New York Times Hides Cheney Spy

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Yellowcake!

Hid him in plain sight, I might add, on the back page of the Saturday national edition. And here’s the bland headline to David Johnston’s inscrutable article on Paul Wolfowitz’s former minion in the Department of Defense’s “Office of Special Plans” who has just been sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison (and the question is why a confessed spy gets such a short sentence) for handing over state secrets to Israeli “lobbyists” (spies): “[Former Military Analyst Gets Prison Term for Passing Information](http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/21/national/21franklin.html?ex=1295499600&en=988d9ac6424c56ca&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss).”
Just to refresh, in 2001 Larry Franklin, a U.S. Air Force Reserve colonel and former attaché to the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, seems to have been in Rome and, along with Michael Ledeen (former Reagan “Iran-Contra” scandal figure and friend to Karl Rove) and to have talked with Italian officials about Iraqi WMD at about the same time that Paul Wolfowitz was setting up his Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon with Douglas Feith (then Bush’s Under Secretary of Defense for Policy) and William (Bill) Luti (former staffer to Dick Cheney and at that time Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Special Plans & Near East and South Asia Affairs). Bill Luti later hired Larry Franklin to work in the secretive and highly influential Office of Special Plans which was the main dissementator of the bogus intelligence about Niger “yellowcake” sales to Iraq.
Bill Luti, Larry Franklin’s boss at the Office of Special Plans, was also, according to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, one of only two people allowed to read reports coming from the Iraqi National Congress in 2002. The other person was John Hannah, Dick Cheney’s Senior National Security Advisor. After “Scooter” Libby was indicted for obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI in connection with the Yellowcake/Valerie Plame scandal, Cheney appointed Bill Luti to replace one-half of Libby–the National Security Advisor half–while David Addington was appointed by Cheney to be Libby’s other half–Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President.
So, Larry Franklin was Bill Luti’s errand boy and Luti was Cheney’s errand boy and they all were dealing in classified intelligence from the CIA, along with their own private lines of “intelligence” from Iraqis working in a program funded by the U.S. State Department (Paul Wolfowitz), and who-knows-what from the Italian secret service.
Also in 2001, the FBI was conducting a sting operation in New Jersey and New York City to uncover Israeli spy operations (Israel officials deny they spy on us) and, while FBI agents were watching a restaurant in New Jersey where the suspected Israeli spies were lunching, they noticed Larry Franklin walk in and sit down with the suspects. The spies, who call themselves “lobbyists” (note to self) were Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, both senior staff members of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) which, as stated in today’s Times article “…was close to officials in the Bush administration.”
Years pass… we go to war on Iraq based on fake charges they are going to nuke us… and the FBI decides to “investigate” Larry Franklin because he refuses to cooperate with their continuing sting operation of Israeli spy cells. The FBI raids the offices of AIPAC in Washington (where else) and recovers hard drives and files that show Larry Franklin was passing classified information to the AIPAC “lobbyists”. On May 4, 2005 the FBI arrests Larry Franklin for violating the Espionage Act.
Larry Franklin then admits to passing classified information to the AIPAC “lobbyists” and an Israeli diplomat (unnamed) and, on January 19, 2006 Franklin is given a 12-year and 7-month sentence by Federal District Court Judge T.S. Ellis III who says at the sentencing that Mr. Franklin only desired to help the United States. Excuse me?!!
Since Franklin turned in “lobbyists” Rosen and Weissman, he won’t have to start serving his sentence until their trials are completed, at which time, according to Franklin’s lawyer “…the court will entertain a motion to reduce his sentence”. Entertain a motion, indeed. Perhaps Bush will entertain a notion to award him a medal of honor.
So, amongst all the hysteria about foreign terrorists and presidents spying on google users, you gotta hand it to the ol’ J. Edgar Hoover-Better Dead Than Red-Eleanor Roosevelt Was A Commie-FBI to catch actual spies who happen to be operating about as openly as Jack Abramoff at a Signature’s Restaurant fundraiser. The ol’ FBI. No fancy dancy Department of Homeland Security here. Just some Israeli spies…er lobbyists, a Cheney-affiliated Pentagon mole, and lots of classified documents.
What was in those documents anyway?? Oh, right. They’re classified.

Jack and the Greenstalk

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Yellowcake!

It’s funny how shit keeps a bubblin’ up. The Bush administration is like a plumbing disaster these days. And all those leaky pipes are connected to each other. Which brings me to indicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Back before his name was coffee break conversation, in the beginning of Senator McCain’s not-yet-newsworthy Indian Affairs Committee investigation, I was doing a little investigating of my own–of Indian gaming casinos then being proposed around San Francisco Bay. I happened on McCain’s committee web site and the reams of emails between Abramoff and his associate Mike Scanlon that were posted there. Definitely eyebrow-raising stuff for anyone not acquainted with the down and dirty of Washington Lobbyland and insider politics in general.
I wanted to know who was behind the billion-dollar casino schemes in California and, besides noting the staggering amount of money involved in these deals, didn’t have much use for the Abramoff angle. But I saved my notes. A Sept. 28, 2004 Washington Post article by R. Jeffrey Smith was most helpful. Smith looked at tax and spending records of an Abramoff “charity”, the Capital Athletic Foundation
Not unlike the Mafia in its heyday, Abramoff was obviously having some difficulty finding enough places to launder all the money that was rolling in from Indian tribes. One washing machine was the Capital Athletic Foundation, a bogus charity dedicated to supporting youth sports. Another laundry chute was a private school that Abramoff started and which his own sons attended. The school offered excellence in academics and sports, emphasis on the latter. According to the Post article, the school, which received close to $2 million from the Capital Athletic Foundation, bought–hang onto your eyebrows–TWO Zamboni ice-cleaning machines, even though it did not have a hockey rink. (We’re talking maybe $20k each?? Somebody into ice hockey help me out here).
Abramoff had a gift for creative fundraising too. One, reported by Lou Dubose in the Texas Observer was a proposal by Abramoff to a tribal council in Texas to pay the premiums of “term life” insurance policies for all the tribe’s elderly members. Upon their death, however, the payout would go to Abramoff’s private school. The school would then pay Abramoff’s fees at then-employer, Greenberg Traurig, a Washington lobbying firm. This is how he proposed that the tribe, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tribe of El Paso, pay for his services helping them snare a lucrative casino deal.
The long arm of Washington lobbying reached California too. A Dec. 26, 2004 Post article by Susan Schmidt and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum noted that the Agua Caliente tribe (big casino, southern California), paid Greenberg Traurig as much as $20,000 a month in lobbyists’ expenses, much of it for meals at Signatures, the restaurant that, until recently, was owned by Abramoff and served as yet another laundry drop for his fees as well as a schmooze spot for Washington politicos and benefactors whose meals were often free, quid pro quo understood. Ultimately, the tribes paid the bills.
Even more interesting was Abramoff’s connection to Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform. According to Thomas B. Edsall, in a Nov. 8, 2004 Washington Postarticle, one tribe,

…began contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to Americans for Tax Reform and similar groups. Norquist won’t disclose how much, but Abramoff told the Wall Street Journal in 2000 that the Choctaw have given “several million dollars” to outside groups, and that Americans for Tax Reform was a leading recipient.

It makes sense if you know that Abramoff was president of the College Republican national committee during the time Norquist was its executive director. Writes Edsall in the Post article,

While at the College Republicans, Abramoff, Norquist and Reed [Ralph Reed was a CR intern] quickly earned reputations as zealots. Abramoff wrote in the 1983 annual report: “It is not our job to seek peaceful coexistence with the Left. Our job is to remove them from power permanently. The group’s recruits were required to memorize a speech that included the lines: “Democrats are the enemy. Wade into them! Spill their blood!”

But, back to food and fundraising… An amusing note in E.J. Kessler’s June 27, 2003 column in The Forward, described how Abramoff’s culinary enterprises aided one Republican, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia. According to Kessler, “The $500-a-plate fundraiser, a ‘sandwich naming party’ at which Cantor was honored with an eponymous roast-beef-on-challah sandwich, was held at Stacks Deli…” which was then owned by Abramoff. Mr. Roast Beef Sandwich failed to disclose the fundraiser as an “in kind” campaign contribution until five months later (law requires disclosure within 60 days). The quid pro quo? Cantor’s signature on a letter to Secretary of the Interior, Gale Norton, that argued for a ruling that would benefit the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, an Abramoff client. Other signers of the letter? Tom Delay, Dennis Hastert, and Roy Blunt.
And just so this makes a little more sense, the goose laying the golden eggs in this Republican fairy tale is Indian gaming revenues in excess of $16 billion yearly.

16 lies

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Yellowcake!

Mary McCarthy once famously declared that every word Lillian Hellman wrote was a lie, including “and” and “the.” I don’t bring this up to get into the feud between two acclaimed writers. Rather, it came to mind when I was thinking about President Bush’s now famous “16 words” in the January 2003 State of the Union speech. And how the telling of a lie must necessarily include “ands” and “thes”. Those 16 words are not untruths or misstatements or exagerations or distortions. They are lies. They are lies because every word is in the service of deceit. Every word is designed to persuade against fact and against truth.
Here is that lie, somewhat parsed:
“The British government has learned….”
This lie is designed to deflect the listener from thinking the American government is the source of intelligence implicating Iraq in activity perilous to American citizens, and therefore deflecting any suspicion that such intelligence might be fabricated. The British government, it could be reasoned, has no need to fabricate such evidence and, as a friend and ally, is merely warning of the peril. The words “has learned” imply an almost casual discovery, as if the information arrived suddenly, perhaps accidentally, but without, for instance, a concerted effort to uncover or find a secret intent of harm, of war-worthy threat.
This lie implicitly excludes the fact that the American government already knew about documents that purported to reveal the details of a deal between Saddam Hussein and the government of Niger to supply Iraq with yellowcake (uranium oxide) from Niger’s mines. Not only knew, but had those documents widely distributed to its own intelligence agencies by its own State Department. In fact, a government employee (Stephen Hadley) had already met and spoken with representatives of other governments (not British) about those documents.
“….that Saddam Hussein recently sought….”
This lie provides a false and crucial timing for an action that did not occur as described nor in the near past. The lie is crucial to establishing the need for immediate response to counteract an imminent threat to the American people. It personalizes that threat and puts a dark face on it. It is the face of the terrorists who flew American planes into the World Trade Center. It is the face of a despot and a murderer. But not of Americans. The face is that of a dictator who has killed his own citizens, for his own political ends. He is evil. But he is not our enemy.
“….significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”
This lie tells us so much more than we needed to know. If we needed to have a reason for declaring war on Iraq. I do not know how much a “significant quantity” of uranium is. Neither do you. It is sufficient that President Bush finds the quantity significant because there is only one reason for mentioning any quantity of uranium at all. And that is to bring up the spectre of nuclear bombs. Even though it was American planes that were used as bombs to attack an American city, there is only one kind of bomb that could attack Americans in America from far away Iraq.
Why tell us the uranium comes from Africa? This is too clever a lie. We don’t care where the uranium comes from unless that place is also to be a target. This lie intends to lend an air of truth to a complicated lie. It is complicated because it must get around the fact that reputable agents have not found actual weapons or materials that can produce weapons in Iraq itself. We know that. We don’t know about uranium from Africa, however. That is a new scenario of plausibility that could perhaps convince us that a threat indeed exists. A threat not only from Iraq but from Africa. The dark continent.
On July 7, 2003–six months after President Bush’s State of the Union speech–Ari Fleisher says, “We’ve acknowledged that the information turned out to be bogus involving the report on the yellow cake. That is not new. You can go back. You can look it up. Dr. Rice has said it repeatedly. I’ve said it repeatedly. It’s been said from this podium on the record, in several instances. It’s been said to many of you in this room, specifically.”
Bogus means fake. So, the British government gave us fake information and President Bush went to war with Iraq on the basis of fake information from an ally. Furthermore, we’ve already been told a million times that this yellow cake report was bogus. Everybody in Washington knew but me and you, apparently.
So, we’ve been duped. By mistake. Shouldn’t we be mad or something? Perhaps we are still stunned by the repeated revelations that our president unwittingly spouted bogus information that led us into war. Maybe we want to give him the benefit of our doubt. Our doubt that we could be so lied to so badly by so many government officials. This isn’t 1984. We would know if our leaders were lying to us.
Wouldn’t we?

Woodward’s pucecake

· Edgewise, Paleoblogs, Yellowcake!

Or, a tale of a sneakily different color….the testimony of Bob Woodward, purveyor of deep cover journalism, in which he reveals his conversation with “Cheney’s Cheney” I. Lewis Libby on June 23, 2003 about an 18-page list of questions he wanted Cheney’s Cheney’s Cheney to answer, including one about “yellowcake.” I too, would like to submit a list of questions to Cheney’s Cheney’s Cheney though I doubt I could even think of 18 pages worth. Still, I would like those questions to be read to C.C.C. while he is strapped down and forced to watch rap music videos in a not-really-torture session by the C.I.A. or C.I.A. equivalent – perhaps somewhere in an unrevealable location south of the Russian border.