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.


Kingfisher said...

Very interesting. Good work Luke.

If a message needed to be delivered by CIA, it would be delivered. Legislatures get angry and eventually get over it; relations between the local CIA Station and host nation security services remain cordial.

lukery said...

Thanks Kingfisher
(sorry for the delay replying)

The silence on all this stuff is surprising (kinda).

Kingfisher said...

lukery said...

thnx again

Anonymous said...

Frantz in fact did not move back to Turkey after leaving the L.A. Times. You should do better fact checking

lukery said...

Anon - thanks for your suggested correction. I'm traveling at the moment and can't find the reference to that claim. From memory, that claim came from a blurb from a Frantz PR piece (or possibly mediabistro).

I should have linked to it in my piece.

I will try to find it next week

lukery said...

Anon - here is one source that claims that "Frantz is returning to Istanbul" after leaving the LAT