Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sibel Edmonds interviewed by Electric Politics

Sibel gave a 75-min interview to Electric Politics on April 10. You can listen to it here. Mizgin has an overview of the interview here. A partial transcript follows:

Heroin, money-laundering and terrorism
Sibel Edmonds: First of all, it has been documented in the past several decades, the importance of narcotics in the Turkish economy, but also the role of Turkish MIT - that is Turkish Intelligence - and the military having an active role. But you're also looking at the increased role of certain Central Asian countries and the Caucuses, and if you look at some of these regimes, these are the regimes that we have been supporting. Their economies also have become dependent on narcotics, because they have become a major transit - and in some places, for certain countries such as Azerbaijan, they have become major production centers.

After they shut down the casinos in Turkey - around 1998 - many of the large casinos in Turkey which were used to launder a lot of money, that also had to do with the narcotics, they actually moved and relocated to Azerbaijan, and there were several that went to Kazakhstan. So if you go through some of those Central Asian countries and you look at the list of the casinos, and you look at the ownership, you will see mainly Turkish ownership, and these are Turkish holding companies that relocated in 1998 to those countries.

George Kenney: Would that be for narcotics destined for Russia and former Soviet states?

SE: Well, even after the narcotics are processed they still go through Turkey, but then from Turkey they have several routes. The major route, at least until 2002, was the Balkan route, and it was jointly with partnership with the Albanians. So the Albanians and Turks from that point had a partnership, and from there it went mainly to Holland, and some to Germany and then from there to the UK and elsewhere.

GK: Well, if a loosely organized group of people that have semi-official status are taking in money on this scale, they have to do something with it. And I guess it is natural that they would be interested in putting it in the United States.

SE: Correct, and in fact, they did, and I can talk about one bank, one Turkish bank, that played a major role, and it was in partnership with certain US government people, and also with certain US-based organizations. And their center is in Cyprus, and it is called First Merchant Bank, and again, based on my information, but also public documents, I can tell you that between 1996 and 2002, First Merchant Bank was one of the top banks used for these banking transactions and laundering this money. And you would see about $40-$45 million deposited there, and again this is public record, you can find it - I had to make sure that they were before I was able to actually mention or talk about this. And one of them was the president of Kazakhstan in forms of certain Kazakhstan bonds, and then you're looking at the brother of (President) Aliyev from Azerbaijan, who deposited more than $8 million there, transferred money there.

So what happened was, this was very well known in the US, and this bank was also used, actively, by certain government agencies in the US, with certain operations dealing with Central Asia. After Sep 11, I believe in 2004, you can go and find congressional records and a report by Treasury that they just announced that they have blacklisted First Merchant Bank, and basically they list First Merchant Bank as one of the top banks dealing in narcotics and narco-dollars. And the fact that First Merchant Bank conducted a lot of business and transactions with certain US institutions including banking institutions. But they did this in 2004 - up until 2004, at least until 2002 - our government directly, or certain agencies within our government, directly dealt with First Merchant Bank in Cyprus.

So anyway, they blacklisted and we don’t have any more banking relationships with First Merchant Bank, they are listed internationally, but First Merchant Bank still is operating, and if you look at the ownership of First Merchant Bank you're going to see the brother of one of the Turkish presidents, Süleyman Demirel, and you will also see certain familiar names - they won't sound really familiar here in the US, but globally they will sound familiar because of the incident you and I discussed over email, and that has to do with the Susurluk scandal.

So that's just one example of it and we are looking at again this bank, that until 2004 was actively dealing, doing business with, both US government agencies, and also certain non-profit organizations in the US, and was declared in 2004 as a top money-laundering narco-dollar center, and a bank that also had been involved in certain terrorism financing, which is very interesting.

The Turkish / Israeli Lobby
GK: ...It seems that the Turkish lobbying effort has copied the model of the Israeli Lobby

SE: Well, the Turkish lobby in the US was set up - at least the largest and most successful one - the American Turkish Council (ATC) was actually set up by the neocons. In either 1987 or 1988, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle went to Turkey and had some high-level meetings there, and then they came back to the US and they set up this lobbying firm called International Advisors Inc, IAI. It was also registered under FARA - Foreign Agents Registration Act - and they were representing the government of Turkey.

And the office of this lobby was located next to one of the main Israeli lobby groups, in the same building, on the same floor. And Richard Perle and Douglas Feith were actually working with both offices. In fact, the rent - and this was referred to in an article, I believe by the Wall Street Journal in 1993, 1994 - was paid by this particular Israeli lobby group. Then after this was exposed by the Wall Street Journal, because I believe at the time Richard Perle either had some advisory position with the Defense Department, it kind of became scandalous after the story came out, so they shut it down.

They shut down IAI in 1994, and in 1994 they got together with several other well-known neocons, and they set up the American Turkish Council instead. So from that date on, you would constantly see Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and even at that time, Larry Franklin, as familiar figures in ATC's meetings, and this was again in their first year, 1994.

And even as far as the accounting firms are concerned, both AIPAC and the ATC used the same financial advisors for their accounting. And then of course, you go and look at their members, and things become even more clear. So, 'Yes' to answer your question, you will see the same people involved both with the Israel lobby, the neocons, and also with the Turkish lobby, the center of which is the ATC. And just like the Israeli lobby, they were very smart, and they were modeled the same way. Because in addition to the ATC, they also set up another organization called ATA - the Association of Turkish Americans, with chapters in every 50 states, and more than several offices in each state in different cities, and if you go and look at their websites they have ATA-DC, ATA-Chicago, and so on, which again is modeled after the same Israeli lobby. And a lot of their - I would refer to it as - less than clean, the dirty activities actually are carried out through ATA and their chapters and their branches that have basically established themselves all over the country.

GK: That would be very similar to the way that AIPAC works with other big Israeli lobbying groups where a lot of the arm-twisting takes place from members at local levels.

SE: Correct.

GK: Are there a whole lot of other kinds of subsidiary groups than ATA? Does this spread out more extensively than that?

SE: Sure. I'm aware of several. And again, I will talk about some that have been publicly mentioned, and known. One of them is called TACA - Turkish American Cultural Alliance. This is based in Chicago, and they have been very, very active there, and they basically say that they are there to promote the cultural ties between the US and Turkey, such as they bring, a couple of times a year, some folklore groups from Turkey to perform here so the Americans in Chicago will get to see them. Well, that is what they have been saying, but that's not what they have been doing. Most of their activities are political in other areas, and their other activities that, easily, can be considered illegal, with investigative files on them for years and years and years within the FBI.

And it's interesting, there was a documentary made on my case called Kill The Messenger, and the producers, the directors were here and they went to Chicago, they wanted to interview some people at TACA. They had a pretty large budget, so they found the office for TACA and it looked like a little warehouse there, with broken windows and a little Turkish flag, and for days they just sat in front of that building, and nobody came in, nobody left. It was just like a symbolic office there that is like a warehouse, with nobody working there. But then if you were to look at their budget, and look at the money moving from them to various other recipients, and their activities, they seem to be a pretty active organization. So that's just one example.

In fact, the president of TACA, his name came up during the primaries here because he was able to raise $100,000 for Hillary Clinton during the primaries, and Hillary Clinton gave him this position in her campaign. And then that itself actually got into the newspapers because certain Armenian groups found out about this guy's background, and the $100,000 was questionable, and then there was the question whether or not Hillary Clinton returned that money. And this was very recent if you were to go and put TACA's president's name and Hillary Clinton in Google there are even some mainstream media articles about that. So again, this is an organization with a little broken-window warehouse with no employees working in it, with a large budget, who were able to raise $100,000 for Hillary Clinton in a few days.

Bipartisan Coverup: The US Deep State
GK: When was the last time that you had any contact with Waxman's office?

SE: That would be, having real conversation/contact was before the election in 2006, but in March 2007, I spoke with one of his staff people... and he said the congressman was very serious about having these hearings. But just as he was planning on scheduling a hearing for my case - this is the State Secrets Privilege and the whole FBI case - he was called into a hearing with Nancy Pelosi, they went into a meeting for about 30 minutes, Chairman Waxman came out and told his staff that they were not going to have these hearings, including my case.

And interestingly, this was during a time that they were putting together this junket, this trip, to several countries, the first one being Israel, and Chairman Waxman was not on that list. After this meeting, two or three days later, his name was added to the list. I don't know if that means anything or not, if it was a coincidence, I don’t know. That was the last time.

GK: Sibel, do you suppose that there are any currently serving members of congress who would be affected by an open hearing?

SE: Yes. Yes. This is the point that I wanted to bring up when you asked the question. When I went inside the SCIF, with Congressman Waxman's staff, all the people who attended had clearance, so I started going through the facts because I can disclose to the appropriate committee, people with clearance etc, and I can talk about details.

So, as I started talking about congressional members, or certain appointed officials under both administrations who were involved in certain activities that were targeted by the FBI at one point, the legal counsel with clearance for congressman Waxman stopped me and said "I need to stop you right here and ask you a question. How many Democrats are involved here in the House or the Senate?" and I answered the question, I said "Concretely to answer that, the ones that I know for sure would be three." And he looked at his watch, and said "OK I think we have enough, we don't want to hear any more. What we would like to do is we want to receive the classified version of the Inspector General's report, which we never got, and after that we will contact you and ask you to continue."

Basically they said they didn’t want to hear it because if they heard it they would be responsible. So the meeting ended there - this was the SCIF meeting, and again, this was witnessed because I got the report from the Capitol police that came and declared that the room was secured, the date... so the fact that I went inside the SCIF with them, who I met, everything has been recorded, but this is how it went.

GK: That's fascinating. Let me ask you a related question, Sibel. Do you think that there are any currently serving officials in the administration who would be affected by open hearings?

SE: Yes. Absolutely. Because a lot of these people are recycled as you know. I'm sure you're aware of it because, it's very easy, and this is one of the fallacies from the Left groups, and that is they like to boil down all the bad and evil into maybe three or four or five faces, whether it's Wolfowitz, ok, Cheney, ok, the big bad evil people, and limit it to these people and say 'OK. These are the evil-doers, and we want to see them gone.' Well, it's much deeper than that. You really need to look at those people who keep getting recycled.

GK: So what this begins to look like is the Deep State that Peter Dale Scott talks about...

SE: Absolutely

GK: ...having transferred from Turkey over here to the US.

SE: Correct, because they usually refer to that term in Turkey. It's a very known term - in fact, even if you go to Wikipedia if you look even a lot of even international perspective in Turkey, it is a Deep State, and that is, Deep State consists of the military and intelligence and their involvement in a lot of criminal activities - part of it is narcotics, the other ones have to do with certain money laundering activities.

But within the US we have a much bigger, much more important, much more influential Deep State. I mean, I'm just going to throw a name - look at people like Henry Kissinger. Name one administration that has not had Henry Kissinger as a White House advisor.

And another one, because this is public. Now, if you look at the Chairman of ATC, you will see Brent Scowcroft, OK. Well just recently, President Obama appointed him as a special - whatever - envoy and now he is actually working for the Obama administration. But he's still residing as chairman of ATC. I mean nobody is even talking about conflict of interest.

Why the States Secrets Privilege? Grossman, Dickerson and Susurluk
GK: Now when you separated from the FBI, my guess is that you knew that there were a lot of different threads out there, but it probably took you a while to make sense of the bigger picture? Or did it?

SE: Yes, it did. Actually, while I was working there, and here is another interesting angle of this case, is that the case came out and was known publicly as the espionage case, and this is the angle that has already been confirmed by Congress, by the IG report: the Dickersons case.

Well, here is the interesting thing, as this espionage case angle came out in the New York Times and Washington Post and CBS 60 Minutes, yet no-one, not a single reporter ever asked 'Who the hell are these Dickersons?' Not one! Nobody even looked at it. Just a simple check on the Dickersons would have brought out so much information and the stuff that they are considering State Secrets Privilege.

When you look at Dickerson - Melek Can Dickerson - US citizen, Turkish born, her husband at the time, an Air Force Major, although he worked for DIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Douglas Dickerson. If they looked at Douglas Dickerson, they would have seen on the record that Douglas Dickerson was stationed in Turkey between 1992 and early 1997, and worked directly under Ambassador Marc Grossman in Ankara in the military attaché.

And then they would see that Marc Grossman and Douglas Dickerson were pulled out of their positions in Turkey at the same time, removed from Turkey, even though Grossman's term still had some time left, and the same thing with Douglas Dickerson, and this was right after the Susurluk scandal, OK? And then they would see that Douglas Dickerson, at the end of 2001, started working for Douglas Feith's office, dealing with certain Central Asian countries including Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Well, nobody ever looked, or wanted to look, or wanted to see this.

Richard Barlow, Pakistan and Afghanistan
SE: There's this very interesting case, in fact it's another State Secrets Privilege case that has to do with Richard Barlow. He used to work for the DIA and his position was in the department where he was the top analyst for Pakistan, and he was chasing this whole nuclear procurement for Pakistan, and he was the person who was asked by Congress to go and brief certain congressional members on the status on what was happening with Pakistan.

So he went there and did his job right, and he told them what was happening, and this basically caused outrage because the same congressional members were briefed by various Pentagon and State Dept officials and they were told that nothing concrete was there, they didn’t have any concrete evidence that Pakistan was procuring nuclear weapons etc etc.

Well he became the whistleblower... and he didn’t even think he was blowing the whistle, he didn’t even know that congress was lied to, he just went there and told them what he had found through his position, and this is what happened to him, and interestingly his case ended up being slapped by the same State Secrets Privilege. And his case is very, very close to mine, but again, there we were looking at Pakistan, we were looking at our activities there, and even our activities in Afghanistan during those years with the Mujaheddin there, with Bin Laden, and all those things we didn’t want to be known. And when I say 'we' I mean the government. Again, it's the same thing. It's very, very similar. That is a fact.

US Media: 'That's not how we do things'
GK: Now, Sibel, you offered recently to mainstream American media to CBS 60 Minutes or to any of the others that if they wanted to sit down and do a full interview with you that you would just tell them everything you knew.

SE: Yes, I did. And this was after actively fighting this case via so-called 'appropriate channels'
So, I said 'OK - here, I'll put the word out, but it will come with certain conditions' because I have dealt with the mainstream media for 5 or 6 years and I know how things go. I said I want either a) to do it live, unedited, or b) if it is going to be an interview that is pre-recorded, I want it to be witnessed and recorded by a third party.

GK: What about something like Keith Olbermann? Aren’t those shows ok?

SE: I would have gone on Keith Olbermann in a second. Absolutely. And in fact his show was bombarded - even if you go look when the press release went out - the fact that I would talk - all the letters and emails that were sent and the things posted on Olbermann's show, 'Please here it is, and here is someone who has been found to be credible by the IG blah blah', and nothing.

I didn’t get anything from Keith Olbermann, and there were others who came and sent their producers to say 'Yeah, we would like to do this, however we will not meet these conditions. It won't be live, it will be pre-recorded, and you can't have a third-party recording it, because that is not how we do things with the networks.' I said 'OK, so you record this, and I go on the record and talk about these criminal activities, and divulging criminal activity...' (If the US government classifies something in order to cover up criminal activities, then that classification doesn’t hold anyway, and this is based on laws - not that it matters any longer here in this country.)

They said 'No, we won't do it.' I said 'Well, OK, so you record this, and then what are you going to do with it? You're going to try to get comments, a response, from the Justice Dept and the FBI?' Of course, they said 'Yes.' I said 'And you are going to present them with what I've been saying?' And they said 'Yes, that is what we have to do.' I said 'OK - let's say they hear what I have said and they confiscate the tape, put a hold on it, and come and grab me and throw me in jail, with a closed court session, which has already happened several times in my case. I would be in jail, nobody would know what was being covered up, the criminal activities. That would be idiotic!'

Why the State Secrets Privilege?
SE: My case twice made it to the cover page of the New York Times, when they did the gag order on Congress, the retroactive classification, and when they did the State Secrets Privilege for the second time. Now, those stories, Washington Post, New York Times, all the mainstream media. NOT ONCE has any reporter asked 'Why the State Secrets Privilege?'

It's been all about this poor little whistleblower, and she was wronged, and they slapped her with States Secrets Privilege, and they are doing this excessive secrecy. Period. That's the story. You know, (journalists should) try to answer: Who? What? Why? But nobody, you will not see a single article, a single piece, a single news piece that says 'Why? We want to dig and find out why they were invoking the States Secrets Privilege. Why did they invoke it?'

GK: You had a couple of pieces in the London Times that sort of started to get at the story.

SE: Correct, and they did a pretty good job. Their stories were angled, and focused on, Pakistan. They were working on stories that had to do with Pakistan, and they had other sources, so there is a certain small aspect of my case that touches that area that they wrote about, directly, but it's not the main part of my case. But they covered that area, absolutely, and they did a good job. And as you said, it's the London Times, and you have David Rose from England coming here and writing this piece for Vanity Fair - and nobody else would do it here because they said if they didn’t have lots of documents etc, they would be sued by Hastert. Well guess what! This piece came out, and Hastert did not do anything. How could he?

GK: That's interesting. So nobody who might have threatened or anything actually did anything?

SE: No.
Interesting interview, as usual. I recommend that you listen to all of it.

See here for some of my thoughts on the interview.

Friday, April 17, 2009

New Interview

Sibel gave an interview to Electric Politics last week (75 minutes).

Mizgin has an overview here.

Sibel made a few important points. I might be able to highlight some of them with a partial transcript next week.