Able Danger Blog


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Monday, June 15, 2009

Lance files DOJ complaint regarding Fitzgerald

The press conference is tomorrow:

June 16, 2009, 9:30 AM EDT
Zenger Room, National Press Club
529 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20045


Here are the latest details:

On Saturday, June 13th, Peter Lance filed a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice asking that a formal investigation by the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) be opened as a result of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's 20 month campaign to kill TRIPLE CROSS. Click here to download a pdf of the COMPLAINT. Click here for a copy of THE INTRODUCTION to the new edition of TRIPLE CROSS.


The paperback edition of Triple Cross is in stores tomorrow.

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 MSNBC.com 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!

Whistleblower Hearing Today

From the National Whistleblower Coalition:

The Senate is holding a hearing on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act today. The public hearing will be held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 342 at 2:30 PM. Please attend if you are in the DC area or you can watch live online by clicking here.

Now is the time to make your voice heard! If you have not sent an email to Congress send it now! Call Senators Daniel Akaka (202) 224-6361 and Susan Collins (202) 224-2523, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, and tell them that all federal employees, including those who report misconduct in national security and defense, must have whistleblower protection with full court access.

During the campaign, President Obama pledged to support effective legislation that would protect all federal employees with a guaranteed right to federal court access. Please urge the Senate to back up this promise.

Today is the day to send an action alert. Today it is imperative to pass this alert on to a friend or co-worker so the Senate can hear form the public while they are debating the scope of the law.

Thank you for your continued support.

Sincerely,

Stephen M. Kohn
President
National Whistleblowers Center

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fitzgerald claims: "This is different"

From the AP:

Its content goes beyond normal criticism, which "goes with the territory" for public figures, Fitzgerald told The Associated Press on Monday.

"This is different," he said. "The book lied about the facts and alleged that I deliberately misled the courts and the public in ways that in part caused the deaths in the 1998 embassy bombing attacks and in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001."

Fitzgerald said the lives lost in those attacks were personal for him and he decided to stand up for himself because "it is outrageous to falsely accuse me of causing those deaths corruptly."

The author said Fitzgerald has tried to "kill" the book with "baseless" allegations.

"Patrick Fitzgerald accuses me of making charges in the book that I never made," Lance said. "At the same time, he continually fails to respond to the substantive allegations documented in 604 pages, 1,425 end notes and 32 pages of documentary appendices."


Rory O'Connor disagrees with the Fitz:

Okay, so he’s one of the “sexiest men alive” — but what does Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago and Special Counsel in the CIA leak case, have against us poor, unsexy journalists? It’s bad enough that Fitzie won’t answer my questions: (“Rory. I just wanted to get back to you and let you know that I am going to decline to be interviewed. Thank you. Pat”) It’s worse that he was responsible for the jailing of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who spent 85 days behind bars. Now comes word that Fitzgerald, who must have too much time on his hands now that Scooter Libby has been freed and Rod Blagojevich indicted, spent much of the last year and a half going after another journalist, Peter Lance, in an attempt to kill a new edition of Lance’s investigative book Triple Cross by threatening to sue both the author and his publisher for libel.

Originally published in November 2006 by Regan Books, a division of Harper­Collins, Triple Cross uncovers the story of how Al Qaeda master spy Ali Mohamed infiltrated U.S. intelligence in the years leading up to 9/11 – “and how the FBI’s elite bin Laden squad failed to stop him.” Among the radicals trained by Ali Mohamed –and photographed by the FBI in 1989 — one would go on to kill Rabbi Meier Kahane in 1990; three were convicted in the World Trade Center bombing in 1994; and two (including Kahane’s killer) were later convicted by then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Fitzgerald in 1995 in what became known as the “Day of Terror” plot to blow up the bridges and tunnels into Manhattan. The book also details how the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s offices in New York prosecuted terrorists before 9/11, including “Blind Sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman, who infamously tried to blow up the World Trade Center, and others who bombed US embassies in Africa. And Lance alleges that Fitzgerald, when he was an assistant U.S. attorney in the 1990s, discounted information that may have revealed the existence of an Al Qaeda cell in New York years prior to September 11, 2001.

Fitzgerald’s stab at censorship is especially chilling coming from such a powerful prosecutor. But the lawman says he has no choice, since the book, which focuses on cases Fitzgerald prosecuted as Chief of Organized Crime and Terrorism in the Southern District of New York, is “a deliberate lie masquerading as the truth” and maintains that “it defames me or casts me in a false light,” as he said in one of four threatening letters sent to Lance’s publisher.

Although he wouldn’t speak to me, Fitzgerald did tell the Associated Press that the charges in Triple Cross far surpass normal criticism, which “goes with the territory” for public figures such as United States Attorneys. “This is different,” Fitzgerald contended. “The book lied about the facts and alleged that I deliberately misled the courts and the public in ways that in part caused the deaths in the 1998 embassy bombing attacks and in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.” Fitzgerald told the AP he decided to protest because “it is outrageous to falsely accuse me of causing those deaths corruptly.”

Monday, June 08, 2009

Patrick Fitzgerald threatens to sue Peter Lance

From Newsweek:

Patrick Fitzgerald may be the most feared prosecutor in the country, but even as he's racked up headlines for big-name convictions (Scooter Libby) and indictments (Rod Blagojevich), the hard-charging U.S. attorney from Chicago has been waging a private crusade: trying to kill a book he believes maligns his reputation. In the past year and a half, Fitzgerald has written four letters to HarperCollins—owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.—demanding it "cease publication" and "withdraw" copies of Triple Cross, a 2006 book by ex–TV newsman Peter Lance that criticizes Fitzgerald's handling of terror cases in New York in the 1990s. Fitzgerald raised the temperature even more last week, aiming to halt a paperback version. "To put it plain and simple," he wrote in a June 2 letter obtained by NEWSWEEK, "if in fact you publish the book this month and it defames me or casts me in a false light, HarperCollins will be sued."

Media experts say Fitzgerald's letters, written on personal stationary and totaling 30 pages, are unusual for a top lawman. "We certainly find it highly offensive that a federal prosecutor would do something like this," says Gregg Leslie of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. But Fitzgerald makes no apologies. The book's claims, he wrote in an email, are "outrageously dishonest." He says that Lance "alleged that I deliberately misled courts and the public" in ways that led to the 9/11 attacks. A time stamp on one of the letters shows it was sent via fax from the U.S. Attorney's Office, though Fitzgerald said he was "not aware" it would be visible, and Justice permits "incidental use of fax machines" for "personal business."


New York Magazine:

HarperCollins made a series of corrections, including changes in phrasing, for the paperback edition­—which finally comes out June 16, complete with a new introduction that’s mainly about Fitzgerald’s attempts to quash the book. Last week, Fitzgerald sent one more letter, which ended with “To put it plain and simple, if in fact you publish the book this month and it defames me or casts me in a false light, HarperCollins will be sued.”

Lance is busy drumming up support—and publicity—for the book. He’s holding a press conference on the 16th, when he’ll be flanked by lefty anti-­censorship activist librarian Ann Sparanese and the lawyer played by John Travolta in A Civil Action, Jan Schlichtmann. The truth is, this may be the best thing that ever happened to Lance. “That’s the ultimate irony,” Lance says. “It wasn’t reviewed by a single U.S. publication. If Patrick Fitzgerald had not attempted to kill it, it would have just gone off into publishing obscurity. This is the true lesson of censorship.”

Fitzgerald, on the other hand, doesn’t need the attention. In response to a request put through to his office, Fitzgerald called back personally to say he had no comment, adding that on this personal matter, he could be reached only through the P.O. box.