Interview conducted September 22, 2009. Listen to the interview.
Scott Horton: All right y’all, welcome back to the show. It’s Antiwar Radio on KAOS 95.9 FM in Austin, Texas. We’re streaming live worldwide on the internet at KAOSRadioAustin.org and at Antiwar.com/Radio.
Philip Giraldi is a former CIA and DIA operative, and is a contributing editor at the American Conservative magazine. He also regularly writes a column called "Smoke and Mirrors" for us at Antiwar.com.
Joe Lauria is a New York-based independent investigative journalist who has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, the Montreal Gazette, the Johannesburg Star, the Washington Times, New York magazine, the London Times and many other publications, and has broken a great many stories.
Welcome, both of you, to the show today. How are you doing?
Philip Giraldi: Hello Scott.
Joe Lauria: I’m fine Scott. Thank you for having us on.
Scott Horton: All right, well I really appreciate it.
Okay, now, Phil Giraldi, you have an interview in American Conservative magazine, the November issue I believe it is, it just hit the news stands and the Website today, that’s AmConMag.com. It is an interview entitled "Who’s afraid of Sibel Edmonds?" and Joe Lauria, you are the co-author of a series that ran in the London Times back in January, 2008, that you co-wrote with Jonathan Calvert and Chris Gourlay about Sibel Edmonds and her story; just so people know who you guys are, and what your background is as far as this story goes.
And I guess we’ll start with me asking you, Phil Giraldi, to please just give us in a nutshell the basic story of Sibel Edmonds, a former contract FBI translator-turned whistle-blower, for those who aren’t familiar.
Giraldi: Well that’s a tough one, Scott. I mean, it’s a heck of a story. There are a lot of ramifications to it. To put it as briefly as I possibly could, she is, as you note, an FBI translator who turned whistle-blower. And she turned whistle-blower for a couple of reasons: she was unfairly dismissed from the FBI, and also the fact that she noted while she was doing transcription work that there were a number of ongoing cases that were extremely serious that no one seemed to be interested in following up on, and that was the essence of her whistle-blowing. Basically the story she’s telling is the story about high-level corruption and what some people might call something akin to treason on the part of government officials at the State Department and the Pentagon in particular, and also our elected officials in congress who were taking money in return for doing favors for the Turkish and Israeli lobbies. It is kind of a circular story and this is the way I tried to presented in the interview that just came out, in that you have these corrupt officials enabling the process whereby foreign intelligence officers are kind of running amok within our government, corrupting other people, generating a lot of money along the way, and then this money kind of returns and goes into the pockets of various people to further enable the corruption. That’s kind of what it’s all about.
Horton: All right, and now Joe, in your series for the London Times – it’s "For Sale: The West’s Deadly Nuclear Secrets," "FBI Denies File Exposing Nuclear Secrets Theft" and "Tip-off Thwarted Nuclear Spy Ring Probe" you really did focus, as these titles indicate, on the angle of the selling of the nuclear secrets and it is funny to me going back and reading this series and seeing just how thorough of a job you did, and how many different stories you break in here, but first of all, can you give us your general sense of how credible Sibel Edmonds’s information has been? Obviously she talked to you and your colleagues at the London Times and you must have done as much as you could to verify – say, talking to FBI agents, current and former, that kind of thing – to find out whether they say that what this lady is saying is right, because it seems like she is, in a sense, sort of a single source for a whole lot of accusations here.
Lauria: Well this is obviously the biggest question in this entire story: is this believable or not? And it wasn’t easy to corroborate that, it is very difficult to corroborate this, and this is probably one of the reasons the large publications – and I applaud the American Conservative for running this piece, and I think Phil did a terrific job in the editing of it is very tight, and I’ll talk a little more about that later – but I think one of the difficulties is corroborating what she is talking about. Either Sibel Edmonds is one of the great actresses of our time, or she has her finger on a story of immense proportions that is perhaps so immense that it is scaring the hell out of a lot of people. Not only the people involved, but people who might be dependent on people who are involved, or are, in all sorts of ways, tied to this activity, and lots of things that we may not even know about, that Sibel doesn’t even know about. This is one corner of perhaps a wide… who knows?… activities, similar activities that go on in our country.
I’ve spent a hell of a lot of time with Sibel as I’m sure Phil has, on the phone, in person, I’ve met with her numerous times, with her husband, and in her house. She convinced Waxman and Grassley that she was a credible person. Every FBI agent, all three of them that worked with her on this case, vouched for her personally, as a person who is not crazy, is not a fantasist, they did not dismiss anything that she said, they didn’t go down the list of what she has told us, and say "Yes, this is true, and that’s not true." That’s something that an FBI agent almost never would do, particularly in this case where there is highly classified information and they can wind up in jail, or losing their job. The key thing to understand here is that this is an investigation that was ongoing, there’s a lot of money and time that was spent, and it was stopped. The lead FBI agent left Washington, he had a pretty good job there investigating government corruption, he went out to another state out West where he was on pretty obscure cases that he was working on, but he wanted to get away from it. There’s one thing I’ll say, he never corroborated anything directly, but at one point, and we spoke to him three times in front of his house, and these conversations went on for more than 15 minutes, and one time I spent over an hour and half inside the home of an agent – another agent – and he said at one point "I’m really surprised that your stories weren’t picked up in the U.S." I find that significant, given how little else of that nature these agents would talk about it. I think she’s credible but we have to probe this more.
I mean, the way to go forward with this is to get the Justice Department, the new Justice Department, I know you won’t hold your breath, the Obama Justice Department to reopen this case, and I put that direct to a DoJ official and I was in possession of this video tape of her deposition exclusively for a week trying to sell it somewhere, based on what we’d done on the Sunday Times. I was given this by Sibel’s lawyers, and I was unable to place the story – that tells you something right there – but I did talk with the Department of Justice, they were interested, but they never answered the key question whether they would consider reopening this case, and the only way that is going to happen, I think, is with media pressure. Dan Ellsberg once told me that when he was peddling the Pentagon Papers, he thought he would go to the congress first and then if they had a hearing it would be in the press, but he told me he learned that going to the press first was the way to get congress to act, because when they read it in the newspapers, they say "Crap, we’d better have a hearing on this." So, this is really a key point, and will anybody at the mainstream papers have the guts, and the resources and the fortitude to look into this case? They don’t want to touch it. They don’t want to touch it.
Horton: Well it does kind of seem, doesn’t it Phil, as though, you know, like Citigroup is too big to fail, this story is too big to break. I mean, you’re talking about bringing down the highest level people in congress, in the State and Defense Departments, the cover-uppers in the Department of Justice etc., etc. This is the kind of thing that can cause massive high levels of resignations and prosecutions if they really went after it, right?
Giraldi: Well, I think as Joe points out, it might be too big to succeed. That’s really the better way to look at it. There are so many people that would be destroyed by this if the allegations are even 50% true that everybody in the government, Democrats or Republicans alike, have a vested interest in circling the wagons. And I would point out another thing, in reference to Daniel Ellsberg – the media was a lot different back then, the media was quite willing to take on stories independently and pursue them to death, particularly a huge story like this, but today’s media is a lot more cooperative in it’s mentality and it is a lot more collectivist in the way that it looks at its hand-in-hand role with the government. So, it’s not quite the same world in terms of the media opening up this story. I really think it’s going to be up to us in the alternative media, Places like the American Conservative and Antiwar.com and I notice today that the story has been picked up enormously on the internet – it is going to be these places that might force a break in the media stranglehold on not covering this story, and that the mainstream media will have to pay attention to it. We tried to float this story, just FYI, to the Drudge website, Matt Drudge, he had no interest in it. Steve Clemons at The Washington Note has no interest in it. See there are a lot of people, just like the mainstream media, that have a vested interest in having cozy relationships because these cozy relationships provide them with information, they provide them with access, and we’ve got to break through that.
Horton: Well, it’s interesting when you bring up Steve Clemons [ignoring the story is all I mean to say, and certainly didn’t mean to imply anything else with this non-sequitur – S.H.], I haven’t discussed this with him at all so I don’t know, but it brings up one of the themes in this story which is that it’s not just bipartisan in terms of Republican and Democrat, but it is also bipartisan as we find out even more in this recent interview that it is bipartisan in the sense that it is the neoconservatives as well as the "Realists." We have James Baker, Brent Scowcroft, and Henry Kissinger – their names being thrown around as being involved in this, can you elaborate on that?
Giraldi: Yeah, Sibel revealed to my astonishment that people like Brent Scowcroft and the others that she named were very much involved with politicking with Turkey, prior to 9/11. And what they were politicking about, and what they were trying to arrange, was an attack on Iraq. And the negotiations kind of broke down based on the fact that the Turks decided that they wanted a big slice of Northern Iraq for themselves, and they were kind of discussing where to go with this when 9/11 took place. So here you have Brent Scowcroft who has pretended to be someone who was opposed to the Iraq war, in fact when he was head of the American Turkish Council at the time, he was very much on board dealing with the Turks in terms of getting the war started, at a point when there was no 9/11, no plausible justification for going after Iraq except for the UN sanction situation.
So yeah, sure, everybody was touched by this, and I was particularly astonished by Sibel’s account of people like Douglas Feith and Richard Perle at the Pentagon actually accessing personnel files, and security files of individuals to pass this information through Grossman, and directly, over to the Turks and the Israelis so that these people could be targeted. I mean, this is an astonishing story, and as I say, if only 50% of it is true – and like Joe, I find Sibel to be completely credible. I was an intelligence officer for 20 years and one of my regular jobs was, of course, dealing with fabricators, and people who come in telling you stories, so I’m kind of sensitive to that issue, but I don’t get that feeling from her, and certainly there have been a number of other people who have testified that she is completely credible. And in this case we are talking about nuclear secrets, we’re talking about defense secrets, we’re talking about corruption in government, we’re talking about a lot of amazing things.
Lauria: I’d like to add that she’s credible to the point where this needs to be investigated. I’m not saying that everything she says is completely 100% accurate, I haven’t had a chance to check that out and I need the backing of some publication to do that, but now that she has named names, you know most of what was in your piece, Phil, she told us without naming all the names, and we didn’t use the names because we weren’t about to confirm this, but now that all those names are out there, these are people that could be approached, and a big news organization could put pressure, try to get answers, and chip away, there’s plenty to work with, whether it is all true, whether she has mixed in… You know, Sibel is a very, very bright woman, and she’s done a lot of work and research into politics, so sometimes we wondered whether what she was telling us, what you see in Phil’s interview, is everything she got off tapes, or was it also mixed in with some of her research, her knowledge of Turkish Deep State politics…
Giraldi: Actually Joe, I can answer that a little bit. When I was doing the interview with her, she told me that most of what she was telling me was from stuff she heard on tapes, but there is some of her story that comes from corroboration from other people within the FBI, mostly, that have spoken to her since that time, so in a sense you’re absolutely right, there are lots of things in this story that can not be corroborated necessarily in direct and immediate way, unless somebody really takes this on and goes after it piece by piece.
Horton: Now when it comes to Brent Scowcroft, this ties in I think with Greg Palast’s reporting that James Baker and them had a plan for what he called "a coup disguised as an invasion," but basically: get rid of Hussein and his sons and replace them with the next "Ba’athist Mustache in line" I think is the way that Palast said it, and that then the neocons got more prominence and did their Iraq plan instead after September 11th. But on the issue of Scowcroft being tied with Baker and that kind of thing, that seems very plausible to me, but I reread David Rose’s piece from Vanity Fair in September, 2005, about Sibel last night, and he mentions there in context of Scowcroft, at least as Rose puts it in the article, that Sibel said that she assumed that Scowcroft didn’t have anything to do with this stuff, as far as all this criminality and espionage and so forth – that he was the Chair, or on the board or something like that, but that all this stuff was going on at the American Turkish Council on a much lower level, something like that. I wonder, Phil, do you think that her opinion has changed about that or that these discussions that Scowcroft had about Iraq and Turkey didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the low-level criminality stuff?
Giraldi: Well I think that we are talking about two different things here. I’m reading a little bit into the story but the fact is that what Scowcroft and Baker – being former Secretary of State – and these people were doing, is that they were negotiating at a very high level: nation to nation essentially, they were representing in a sense the U.S., even though they had no legal authority to do so. The other stuff, the basic level criminality, yeah I would be awfully surprised if Scowcroft and people like that would get their hands dirty with that sort of thing, so I think that we are looking at two different levels. There are a lot of people in ATC that were involved in this process who were implementers and who were kind of spear carriers, the Marc Grossmans, the people at the Pentagon, and then there were people like Scowcroft who were kind of above the fray.
Horton: It’s Antiwar Radio. I’m talking with Phil Giraldi from the American Conservative magazine, and Joe Lauria who is an investigative reporter who participated in a three-part series for the London Times in January 08 about the Sibel Edmonds story.
And I want to ask you, Joe, about one of the things that you guys covered in your story: how after September 11, this unnamed State Department employee, who I think everyone knows who you are talking about, but it’s the Sunday Times rules there, had called the Justice Department to have four Turks who had been rounded up after September 11th (I guess in John Ashcroft’s round up of innocents, I don’t know.), and that this State Department employee had these four men released, I think before they "spilled the beans" was the words in the article, but the question that I had was, about what? Am I to understand that these men knew something about the attacks? Or just that they had been rounded up and they could spill the beans about the rest of this espionage and so forth that they’d been involved in?
Lauria: Well Sibel has never said, she doesn’t know, but you could make the assumptions that you’ve just made. I don’t know what it means. Grossman is the man obviously that we’re talking about here, that is all out now, she said it under oath. And he wouldn’t talk, he’s obviously not going to talk, at least on the first couple of phone calls, and we don’t know the names of the four people who were released. So that is the story that we ran, but we don’t know much more than what we said actually, and whether it happened or not: it all comes down to whether you believe Sibel, and whether this is stuff that has to be further investigated, and I think that it does obviously, and it’s not happening. That’s troublesome to me, and I wonder how far this American Conservative piece by Phil is going to go.
You also come up against this idea of American exceptionalism. I think it is really shocking for a lot of Americans in the media to think that any Americans could behave this way, that government officials could behave this way; acting against the interests, ultimately, of their own country. They just can’t believe this. I think that is a big hurdle to get over. I had an interview with the foreign minister of India yesterday, S. M. Krishna. I’m covering the General Assembly here in New York, I’m inside the UN right now, and I told him and his ambassador here about Phil’s piece, and I sent it to them, and they were quite keen to learn more, particularly obviously about the A.Q. Khan network connection that we wrote about pretty extensively in the Sunday Times series, and they are convinced that his network is still up and running, and they want to know as much as they can about how it may have reached inside the U.S. See, that’s just one aspect of this large activity of corruption that may have bought everything from the Armenian Genocide resolutions to nuclear secrets, and everything in between. It’s funny that she didn’t mention the Valerie Plame piece to you Phil, did she get into that?
Giraldi: Yeah actually she did, but there were a couple of issues that we had no room for, we ran out of words.
Horton: This is the story that you covered in your series for the London Times Joe, Brewster Jennings and Associates, the CIA front company that the famous Valerie Plame worked for.
Lauria: Yeah what we think we understand is that Brewster Jennings, Valerie Plame, was doing the same investigation on the CIA side, out of the country, as the FBI was doing inside the country, looking into the same smuggling ring, and if it was in fact this high State Department official who was involved, and he knew what Valerie Plame was up to, he alerted the Turkish company that was a front company for this ring, that wanted to engage Brewster Jennings, not knowing the Brewster Jennings was a CIA front itself. There were two front companies colliding. According to Sibel, and a memo that we received that we were unable to verify who sent it, warning that it was this number 3 guy at the State Department that warned this Turkish group not to deal with Valerie Plame because she was actually CIA. So in that sense, that was really the first outing of Valerie Plame, not publicly, the way it became the media circus later.
Horton: And years before Bob Novak. Now I wanted to ask you about this too, this letter that you mentioned. You say in your article I think that one of the reasons that you find this letter credible is because it sounds so much like what Sibel Edmonds is saying, and yet it is clearly not by her, and it was received by whoever originally received it, before she came public with her story. Is that right?
Lauria: Well, I mean, you say it is clearly not by her. We didn’t rule out any possibilities about where this came from. That was one possibility.
Horton: Did you ask her if it came from her?
Lauria: Yes. I think we did, yes. She said it wasn’t from her, and I don’t believe it was from her, but we don’t know who wrote it. And she would have to do a lot more to make up her story than just one letter that was sent to a small NGO in Washington. I’m trying to remember what one of the FBI agents told me about it, I think we asked him and he said it did not sound like her, so… But we don’t know where it came from.
Horton: Oh and by the way, because again you bring up talking to some of these FBI agents, I wanted to mention here that as far as her credibility goes, Sibel in the past has appeared on this show with Frederic Whitehurst, the former supervisor – I forget his position exactly – at the FBI crime lab who was a whistle-blower, with Daniel Ellsberg, who we’ve previously mentioned, and with James Bamford, the great intelligence reporter. I mean, she’s really compiled a pretty good list of heavy hitters who seem to think that she’s not making this up, at least as far as that goes. Again, what we need – Right? – is the New York Times to, I don’t know, hire a real reporter or something and give them the budget to really solve this thing.
Giraldi: Or Scott, we need the government to come clean on it. I mean, Sibel has said that everything she has said is verifiable from FBI files, and she even provides the numbers of the files. So if the Justice Department is serious about looking at this they can go straight to the files and I understand if some of this involves ongoing investigations they won’t be able to tell us any of that information and that probably some of the older material – some of it goes back to 1996 – some of the older material would have to be purged of possible sources and methods and that kind of thing. I understand all that. But the fact is that the core of her story has to be there – or perhaps it isn’t there, if she is indeed is a clever fabricator. And I think the government at this point, and the Justice Department, owes it to the public to say one way or other whether this is a true story, or this is a fabrication.
Lauria: We haven’t brought up yet that the Obama administration allowed her to go ahead with this deposition. There was a lot of suspense before that that she would be gagged again, and they didn’t do it. And I’d spoken to the Justice Department several days before, and the woman I spoke to there, I don’t think she had any idea who Sibel Edmonds was, but they do now. And it was a decision made, they did try to stop her from doing it, there were letters exchanged, but they didn’t stop her. And I think that might tell you that they realize that nobody is going to pick this story up, and that it is safely embedded in the blogosphere, where, let’s face it, the thing about the blogs is that they take stories that the major papers won’t take for a variety of reasons, but they really don’t have the training or the skill to bring it out in a credible way that a big paper can. That’s why we’re in such a bind here. We’re losing both ways I think. It’s one thing at least to get it out, but it would be another thing if the New York Times brought it out, that’s for sure.
Horton: And it would be another thing too if you could get Chris Matthews and any of these goofballs on TV to talk about it. I mean, here – Ladies and gentlemen, drum roll please – there is sex scandal in here, and now not only has Sibel Edmonds said yes indeed there was a congresswoman who was basically entrapped or set up by the Turkish lobby or these spies, whoever they were, but to you, Phil, she actually named the congresswoman. I mean, I hate to have somebody’s personal life smeared like that over a political case, but I’m really just getting to the point that: isn’t that what Contessa Brewer and all these goofballs on MSNBC are for? Taking a sex scandal and running with that? Can we not at least get coverage of this one aspect here?
Giraldi: Scott I would say that this is not a sex scandal, it’s a corruption scandal, and the sex aspect and the potential blackmail is just one aspect of the corruption, and that’s really what we’re talking about. If this weren’t a corruption story, we wouldn’t be interested in the sexual aspect. And yes indeed, Sibel did name the congresswoman, and we reported it in the story
Horton: And Sibel has also said that she has no information whatsoever that this congresswoman ever did anything due to being compromised at all, and we should say that out loud.
Lauria: That’s why she didn’t want to name her at first in the deposition, she didn’t name her for that reason. She doesn’t know whether she took the bribe or not, or did anything for it. Let’s assume she didn’t, now this is where I would, as a reporter, try to get in touch with her or her husband who was named in Phil’s piece and try to gently talk to them and see whether this is true or not.
Horton: Now Joe what about going back to the Sunday Times?
Lauria: Well, we did. They felt that the story wasn’t advanced enough by the deposition and the transcript that we got of the deposition. I must say reading Phil’s piece here, it was so well put together, because almost all of it, not all because there was some new things there for me as well, we heard from her in very disjointed conversations over the space of months, but all the pieces were very well put together that I think the whole picture emerges. And the Sunday Times felt that they had already done the story, and there may have been legal issues there too, we didn’t really get that far. And they’re over in London, and I’m here in New York and they don’t share that with me anyway, I don’t know what the reason was exactly, but they didn’t want to run the story anymore. I thought it was vindication in a way that she was now on the record under oath, saying the same things and more than we had reported earlier, and they didn’t want to do it. I don’t know exactly why, they just felt that it wasn’t exciting enough, I don’t know, that’s something I’ve heard. I don’t know the reason.
Horton: One of the reasons that this interview is so thorough is, quite unlike myself, because you Phil know exactly which questions to ask. You have the experience to interview this lady just right and make the right connections, and part of that is because as a CIA officer you were stationed in Turkey for a while. You were the station chief of at least one city or another or something, right?
Giraldi: I was in Istanbul.
Horton: And how long were you a CIA agent in Turkey?
Giraldi: I was there for three years.
Horton: And so that means, I guess, you have all this insight into how the state in Turkey really operates and what its real relationship is with the US, and NATO and Israel and everything else, huh?
Giraldi: Well, I certainly have enough of an insight where if Sibel said certain things relating to Turkey I knew whether they were plausible or not, and I knew where I could go with the story based on what she was saying. So that was quite a lot of it, and also of course I know how an intelligence operation is run, and when you get to the bottom of it, this whole influence and corruption business, this is kind of an intelligence operation. It is people who are agents of foreign governments who are penetrating the United States, both the bureaucracy and our legislature, and are doing it for the benefit of those foreign governments. And so to me it was not unfamiliar turf, let’s put it that way.
Horton: So now let’s talk about these neocons. Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, these are two very powerful men, they helped write the "Clean Break " policy for Benjamin Netanyahu back in 1996. Of course Dick Cheney hired them, Perle to the Chairmanship of the Defense Policy Board and Feith became the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in the first Bush Jr. administration, and these are two of the men who really helped lead us into war in Iraq. And now Sibel is really elaborating for the first time I think of what exactly she is accusing these guys of. Phil, can you fill us in?
Giraldi: Yeah, this to me was one of the most amazing parts of her story, that these people, Doug Feith and Richard Perle, were because of their history at the Pentagon, there were times in this story when they were actually working there, and times in the story when they were not, when they were behind the scenes. But because they had access to the Pentagon, they were able to obtain personnel files and to obtain security files on people. When I say a security file, I mean that, you know, every few years if you work for the government in a sensitive position, they check your background, they check up on you, and they determine things like you’re going through a nasty divorce, you’ve become an alcoholic, you’re taking drugs, these kinds of things. These people were about to gain access to this kind of information, and they were passing this information through Marc Grossman in many cases apparently, on to the Turks and the Israelis so that these people could then be targeted to bring them on board basically as agents. So to me that is an absolutely incredible concept, that they were doing this and they were cooperating to that extent. And to the extent that they were successful or not successful is difficult to say, but certainly Sibel was able to detect that there was a very definite flow of information out of defense labs and out of military installations and stuff like that, that was going back to Turkey and Israel. To a certain extent obviously they were successful.
Horton: Well, what do you think that has to do with Larry Franklin? We all know that he was convicted for passing classified information to Israel and that he worked for Douglas Feith in the Office of Special Plans.
Giraldi: Well Larry Franklin was giving information to AIPAC, and AIPAC of course is the godfather of the American Turkish Council. They worked hand in hand on a lot of these things, and Sibel claims to have reviewed or made transcripts of telephone calls in which these two groups were talking together to plan strategy and tactics. So there is a very intimate relationship between all of this. Sibel has said a number of times, I think also to you Scott, that this is all one story, that this all comes together, and that is what she is referring to and you know she still has a wealth of information that we haven’t even tapped. You know, my interview with her was a couple of hours long, and there is ten hours there, 12 hours, maybe 100 hours, of things. She has an amazing memory, and there are things that we could pursue, there are story lines within the story that we could pursue, and as Joe is suggesting, a major media outlet would maybe have the resources to follow-up on that. But the U.S. government has the resources to follow up on it too, if they are interested.
Lauria: They have the investigation half done already, don’t they? That’s the point here, this was an ongoing thing that was stopped.
Horton: Well you have copies of the files that the FBI says don’t exist right, Joe?
Lauria: We got a document that proves that this document exists. I didn’t see the document, I just saw the document that proves that the document exists which they said does not exist. Let me rephrase that: the document existed, so it is possible that they destroyed the document, then they’d be telling the truth, but the said that it doesn’t exist now. When there was a FOIA done, the document that Phil referred to had a file number on it, the FBI said this file does not exist, that there is no such file, but I have an official FBI document that has the file number on it, but it is not a document that has a lot of details. It does have the file number on it.
Look, there’s all this circumstantial evidence that proved to us that [Edmonds] was credible enough to run that series, it needs to go further. You know, she’s credible, if you do a preliminary investigation like the police do, or the International Criminal Courts do like they’re doing right now in Afghanistan, you gather evidence in a very preliminary way to see whether it is worth committing the resources to have a formal investigation, and I think we are definitely at the point where we need a formal investigation. That doesn’t convict anybody, or prove anything that she said to be completely true, but it reaches the threshold of saying "Look, we’ve got to look into this," but it is too dangerous to too many people, and it kind of depresses me. I think, "Why go ahead with journalism anyway if this is the story that I’m not allowed to cover somehow? What is the point? What is the point in putting out these stories? This is the real "Deep State" too. This is the deep politics of America and the media unfortunately often just presents factual information that doesn’t get anywhere near that.
Horton: And that’s the real point, isn’t it? You were saying earlier, Joe, that most of these people, even in the media, they just can’t imagine, like you said, they think "Oh, American democracy works great," and what-have-you, but it really is more like Douglas Valentine posted up on my FaceBook page earlier, he said "Oh, this is just business as usual. This is nothing different than it always is."
Lauria: Well that’s somebody who understands American history and knows the American character. We’re as capable of committing these crimes as any other country is. We’re not better than other people. We’re just the same, unfortunately. We can commit war crimes, I mean there’s the sense that Americans can’t commit a war crime, they’re very nervous because the International Criminal Court may investigate American air men over Afghanistan if the Americans don’t investigate some of these bombings of wedding parties, industrial tankers, that a collateral damage could rise… The prosecutor of the court told me the other day that he might start investigations because he thinks that might be war crimes, collateral damage. If the U.S. doesn’t investigate it themselves, the ICC might, because Afghanistan is a party to the treaty.
But this concept that Americans could commit a war crime is impossible to most people, they just cannot conceive. Only the bad guys do that. We don’t do that. We’re the bad guys sometimes. You’ve got to grow up. I think it’s about being an adult, and understand that congress, since the days of Mark Twain and earlier, has been bought since the very beginning – you know, Virginia planters and New England merchants. This is the problem, if we don’t confront it, we’re never going to become a better country. It’s going to stay like this, or get worse, and I think this is a great opportunity to confront that. Most of these guys are out of government now, so there’s no reason why – but we’ve seen that Obama won’t investigate. I mean, this CIA investigation that Holder is doing, I’m not holding my breath because I’m afraid that – Ray McGovern had a great piece the other day on that – I’m afraid that might not continue.
Horton: Well they’ve already narrowed it down to just a couple of instances of actual murder, forget the torture. It’s already out, and they’re only focusing on the lowest level people, as always.
Lauria: You can’t be a democracy without looking into this, it’s just not possible. You cannot keep covering this stuff up. You know, maybe there is nothing there, but why are they afraid?
Horton: Let’s talk about the maybe wildest part of this, or the newest part. There have kind of been implications here and there, but, Phil Giraldi, Sibel Edmonds said on, I believe it was Brad Friedman’s radio show a few weeks back, she mentioned this, and again in her interview with you, she talks about American covert cooperation with, support for, the Mujahideen as they called them then, she says, al Qaeda, all the way up until September 11th. I kind of wish you’d followed up a little more on that in the interview. What exactly is going on there?
Giraldi: Yeah well, I must admit that part of it was kind of blurry, even for me. Basically what Sibel said was that she came across evidence in the course of her work that indicated that there was considerable covert support going on for what were referred to in the transcripts and in the documents that she saw as "the Mujahideen." And the Mujahideen of course were the radical Islamists that we refer to as al-Qaeda among others. And she says that the material that she saw indicated that there was considerable material support being provided to these groups in Bosnia, among other places, and she also mentioned activity in Central Asia, in various places. And this was ongoing and this was also connected with a lot of corruption, in that NATO planes were used to support these endeavors, and the NATO planes involved – and I guess this is how the FBI got their hooks into it – were involved with flying drugs across national lines, and eventually I guess distributing these drugs and that sort of thing. So there was a criminal aspect to it, there was also a policy aspect to it, in terms of supporting Muslims in places like Bosnia, and there was an intelligence aspect to it, in terms of supporting radical Islamist groups that eventually resulted in blowback, in terms of what we experienced on 9/11 and subsequently. And according to Sibel this all continued right up until 9/11.
Horton: Well now, in the conversion there too, you asked, and I’m not exactly sure of the wording, something to the effect that she says Grossman was running this thing, and you ask her whether the government knew about this, and she says "Yes, 100 per cent." What exactly does that mean: That the FBI was overhearing it and that is what the government knew about it, or that this was a covert operation, that Grossman had an official "finding" somewhere or something that said that he was allowed to break the law and do these things?
Giraldi: Specifically her answer to that question when I asked her about whether the government knew about it, it was specifically the FBI, were they aware that this was going on.
Horton: So this was not a covert action, it was basically treachery on the part of Grossman rather than something that Bill Clinton had signed a finding authorizing, or something like that?
Giraldi: Well I think there are a couple of aspects to it. As you note, we didn’t go into this terribly deeply at the time, but the fact is that there clearly was a covert operation going on in support of the Bosnian Muslims, and this involved the Mujahideen, it involved supporting them. So this was a government operation, but the point is this is a case where one part of the government which is law enforcement kind of comes across the trail of another part of the government which is intelligence, and they discover what the intelligence people are kind of up to. Meanwhile there’s a criminal element kind of going on through the middle of this which is where Grossman was involved.
Horton: Now you reminded me of Loretta Napoleoni’s book Terror Inc. where she says that what we call al-Qaeda basically represents hundreds of billions of dollars, maybe trillions of dollars in the world economy every year, that there are massive farms in Sudan, there’s massive heroin running, there’s you know, honey bee collection… It’s a massive part of the world economy, the underground black market terrorist financial network, basically.
Giraldi: Well, I think you have to recognize that the way terrorists operate are the way criminals operate, and that’s why you very often – this is part of Sibel’s story I believe – that essentially criminal and something other than criminal, if you want to call it terrorism or whatever you want to call it, they all come together in this kind of gangster milieu where governments are involved carrying out dark deeds and you have criminal groups that are making money, you have terrorists in the middle, and it all comes together, and again this is coming back to what she was saying, that this is all one story.
Horton: Now forgive me for leaving you on hold for a minute longer here Joe Lauria, but I wanted to follow up on one more angle here with Phil, and that is the last name, Bin Laden. She tells you in this transcript "Bin Ladens"-plural. Is she talking about Osama, that he was actually working with the Americans or whoever these people are, running drugs and whatever right up until 9/11? Because, you understand, I’m skating near the whole conspiracy theory, which is that ultimately al Qaeda works with the CIA on all kind of things, and always did, and you’ve got General Mahmood from the ISI sent $100,000 while his aide’s daughter is working with Sibel translating things in the department and whatever. Are we to the wink-wink stage here yet, or what is going on?
Giraldi: Well she was specifically referring to the fact that it was not just bin Laden, it was bin Laden and his family, that his sons and others who were involved, and sons-in-law and daughters-in-law and so on and so forth, so it was kind of a family cooperative that was involved with a lot of this, and of course it extends even further into more, shall we say, distant relationships and that kind of thing. So she was referring to the fact that there were names of a number of bin Ladens, bin Laden relatives and associates, were showing up in the material she was seeing.
Lauria: I should add that I asked the Foreign Minister of India yesterday about that very thing you mentioned, this story that the head of the ISI had sent money or contacted Mohammed Atta, and he dismissed that as absolute rubbish, so a high level Indian official doesn’t believe that story.
Horton: I always wondered whether anybody had every really nailed that down, because I never found it if they did.
Lauria: There was one paper in India that reported that, but the attribution was fishy, and…
Giraldi: Yeah, Sibel has never said that. I think you’re right, it was a story that was single sourced, and basically came from a source that might have fabricated it.
Horton: Well, so here again, I’m not really of an "inside job" kind of way of looking at 9/11 – it isn’t really my thing, but clearly there was massive cover-up about all the prior knowledge, and how they coulda-woulda stopped it if they’d been doing their jobs. And clearly when you have all this kind of interconnectedness between all these black market players… I think, you know, as Greg Palast pointed out, Prince Bandar and Prince Turki al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia had paid protection money to bin Laden in the order of millions of dollars, not to attack the U.S., but just to "not attack Saudi Arabia for a little while please." And this is the kind of stuff that you have to cover up. I mean Prince Bandar is George Bush Sr.’s best friend. You can’t have a real investigation of 9/11 when what it turns up is, well, the kind of thing that you need to black out 27 pages of if you are congress, right?
Giraldi: Yeah. I think Joe is absolutely right, I think there’s this sense of American exceptionalism which blinds us to the fact that we’re just like everybody else, and basically people in this country are quite as capable of being corrupt. The corruption is very often a kind of soft corruption, like the Bush family and their relationships with the Saudis, and people like that, where people do favors and they do things for you, but it is still corruption, and we lose sight of this. And the problem is that when you get into the mindset of doing these sorts of things, of making cozy deals, and cozy arrangements, which all these people do – the Bakers and the people that were high up in the Bush I administration, and so on and so forth, and the people around Clinton. It’s all the same type of corruption, the same kind of thing, and eventually this kind of stuff will come back and bite you, because corruption is corruption and a lot of people don’t know where to draw the line any more. Look at some of the congressmen that Sibel has named, these people were taking money from the Turks while they were in office, and now they are working for Turkish companies, or they are working as lobbyists for Turkey. And some of these guys couldn’t even spell "Turk" if they tried. They don’t know anything.
Horton: And Phil, two of these guys are former Speakers of the House of Representatives! Hastert and Livingston both, and then Dan Burrton’s name has now come up, he was the Chair of the House Government Reform & Oversight Committee!
Giraldi: Absolutely! So what does that tell you? I mean, if only a fraction of this true, there should be people out in the streets right now screaming and waving around signs, but they’re not, so there’s something fundamentally wrong with our democracy and with our media, and with our government, that we can’t see what’s right in front of us. I don’t know if Joe agrees with me on this, I’m getting a little emotional.
Lauria: I agree with you 100%. You point out how these guys get jobs with the Turkish lobbying companies. They were not paid off, Sibel pointed out to me, while they were in office very much. It’s just too obvious. You get in trouble. You’re promised when you leave office you might be given – and I’m not naming any names because I don’t really know what happened with these people – but in general it seems that’s the way it happens. Why did these guys wind up with these jobs with the Turks? This is a question that has to be asked. I just want to make it clear that I’m not as – you know, another guest that you wanted to have on hadn’t reported on this and so he didn’t want to speak about it, I haven’t reported a lot of what she said either – but I reported enough to know that she’s credible enough to want to look into it. The main point I’m making here is that this can’t be left out there, and not investigated, and the pressure has to be put on the Justice Department to do it. And the only people that I know who can do it is the major media, or a courageous person inside the Congress… She went to a couple of people like that, but they dropped her. And that’s unfortunate, because if we had a senator who would stand up and say "This is outrageous, we’ve got to look into this."
But as David Krikorian, who has not been mentioned yet, he’s part of this because he was sued by Jean Schmidt, a Representative in Ohio, he’s running against her, he ran against her, and he’s running again, against her in the House in the next election, he accused her of taking Turkish blood money. She sued him for slander or libel, and this court case ensued in which he got Sibel to testify on the record, in which she named all these names, and explained all this information that was put together very well by Phil so anybody can really understand it now. But all that stuff, most of it came out in the videotaped deposition. And the fact that this is not being looked into, I don’t understand that.
Horton: It really is incredible because here it is. I mean, she’s been, as we kind of talked about before, she’s been kind of telling a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and hasn’t really been able this whole time, especially because of the persecution by the Bush administration, to really tell the whole story. Here she is, under oath, on video, for hours, going through the whole thing. And what we have represented in "Who’s Afraid of Sibel Edmonds" – this interview by Phil Giraldi, is getting down to the real details of this, but it’s the same story that she says under oath, risking prosecution, not for telling her story like usual, but if she dares say something that is not true!
Lauria: Either she’s mad, or she’s an extremely courageous woman.
Horton: You know, I want to get back to the heart of this, and this is what you guys focus on in your series for the London Times that was published in January 2008, Joe Lauria, and that is: we’re talking about nuclear secrets here. The accusations again, not proven, but credible allegations of widespread espionage in terms of pilfering nuclear secrets from the national laboratories, Sandia and Lawrence Livermore – Right? – from MIT, and major universities and God-knows-what. I mean we’re talking about these nuclear bomb secrets going to Pakistan for example.
Lauria: Well, things like that have happened before, didn’t it, during the cold war? So it is not far-fetched. I don’t think it is.
Giraldi: And Sibel told the one story which we recounted to a certain extent in the interview about how the Turks had obtained some information from one of the national labs on nuclear developments, which they paid one of these students a couple of thousand dollars for, and then they went to the Pakistanis and said "Do you want it? The price is $350,000." The Pakistanis decided they couldn’t afford it, so the Turkish intelligence agents involved with this offered it to some Saudi Arabian businessmen, who they then met in Detroit, and sold this information to for $350,000. I mean, to me, this is espionage at the highest level. And it is just crying out for somebody to be investigated.
Horton: And as everybody knows, I think, and I think some of the danger of this has been a bit overblown, but still, at least the story goes, this guy, the people refusing to prosecute or investigate all these allegations, are the same ones who say that the Pakistanis gave all their enrichment technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya. And we know the North Koreans made their bombs out of plutonium, and that the Libyans gave up their centrifuge equipment, but we know that the Iranians are spinning theirs and that’s the big bogus excuse for the next war. It’s that the Iranians got centrifuge technology from Pakistan, who apparently got it from Marc Grossman and them. Or maybe – I’m being facetious about that part, but you understand what I mean.
Giraldi: Yeah, there doesn’t have to be any logical consistency to what people are alleging about people that they want to vilify, and I wouldn’t take that one too far, but the fact is, sure, it’s the same people that are on the one hand saying "This was OK because you know, Israel is an ally, they were involved, the Turks are friendly, and sure some of this stuff wound up in Pakistan, and helped their nuclear development program, but that’s kind of collateral damage." Sure there’s a lot of tap dancing going on around this, but there is, as I would put it, the central issue here which is that this was massive coordinated espionage directed against the United States by foreign agents in the United States and using senior government officials and senior legislators in our Congress as the mechanism for carrying this out. It’s that simple. And if people at the Justice Department can’t see that this is something that is extremely serious, I don’t know how to wake them up.
Lauria: I should point out that centrifuge technology was taken from the Europeans, a company where A.Q. Khan worked. It didn’t come from Marc Grossman.
Horton: Yeah, I was just basically joking at that part, but you’re right. Thanks for clarifying that.
Lauria: The thing about Grossman is, as this interview points out if it’s true, is that that this started in Turkey. This whole thing started there, and he had to leave according to Sibel because of the Susurluk scandal, and if this is true, this is interesting, he came to the States and carried on with that network into the U.S., or he helped it if it was already here. I found that pretty interesting. Wherever this began, it started there, if this is true, and he was the ambassador there.
Giraldi: The other kind of interesting side story is about the New York Times where Grossman was joking apparently on the phone where he could call up, or fax over to his contact at the New York Times a story that the Turks wanted to appear in just a particular form, and he would fax his account over to the New York Times and the New York Times would print it as Grossman had drafted it. We got a little bit more on that story which was basically this was involved with helicopter sales back in the year 2000 about which there was a scandal and anyone who could Google could figure out who the journalist was, but we didn’t use it because Sibel never actually heard his name.
Horton: Isn’t that interesting? Maybe you guys should talk amongst yourselves while I google that real quick, I want to know. Too bad I don’t have my chatroom window open here, I bet they’re finding it right now. Well, we’re basically at about time to wrap this up here. I guess I want to give you guys an opportunity to address anything that I didn’t ask you about, or make any closing comments, what you would like people to take from this.
Lauria: I would say simply that this is a highly unusual article, in a glossy magazine, that is on newsstands in many parts of the country, that I hope people read, and want to know more about, and start asking their congressmen about that, or write to an editor, or speak out in some way, and I obviously hope that it is picked up by the media in the U.S., even if it is not me, that somebody wants to look into this, and this thing could start snowballing. I mean, there’s been Iran -Contra, there’s been Watergate, it’s not like things haven’t been investigated, it’s not like we haven’t had scandals and conspiracies before, this could be another big investigation, I don’t see why not. I don’t see, except for the reasons that we were talking about, that there could be too many people who could be hurt, but I’m hoping that this article will help break through. But I’m not certain about that obviously, I don’t think anybody can be. I’m prepared for it to die, to be honest with you.
Horton: Yeah well, let’s not leave them with that, I mean now is the time, everybody has got a pen, they can write a letter to the editor, they can call their local right-wing warmongering talk radio station if they can get a word in edgewise, they can send a tweet to their cousin that works at CNN somewhere or something. And everybody can try to do a little bit of something with this.
Giraldi: Yes, and call your congressmen, no question about that, I mean, I would call them up and insist that they look at the Sibel Edmonds story. You know, I’m pessimistic too because this story has been out a while, and it really hasn’t been picked up for obvious reasons, but I think that we now for the first time have the story in a comprehensible form, to know what the whole story is, or what the center core of the story is. And I think that is going to help. So we’ll see where we go with this. I mean, certainly I know that the American Conservative, and I know Antiwar.com are making major efforts to get this story out, and I know there are other people out there doing the same thing, so we have to convince some major journalist or media outlet that this is for real and, as I say, I’m pessimistic, but I’d like to see it happen.
Horton: All right. Thank you both very much for your time on the show today.
Giraldi: Thank you, Scott.
Read more by Scott Horton
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- They Are Lying to You About the Oklahoma City Bombing – April 18th, 2010
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- FBI Whistleblower Names Names – November 1st, 2009
- Is Medea Benjamin Naive or Just Confused? – October 7th, 2009