Sunday, April 20, 2008

Out of Context, Part 1

The Sibel Edmonds case is quite captivating.

The statements that Sibel Edmonds makes -- the way she talks around things to keep from actually saying things that she is prohibited from saying by gag orders placed on her by the US government -- makes for a craft known in the trade as "Sibelology", as Sibelologists parse her words and attempt to discover the underlying meaning.

It is important to keep in mind that Sibel Edmonds has presented -- or, perhaps, has not presented, depending on how you look at it -- her information in the context of the 9/11 attacks.

However, what is interesting to me is what happens if you allow the Sibel Edmonds case to establish a context of its own. In light of what we know, what we surmise, and what we guess based on our forays into the world of Sibelology, many events in the world around us take on a whole new meaning.

I justify this exercise with the following rationale: In late 2001 and early 2002, working as a translator for the FBI in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Sibel Edmonds caught a glimpse of the underworld as seen through raw, unfiltered information at the FBI. Specifically, this information was in the languages that Edmonds speaks, Turkish, Farsi and Azeri; consequently, it tied in to foreign organized crime and terrorism, but, since the FBI was looking at it, it also tied in to events and activities involving American interests and American nationals, possibly as players, possibly as victims or targets. However, the underworld she saw was -- and is -- dynamic. It had a past, and it had a future; while Edmonds saw snapshots, the underworld was in fact an ongoing movie. Logically, then, there is more to what she saw than just 9/11-related matters.

It is in this light that we now begin a look at the Oklahoma City terrorist attack, which occurred 13 years ago, by reviewing the Chairman's Report, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, subtitled The Oklahoma City Bombing: Was There A Foreign Connection?:

Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R - CA)
Staff Investigator: Phaedra Dugan
Press Contact: Tara Setmayer (202) 225-2415

Note: This report reflects the views of the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and its investigators, and has not been approved by a vote of the subcommittee or the full International Relations Committee.

On Wednesday, April 19, 1995, at approximately 9:02 AM, a bomb exploded in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, killing 168 people, including 19 children, and injuring countless others. Within days, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were in custody as the prime suspects and were eventually convicted of the crime. Undoubtedly, McVeigh and Nichols were responsible for this violent domestic terrorist attack, and, with the conviction of these murderers, justice was served. However, from the time of the bombing until today, questions persist as to whether others were involved. Especially alarming has been speculation that there might have been a foreign connection.

Within our jurisdictional, legal and resource limits, the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee has conducted an intensive investigation into whether there was a foreign connection to the Oklahoma City bombing. The effort focused primarily on two theories that seemed to be based on factual evidence that, if verified, would indicate a foreign participation in the bombing.

First, we attempted to determine whether McVeigh or Nichols received any help from Middle Easterners, and, second, whether a German national living at an extremist compound in eastern Oklahoma played a role. Adding credence to the suspicions is a number of credible sightings putting Timothy McVeigh with another person before and on the day of the bombing (at the time, this apparent accomplice was dubbed John Doe Two by the FBI). This report details the investigation and presents its findings, conclusions and discoveries.

At the outset, members of Congress were met with a startling development. On March 31, 2005, the FBI was alerted that a second stash of explosives was missed by the FBI in their first search of Terry Nichols' house after the Oklahoma City bombing. The tip-off included instructions on how to find the explosives which were, according to the tipster, still underneath the floorboards of Terry Nichols' small wooden framed structure. Instead of immediately checking this lead, the FBI waited. It was not until members of Congress were alerted and began to investigate that the FBI rushed forward only to discover explosives that had eluded them in their first search. This episode was serious enough to precipitate an investigation to determine what else may have been missed or mis-analyzed in the original bombing probe.

The FBI has been a fine organization. It is not perfect; it has been infiltrated by foreign operatives and by operatives of domestic organized crime; it is subject to corruption and occasional incompetence. Nonetheless, it is an organization that Americans can and should be proud of, even as we the people demand and help provide the oversight that it and any other government agency requires that it may serve the needs of the American people -- oversight that is required, lest roles reverse and we the people come to serve our government.

In the last introductory paragraph of Congressman Rohrabacher's report, we are presented with clear evidence of a flaw in the FBI's investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing. This flaw was one of many in the FBI's handling of the case. In aggregate, these flaws in the handling took on the appearance of a cover-up.


Why would elements in the Federal Bureau of Investigation cover up aspects of the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil prior to the 9/11 attacks?

Let me take a quote from Sibel Edmonds out of context, and use it to rephrase my question. From Cracking the Case: An Interview With Sibel Edmonds by Scott Horton, August 22, 2005:

SE: [snip] The most important issue is: What were these criminal activities, and why instead of pursuing these our government chooses to cover it up and actually issue classification and gag orders so the American public will not know about what is going on within these agencies within their government -- and even within the Congress? [snip] I'm saying, "I came forward because criminal activities are taking place -- have been taking place -- some of them since 1997." Some of these activities are 100 percent related to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, and they are giving this illusion that they are pursuing these cases, but they are not. If the case touches upon certain countries or certain high level people, certain sensitive relations, then they don't. But, on the other hand, they go and talk about lower-level criminal activity that boils down to people like Atta and Hamdi.

The Sibel Edmonds case deals with the interplay between foreign organized crime and international terrorists, and the impact of this corrupting the United States government. Edmonds dates the material she saw going back to 1997.

Of course, we know that bribery of government officials by organized crime goes back before 1997; we also know that foreign terrorists have sought to target America since well before 1997. And, we know that terrorist organizations and organized crime have been interacting since before 1997.

Continuing with The Oklahoma City Bombing: Was There A Foreign Connection?

PART I: Possible Middle Eastern Connections

There is serious, yet in some cases circumstantial, evidence that suggests a possible Middle Eastern connection to the Oklahoma City bombing (named “OKBOMB” by federal investigators):

For example, of all the cities in the world, convicted terrorist Ramzi Yousef and Terry Nichols were in Cebu City in the Philippines at the same time three months before the Oklahoma City bombing. Yousef was the perpetrator of the first World Trade Center attack as well as the mastermind behind the planning of other high-profile attacks on Americans. Furthermore, Ramzi Yousef's phone records, from the months before he detonated the first World Trade Center bomb in early 1993, show calls placed to the Filipina neighbor and close friend of Terry Nichols' in-laws in Queens, New York. The opportunity for interaction between American terrorist, Nichols, and al-Qaeda terrorist, Yousef, is evident.

One indicator that this terrorist act had broader implications came directly from Abdul Hakim Murad, Yousef's roommate, childhood friend, and fellow convicted terrorist. On the day of the bombing, Murad claimed responsibility for this terrorist act from his jail cell in New York. He bragged to his prison guards, verbally and in writing, that the bombing of the Murrah federal building was the work of the "Liberation Army." His confession was similar to the one Yousef had made two years earlier in the immediate aftermath of the first attempt to destroy the Word Trade Center. Hours after he drove a Ryder truck into the garage of the north tower of the World Trade Center and detonated the deadly bomb, Yousef called the FBI from a pay phone in Newark International Airport and boasted that the "Liberation Army" had conducted the attack. He then boarded a plane and escaped, ending up in Manila, Philippines.

Note: the Oklahoma City Bombing followed a similar pattern to the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center —a rental truck loaded with ammonium-based explosives, using similar detonation devices, based on the strategy of driving a vehicle into or near a target.

Another possibility of Islamic terrorist involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing was pursued by Jayna Davis, a local Oklahoma City television reporter. Davis did extensive research in the immediate and long term aftermath of the crime and concluded that a small group of recent Iraqi émigrés living in the Oklahoma City area helped McVeigh bomb the Murrah building. She documented multiple witnesses who placed Timothy McVeigh with a foreign-looking person (and/or persons) in the days leading up to, as well as the day of, the Oklahoma City bombing. Her witnesses offer substantial support to the theory of a Middle Eastern connection and relate directly to the existence of John Doe Two. The FBI, much to the frustration of some of its own investigators, discarded the possibility of the existence of John Doe Two, two months into the investigation. There are a number of factors, including information provided by Davis, indicating the existence of John Doe Two and a possible Middle Eastern connection.

Jayna Davis has done some outstanding, thoroughly-documented investigative reporting, and we will be considering some of her work and interviews that have been done with her in future posts. For now, please see her website for more information.

Note: at the outset of the subcommittee's investigation, former Oklahoma governor Frank Keating personally requested that the investigation be called off. During his meeting with the subcommittee chairman, Governor Keating mentioned that then-President Bill Clinton had called him only hours after the bombing. According to Keating, President Clinton's first comment to him after the bombing was "God, I hope there's no Middle Eastern connection to this."

This mindset, described by Governor Keating, may or may not have influenced the original Oklahoma City bombing investigators. There were many reasons to believe that there might have been a foreign connection. There should have been no hesitation to investigate and make that determination, even if it would have required a forceful retaliation.

The activities Sibel Edmonds saw -- or ones very similar to them -- had been occuring already for years as of the 1997 date Edmonds gives, as this quote from Cracking the Case: An Interview With Sibel Edmonds by Scott Horton, August 22, 2005, addresses:

SH: Okay, I'm going to go ahead and name some people whom I suspect inside the State Department and the Pentagon, and I suppose you won't be able to answer affirmative or negative on any of these, but I'm very curious when I read about this kind of corruption going on in the State Department, I immediately think of John Bolton and David Wurmser. Do those names mean anything to you?

SE: Well, first of all, I'm not going to answer that question at all, but also you should pay attention to the fact that some of these people have been there for a while, and some of these people had their roots in there even in the mid-1990s.

SH: So more career officials rather than political appointees.

SE: Or maybe a mixture of both.

The Sibel Edmonds case involved career officials and political appointees (as well as elected officials) going back to the time of the Oklahoma City bombing.

With that in mind, here's a quote from 'The Stakes Are Too High for Us to Stop Fighting Now' An interview with FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds by Christopher Deliso August 15, 2005:

SE: In some cases where the FBI stumbles upon evidence of high-level officials being involved in drug-smuggling, they're even prevented from sharing it with the DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency]. The Department of State just comes in and says, "Leave it."

You know, it's funny, after 9/11, the common criticism was that there was "no information-sharing" between the FBI, CIA, and the like, and this is why the terrorists pulled it off -- as if we didn't want to cooperate. No information-sharing? That's the biggest BS I ever heard!

CD: So you're saying that the whole process of sorting through the intelligence you received, executing investigations, and getting information where it needed to go was prevented by the State Department?

SE: Several times, yes.

CD: And again, because of the "sensitive foreign relations" excuse?

SE: Well, yes, obviously all of these high-level criminal operations involve working with foreign people, foreign countries, the outside world -- and to a certain extent these relations do depend on the continuation of criminal activities.

In the context of the Oklahoma City bombing:

According to Keating, President Clinton's first comment to him after the bombing was "God, I hope there's no Middle Eastern connection to this."

In the context of the Sibel Edmonds case:

SE: In some cases where the FBI stumbles upon evidence of high-level officials being involved in drug-smuggling, they're even prevented from sharing it with the DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency]. The Department of State just comes in and says, "Leave it."

You know, it's funny, after 9/11, the common criticism was that there was "no information-sharing" between the FBI, CIA, and the like, and this is why the terrorists pulled it off -- as if we didn't want to cooperate. No information-sharing? That's the biggest BS I ever heard!

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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