Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thoughts on 'Hijacking'

I wanted to make a few comments about Sibels White Paper "Hijacking of a Nation. Part 1: The Foreign Agent Factor" from last week before Part 2 of her White Paper is published (I'll publish it on Wednesday)

1. Sibel described how Saudi Arabia was able to whitewash their involvement in 9/11 in the original congressional inquiry report. What isn't widely known is that Pakistan reportedly whitewashed their own involvement in the 911 Commission Report.

2. Sibel notes that both the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) are inadequate. Scott Ritter recently had some choice words to say about Israel & AIPAC on that front.

3. We'll take a closer look at some of the 'lobbying' efforts by Turkey involving Dennis Hastert and Bob Livingston as they pertain to Sibel's case

As a refresher, here's the nub of Sibel's paper:
"Foreign governments and foreign-owned private interests have long sought to influence U.S. public policy. Several have accomplished this goal; those who are able and willing to pay what it takes. Those who buy themselves a few strategic middlemen, commonly known as pimps, while in DC circles referred to as foreign registered agents and lobbyists, who facilitate and bring about desired transactions. These successful foreign entities have mastered the art of ‘covering all the bases’ when it comes to buying influence in Washington DC. They have the required recipe down pat: get yourself a few ‘Dime a Dozen Generals,’ bid high in the ‘former statesmen lobby auction’, and put in your pocket one or two ‘ex-congressmen turned lobbyists’ who know the ropes when it comes to pocketing a few dozen who still serve.

The most important facet of this influence to consider is what happens when the active and powerful foreign entities’ objectives are in direct conflict with our nation’s objectives and its interests and security; and when this is the case, who pays the ultimate price and how. There is no need for assumptions of hypothetical situations to answer these questions, since throughout recent history we have repeatedly faced the dire consequences of the highjacking of our foreign and domestic policies by these so-called foreign agents of foreign influence."
In Sibel's paper, she used the example of the Saudis whitewashing-via-redaction of the initial inquiry into 9/11, quoting Senator Bob Graham: “It was as if the President’s loyalty lay more with Saudi Arabia than with America’s safety.”

Sibel then notes that "While Saudi Arabia has been specifically pointed to by Graham, other countries involved have yet to be identified." It appears that one of those countries is Pakistan which was apparently able to whitewash the 911 Commission report with some last minute 'lobbying':
Pakistan gave tens of thousands of dollars through its lobbyists in the United States to members of the 9/11 inquiry commission to 'convince' them to drop some anti-Pakistan findings in the report.

According to the FO (Foreign Office) official, 'dramatic changes' were made in the final draft of the inquiry commission report after Pakistani lobbyists arranged meetings with members of the Commission and convinced them to remove anti-Pakistan findings. This information is also given in the PAC records available with TFT and reveals that Pakistan won over the sympathies of 75 US Congressmen as part of its strategy to guard the interests of Pakistan in the United States.
According to Sadiq, a few days before the completion of the inquiry report, US lobbyists told embassy officials that they had inside information that the inquiry commission had damaging findings on Pakistan`s role in 9/11. Meetings were hence arranged with commission members who were convinced to drop this information."
For the record, I can't prove that this is true. However, it was reported both in Pakistan and India and the reports claim that the expenditure is documented in offical records in Pakistan. I've detailed Pakistan's (registered) lobbying firms from the relevant timeframe here.

We don't know whether Pakistan was using any unregistered lobbying firms which brings me to my second issue - the inadequacies of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) and the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA).

As Sibel notes in her piece:
There are a number of exemptions (for FARA) . For example, persons whose activities are of a purely commercial nature or of a religious, academic, and charitable nature are exempt. Any agent who is engaged in lobbying activities and is registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) is exempt.
AIPAC, for example, is not registered under FARA. In a speech last month (youtube, transcript), Scott Ritter explained why this might be a problem:
"One of the big problems - and here comes the grenade - is Israel. The second you mention the word 'Israel', the nation of Israel, the concept of Israel, many in the American press become very defensive. We're not allowed to be highly critical of the state of Israel.

The other thing we're not allowed to do is discuss the notion that Israel, and the notion of Israeli interests, may in fact be dictating what America is doing. That what we're doing in the Midle East may not be to the benefit of America's National Security, but to Israel's National Security.
But we don't want to talk about that - because one of the great success stories out there is the pro-Israel Lobby which has successfully enabled themselves to blend the two together - so that when we speak of Israeli interests, they say 'No - we're speaking of American interests'

It's interesting that AIPAC and other elements of the Israeli Lobby don't have to register as agents of a foreign government. It'd be nice if they did, because then we'd know when they're advocating on behalf of Israel, and when they're advocating on behalf of the USA.

I'd challenge the New York Times to sit down and do a critical story on Israel, on the role that Israel plays in influencing American foreign policy. There's nothing wrong with Israel trying to influence American foreign policy - let me make that clear. The British seek to influence our foreign policy. The French seek to influence our foreign policy. The Saudis seek to influence our foreign policy. The difference is that when they do it, and they bring American citizens into play, these Americans, once they take the money of a foreign government, and they advocate on behalf of a foreign government, they register themselves as an agent of that govt so we know where they're coming from. That's all I'm asking the Israelis to do - let us know where you're coming from. Stop confusing the American public that Israel's interests are necessarily America's interests."

Another major 'lobbying' group which is not registered under FARA is the American Turkish Council (ATC) - an organization which is at the heart of Sibel's case.

Sibel briefly described Turkey's centrality to her case in her White Paper:
I won’t get into the details and history of my own case, where the government invoked the state secrets privilege to gag my case and the congress in order to ‘protect certain sensitive diplomatic relations.’ The country, the foreign influence, in this case was the Republic of Turkey. The U.S. government did so despite the far reaching consequences of burying the facts involved, and disregarded the interests and security of the nation; all to protect a quasi ally engaged in numerous illegitimate activities within the global terrorist networks, nuclear black-market and narcotics activities; an ally who happens to be another compulsive and loyal buyer of the Military Industrial Complex; an ally who happens to be another savvy player in recruiting top U.S. players as its foreign agents and spending million of dollars per year to the lobbying groups headed by many ‘formers.’ Turkey’s agent list includes generals such as Joseph Ralston and Brent Scowcroft, former statesmen such as William Cohen and Marc Grossman, and of course famous ex-congressmen such as Bob Livingston and Stephen Solarz. Turkey too seems to have all its bases covered.
All of the people that Sibel mention here in relation to her case, a case about Turkey's foreign influence, are active in the ATC - yet the ATC isn't registered as an agent of foreign influence.

The ATC features in Sibel's case in a number of (apparently) different ways:
1. The FBI's Counter-Intelligence unit was actively monitoring the ATC (perhaps going back to 1996) because the ATC 'was engaged in illegal activities and illegal campaign donations.'

2. The FBI translator who tried to 'recruit' Sibel previously worked at the ATC, lied about it on her job application form, and rearranged the internal FBI work processes so that she alone translated all of the ATC wiretaps.

3. It appears that at least some of the bribes that Dennis Hastert received were handled by the ATC (or it's sub-organizations) and/or were discussed on ATC wiretaps.

4. Sibel says that Bob Livingston's multi-million-dollar contract from 'Turkey' is not actually with the Republic of Turkey, despite his FARA filings. Is the ATC paying Livingston?

Let's take a closer look at Hastert.

The Vanity Fair article details 3 different types of bribes, as detailed on the wiretaps (Sibel isn't the source for these claims) : a) illegal campaign donations b) 'tens of thousands of dollars... for political favors and information' c) $500,000 for withdrawing a bill. Many of these wiretapped phone conversations were between officials at the Turkish embassy and the ATC.

The ATC is regarded as one of the most powerful lobbies in DC - yet when Hastert was asked by Vanity Fair about the A.T.C. and other groups mentioned in the wiretaps, his spokesman replied: “(Hastert) does not know these organizations.”

Sibel wasn't impressed with Hastert's claims that he doesn't know these organtizations - she wrote:
a. Please refer to Mr. Hastert’s trips to Turkey (all trips that took place- 1996- 2002); its sponsors…they are self evident. Now how can he claim not knowing these entities (very intimately)?

b. Also, should we refer to Mr. Hastert’s dealing with the named foreign organization via [former House Speaker] Bob Livingston’s lobbying firm (Livingston Group)?
She's basically calling Hastert a liar - and threatening him with more revelations regarding Hastert, Livingston, and the ATC

Let's take a closer look at Bob Livingston.

Public Citizen did a report in June 05 called "Congressional Revolving Doors: The Journey from Congress to K Street" and they took a close look at Bob Livingston, particularly his relationship with Turkey:
Since 2000, Livingston has taken in more than $11 million from foreign governments and the vast majority of that money, $9 million, has come from Turkey, with $1 million more each from Morocco and the Cayman Islands.
Livingston actually registers his work with FARA, as required - identifying the client as "Republic of Turkey, Embassy" - however in an interview in January, Sibel said:
"(Livingston) is charging $1.2m - He's charging Turkey - and this is not the government of Turkish Republic, this is ummm... Who are these people who are paying him $1.2m per year? To do what? That is the question."
I don't know who is paying Livingston, or why, but violating FARA is a criminal offence - so if Livingston says that the Republic of Turkey is the client, and Sibel says the client is someone or something else, then Livingston might be in trouble (I suspect that FARA is the least of his problems)

On a final note, this is from an interview Sibel gave in May 04.
Jim Hogue: Here's a question that you might be able to answer: What is al-Qaeda?

Sibel Edmonds: This is a very interesting and complex question. When you think of al-Qaeda, you are not thinking of al-Qaeda in terms of one particular country, or one particular organization. You are looking at this massive movement that stretches to tens and tens of countries. And it involves a lot of sub-organizations and sub-sub-organizations and branches and it's extremely complicated. So to just narrow it down and say al-Qaeda and the Saudis, or to say it's what they had at the camp in Afghanistan, is extremely misleading. And we don't hear the extent of the penetration that this organization and the sub-organizations have throughout the world, throughout their networks and throughout their various activities. It's extremely sophisticated. And then you involve a significant amount of money into this equation. Then things start getting a lot of overlap-- money laundering, and drugs and terrorist activities and their support networks converging in several points. That's what I'm trying to convey without being too specific. And this money travels. And you start trying to go to the root of it and it's getting into somebody's political campaign, and somebody's lobbying.
Curiously, I suspect that if Hogue had asked Sibel "What is the American Turkish Council?" - her answer might have been quite similar.

Sibel has put out a challenge:
"Put out those tapes. Put out those wiretaps. Put out those documents. Put out the truth. The truth is going to hurt them. The truth is going to set me free."
I agree. Release the tapes.

If you agree, please sign her petition.


Winter Patriot said...

Good work, as usual, Luke. Thanks.

rimone said...

done and done, luke

«—U®Anu§—» said...

I did this. Then I saw my e-mail would be sent to Inhofe, Coburn and Istook who, incidentally, just LOST the race for governor of Oklahoma, bwahahaha! I hope it helps nice Sibel, who I'm certain admires me from afar.