Damning the Damnable Jane Harman

“The Marriage from Hell: Jane Harman & the Woodrow Wilson Center”


Last year investigative journalist David Boyajian wrote two exposés on Washington-based Woodrow Wilson International Center, revealing how the center has been violating its Congressional mandate and been up to its neck in tainted corporate cash. You can read Boyajian’s exposés here and here. Many agreed with Boyajian’s damning assessment, including a prominent journalist who called the WWC “a global joke.” I too wrote a follow up article on WWC with a special focus on its ‘oily’ President, Mr. Lee Hamilton. By oily, I mean ‘glisteningly greasy.’ I am sure you recognize his name from his highly publicized position and face as one of the 9/11 Commissioners, but his possibly pay-off position with WWC was not the lone factor for his glistening status in my report. Here are a few excerpts from my piece to illustrate what I mean:

Fortunately one independent reporter researched and reported on one such case, call it ‘chased the egg,’ on one of the 9/11 Commissioners, a Former Representative, Mr. Lee Hamilton, which I happened to come across yesterday. It was truly interesting to see how many ‘honorary’ positions Mr. Hamilton has been given, handed, by our government alone, just check out a few here:

-Co-chair of the Department of Energy Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future with Brent Scowcroft

-Serves on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board & the FBI Director’s Advisory Board,

-Serves on the US Department of Homeland Security Task Force

- Serves on the CIA External Advisory Board

The White House, the CIA, and the FBI must have been extremely well-served by Hamilton’s performance as the commissioner to grant him this many prestigious quasi positions. No? For me, the most interesting aspect which was covered by CounterCurrents.Org had to do with Hamilton’s position with and current salary from the Woodrow Wilson Center, and his questionable corporate ties, particularly with BAE Systems, the main sponsor of his forthcoming gala dinner

You can read my entire article ‘9/11 Commissioner’s Turkey Baste: Chicken or the Egg?’ here. Now back to the focus of this post.

[Read more...]

Project Expose MSM Reports

Newsweek & Michael Isikoff

As noted in the announcement, 123 Real Change invites all members of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, other active (covert or overt) government whistleblowers, and reporters, to publish their experiences in regard to their own first-hand dealings with the media, where their legit disclosures were either intentionally censored/blacked out, tainted, or otherwise met with a betrayal of trust.

Here is the first project report, this one based on my own first-hand documented experience. In 2003 Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff interviewed me for, and then published a story on the FBI translation program. His report knowingly omitted crucial facts, directly relevant cases, witness statements and confirmed official reports, while advancing the FBI's already-discredited point of view...

Name, title, and/or background:
Name: Sibel Edmonds
Title: Founder & Director of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition
NSWBC), former FBI Language Specialist.
Background: For my bio click
here. For relevant case background click here.

Name of Publication and/or Editor and/or Reporter:
Publication: Newsweek
Reporter: Michael Isikoff
Editor: Unknown

Description of Disclosure and Significance:
On October 27, 2003 , Newsweek published 'Lost in Translation,' an
article by Michael Isikoff on the FBI translation program, its problems, and the impact on the post-9/11 war on terror.

For more than a year prior to the publication of Mr. Isikoff's article, the following facts had become official and public:

1. My case was the FBI Translation Division's first publicly known and officially confirmed whistleblowing case. At the time that Newsweek published their article, the case had already become public. It had been filed and was being fought before the courts. Senate investigations had resulted in official public confirmations, and an FBI Inspector General's investigation was well on its way.

2. A joint Senate investigation of the FBI Washington Field Office Translation Division by Senators Grassley (R) & Leahy (D), and several press releases and statements by their offices had confirmed security breaches, possible espionage incidents, and severe mismanagement involving the FBI Translation Division. You can view a few samples of these statements and confirmation by Congress
here [PDF], here, here and here.

3. There were also two separate ongoing investigations into the FBI Translation Division by the Justice Department's IG. One investigation [PDF] was focused on espionage-related reports in my case, while the other was an audit on the performance of the FBI Language Division requested by Congress. The IG's 'audit' had already been released, in August 2003, before Mr. Isikoff's article, and here is a very relevant conclusion of the IG's report [emphasis added]: "Some of the most serious weaknesses still have not been fully remedied and expose the FBI to the risk of serious compromises by other moles."

4. Several major news releases and extensive coverage of the FBI Translation Division by the MSM had already occurred. Examples include: CBS-60 Minutes
segment 'Lost in Translation' (from which the title of the Newsweek article by Mr. Isikoff was taken) and Washington Post articles.

5. Other witnesses and whistleblowers had come forward to confirm serious issues and problems involving FBI translation management, hiring, and security issues. Examples include Veteran FBI Counterintelligence Operation Director John M. Cole and Veteran FBI Language Specialist Behrooz Sarshar.

6. No denial had been issued by either DOJ or the FBI regarding revelations from any of the investigations or the various media reports. In fact, during the Senate investigation the FBI had confirmed almost all allegations.

One evening, about a week before the publication of Mr. Isikoff's piece, I met with him, as a source, in the Mayflower Hotel's lounge area. I had a witness in the background to observe the meeting. During the hour-long meeting I provided him with information regarding the FBI Language Division, and gave him names of witnesses and sources who were willing to meet with him and corroborate the information I had given him. At the time, some of the sources were willing to do so on-the-record: FBI Operations Director John Cole, FBI LS Behrooz Sarshar & Amin Neshati, and certain Senate staff members involved in the investigation of my reports; while others would have done so 'anonymously' due to fear of protecting their employment. I also made his job easier by giving him relevant Congressional, IG, and legal public documents, reports, and references. Of course all the previous press coverage of these issues, and the case itself, was available to him in any news archive or online.

Back to Mr. Isikoff's lengthy article - the article did not cite a single fact mentioned above. The confirmed security problems, possible espionage cases and compromised intelligence, severe problems in hiring and vetting translators, the absence of quality & accuracy control for translation jobs that were produced…None of them were mentioned. In fact, as FBI bureaucrats and management had done consistently, the article too blamed all problems on a 'shortage' of translators.

I know Mr. Isikoff was well aware of the facts and points cited above. I had given him information, documents and sources that were 100% relevant and central to his upcoming story. I am certain he had access to other official documents and statements as well -- all available in public records.

Despite that, Mr. Isikoff's story instead advanced the FBI's already-discredited point of view that; the FBI's Translation Division's problems could be summed up as a 'shortage.' The article completely ignored and omitted established cases, problems, and severe weaknesses in the FBI's background security check of applicant translators, security measures in preventing espionage and security breaches, and quality control for translated work.

Mr. Isikoff was given the DOJ-IG audit report on the performance of the FBI Language Division. According to this report, the shortage of translators was not the only or main problem, but that the division was infested with major security problems, systemic difficulties, and an astounding lack of organization. Yet, he cherry picked the 'shortage' and completely disregarded and omitted the rest; the exact same trend and position followed by the FBI itself.

I provided Mr. Isikoff with background information which included Congressional letters and other documents on the Dickerson Case; a case
characterized by Senator Grassley as "a very major internal security breach, and a potential espionage breach." In that case, Melek Dickerson was hired, given Top Secret Clearance, and placed in charge of translating sensitive intelligence (including terrorist targets) by the bureau, despite her previous membership and employment with organizations that were the targets of FBI investigations, and despite her on-going relationship with individuals who were also the targets of FBI investigations. Based on confirmations by the FBI and the United States Congress, Ms. Dickerson, in fact, blocked and mistranslated intelligence gathered from these targets.

Here is an
IG report/investigation [PDF] confirming the Dickerson case.

Mr. Isikoff was also provided with another major case which involved a Pakistani translator at the FBI who was hired and given security clearance, even though her father was a Pakistani retired general who still worked with ISI (the Pakistani intelligence service) in DC, the very target of FBI counterintelligence investigations. John M. Cole, FBI Counterintelligence Operations Manager, was available to provide Mr. Isikoff with details and facts regarding this case and several others, as he had
done in 2002.

I gave Mr. Isikoff names and contact information for other FBI translators who had first-hand information on other cases involving major security breaches and possible espionage at the FBI language units. One of them, Mr. Behrooz Sarshar, FBI Farsi translator, had first-hand documented information regarding an Iranian translator working for the FBI-New York Field Office who was found to be working for the target(s) of FBI counterintelligence and criminal investigations. This translator was providing the FBI targets with tips/information, and was tampering with intelligence in Farsi gathered by the FBI. The FBI asked this translator to resign and leave quietly. No criminal investigation and no damage assessment were conducted. Mr. Isikoff chose not to contact these sources.

On the major security breaches and possible espionage issues, Mr. Isikoff knowingly disregarded not only the confirmed facts on my case, and other witnesses who were available to him on additional cases, he also omitted those established by previous IG reports such as
this one; Congressional reports; and misreported the 'Robert Hansen case' as the only known 'flap', as follows:

…The FBI can rightly point out that its attention to security has so far avoided any comparable flaps. "We haven't loosened our standards one bit," said Margaret Galotta, chief of the FBI's Language Service Division.

Now, a real reporter would have pressed Ms. Galotta by pointing at facts, at several IG reports, Congressional reports and statements, and established cases such as mine. But Mr. Isikoff did not. A real journalist would have given the readers the facts and the entire picture, not the misinformation fed to him by the government. Again, Mr. Isikoff did not. Not only did he write/repeat the FBI's spin and misinformation, he even went further by 'selling' it to the readers as [emphasis added] '…the FBI can rightly point out that its attention to security has so far avoided any comparable flaps.'

At the time, I didn't know who Mr. Isikoff's editor was; I still don't. Did this editor have anything to do with the 'flavor' and apparent angle/agenda given to this story? Did he have any role in sanitizing and/or removing the well-known and highly relevant cases and related witnesses, documents, facts, and investigations from a story that was focused on the FBI Translation Division, but which failed to detail well-known, and well-detailed allegations that ran contrary to the FBI's published point of view? Was it an editorial decision at Newsweek to black-out all the current (at the time) and established related facts and information from this 1,900 word, three-page story solely focused on the FBI Translation Division?

I don't know the answer. However, I know the following facts:

  • The DOJ invocation of the State Secrets Privilege (SSP) by Attorney General John Ashcroft in my case -- the first case of SSP use/abuse by the Bush Administration -- was never reported by Newsweek at all. It's unlikely that was because it was not 'newsworthy', since most major publications, including the television news networks, deemed it important enough to at least report.

  • The DOJ's Retroactive Classification of Congressional investigations, reports, and statements, which was considered by Senator Grassley to be 'gagging the Congress,' was never reported by Newsweek.

  • The closure [PDF] of the (Federal District Court) session to all reporters and the public during the appeal hearing of my case, where I was represented by the ACLU, was also never reported, or mentioned, by Newsweek. That, despite the fact that a large group of both MSM and alternative media groups had joined in filing a motion challenging the ban on courtroom coverage.

  • The release of the IG report vindicating the core claims of my case was similarly never covered by Newsweek.

  • The security breach and possible espionage confirmed by the Senate investigation was never mentioned by Newsweek, even though they certainly seem to have known about it, as they 'borrowed' their article title from a segment aired by CBS-60 Minutes ('Lost in Translation'), which covered the espionage angle of my case in detail.

Suffice it to say that during the last eight years, throughout many outrageous gag orders, draconian uses of the State Secrets Privilege, Court Closings, Vindicating IG & Congressional Reports, Newsweek has consistently maintained one position: Blackout every fact of this particular case. You may check it out yourself by searching their archives. Your search result will come back as '0.'

I would like to know why; wouldn't you?

Response from Isikoff and Newsweek:

  • We attempted to contact Mr. Isikoff twice. To our second request he replied via email:

    sorry. No comment.

  • Despite several notices over the last week, submitted through their website's "Contact Us" page, we received no reply to our requests for comment from any Newsweek editor(s).

Project Expose MSM is an experimental project created to provide readers with specific mainstream media blackout and/or misinformation cases based on documented and credible first-hand experiences of legitimate sources and whistleblowers. Those with direct knowledge and experience are encouraged to join the project, by sharing your stories. Please E-mail me with your report, following the format described in the introductory announcement. Private information, and the privacy of sources where needed, will always be full respected.

Cross-posted at The BRAD BLOG...

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Project Expose MSM

We all have been tirelessly screaming about issues related to Congressional leaders abdicating their main responsibility of 'oversight.' We have been outraged for way too long at seeing 'no' accountability whatsoever in many known cases of extreme wrongdoing. I, and many of you, believe that the biggest reason for this was, and still is, the lack of true journalism and media coverage -- which acts as the necessary pressure and catalyst for those spineless politicians on the Hill and in the Executive branch. Or, at least it's supposed to. So, in our book, the MSM has been the main culprit.

Well, here is a chance to turn the tables.

At my new blog, 123 Real Change, I'm happy to present an experimental project, Project Expose MSM, created to provide readers with specific mainstream media blackout and/or misinformation cases based on the documented and credible first-hand experiences of legitimate sources and whistleblowers.123 Real Change is inviting all members of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), other active (covert or overt) government whistleblowers, and even reporters themselves, to publish their experiences in regard to their own first-hand dealings with the media, where their legit disclosures were either intentionally censored, blacked out or tainted.

Yes, we will be naming names -- myself included.

We will even do so below, in one real-case example, intended to help illustrate how the project will work. In the absence of the real investigative journalism and unbiased independent media we need, this is one way to set the record straight...

Not only that, we also know there are many potential whistleblowers out there who are seeking 'trust-worthy' reporters and/or publications in order to inform the public. At the same time, many of us in the whistleblower community have learned the hard way that there are many reporters and publications who should be avoided. It is our responsibility to offer those whistleblowers guidance, based on our own knowledge and experience, and maybe save them from some of the traps we ourselves fell into.

Project Expose MSM will select and publicize legitimate, credible, and documented/witnessed stories. It will provide a forum for those with first-hand experience to share their stories with the public. It will raise awareness and allow people to discuss these cases openly. And hopefully it will help to foster improvements to the current, sorry state of our MSM by bringing the wrongs to light.

Here is an important point to remember: Things are never purely black or white. I have emphasized, for example, during my own case and other NSWBC activities, that by pointing criticism generally at the FBI, the good agents get unfairly lumped together with those whom the criticism is actually being leveled at. So to avoid that as much as possible we always try to be both specific and fair. Same is true for this project. There are some good solid reporters who work in the MSM and try to do their best, and in some cases they do, and are 'allowed' to do so. Let me give you an example. I have given specific New York Times related examples in several analyses posted in my series on the MSM at 123 Real Change, such as the delay in publishing the NSA Illegal Wiretap story. I was very specific in questioning motives, reasons, or excuses in that particular case.

On the other hand, if I were to give a few examples of who I consider to be solid, trustworthy, professional, and dependable reporters, my fairly short list would certainly include Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, both of whom work for the same New York Times. I hope I make this point clear. This new project will certainly acknowledge and credit positives, whenever possible, along its course. We will also offer the opportunity for anybody whose names are named to reply in response.

I encourage those of you with direct knowledge and experience to join this project by sharing your experiences. Please E-mail me with your report, and carefully follow the format provided below which includes an example of the first, of hopefully many, real-case stories to come:

1) Your name, title, and/or background:

Name: Mike Levine

Title: Retired Supervisory Special Agent/Covert Operations Specialist, DEA

Background: Michael Levine, one of DEA's most decorated international undercover officers, is a veteran of 25 years of service. As an international undercover operative he witnessed the intentional destruction of undercover investigations targeting major international heroin and cocaine trafficking organizations who also happened to be CIA assets. Among the actions reported was blowing the cover of an undercover operation-Operation Trifecta- that had penetrated the top of a corrupt Mexican government, by Edwin Meese the then US Attorney General. When Michael's attempts at alerting his superiors via in-house memorandums, and then mainstream media, were "buried," and Michael himself placed under investigation, he went directly to the public in his books, the New York Times best-seller Deep Cover and the national best-seller The Big White Lie.

See more at Wikipedia...

2) The Name of Publication and/or Editor and/or Reporter:

Publication: Newsweek

Reporters: Larry Rohter and Steven Strasser

3) Description of Disclosure/Case/Issue and its Importance:

While stationed in Argentina, the CIA's actions in sabotaging the undercover sting operation targeting La Mafia Cruzeña, resulted in the July 17, 1980 coup [Bolivia], wherein, as the State Department described it, for the first time in history, a drug trafficking organization took over a sovereign nation. It would be the beginning of what came to be known as "The Corporation," described by Felix Milian Rodriquez -- Medellin Cartel Money launderer, convicted of laundering $1 billion -- as the most powerful drug smuggling organization on earth, in a secret session before the Kerry Commission.

At the time I was the DEA Country Attaché in Buenos Aires. I sent a registered letter, return receipt requested, to two Newsweek journalists, Larry Rohter and Steven Strasser-who had just written a rather long article that pretty much whitewashed the case and totally obfuscated US government involvement in aiding the traffickers to avoid prosecution and then in overthrowing the Bolivian government that had, in fact, aided DEA in conducting the sting operation that would have, in the opinion of many, crippled the traffickers. I asked them to contact me, at which time I would have given them the inside scoop of what I believe may have been the greatest act of deception and treason against the citizens we had all sworn to protect, perhaps in history, if one considers the aftermath of said revolution.

In any case, I received notification that the letter had been received by Newsweek. Two weeks later I was notified that I was under investigation by Internal Affairs, and that I was being removed from my post in Argentina. I would never hear from the two journalists.

4) The Method of Blackout or Tainted Outcome:

The story was buried-blacked out. Possibly the identity & provided information/documents were disclosed to government employer.

5) A brief personal message to any potential whistleblowers or our readers:

This information was published in my book THE BIG WHITE LIE in great detail and would be libelous as hell, were it not true. [Note from Sibel: As long as you are factual, credible, and speaking the truth, they can't touch you for divulging their 'unreported deeds.']

We will attempt to contact the reporter, editor or publication in question for comment before publishing any revelations like the above, from whistleblowers and other sources, in order to include any response those named may wish to offer along with the publication of your story. In the case above, Rohter and Strasser's responses are below:

Response from Rohter and Strasser:

  • Despite several requests for response, Steven Strasser did not reply.
  • Larry Rohter, who now works at the New York Times replied to our first request for comment -- which included the material above -- as follows:

    Dear Ms. Edmonds: From what I see here, you're not actually offering me a chance to respond to a posting you intend to make. Instead, you're asking me to comment on an an old and discredited implied accusation made against me by someone I have never met and who, contrary to what he may claim, has never at any time made the slightest attempt to contact me personally or directly. The conspiracy brigade has been feeding off this carrion for years, and I'm really not at all interested in giving it new life on the internet. But if you are in fact willing to explain what it is that makes this paranoid rant relevant to what you intend to write, it might be possible to continue this exchange in writing. Are you saying that any comments of mine would be included in their entirety as part of your post?

    Or is it your intention to use any response selectively? Are you writing for the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition site, or are you writing on a personal site in connection with your individual grievances against the FBI? All of these issues are relevant and will guide me in determining whether or not I want to take this any further. Regards, Larry Rojhter

    We responded to all of Mr. Rohter's questions, explaining where we intended to post this article, and that we planned to run any response he may have in full. Though we even followed up a second time, we received no further response in return.

IMPORTANT: Please adhere to the following in any submission:

  • Don't get too wordy and too lengthy in your account and description of the case.

  • Be as specific as you can.
  • Be fair: Make it clear if you are not sure whether the suspect party was the 'reporter' or the 'editor' or your government employer… We don't want to accuse 'unjustly.'
  • If you wish to remain anonymous, you'll need to directly persuade me of the legitimacy of your claim. I will keep all correspondence and your personal information confidential. As a whistleblower myself, and the founder of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, I understand the necessity for that in variou cases.

With your help, I look forward to helping to restore the important, once-vital Fourth Estate, so necessary to this country's very survival.

* 123 Real Change attempts to authenticate the veracity of claims made by our sources whenever possible. However, all claims made are ultimately the responsibility of the sources making them.

Update 1:

Response by Mike Levine: "A copy of the letter and the original return receipt are still in my possession. They were presented to lawyers during the libel reading of "The Big White Lie," and are available for all who want to see them."

Cross-posted at The BRAD BLOG...