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Larisa: Bad Leaks and Good Leaks
This is the third installment of my interview with Larisa Alexandrovna, Managing Editor of Raw Story.
In the first installment, All Roads Lead to Iran, we discussed the criminal & corporate power factions - both inside and outside of governments that led to the Iraq invasion, and are angling toward Iran, amongst other things.
In the second installment, All Roads Lead to Iran, Again, we discussed Brewster Jennings and Valerie Plame, Brewster Jennings and Sibel Edmonds, the 911 cover-up, and the corruption of Dennis Hastert.
In this installment, Bad Leaks and Good Leaks, we discuss:
1. Iran: Energy, Drugs & MEK
2. Intel Trafficking: Distinguishing between Strategic, Military, Industrial & Political leaks
3. How to corrupt a Congressman, or the entire Pentagon.
4. Promoting Good Leaks: How to support whistleblowers
Luke Ryland: Let's get back to Iran - why is Iran the Big Prize?
Larisa Alexandrovna: Iran has always been the big prize. I think the Golden Crescent of Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, in general has been the Big Prize for various reasons - business interests, geopolitical reasons, etc. There are all sorts of reasons why it's been the crown jewel. There is not one single group, for example the Neoconservatives, who are guiding this ship if you will. There are factions who may have different agendas and ideologies, but they may work together because they have the same goals.
There are, for example, business interests - both legal and illegal. The energy market, for example, wants the oil (legal) and the drug market, for example, wants the routes and supply of the Golden Crescent region (illegal). These two separate interested parties don’t necessarily have the same ideology or the same interests, but their goal is the same because of the larger business market, both legal and illegal.
There are also geopolitical reasons - there are advantages to having a presence there in a very significant region - controlling that region would be like controlling the center of a chess board. An example of this would be to directly address China and Russia, both of whom have vested interests in the region. In any case, there are many reasons why Iran is the big prize and the different factions have come together to act in this direction, either knowingly working together or working independently of one another to capture control of the Golden Crescent region.
Lukery: Quagmire notwithstanding? (note this interview was done prior to the MEK article Larisa just wrote, so she alludes to the MEK relationship with the West, but does not go into details of what she then reports after the interview has taken place.)
LA: Well - we can't invade Iran because the military is bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan - but remember, they don't have to invade because the ultimate goal is control of the region. Hence all the talk of 'regime change' - the key is to overthrow the government and replace it with a government of the Western nations' choosing. A 'grass roots' operation would incite insurgencies in various parts of the region - and create issues and rifts where there were none previously. For example, I'm sure that you're familiar with MEK – so the West can use foreign agents, for example, as mechanisms in that regard to create a grass roots opposition movement. We've seen this sort of thing work all over the place, obviously, South America being the prime example. So this would be one way the West could approach the issue of Iran without the quagmire of Iraq, by using proxies. It is also a good way to avoid Congressional oversight. If that doesn't work they've got this back-up plan of this new strategy of using pre-emptive nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. This new policy is outrageous, frankly, but they're clearly rolling that out for a reason - so one can assume, although I don't know this for sure, that that is probably Plan B, in case the plan of creating a home-grown insurgency fails.
Lukery: I could do without World War Three. Where does China fit into the picture?
LA: Obviously also this is a battle with China - over controlling certain resources. It's kind of like a Cold War relic. Again, we're talking about different interests, and different factions. Yes, there are oil interests, there are interests in maintaining the petrol-dollar, there's the heroin trade, there are interests in controlling the export market that Turkey has a comfort zone in - and obviously there's the strategic value in Iran, and the Golden Crescent. Once you control that region, you can control the debate, and various events throughout the Middle East from that region. So there are all sorts of reasons - it's hard to say that China's main interest there is oil. But I also think that China is using oil there as a weapon, of sorts. China has invested in the Iranian oil industry, as has Russia - which enables them to use the threat to manipulate prices - and attack us that way. We can't attack China directly because our corporations have given all of our resources, our money, manufacturing - everything to China - and now we can't really fight them on any level because they'll pull the plug on the money - so Iran is almost a staging ground for that battle.
Lukery: In some of your articles you mention at length the meetings in Rome & Paris - with Ledeen and Ghorbanifar and Franklin & Rhode and others - one of the things that stuck out from those articles is that Franklin & Rhode were giving state secrets to Iran, as well as Israel. If we focus on Iran - what does it mean exactly to say they were giving State Secrets 'to Iran'? Were those secrets going to State agents? Or exiles? Or who exactly, and for what purpose?
LA: I cant go into who they may or may not have been giving the secrets to because to some extent it would be speculation, and I don't want to speculate, although I trust the information that I have... but it seems to me that you have factions giving to factions. Again, you have to eliminate the concept that there is a nation state. For example, if we go back to the MEK as an example, then we could easily see the Pentagon leaking to MEK - for the benefit of certain objectives seen as “strategy.” On the other hand you could also have people leaking to government officials who obviously would also be seen as Iran. I call it "Intel Trafficking" - and these secrets could either be legitimate secrets, or disinformation being fed into the intel-stream - such as we saw with the Niger forgeries.
Remember, all of this is related - competing factions, or 'cookie companies' as we discussed earlier (see installment 1). If you go back to all the different reasons why various groups have a stake in Iran, then somebody leaking because, say, it would help their business interests - and those business interests are in turn contracted to our federal government... in other words, they're using their business contacts to make money off of a deal - for example that a certain company might have with the Pentagon - so they're making money off both ends. Let us say that a company was contracted by the Pentagon for some work and this is legal of course, but they are also using that contract and access to also acquire and sell information on the intel black market that may benefit their other business deals, because they are a corporation, not a nation. This could get confusing, if not already confusing, so let me explain it by organizing as follows. By the way, this is my own classification system, not anything anyone uses and may differ from various standard categories.
Strategic Military/Intelligence Leaks: Part of either disinformation campaign or allegiance. This is seen as legal as long as it does not put into peril our own security. An example of this would be those planted stories by military agents (disinformation) or leaks of tactical information to foreign agents we may be using in the field, an example may be MEK (allegiance).
Industrial Military/Intelligence Leaks - 'Enabled': this is what I describe as a leak that happens from the contractors end, with the blessing and/or support of certain people in the military/DOD structure for their own interests, but is in fact illegal and does in fact compromise our national security. An example of this would be what Sibel uncovered.
Industrial Military/Intelligence Leaks - 'Solo': same as above, but done without the approval/blessing of any insider. Stealing secrets from military/DOD to essentially make money. A good example of this is the codes Chalabi got a hold of and sold to Iran.
Nationalistic/Ideological Military/Intelligence Leaks: This would be where an agent of another country infiltrates our own military/intelligence infrastructure. A spy essentially or mole. Larry Franklin case might fall here, as he was not acting as a mercenary.
Political Military/Intelligence Leaks: Leaks that are politically motivated, that is not to say that there cannot be multiple reasons, such as "enabled" but the public best knows these cases as 'political hits' - the outing of Valerie Plame is the best example.
Does that help clarify what I mean by intelligence trafficking?
Lukery: Yeah - that's great. Thanks. That really gets to the heart of my question - which is that in order to understand these leaks we need to differentiate between them - both the motivations of the leakers, and the segmentation of the recipients beyond something simplistic like, for example, 'to Iran'.
Moving on. How did we get here? A lot of the people in charge at the Pentagon, and particularly at the Office of Special Plans, were already perceived as Security risks - Perle and Feith come to mind.
LA: Right. Not just Feith and Perle - all of them - there's not a single one of them who hasn't been under investigation for leaking classified information! This would be in the category of Industrial Military/Intelligence Leaks – Enabled by the way.
So it’s astounding that despite the FBI's concerns, despite the concerns of the security clearance staff (each agency has their own staff which does the security background checks), despite past activities, these guys still were able to get their clearances reinstated under this administration. There's only one person who can override all of these various agencies - Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld! No one else would have the authority to override the FBI and the security staff concerns, so he must have had interesting reasons for issuing the clearances. Moreover, Rummy gave these guys top level DOD positions - 2nd & 3rd from the top - jobs in the Pentagon! It's mindboggling. I am still waiting for someone to explain to me how Abrams is allowed to be the Deputy National Security Advisor after his indictment in Iran Contra. For god’s sake, he was part of the team that sold weapons to Iran, that is, giving aid and comfort to the enemy, treason!
Lukery: Well - there are two interesting issues there. Firstly - the fact that they somehow passed the security clearance hurdle, but even curiouser is that that they were recruited in the first place
LA: Actually - no - it’s a mistake to think that they were even 'recruited' - this whole group came into power en masse - this was the understanding. Every one of those people who was associated with PNAC in any way got top-level leadership positions. They're also the same people who were in Iran Contra - it’s the same cabal - moving in and out of government - they were just waiting for a friendly administration. These people should have been convicted during Iran Contra - the fact that they were pardoned doesn't exonerate them. I can't believe that I even had to fight with Ledeen about this in our interview! He thinks that the Iran Contra folks are innocent, whereas I think that a pardon prior to a trial does not equal acquittal. By any measure, it's not only bad judgment to put them back into office - but it should be illegal. Again, it's essentially giving aide and comfort to our enemies.
Lukery: It's amazing - criminals from top to bottom. Is it really as bad as it looks from the outside?
LA: Actually, it looks fairly bad from the inside too.
Lukery: How does it happen? One of my readers noted that the bribes to Hastert go back at least to the 96 election cycle - before Hastert had any real power - and he wondered why Hastert would be targeted by these criminals when he was essentially a nobody...
LA: Well - this game is so complicated. For example, take a nobody like Curt Weldon - who by all accounts is a very nice man who I had respect for, once. He's a little bit eccentric and loopy but is generally a nice man - and then out of nowhere this nice, generally loopy, kinda goofy guy is somehow introduced to Ghorbanifar - an Iranian arms dealer who literally cannot come into this country, is exiled from his own country, who the CIA has burn notices against, and who was involved in Iran Contra. Now - how do these two people come together? Who woke up one morning and thought - ya know - those two people should meet? What jarred this? I mean, what was the reasoning behind this? ( I don’t think in Weldon's case he's being bribed or anything -I don't have anything on him doing anything illegal as far as I can tell he's an upstanding kinda guy but I do think he's being manipulated. )
Or take another example, a decorated Vietnam veteran like Duke Cunningham - who seems like a normal person, nice guy - one day he's approached, soon he's being bought off by Wilkes and his operatives in the various agencies - and all of a sudden he has all this money.
Lukery: OK - but if we go back to Hastert in 1996 - when he's basically a nobody...
LA: Look - if you're already at the top, chances are you're already either owned by something or somebody – as the Hastert allegations show - or you're not buyable - as in Feingold's case. You're just not for sale - so they just leave you alone.
So of course they're going to go after the available, pliable ones. In fact, if you look at how CIA officers are trained, they're trained to provide a pitch of sorts to identify the weakest, and have them turn against their own country. So one would think that foreign assets are quite capable of doing the same thing.
Lukery: OK - so they got Hastert in their pocket early - and presumably they had a few others as backup. It puts Hastert's ascension into the Speakership in an interesting light - as well as the motivations of the kingmakers.
LA: Well, I'm not sure about the actual mechanisms. But consider now that Duke has gone down and Wilkes is still operational - because apparently he's too important to go down - well, who's going to replace Duke? Do they start grooming others as soon as the allegations start surfacing? Are they grooming just one? More than one? Did they already have several people as backup? I just don't know.
Lukery: OK. Another of my readers asks whether you think Mark Grossman is involved, per Sibel?
LA: Yes. But that does not provide context, that is to say, what is Marc Grossman involved in? I cannot get into that, but per the Sibel allegations, I would say yes, assuming we are speaking of the same allegations.
Lukery: OK - Can you talk about what sort of corruption he is involved in...?
LA: No - of course not. Well - not yet. But to answer your reader's specific question, according to the allegations, yes. Grossman is alleged to be involved, according to what Sibel uncovered and according to what the FBI was investigating.
Lukery: OK... here's another question from a reader: "David Rose wrote only part of Sibel's story and left out the most explosive information, probably at the behest of Vanity Fair's lawyers. Rose had good sources. We know Larisa has good sources. Any chances Raw Story can expose the "rest of the story"?"
LA: That's complicated - and it's not because we're worried about being sued - what are they going to sue us for? We don't have any money! So - it's not that we're worried about resources - but we're worried about our sources. That's the main concern. It's a good question - because we do have a lot of the story already done - and I've certainly circulated it among officials, as it were. I've made people aware of these goings on - but to actually put it out in print would compromise certain people and that's really the concern that we have.
They've tried to discredit us in different ways - attacking our credibility and so on. There were certain calls even made to - not a source of mine, but someone who just commented on one of my articles. That person was aggressively intimidated to the point where we can't even speak any more - so because of that, we have to protect these people - they're already under fire - and as much as I want to write this - and at least provide what I know - and at least have it be tested in public discourse and debated upon - as much as I would love to do that - the fact is that I don't think that ruined lives - or worse - I just don’t think that I could do that.
I think the only person who's going to be able to tell this story is one of the people themselves. Because for me to tell the story, I have to secure full permission from all of the sources - that's just not going to happen. But a key player in the story could tell their own side of the story without having to secure permission from everyone. So I think that one of these people is going to have to bite the bullet and come out fully and really tell it - because at this point if something isn’t done, it's only going to get worse. They're just going to have to bite the bullet. You know - I offered to go to jail with one of them. I was like "c'mon - we'll do it together" - although I'm not as interesting as Judy Miller and I probably wouldn’t get John Bolton visiting me - unless he brings a gun in with him or something! I'm willing to go to jail so that this person doesn’t have to go alone - but ya know, I gave this person my word that I would go to jail rather than testify... I understand these people's unwillingness to speak out - I mean you can't blame them. There's only so much that a person can lose after there's nothing left to lose and all they have is their freedom.
So I don't know how this is going to play out - but I would urge your readers, and everyone else's readers to show support for these whistleblowers and back them and ask them to fully, fully come forward and really truly have their back should something happen, should they go to jail - that you give your word that you will go to jail with them if you have to, you will stand in protest at the court in mass numbers, you will organize huge marches, you will do everything you can (legally and non-violently) - and if enough people agree that they will back these people completely, and in every way possible, then putting them in jail would be a tactical mistake on anyone's part because it would ignite an entire grass roots support system.
So if you want to fight their silence, then you have to have people willing to put themselves on the line too. If the whistleblower or sources feel they have enough support, they may come forward fully - that's my recommendation - and if you want a project - that's what I suggest someone take up. Because you cannot ask someone to give up everything for you, while you offer nothing in return. Someone should create a “Take The Pledge” site or something and get people to sign up to show solidarity or something like that. That might help get the folks speaking out.
Thanks again, Larisa.
In the final installment, we discuss the different spying programs. Stay tuned.
posted by lukery at 4/18/2006 09:15:00 AM