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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Peter Lance on Book TV this Sunday

UPDATE: It will also re-air at 10pm EST. The program is two hours long.

A Weekly Look at Selected Book TV Programs

On Sunday, March 4 at 8:00 am EST

Triple Cross: How bin Laden's Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI - and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him
Peter Lance
Description: Peter Lance discusses what he describes as the incompetence of the FBI and Justice Department before 9/11. In "Triple Cross" the author looks at the infiltration of the CIA and FBI by Al Qaeda agent Ali Mohamed. Mr. Lance argues that by posiing as an FBI informant, Ali Mohamed was able to lead a double life for nearly two decades. All efforts to stop him, including efforts by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, failed.

Author Bio: Peter Lance is an Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter and the author of "1000 Years for Revenge," "Cover Up" and the novel "First Degree Burn." He is a former correspondent for ABC News and has covered hundreds of stories worldwide for 20/20, Nightline, and World News Tonight. For more information, visit:

They usually re-air these things over time, but if you aren't awake that early you could also set your DVR.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Personal request from Mark Zaid

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Servicemembers:

Many of you may know that since June 2006, I have served as co-civilian counsel, along with Neal Puckett who is lead counsel (and Of Counsel to my law office), for SSgt Frank Wuterich, USMC. Frank is now facing multiple counts of murder for the events arising from the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians at Haditha, Iraq on November 19, 2005. He was the squad commander for the 3/1 that tragic day.

This is a highly unusual case for me. Other than the dozen or so military courts-martials I handled back in 1999-2000 dealing with anthrax vaccine refusers, I am not a criminal defense attorney much less a military criminal defense attorney (though I often represent military servicemembers in the civil context in administrative or litigation proceedings against their federal agencies).

Neal brought me in on this case due to the high-profile and sensitive nature of the allegations. This is not a typical military case. It has become highly politicized and, in our opinion, these young Marines are being sacrificed for foreign policy reasons. Indeed, one of the first things Neal and I did after I reviewed the facts of the case known at that time was to initiate, on August 2, 2006, a defamation lawsuit (which has no partisan agenda whatsoever) against Congressman John Murtha for incredibly inappropriate public statements he made that have already been proven by the government's alleged charges to be false. These statements created a further climate that contributed to the public pressures to file charges against our client.

I should point out that the Haditha case has nothing to do with the Hamdania case, which is constantly confused as one and the same. No one has pled guilty, much less confessed, to any crime with respect to Haditha. No one has been confined or shackled. The confusion between the two cases, and other clear examples of criminal conduct in Iraq, has also contributed to the negative - inaccurate - public image of our client and his fellow Marines.

I have reviewed thousands of pages of evidence that few have seen. The deaths of these Iraqi civilians was a terrible tragedy, but it was not a massacre as some in the media have portrayed. And I personally do not believe, based on what I know, that SSgt Wuterich committed a crime that day. War is a terrible thing. Innocent lives are lost. This was not the first time, nor will it be the last. Whenever women, children and the elderly are killed it is natural to want to blame someone. After all, how can it be possible that children are killed and no one is punished? But if the rules of engagement and the laws of war, especially under the circumstances such as existed in Haditha that day, are to mean anything, then SSgt Wuterich is innocent of all charges.

We are set to prove this and defend the law. The Article 32 hearing, which is the initial step within the military system, is scheduled to begin June 4, 2007. There will be a great deal of press, no doubt good and bad, that will appear in the coming months. This case is important enough to me that I am devoting a significant amount of my time to it. There is, in fact, far more at stake than just the eight Marines who have been charged with crimes arising from actions taken that day. What it means to be a U.S. Marine is being challenged. Indeed, the system, and some may even say the War, is on trial.

I wanted to make you aware of a website that has been set up to educate the public about Frank. It provides relevant information about the incident, routinely posts updates on the case and, more importantly, personalizes this young man. I encourage you to take some time and review it.

Moreover, your wide dissemination of this website would be appreciated. Frank needs as many voices in his corner as possible so that justice will be done.



Thursday, February 15, 2007

Judge to Hold USS Cole Lawsuit Hearing

Thanks to Rory O'Connor for the link to this Associated Press article:

Published: February 15, 2007
Filed at 5:14 a.m. ET

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- A $105 million lawsuit against the Sudanese government filed by families of 17 sailors killed in the USS Cole bombing is scheduled to go to trial next month -- even though huge questions loom.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert G. Doumar called a hearing for Thursday to determine what laws from which country -- the United States, Sudan or Yemen -- apply to the lawsuit, said Andrew C. Hall, an attorney for the families.

The suit alleges that Sudan's government provided financial and training support to al-Qaida, including the Yemeni militants who planned the attack on the destroyer in the Aden, Yemen, harbor on Oct. 12, 2000. Sudan denies the accusation.

Sudan's lawyers, who argue the federal court here lacks jurisdiction, have notified Doumar they will attend but will not argue the merits of the case, Hall said.

Sudan has asked the U.S. Supreme Court for a hearing. Hall said the lawsuit should go to trial as scheduled March 13, unless the high court issues a stay.

Hall said the American public will learn new details about the attack at trial, with families' lawyers arguing that the Cole bombing wouldn't have occurred ''without Sudan's active involvement.''

Lawyer Gregory Stillman, who has been representing the East African nation of Sudan, did not return telephone calls seeking comment this week.

About 50 people -- including R. James Woolsey, former CIA director under President Clinton -- already have been questioned and the judge will receive their depositions, Hall said. About seven witnesses will testify in person, he said.

The case file has been in Doumar's chambers and unavailable for viewing. Hall confirmed that filings include documents saying 11 men trained at an al-Qaida camp near Sudan's capital for terrorist acts including the Cole attack and that the men relied on Sudan's government for safe harbor, money and the explosives that tore a hole in the Norfolk-based Cole's hull.

Last fall, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond denied Sudan's request for dismissal, ruling that the allegations establish a reasonable connection between a country providing material support to a terrorist group and the damage arising out of a subsequent attack.

The three-judge panel also dismissed the remainder of Sudan's appeal of the lawsuit, which also alleges the Cole attack was part of a decade-long plan of international terrorism against the United States, and that Sudan provided shelter and a safe haven for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden between 1991 and 1996.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mark Zaid testifies in the House


Ethics & the Executive Branch

Today, Chairman Waxman introduced two bills to increase government transparency and encourage the discovery of waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer money. Today’s hearing provided an opportunity for the Committee to focus on the issues of lobbying and ethics reform in the executive branch. The Committee heard from noted experts and academics on these issues.

The Executive Branch Reform Act is a comprehensive reform measure that would increase transparency in the executive branch by requiring senior government officials to report significant contacts with lobbyist. The WB Protection Enhancement Act would for the first time extend whistleblower protections to national security officials and employees of federal contractors.

Watch Chairman Henry Waxman’s opening remarks:

Transcript (pdf)

Watch Mark Zaid, Esq., who has served as the attorney for “Able Danger” whistleblowers, give his opening statement on the need for reform on whistleblower protections and executive branch classification privileges:

The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007

The Executive Branch Reform Act of 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

Book TV taping on Tuesday in LA


Book TV taping at Borders
Tuesday, Feb. 13th, 7:00pm
Join Peter Lance at Borders fabulous new book store in the redesigned Westfield Century City mall located at 10250 Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles as he lectures on “The Secrets of Triple Cross” and signs first editions of his best seller. The program will be videotaped by Book T.V. for an upcoming broadcast on C-Span 2. For a map to the store CLICK HERE.

Weldon hired by Defense Solutions

Here is the press release:

Former Congressman Curt Weldon Appointed Chief Strategic Officer for Defense Solutions

Defense Solutions, LLC announced today the appointment of former 10-term US Congressman Curt Weldon as the company's Chief Strategic Officer. Congressman Weldon is the former Vice Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and Vice Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

February 6, 2007 -- Defense Solutions, LLC announced the appointment of former 10-term US Congressman Curt Weldon as Chief Strategic Officer to implement the company's vision of becoming the leading provider of professional services and products to the international defense and homeland security markets.

At the time of his retirement from Congress last month, Mr. Weldon was serving as Vice Chairman of the Armed Services Committee; Vice Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee; and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Land and Air Forces. Earlier, he chaired the Procurement Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Research and Development for the House Armed Services Committee.

A 10-term Member of the House, Congressman Weldon took leadership roles on a wide variety of issues, ranging from national security to the environment to homeland security. Mr. Weldon is widely recognized as the champion of the fire service and public safety community during his 20 years in Congress.

Shortly after his election to Congress in 1987, Weldon created the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, a congressional organization dedicated to promoting greater awareness about fire and life safety issues among legislators. Similarly, Weldon helped establish the Congressional Fire Services Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit organization serving as a link between Congress and the fire service.

"Congressman Weldon shares our genuine belief that America's armed forces and first responders deserve nothing short of the world's best products and services to protect themselves as they work to accomplish their mission. Curt Weldon knows how our Armed Forces and emergency response communities work and what they need. He has the right combination of military and first responder expertise to lead our growing defense and homeland security practice areas," said Defense Solutions CEO Colonel (US Army, retired) Tim Ringgold. "With Congressman Weldon as a key member and leader of the Defense Solutions team, we look forward to expanding our industry partnerships as well as continuing to develop a strong organization that offers defense and homeland security related programs that are second-to-none," he said.

About Defense Solutions, LLC

Defense Solutions is a leading contracting, program management, consulting and sales company in the military and government marketplaces. The company, headquartered in Exton, PA, has offices in Washington, DC and Miami, FL, with international satellite offices in Israel, Hungary and Colombia. The company's reputation for cost effectiveness, solid execution and results-oriented delivery has led to it successfully representing not only the largest US and international defense contractors, but also those companies with high value security products, technologies and/or services for the military, homeland security organizations and commercial sectors.

CEO Tim Ringgold also had this to say of Weldon:

"That (the investigation) is of no concern to me whatsoever. I have absolute trust that Congressman Weldon did no wrong and that will absolutely come out."

Furthermore, he said, "If there is somebody who thinks he did wrong and doesn’t want to do business with us because of it, I don’t want to do business with them."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Peter Lance on CBS News in January

Here is the podcast from his site:

CBS News Correspondent Dan Raviv interviews Peter Lance.

Why We Need a New 9/11 Commission

Veers off a little after this excerpt, but a good op-ed piece overall:

9/11 is unquestionably the most important event in American history since December 7, 1941, when Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor. The magnitude of its impact on America and the world cannot be overstated. The terrible acts of 9/11 and the events leading up to them deserve a thorough and unimpeachable investigation to learn the facts. And if some rogue elements within the U.S. government were complicit in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 9/11, it is critical that these elements be exposed and removed from power. A new commission is clearly called for because the investigation and report by the 9/11 Commission were badly flawed, as will be discussed below.

The most important tools of any criminal investigators are the accounts of the eyewitnesses and first responders. The first thing the police do at an accident scene is to gather all witness accounts and within a week the insurance companies are also telephoning the witnesses to take their testimony. Many New York City firemen who were eyewitnesses are calling the Commission's report a cover-up, and victims' family organizations are saying the same thing.

If it had been a comprehensive and thorough scientific investigation it would have looked like the investigation that followed the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. Although there may remain minor questions concerning some of the peripheral conclusions, the report on the Columbia accident on the whole stands without major dispute within the scientific community. Contrast this with the 9/11 Commission report, which sidestepped critical questions, and the FEMA 9/11 report and its major inconsistencies.

Flaws in the Commission's Investigation

Conflicts of Interest in the Commission

One important reason for asking for a new truly independent commission is because of the conflicts of interest of the 9/11 Commission members and staff, particularly Philip Zelikow, Executive Director of the Commission. The 9/11 Family Steering Committee came to the conclusion that each of the commission members was placed on the commission to protect specific interests. For example, Jim Thompson's and Slade Gorton's law firms represented the airlines. Jamie Gorelick was on the board of Schlumberger, a large defense contracting company and had also served on a CIA advisory panel. John Lehman owned several companies that provided military components to defense contractors or directly to the government.

But the most profound conflict of interest, one that compromised the breadth and integrity of the commission's investigation, was in the executive staff director, Philip Zelikow. He was a close colleague of Condoleezza Rice, and at the specific request of Rice had served on the Bush administration's transition team. This meant that as the Clinton administration was leaving office and the Bush Administration was coming into office, it was Zelikow's job to facilitate that transition. Because two of Zelikow's specialties are national security and terrorism, he was briefed about al Qaeda and bin Laden by outgoing National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke, and CIA Director George Tenet. These briefings took place from late 2000 through early 2001. Zelikow's job was to take that information and convey it to the Bush national security team. How could Zelikow direct an investigation whose mandate was at least in part to investigate the role Zelikow himself played in the transition time between the Clinton and Bush administrations-a transition that went to the heart of why the Bush administration underestimated or ignored the threat posed by al Qaeda and bin Laden?

While the commissioners were the public face of the Commission, the real work was carried out behind the scenes by the staff-and there were about eighty staff members who were divided up into several key areas. Zelikow was in charge of those eighty staffers and the entire course of the investigation. He was the Commission's gatekeeper--all information that ended up in the final report was there only because Zelikow thought it should be there. In essence, the story told by the 9/11 Commission became the story that Zelikow wanted to tell.

Zelikow, as Executive Director, was one of only two people from the Commission to be given primary access to the executive branch documents. As such, he received all the administration's documents relating to al Qaeda and 9/11. Zelikow provided a limited and censored group of documents to the commissioners, but only in a secure location. Commissioners could take handwritten notes about these documents, but these notes could not be removed from the classified location nor used in writing the Commission's final report.

Zelikow designed the investigation so that staff was divided into individual teams, each team addressing one specific part of the investigation. Thus, no one segment of the staff was seeing the whole picture. The official excuse for 9/11 is that "nobody connected the dots," and yet Zelikow set up the Commission's own investigation so that no single investigator could feasibly "connect the dots" of the failure that occurred on 9/11.

The other person given primary access to the administration's documents was Commissioner Jamie Gorelick, who ironically was also interviewed by the Commission as a witness regarding her former position as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration. The Family Steering Committee issued a press release indicating their total dismay over the conflicts of interest exhibited by Zelikow and Gorelick.

We should note here that Philip Zelikow was the primary author of the Administration's 2002 version of the National Security Strategy (generally known as NSS 2002), which turned the concept of 'preventive-preemptive warfare' into official American policy. The NSS 2000 said, among other things, "The events of September 11, 2001, . . .opened vast, new opportunities." Zelikow apparently believed that 9/11 had turned out to be a "good" thing. Then he wouldn't be inclined during the investigation to focus on any facts that would point the finger at specific federal officials, as this might spoil those "opportunities."

Investigation and Questioning by Commission Not Tough Enough

By late autumn of 2003, it became apparent to the Family Steering Committee that the questioning of the hearings was not tough enough and that the hearings were not identifying specific problems and holding people accountable. Witnesses would contradict their prior testimony and the Commission would fail to ask them why. This happened, for example, when Jane Garvey director of the FAA testified before the Commission. When she first appeared before the Commission, she laid out a timeline that described when the FAA knew the airplanes on 9/11 were confirmed to be hijacked. This is important because none of the protocols in place for hijackings were followed on 9/11 and none of the failures were explained. When she was invited back for a second time, she submitted a new timeline, and the commissioners never pressed for a specific answer as to why Garvey had changed her story.

When Kristen Breitweiser of the Family Steering Committee asked a commissioner why more pointed questions weren't being asked of the witnesses, she was told: "It's not the Washington way."

Investigation Failed to Address Most of the Important Questions

The Family Steering Committee (FSC) has reviewed the 9/11 Commission Report in depth and compared it to the list of questions they had presented to the Commission over the course of its work. As a result of this review, Mindy Kleinberg and Lorie van Auken of the FSC have issued a 'report card' on the Commission's work entitled, FSC Questions to the 9/11 Commission with Ratings of its Performance in Providing Answers, which lists each question and the rating they applied to each. This document can be downloaded from the following site:

Their report card showed that of the major questions the FSC asked the Commission to pursue as they questioned officials, only 10% were satisfactorily answered, while 25% were inadequately answered and 65% were generally ignored or omitted from the report.

A petition to Congress signed by 25 military, intelligence and security veterans states in part, "Omission is one of the major flaws in the Commission's report. We are aware of significant issues and cases that were duly reported to the Commission by those of us with direct knowledge, but somehow escaped attention. The omission of such serious and applicable issues and information by itself renders the report flawed, and casts doubt on the validity of many of its recommendations."

Many observers, such as Paul Hellyer former Minister of National Defense of Canada, believe the inquiry carried out by the 9/11 Commission was very shallow and superficial, and that the inquiries should have been undertaken in much greater depth.

Specific Omissions and Contradictions in the 9/11 Commission Report

1. Failure to even mention the Able Danger program of the Department of Defense (DOD). Intelligence officers working in the Able Danger program allegedly identified Mohammed Atta and at least two other terrorists a year or more before 9/11. When they tried to transfer that information to the FBI they were denied. Even the most junior investigator would immediately know that the name and photo ID of Mohammed Atta in 2000 would be precisely the kind of tactical intelligence the FBI has many times employed to prevent attacks and arrest terrorists, yet the 9/11 Commission inexplicably concluded Able Danger was historically insignificant. The 9/11 Commission staff refused to perform any in-depth review or investigate the issues relative to Able Danger that were presented to them. They effectively dismissed the importance of Able Danger based on what many believe was their preconceived conclusion on the 9/11 story they wished to tell.

2. Failure to address serious intelligence issues. For example, Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator and a witness to the Commission, made the commissioners aware of purposeful mistranslations and late translations of critical documents leading up to 9/11. But the Commission did not pursue this. Thus, one must assume that other serious issues were in the same manner omitted from the report. These omissions cast doubt on the validity of the report and therefore on its conclusions and recommendations....