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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is Fitzgerald upset over a book deal gone bad?

Alright, I just read the full exchange between Patrick Fitzgerald and Harper Collins regarding his promised lawsuit over the publication of Triple Cross in paperback, which he did all he could to stop.

This part got my attention, from his October 11, 2007 document request:

(11) any documents reflecting Harper Collins estimate of the market value of my personal reputation, including but not limited to, any documents relating to an unsolicited letter from Judith Regan, on behalf of Harper Collins, to me offering me a "seven figure" sum for the rights to my biography and any documents establishing how that number was derived or otherwise constituting admissions to the nature and value of my reputation at that time....

So, he's suing Harper Collins after being offered "seven figures" by Harper Collins which he obviously never got, or did I miss the story about a Fitzgerald book deal?

Anyway, the main issues Fitzgerald focuses on are these:

Among other things, the book alleges that:

(1) I was part of an effort to conceal from the public prior to 1996 the fact that the FBI had infiltrated in 1991 the terrorist cell that would later bomb the World Trade Center in 1998;
(2) I filed a false affidavit with a federal judge to conceal the purported "fact" that the fatal crash of TWA 800 was really a terrorist attack to which I had been tipped in advance by an organized crime figure and that I otherwise conspired with the National Transportation Safety Board, the 9/11 Commission and numerous others to hide the truth; and
(3) I led an effort to conceal from the public prior to 2003 the fact that the United States government had infiltrated and wiretapped in 1996 the al Qaeda terrorist cell in Nairobi which would later bomb the American embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in 1998 and otherwise concealed the role played by Ali Mohamed in the bombing conspiracy.

Each of these allegations is per se defamatory of me....

Here is the response from Mark Jackson at Harper Collins:

With respect to the first claim, the Book never charges that you were part of an effort to conceal the fact that the FBI had infiltrated in 1991 the terrorist cell that would later bomb the World Trade Center in 1993. The one reference you cite on page 209 of the Book does not support your characterization. That reference merely makes the claim that people outside of the FBI and US Attorney's office in New York were not aware of the "real truth" behind Emad Salem and his relationship with certain federal agencies. Immediately following the reference you cite, Lance lists certain details of Salem's history that were not known to the general public. Nowhere in the Book does Lance state or otherwise imply that Salem was not referred to in the publicly filed indictment or during trial testimony.

Your second claim - in which you maintain that the Book accuses you of filing a false affidavit regarding the crash of TWA 800, that you had been tipped in advance by an organized crime figure about the crash and that you conspired with various federal bodies to hide the truth - is also without support in the Book. (Your October 11 letter does not appear to discuss this second claim other that listing it on page 2.)

...But the Book never accuses you of the misconduct that you allege. Instead, after presenting evidence that John Napoli denied telling your office that Scarpa had confided to him that the material was a "fabrication", as you allege in your affirmation, Lance then writes the following:

If Napoli's account is accurate, it appears that two senior federal prosecutors, Fitzgerald and Kelly went along with a government story that characterized the Yousef-Scarpa Jr. intelligence as fraudulent. If, as per Fitzgeerald's affidavit, that occured in conjunction with the late summer decision by the Feds to pardon DeVecchio and destroy Greg Jr. as a potential witness against him, then the creation of the "hoax" and "scam" story by the Feds could, in my opinion, amount to a serious obstruction of justice. (Emphasis added)

Fitzgerald was asked to answer a series of detailed questions raised by this investigation, but through his spokesperson in Chicago, Randall Samborn, he declined.

...The Book does contain a minor error in that the NBC News report regarding intelligence of al Qaeda activity in East Africa, which Lance cited, was apparently first broadcast in December 2000, although the website containing the report uses an October 24, 2003 date. Harper Collins will correct that dating descrepancy and modify the language in the first full paragraph of page 367 of the Book, but that clearly inadvertent misdating does not support a claim of defamation.

First, the Book does not accuse you or anyone else of improperly withholding evidence that Squad I-49 had advance warning of the bombing plot. In fact, the paragraph which you cite in your letter begins with the phrase "Because of the secrecy surrounding terror prosecutions in the SDNY..." That language does not indicate wrongdoing, but instead suggests that because of the perceived need for secrecy in terrorism trials, the information was not previously disclosed.

Second, although the NBC News article is misdated, it appears that the essence of Lance's point with respect to Mohamed is correct; namely, that the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York did conceal, for whatever reason, Mohamed's extensive role in al Qaeda activity - at least up until the time his indictment was unsealed. As reported in the Book, Mohamed was not called as a witness in either the Day of Terror or the embassy bombing trials. FBI and Justice Department officials chose not to arrest Mohamed in the fall of 1997 at the time of your meeting with him. Further, after Mohamed's arrest, he was kept on a "John Doe" warrant for months. Even after the announcement of Osama bin Laden's indictment in the Embassy plot, U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White expressly refused to comment publicly on Mohamed.

Perhaps most important, the responsible federal agencies did not disclose the critical fact that Mohamed had been an FBI informant for six years prior to the embassy bombings.

Lance presents a number of potential reasons why the government may have wanted to keep secret Mohamed's role as an FBI informant, something that he is certainly entitled to do based on the underlying facts that he presents in the Book.

In sum, Harper Collins does not believe that there is any merit to the claims contained in your October 11 letter. We will, however, take steps to correct the misdating of the NBC News story that you have pointed out with respect to the paragraph on page 367 of the Book. We stand behind Mr. Lance and intend to go forward with the publication of the updated trade paperback edition of the Book, which we regard as an important work of investigative journalism.

All Fitzgerald can really say in response, if you read his next three letters:

I do not undertake any obligation to catalogue the entire litany of sensational misstatements of fact contained in the book, which would be a rather strenuous undertaking.

Apparently, it would be strenuous indeed, if the only one he can prove is the date of an article which was still shown on MSNBC.COM with the same date Lance used!