[UPDATE 10/5/09: Cole has now greatly expanded on his confirmation of Edmonds' credibility and is calling for a 'Special Counsel' investigation, prosecution. Full story here...]
George W. Bush's third-highest ranking State Department official, Marc Grossman, who became the Under Secretary of State after previously serving as Ambassador to Turkey, was targeted as part of a "decade-long investigation" by the FBI, according to an 18-year veteran manager of the bureau's Counterintelligence and Counterespionage departments.
For still-unknown reasons, the investigation, which also involved a multitude of cases involving Israeli espionage, was ultimately "buried and covered up," according to the official.
The comment from the former FBI official John M. Cole, in response to recent, stunning disclosures made by former FBI translator turned whistleblower Sibel Edmonds, helps to shore up a key aspect of her allegations. Cole is now calling for an investigation to help "bring about accountability" in the matter.
Edmonds' allegations of bribery, blackmail, and infiltration by foreign agents at the highest levels of the U.S. government were recently detailed in a remarkable cover story interview, as published last week by the American Conservative magazine.
"I read the recent cover story by The American Conservative magazine. I applaud their courage in publishing this significant interview," Cole says in his public response, as posted today at the AmCon website by interviewer and former CIA agent Philip Giraldi.
Cole then went on to verify his knowledge of the espionage investigation which, he says, included Grossman. Edmonds has long alleged he had been a key target in the agency's counterintelligence probe of the Turkish lobby and their relationship to current and former members of Congress and high-ranking officials in the Bush State and Defense Departments.
Cole also charges, in his brief comment, that the investigation was ultimately quashed by still-unnamed officials.
"I am fully aware of the FBI's decade-long investigation of the High-level State Department Official named in this article, Marc Grossman, which ultimately was buried and covered up," Cole notes, adding his call to re-open the matter. "It is long past time to investigate this case and bring about accountability."...
Grossman was specifically identified as a ring-leader in a very broad espionage scandal --- which includes the theft and sale of nuclear weapons technology to the foreign black market --- in a series of front-page exclusives by the UK Sunday Times in early 2008 (the stories can be found here, here and here). At the time, though the paper clearly identified the official in question, they didn't name him outright due to British libel laws. One of the co-authors of the series, Joe Lauria, has since confirmed the official in question was, indeed, Grossman.
The 2008 Sunday Times series detailed Edmonds' allegations that Bush's Under Secretary of State Grossman --- the third-highest ranking official in the State Department, after Colin Powell and Richard Armitage --- worked closely with both the Turks and Israel in obtaining and selling U.S. nuclear weapons technology on the worldwide black market, and that he had even tipped off Turkish diplomatic colleagues about the true identify of then-covert CIA operative Valerie Plame-Wilson's front company, Brewster Jennings, several years before the operation was named publicly by columnist Robert Novak.
Grossman, identified by the Times as "The senior official in the State Department [who] no longer works there," was quoted offering this non-denial denial of Edmonds' allegations in their report: "If you are calling me to say somebody said that I took money that's outrageous. ... I do not have anything to say about such stupid ridiculous things as this."
"Mastering the complex and often veiled dynamic where government, politics, media, and business intersect requires a rare combination of knowledge, skills and experience," the Cohen Group's website announces on their "Expertise" page. "Our Principals bring centuries of experience at the White House, the State Department, the Defense Department, and Congress."
Founded in 2001 by President Bill Clinton's former Republican Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, the page goes on to note: "The Cohen Group's reach extends internationally where our Principals have developed great expertise and relationships with key political, economic and business leaders and acquired valuable experience with the individuals and institutions that affect our clients' success abroad."
Grossman's "veiled dynamic" and "acquired valuable experience" with "key political, economic and business leaders" may well have been in play during the time he served as Under Secretary of State, according to the startling charges levied by the former FBI translator Edmonds.
In the American Conservative interview, she details a great many specifics about the way the she says the spy ring actually worked, and claims that Grossman was a key player who, at times, would receive bags of cash from foreign operatives. Here's some of the discussion pertaining to Grossman from the recent interview:
Basically, you map out a corruption scheme involving U.S. government employees and members of Congress and agents of foreign governments. These agents were able to obtain information that was either used directly by those foreign governments or sold to third parties, with the proceeds often used as bribes to breed further corruption. Let's start with the first government official you identified, Marc Grossman, then the third highest-ranking official at the State Department.
SIBEL EDMONDS: During my work with the FBI, one of the major operational files that I was transcribing and translating started in late 1996 and continued until 2002, when I left the Bureau. Because the FBI had had no Turkish translators, these files were archived, but were considered to be very important operations. As part of the background, I was briefed about why these operations had been initiated and who the targets were.
Grossman became a person of interest early on in the investigative file while he was the U.S. ambassador to Turkey [1994-97], when he became personally involved with operatives both from the Turkish government and from suspected criminal groups. He also had suspicious contact with a number of official and non-official Israelis. Grossman was removed from Turkey short of tour during a scandal referred to as "Susurluk" by the media. It involved a number of high-level criminals as well as senior army and intelligence officers with whom he had been in contact.
Another individual who was working for Grossman, Air Force Major Douglas Dickerson, was also removed from Turkey and sent to Germany. After he and his Turkish wife Can returned to the U.S., he went to work for Douglas Feith and she was hired as an FBI Turkish translator. My complaints about her connection to Turkish lobbying groups led to my eventual firing.
Grossman and Dickerson had to leave the country because a big investigation had started in Turkey. Special prosecutors were appointed, and the case was headlined in England, Germany, Italy, and in some of the Balkan countries because the criminal groups were found to be active in all those places. A leading figure in the scandal, Mehmet Eymür, led a major paramilitary group for the Turkish intelligence service. To keep him from testifying, Eymür was sent by the Turkish government to the United States, where he worked for eight months as head of intelligence at the Turkish Embassy in Washington. He later became a U.S. citizen and now lives in McLean, Virginia. The central figure in this scandal was Abdullah Catli. In 1989, while "most wanted" by Interpol, he came to the U.S., was granted residency, and settled in Chicago, where he continued to conduct his operations until 1996.
GIRALDI: So Grossman at this point comes back to the United States. He's rewarded with the third-highest position at the State Department, and he allegedly uses this position to do favors for "Turkish interests"-both for the Turkish government and for possible criminal interests. Sometimes, the two converge. The FBI is aware of his activities and is listening to his phone calls. When someone who is Turkish calls Grossman, the FBI monitors that individual's phone calls, and when the Turk calls a friend who is a Pakistani or an Egyptian or a Saudi, they monitor all those contacts, widening the net.
GIRALDI: And Grossman received money as a result. In one case, you said that a State Department colleague went to pick up a bag of money…
GIRALDI: What kind of information was Grossman giving to foreign countries? Did he give assistance to foreign individuals penetrating U.S. government labs and defense installations as has been reported? It's also been reported that he was the conduit to a group of congressmen who become, in a sense, the targets to be recruited as "agents of influence."
EDMONDS: Yes, that's correct. Grossman assisted his Turkish and Israeli contacts directly, and he also facilitated access to members of Congress who might be inclined to help for reasons of their own or could be bribed into cooperation.
GIRALDI: So the network starts with a person like Grossman in the State Department providing information that enables Turkish and Israeli intelligence officers to have access to people in Congress, who then provide classified information that winds up in the foreign embassies?
EDMONDS: Absolutely. And we also had Pentagon officials doing the same thing. We were looking at Richard Perle and Douglas Feith. They had a list of individuals in the Pentagon broken down by access to certain types of information. Some of them would be policy related, some of them would be weapons-technology related, some of them would be nuclear-related. Perle and Feith would provide the names of those Americans, officials in the Pentagon, to Grossman, together with highly sensitive personal information: this person is a closet gay; this person has a chronic gambling issue; this person is an alcoholic. The files on the American targets would contain things like the size of their mortgages or whether they were going through divorces. One Air Force major I remember was going through a really nasty divorce and a child custody fight. They detailed all different kinds of vulnerabilities.
Later on in the interview, Edmonds also claims that Grossman similarly "took care" of others, outside of the government, even, she says, contacts at the New York Times. "Grossman would brag, 'We just fax to our people at the New York Times. They print it under their names.'"
"Every time they wanted something on Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan, for example, they just faxed it over [to the Times], and it was run under their own guys' name, even though it was written by the State Department," she told us. "This was an ongoing operation, at least during a four year period of time" from 1997 to 2001."
There is much more on Grossman in the full AmCon interview, as well as in Edmonds' recent under-oath deposition given in early August, in the Schmidt v. Krikorian case now pending before the Ohio Election Commission. Her sworn deposition, both transcript and video, was published in full by The BRAD BLOG here.
Previously, Edmonds had been twice-gagged by the Bush Justice Department's use of the draconian, so-called "State Secrets Privilege", after she was fired by the FBI when she alerted superiors about a co-worker in her department who had been a member of one of the Turkish organizations being targeted by the FBI's counterintelligence probe in the Turkish division.
Following the dismissal, Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT), then senior members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote letters on her behalf to the DoJ, seeking an investigation into her allegations.
The DoJ's Inspector General would ultimate release a de-classified version of his report finding a number of Edmonds' allegations to be "credible," "serious," and "warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI."
In 2002, during a CBS 60 Minutes report on the Edmonds case, Grassley was asked about Edmonds' credibility, and responds by saying: "Absolutely, she's credible...And the reason I feel she's very credible is because people within the FBI have corroborated a lot of her story."
While we don't know if Cole was one of those "within the FBI" who "corroborated a lot of" Edmonds story at the time to Grassley and Leahy, but he has certainly done so today.
Unfortunately, neither 60 Minutes, nor any other major corporate U.S. media outlet, has bothered to cover Edmonds' allegations now that she is much more free to speak, since the Obama Administration chose not to invoke the "State Secrets Privilege" prior to her 8/8/09 deposition which allowed her to begin sharing the full breadth of her extraordinary allegations publicly for the first time.
UPDATE 10/5/09: Cole has now greatly expanded on his confirmation of Edmonds' credibility, offered new insider detail on the panic inside the Bureau when her allegations first came to light in 2002, and has called for a 'Special Counsel' to investigate, prosecute. Full story here...