Able Danger Blog

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

New Updated Edition of Triple Cross


In October, 2007 HarperCollins will publish a new updated edition of Peter Lance’s groundbreaking investigative book on al Qaeda master-spy Ali Mohamed. With new material on the DeVecchio murder trial set to start in Brooklyn, October 1st, you can pre-order the book The Toronto-Sun called “a chilling account of a killer who slipped through the hands of a daft justice system... Triple Cross chronicles one of the most vicious spies of our time.”

Investigating possible FBI election interference

From Bill Gertz at the Washington Times:

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III ordered an internal investigation into whether bureau agents interfered with midterm congressional elections by disclosing a corruption probe that undermined the re-election bid of Republican Rep. Curt Weldon weeks before the Nov. 7 vote.

The internal probe was disclosed in a Senate Judiciary Committee report containing the FBI's written answers to questions posed by committee members.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, asked why FBI agents searched the office of Mr. Weldon's daughter and a business associate three weeks before the elections.

The publicity from the raid contributed to the Pennsylvania Republican's defeat and led to the election of retired Navy Vice Adm. Joe Sestak, a former Clinton administration national security official.

Mr. Grassley said in his questions to the FBI that the timing of the raid "left the FBI open to criticism and speculation about whether there was an attempt to influence an election." He also wrote that after the investigation was disclosed in the press, the FBI was forced to conduct the searches to prevent the destruction of evidence.

"It appears that the FBI would not have executed these search warrants until after the election except for the fact that someone — possibly an employee of the Justice Department or FBI — leaked the fact of the investigation to the media," Mr. Grassley said.

Asked if the FBI knows the identity of the person who made the disclosure or is investigating the matter, the FBI said that "an internal review of this matter is being conducted at the request of Director Mueller."

Mr. Weldon declined to comment on the probe, but a person familiar with the former congressman's thinking said he believes the Justice Department and FBI deliberately sought to sabotage his re-election bid by disclosing the probe in the press within days of the election.

Mr. Weldon suspects that careerists and Democratic Party sympathizers in the Justice Department worked covertly with former Clinton administration officials to defeat him and to elect Mr. Sestak, according to the person.

Mr. Weldon had played a key role in several high-profile investigations of the Clinton administration, including its role in a 1996 illegal transfer of missile technology to China, the 1990s loss of nuclear secrets to China, and the investigation of Clinton National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger, who in April 2005 pleaded guilty to illegally removing classified documents from the National Archives related to counterterrorism efforts....

A Justice Department spokesman said the internal probe is being handled by the U.S. attorney for Delaware, Colm F. Connolly. Mr. Connolly had no immediate comment. An FBI spokesman declined to discuss the status of the probe and referred questions to the Justice Department.

Interestingly enough, he's just been offered a promotion:

Connolly on track for federal judgeship

Posted Saturday, August 11, 2007

Two of four candidates nominated to fill the vacant U.S. District Court judgeship in Wilmington told The News Journal Friday they believe U.S. Attorney Colm F. Connolly is on track to become the next federal judge from Delaware.

The White House has started a background investigation on one of the four attorneys nominated to fill the vacant judgeship, an aide for Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., said Friday.

"The congressman's office was contacted by the White House yesterday letting him know that a background investigation was going to begin on one of the nominees," said Jeff Dayton, Castle's district director. "They did not say which nominee."

Neither the White House nor Delaware's congressional delegation would comment on whose background was being investigated, but nominees Andrea L. Rocanelli and Richard A. Forsten said they had been informed by the White House that background investigations were not being conducted on them.

"It was an honor to have my name submitted by Congressman Castle," said Forsten, who is legal counsel to the Delaware Republican Party and an attorney at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. He added that based on reports he has heard, Connolly is the person who will be nominated by President Bush.

The background investigation, which takes four to five weeks, takes the process a step closer to the president submitting a name to the Senate for confirmation.

The nominee would replace Judge Kent A. Jordan, who left the Delaware district in December for the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Business as usual at the State Department

Anyone still think I was wrong about Condi Rice?

Dear Mr. Krongard:

I am writing to you about an exceptionally serious matter: reports that your senior staff has threatened officials that you could fire them if they cooperate with the Committee's investigation into your conduct.

On September 18, 2007, I wrote to you requesting your assistance with an Oversight Committee investigation into your actions as State Department Inspector General. In that letter, I described allegations from seven officials in your office that you interfered with on-going investigations in order to protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment. I requested various documents related to the investigation, and I informed you that Committee staff would be conducting interviews of several officials in your ofÍice.

Two of the individuals who came forward were John A. DeDona, the former Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, and Ralph McNamara, the former Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations. They told my staff that they had resigned after you repeatedly halted or impeded investigations undertaken by their office. The other individuals who contacted my staff asked that their identities not be revealed because they feared that you would retaliate against them.

Today, I am writing to express my grave concern with the tactics your office has reportedly used in response to my request. This week, several current employees in your office -- including two who have agreed to go on the record -- informed the Committee that your senior staff attempted to coerce them not to cooperate with the Committee's inquiry and threatened their jobs and careers.

The two officials who agreed to go on the record about the threats are Special Agent Ron Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brian Rubendall. Both currently work in the investigations division of your office. Both are career federal investigators. Just last week, you referred to Special Agent Militana as "one of my best investigators" in a statement you released.

In addition to describing the threats he received, Special Agent Militana kept contemporaneous notes of these interchanges, which he has now shared with my staff.

Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall report that on September 25, 2007, one week after I sent my letter, your congressional affairs liaison and an attomey in the Counsel's office approached them about the Committee's invitation to be interviewed. They were taken into the offrce of the Deputy Inspector General, where your congressional liaison told Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall that they wanted to discuss their upcoming interviews.

At this point, according to Special Agent Militana, your congressional liaison told them they could suffer retaliation based on their cooperation with the Committee's investigation. According to Special Agent Militana, she stated: The majority are not friends. The minority staff has been helpful. They advise that you should never do a voluntary interview in a million years.

When Special Agent Militana questioned her statement, the congressional liaison told him: "You have no protection against reprisal. You have no whistleblower protections. Howard could retaliate and you would have no recourse."

The attorney informed Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall that although they might have some civil service protections against termination, he concurred with the congressional liaison. Special Agent Militana said that when he pressed the issue, the congressional liaison stated: "Howard can fire you. It would affect your ability to get another job."

Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall stated that at the end of this session, they felt angry that such threats were being used against them. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall informed my staff that as career investigators who deal with whistleblowers, they were shocked by the brazenness of these tactics.

They ultimately concluded that this activity was inappropriate and should be reported to the Committee.

Special Agent Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall are not the only current employees to raise these concerns. Other employees have also reported that the congressional liaison and the attomey told them that if they appear before the Committee, you could take unspecified legal actions against them based on their statements.

I am appalled by these reports. As an Inspector General, you hold a position of special trust within the federal government. Your office is supposed to be an example of how to protect whistleblowers, not an example of how to persecute them. It is unclear whether you directed your senior staff to engage in these activities or whether they took matters into their own hands. In either case, the threats against Special Agent Militana, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall, and others are reprehensible.

You should be aware -- and you should advise your staff -- that Congress has passed civil and criminal prohibitions against threatening and tampering with witnesses, retaliating against whistleblowers, and providing false information to Congress.' If Special Agent Militana's and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Rubendall's accounts are true, some or all of these provisions may be implicated.

The Committee will not tolerate any intimidation of potential witnesses. I direct you to instruct your staff, including your congressional affairs liaison and attorneys, to suspend all communications (other than those necessary to collect responsive documents) with employees the Committee is planning to interview. I also warn you against any further efforts to intimidate witnesses or prevent truthful communications with Congress.

If you have any questions about this matter, you should contact me personally.


Henry A. Waxman

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Should Sestak be relieved from duty?

One Philadelphia area Democrat thinks so. Ouch!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Revisiting the Cole

Scott Malensek has done a great deal of research on the bombing of the USS Cole and provided me with copies of dozens of documents which he received through FOIA requests. I believe these documents prove the warning Able Danger provided regarding the Port of Aden, combined with the available intelligence on an impending Al Qaeda attack against a USS warship in the Middle East by a kamikaze boat, should have been more than enough to thwart the attack. First, the crew member statements:

From the first statement above:

1MC announcements: Possibility of direct action against the ship

This info was put out at an OPS/Intel Brief about two months ago.

From the second statement above:

In regards to Yemen, the ship planned on getting in and out as soon as possible. Generally speaking, we were briefed that Bin Laden made a statement that he was going to have two suicide bombers, in a boat, bomb a USS in or around the Persian Gulf, in the year 2000.

From the third statement as shown:

While in the Adriatic we received a threat brief from ISC(SW) [Redacted] that U.B.L. had promised an attack against a US ship in the C6F or C5F AOR. The brief stated the ship would be steaming independently and the attack would most likely be with a kamikaze boat.

The NCIS report on the attack confirms their accounts, but not conclusively:

From pages 80 and 81 of the NCIS investigation:

On 17 August 2000, LT [Redacted] (Force Protection Officer) conducted a "Med-Arabian University" brief exclusively on Force Protection, covering the following topics: the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Counter-Intelligence structure; "spot Reports" and "Blue Darts"; Threat Levels; THREATCONS; international terrorist incidents from 1980-1999; the East Africa American Embassy bombings in 1998; and terrorist Usama bin Laden.

"Blue Darts" are time-sensitive reports to warn unit and installation commanders of an imminent terrorist attack against their unit or installation. "Spot Reports" are time-sensitive reports in response to specific Force Protection/terrorist threats and are tailored to alert potentially affected Department of the Navy assets.

Additionally, a "Med-Arabian University" briefing covered the "Current Terrorist Threat" in both the EUCOM and Commander-in-Chief, United States Central Command Areas of Reponsibility. A slide entitled "Summary of DoD Terrorist Threat Levels U.S. Central Command" listed Yemen as having a HIGH Threat Level.

Several crewmembers of USS COLE (DDG 67) stated that one of the "Med-Arabian University" briefings cited intelligence reports warning of possible terrorist attacks against United States warships operating in the FIFTH and SIXTH Fleet Area of Responsibilities by one of Usama bin Laden's groups (This Finding of Fact reflects crewmembers' recollection of what was briefed, not the actual content of the messages).

Now, this is significant because the intelligence about a threat against a warship in the Middle East, combined with the threat information uncovered by Able Danger regarding the Port of Aden, should have been more than enough to send a "Blue Dart".

Two articles, in the New York Times two days after the bombing and Newsweek three weeks later, describe the exact same intelligence report.

From the New York Times on October 14, 2000:

The United States received a general warning of a possible attack on an American warship last month, senior defense officials said here today, but the warning lacked detail and did not specify the country in which to expect the attack.

"It was a question of how directly you could tie it to a certain place," one of the officials said. Since the warning, reported by an intelligence source in the Arab world, was not specific enough, "it got put on the shelf."

From Newsweek on November 6, 2000:

Two weeks before a pair of suicide bombers hit the USS Cole, a popular satellite TV channel in Qatar broadcast an ominous message from Osama bin Laden. With the camera rolling, bin Laden's top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, warned darkly that it was time to "take action" against the "iniquitous and faithless" U.S. forces in Yemen, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden, clad in tribal Yemeni dress and sporting a traditional dagger, looked on approvingly. Was the Saudi militant unleashing his terror operatives? Was he claiming responsibility in advance for the strike against the Cole? As U.S. investigators weighed these questions last week, an equally unsettling one hung in the air: did they overlook other clues that might have foiled the attack that killed 17 American sailors?

...Consider some of the traffic that preceded the Cole attack. In mid-September, a few days before bin Laden's broadcast, the CIA issued a secret warning. Agency reports feared that terrorists were likely to attack a Sixth Fleet warship in the Mediterranean using a small, bomb-laden boat--precisely the tactic used against the Cole. Another warning, issued Oct. 11, identified bin Laden as the possible sponsor of an imminent attack on U.S. or Israeli targets in several Middle East countries, including Yemen. But the first warning did not mention Yemen--it does not border the Mediterranean--and the second said nothing about an attack on a U.S. Navy ship. A third, from the National Security Agency, was sent out on Oct. 12, four hours after the Cole was blown up.

Considering the US had no troops in Yemen other than for embassy protection, the Port of Aden - where twenty-three USS warships had refueled in the last eighteen months - seems like an obvious focus.

That September 22, 2000 video was even covered on CNN:

On the tape bin Laden vows to work to obtain the freedom of Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving a life sentence in a U.S. federal prison. He was convicted in 1996 of conspiracy in a plot to blow up the United Nations, kill Egypt's president and bomb vital highway tunnels in New York.

Bin Laden also vows to work for the freedom of "all our prisoners" in the U.S., Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

From a Pentagon news briefing on October 19, 2000:

Q: On September 22nd, Osama bin Laden and members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad went on Qatar TV -- it was probably a tape, not a live shot -- but there was a tape played of Osama bin Laden and Egyptian Islamic Jihad officials making pretty specific threats against American forces, and specifically threatening attacks on ships. Now, there are some within the administration who said they were unaware of these bin Laden threats. Did the Pentagon, did CENTCOM, did the U.S. Navy, did the Cole, get any kind of threat assessment or warning as to the threats being made Osama bin Laden and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad?

Bacon: Well, that's precisely the type of question that the various panels will look at. And I think rather than rifle shoot at questions like that, it's better to look at the whole pattern.

That's one of the reasons Secretary Cohen is setting up this Cole Panel. It will look at the full panoply of intelligence factors that were available, whether intelligence reached the right people at the right time, whether the information was as accurate as it could be, whether there was a proper distinction between general threats and specific threats. These are the type of questions they'll be looking at. Rather than try to answer these questions piecemeal, I think it's better just to let the panel do its work and try to release a complete report as soon as possible.

Of course, the panel did nothing of the sort, but what would you expect? As it is, warnings of an attack were available from sources besides Osama.

From the New York Times on October 20, 2000:

American intelligence officials said yesterday that they received reports in late May that a militant Egyptian Islamic group was in the final stages of preparing a terror attack against American targets and that they passed on the warning to all American posts and foreign governments in the Middle East.

The group said to be preparing the attack was the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a faction of which is closely associated with Osama bin Laden, the Saudi financier who tops the United States list of most-wanted terrorists. The Jihad and Mr. bin Laden's organization, Al Qaeda, or ''the base,'' have come under scrutiny by American and Yemeni officials as possible culprits in the bombing last Thursday of the American destroyer Cole in Aden, Yemen, an attack that killed 17 sailors....

American officials said the administration had received two separate warnings about a possible terrorist attack against American forces. The first, in late May, warned that the Egyptian Islamic Jihad was in the final stages of preparing an attack against American forces. The second, received in mid-September, warned about a possible attack against an American warship, but did not specify where or when.

From the Complete 9/11 Timeline:

July 2000: CIA Learns Al-Qaeda Related Group Plans to Attack US Naval Ship

A CIA informant reveals that a militant group based in Sidon, Lebanon that is affiliated with bin Laden is planning to attack a US naval ship somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean, probably off the coast of Lebanon. [Miniter, 2003, pp. 215] This is a probable reference to Asbat al-Ansar, the only group that fits such a profile. [US Department of State, 5/21/2002] The CIA and Defense Department discount the threat, pointing out the US is not deploying ships near Lebanon. However, counterterrorism “tsar” Richard Clarke will later say he was alarmed by the warning because it showed increased ambitions for al-Qaeda in going after hardened military targets. [Miniter, 2003, pp. 215] Al-Qaeda will successfully bomb the USS Cole several months later in Yemen (see October 12, 2000).

August-Early October 2000: FBI Notices Increased Al-Qaeda Telephone Activity in Yemen before Cole Attack

The FBI and other US intelligence agencies have been monitoring an al-Qaeda communications hub in Sana’a, Yemen, since the attacks on US embassies in East Africa, and have used it to map al-Qaeda’s global network (see Late August 1998 and Late 1998-Early 2002). In the run-up to the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, the FBI notices that there is increased telephone activity to and from the Sana’a hub. One of the messages says that bin Laden is planning a “Hiroshima-type event” (see (August 2000)). [PBS, 10/3/2002]

Late Summer 2000: Informant Says Al-Qaeda to Attack US Warship

According to PBS, an Egyptian informant warns US intelligence that al-Qaeda will attack an American warship. [PBS, 10/3/2002] The FBI also notices increased telephone activity by al-Qaeda in Yemen around the same time (see August-Early October 2000). The USS Cole is attacked in the autumn of this year (see October 12, 2000).

A quote from Kie Fallis in "Breakdown" by Bill Gertz:

"I obtained information in January of 2000 that indicated terrorists were planning two or three major attacks against the United States," he said. "The only gaps were where and when."

...As September ended, the DIA and the rest of the intelligence community - the CIA, the FBI, the National Security Agency and the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research - received extremely solid information, supported by several sources, that an attack was imminent.

"I went to my supervisor, and he told me there wasn't going to be a warning issued," Mr. Fallis said.

...For Mr. Fallis, the "eureka point" before the Cole bombing in determining an impending terrorist attack came from a still-classified intelligence report in September 2000, which he will not discuss. But after the bin Laden video surfaced that same month, Mr. Fallis said, he "knew then it would be within a month or two."

Another excerpt from "Breakdown" by Bill Gertz:

The National Security Agency, which conducts electronic eavesdropping around the world, received an intelligence intercept about terrorists planning for an attack against the United States. On the day the Cole bombing was carried out, NSA produced a top secret intelligence report warning that terrorists were planning an attack on an American target in the Middle East. But the NSA report was not dispatched until several hours after the bombing. The report, according to officials who were familiar with the top secret intelligence, stated that unidentified terrorists were involved in "operational planning" for an attack on U.S. or Israeli personnel or property in the Middle East. One official said the warning was specific as to an attack in Yemen. Congressman Curt Weldon, a Pennsylvania Republican and a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, agreed that the NSA report was specific. He investigated the NSA warning and told me that the warning "related specifically to Yemen." But other officials claimed the NSA's intercept was more general and referred to the Persian Gulf region. Either way, it was accurate. The intercept stated that a member of a terrorist group had been tracked to Dubai and Beirut and was planning terrorist operations.

Now back to Able Danger. You might recall the New York Post scoop:

September 17, 2005 -- WASHINGTON — Members of a secret Pentagon intelligence unit known as Able Danger warned top military generals that it had uncovered information of increased al Qaeda "activity" in Aden harbor less than three weeks before the attack on the USS Cole, The Post has learned.

In the latest explosive revelation in the Able Danger saga, two former members of the data-mining team are expected to testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee next week that they uncovered alarming terrorist activity and associations in Aden weeks before the Oct. 12, 2000, suicide bombing of the U.S. warship that killed 17 sailors.

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, the Defense Intelligence Agency's former liaison to Able Danger, told The Post that Capt. Scott Phillpott, Able Danger's leader, briefed Gen. Peter Schoomaker, former head of Special Operations Command and now Army chief of staff, about the findings on Yemen "two or three weeks" before the Cole attack.

"Yemen was elevated by Able Danger to be one of the top three hot spots for al Qaeda in the entire world," Shaffer recalled.

Shaffer and two other officials familiar with Able Danger said contractors uncovered al Qaeda activities in Yemen through a search of Osama bin Laden's business ties.

The Pentagon had no immediate comment.

Of course, they never testified in the Senate, but there was some related testimony in the House.

From the House Armed Services Committee on February 15, 2006:

SHAFFER: My understanding -- and this is not my direct knowledge, but information I received from Captain Philpot -- they discovered information about two weeks before the Cole attack, about the 1st of October, that there was activities of interest within the Port of Aden in Yemen. That information was researched by the intelligence analysts, and two days before the attack, was briefed to General Schoomaker, the commander of Special Operations Command.

WELDON: Do you know what happened to it?

SHAFFER: I know that one of the individuals who was integrated within the Able Danger element at Garland, Texas, was a CENTCOM intelligence representative. It is my understanding that information was provided from Captain Philpot to the CENTCOM intelligence representative, at which time Captain Philpot requested they do something with it, they take action on it.

As expected, General Chope had a slightly different view:

CHOPE: Sir, in the days preceding 12 October 2000, which was the day the Cole was attacked in Aden harbor, one of the intelligence analysts assigned to the Able Danger effort began to get what he calls gut feel that things were going awry in Yemen; he didn't have any hard intelligence.

He asked then Commander Scott Philpot if that could be briefed at a high level briefing that took place on 10 October, during a VIP visit to the Garland facility, and it was.

To the best of our knowledge, and through the course of our interviews, that information was not of actionable quality. It was not of predictive quality. It was a general feel and a general beginning of bad things, for lack of a better way to put it, in Yemen in general, sir.

Leave it to a general to fit the word "general" in the same sentence three times. Two bombers in a kamikaze boat, directed by Bin Laden to bomb a USS warship steaming independently, somewhere in the Middle East at the same time that Yemen as a whole, and the Port of Aden specifically, are tagged as having a high threat of a terrorist attack. Generally speaking, not sending a "Blue Dart" sounds like negligence to me.

Friday, September 21, 2007

U.S. Spy Chief: 9/11 'Could Have Been Prevented'

From ABC News:

Director of National Intelligence Says U.S. Didn't Connect Available Information

Six years after the deadliest attack on U.S. soil, the head of U.S. spy operations admitted to lawmakers that "9/11 should have and could have been prevented."

Director of National Intelligence, Michael McConnell, told members of the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday that "it was an issue of connecting information that was available."

McConnell, explaining that the intelligence community was, at the time, very focused on foreign threats, said the community allowed itself "to be separated from anything that was potentially domestic," and that domestic threats were "not something we [were] supposed to be concerned with."

...Given the vast resources of the intelligence community, along with the FBI's and CIA's knowledge that al Qaeda had an interest in flight training, and had sent 9/11 hijackers Khalid al Mihdhar and Nawaf al Hazmi and terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui to undertake such training in the United States, McConnell said, "For whatever reason, we didn't connect the dots."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sestak received $2,750 from Hsu

According to analysis done by several bloggers at Suitably Flip, Norman Hsu donated or raised at least $2,750 for Sestak in the 2006 election cycle:

Recipient (Office, State) All Receipts Hsu Only Associates
Sestak, Joe (House, PA) 2,750 1,000 1,750

Hsu is an associate of Bernard Schwartz

As you can see on this original chart that was produced by Orion Scientific in 1999, Loral Corp. was one of the companies with close ties to the Clintons that were identified by LIWA in 1999 as being involved with Chinese missile and weapon proliferation.

It seems those ties are alive and well. According to World Net Daily:

A shady Chinese megadonor to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign has close ties to an aerospace mogul accused of placing his business interests before national security by sharing missile secrets with Beijing during the Clinton administration.

Before his forced resignation last week, Norman Yuan Yuen Hsu sat on the board of trustees of the liberal New School university in New York with former Loral Corp. head Bernard L. Schwartz, who was allowed to transfer restricted satellite and missile technology to a People's Liberation Army front after contributing a record amount of cash to President Clinton's 1996 campaign....

Schwartz, vice chairman of the New School board, was among officials who introduced Hsu to the school's administration, WND has learned.

Last November, Schwartz and Hsu chaired a New School banquet at the Mandarin Oriental in New York which featured Sen. Clinton as keynote speaker. Clinton steered a $1 million federal grant to the college.

More recently, Schwartz and Hsu (pronounced shoo) appeared together at the New York Yacht Club for Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy's 40th birthday bash.

The pair are so-called HillRaisers – major donors to Clinton's war chest – with Hsu raising more than $1 million for her campaign. Hsu, like Schwartz, has lobbied the U.S. government to relax trade rules with China....

Sources say Schwartz vouched for Hsu at New School, even though he was a fugitive convicted of grand theft in California.

Sestak staffers are jumping ship

I guess old habits and "poor command climate" die hard. From The Hill:

September 04, 2007

Freshman Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), a retired three-star Navy admiral, has fast developed a reputation for being a temperamental and demanding boss. Thirteen staffers have quit this year, say former aides citing public records.

Sestak’s reputation as a difficult manager, which hounded him in the Navy, has followed him to Congress. The Navy Times reported in 2005 that Sestak was relieved from his last post as deputy chief of Naval operations because of “poor command climate.”

Now, in running his congressional office, Sestak has imported a measure of military toughness; he is battling a “misguided” culture in Washington, said William Walsh, Sestak’s district director.

Aides are expected to work seven days a week, including holidays, often 14 hours each day, going for months without a day off. These are very long hours even by Capitol Hill standards.

As our readers might recall, from The Navy Times:

July 25, 2005

Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (DCNO) Vice Adm. Joseph Sestak was "administratively reassigned" July 25 by new Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen, according to Rear Adm. T. McCreary, chief of naval information.

"Rear Adm. Mark Edwards, currently serving as director of the Surface Warfare Division, will serve as the acting DCNO until such time as a relief can be identified, nominated and confirmed," McCreary said.

A source within the Navy Department said there were no allegations of misconduct on the part of Sestak. Rather, he said, the move is being made because of poor command climate.

"Command climate and how people exercise their leadership responsibilities are key priorities for Admiral Mullen," the source said, "and this position is one of the key jobs that will help determine the success of the Navy, its people, and its future force structure."

Sestak's removal is one of the first moves made by Mullen, who was sworn into office on Friday.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

First Amendment Reminder

As the lawsuit against Bruce Tefft winds it's way through court, I think it's worth revisiting a quaint old document known as the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What's Bruce being sued for again? For not being respectful of Islam.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Bin Laden videos not so new after all?

UPDATE: It seems the experts agree. Where was the CIA on this one? Out to lunch?

Interesting development widely linked to on the blogosphere. If true, it looks like Weldon was right after all. Maybe Osama's son did the new audio?

Latest Bin Laden Video Is a Forgery: All References to Current Events Are Made During Video Freeze

Osama Bin Laden's widely publicized video address to the American people has a peculiarity that casts serious doubt on its authenticity: the video freezes at about 1 minute and 36 58 seconds, and motion only resumes again at 12:30. The video then freezes again at 14:02 remains frozen until the end. All references to current events, such as the 62nd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Japan, and Sarkozy and Brown being the leaders of France and the UK, respectively, occur when the video is frozen! The words spoken when the video is in motion contain no references to contemporary events and could have been (and likely were) made before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The audio track does appear to be in the voice of a single speaker. What I suspect was done is that an older, unreleased video was dubbed over for this release, with the video frozen when the audio track departed from that of the original video.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lance risks $250K to criticize Cyrus Nowrasteh

You can read a summary here in a separate Raw Story article, but Peter Lance is going on the record about "The Path to 9/11" in response to the recent interview the LA Times did with Cyrus Nowrasteh. Apparently, ABC and "The Path to 9/11" finally paid Peter $250K for rights to "1000 Years For Revenge" but then ignored or contradicted a great deal of what he wrote:

Finally, after months of negotiating with ABC, Larry Stein called me in December of 2005 to say that my former network had agreed to pay a settlement of $250,000.00 to acquire the mini-series rights to 1000 Years For Revenge.

But the deal contained a “non-disparagement” clause and gag order. In order to keep me from telling the real truth behind their distortion of my work, ABC would hold off paying me the final $50K until a month after The Path to 9/11 aired.

Though properly credits my book as one of the three source works for the mini-series, ABC’s website mentions only The Cell and Sam Katz’s book Relentless Pursuit which ABC was to forced to buy after I informed Katz that Cyrus had lifted “Relentless” for his coverage of the Yousef arrest.

Until now I’ve been silent about all of this, but given Nowrasteh’s allegations, it’s time the full truth came out....

As the author of one of the three books on which The Path was based, I’m now weighing in – despite a gag order - to suggest that ABC may have other reasons for shelving Nowrasteh’s Clinton bash; a mini-series that virtually blames 9/11 on the ex-President’s failures to get bin Laden, yet gives a pass to Bush 41 for failing to stop the first World Trade Center bombing and Bush 43 for “The Day Of;” arguably the greatest defense failure in US history.

How do I know this? First because my book 1000 Years For Revenge, was one of the three works on which ABC based the mini. They acquired it for a quarter of a million dollars in 2005 under threat of litigation, after they’d lost the book in a bidding war with NBC.

Nowrasteh then proceeded to launder most of my critical findings on negligence by the FBI and the two Bush administrations and give Path a twisted pro-Bureau slant through the eyes of ex-ABC News correspondent John Miller, who now works as Assistant Director of Public Affairs for the FBI.

Of course, "The Path to 9/11" does not mention Able Danger either, but who does? If we're on the subject of the FBI, I'm still wondering what happened to Catcher's Mitt?

As for the op-ed, you might recall a similar issue arose with "Triple Cross" when National Geographic deciding not to put Peter's toughest criticism of the Feds in their film, either. See the rest of his piece for more details on "The Path to 9/11" from Peter.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Rice hearts Zelikow

"Rice considers Zelikow to be her intellectual soul mate" according to the new book by Glenn Kessler on her first two years in the role as Secretary of State. That quote is from page 159 of "The Confidante: Condoleeza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy" and the end notes reference an October 2006 interview with an anonymous senior state department official. While the book does not discuss her previous four hears as National Security Advisor, both Philip Zelikow and John Bellinger (two of the four officials present at the Bagram Airbase briefing) play a prominent role in the book as key figures at the State Department.

CORRECTION: Bellinger was not at Bagram after all, it was Dylon Cors.