In this installment, we discuss:
1. Brewster Jennings, and how that does, and does not, relate to Valerie Plame.
2. Sibel Edmonds and Brewster Jennings
3. The 911 cover-up
4. Why Dennis Hastert may resign before November.
(update - part 3 of the interview, Bad Leaks and Good Leaks, is here)
Luke Ryland: In your article you mention that the CIA's own internal assessment indicates that the Plame outing set back their WMD monitoring by a decade - that's incredibly damaging and reckless.
Larisa Alexandrovna: Correct.
Luke: That's a lot of damage from the outing of one person. Bob Novak went out of his way to drive the nail in the coffin with his second article where he specifically outed Brewster Jennings. The conventional wisdom seems to be that Brewster Jennings was a front just for Valerie Plame - how could the damage have been so significant?
LA: Well, yes, people assume that Brewster Jennings and Plame are one and the same - but that's not the case. Plame's team was just one team operating under the banner of Brewster Jennings, which was as we now know, a cover mechanism. There were other teams that were also operating under the Brewster Jennings banner.
Luke: OK. In your article, you mention the AQ Khan network. Presumably the things that Plame was tracking were coming in from Pakistan and Afghanistan and apparently Turkey as well. We know that Plame and Joe Wilson first met at that American-Turkish-Council party. Where does Turkey fit into this?
LA: No. This is incorrect. People are reading too much into the Turkey aspect. It's true that they met at that party, but that was just an embassy party. These parties happen all the time - they could have just as easily met at an AIPAC party, or a British embassy party or any other embassy, or highly regarded foreign group event.
Luke: But Sibel Edmonds has pointed to those events...
LA: That's true - but you have to remember that she is gagged, and she can't be very specific. I can't speak for her - but I think that she isn't actually pointing to Plame per se, but from what I know of the case - and I am not speaking for her of course - I think she is actually pointing to Brewster Jennings. I don't see anything connecting Plame to the American Turkish Council (ATC) at all - in terms of the leak - and why the leak happened. I just don't see how Plame ties to the ATC at all - I don't see any relationship there that I'm aware of. But remember - Plame and Brewster Jennings are two separate things.
Luke : Sibel talked about arms trafficking and drugs trafficking. From your reporting it seems that Plame was working pretty much just on the arms side...
Luke : OK. So you don't think that Sibel is really pointing to Plame, but rather Brewster Jennings. So is there any overlap at all then between your work and Sibel's story?
LA: I bumped into it - for sure - because some of the players overlap. Let's back up a bit. Remember what I said earlier about 'factions' and 'cookie-making-companies' - in a way, they are like competing mafia families. When Sibel was working as an FBI translator, she happened to get a window into one of these factions - and she has direct, first-hand knowledge of these things - so she can talk about those things as a direct source (well, she could if she wasn't gagged). Since then and separate from her own first hand knowledge - from what I understand - she's learned a lot about what may be related and how things may overlap. That said, her direct first hand knowledge is what she can speak to with any certainty (if she wasn't gagged) and in that regard, she is seeing one faction that overlaps in some ways with Brewster Jennings, but not with Plame or Plame’s team per se. There are other similar factions which she has learnt about since, which could be working together, but may also not be related at all. It is simply hard to tell because now we are talking about secondary or even tertiary information. No doubt there are factions working together, that is absolutely visible of course. But I think if you want to understand why Sibel is gagged, you need to stick to her own first hand account because that is all that she can say for sure (if she were not gagged) is to her knowledge true. So we need to keep those things separate, because it helps us understand the situation a little better, not just Sibel’s findings, but also how her story fits into other stories, if there is an overlap that is.
But to make a longer answer even longer (laughs) yes, there is some overlap in my reporting on Plame and her story. There are people who overlap - and some of them overlap simply because of where they work - or who they are in general - but they aren't necessarily specifically involved or related to all of the various threads - or even any of the other threads other than her own.
The problem that some people have in trying to understand the story is that people assume that there is, in some sense, a unifying theory of everything - but that's not the case. As result, people try to make all the pieces of information that they have fit into the one storyline. So this is where things get tricky - because people assume the Brewster Jennings and Valerie Plame are one and the same thing - and that events in Turkey are exactly related to Plame or that somehow the Plame leak is in and of itself a holy grail to answering the Iraq questions. That is just not the case, it is not that neat and orderly.
For example, I've seen it reported about Turkey and certain components being shipped to UAE, in the form of switches, which is true, that transaction did occur. But then the article conflates Plame’s outing with that transaction and that is not true, not at least from what I have been able to verify and see. On the other hand, could the transaction of the switches from Turkey to the UAE be related to Brewster Jennings? Possibly, but there is not enough to confirm that. In other words, you have a story (and I am sorry, but I cannot remember where the hell I read that) that has factual pieces in it but attempts to conflate them to solve a host of unrelated issues. It is also natural to want to make all the parts fit, but they do not. It is not that simple.
Luke: And the American Turkish Council and the Speaker of the House?
LA: Yes, the Vanity Fair piece of course. Now my understanding from the sources used by the writer (David Rose) that they had provided a great deal more on this account, but legal folks got involved and wanted certain things left out. I think that it is absolutely fair to believe this account to be true. First of all, the Speaker has yet to go on the record to fully deny these charges - apart from a glib reference. Secondly, the key witness/ whistleblower in this case, that is Sibel, is gagged under a rarely used gag, the states secret gag, so she cannot present her argument in court. The evidence also, from what I understand of the case does support her claims. So it is fair to say that there is reason to believe the Speaker Hastert is indeed taking money from foreign nationals, that is bribes, in exchange for something. In fact, the evidence was such that the FBI took this to the DOJ and an investigation was being assembled when the new administration came into office and Ashcroft, the then new Attorney General shut it down. Clearly shutting down an FBI/DOJ investigation instead of allowing it to move forward would also support the allegations against Hastert, but he is not alone in these allegations by any measure.
Luke: Well there were two allegations in the article. One was the ongoing bribery, and the other was the $500,000 for pulling the Armenian Genocide bill.
LA: No - well - sort of, but not really. The point is that there are only a couple of people who know, and obviously I cant report it and the key person who knows is gagged. So that leaves no room to fully and openly explore this. One would hope that in a democracy a citizen would have her right in court and the politically appointed AG would not shut down an FBI sting operation that had been going on for several years. One would hope that foreign nationals would not be bribing members of Congress and I don’t believe, at least from what I have seen, that these bribes have anything to do with a bill that Hastert may or may not have taken to the floor. Remember, this is about “making cookies” and those factions that we alluded to earlier. But if you really want to understand why Sibel is gagged, you need to focus on what happened with Hastert - not Hastert himself, but what happened with Hastert - because THAT is the holy grail to understanding why she is gagged - and also to some extent understanding Brewster Jennings. Not Plame - but Brewster Jennings - and that's the best I can do on the record (and off really).
Luke: Wow. That's interesting. Sibel described the way they quashed that investigation into Hastert in an interview recently - she said that it happened at the same time that she started reporting to Congress.
I actually run another blog called Disclose Denny which focuses on one of the claims in the Vanity Fair article where these Turkish groups were illegally financing his campaign and he refuses to open his books. It sure makes him look guilty.
LA: You are right. If Hastert is not being bribed, if these are false allegations, then he should stand up and go to court and address the accusers in court and say 'no I didnt do this' - or even in public. He should allow himself to be questioned and prove his innocence. But to have somebody gagged and to ignore the issue as though that should somehow indicate innocence is not very convincing. So until he corrects the record, and because Sibel is gagged - which gives her more credibility than him - I would say that it's quite probably true that he is being bribed. But I cannot emphasize enough that Hastert is not alone in this or even his “faction” as it were, rather, this is rampant abuse should these allegations be true.
Luke: Hopefully we can make that an election issue in Hastert's race against John Laesch in November
LA: I dont know - I dont think he's going to be running.
Luke: Wow - really?
LA: I have a feeling that the way things are going - remember, there are factional turf wars much like the kinds you see in organized crime. They're at each others' throats - because greed knows no loyalty. I think he's made a tactical error in attempting to remove Duncan Hunter from the Armed Services Committee.
Remember, regarding the Dubai ports deal, Duncan Hunter recently came forward and said that Dubai had allowed nuclear switches and heavy water to be shipped from Turkey, via Dubai, to Iran, the same switches I referenced above as being accurate but together in the wrong context - and shortly thereafter Hastert tried to remove (I am still trying to firm up what actually occurred) Hunter from the Armed Services Committee.
Luke: That's right - and Dubai rejected a U.S. request to stop the shipment.
LA: Right - and I think that really opens Hastert up - if Hunter wants to put some pressure on. In other words, Duncan Hunter is a fairly powerful individual, and fairly aggressive. Despite my reporting on Hunter in certain business areas of his, he really seems to be very much against outsourcing of security of any sort. There seems to be a principle there for him, and he seems to be very adamant about that. So Hunter and his faction have a lot of ammunition should Hunter want to retain his seat, or whatnot. It gives a lot of power and persuasion to that argument. So it should be interesting how this plays out
Luke: Interesting indeed.
Moving on. Sibel talks about 911 as well. Do you know anything about that part of her story?
LA: Again, I think she's pointing to something and everyone thinks she has the Holy Grail to 911 and she doesn't. She just has certain transactions that may or may not be related - there's just no way to tell. She knows this herself - she knows she can't really clarify - but people are getting a misunderstanding that she somehow holds the grail to 911 and that's not the case. She has pieces that could, if put together in a particular context, and thoroughly verified, could possibly be of import as evidence of certain other people being involved. But this doesn't even in any way implicate any American government officials. It still implicates foreign assets - so again, it's not what people think it is.
Sibel is gagged and so she has to communicate out the best she can. She is very brave and very determined, but people keep assigning to her assumptions that are not true. Sibel saw a couple of pieces where info, without context, was possibly suggesting certain foreigners had financial dealings with regard to 911. But, that is not to say that in context those same dealings would be business as usual. For example, if one were to look at the Carlyle Group meeting on 911, it would seem very suspect on the surface. But 911 only exposed what had already been going on anyway, that is to say, there were many meetings of that type on many other days and no one seemed to have noticed or cared, but on 911 that meeting took on a whole other perception. So that is what I mean by context.
So if we, for example, assume for the sake of this conversation that what Sibel translated or intercepted with regard to 911 transactions had a context that would make it out of the ordinary and clearly implicate other people, then all things being equal, we are still looking at foreign nationals and from the same part of the world. It would certainly help provide a more accurate picture and if the pieces were put together and fully vetted it may also lead to other implications.
Honestly, the best way I can summarize this is as follows with the above caveat included in my summary:
Sibel translated/intercepted a series of transactions between foreign nationals and certain suspected members of the plot. Those foreign nationals are from the same part of the world as the official story has put forth as the primary part of the world where the plotters came from. Those foreign nationals may or may not have had certain sensitive business relationships which they may or may not have had for a very long period of time anyway. But should those foreign nationals be identified to be close to certain business interests and should those business interests be operating on the less than legal side of things, then after the proper vetting and corroboration, it could be said that certain business interests may be at the very least put into an embarrassing position. These business interests may or may not have had a business relationship with the front of Brewster Jennings, but again, we are operating without the full context and historical references here. So while it could be damning to some in terms of what Sibel uncovered, it is by no means what people are making it out to be. Sibel cannot clarify or defend her position on this as she is gagged, but she does the best she can by trying to point here and there.
Luke: Did you read that transcript of the interview that Sibel did with Meria Heller? That had some specifics about what Sibel knows, and doesn't know, about 911 - and she specifically mentions the cover-up, and that she's aware of documented proof that there are certain 'brand-name' American officials who are walking the streets when they should be in jail.
Sibel Edmonds: I can tell you -for sure - with 100% certainty - that they have gone out of their way to cover up the real entities involved in the 911 terrorist attacks - they have gone out of their way NOT to investigate.
There are certain individuals (officials - some appointed, some of them elected) who were involved with these support networks... some of them indirectly, but yet knowingly and directly involved
LA: Ok - she's right - but not for reasons that people think or, if she's talking about something that I have not seen, I'd certainly like to see it. Sure - they should be in jail. I assume she's talking about Feith and Perle and again, you're talking about certain characters overlapping in storylines - but that's not to say that they're in that actual 911 connection. Again, if you look closely, she is not really saying that, she is pointing at something around that. But in terms of Feith and Perle and business dealings that are shady if not criminal, she is right that they should be locked up. But she in no way says that they were implicated in 911 or in a 911 cover up and I don’t think she means there is a 911 cover up even, other than what I said above and why she is gagged “embarrassing to diplomatic relationships”.
Luke: Ok - I don't think that she specifically says that any of them were actively involved in 911 - however she does say that the government is actively covering it up
LA: Well - Ok. That's different - that may be true - but that has nothing to do with 911 per se. That has to do with possibly embarrassing business connections - let's put it that way. And that's why they could be - I stress COULD BE - covering it up for. But again - all I've seen is that it implicates the same group of Arab families, and those relationships and I can see that one could argue that if you look at those families and those certain relationships that you can see that there are certain American business relationships involved. But American business interests are all over the place - you know - what if China did something to us? Despite Wal mart’s shady business dealings, that would hardly make Wal mart culpable. So the relationships may be embarrassing and nothing more. We simply do not have the full context.
Either way, It's really the same group of people that we already know about - and the same things that we already know about - namely - it's in the genre of the Dubai money transfer to Atta - it's sort of a similar kind of thing. So it doesn't really take the story away from where it is now - however, there are people who overlap - that's true - so if there are people covering up - and again, that's a big IF, because I don’t have any proof. I mean - I have my own speculation, but in terms of journalistic reporting, I have no proof - but if they are covering up - it would be in terms of the business interests. That I could understand, I could see that happening.
Luke: OK. Speaking of Atta and that Dubai money transfer, one of the other things that Sibel points to is those meetings during the week of 911 between General Mahmoud of ISI and Grossman and others, including some of your friends like Porter Goss. Do you know anything about those meetings?
LA: Well - yeah - I have questions about those meetings, but again those meetings were business meetings. That's what I'm trying to say. On that same day there were a series of business meetings - not the least of which was the meeting of the Carlyle Group, again, a good example of this - with Bush 41 and the Bin Ladens meeting on that very day. There were a number of very interesting meetings - but if there wasn't any 911, we probably wouldn't be looking at those meetings at all. Remember, those meetings have been going on for quite some time - so it's just that 911 shed a light on those activities. One can speculate, but one must take into account historical relationships and activities. On the face of that, the meeting per say with Goss, Grossman, etc., does not say anything different from the meetings they have had in the past. But, I don’t think that Sibel is pointing at those meetings and saying “look here, these guys are involved in 911 and a cover up or something.” I suspect, and with good reason, that she is pointing to the people and their business dealings, because it is easy to point out a meeting where some of the players were assembled. But I should say that I may be entirely wrong and she may have an entire arsenal of things she intercepted that no one is privy to. But from what I have seen, it would appear that she is pointing to business dealings of an illegal nature, that is the issue.
Luke: Right - so you are saying that the meetings are interesting, but that that there is nothing significant about the fact that they happened at that time.
LA: Correct. I think they're interesting - and we should be interested in them - and when Sibel says that people should be in jail, I agree with her - because - not specifically those meetings - but certainly some of the other meetings, and some of the same people - what they're involved in is absolutely illegal - that is correct - but that's not to say that its related to 911. There is not enough to tie one thing to the other at all. Those meetings were going on anyway - it's just that 911 made us look at them. The meetings happened all these other times too. So, yes, the timing of the meetings is questionable - but the meetings themselves should be questioned - and should have been questioned for some time. I think she is pointing to the meetings and the people, not a specific date or if she is pointing to that date, then something else was going on business wise that she wants us to look at, but in terms of a direct link to 911 and Feith and Perle, nothing, nothing I have seen. Plus, while the official story has more holes than cheese, one must remember that sometimes if there is a cover up, that cover up could be for a whole set of other reasons that literally have nothing to do with the crime itself. If certain business dealings were unveiled because of 911, not that they were responsible for or related to it, but simply unveiled, then that damage would be more significant to a democratic government than a single attack could ever have been. Osama can not bring down America from the outside and with one attack, even, although it was a tragedy, but the subverting of the democratic process and corrupting the representative government can bring America to its knees.
Luke: That's very interesting. And given her language specialties (Turkish, Farsi and Azeri) she was looking primarily at Turkey and the other Central Asian countries where she notes that the Americans are building military bases
LA: Correct - and if you look - where are all these storylines going?
Luke: Straight to Iran
LA: Right - and that would answer some of your questions - without me having to say much more.
update - part 3 of the interview, Bad Leaks and Good Leaks, is here