of the subchapters. The request was intentionally as broad as possible - so when the response from the FBI says "Based on the information you provided..." the only information I provided was the name of the group (and a reference to the subsidiaries) - the FBI can't legitimately be parsing here. (For the record, my request also offered an "Additional Comments" section in which I linked to references in the media (Rose, Giraldi))

Similarly, my request specifically noted that the ATAA had 57 chapters across the nation, and that my FOIA request pertained to all of these sub-chapters. Sibel specifically refers to the ATA-DC and ATA-Chicago. The FBI's response notes that they queried databases at "FBI Headquarters and all FBI field offices" - so they aren't parsing there either.

Who do you think is lying - Sibel, Phil Giraldi and all of David Roses' sources? Or the FBI?

This is not the first time the FBI has lied when responding to FOIA requests regarding Sibel's case. In January 2008, the UK's Times reported:
THE FBI has been accused of covering up a key case file detailing evidence against corrupt government officials and their dealings with a network stealing nuclear secrets.
One of the documents relating to the case was marked 203A-WF-210023. Last week, however, the FBI responded to a freedom of information request for a file of exactly the same number by claiming that it did not exist. But The Sunday Times has obtained a document signed by an FBI official showing the existence of the file.

Edmonds believes the crucial file is being deliberately covered up by the FBI because its contents are explosive. She accuses the agency of an “outright lie”.

Again, who do you think is lying - Sibel and Phil Giraldi and Roses' sources and Joe Lauria etc? Or the FBI?

Notes In the Margin

1. Yes, I will appeal the FOIA response. If anybody has any suggestions about how to respond, or if anyone can see any holes in my request, or knows how to appeal, please let me know.
2. Yes, I have filed a bunch of FOIA requests since we got our new Hopey president. I'll keep you informed.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"Nazis, dictators and shady businessmen"

Following up on my recent post, CIA and the Nuclear Black Market, Mark Hosenball has a curious little two-paragraph piece at Newsweek, The Swiss Say Get Out And Stay Out.

The set-up is in the first paragraph:
For decades Switzerland's banks have provided a haven for the ill-gotten wealth of Nazis, dictators and shady businessmen. But after 9/11, as U.S. investigators hunted for terrorist assets, the Swiss government promised to cooperate. For the first time, they opened some of their books. But that good will was fleeting. Swiss bankers and politicians have come to resent what they see as a squeeze on their most vital industry.
The second paragraph:
The strain is starting to show. This month, NEWSWEEK has learned, Swiss authorities threatened to throw a top U.S. congressional aide in jail as a spy if he tried to enter the country on official business. Douglas Frantz, chief investigator of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, contacted the Swiss Embassy to set up meetings regarding a family facing trial for alleged nuke smuggling. As it turned out, the CIA had secretly recruited members of the family as informants, infuriating the Swiss. According to a U.S. official familiar with the matter who asked for anonymity when discussing a sensitive issue, Switzerland's police chief warned Frantz in an e-mail that he'd face arrest on espionage charges. Frantz, who declined to comment, canceled his trip. A Swiss spokesman said Frantz was turned away due to "ongoing" investigations, but that U.S.-Swiss relations remain "excellent."
(hat-tip to Kingfisher)

I shouldn't really complain too much that Newsweek has actually reported on this story, given that I complained in my previous piece about the silence in the US media about this story, but... What.The.Heck?

Why did Hosenball give this 'U.S. official familiar with the matter' anonymity to tell us what has already been reported in Switzerland? Presumably it was this same anonymous source who gave Hosenball the spin that this was somehow related Swiss politicians' love of "Nazis, dictators and shady businessmen."

And, no, the Swiss were not infuriated that the CIA turned Urs Tinner as far as I can tell. As far as I can tell, the Swiss Justice Dept is infuriated that the US government somehow exported their famous 'unitary executive' concept to Switzerland and somehow convinced/bribed/blackmailed the Swiss president to destroy all the evidence in the case (even though that apparently failed.)

Also note Hosenball's use of scare quotes around "ongoing" investigations. The investigation is clearly ongoing, although the investigation suffered an incredible setback thanks to the US demand request to destroy all the evidence.

If Hosenball actually believes in the thesis of his own article, he will soon write an article highlighting how Obama's crackdown on money laundering centers is threatening world peace because it blocks investigations into Iran's nuclear weapons program and Israel will therefore be wiped off the face of the Earth. Or something. But Hosenball won't write that, because he doesn't believe it. But he will write snippy pieces about the Nazi-loving Swiss politicians if they suit the purposes of his anonymous US government sources.

Let's hope we see more reporting on this.

Update: Here is a new AP story on the matter. There's no mention of Swiss banking laws!

Cowboy words in a lawyer's voice.

Sibel has a new post up at her blog, Two Sides of the Same Coin... Heads-Heads, about Obama's positions on the State Secret Privilege, warrantless wiretapping, accountability on torture, the military commissions and the war in Afghanistan.

Sibel's post ends thusly:
What I want the readers to do is to read the extremely important cases above, step back in time to those un-ending campaign trail days, and answer the following questions:

How would Senator McCain have acted on these same issues if he had been elected? How would Senator Hilary Clinton? Do you believe there would have been any major differences? Weren't their records almost identical to Senator Obama's on these issues? If you are like me, and answer 'same,' 'same,' 'no,' and 'yes,' then, why do you think we ended up with these exact same candidates, those deemed 'viable' and sold to us as such?

With too much at stake, too many unfinished agendas for the course of our nation, and too many skeletons in the closet in need of hiding for self-preservation, the 'permanent establishment' made certain that they took no risk by giving the public, via their MSM tentacles, a coin that no matter how many times flipped would come up the same - Heads, Heads.
The Daily Show touched on this on Friday. Regarding Obama's mimicking of Bush's actions (and rhetoric), Jon Stewart says
"Obama has got a good trick: the trick is to use cowboy words in a lawyer's voice"
Check out 2.00 to 3.00 in this video

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Douglas Frantz and Nuclear Black Market

A couple of extra notes regarding my earlier post, CIA and the Nuclear Black Market. I was going to post them in that piece, but didn't want to cover too many issues at once.

Well Regarded
By all accounts, the SFRC's Douglas Frantz is a good investigator and well-regarded. His 2007 book (co-written with his wife) on AQ Khan, The Man from Pakistan: The True Story of the World's Most Dangerous Nuclear Smuggler, was well-received (also see Adrian Levy's Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons, and William Langewiesche's The Atomic Bazaar: Dispatches from the Underground World of Nuclear Trafficking).

From memory, Frantz' book did a reasonable job covering Turkey's role in the nuclear black market in terms of publicly-available facts, noting the role of Selim Alquadis and Gunes Cires in supplying Libya, Iran and Pakistan. He also noted that some of the equipment from Turkey that was supposed to be on the ship, BBC China, when it was intercepted in 2003 on the way to Libya, went missing.

Some Questions
On the other hand, Frantz did not mention some important information regarding Zeki Bilmen and his New Jersey-based company, Giza Technologies. Former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds overheard Zeki Bilmen on wiretaps, apparently organizing the sale and/or delivery of nuclear hardware with the Turkish embassy in Washington DC. Bilmen and Giza were finally exposed in 2003
, years after Sibel overheard them, when they were caught sending illegal nuclear hardware to the AQ Khan network.

Sibel emphasized
to me the Turkish nature of Bilmen and Giza:
"Giza Technologies (Zeki Bilmen), HQ in New Jersey, is a Turkish company (with all Turkish employees), they have offices in Turkey, Dubai, & Spain. "
In 2004, Josh Meyer wrote an article in the LA Times about the deal that exposed Bilmen and Giza, but he did not really focus on Bilmen and Giza, nor did he mention the Turkish angle.

Last year, Sibel told me:
"In 2004 when Josh Meyer of the LA Times did a long but incomplete story on the Karni case, it was reported to him that one of the most important actors and angles in his article was that of Zeki Bilmen & Giza Technology. Bilmen's role and nationality were conveniently censored in the article.

Despite my efforts to get Meyer to report the relevance and significance of the Bilmen angle, and the FBI's files on him, Meyer bought in to the government's protection of Turkey and the Turkish angle. Of course, later, other outlets (mostly foreign) picked up Bilmen's significance, but still not a peep or follow-up to this day from the LA Times on this important story."
At the time of Josh Meyer's article, Douglas Frantz was working for the LA Times in Istanbul, Turkey (he was previously the New York Times bureau chief in Turkey). The LA Times Editor at the time was Frantz' "close friend" Dean Baquet. Baquet later promoted Frantz to Managing Editor. (Sibel recently excoriated Baquet for telling DNI Negroponte and NSA Director Michael Hayden about ATT whistleblower Mark Klein's allegations and then killing the story at their request. Baquet is now NY Times' Washington Bureau Chief.)

You still with me? Good.

Turkish Lobby?
Here's where it gets interesting (!) Frantz was forced to resign from the LA Times in 2007 after a scandal where he was accused of "obstructing an article on the Armenian Genocide" among other related matters. Denial of the Armenian genocide is a key issue for the Turkish Lobby - to the extent that they have reportedly bribed congressmen. (Frantz moved back to Istanbul after he resigned.)

I don't want to be unfair to Frantz, I frankly don't know enough about him, so I'm just pointing out some circumstantial evidence here:
1. Sibel accused the LA Times of censoring Turkey's role in the nuclear black market.
2. Frantz has repeatedly lived in Turkey.
3. Frantz did not even mention Zeki Bilmen and Giza in his book
4. Frantz was forced to resign from the LA Times for illegal activity (violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act) involving the denial of the Armenian genocide, a key issue of the Turkish Lobby.

Key Question
The key question then, is
if Douglas Frantz is compromised by the Turkish Lobby, and by implication, the Israeli Lobby, then what of his role at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC)? Why did they hire him? His focus is reported to be nuclear proliferation, with an emphasis on the Iranian nuclear program. Will his 'investigations' be tainted? Will he continue to cover-up the role of Turkey and their pursuit of nuclear weapons?

According to the Times:
"One of the CIA sources confirmed that the Turks had acquired nuclear secrets from the United States and shared the information with Pakistan and Israel. "
Will Frantz focus on this, or will he simply focus on Iran, taking direction from the Israel Lobby?

Yesterday I wondered why Frantz wanted to meet with Urs Tinner's lawyer, and whether he wanted to ask questions, or if he wanted to deliver a message. And I wondered on whose behalf he was delivering a message. Perhaps we have an answer.

CIA and the Nuclear Black Market

In June 2008, I wrote about the destruction of evidence in a nuclear black market case involving A.Q. Khan, the CIA, and the Swiss government. Now we have some more interesting news.

One of AQ Khan's key suppliers to his nuclear black market (as well as the Pakistani bomb) was a Swiss family - Urs, Marco and Friedrik Tinner. Urs Tinner was under investigation by the French authorities and the CIA told Tinner that they could make his French problems, and any other problems, go away if Tinner became an agent for the CIA.

Tinner agreed to inform for the CIA, and fed them some information when he was working for AQ Khan in Malaysia, building Libya's nuclear weapons program, but when the CIA eventually exposed the AQ Khan network, Tinner kept a digital copy of the 'nuclear blueprints' which he could then sell on the nuclear black market for his personal profit.

In 2004, Tinner was arrested in Germany, along with his brother and father, and extradited to Switzerland. In May 2008, while Urs Tinner was in jail awaiting prosecution, the Swiss President announced that, six months earlier, he had destroyed ALL files related to the Tinners case. These files included not just the nuclear blueprints, but also any evidence that the Tinners had been working with the CIA. This caused an uproar in Switzerland, with the Swiss courts and Swiss parliament outraged that the President apparently made this decision unilaterally. The President claimed that he destroyed the documents so that they didn't fall into the hands of terrorists, a patently nonsensical claim. Most observers agreed that the Swiss President was actually doing the bidding of the CIA.

At the time, I noted the amazing silence in the US media about this story, particularly given headlines such as in the Guardian: "Nuclear bomb blueprints for sale on world black market, experts fear."

Destroyed Nuclear Weapons Blueprints Found
Last month, the leading Swiss newspaper Le Temps reported (google translation from the French is here) that:
(C)opies of some files removed, including that contained plans for a new generation atomic weapon had simply escaped the destruction and slept in the archives of the Office of the Attorney General.
This remarkable news was also completely ignored by the US corporate media.

Swiss Block US Investigation
Now we learn that the Swiss is refusing to allow US access to the Tinners.

Douglas Frantz, former Managing Editor at the LA Times, wrote one of the better books on the AQ Khan network, and was the fir
st to report that the CIA had recruited Urs Tinner. Frantz is among those who believes that the Swiss President destroyed the Tinner documents to hide the CIA's relationship with the network. Earlier this year, Frantz became the chief investigator for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) under Senator John Kerry, focussing on nuclear proliferation.

Frantz wants to speak to Urs Tinner's lawyer, however
Frantz received a letter from the Swiss Justice Department last week forbidding any meeting between the two, and threatening Frantz with three years in prison if he fails to comply.

Again, this news has not been reported in the English language media.

What is going on here? It's difficult to tell, not least because there is so little reporting on the matter.

After the Swiss President caved to US requests to destroy all the evidence, infuriating the Swiss Parliament and Justice Department, it is possible that the Swiss Justice Department is wresting back control of the case (the Swiss criminal case against the Tinner family is still pending.) If this hypothesis is true, then it is not surprising that the Swiss Justice Department is nervous about any discussions between the US and the Tinners. A possible compromise would be if the Swiss authorities sit in on the discussions between Frantz and Tinner's lawyer, but neither side appears to have made that offer...

It is not clear why Frantz wants to talk to Tinner's lawyer. Frantz's main focus appears to be the Iranian nuclear program, and it is possible that he wants to ask Tinner about Iranian procurement activities, but then why would he want to speak to Tinner's lawyer, rather than Tinner? (Perhaps that isn't possible for other reasons?) But if Frantz isn't there to ask questions, why is he there? Is he there to give Tinner a message? If so, is the message from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee? That sounds unlikely. Is the message from the CIA? Since when does the Senate offer cover for the CIA?

It would be somewhat ironic -if that's the correct word - if the US was unable to get important inside information about the Iranian nuclear procurement program because the Swiss are upset that the CIA forced them to destroy all evidence of US activity in the same network nuclear black market...

Update: see here

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Larry Franklin, Still free.

Phil Giraldi:
"The third reason to oppose AIPAC is the corruption of the U.S. political system by the Lobby’s money and power, resulting in a bought-and-paid-for Congress and a rule of law for everyone except those guilty of crimes on behalf of Israel. Even when one is caught red-handed and confesses to spying for Israel, it is apparently no big deal, aside from the cost of a lawyer. Israel runs an extremely aggressive espionage program inside the United States involving hundreds of operatives and agents, but the only Israeli spy to be arrested, charged, and imprisoned is Jonathan Pollard, and that was over 20 years ago. Even Larry Franklin, the Pentagon "Iran expert" who spied for Israel because he believed AIPAC would get him a better job on the National Security Council, is not actually in jail in spite of his 12-year sentence. He is reportedly free due to his service as a witness in the recently terminated AIPAC Steve Rosen-Keith Weissman espionage trial.

Ben-Ami Kadish, former engineer at the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, who was part of the same network that recruited Pollard, pleaded guilty to reduced charges in December after supplying advanced nuclear and ballistic technology to Israel. He was supposed to be sentenced in February. That did not take place, and there have been repeated delays in his court appearance. He is now supposed to be sentenced later this month, but prosecutors reportedly will not demand any jail time. He will go free, as have Rosen and Weissman, after a politically tainted prosecution that wasted millions of dollars and went nowhere. It is undeniable that the two men passed information that they knew to be classified to the Israeli embassy. Former government officials Kenneth Pollack and David Satterfield, who were identified in the indictment as having also passed classified information to AIPAC, were not even charged with a crime. Pollack, formerly on the National Security Council, is the director of research at the Saban Center of the Brookings Institution. The media suspended its coverage of the AIPAC story two days after the dismissal of charges.

Another AIPAC favorite, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), was caught on the phone trading favors with an agent working for Israeli intelligence. Her misbehavior has been completely free of consequence. A cooperative media dropped the story five days after it surfaced, and neither Democrats nor Republicans seem interested in one of their own who may have been spying for Tel Aviv. The only congressional anger over the incident is being directed at the FBI, which is in the hot seat for its alleged violation of Harman’s privacy through its completely legal wiretap."

Compare and Contrast: Speakers of the House

In Britain:
The Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, has resigned in disgrace "because of his failure of leadership over an expenses scandal" involving mostly other MPs fudging their own expenses.

In the US:
The Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, did not resign when he was caught on FBI counter-intelligence wiretaps in the late 1990s, "receiving suitcases full of cash from certain Turkish organizations, to do certain things... for them, and that some of his activities involved, actually, narcotics in Chicago."

The Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, did not resign in 2005 when he "pushed for federal funding for a proposed highway in northeastern Illinois so he and his wife could reap about $1.8 million from land deals."

The Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, did not resign when, in 2005, he was found to be the "top recipient of campaign contributions from (indicted felon Jack) Abramoff and associates."

The Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, resigned of his own accord in 2006 when his party last control of the House.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I am not going to piss off my source

Sibel has a another must-read post up at her blog: Dissecting the Mainstream Media: Part 2- Pressure Points.

Sibel describes some of the various ways that the government can stop production and publication of various stories, including using legal threats and threatening to cut off a reporter's access.

Sibel tells a remarkable story from her own case:
I am going to provide you with another first-hand witnessed and documented incident. The only reason I am not naming ‘the well-known reporter & publication’ is to protect the source who obtained and passed on the incriminating documented evidence - the communication that occurred in writing between him and this particular ‘reporter.’

The individual who dealt with the congressional and press side of my case during the early stages of my whistleblowing journey wrote an e-mail to a well-known and well-placed journalist, saying, ‘Man, I can’t believe you guys did not cover this!!! Ashcroft comes out and invokes the State Secrets Privilege, first time ever asserted by the Bush administration, and you don’t write about it?! What the hell, man?! What’s the deal? I sent you the press release and attached a bunch of documents on that e-mail…’

Here is the response from that well-known journalist, and stupidly enough in writing:
‘I was going to call you. A few months ago I finally got this big DOJ guy, I mean BIG! Our deal-exclusive. You can’t do better than that in Washington. Anyhow, he doesn’t want us to touch Edmonds’ story. Period. I am not going to piss off my source for some God Damn translator whistleblower…
There you have the problem in a nutshell.

Another example of 'pressure' from Sibel's case that she doesn't mention in her post is that the FBI made a "formal complaint" with the UK's Times when American journalist Joe Lauria was investigating the story.

Incidentally, I have filed a FOIA request with the FBI for information about this incident, and any other similar examples where the FBI used any form of pressure to attempt to stop or otherwise influence any reporting about Sibel's case. They've been messing me around, of course, but hopefully we'll get something interesting. They have to give me the Joe Lauria records, presumably, or at least tell me which exception they are claiming, and now we have another reference point to judge whether the FBI is being responsive.


See also: They knowingly sent unqualified, incompetent translators to GITMO from yesterday and CIA and the Nuclear Black Market from today

They knowingly sent unqualified, incompetent translators to GITMO

With the renewed emphasis on torture and interrogation, and the increasing evidence that the 'interrogations' were often just a pretense to get pre-determined 'evidence,' it's important to remember that one of the elements of former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds' case is the willful use of incompetent, unqualified translators at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

One of Sibel's co-workers in the FBI translation office was Kevin Taskasen. He failed the FBI's language proficiency exams in both English and Turkish (his supposed speciality.)

Sibel's 2004 Open Letter to 911 Commission Head Thomas Kean explains:
Over two years ago, and after two unclassified sessions with FBI officials, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent letters to Director Mueller, Attorney General Ashcroft, and Inspector General Glenn Fine regarding the existence of unqualified translators in charge of translating high-level sensitive intelligence. The FBI confirmed at least one case: Kevin Taskesen, a Turkish translator, had been given a job as an FBI translator, despite the fact that he had failed all FBI language proficiency tests. In fact, Kevin could not understand or speak even elementary-level English. He had failed English proficiency tests and did not even score sufficiently in the target language.

Still, Kevin Taskesen was hired, not due to a lack of other qualified translator candidates, but because his wife worked at FBI HQ as a language proficiency exam administrator. Almost everyone at FBI HQ and the FBI Washington Field Office knew about Kevin. Yet, Kevin was given the task of translating the most sensitive terrorist-related information, and he was sent to Guantanamo Bay to translate the interrogation of and information for all Turkic language detainees (Turks, Uzbeks, Turkmens, etc.).

The FBI was supposed to be trying to obtain information regarding possible future attack plans from these detainees, yet the FBI knowingly sent unqualified translators to gather and translate this information. Furthermore, these detainees were either released, detained or prosecuted based on translations by unqualified translators knowingly sent there by the FBI.

Sen. Grassley and Sen. Leahy publicly confirmed Kevin Taskesen's case (please refer to Senate letters and documents provided to your investigators in January-February 2004). The program 60 Minutes showed Kevin's picture and listed him as one of the unqualified translators sent to Guantanamo Bay, as confirmed by the FBI.
After over two years since Kevin Taskesen's case was publicly confirmed, and after almost two years since 60 Minutes broadcast Taskesen's case, Kevin Taskesen remains in his position as sole Turkish and Turkic language translator for the FBI Washington Field Office. After admitting that Kevin Taskesen was not qualified to translate sensitive intelligence and investigation of terrorist activities, the FBI still keeps him in charge of translating highly sensitive documents and leads.

Here is a part of the transcript of the 60 Minutes episode:
(Host ED BRADLEY): (Voiceover) The FBI has conceded that some people in the language department are unable to adequately speak English or the language they're supposed to be translating. Kevin Taskasen was assigned to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to translate interrogations of Turkish-speaking al-Qaida members who had been captured after September 11. The FBI admits that he was not fully qualified to do the job.

Ms. EDMONDS: He neither passed the English nor the Turkish side of this language proficiency test.

BRADLEY: So that means if, for example, you had a--a terrorist detained at--at Guantanamo who had information about an attack being planned in the future against the United States, that person would not have been in a position to translate that?

Ms. EDMONDS: Correct. He wouldn't.

BRADLEY: I mean, that's hard to imagine.

Ms. EDMONDS: But that's the case.

They knowingly sent unqualified, incompetent translators to Guantanamo Bay.

Think about that.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Graham Fuller: For Islamization before he was against it

Phil Giraldi recommends a post by Graham Fuller at the Huffington Post as "must reading" on AfPak. Fuller's lede is:
"For all the talk of "smart power," President Obama is pressing down the same path of failure in Pakistan marked out by George Bush. The realities suggest need for drastic revision of U.S. strategic thinking."
Fuller says:
"Only the withdrawal of American and NATO boots on the ground will begin to allow the process of near-frantic emotions to subside within Pakistan, and for the region to start to cool down. Pakistan is experienced in governance and is well able to deal with its own Islamists and tribalists under normal circumstances; until recently, Pakistani Islamists had one of the lowest rates of electoral success in the Muslim world.

But U.S. policies have now driven local nationalism, xenophobia and Islamism to combined fever pitch. As Washington demands that Pakistan redeem failed American policies in Afghanistan, Islamabad can no longer manage its domestic crisis.

The Pakistani army is more than capable of maintaining state power against tribal militias and to defend its own nukes. Only a convulsive nationalist revolutionary spirit could change that -- something most Pakistanis do not want. But Washington can still succeed in destabilizing Pakistan if it perpetuates its present hard-line strategies. A new chapter of military rule -- not what Pakistan needs -- will be the likely result, and even then Islamabad's basic policies will not change, except at the cosmetic level.

In the end, only moderate Islamists themselves can prevail over the radicals whose main source of legitimacy comes from inciting popular resistance against the external invader. Sadly, U.S. forces and Islamist radicals are now approaching a state of co-dependency."
Like Giraldi, I agree with what Fuller says. Fuller is a former CIA station chief in Kabul - and is obviously familiar with the terrain.

Fuller is also in Sibel's Rogues Gallery, and so I question his motivations (this appears to be his first post at HuffPo.) For Fuller to decry that radical Islamists and the US government are becoming co-dependent is sickening.

Why did Fuller write this article?

How do you know they'll print it?

Sibel has a post about the movie Three Days of Condor, and how it relates to our current situation.

She asks if you can remember the dialogue in the final scene.

Here is the scene:

I look forward to the turning the tables on the mainstream media this week fundraiser is having a fundraising drive. The front page currently reads:
When Antiwar Radio started in 2007, we didn't know what to expect. Sure, we had veteran radio personality Scott Horton at the helm, but would big-shot reporters, pundits, academics, and government officials make time for an upstart Internet radio program?

They certainly have. Rep. Ron Paul, Noam Chomsky, John Cusack, Juan Cole, Frida Berrigan, Chris Floyd, Lew Rockwell, Patrick Cockburn, Andrew Bacevich, Russell Means, Scott Ritter, Philip Weiss, Lawrence Wilkerson, James Bamford, Sibel Edmonds, Robert Pape, Glenn Greenwald, Chris Hedges, Kathy Kelly… the hits keep coming.

Chalmers Johnson, author of the Blowback trilogy, says that "Antiwar Radio has been one of the few media in which power considerations and domestic U.S. politics have not had their pull on the programming and the commentator. ... Scott Horton has established a very high standard for truly original points of view on American foreign policy and critical analysis of the failures of the American establishment."

Journalist James Bovard calls Horton "one of the best-read, hardest-hitting hosts in the biz." As the Austin Chronicle put it when giving us their award for "Best Iraq War Insight and Play-by-Play":

"Antiwar Radio offers high-caliber commentary and guest interviews on the ongoing Mideast misadventure. Host Scott Horton, armed to the teeth with little-reported news and info, jettisons the pleasantries and PC radio lingo and tells listeners how it really is. As an added bonus, Horton often verbally lays waste to those seeking to prolong the billion-dollar bloodbath."

But for all its acclaim and promise, Antiwar Radio could end. If we can't pay the bills, then we'll have to start downsizing our already overworked staff.

We can't make it another quarter without your help, and we believe we've earned it. Are you willing to give up Antiwar Radio – and perhaps even more? If not, then don't delay.

Frankly, I think this pitch totally under-sells how awesome Scott actually is, but if you have some spare change, always deserves it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Presidential secrecy

In the previous post, I mentioned Robert M. Pallitto and William G. Weaver's book Presidential Secrecy and the Law.

In a brief book review, Steve Aftergood writes:
Presidential secrecy is best understood not as an expression of executive strength but as a sign of weakness and insecurity, according to a provocative new book on the subject.
In related news, Greenwald offers up this accurate and devastating summation of the Obama administration today:
Along with warrantless eavesdropping, indefinite detention, extreme secrecy doctrines, concealment of torture evidence, rendition, and blocking judicial review of executive lawbreaking, one can now add Bush's military commission system, albeit in modified form, to the growing list of despised Bush Terrorism policies that are now policies of Barack Obama.

They spy on judges, too.

Over the last 9 years, particularly, it has been painfully obvious that major institutions in the US are broken. Most of the attention has been focused on the apparent lock that the executive branch has on congress and the media. The executive branch is able to do this successfully through two mechanisms. Firstly, they have their embeds in these institutions, and secondly, they spy on everyone, looking for dissenters.

Sibel has a post up discussing the embeds in the media, not only propagandists like Judy Miller, but also editors who control what gets published. Russ Tice, NSA analyst, went on Keith Olbermann on January 10, the day after Obama's inauguration, and told the public that the NSA was spying on all Americans, and that journalists were specifically targeted. (Incidentally, Tice's explosive claims were completely ignored by the media.)

It isn't difficult to imagine that one of the 'benefits' of spying on journalists is for blackmail purposes. Of course, when they find something illegal or embarassing, they can then 'turn' the journalist, and use him or her for their own purposes, whether that means turning them into a propagandist, or outing a whistleblower/source, or spying around the newsroom.

The same is true in Congress. We know that they spy on members of congress, sometimes legally, and sometimes illegally. Sometimes they find evidence of corruption, and on other occasions they might find "financial or sexual pressure points." According to FBI sources, this information may be used "to actually blackmail people within Congress." No surprises there. We've seen exactly that in the Jane Harman and Dennis Hastert cases, at a minimum, and we've seen indirect evidence of it in congressional voting records for the last 9 years.

For the Executive Branch to close the loop, they also need to control the Judiciary. In fact, it would be surprising if they weren't also spying on judges. Controlling the judges would give the government enormous power in terms of both 'throwing' cases and 'judge-shopping.' We have long suspected that this was actually happening, of course, but we have only had indirect evidence of this. In Sibel Edmonds' cases, for example, she kept getting assigned and reassigned, "with no explanation," to Judge Reggie Walton. Judge Walton, who was also the judge in the related case of Scooter Libby, granted the government's motion to dismiss Sibel's case based on the government's claim of State Secrets.

Spying on Judges
Now it seems that we actually have proof that the government was spying on judges too. In their 2007 book, Presidential Secrecy and the Law, political science professors Robert M. Pallitto and William G. Weaver write (pg 173) that a former FBI agent and electronic surveillance manager told the authors that FISA wiretaps were used to "surveil members of congress and judges."

I haven't been able to find any other reference to this particular claim - but it is remarkable, although not surprising.

The passage in the book is a little unclear as to the identity of this FBI agent, but two sentences later, they quote former Special Agent Gilbert Graham about FISA abuse. It isn't exactly clear whether Graham is the source of the information regarding the spying on judges.

Gilbert Graham, one of Sibel's bosses, who worked on "counterintelligence investigations involv(ing) espionage activities by Turkish officials and agents in the United States." In early 2002, he filed a protected disclosure (pdf) stating that "unreliable source information" was used to obtain FISA approval for spying on public officials. His official report states that the FISA request "was a subterfuge to collect evidentiary information concerning public corruption matters." In other words, they just made stuff up so that they could spy on public officials, and illegally used the rubber-stamp FISA court to get 'permission' to spy domestically on public officials, including judges.

James Bamford had a good overview of the situation in an interview with Sibel and Scott Horton:
" Well, I think (Gilbert Graham is) a very courageous whistleblower. He worked at the FBI in the counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism area and he worked on a very sensitive political investigation involving Turkey, corruption within the Bush administration and people that were dealing with Turkey, and money being passed and so forth. The FBI was investigating this, and he realized that the FBI was asking for warrants that were known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance warrants. These warrants, known as FISA warrants are very easy to get, it doesn’t require much in the way of evidentiary information to get them, and they were using those very easy-to-get FISA warrants in order to avoid having to show probable cause to get a regular warrant, a criminal-type warrant.

So he complained to the Inspector General’s office that this was illegal, and it is. That was the whole reason that they originally set up those two types of warrants, you have the easier warrants, the FISA warrant, in order to get intelligence information, but if you’re trying to look into a criminal case, you need a probable-cause warrant. And the FBI decided to try the easy warrant to avoid going the legal route - so he complained about that and that was a part of the case that Sibel was involved in. What makes it very interesting is the fact that the government used the State Secrets Privilege to try to hide what was going on, which was obviously illegality and used it against Sibel so she couldn’t bring any of that illegality out in her case."
As Weaver and Pallitto drily note in their book:
Presumably such activity, if it occurs, is done secretly without informing the FISA judges.
In fact, Judge Reggie Walton was no doubt aware of all of this. He was chosen, repeatedly, to adjudicate Sibel's cases because he was known to be 'friendly' to the government's desires. Judge Walton was appointed to the FISA Court in 2007 - which will no doubt ensure that the rubber-stamping will continue (The FISA court has approved all but five of 20,000 applications.)

Just as the media and congress have been compromised by spying and blackmail, so has the judiciary. Why is it never discussed?

Notes in the margin

1. William Weaver, one of the authors of the book mentioned above, is on the Board of Sibel's organization, the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.

2. I'm not entirely convinced that Gilbert Graham is Weaver's source that the executive branch is spying on judges. I've never heard Sibel mention anything about spying on judges.

3, Current Attorney General Eric Holder was a judge on the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Is he also being blackmailed by the same people?

Sibel gave her opinion of Eric Holder this week:
He's basically the same old dung, the same crap, putting it crudely. There is no difference between him and Ashcroft or Gonzales, and unfortunately every day that passes in these four years we are going to see that. We are already seeing this. They dropped the AIPAC court case. Who did it? Obama's Justice Department, his AG decided, despite all the evidence on these Israeli spies, that they were going to drop it. Even the Bush administration didn’t go that far - because some of the FBI agents were out there who would have screamed, and they did.
4. Weaver's co-author Robert Pallitto was on the Daily Show in 2007 discussing the book, Presidential Secrecy.

Larry Franklin free for another month

This is from PACER

Date Filed #Docket Text
05/14/2009893 NOTICE OF HEARING ON MOTION in case as to Lawrence Anthony Franklin 892 SEALED MOTION: Motion Hearing set for 6/12/2009 at 09:00 AM before District Judge T. S. Ellis III. (jlan) (Entered: 05/15/2009)
05/14/2009892 SEALED MOTION by USA as to Lawrence Anthony Franklin. (jlan) (Entered: 05/15/2009)

I'd love a glimpse at the sealed motion.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Turning the tables on the mainstream media

Rob Kall interviewed Sibel on Wednesday - the transcript is here.

Sibel predicts that there will be a 'warzone' at her new blog next week, with many of her team of whistleblowers exposing journalists in the mainstream media. Apparently the plan is to 'out' journalists and media establishments by saying 'Whistleblower X went to Journalist Y and told them ABC, and gave them documents DEF and the reporters did ZERO.' Or as Sibel says in the interview:
"Well, this is going to be a pretty interesting thing. You're going to find out in two days - so that's something to look forward to, because, in a way, us, the whistleblowers, are going to turn the table on the mainstream media.

In fact, to say the 'mainstream media is the culprit' in a way let's them off the hook, because it's just a general term, like saying 'congress' but when you start going individually after individuals, or individual papers with specific cases it becomes a different story... These are the things we are going to put on my blog, and I'm going to hit them. Name, paper, incident, cases."
Sibel asks that you be ready to support her, and the other whistleblowers, at her blog, when these stories start hitting the fan - perhaps on Friday, or on Monday. Sibel has hinted at doing something like this for a couple of years. I'll let you know when the battle begins.

I recommend that you read the 'entire' partial (!) transcript here (please note that I've only selected elements that are somewhat new, or at least interesting to those who have followed Sibel's case extensively). For example, I think this is the first time that Sibel has mentioned two things:
"Well, the fact that (Hastert) was receiving suitcases full of cash from certain Turkish organizations, to do certain things in Congress, and in the Senate (?) for them, and that some of his activities involved, actually, narcotics in Chicago."
These have been reported elsewhere, of course - but it is interesting to see Sibel mention them herself.

Sibel also states, for the second time, that although the financing of Hastert and Livingston and others appears to come from the Govt of Turkey, it is actually coming from "certain Turkish entities that are engaged in certain international activities, some of them legal, some of them illegal."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Update your bookmarks

Sibel Edmonds has a new blog up and running, 123 Real Change. Congratulations.

The first post is an introduction to the blog, the second post updates and clarifies some points from the recent op-ed, In Congress We Trust…Not. Sibel writes:
"There are those who argued that it wasn’t fair to ‘write off’ President Obama’s change so soon, about 100 days or so into his presidency.

I understand their point, and I must say I envy their purity and optimism, but I differ. In fact, I can turn that ‘only 100 days’ logic and make the opposite point. If in a hundred days, give or take, he’s done so much to either continue (stay) or expand upon the previous administration’s abuses, how much more damage is he going to do in ‘(4 X 365)-100’ days?! I am talking about Obama not only continuing but actually expanding upon the State Secrets Privilege to gag and bury information; completely forgoing accountability on torture - first starting with the torturers, then the previous White House cabal, and now extending it to those who drafted it; sustaining the illegal NSA wiretapping; deciding to bring back the Bush style military commission…just don’t get me started on this. Currently I am working on my next piece, exactly on this particular point, so, more on this, soon."

The third and most recent post, Dissecting the US Mainstream Media, lists 6 of "the usual theories we hear out there on the mainstream media’s current state," and Sibel is asking for reader contributions/comments as to which mix of those theories describes the problems with the corporate media. In the coming days Sibel will publish a multi-part essay on the problems with the media and wants to incorporate some thoughts from her readers.

Sibel is a great writer, and has lots of experience with the dysfunctionality of Congress, the Executive Branch, the Judiciary and the media. I'm sure that 123 Real Change will be a great blog.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Larry Franklin to report to prison

Josh Gerstein @ Politico:
What was more interesting is that (Judge T.S. Ellis III) said he is expecting some kind of action from the government regarding Larry Franklin, a Pentagon analyst who pled guilty early on in the case.

Ellis sentenced Franklin in 2006 to more than 12 years in prison for disclosing classified information to Rosen, Weissman and others. However, Franklin agreed to cooperate with the government and never reported to jail.

"It is further ordered that the government is directed to advise the Court, by 5:00 p.m., Thursday May 14, 2009, regarding when it contemplates filing an appropriate motion with respect to defendant Franklin," Ellis's new order says.

Lawyers involved in the case expected Franklin to seek a reduction in his sentence once the trial against Rosen and Weissman was complete. Now that the trial will never happen, it's an open question of how much of a sentence reduction Franklin will get. Presumably, it's not his fault the case was abandoned. In any event, Ellis will have to rule on any sentence reduction. The judge may have to make a hypothetical judgment about how much Franklin's testimony may have helped in a trial that will never take place.
(h/t RP)

As I asked last week, what happens to any of the other information he told the FBI since his guilty plea?

Monday, May 11, 2009

sibel and scott again. Congress is a failed channel for whistleblowers.

There is a new Sibel Edmonds - Scott Horton interview at Antiwar Radio. Audio here, transcript here. The interviews with Scott have typically been the most informative interviews that Sibel has given.

Sibel contributes a wealth of valuable 'process' information for those who are trying to understand the Harman / AIPAC / Goss story, as well as those of you still trying to get your head around Sibel's case. I recommend that you read the whole thing.

I also want to highlight one particular issue that Sibel raises, namely that her organization, the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), received important information about certain abuses of power by the Executive Branch, and the NSWBC attempted to assist these whistleblowers by helping them air their particular issues within the relevant channels available to whistleblowers - specifically, Congress:
"And it was not only for the reasons such as my own personal case with the State Secrets Privilege etc, but what really got me extremely upset (about the latest Harman stories) was the fact that in 2005 and 2006, my organization took several whistleblowers from the NSA and the Justice Department to certain offices in Congress including Harman's office and Pelosi's office, and now we are sitting here, feeling like fools."
Basically, these whistleblowers risked their careers so that Harman and others could feather their own political nests with the information provided to them by legitimate whistleblowers. It's no wonder that the entire US political system is broken.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy mother's day.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Who is protecting Afghanistan's Heroin production?

Peter Dale Scott has a typically solid article at Global Research (reference links at the original).
In 2007, Afghanistan supplied 93% of the world's opium, according to the U.S. State Department. Illicit poppy production, meanwhile, brings $4 billion into Afghanistan,[12] or more than half the country’s total economy of $7.5 billion, according to the United Nations Office of Drug Control (UNODC).[13] It also represents about half of the economy of Pakistan, and of the ISI in particular.[14]

Destroying the labs has always been an obvious option, but for years America refused to do so for political reasons. In 2001 the Taliban and bin Laden were estimated by the CIA to be earning up to 10 per cent of Afghanistan’s drug revenues, then estimated at between 6.5 and 10 billion U.S. dollars a year.[15] This income of perhaps $1 billion was less than that earned by Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, parts of which had become the key to the drug trade in Central Asia. The UN Drug Control Program (UNDCP) estimated in 1999 that the ISI made around $2.5 billion annually from the sale of illegal drugs.[16]

At the start of the U.S. offensive in 2001, according to Ahmed Rashid, "The Pentagon had a list of twenty-five or more drug labs and warehouses in Afghanistan but refused to bomb them because some belonged to the CIA's new NA [Northern Alliance] allies."[17] Rashid was "told by UNODC officials that the Americans knew far more about the drug labs than they claimed to know, and the failure to bomb them was a major setback to the counter-narcotics effort."[18] James Risen reports that the ongoing refusal to pursue the targeted drug labs came from neocons at the top of America’s national security bureaucracy, including Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, and their patron Donald Rumsfeld.[19]
Prior to the invasion of Afghanistan, most of these labs were in Turkey, but production has mostly moved to Afghanistan - although they are still controlled by the same networks.

As Sibel frequently points out, the 'face' of the heroin industry is always the Afghan poppy farmers, and the policy dispute is always described as 'To eradicate or not eradicate,' and whether Afghani farmers have any better options for feeding their families, and whether poppy destruction will drive farmers into the protective arms of the Taliban etc. When the issue is framed like that, 'reasonable people' can disagree about the correct approach. The next level of the discussion, infrequently discussed, is whether or not to target the production facilities, the drug labs and the warehouses. Even here, Peter Dale Scott, quoting Ahmed Rashid, only refers to the 2001 situation when the Northern Alliance was still in business.

I can't remember a single story in the eight years since the invasion of an attack - air or ground - on one of these drug labs or warehouses - so whatever arguments Feith, Wolfowitz, Khalilzad and Rumsfeld were relying on back then are now presumably inoperative. (see my "Sibel Edmonds & the Neocons' Turkish Gravy-Train" for more.) And, of course, those guys have all been out of the US government for years, so there are presumably others who have taken their place in who are following the same policy. Who? And Why?

But there is another important element - beyond the options of going after the poppy farmers and the drug labs - that is almost never discussed (putting aside for current purposes Sibel's emphasis on the fact that there are a group of people who manage this $50 billion industry and the necessary money-laundering etc.) That is, now that these drug labs are located within Afghanistan, a country occupied by the US/NATO, these labs need so-called 'precursor chemicals' to produce heroin - and lots of them, tanker loads.

A July 2008 AP report, carried by Boston Globe, and not many others, quotes Christina Oguz, country representative for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, saying that only 1% of these precursor chemicals are ever seized - even though these chemicals are all imported by the tanker-load, and have no 'dual-use' justification. Reading between the lines in the article, Oguz's 'frustration' is palpable:
She urged the international community to share more information on known smugglers of the chemicals, many of whom were "long-established and based in neighboring countries."
These chemicals are not coming into Afghanistan on the backs of mules - as the media often presents Afghanistan's export of heroin -they are coming through major transit points.

Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, made the same point in his 2007 article "Britain is protecting the biggest heroin crop of all time." Murray writes:
(Afghanistan) now exports not opium, but heroin. Opium is converted into heroin on an industrial scale, not in kitchens but in factories. Millions of gallons of the chemicals needed for this process are shipped into Afghanistan by tanker. The tankers and bulk opium lorries on the way to the factories share the roads, improved by American aid, with Nato troops.
My knowledge of all this comes from my time as British Ambassador in neighbouring Uzbekistan from 2002 until 2004. I stood at the Friendship Bridge at Termez in 2003 and watched ... the tankers of chemicals roaring into Afghanistan.
Let me emphasize - the US government/NATO might have arguably legitimate reasons to 'protect' the poppy farmers, they might even have reason not to attack the drug labs. But what possible excuse is there for allowing tanker after tanker of requisite heroin precursor chemicals for entering Afghanistan? Who does that help?

For comparison, I mentioned Bashir Noorzai recently. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for heroin-related charges last week. One of the charges against him in his indictment was:
In or about 1997, Taliban authorities in Afghanistan seized a truckload of morphine base that was owned by BASHIR NOORZAI, a/k/a "Haji Bashir Noorzai," the defendant. Shortly thereafter, Taliban authorities returned the seized morphine base to NOORZAI with personal apologies from Mullah Mohammad Omar, the leader of the Taliban.
Is it categorically better or worse to seize and release a 'truckload' of morphine base, or to knowingly allow many truckloads of heroin precursor chemicals to enter a country that you occupy and to effectively create a 'green zone' for heroin labs? Shouldn't Feith, Wolfowitz, and the others be subject to the same punishment of life imprisonment?

I'll finish with some more from Peter Dale Scott's important article:
It follows that there are many players with a much larger financial stake in the Afghan drug traffic than local Afghan drug lords, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban. Sibel Edmonds has charged that Pakistani and Turkish intelligence, working together, utilize the resources of the international networks transmitting Afghan heroin.[30] Others have also written about the ties between U.S. intelligence and the Turkish narco-intelligence connection.[31]

Loretta Napoleoni has argued that there is an ISI-backed Islamist drug route of al Qaeda allies across North Central Asia, reaching from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan through Azerbaijan and Turkey to Kosovo.[32] Dennis Dayle, a former top-level DEA agent in the Middle East, has corroborated the CIA interest in that region’s drug connection. I was present when he told an anti-drug conference that "In my 30-year history in the Drug Enforcement Administration and related agencies, the major targets of my investigations almost invariably turned out to be working for the CIA."[33]
The UNODC Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, has reported that "money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis."[34]
The global drug traffic itself will continue to benefit from the protracted conflict generated by "full-spectrum dominance" in Afghanistan, and some of the beneficiaries may have been secretly lobbying for it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Obama's tax havens.

President Obama called out the use of tax havens by US corporations. Good on him.

Will he also forbid the use of the same tax havens by "US government agencies," "certain US government people," "certain non-profit organizations in the US," "certain US institutions including banking institutions," and "certain US-based organizations" to launder and distribute money'?

Will he investigate the source, and use, of dirty money in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus? Malta? Dubai? Cayman Islands?

Will he ask why former-House-Speaker, and Turkey's lobbyist Bob Livingston, was receiving $1m per year from the Cayman Islands?

Will he wonder why Bruce Fein is working for one of the worst money laundering places on the planet, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus?

Will he investigate "Fethullah Gulen's $25 billion madrassa-and-mosque-establishment efforts throughout the Central Asian region and the Balkans?"

Or will it be business as usual?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Bruce Fein, Turkey and the Armenian Genocide.

Last week I wrote an article highlighting the fact that the otherwise respected Bruce Fein is in the pay (and company) of the Turkish Lobby, and that he is apparently willing to write articles denouncing the notion of the Armenian genocide for money.

Now comes news via Inside Higher Ed, that one of Fein's organizations, the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund, has launched a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for having the audacity to criticize a book by genocide-denier, Guenter Lewy.

The SPLC is known "for its studies of hate groups -- a focus that has led the center to criticize Holocaust deniers" - and as far as I know, is highly regarded (although there may be some evidence to the contrary).

The Inside Higher Ed article states that:
"Two quotes in the Southern Poverty Law Center article are cited as defamatory. One states: "Lewy is one of the most active members of a network of American scholars, influence peddlers and website operators, financed by hundreds of thousands of dollars each year from the government of Turkey, who promote the denial of the Armenian genocide. ...”

The other states: “Lewy makes similar revisionist claims in his 2005 book The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide and in frequent lectures at university campuses across the country. ... Revisionist historians who conjure doubt about the Armenian genocide and are paid by the Turkish government provided politicians with the intellectual cover they needed to claim they were refusing to dictate history rather than caving in to a foreign government’s present-day interests.
Further the suit says that the statements "individually and taken as a whole in context of the article ... are defamatory because they falsely impute to Plaintiff academic corruption, fraud and deceit. ..." As a result of the accusations, the suit says that Lewy has had his "scholarly credibility" hurt and has lost book sales and speaking engagements.

"The acute stigma attached to failures to disclose the receipt of money or its equivalent that could distort academic or professional judgments finds expression in a welter of government conflict-of-interest regulations and financial disclosure standards...”
Funny. Yes, there is an acute stigma about failure to disclose the receipt of money. And there's a good reason for it. Inside Higher Ed asked Fein whether Lewy ever received money from the Turkish government or its subsidiaries, and Fein said he didn't know the answer... Inside Higher Ed should have asked the same question of Fein himself. How much is Fein getting from the Turkish government and its subsidiaries?

You might remember from my previous article that Fein is co-founder and Chairman of a group called the American Freedom Agenda. One of their ten founding articles is "Stopping threats to prosecuting journalists under the Espionage Act of 1917." This is obviously a defense of AIPAC's Rosen and Weissman - but there is a certain irony in the fact that while Fein is keen on defending journalists, he is also filing multi-million dollar harassment suits against journalists.

One further point: the Inside Higher Ed article notes that:
"In an interview two years ago, Lewy said that (his) book -- which was criticized by some scholars of genocide -- had been rejected by 11 publishers, including 4 university presses, before the University of Utah Press published it."
Lo and behold, the University of Utah recently announced a "new Turkish studies project titled "The Origins of Modern Ethnic Cleansing: The Collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the Emergence of Nation States in the Balkans and Caucasus."" The four year project will be "funded in part by the Turkish Coalition of America."

As I discussed in my previous article, Bruce Fein is 'resident scholar' at the Turkish Coalition of America, which incidentally shares an address with Bruce Fein & Associates. The president of TCA is Lincoln McCurdy who headed the American Turkish Council (ATC) for fifteen years. The ATC is at the heart of Sibel Edmonds' claims about Turkish corruption in the US.

In a related issue, Inside Higher Ed reminds us that when a scholar at the Institute of Turkish Studies at Georgetown University dared to mention 'genocide,' he was forced to quit, at risk of the Institute of Turkish Studies being shut down. As a reminder, the Executive Director of the Institute of Turkish Studies at Georgetown University is Sabri Sayari, named in Sibel Edmonds' Rogues Gallery.

Don't expect the University of Utah to publish anything critical of Turkey in the near future.

Bruce Fein is on the Turkish payroll. He wants to defend journalists (and, implicitly, lobbyists) when it comes to Israel, but he files spurious multi-million dollar lawsuits against those who criticize Israel's second-best friend, Turkey. This frivolous lawsuit against an anti-hate group, the SPLC, argues that it is wrong to allege that people like Lewy receive money from the Turkish government who deny the Armenian genocide, while the Turkish government, through Fein's TCA, gives money to the only university willing to publish Lewy's denialist book. And Lewy & Fein have the audacity to claim that criticizing his denial hurts his book sales!