Sassounian’s column of Oct. 5, 2006
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
The Vanity Fair magazine published last year an investigative article alleging that the American Turkish Council (ATC) and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) had conspired, among other things, to make illegal campaign contributions to the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, in return for blocking a congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide. The article also mentioned that Turkish agents had infiltrated the highest echelons of the U.S. government.
The main source for some of the Vanity Fair revelations was Sibel Edmonds who had worked as a Turkish translator for the FBI. Unfortunately, she could not disclose most of what she knew on this sensitive subject, as she is legally prohibited from making public the confidential FBI documents that she had translated in the course of her work. All attempts by U.S. courts or Members of Congress to get out the full facts have been quashed by the Bush Administration, using the cover of protecting national security.
There have been several disclosures in recent months, mostly from anonymous sources, which shed further light on this matter. A few days ago, investigative journalist Wayne Madsen posted a special report (WMR) on his website which included alarming allegations about the extent of illegal activities by Turkish groups in the United States. As the report is based on confidential intelligence sources, there is no way of independently verifying its content. Here are excerpts from that report :
In 2001, "the FBI counter-intelligence operation was investigating a weapons smuggling and influence-peddling ring that was centered on the activities of the American Turkish Council (ATC), a major Turkish lobbying organization in Washington, DC headed up by George H. W. Bush National Security Adviser, retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft. According to U.S. intelligence sources, a principal player in the ring was [Marc] Grossman, a career foreign service officer who served as U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 1994 to 1997 and then moved back to Washington where he served as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs." In June 2001, Grossman, by then-Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, made two phone calls to two foreign intelligence agents in Washington, DC. "The calls were intercepted by the FBI."
"At the end of June 2001, the FBI learned, through its surveillance of the ring, Beyaz Enerji (White Energy), a Turkish energy firm, told its ATC interlocutors in Washington that it was sending a high-level team to the United States to negotiate the procurement of nuclear materials for Turkey’s nuclear power program. In turn, the ATC contacted four individuals who had access to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico and asked them to arrange a three month visit to the labs by the Turkish nuclear specialists (October through December 2001) to ascertain Turkish requirements.
"The Beyaz Enerji group also made known its desire to purchase U.S. nuclear energy consulting firms that maintained access to facilities like Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Livermore in California. However, at the same time Beyaz Enerji was making its play for access into U.S. nuclear labs, Brewster Jennings and Associates, the CIA cover company of Valerie Plame Wilson, was very close to penetrating the Beyaz Enerji ring, known to the CIA as part of a major nuclear black market operation involving key players in Turkey, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, and the former Soviet Central Asian states. According to CIA sources, the ring also involved a key ATC ally in Washington — the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a group that provided important access to top U.S. political leaders for Turkish military and industrial chiefs.
"When Beyaz Enerji began to encounter ‘consultants’ with Brewster Jennings, they expressed an interest to their ATC interlocutors in buying the firm along with other energy consulting companies. In the two phone calls intercepted by the FBI, Grossman told the called parties to ‘stay away from Brewster Jennings . . . they’re the government . . . they’re nothing but a cover.’ One of the calls was to a Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) top agent in Washington. The other call, bearing an almost identical message, was made to a Northrop Grumman official who was a key player with the ATC. The Northrop Grumman official made a phone call to his ATC handler, stating, ‘Our guy warned us off Brewster Jennings.’ A U.S. intelligence source stated that ‘Grossman’s name was all over the FBI wiretaps in 2001.’
"Grossman, who now works for the Cohen Group of former Defense Secretary William Cohen, was, according to U.S. intelligence sources, a subject of interest to counter-intelligence agents since his stint as U.S. ambassador in Ankara. One of Grossman’s embassy officials was U.S. Air Force Major Douglas Dickerson, who worked in the embassy’s military attaché office and was responsible for logistics matters with the Turkish military. While in Ankara, Dickerson met and later married Melek Can Harputlu, who U.S. intelligence sources claim was on the payroll of the MIT — the Turkish Intelligence Agency. U.S. intelligence sources confirmed that Grossman ordered Dickerson to assist International Advisors, Inc. (IAI), a lobbying firm registered in 1989 by Douglas Feith [former Under Secretary of Defense] under the stewardship of Richard Perle [former Assistant Secretary of Defense]. The main task of IAI was to represent the government of Turkey in the United States and ‘promote the objective of U.S.-Turkey defense industrial cooperation.’ IAI, for which Feith was CEO and sole stockholder, also steered hundreds of thousands of dollars to Feith’s law firm, Feith and Zell (FANZ).
"Soon, Dickerson, under Grossman’s aegis, was promoted to handle all U.S. weapons procurement for Turkey, Azerbaijan (where Richard Armitage was heading up the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce), Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. In 1996, the Defense Department’s Inspector General’s office launched an investigation of a U.S. military officer at the Ankara embassy who was caught receiving a bribe from MIT agents. Shortly after the investigation started, Dickerson was transferred to a U.S. Air Force base in Germany. Dickerson’s wife, Melek Can worked for the German-Turkish Business and Cultural Association, known to be a cover for MIT activities in Germany.
"In 2001, after George W. Bush became president, Dickerson was promoted and placed in charge of weapons procurement for Turkey, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington. Melek Can obtained positions with the ATC and ATAA.
"Following the 9/11 attacks, Melek Can applied for a translator job at the FBI’s Washington Field Office. In a Justice Department Inspector General report, it is stated that Melek Can failed to list on her application her prior jobs with ATC, ATAA, and the German-Turkish Business and Cultural Association. When FBI translator Sibel Edmonds (a Turkish, Farsi, and Azerbaijani translator who worked with Melek Can) complained publicly about MIT’s penetration of the FBI, Senators Patrick Leahy and Charles Grassley pointedly asked the FBI why no Special Background Investigation (SBI) was conducted on Melek Can. The FBI’s responded that Melek Can entered the FBI ‘through the backdoor’ with her husband’s Top Secret/SBI being sufficient grounds to grant Melek Can access to FBI classified information. At the same time, the Dickersons were, according to U.S. intelligence sources, working closely with the ATC.
"Edmonds’ charges against the Dickersons were highlighted in a June 2002 Washington Post article. On September 9, 2002, the Dickersons left Washington for Belgium, where Major Dickerson was assigned to the U.S. Air Force NATO office. Soon, there were three separate investigations of Edmonds’ espionage charges against the Dickersons : the Justice Department IG probe, a similar probe by the Department of Defense IG led by Joseph Schmitz, and a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee investigation led by Leahy and Grassley.
"Two weeks after the Dickersons arrived in Belgium, Schmitz sent a letter stating that Major Dickerson’s relationship with the ATC while at DIA was ‘within the scope of his duties.’ The DOD IG terminated the investigation.”
Attorney General John Ashcroft then "invoked the State Secrets Privilege and imposed a ‘gag order’ on Edmonds’ making any further comments to the media about her wrongful termination suit against the FBI, which was prompted by her raising concerns about the Dickersons. The invocation of the State Secrets Privilege by Ashcroft was specifically requested by the Defense and State Departments.
"Upon publication of a Vanity Fair article in August 2005 about the Edmonds case and those of other national security whistleblowers, the Department of Defense and U.S. Air Force opened a joint IG investigation of Major Dickerson and Edmonds’ charges, who was still safely ensconced at the NATO office in Belgium.
"When the DoD/USAF IG investigators asked Major Dickerson once again about the allegations that had re-surfaced against him, U.S. intelligence sources report he told them that he would ‘start talking’ if the investigation proceeded. The DoD/USAF IG investigation of Dickerson was once again quickly terminated. In January 2006, Dickerson was promoted in rank to Lieutenant Colonel and transferred to the U.S. Air Force base in Yokota, Japan, where he was assigned as the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s acting commander.
"U.S. intelligence sources stated that the ‘same people’ who have continually protected Perle and Feith since the 1980s were also protecting Dickerson and Grossman. CIA sources, including those who served in Istanbul tracking nuclear smuggling in the late 1980s, also confirm that the Turkish-U.S. nuclear black marketeering ring was directly tied to the Abdul Qadeer Khan nuclear smuggling ring in Pakistan, an operation that sold sensitive nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea, and Libya. The ATC and ATAA in Washington are directly tied to and supported by AIPAC and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), reported a U.S. counter-intelligence source. In fact, JINSA is an ‘Aegean’ member of the ATC. The source said that Valerie Plame Wilson was targeting the ATC and Turkey at the height of her counter-proliferation work in 2001, but special interests associated with AIPAC and JINSA, which the source claims control ATC, scuttled Plame Wilson’s operation by exposing Brewster Jennings as a CIA front company.
"The CIA’s counter-narcotics division is also keenly interested in ATC and its connections to NATO. A Turkish hashish kingpin, Huseyin Baybasin, now jailed in the Netherlands for narcotics smuggling, stated that the Turkish military and its NATO interlocutors are totally involved in the drug trade in Turkey. He said the Turkish military uses MIT and Turkish embassies, consulates, military missions (particularly the Turkish military attaché offices in London and Amsterdam) as drug smuggling facilitators. The Turkish military also reportedly uses its hated Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) enemies to help transport drugs throughout Western Asia, especially heroin now being produced in Afghanistan at record high levels....
"Since Grossman joined the Cohen Group as Vice Chairman in January 2005, the firm has become a top client for the ATC. In October 2005, Grossman was appointed a board member of Ihlas Holding, a media corporation that recently sold its TGRT Television network to Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp. U.S. law enforcement sources confirm that Feith remains under a DoD IG investigation that is being spurred by North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones."
There is a clear need for a congressional hearing to expose all the facts of this very serious matter. However, it would be impossible to hold such a hearing as long as the White House and the Congress are controlled by Republicans who are eager to protect not only their own leadership in the House but also many top officials in both the Pentagon and the State Department who are allegedly involved in these illegal activities.
Furthermore, while the Bush administration is aggressively confronting the Korean and Iranian nuclear programs, shouldn’t the American public expect a similar concern for Turkey’s efforts in this regard, particularly since it is alleged that high ranking current and former administration officials are covertly assisting Turkey to go nuclear ?
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