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Winds of Change:
Troubled Waters Ahead For the Neo Cons
[The Bush-Cheney campaign is racing toward November. But it isn't only running toward the raw power it loves. It's running away from the punishment it fears. In this late-breaking story, FTW's Wayne Madsen maps out the lines of force in the current Plame and Chalabi scandals, showing them to be nodes of interpersonal influence and compromise that may soon crack the administration in half. The neocons' dark alliance with the right wing of Israeli politics has brought them enormous power. But it's unstable power, vulnerable to legal sanction and due process at the right pressure points. As Watergate proved decades ago, even a dying legal infrastructure can still throw a few jabs once in a while - if the CIA wants it to. --JAH]
August 11, 2004 0800 PDT (FTW) - The winds that have favored the neo-cons and their political and financial masters since George W. Bush's ascension to power may now be turning against them at gale force strength. There is a reason why Richard Perle and his American Enterprise Institute (AEI) friends, including "Second Lady" Lynne Cheney and former Reagan National Security Council staffer Michael Ledeen, were uncomfortable when Iraq con man and Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmed Chalabi's offices in Baghdad were raided this past May by Iraqi police, FBI and CIA officers. The Baghdad money trail may soon lead to Washington, DC. The sinewy links between the neo-cons, Ariel Sharon's Likud government, and the Chalabis should be a definite cause for concern by some Bush administration officials, and particularly troubling for Mrs. Cheney, who reportedly sits upon a $125,000 AEI fellowship funded by Likud Party interests.
The Chalabi files recovered by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement provided enough information for the FBI to begin a criminal investigation of a Baghdad-Jerusalem-Washington syndicate that is profiteering from America's misguided invasion and occupation of Iraq. The investigation led to shadowy Israeli-owned firms registered in Delaware and Panama that were fraudulently obtaining contracts and sub-contracts to provide everything from cellular phones and VIP security to the interrogation of Iraqi prisoners using seconded members of Israel's feared Unit 1391 "special techniques" interrogation center. Not only were these firms operating in Iraq with the concurrence of the neo-cons in the Pentagon but some U.S. government officials were personally benefiting from the contracts.
Peeling apart the Chalabi files demonstrated that the neo-con agenda for Iraq extended far beyond political ideology, into a realm where law enforcement can be most effective: fraud.
According to Pentagon and Justice Department sources, U.S. investigators discovered that Ahmad Chalabi and his business partners were involved in fraudulently obtaining cellular phone licenses in Iraq. The Pentagon's Undersecretary of Defense for International Technology Security John (Jack) Shaw smelled a neo-con rat when the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), in late 2003, awarded cellular phone contracts to three companies - Orascom, Atheer, and Asia-Cell - with ties to Ahmed Chalabi. As with all those who challenge the impropriety and illegal activities of the neo-cons, Shaw was, in turn, charged with improperly steering Iraq cell phone contracts to Qualcomm and Lucent. However, it is Shaw, reported by his longtime colleagues to be a solid and trustworthy public servant, who has the confidence of law enforcement, Pentagon investigators, and the military brass. Anything with Ahmed Chalabi's fingerprints on it also bears the fingerprints of his nephew Salem Chalabi. Salem, named as the chief prosecutor in Saddam Hussein's trial, is a law partner of L. Marc Zell, a Jerusalem-based attorney who was the law partner of Douglas Feith - the head of the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans that concocted phony intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda with the assistance of Likud operatives seconded by Ariel Sharon's government.
The law firm of Feith & Zell, in concert with Perle, was instrumental in funneling hundreds of millions of dollars from Arab and Muslim countries to the Bosnian government during that nation's civil war. While that effort was ostensibly designed to assist the Bosnians to purchase weapons, officials familiar with its actual operation reported that some of the arms and money "spilled over" to Al Qaeda and Iranian Pasdaran forces in the Balkans.
The neo-con attack on Shaw was predictable considering their previous attacks on Ambassador Joe Wilson, his wife Valerie Plame, former U.S. Central Command chief General Anthony Zinni, former counter-terrorism coordinator Richard Clarke, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, CIA counter-terrorism agent Michael Scheuer (the "anonymous" author of Imperial Hubris who has recently been gagged by the Bush administration), fired FBI translator Sibel Edmonds (who likely discovered a penetration by Israeli and other intelligence assets using the false flag of the Turkish American Council and who also has been gagged by the Bush administration), and all those who took on the global domination cabal. But Shaw showed incredible moxie. When he decided to investigate Pentagon Inspector General Reports that firms tied to Perle and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz were benefiting from windfall profit contracts in Iraq, Shaw decided to go to Iraq himself to find out what was going on. When Shaw was denied entry into Iraq by U.S. military officers (yes, a top level official of the Defense Department was denied access to Iraq by U.S. military personnel!), he decided to sneak into the country disguised as a Halliburton contractor. Using the cover of Cheney's old company to get the goods on Cheney's friends' illegal activities was yet another masterful stroke of genius by Shaw. But it also earned him the wrath of the neo-cons. They soon leaked a story to the Los Angeles Times claiming that Shaw actually snuck into Iraq to ensure that Qualcomm (on whose board sat a friend of Shaw's) was awarded a lucrative cell network contract.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Shaw, who worked for Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, represented the Old Guard Republican entity that in August 2003 set up shop in the Pentagon right under the noses of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith to investigate the neo-con cabal and their illegal contract deals. The entity, known as the International Armament and Technology Trade Directorate, was soon shut down as a result of neo-con pressure. Not to be deterred, Shaw continued his investigation of the neo-cons. Although the neo-cons told the Los Angeles Times that the FBI was investigating Shaw, the reverse was the case: the FBI was investigating the neo-cons, particularly Perle and Wolfowitz, for fraudulent activities involving Iraqi contracts. And in worse news for the neo-cons: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was giving the Inspector General's and Shaw's investigations a "wink and a nod" of approval.
The financial stakes for the Pentagon are high - the Iraqi CPA's Inspector General recently revealed that over $1 billion of Iraqi money was missing from the audit books on Iraqi contracts. For Shaw and the FBI, it was a matter of what they suspected for many years - that Perle, Wolfowitz, and their comrades were running entities that ensured favorable treatment for Israeli activities - whether they were business opportunities in a U.S.-occupied Arab country or protecting Israeli spies operating within the U.S. defense and intelligence establishments.
Shaw certainly must have recalled how, during the Reagan administration, an Israeli spy named Jonathan Pollard was able to steal massive amounts of sensitive U.S. intelligence over a long period of time and hand it over to his Israeli control officer, a dangerous and deadly agent provocateur named Rafael "Rafi" Eitan. That had disastrous effects on U.S. intelligence operations throughout the world because some of the documents were handed by the Israelis to the Soviets in return for letting more Soviet Jews emigrate to Israel.
Shaw must have also recalled that when a young National Security Council staffer named Douglas Feith was suspected of being an Israeli agent of influence, he was stripped of his job and security clearance by then- National Security Adviser Bill Clark but soon managed to find another job (and another top level clearance) under then Deputy Defense Secretary Richard Perle.
And it was certainly known that during Pollard's subsequent appeal of his life sentence for spying for Israel, one of his attorneys was none other than right-wing stalwart and neo-con friend, Ted Olsen, the former Solicitor General of the United States under Ashcroft and the person in charge of all U.S. attorneys. It was from Olsen's cadre of U.S. Attorneys that special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald was selected to investigate the Valerie Plame / Brewster, Jennings White House leak to the media and perhaps other high crimes by neo-con officials of the Bush administration.
Fitzgerald continues to expand his case against the leakers of Plame's identity. But he may be getting more than he originally bargained for. As his investigation expanded into the bowels of the Pentagon, he was bound to discover that the treachery of the neo-cons was not merely confined to the leaking of the name of a covert CIA officer - disastrous in itself - but coupled with other activities that call into question the loyalties and financial dealings of those who swore an oath to the U.S. Constitution.
With Ashcroft's deputy, James Comey, the person who appointed Fitzgerald, finding himself increasingly frozen out of Ashcroft's inner sanctum deliberations, it is clear that the neo-cons are worried about what Fitzgerald is discovering and how far his investigation will go. Also unusual was the fact that as Fitzgerald's case began to gain steam - with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney both retaining criminal defense attorneys - FBI Director Robert Mueller suddenly transferred the lead FBI agent on the Plame case, John C. Eckenrode, a well-seasoned 29-year veteran of the bureau, to head up the FBI's Philadelphia office. An FBI spokesman in Philadelphia said that such sudden transfers, in the middle of major investigations, sometimes, just "happen."
Make no mistake about it: the violation of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 by the disclosure of Plame's identity and that of her non-official cover corporate umbrella organization (Brewster, Jennings & Associates) along with its official counterpart, the CIA's Nonproliferation Center - had a disastrous impact on the ability of the United States to track the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction around the world. At least one anonymous star (representing a covert U.S. agent killed while working abroad) placed on the CIA's Wall of Honor during the past year was reportedly a direct result of the disastrous disclosures from Cheney's office. The political vendettas of the neo-cons in exposing Plame's dangerous work and retaliating against Wilson's revelations about Bush's use of bogus intelligence regarding a fanciful Iraqi uranium shopping spree in Niger ensured that America's military-intelligence complex was going to seek a final accounting with the neo-cons. And a final accounting they are getting, in spades.
Adding insult to injury, neither the CIA nor FBI were happy that Israeli spies operating under the cover of Israeli "art students' and moving van operators, and who were picked up by federal agents and local "first responder" law enforcement officers before and after 911, were quickly deported by immigration officers before they could be fully interrogated. The penetration of FBI and other federal law enforcement data networks and databases by Israeli software and telecommunications companies working under U.S. government contracts has also left a bitter taste in the mouths of federal law enforcement and intelligence personnel.
So now, it is payback time. The recent arrest warrants issued by the Iraqi government for Ahmed and Salem Chalabi (Ahmed's for counterfeiting Iraqi dinars and Salem's for murdering an Iraqi Finance Ministry official) indicates that Shaw's instincts about the fraud engaged in by them and their neo-con friends in the Pentagon were right on the money. Let us ponder that news again: the lead prosecutor against Saddam Hussein murders an official of the Iraqi Finance Ministry - an individual that just may have known something about what happened to $1 billion in missing Iraqi revenues. The accused is a partner of an Israeli-U.S. lawyer who is a close colleague of leading neo-cons in the Pentagon (some of whom are also dual U.S.-Israeli citizens) and the nephew of a man who was supported bureaucratically by a former CIA Director (James Woolsey), financially by hundreds of millions of dollars from the budget of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and politically by a think tank (AEI) that includes the wife of the Vice President of the United States. Uncle Ahmed was also a personal guest of George W. and Laura Bush in the VIP box at the 2004 State of the Union address. The President and First Lady welcomed a person who now is now an accused criminal to America's State of the Union address, a person whose nephew is now an accused murderer! John Le Carre could not have come up with a better international thriller scenario.
The recent decision by the chief judge in the Plame leak to order NBC's Tim Russert to testify about just who it was at the White House that contacted him about Plame's identity, while troubling for First Amendment freedom of the press protections, is an indication that time is growing short for the leakers. Three months before a U.S. presidential election, that could be a crucial windfall for John Kerry and the Democratic Party.
The neo-cons hoped the focus of the election campaign would be Saddam Hussein's trial. Instead, it may be the trials of the Chalabis and potentially other members of the Iraqi National Congress, the entity that was nurtured by Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, and Woolsey. However, the Chalabis escaped from Iraq before they could be arrested. If they turn up in the United States or in a member country of the laughable "coalition of the willing," the Bush administration and the neo-cons will be caught between a virtual rock and a hard place. If they refuse to hand over the Chalabis, their true motives will be on display for the entire world to see. If they help to turn over the Chalabis, they will be in a position to rat out their neo-con friends on the fraud already discovered by Shaw, the IGs of the Pentagon and CPA, the FBI, and the CIA. The neo-cons should never have underestimated by the CIA. When the agency came under attack, its allies were able to marshal all their impressive resources, including Bush 41 confidants C. Boyden Gray, Brent Scowcroft, James Baker III and even George H. W. Bush himself. The conflict between father and son now rivals that found in any Shakespearean tragedy.
And the penetration of the Pentagon over the past three years by those with close connections to Likud interests cannot sit well with either former Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger or former National Security Agency (NSA) Director and CIA Deputy Director Bobby Ray Inman, who ordered a severing of U.S. intelligence sharing with Israel after the Pollard affair and other Israeli penetrations of NSA signals intelligence programs through joint Israeli-NSA/CIA communications and satellite intelligence projects known as DINDI and PYREX, respectively. Those contracts were eventually canceled after Israeli engineers used friendly and sympathetic U.S. contract engineers working for RCA and Bendix Field Engineering to obtain Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) intelligence on NSA and CIA operations in the Middle East and around the world, including technical details of how the NSA intercepted microwave communications and information on a classified satellite intelligence system called MAROON SHIELD. The fact that Ahmed Chalabi, an ally of Pollard's old friends in the Pentagon, was recently caught passing on NSA cryptologic intelligence to Iran on the agency's ability to crack Iranian diplomatic and military codes must have served as a painful reminder to Weinberger, Inman, and other U.S. intelligence veterans who remember the duplicity of the Israelis going as far back as the purposeful 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, an NSA surveillance ship. It also ensured that the Republican Old Guard would continue to coalesce into a united front to ensure the ultimate routing of the neo-cons from their party.
There may yet be a silver lining in the mess brought about by the neo-cons. In addition to possible indictments of Libby, Wolfowitz, and others for everything ranging from contract fraud, to disseminating - via an Italian con man named Rocco Martino (a close confidant of Iran-contra Manucher Ghorbanifar with whom Ledeen rekindled a relationship in the lead-up to the Iraq fiasco) - Niger government documents known to be false, and leaking the name of a covert CIA agent and her proprietary firm, there may be a settling of accounts with Israel over the involvement of it and its agents of influence in the various scams that prodded the U.S. into a war in Iraq.
Every recent Israeli Prime Minister - Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, and Ariel Sharon - have demanded that Pollard be released by the United States and allowed to go to Israel. And every American administration - that of Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton, and up to now - Bush 43 - has refused. But it may be time for a deal with the Israelis - a deal that would, for once, favor U.S. national security interests over those of Israel. As the influence of the neo-cons drastically falls, the idea of a Cold War-style agent swap is gaining momentum. If Israel would release the formerly jailed Israeli nuclear scientist and convert to Christianity Mordechai Vanunu from a virtual house arrest in Jerusalem, the United States would release Pollard, who was granted Israeli citizenship after his imprisonment. Pollard's breaches of U.S. security, while very serious, have been mitigated by further advances in U.S. spy satellite and other surveillance technology over the years. But Vanunu's knowledge could be very helpful to the United States - so much so that a former Mossad chief revealed that the Israeli spy agency actually contemplated assassinating the scientist rather than forcibly kidnapping him from London.
One caveat on a deal - since when it comes to intelligence matters, Israel cannot be trusted to deal in good faith - Vanunu would be released and given a medical examination by independent American medical personnel before Pollard is turned over to the Israelis. The U.N. checkpoint in divided Nicosia, Cyprus might serve as the perfect "Checkpoint Charlie" for such a swap. Vanunu would be turned over to the Americans from the Greek side and into the relatively Israeli-Russian Mafia-free Turkish Northern Cyprus where he would be examined and given a clean bill of health (meaning no sudden "heart problems"), after which Pollard would be handed over to the Israelis on the Greek side.
The United States, after suffering major losses in its ability to track the proliferation of nuclear weapons because of the neo-con leaks and disinformation, would have a new intelligence asset in Vanunu - someone who had inside information about Israel's illegal acquisition of nuclear technology for years. Even though he was jailed in 1986, some of the illegal international nuclear trade networks operating out of the former U.S.S.R. and Eastern bloc - which Israel used to its own advantage and as a supply pipeline to its own Dimona nuclear weapons plant - may yet yield important intelligence for the CIA's Nonproliferation Center. Let Valerie Plame, whose more recent expertise in international nuclear proliferation would complement Vanunu's prior knowledge of such activities, serve as his debriefing officer - with a commensurate promotion in rank. Vanunu may even be useful in the continuing FBI criminal investigations of Israeli intelligence activities directed against the United States in the early 1980s - activities that continue to implicate senior members of the current Bush administration. In all, such a deal would be a major win for the national security of the United States.
Wayne Madsen is the author of the forthcoming book: "Jaded Tasks: Big Oil, Black Ops and Brass Plates." He was with the National Security Agency under the Reagan administration. He is now a syndicated columnist and Washington,DC-based investigative journalist.
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