July, 2010 -- Russian "spy" roll-up has marks of neocon operation, Cyprus is a major operating base for Mossad, CIA and MI6... among others.
The arrest of ten people in the United States and one person in Cyprus on charges that they served in a Russian SVR "illegals" unit operating under deep cover for several years in the United States is not viewed as a bona fide counter-intelligence operation by many retired U.S. intelligence and counter-intelligence personnel who communicated their opinions to WMR.
The Hollywood-like descriptions of the Russian "sleeper" unit as "secret agents" and references in the FBI's criminal complaint to brush contacts, dead drops, a femme fatale, invisible ink, and covert communications using steganography, a high-tech version of microdots, is being viewed with a great deal of skepticism by retired CIA and State Department officials who served in hostile intelligence environments during the Cold War.
The absence of espionage charges against the eleven alleged Russian agents and the fact that no classified information was being sought by the accused has many intelligence specialists speculating that the roll-up of the eleven was timed to scuttle the "re-set" of relations between Washington and Moscow. The eleven are merely charged with trying to obtain open-source information and social and business contacts in think tanks and other policy-making centers. The eleven are also charged with violation of the Federal Agents Registration Act (FARA) in not registering as agents for the Russian Federation. In addition, some of the accused are charged with money laundering and the favorite catch-all for Justice Department prosecutors: conspiracy.
The arrest of the so-called Russian secret agents on the heels of meetings between President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Washington and the G8 meeting in Canada has raised suspicions among intelligence and diplomatic experts that there is a move afoot by neoconservative operatives in the Justice Department and the Pentagon to scuttle any further warming of relations between Washington and Moscow. There are also reports that Obama was fully aware of the forthcoming FBI arrests when he met with Medvedev but that he did nothing to handle the matter in a more discrete fashion and thereby may have, himself, been a participant in the operation to fray relations with Russia.
The arrest of Vicky Palaez, a journalist for Peruvian Channel 2 television and New York's Spanish-language El Diario-La Prensa who broke several stories in Peru on the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement and Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) movement, raises troubling questions about the FBI's on-going investigation of journalists in the United States, including the New York Times's Jim Risen, the Wall Street Journal's Siobhan Gorman, and this editor for leaks from the U.S. intelligence community. The continued targeting of American journalists by the FBI is seen as a further sign that freedom of the press continues to erode under the Obama administration.
The indictment and arrest of the so-called Russian agents for failure to register as agents for Russia under FARA requirements also raises the question of double standards being applied to various countries depending on their influence in the corridors of power in Washington. Two officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) were charged in 2005 of violating the Espionage Act is receiving highly-classified material from Pentagon official Larry Franklin. The classified information, including Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) from the CIA and other classified Defense Department and FBI information, was made available to the Mossad station at the Israeli embassy in Washington. The charges against the AIPAC officials were later dropped and the entire case was placed in the Justice Department's dead file.
The press release on the AIPAC indictments is as follows:
U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Virginia
Paul J. McNulty United States Attorney
August 4, 2005
Paul McNulty, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, announced that Lawrence Anthony Franklin, age 58, of Kearneysville, WV; Steven J. Rosen, age 63, of Silver Spring, MD; and Keith Weissman, age 53, of Bethesda, MD, were indicted today by a federal grand jury sitting in Alexandria with Conspiracy to Communicate National Defense Information to Persons Not Entitled to Receive It. The indictment alleges that beginning in April of 1999, Rosen, the Director of Foreign Policy Issues for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, D.C., and Weissman, the Senior Middle East Analyst in the Foreign Policy Issues Department at AIPAC, in an effort to influence persons within and outside the United States government, would use their contacts within the United States government, including Franklin, with whom they first met in February 2003, to gather sensitive United States government information, including classified information relating to the national defense, for subsequent unlawful communication, delivery and transmission to persons not entitled to receive it, including members of the media and foreign government officials.
Franklin was also charged with three counts of Communication of National Defense Information to Persons Not Entitled to Receive It. In one of those counts, Rosen was charged with aiding and abetting him in the unlawful disclosure.
Finally, Franklin was charged with conspiring with persons known and unknown to the grand jury to communicate classified information to an agent or representative of a foreign government. It is alleged that Franklin would use his position as a desk officer in the Office of the Secretary of Defense to gather information, classified as affecting the security of the United States, for subsequent unlawful communication to a foreign official.
Mr. McNulty stated: “When it comes to classified information, there is a clear line in the law. Today's charges are about crossing that line. Those entrusted with safeguarding our nation's secrets must remain faithful to that trust. Those not authorized to receive classified information must resist the temptation to acquire it, no matter what their motivation may be.”
This case was investigated by the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin DiGregory and Neil Hammerstrom, and Thomas Reilly, Trial Attorney, the Counterespionage Section of the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice.
On August 4, 2005, WMR reported: "The one key sentence in McNulty's press release is the involvement of known and unknown persons to communicate classified information to an agent or representative of a foreign government (Israel). These are referred to in the indictment as Foreign Officials 1, 2, and 3. (FO1, FO-2, FO-3). It is also clear that the FBI had Rosen and Weisman under electronic surveillance since at least 1999. The indictment states that Rosen had passed to an Israeli agent U.S. "code word protected intelligence" concerning terrorist activities in Central Asia in April 1999. In another intercept, Weisman told the same Israeli agent that he had heard that a "Secret FBI, classified FBI report" had been prepared on the Khobar Tower bombing in Saudi Arabia. In December 2000, six days before the Supreme Court awarded the presidency of the United States to George W. Bush, Rosen and Weissman met with a "U.S. Government official" (USGO-1). It is unclear whether the official was a member of the Clinton administration. Following the meeting, Rosen gave classified information to a member of the media concerning "classified strategy options against a Middle East country and internal United States government deliberations on those options." In January 2002, Rosen met with another U.S. government official (USGO-2) and received classified information that was sent to other AIPAC employees in a memo. During the next several months, Rosen continued to discuss classified information with USGO-2 and an unnamed Pentagon official, the latter referring Rosen to Franklin. Rosen then established a liaison with Franklin. Rosen told Franklin at a meeting in February 2003 that he would try and secure a job at the National Security Council for Franklin so that he would be "by the elbow of the President."
In March 2003, Rosen discussed a classified internal policy document concerning Iran with a "senior fellow of a Washington, DC think tank." Sources familiar with the investigation have reported the think tank is the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). In June 2003, Franklin told Weissman that he had a friend in the CIA from whom he could obtain a copy of the classified Iran policy document. In October 2003, Franklin had a meeting with FO3 in which they discussed the fact that work had ceased on the classified Iran policy document.
In July 2004, Franklin began cooperating with the FBI and passed classified CIA information to Weismann as part of the continuing FBI investigation. Some of the information concerned a "foreign government's covert actions in Iraq." In August 2004, Rosen told Israeli agents that he and Weissman were under FBI investigation over the leaks from the Pentagon. It is important to note that the indictment states that the intelligence operation against the United States was a "conspiracy" involving U.S. government officials, AIPAC officials, and foreign agents (Israelis). The indictment also states that Iran's nuclear program was a primary focus of the espionage conspiracy.
The FBI complaint against the "Russian 11" reveals that the so-called Russian "illegals" were trying to penetrate "think tanks." In the AIPAC case, there is prima facie evidence that at least one think tank, the AEI, had already been successfully penetrated, not for purposes of lobbying or influence-peddling, but for out-and-out espionage for the Israeli intelligence services. In the Russian 11 case, there is no evidence that any think tanks had previously been penetrated.
In addition, the FARA has not been applied uniformly to unregistered agents for certain foreign governments. AIPAC, for example, which is a virtual arm of the Israeli government, particularly the Likud Party, has not registered as an agent for Israel, even though it has a history of committing espionage against the United States. AIPAC claims that FARA does not apply to it and ensures that no U.S. administration or member of Congress even attempts to suggest such a move.
On May 4, 2007, WMR reported: Also speaking at AIPAC [in Washington] was Representative Jane Harman (D-CA), who was identified by National Security Agency (NSA) "Stellar Wind" wiretaps trying to get an espionage case dropped against former AIPAC officials Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman in exchange for landing the coveted job as Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The espionage case against Rosen and Weissman was dropped by the Obama administration prior to the AIPAC conference. Harman is but one of Israel's and AIPAC's many water carriers in the U.S. Congress . . . This editor recently spoke briefly to former Representative Paul Findlay (R-IL), who was driven from office by AIPAC money for refusing to bow down to Israel's dictates. Findlay later wrote a book titled, "They Dare to Speak Out" about the power of the Israel Lobby in Washington. A former top U.S. diplomat recently told this editor that at a luncheon, Rosen once told him that AIPAC was so powerful that by the end of the afternoon, Rosen could have seventy signatures of U.S. senators, with no questions asked, on a napkin he was holding up . . . AIPAC insists that it is a private lobbying organization funded through private donations. From the license plates pulling into the convention center and hotels it appears that much of AIPAC's support comes from New York. However, given the presence of Israel's top government, military, diplomatic, parasitical, and intelligence leadership at the AIPAC policy conference, it appears that AIPAC is running afoul of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of 1938, which requires lobbying organizations that represent foreign governments to register with the Justice Department.
The Justice Department not only shut down its investigation of AIPAC and Israeli espionage but it also dropped a criminal probe of the Turkish Ergenekon or "deep state" espionage network in Washington, DC. Given the high profile nature of both investigations, a search of the FARA database at the Justice Department yields only a few registered agents for both nations, which have a documented history of espionage in the United States.
Only five registered agents are listed for Israel: Arnold and Porter, LLP for the Israeli embassy in Washington; Sidley Austin, LLP for the Israeli government; Geoffrey Weill Associates in New York for the Israeli Tourism Ministry; the World Zionist Organization-American Section for the World Zionist Organization Executive in Jerusalem; and Qorvis Communications for Plasan Sata, Ltd., an Israeli defense company.
While AIPAC is required to register as an agent of Israel, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington has been required to register under FARA.
China, which also maintains aggressive intelligence operations in the United States, has only one agent registered for the Chinese government, Patton Boggs, LLP, the powerful Washington lobbying firm.
WMR has discovered that a number of Washington lobbyists who represent foreign governments have failed to register as agents pursuant to FARA. These include agents for the governments of the Nigerian state of Alwa-Ibom, Gambia, Cambodia, Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti, Ethiopia, France, Denmark, Gabon, Germany, Honduras, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kuwait, Laos, Lesotho, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Scotland, Somaliland, South Africa, Sudan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.
The arrest in Cyprus of a Canadian, Robert Christopher Metsos, on charges that he delivered cash to the accused Russian spies, and reports that the agents were provided with fake U.K. and Irish passports -- in the same manner that Mossad provided fake British and Irish passports to assassins of a Palestinian official in Dubai -- have many intelligence specialists looking at a possible Mossad connection to the ring as a way of embarrassing Russia for its links to Iran. Greek Cyprus is a major operating base for Mossad, CIA, MI6 and many others...