Former 'Gagged' FBI Whistleblower Alleges Pentagon, State Department Officials Overheard Receiving Payoffs in Exchange for Classified Info; Crimes Covered Up at Highest Levels of Government
U.S. Media Scooped Again, Failed to Air Claims After Offer of Disclosure by Edmonds in Recent BRAD BLOG Exclusives... [UPDATED SEVERAL TIMES]
By Brad Friedman on 1/6/2008, 2:59am PT  

-- By Brad Friedman

[Updated --- now several times --- with a number of significant items, additional info, background, reaction and analysis from around the blogosphere, all at the end of the article.]

Sibel Edmonds, the former FBI translator who has been under a Bush administration gag order for the past 5 years, has now begun to disclose some of the classified information she has been prohibited from revealing.

"A WHISTLEBLOWER has made a series of extraordinary claims about how corrupt government officials allowed Pakistan and other states to steal nuclear weapons secrets," reports Great Britain's Sunday Times in the lede of their front page exclusive, headlined "For sale: West’s deadly nuclear secrets."

In the article, just filed tonight, Edmonds reveals details overheard on wiretaps she translated during her time at the FBI, just after 9/11. Her disclosures to the Times reveal a maze of nuclear black market espionage involving U.S. Defense and State Department officials, that resulted in the sale and propagation of nuclear secrets to Turkish and Israeli interests. In turn, that information was then sold to Pakistan and used by A.Q. Kahn for development of nuclear weapons. The secrets were subsequently proliferated to Iran, Libya, North Korea, and potentially al-Qaeda's Osama bin Laden, just weeks prior to September 11th, 2001.

The explosive allegations, shared with the Sunday Times over the last several weeks, follow on the heels of two reports published late last year by The BRAD BLOG, based on our own exclusive interviews with Edmonds.

While not everything Edmonds has to reveal is reported by the Times tonight, the foreign paper's front-page feature underscores, yet again, the failure of the U.S. mainstream media to adequately report on issues of extraordinary importance to American national security.

In late October, Edmonds had told The BRAD BLOG she was prepared to reveal the information to any major U.S. broadcast media outlet, after feeling that she had exhausted all efforts to see the disturbing information properly investigated by U.S. Government agencies. She had, in fact, spent years in classified interviews with high-ranking officials from the FBI, DoJ, 9/11 Commission and both houses of the U.S. Congress, in hopes of seeing accountability brought concerning the issues of national security, which the DoJ's own Inspector General had described as "credible," "serious," and "warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI."

Despite broken promises for hearings on her case by U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), support from Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and a number of mainstream exposés several years ago detailing aspects of her story before she was willing to break her unprecedented "States Secrets Privilege" gag order, none of the American broadcast media outlets took her up on her offer.

"She has now decided to divulge some of that information after becoming disillusioned with the US authorities' failure to act," reports the Sunday Times tonight...

In our mid-November follow-up article, the legendary 1970's whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg had excoriated the U.S. media for their failure to cover the story, even as Edmonds was risking jail in order to expose crimes and massive corruption, allegedly, in the highest levels of the government. At the time, Ellsberg told us that he believed the information she had been forced by the Administration to withhold "is far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers."

Ellsberg is known for having released thousands of pages of top-secret Defense Department documents, concerning America's involvement in Vietnam, to the New York Times in 1971, in what became a landmark whistleblower case.

"I can tell the American public exactly what it is, and what it is that they are covering up," Edmonds had promised in our October article. But it was, in fact, a UK media outlet that finally took up the Turkish-born, American citizen's offer for the whistleblower interview. The result is the release of explosive details on at least one aspect of the U.S. national security-related secrets that she is now willing to disclose.

"What I found was damning," Edmonds tells the Times about the information she learned while at the FBI concerning the nuclear blackmarket activities and proliferation of several government agencies, including her own unit at the FBI. "While the FBI was investigating, several arms of the government were shielding what was going on."

Among the newly disclosed information from Edmonds, in the extraordinary front-page Times article tonight:

● Foreign intelligence agents from Turkey, Israel and Pakistan enlisted the support of high-level US officials in order to acquire a network of moles deep inside of sensitive American military and nuclear agencies, including "PhD students – with security clearance [at] Los Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico, which is responsible for the security of the US nuclear deterrent."

● Members of the diplomatic community were given lists of potential "moles" at the sensitive installations. Edmonds tells the Times: "the lists contained all their 'hooking points', which could be financial or sexual pressure points, their exact job in the Pentagon and what stuff they had access to."

● Well-known US officials were then bribed by foreign agents to steal US nuclear secrets. One such incident from 2000 involves an agent overheard on a wiretap discussing "nuclear information that had been stolen from an air force base in Alabama," in which the agent allegedly is heard saying: "We have a package and we’re going to sell it for $250,000."

● Nuclear secrets were then subsequently sold by foreign agents to America's enemies, including Iran, North Korea and Libya.

● Pakistani officials involved in the nuclear black market network have significant cross-over with al-Qaeda and 9/11. Officials such as the chief of ISI, Pakistan's spy agency, allegedly sent $100,000 to 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, and aides of A.Q. Kahn --- who had used the stolen secrets to develop nuclear weapons for Pakistan --- met with Osama bin Laden "weeks before 9/ discuss an Al-Qaeda nuclear device."

● Elements of the US government have repeatedly shut down investigations into these crimes under the guise of protecting "certain diplomatic relations."

● The US government has been aware of all of the above information since at least 2001.

Read the Times' full article for many more disturbing details and connected dots.

But we can add to at least one item of note in their report, concerning an unnamed "well-known senior official in the US State Department," allegedly heard to have received bribes as part of the network. According to the paper:

Among the hours of covert tape recordings, she says she heard evidence that one well-known senior official in the US State Department was being paid by Turkish agents in Washington who were selling the information on to black market buyers, including Pakistan.

The name of the official – who has held a series of top government posts – is known to The Sunday Times. He strongly denies the claims.

However, Edmonds said: “He was aiding foreign operatives against US interests by passing them highly classified information, not only from the State Department but also from the Pentagon, in exchange for money, position and political objectives.”

She claims that the FBI was also gathering evidence against senior Pentagon officials – including household names – who were aiding foreign agents.
"In one conversation Edmonds heard the official arranging to pick up a $15,000 cash bribe."
Edmonds said: “I heard at least three transactions like this over a period of 2½ years. There are almost certainly more.”

While that "well-known senior" State Department official is not named by the paper, Australia's Luke Ryland, who writes at a number of sites as "Lukery", is perhaps the world's foremost expert concerning the Sibel Edmonds story. Ryland has told The BRAD BLOG that the official, unnamed by the Times, is Marc Grossman.

Grossman was the U.S. Ambassador to Turkey ('94-'97), the Asst. Sec. of State for European Affairs ('97-'00) and served under Colin Powell and Richard Armitage at the State Department from 2001 to 2005 as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. He's currently employed as the Vice Chairman of the D.C. and China-based consulting firm, The Cohen Group, founded by the former Republican Defense Secretary for Bill Clinton, William S. Cohen.

"The Cohen Group provides global business consulting services and advice on tactical and strategic opportunities in virtually every market," advertises the firm on the front page of their website.

Additional information on a related angle of Grossman's alleged involvement in these matters was reported by the prolific Ryland in 2006, on his blog, WotIsItGood4.

"The senior official in the State Department [who] no longer works there" offered the Times this non-denial denial of Edmonds' allegations: "If you are calling me to say somebody said that I took money that’s outrageous," he reportedly said. "I do not have anything to say about such stupid ridiculous things as this."

Apparently, he also doesn't have anything to say, along the lines of "I never took any such money, or did any such thing," either.

"In researching this article, The Sunday Times has talked to two FBI officers (one serving, one former) and two former CIA sources who worked on nuclear proliferation," the paper writes. "While none was aware of specific allegations against officials she names, they did provide overlapping corroboration of Edmonds’s story."

In a 15-page 2005 exposé in Vanity Fair, concerning yet another, if perhaps-related, aspect of Edmonds' allegations, British reporter David Rose detailed charges of nearly $500,000 in bribes from Turkish interests, said to have been prepared for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL). His attorney has denied those allegations, though, in another BRAD BLOG exclusive, Edmonds challenged specific details of the denial. Hastert recently resigned from Congress, sparking speculation for his sudden departure after reports by ABC News in 2006, that he was under DoJ investigation for bribery charges related to convicted Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

In our October story, Edmonds had told us that, in addition to Hastert, she was prepared to name and give details of corruption involving at least "two other well-known" members of Congress. She told us at the time that they are both Republicans from the U.S. House and "one of them is recently no longer there."

For more details on the Edmonds case, in an easy to read primer, see "What The Heck is the Sibel Edmonds Case Anyway? And Why Should You Care About It?", a recent BRAD BLOG item based, in part, on the reporting of Ryland.

Whether the Sunday Times story tonight will give permission to the U.S. corporate media to finally pick up the story, and cover the many still-unreported aspects of Edmonds' charges, remains to be seen.

If any of them wish to contact us, we'll be happy, as we've offered many times, to help put them in contact with her.

As our friend Joseph Cannon mentions tonight, in relation to our coverage of the at least 4-years-overdue New York Times Magazine's Sunday cover story on the disaster of e-voting: "Journalism delayed is journalism denied."

UPDATE 12:06pm PT: Several notable reactions, furtherances of today's Sunday Times front page stunner...

● As usual, Luke Ryland offers tons of info, analysis, links and background in his dKos coverage (cross-posted at Let Sibel Edmonds Speak). Just a couple of the notable passages offering additional context on the story, from his coverage today:

The Times article then notes something that I reported 18 months ago. Immediately after 911, the FBI arrested a bunch of people suspected of being involved with the attacks - including four associates of key targets of FBI's counterintelligence operations. Sibel heard the targets tell Marc Grossman: "We need to get them out of the US because we can’t afford for them to spill the beans." Grossman duly facilitated their release from jail and the suspects immediately left the country without further investigation or interrogation.

Let me repeat that for emphasis: The #3 guy at the State Dept facilitated the immediate release of 911 suspects at the request of targets of the FBI's investigation.

...and this...

high-level Pentagon officials were maintaining 'dossiers' on the sexual and financial proclivities of their underlings in order to be able to blackmail them.

I know that many of you have been (rightly) concerned about FISA, and many of you have (rightly) been confused by the inexplicable behaviour of Democrats in Congress, and wonder why they behave as though they are being blackmailed.

Now you know.

● Rightwing blogger and "9/11 conspiracy theory debunker", Pat Curley, a previous --- and we would add, irresponsible --- critic of Edmonds' at ScrewLooseChange, offers what can only be seen as an ersatz apology for his previous coverage, in his item on today's news. Still, we note he has yet to retract, or issue a specific apology to Edmonds, for comments made in his previous irresponsible coverage. Given the focus of the Screw Loose Change site, we'd think journalistic integrity would be paramount, and that he'd add a retraction/apology to his previous coverage, if he's actually had the change of heart today's post would seem to indicate.

● Blogger Joseph Cannon describes the piece as a "BOMBSHELL!" and offers additional details on Pakistan's ISI chief Mahmoud Ahmad --- who is central to the Times story, and Edmonds allegations --- including his relationship to both al-Qaeda, and a very cozy relationship with the neo-Cons in D.C. Writes Cannon:

Get the picture? Valerie Plame was trying to stop Khan in his tracks. But Armitage stopped Valerie Plame in her tracks. Armitage and his neocon comrades are good buddies with Mehmood Ahmad, who was engineering this trade in nukes.

● And, speaking of the Plame angle, her former CIA classmate, former CIA analyst Larry Johnson of NoQuarter notes this, about Edmonds claims of payoffs to Grossman, Hastert and others, in his coverage this morning:

The role that foreign money and intelligence officers have played in U.S. politics is not a Sibel Edmonds fantasy. The woman is simply trying to tell folks what she heard. This matter needs to be investigated. I do not believe that Sibel is making up what she heard.

UPDATE 1:14pm PT: Further reaction from the 'sphere...

● Our friend, RAW STORY investigative journalist, Larisa Alexandrovna, a longtime expert on this particular foreign affairs/nuclear black market beat, adds some thoughts and details on her at-Largely blog (and also cross-posted to Huffington Post.)

She too confirms the unnamed State Dept. official from the story to be Marc Grossman, and writes: "The Times could have published the name and also provided the denial from Grossman's camp. I find it incredibly disturbing that they would not name the official."

Noting that her source for this information is not Edmonds, she also adds the following about some of the other unnamed officials referred to in the story:

Those senior DOD officials that are not mentioned the Times, all but one are no longer in government. They are alleged to be Doug Feith, Richard Perle, among others. There is also one person who is part of these allegations, still serving in a high level position at the DOD. His last name begins with an E. she goes on to include this additional excoriation of the Times' unwillingness to name names, and of the dangers of outsourcing national security to the global marketplace:

That the Times ran these allegations (she is under a state secrets gag folks, so it is not like she is gagged for lying) is encouraging. But that they omitted all names from the allegations is unethical. The point of a free press is not to protect the powerful against the weak, but to protect the public from the powerful. The Times was willing to stick a toe in, but was not willing to risk upsetting a foreign government (This is, after all, a British paper).

There are more names, including members of Congress and people serving in the FBI. This is what happens when basic government services as well as the most sensitive government functions are outsourced to the global marketplace.
You can see why Edmonds had to be silenced for "diplomatic reasons." As though diplomatic (read: business) relationships are more important than national security.

UPDATE 11:38pm PT: More reaction and analysis coming in late tonight...

Justin Raimondo, editorial director of and a contributing editor for The American Conservative adds a great deal of linked context and background in his detailed coverage of the Times piece. He says of Edmonds allegations: "if true, it's the story of the decade."

He frames his article around last night's Presidential Debate, in which ABC's Charles Gibson asked the Democratic candidates a remarkable question, in light of the Edmonds allegations today. "The next president may have to deal with a nuclear attack," Gibson said. "The day after a nuclear weapon goes off in an American city, what would we wish we had done to prevent it and what will we actually do on the day after?"

None of the candidates rose to the occasion and most seemed baffled, writes Raimondo, who sums of the details of this whole sordid tale this way...

Corruption and a massive cover-up organized at the highest levels of government – America's nuclear secrets and technology looted on a massive scale, and sold to our enemies via a network set up by our alleged foreign "friends," while the threat of nuclear terrorism hangs over our country like a thick fog of fear, and warmongering politicians scare us into going along with the program – if even half of what Edmonds alleges turns out to be true, then we are all in some very big trouble.

...before closing with this eerie reminder...

As Edmonds says, "we have the facts, we have the documents, we have the witnesses. Put out the tapes, put out the documents, put out the intercepts – put out the truth."

If a nuke ever goes off in an American city, it will probably have been stolen from our own arsenal – once the American people wake up to that scary fact, the rest will follow automatically.

Ramaindo also reminds us of the following terrific video, put together by Luke Ryland last Summer, featuring Edmonds, in her own words, along with a few FBI colleagues, and Sen. Grassley singing her praises of "credibility" on 60 Minutes, from 2002. Well worth watching (less than 10 mins)...

UPDATE 1/7/08 8:35am PT: Sibel "names" names. She puts 21 photographs on her website without names. We put names to the faces. Details (and names) posted here on The BRAD BLOG...

UPDATE 1/7/08, 1:43pm PT: Over at Op/Ed News, Mike Mejia offers this additional information, concerning Grossman's ties to the Valerie Plame Wilson/Scooter Libby CIA leak case, in his coverage of the Times story...

Grossman, besides being a former policymaker at State, is known publicly as Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s first witness in the Scooter Libby trial. Libby was accused of perjury in the investigation of former CIA operative Valerie Plame, who was part of a CIA front company monitoring the global nuclear black market. At least one story claimed Grossman himself had leaked the identity of Plame’s front company, Brewster-Jennings, to Turkish agents in June, 2001. Though the story was never picked up by the mainstream media, if true, it would lead credence to the idea that the Brewster Jennings operation had already been compromised before the retaliation against Plame’s wife, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, by members of the Bush Administration.

Grossman is also being subpoenaed by the defense in the AIPAC espionage trial, along with several other officials who may have passed classified information to the powerful Israel-connected lobby group.

In addition, the Times article mentions Pentagon officials selling nuclear secrets to Turkey and Pakistan. AIPAC case figure Larry Franklin is discussed by Edmonds in the article. The whistleblower has suggested in separate interviews that Franklin’s supervisor at the Pentagon, Douglas Feith has been involved in the scandal, as well as prominent neoconservative and Feith associate Richard Perle.

UPDATE 1/7/08, 5:07pm PT: Former New York Times contributor, Dave Lindorff at Baltimore Chronicle, covers in detail, asks how Edmonds' story might tie in to the recent, and still unexplained, cross-country flyover of a B-52 with nuclear-tipped weapons on board, and closes by asking appropriately enough: "Meanwhile, there is enough in just this one London Times story to keep an army of investigative reporters busy for years. So why, one has to ask, is this story appearing in a highly respected British newspaper, but not anywhere in the corporate US media?"

Why, indeed, Dave.

UPDATE 1/8/08, 1:12pm PT: It's now more than two days since London's Sunday Times first ran their report. The story has now been picked up by mainstream media outlets in India, Pakistan, Israel and even Turkey. In the U.S. mainstream media? Not a single sentence. Details now here...

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