“The real rulers in Washington are invisible and exercise power from behind the scenes.”
—Justice Felix Frankfurter
It used to be the three branches–congress, the executive, and the courts–that we considered the make-up of our nation’s federal government. And some would point to the press as a possible fourth branch, due to the virtue of its influence in shaping our policies. Today, more and more people have come to view corporate and foreign lobby firms, with their preponderant clout and enormous power, as the official fourth branch of our nation’s government. Not only do I agree with them, I would even take it a step further and give it a higher status it certainly deserves.
Operating invisibly under the radar of media and public scrutiny, lobby groups and foreign agents have become the ‘epicenter’ of our government, where former statesmen and ‘dime a dozen generals’ cash in on their connections and peddle their enormous influence to the highest bidders turned clients. These groups’ activities shape our nation’s policies and determine the direction of the flow of its taxpayer driven wealth, while to them the interests of the majority are considered irrelevant, and the security of the nation is perceived as inconsequential.
In Part1 of this series I used Saudi influence via its lobby and foreign agents by default as a case to illustrate how certain foreign interests, combined with their U.S. agents and benefactors, override the interests and security of the entire nation. This illustrative model case involved three major elements: the purchasing of a few ‘dime a dozen generals,’ bidding high in the auctioning of ‘former statesmen,’ and buying one or two ex-congressmen turned lobbyists. In addition, the piece emphasized the importance of the “Military Industrial Complex (MIC),” which became a de facto ‘foreign agent’ by the universally recognized principle of ‘mutual benefit.’
This article will attempt to illustrate the functioning of the above model in the case of another country, the Republic of Turkey, and its set of agents and operators in the U.S. In doing so, I want to emphasize the importance of separating the populace of example nations–Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, Pakistan–from their regimes and select key participating actors. As is the case with our nation, they too suffer the consequences of their regime’s self-serving policies and conduct. Not only that, they also have to endure what they consider ‘U.S. imposed policies’ that further the interests of only a few. Think of it this way, the majority of us in the States do not see the infamous and powerful neocon cabal as the chosen and accepted representatives of our nation’s values and objectives. We do not want to be perceived and judged based on the actions of a few at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo. The same is valid for these nations’ citizenry; so let not their corrupt and criminal regimes be the basis of our judgment of them.
Moreover, as we all know, those subject to criticism in these articles have mastered the art of spinning when it comes to the media and propaganda. The Israeli lobby is quick to stamp all factually backed criticism as ‘anti-Semitic’ and attack it as such. The Turkish lobby, in this regard, as with everything else, follows its Israeli mentors; they label all dissent and criticism as anti-Turkey, or, Kurdish or Armenian propaganda; while the Saudi lobby goes around kicking and screaming ‘anti-Muslim propaganda.’ I am not known to be ‘politically correct’ and am often criticized for it. I readily accept that and all responsibilities associated with it. I am not seeking a position as a diplomat, neither am I serving any business, organization, or media channel furthering a particular ideology. This is me, saying it as I see it; no more, no less. By the end of this series it should be obvious, at least for many, that the selection of the nations encompasses varied sides and affiliations. Moreover, the main purpose, and the target of these commentaries, goes to the heart of our own government and its epicenter; lobbyists and the MIC.
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Many Americans, due to the effective propaganda and spin machine of Turkey’s agents in the U.S., and relentless efforts by high-level officials and lobbying groups on Turkish networks’ payroll, do not know much about Turkey; its position and importance in the areas of terrorism, money laundering, illegal arms sales, industrial and military espionage, and the nuclear black-market. Not many people in the States would name Turkey among those nations that threaten global security, the fight against terrorism, nuclear proliferation, or the war on drugs. For the purpose of this article it is necessary to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of Turkey, its strategic location within global criminal networks, its various networks and entities operating behind seemingly legitimate fronts, and its connection to the military and political machine in the U.S.
For many Americans Turkey is one of the closest allies of the United States; a most important member of NATO; a candidate for EU membership; and the only Middle-Eastern close ally and partner of Israel. Some acknowledge Turkey’s highly prized status in the United States due to its location as the artery connecting Europe to Asia, its cross borders with Iran, Iraq and Syria to its East and South, with the Balkan states to its west, and with the Central Asian nations to its north and northeast. Others may recognize the country as one of the top U.S. customers for military technology and weapons.
Interestingly enough, these same qualities and characteristics which make Turkey an important ally and strategic partner for the nation states, make it extremely crucial and attractive to global criminal networks active in transferring illegal arms and nuclear technology to rogue states; in transporting Eastern Narcotics, mainly from Afghanistan through the Central Asian states into Turkey, where it is processed, and then through the Balkan states into Western Europe and the U.S.; and in laundering the proceeds of these illegal operations via its banks and those on the neighboring island of Cyprus.
The Real Lords of the Poppy Fields
It is a known fact that there often is a nexus between terrorism and organized crime. Terrorists use Narco-traficking and international crime to support their activities. Frequently, the same criminal gangs involved in narcotics smuggling have links to other criminal activities, such as illegal arms sales, and to terrorist groups. The Taliban’s link to the drug trade is irrefutable. In 2001, a report by the U.N. Committee of Experts on Resolution 1333 for sanctions against the Taliban stated that “funds raised from the production and trade of opium and heroin are used by the Taliban to buy arms and war materials and to finance the training of terrorists and support the operation of extremists in neighboring countries and beyond.”
Afghanistan supplies almost 90% of the world’s heroin, which is the country’s main cash crop, contributing over $3 billion a year in illegal revenues to the Afghan economy, which equals 50% of the gross national product. In 2004, according to the U.S. state department, 206,000 hectares were cultivated, a half a million acres, producing 4,000 tons of opium. “It is not only the largest heroin producer in the world, 206,000 hectares is the largest amount of heroin or of any drug that I think has ever been produced by any one country in any given year,” says Robert Charles, former assistant secretary of state for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, overseeing anti-drug operations in Afghanistan.
Heroin trafficking is also the main source of funding for the al-Qaeda terrorists. A Time Magazine article in August 2004 reported that al-Qaeda has established a smuggling network that is peddling Afghan heroin to buyers across the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, and in turn is using the drug revenues to purchase weapons and explosives. The article states: “al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies are increasingly financing operations with opium sales. Anti-drug officials in Afghanistan have no hard figures on how much al-Qaeda and the Taliban are earning from drugs, but conservative estimates run into tens of millions of dollars.” Anti-drug officials say the only way to cut off al-Qaeda’s pipeline is to attack it at the source: by destroying the poppy farms themselves. This year, Afghanistan’s opium harvest is expected to exceed 3,600 tons-enough to produce street heroin worth $36 billion.
Key congressional leaders have been pressing the Pentagon to crack down on the major drug traffickers in Afghanistan upon learning that Al Qaeda is relying more than ever on illicit proceeds from the heroin trade. Congressional investigators who returned from the region in 2004 found that traffickers are providing Osama bin Laden and other terrorists with heroin as funds from Saudi Arabia and other sources dry up. “We now know Al Qaeda’s dominant source of funding is the illegal sale of narcotics,” said Rep. Kirk-IL, a member of the House Appropriations foreign operations subcommittee, as reported by Washington Times. Rep. Kirk added that Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terror organization is reaping $28 million a year in illicit heroin sales.
It is puzzling to observe that in reporting this major artery of terrorists’ funding, the U.S. mainstream media and political machine do not dare to go beyond the poppy fields of Afghanistan and the fairly insignificant low level Afghan warlords overseeing the crops. Think about it; we are talking about nearly $40 billion worth of products in the final stage. Do you believe that those primitive Afghan warlords, clad in shalvars, sporting long ragged beards, and walking with long sticks handle transportation, lab processing, more transportation, distribution, and sophisticated laundering of the proceeds? If yes, then think again. This multi billion-dollar industry requires highly sophisticated networks and people. So, who are the real lords of Afghanistan’s poppy fields?
For Al Qaeda’s network Turkey is a haven for its sources of funding. Turkish networks, along with Russians’, are the main players in these fields; they purchase the opium from Afghanistan and transport it through several Turkic speaking Central Asian states into Turkey, where the raw opium is processed into popular byproducts; then the network transports the final product into Western European and American markets via their partner networks in Albania. The networks’ banking arrangements in Turkey, Cyprus and Dubai are used to launder and recycle the proceeds, and various Turkish companies in Turkey and Central Asia are used to make this possible and seem legitimate. The Al Qaeda network also uses Turkey to obtain and transfer arms to its Central Asian bases, including Chechnya.
Since the 1950s Turkey has played a key role in channeling into Europe and the U.S. heroin produced in the “Golden Triangle” comprised of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. These operations are run by mafia groups closely controlled by the MIT (Turkish Intelligence Agency) and the military. According to statistics compiled in 1998, Turkey’s heroin trafficking brought in $25 billion in 1995 and $37.5 billion in 1996. That amount makes up nearly a quarter of Turkey’s GDP. Only criminal networks working in close cooperation with the police and the army could possibly organize trafficking on such a scale. The Turkish government, MIT and the Turkish military, not only sanctions, but also actively participates in and oversees the narcotics activities and networks.
In July 1998, Le Monde Diplomatique reported that in an explosive document made public at a press conference in Istanbul, the MIT, Turkish Intelligence Agency, accused Turkey’s national police, of having “provided police identity cards and diplomatic passports to members of a group which, in the guise of anti-terrorist activities, traveled to Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary and Azerbaijan to engage in drug trafficking”. MIT provided a list of names of some of the traffickers operating under the protection of the police. The Turkish police returned the compliment and handed over a list of named drug traffickers employed by the MIT!
In January 1997, Tom Sackville, minister of state at the British Home Office, stated that 80% of the heroin seized in Britain came from Turkey, and that his government was concerned by reports that members of the Turkish police, and even of the Turkish government, were involved in drug trafficking.
In an article published in Drug Link Magazine, Adrian Gatton cites the case of Huseyin Baybasin, the famous Turkish heroin kingpin now in jail in Holland. Baybasin explains: “I handled the drugs which came through the channel of the Turkish Consulate in England,” and he adds: “I was with the Mafia but I was carrying this out with the same Mafia group in which the rulers of Turkey were part.” The article also cites a witness statement given to a UK immigration case involving Baybasin’s clan, and states that Huseyin Baybasin had agreed to provide investigators with information about what he knew of the role of Turkish politicians and officials in the heroin trade. The article quotes Mark Galeotti, a former UK intelligence officer and expert on the Turkish mafia, “Since the 1970s, Turkey has accounted for between 75 and 90 per cent of all heroin in the UK. The key traffickers are Turks or criminals who operate along that route using Turkish contacts.” In 2001, Chris Harrison, a senior UK Customs officer in Manchester, told veteran crime reporter Martin Short that Customs could not get at the Turkish kingpins because they are “protected” at a high level.
In 1998, the highly official International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) of the U.S. State Department, revealed that “about 75% of the heroin seized in Europe is either produced in, or derives from, Turkey”, that “4 to 6 tons of heroin arrive from there every month, heading for Western Europe” and that “a number of laboratories for the purification of the opium used in transforming the basic morphine into heroin are located on Turkish soil”. The report stresses that Turkey is one of the countries most affected by money-laundering, which takes place particularly via the countries of the ex-Soviet Union, such as Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan, through the medium of casinos, the construction industry, and tourism. INCSR’s 2006 report cites Turkey as a major transshipment point and base of operations for international narcotics traffickers and associates trafficking in opium, morphine base, heroin, precursor chemicals and other drugs.
We know that Al Qaeda and Taliban’s main source of funding is the illegal sale of narcotics. Based on all the reports, facts, and expert statements, we know that Turkey is a major, if not the top, player in the transportation, processing, and distribution of all the narcotics derived from the Afghan poppies, and as a result, it is the major contributing country to Al Qaeda. Yet, to date, more than five years into our over exhaustive ‘war on terror propaganda’, have we heard any mentioning of, any tough message to, any sanction against, or any threat that was issued and targeted at Turkey?
We all know of our president’s ‘selective evilization’ of countries that have been ‘chosen’ to be on our hit list. But how many of us know of our government’s ‘selective go free cards’ that have been issued to those ‘ally countries’ that directly fund and support the terrorist networks? In fact, our government would rather move heaven and earth, gag ‘whistleblowers’ with direct knowledge of these facts, classify congressional and other investigative reports, create a media black-out on these ‘allies’ terrorist supporting activities, than do the right thing; do what it really takes to counter terrorism.
and the WMDs we actually located & have known about
In his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush declared he would keep “the world’s most destructive weapons” from Al Qaeda and its allies by keeping those weapons from evil governments. Later he told a campaign audience in Pennsylvania, “We had to take a hard look at every place where terrorists might get those weapons and one regime stood out: the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.” Well, the Iraqi WMD that never was!
Here is what CIA Director Porter Goss said bluntly before the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2004, “It may be only a matter of time before Al Qaeda or other groups attempt to use chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons. We must focus on that.” And we know that he knows; has known for the longest time!
Seymour Hersh in his March 2003 article quotes Robert Gallucci, a former United Nations weapons inspector who is now dean of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, “Bad as it is with Iran, North Korea, and Libya having nuclear-weapons material, the worst part is that they could transfer it to a non-state group. That’s the biggest concern, and the scariest thing about all this. There’s nothing more important than stopping terrorist groups from getting nuclear weapons.”
Although numerous prestigious reports by agencies and organizations such as IAEA, and news articles in the European media, have clearly established Turkey, and various international networks operating in and out of Turkey, as major players within the global nuclear black-market and illegal arms sales, the relevant agencies and main media in the U.S. have maintained a completely silent and hands off position.
Nuclear black-market related activities depend on Turkey for manufacturing nuclear components, and on its strategic location as a transit point to move goods and technology to nations such as Iran, Pakistan, and others. Not only that, Turkey’s status and close relationship with the U.S. enables it to obtain (steal) technology and information from the U.S.
Lying at the crossroads not only between Europe and Asia, but also between the former Soviet Union and the Middle East, Turkey is already a well-established transit zone for illicit goods, including nuclear material and illegal weapons sales. According to a report by Turkish Atomic Energy Authority (TAEA), at least 104 nuclear smuggling incidents had occurred in the past eight years in Turkey. For instance, in September 1999, 5 Kilograms of Uranium enriched to 4.6 percent were confiscated from an international smuggling ring in Turkey, which included four Turkish, one Azerbaijani, and three Kazakhstani citizens. The report cites over one hundred incidents like this, and these are only cases that have been intercepted and reported.
Turkey played a major role in Pakistan and Libya’s illicit activities in obtaining nuclear technologies. In June 2004, Stephen Fidler, a reporter for Financial Times reported that in 2003, Turkish centrifuge motors and converters destined for Libya’s nuclear weapons program turned up in Tripoli aboard a ship that had sailed from Dubai. One of those detained individuals in this incident, a ‘respected and successful’ Turkish Businessman, Selim Alguadis, was cited in a public report from the Malaysian inspector-general of police into the Malaysian end of a Pakistani-led clandestine network that supplied Libya, Iran and North Korea with nuclear weapons technologies, designs and expertise. According to the report, “he supplied these materials to Libya.” Mr. Alguadis also confessed that he had on several occasions met A Q Khan, the disgraced Pakistani scientist who has admitted transmitting nuclear expertise to the three countries. Selim Alguadis remains a successful businessman in Turkey with companies in several other countries. He was released immediately after being turned over to Turkish authorities. His partner, another well-known and internationally recognized wealthy businessman, Gunes Cire, also actively participated in transferring nuclear technology and parts to Iran, Pakistan and North Korea. Although under investigation by several international communities, Alguadis and his partners continued to roam free in Turkey and conduct their illegitimate operations via their ‘legit international business’ front companies.
David Albright and Corey Hinderstein of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) identify Turkey’s major role in the nuclear black-market. According to their report, workshops in Turkey made the centrifuge motor and frequency converters used to drive the motor and spin the rotor to high speeds. These workshops imported subcomponents from Europe, and they assembled these centrifuge items in Turkey. Under false end-user certificates, these components were shipped from Turkey to Dubai for repackaging and shipment to Libya.
Turkey’s illegal arms smuggling activities are not limited to Europe and the Middle East; many of these activities reach U.S. soil. According to a report published by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, in April 2004 the Italian police searched a container destined for the port of New York onboard a Turkish ship at the port of Tauro during a routine customs inspection, sparked by discrepancies between the various customs declarations. Inside the container more than 8,000 AK47 assault rifles, 11 submachine guns, and magazines worth over seven million dollars were discovered.
Our tough talking president works very hard to sound convincing when he says ‘we have to take a hard look at every place where terrorists might get those weapons;’ in fact, he has succeeded in fooling many into believing those words. However, while he was determined to move heaven and earth to get our nation into a war and a quagmire with a country that did NOT possess ‘those weapons,’ he refused and continues to refuse to look at his own ‘allies-packed backyard’ where he would find a few that not only do possess ‘those weapons,’ but also distribute and sell them to the highest bidders no matter what their affiliation.
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Curiously enough, despite these highly publicized reports and acknowledgements of Turkey’s role in these activities, Turkey continues to receive billions of dollars of aid and assistance annually from the United States. With its highly placed co-conspirators and connections within the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Congress, Turkey never has to fear potential sanctions or meaningful scrutiny; just like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The criminal Turkish networks continue their global criminal activities right under the nose of their protector, the United States, and neither the catastrophe falling upon the U.S. on September Eleven, nor their direct and indirect role and ties to this terrorist attack, diminish their role and participation in the shady worlds of narcotics, money laundering and illegal arms transfer.
The ‘respectable’ Turkish companies established and operate bases in Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and other similar former soviet states. Many of these front companies, disguised under construction and tourism entities, have received millions of dollars in grants from the U.S. government, allocated to them by the U.S. congress, to establish and operate criminal networks throughout the region; among their networking partners are Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Albanian Mafia. While the U.S. government painted Islamic charity organizations as the main financial source for Al Qaeda terrorists, it was hard at work trying to cover up the terrorists’ main financial source: narcotics and illegal arms sales. Why?
For years and years, information and evidence being collected by the counterintelligence operations of certain U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies has been prevented from being transferred to criminal and narcotics divisions, and from being shared with the Drug Enforcement Agency and others with prosecutorial power. Those with direct knowledge have been prevented from making this information available and public by various gag orders and invocation of the State Secrets Privilege. Why?
Is this due to the fact that the existence and survival of many U.S. allies; Turkey, almost all Central Asian nations, and after the September Eleven attack, Afghanistan; greatly depend on cultivating, processing, transporting, and distributing these illegal substances? Is it caused by the fact that a major source of income for those who procure U.S. weapons and technology, our military industrial complex’s bread and butter, is being generated from this illegal production and illegal dealings? Or, is it the fear of exposing our own financial institutions, lobbying firms, and certain elected and appointed officials, as beneficiaries?
When it comes to criminal and shady global networks most people envision either Mafiosi like entities who keep to themselves and are separated from society, or, street level gangster-like criminals. Contrary to these expectations, the top tier Turkish criminal networks consist mainly of respectable looking businessmen, some of whom are among the top international businessmen, diplomats, politicians, and scholarly individuals. Their U.S. counterparts are equally respected and recognizable; some of whom are high-level appointed bureaucrats within the State Department and the Pentagon; some are elected officials, and others consist of the combination of the two who have now set up their own companies and lobbying groups.
The American Turkish Council (ATC)
Operating tax-free and under the radar is one of the most powerful “non-profit” associations in the U.S., the American Turkish Council (ATC). Some who are familiar with its operations and players describe it as ‘Mini AIPAC;’ this description aces it. ATC followed the AIPAC model; with the direct help of AIPAC & JINSA, it created a base out of which to stretch its tentacles, reaching the highest echelons of our government. While the ATC is an association in name and in charter, the reality is that it and other affiliated associations are the U.S. government, lobbyists, foreign agents, and MIC. Investigative journalist, John Stanton, correctly describes the ATC as an extraordinary group of elite and interconnected Republicans, Democrats and corporate and military heavyweights who are spearheading one of the most ambitious strategic gambits in U.S. history.
Included in ATC’s management, board of directors, and advisors; in addition to Turkish individuals of ‘interest;’ is a dizzying array of U.S. individuals. The ATC is led by Ret. General Brent Scowcroft, who serves as Chairman of the Board; George Perlman of Lockheed Martin, the Executive Vice President; other board members include: Former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, Ret. General Elmer Pendleton, Ret. General Joseph Ralston, Ret. Col. Preston Hughes, Alan Colegrove of Northrop Grumman, Frank Carlucci of Carlyle Group, Christine Vick of Cohen Group, Representative Robert Wexler, Former Rep. Ed WhitfieldBasically many formers; statesmen, ‘dime a dozen generals,’ and representatives.
On the members–paying clients side; their list includes all the MIC’s who’s who, such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman; the Washington Lobby scene’s who’s who; The Cohen Group, The Livingston Group, Washington Group International
Of course, there are also many Turkish companies that are members of the ATC. Most of these companies have branches and operations in Libya, Dubai, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. Although the official listings of their businesses are cited as ‘construction,’ ‘real estate’, ‘manufacturing,’ and ‘tourism’; the main activities of these businesses are known to be related to global illegal arms sales and narcotic processing and trafficking. These companies provide necessary fronts and channels to launder proceeds. Curiously enough, hundreds of millions of dollars have been granted by the United States government, approved by the congress, to these Turkish companies under the guise of various ‘U.S. Central Asian development programs;’ and ‘Iraq & Afghanistan reconstruction programs.’
Stanton notes: ‘ATC is joined in the creation of the New EuroAsia by the American Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (AACC). AACC’s Honorary Council of Advisors just happens to have General Scowcroft and the following persons of significance: Henry Kissinger and James Baker III. Former Council members include Dick Cheney and Richard Armitage, and Board of Trustee members include media-overkill subject Richard Perle of AEI, and Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas.’
The MIC Factor
In part 1 we discussed the MIC as ‘agents by default;’ marriages and loyalties based on ‘mutual benefit;’ our previous example was Saudi Arabia, top customer of U.S. weaponry. Well, Turkey only trails the Saudis slightly in that category; between 1992 and 1996, Turkey was the second largest importer of weaponry, spending more than $7 billion in four years. A report by the World Policy Institute shows that Turkey is the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid, behind Israel and Egypt. Between 1994 and 2003, Turkey took delivery of more than $6.8 billion in U.S. weaponry and services.
In fiscal year 1989, U.S. aid to Turkey was $563,500,000. According to a Multi National Monitor Report, in 1991, Turkey received more than $800 million in U.S. aid, “an exceptional return” on its $3.8 million investment in Washington lobbyists. At the time, International Advisors, INC. (Douglas Feith & Richard Perle lobbying firm as registered agents for Turkey) was paid more than $1 million for representing Turkey in the U.S. for the purpose of securing these types of deals. In 2003, Turkey received a $1 billion aid package. During this period their registered and known lobbyists were the Livingston Group, headed by the former Speaker of the House Bob Livingston, and Solarz Associates, headed by a formerly powerful Representative, Stephen Solarz. Turkey, from 2000 to 2004, for only four years, paid Livingston $9 million for his lobbying services. What did the Republic of Turkey get for its $2 million per year investment in Ex-Congressman Livingston’s services?
A Joint Report by the Federation of American Scientists and the World Policy Institute found that the vast majority of U.S. arms transfers to Turkey were subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. In many cases, these taxpayer funds are supporting military production and employment in Turkey, not in the United States. Of the $10.5 billion in U.S. weaponry delivered to Turkey since 1984, $8 billion in all has been directly or indirectly financed by grants and subsidized loans provided by the U.S. government. Many of the largest deals–such as Lockheed Martin’s sale of 240 F-16s to the Turkish air force and the FMC Corporation’s provision of 1,698 armored vehicles to the Turkish army–involve co-production and offset provisions which steer investments, jobs, and production to Turkey as a condition of the sale. For example, Turkey’s F-16 assembly plant in Ankara–a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI)–employs 2,000 production workers, almost entirely paid for with U.S. tax dollars.
Let’s recap the above data: Not only does our government, actually, our taxpayers, subsidize $8 billion of Turkey’s $10 billion weapons purchases; the production of this weaponry and the associated employment occurs not in the U.S., but overseas, in Turkey. We, the taxpayers, are subsidizing these purchases; our nation readily transfers its technology to a country that ranks high in global narcotics, terrorist and WMD related activities; while a select few MIC related firms such as Lockheed and the pimping middlemen, the lobbyists, get fatter and richer.
One Stop Shop: The Cohen Group
Like many other former statesmen, William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense, dived into the business of lobbying and consulting, and created his own Washington firm, The Cohen Group, which works for some of the largest companies in the defense industry, such as Lockheed Martin, and serves numerous foreign players. The Cohen Group is one of the primary and most active members of the American Turkish Council (ATC). Cohen’s client, Lockheed Martin, happens to be on the board of ATC, in addition to being listed as ATC’s top paying client.
The group claims on its Website that its principals have “a century and a half of combined experience in the Congress, the Defense Department, the State Department, the White House, and state and local governments” and that they “have developed extensive expertise and relationships with key international political, economic, and business leaders and acquired invaluable experiences with the individuals and institutions that affect our clients’ success abroad.” Abroad indeed. With a few ‘dime a dozen generals’ and former statesmen, the firm owes its phenomenal speedy success to interests ‘abroad’ and of course, the MIC! Let’s look, with great amazement, I hope, at how this ingenious lobby venture serves as foreign agent for several influences without having to register as such; with complete immunity against any scrutiny.
According to Intelligence Online, in its March 27, 2006 issue, Cohen accompanied Bush on his trip to India and Pakistan in March 2006. The Cohen Group is very active in India; Joseph Ralston, Cohen’s Vice Chairman, led two delegations of U.S. Defense Chiefs to India the previous year. The trips were organized in conjunction with the U.S. India Business Council; among the participants were Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing.
On June 9, 2006, Intelligence Online reports ‘already operating in India, the Cohen Group headed by William Cohen, has just opened an office in Beijing… Since 2003 the Cohen Group has equally been employing Christine Vick. She is a former Vice President of Kissinger Associates; the consultancy founded by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and had been in charge of the firm’s Chinese business.’
Prior to the October 2005 release of Paul Volcker’s report on violations of the United Nations’ Iraq oil-for-food program, the Australian wheat exporter AWB Limited hired Cohen’s firm. AWB paid approximately $A300 million in trucking fees on its wheat contracts to a Jordanian company, Alia, which owns no trucks! The funds were funnelled to Saddam’s regime. AWB hired Cohen Group as part of its ‘strategy, ‘ code-named ‘Project Rose’, to deal with the UN inquiry headed by Paul Volcker and corruption allegations made against it by U.S. wheat farmers and ‘hostile US politicians.’ Cohen Group is not a law firm; what kind of services and representation is it providing for this criminal case?
So who are the key players at Cohen’s lobby firm, giving it its value? Well of course, a handful of powerful formers; in addition to Cohen as the top principal we have former Undersecretary of State Mark Grossman, and two formerly high-level ‘dime a dozen generals:’ General Joseph Ralston and General Paul Kern; let’s briefly look at them; shall we?
Ret. General Paul Kern
Cohen Group senior counselor is retired general Paul J. Kern, a former head of the Army Materiel Command, who recently served on a panel convened by the Defense Department to recommend improvements in how it acquires weapons systems; of course, a topic of great interest to Cohen clients.
Pentagon’s Defense Acquisition Performance Assessment Panel , DAPAP, was created to recommend changes in the awarding of military contracts. Over half of this panel is executives of large defense corporations. Among the Committee’s six members are Frank Cappuccio, VP of Lockheed Martin, and retired General Kern, who is the Senior Counselor of the Cohen Group!
When the Pentagon is informed of wasteful practices, it commonly ignores them. Congressman Walter Jones, (R-N.C.) is quoted as understating, “We’ve got an agency that is not doing its job of being a watchdog for the taxpayers.” Retired Army Reserve officer Paul Fellencer Sr. complained to the Pentagon’s fraud hot line last year about $200-million worth of outrageous overpayments for ordinary supplies. Pentagon investigators never bothered to call him and dismissed his tip as “unsubstantiated,” the news service said.
One wonders how many American citizens are aware of the fact that a ‘dime a dozen general’ such as Kern, who happens to be a Senior Counsel of a lobby firm with foreign interests and MIC representation, who happens to sit on the board of Lockheed Martin, gets to sit on a panel that monitors and advises on awarding military contracts to the private MIC companies by the Pentagon. Would it take an absolute genius to figure out that this is ‘putting a fox in charge of the hen house’? If not, then how could this get past the decision makers at the Pentagon? How come our lawmakers, those in charge of ensuring the checks and balances in our government, those we consider our representatives, sit there either unaware or unbothered by this red flag visible from a hundred miles away? What happened to ‘investigative journalists with good noses;’ were they all inflicted by congested sinuses at the same time?
Fmr. Gen. Joseph Ralston
General Joseph Ralston, one of Cohen Group’s Vice Chairmen, is on the board of Lockheed Martin, which paid the Cohen Group $550,000 in 2005, according to a Lockheed filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ralston is also a member of the 2006 Advisory Board of the American Turkish Council (ATC), and one of Turkey’s top advocates. If you think this ‘dime a dozen general’ ended one career and removed himself from the U.S. government by becoming ‘the foreign agent man,’ think again after reading the following.
On August 28, 2006, the U.S. State Department appointed the former U.S. Air Force General, current Vice Chairman of the Cohen Group, board member of American Turkish Council, registered lobbyist for Lockheed Martin, Joseph Ralston, as a “Special Envoy” for countering the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK)! Lo and behold, Ralston’s appointment came as Turkey was finalizing the purchase of 30 new Lockheed Martin F-16 aircraft valued at $3 billion, and as Turkey was due to make its decision on the $10 billion purchase of the new Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF aircraft. Coincidentally, the U.S. Congress approved the sale of the F-16s to Turkey in October 2006, shortly after Ralston’s return from Turkey.
While the implications of Ralston’s appointment caused a major stir within the Kurdish community and organizations, mainly pointing to Ralston’s position with the Turkish lobby in the U.S. (he is on the board of ATC), and within Turkey’s own communities, pointing to Ralston’s position with Lockheed Martin (he is on the board of Lockheed Martin), our own media, watchdog organizations, and congress let this gargantuan conflict of interest pass under the radar.
Our government sent this man, Ralston, as a special envoy to help resolve the highly critical Northern Iraq situation with possible dire consequences in the near future. Considering Ralston’s livelihood and his loyalties, as a member of the board of the directors of Lockheed Martin, as the vice chairman of a lobbying firm with foreign interests, as an advisor and board member for the most powerful Turkish Lobby group, ATC, who did this man represent while in Turkey as the special envoy? What interests did he really represent; Iraq’s situation, Lockheed’s livelihood, which depends on further conflicts and bloodshed; the corrupt and criminal government of Turkey and its representation via ATC; or, the furthering of the Cohen Group’s future pimping opportunities?
Why in the world did no one within the U.S. mainstream media give even the slightest coverage of this conflict of interest? Why did no one, Democrat or Republican, in our congress make a peep? Why haven’t we heard anyone asking Ralston the most important question, in dire need of an answer: ‘Who’s your daddy Ralston; boy?’ Ralston’s position is no different than what is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as: “A person conceived and born out of wedlock.” With the possibility of any one of four daddies, and without the benefit of a DNA test, how do we go about determining Ralston’s real daddy?
Fmr. Undersecretary Marc Grossman
The second Vice Chairman of Cohen’s firm is Marc Grossman, who was the U.S. Undersecretary for Political Affairs in the State Department from 2001 until 2005. From November 1994 to June 1997, he served as U.S. Ambassador to Turkey. In January 2005 Grossman resigned from his position and joined the Cohen Group. In late December 2005, Grossman joined Ihlas Holding, a large and alleged shady Turkish company which is also active in several Central Asian countries. Grossman is reported to receive $100,000 per month for his advisory position with Ihlas.’ Most and foremost, Grossman is known for his extraordinarily cozy relationship with Turkey and Israel; followed by Pakistan.
Here is Grossman as the key speaker at an ATC conference in March 2002; while Undersecretary of State; and here it is followed by Grossman’s visit to Turkey in December 2002, to approve the $3 billion U.S. aid to Turkey for the Iraq Cooperation deal. There he goes again, Grossman back to Turkey in December 2003 re: approval of Turkey’s eligibility to participate in tenders for Iraq’s reconstruction! Here is Grossman as the key speaker at an ATC Conference held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in December 2004, while Undersecretary. Here is Grossman as the guest of honor and key speaker at the American Turkish Society dinner in New York in February 2005, while Undersecretary. Here he is again, at the lavish Turkish Ottoman Dinner Gala in November 2005. Here is Grossman at the award dinner gala by the Turkish lobby group, the Assembly of American Turkish Association (ATAA), in Chicago, receiving his award in November 2005. Here is Grossman as the key speaker at the ATC annual conference in March 2006, and later, in June 2006, at the MERIA Conference to discuss Turkey’s importance to the U.S. & Israel. This list can go on for pages and pages; but I believe you all get it; right?
Here is a comment by Wolfowitz during his visit to Turkey:”I’m delighted to be back in Turkey and so is my colleague Marc Grossman, who feels like Turkey is a second home.” Second home indeed, Mr. Grossman!
Please do not make the grave and naive mistake of assuming that Grossman found and obtained his highly lucrative and questionable positions after his resignation in January 2005. Within two months after his confident resignation, this boy got the vice chairmanship of the Cohen Group. Only six months later, Grossman ended up securing a ‘special advisory’ position for a foreign company that reported his monthly fee at $100,000 a month. The industrious Grossman seems to be juggling so many balls simultaneously: numerous foreign sponsored dinner speeches, the demanding pimping activities of Cohen’s firm, the very ‘special advising’ of a shady foreign company
We all have a pretty good idea how long and how much work it takes to secure that level of income and those positions. Did Grossman beat the odds and get lucky as soon as he got out of the State Department? Did he hit the jackpot? Or, did he diligently and industriously work at it, while in his position as the ambassador to Turkey and as Deputy Secretary of State? Did he sell his soul while under his oath of office? Did he sell our government’s soul? Did he sell our nation and its interests? If so; for what and how much?
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Long gone are the days when generals were content to retire and go back home where they held their heads high as honorable patriots and heroes who had served their nation; where they marched in their towns’ parades as proud distinguished men and women who had fulfilled their duty to the people. Today, as we clearly see, they perceive themselves and their authority as a commodity; they go about marketing their worth (nationally and internationally; foreign and domestic) long before they leave their positions as public servants.
The same goes for many of our statesmen. While in office, Grossman and others like him appear to have one objective in mind and in action: to make sure that their future employer who is waiting for them on the other side of the revolving door will receive special and lucrative arrangements so that they can be compensated handsomely later.
In Part1, we briefly described the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), established to insure that the American public and its lawmakers know the source of propaganda intended to sway public opinion, policy, and laws; and the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) of 1995, which was passed to make the regulation and disclosure of lobbying the federal government more effective. The article emphasized that both of these cosmetic laws are filled with exemptions and loopholes that allow minimization of, and in some cases complete escape from, warranted scrutiny, and have serious loopholes and limitations.
The Cohen Group is an excellent case, illustrating the futility of FARA, since the firm does not have to be registered. They can claim that Turkey is not their ‘direct’ client; they can argue that they are not getting paid ‘directly’ by the government of Turkey or any other foreign entity or government. They certainly can; no matter that Grossman receives hundreds of thousands of dollars from a dubious Turkish company. Does Cohen discount Grossman’s Vice Chairmanship salary accordingly? No matter that half a million dollars per year from their client Lockheed Martin is mainly for services provided to Turkey, and having the group’s second chairman serve on Lockheed’s board is another way to get around all restrictions. The incestuous relationship twists and turns: The Cohen Group on the board of ATC, The Cohen Group a paying member client of ATC, The Cohen Group as Lockheed’s lobbyist, Cohen’s men on the board of Lockheed, Lockheed on the board of ATC, Lockheed also a paying client of ATCHow is your head; spinning yet?
We are proud of the large turnout at the ballot box for the midterm elections a few weeks ago; a sign of participatory citizenship. Perhaps we’ll be repeating this phenomenon, if not increasing it, for the presidential elections in two years; another means to demonstrate our ‘democratic government process in action’ for badly needed change. But who really runs our country? Who really shapes our public policies and determines the flow of our hard-earned tax money entrusted to our government? If you had the patience to go through this article, which sheds light on only a fragment of what really takes place behind our backs, within the halls of our government, in all three branches, you would start questioning your significance as a voter and taxpayer, and you would begin wondering whether you are governed by who you think you are.
The foreign influence, the lobbyists, the current highly positioned civil servants who are determined future ‘wanna be’ lobbyists, and the fat cats of the Military Industrial Complex, operate successfully under the radar, with unlimited reach and power, with no scrutiny, while selling your interests, benefiting from your tax money, and serving the highest bidders regardless of what or who they may be. This deep state seems to operate at all levels of our government; from the President’s office to Congress, from the military quarters to the civil servants’ offices. Let’s let Marcus Cicero’s timeless warning from over two thousand years ago put the finishing touch on this article:
“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder[er] is less to fear.”
SIBEL EDMONDS is the founder and director of National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC). Ms. Edmonds worked as a language specialist for the FBI. During her work with the bureau, she discovered and reported serious acts of security breaches, cover-ups, and intentional blocking of intelligence that had national security implications. After she reported these acts to FBI management, she was retaliated against by the FBI and ultimately fired in March 2002. Since that time, court proceedings on her case have been blocked by the assertion of “State Secret Privilege”; the Congress of the United States has been gagged and prevented from any discussion of her case through retroactive re-classification by the Department of Justice. Ms. Edmonds is fluent in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani; and has a MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, and a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University. PEN American Center awarded Ms. Edmonds the 2006 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Copyright 2006, National Security Whistleblowers Coalition. Information in this release may be freely distributed and published provided that all such distributions make appropriate attribution to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.