Wednesday, December 30, 2009

UNDER THE RUG: What Project Censored Missed and MSM Didn't Want You to Know in 2009

Every year for the last 34 years, Project Censored has done a wonderful job highlighting stories that seems to have skipped the attention of our mainstream media (MSM) outlets. Recently they named their list for the Top 25 Censored Stories for 2009. While each of these stories is a valuable example of what Project Censored illuminates best, (not reporting literally censored stories, but stories that were "the most important underreported stories" of the year) there were a couple stories they missed that I consider too important to ignore. Both stories are related and revolve around a Deep Politics scandal for the ages.

STORY #1: Sibel Edmonds Testifies Under Oath - Grossman & Armitage Leaked Identity of Valerie Plame's Cover Company to the Target of an FBI Investigation in Summer of 2001

This is what should have been the headlines shouted across the globe on August 8, 2009. Not that 2009 was the first year Sibel Edmonds should have been front page news. She has been telling her story about the secrets she discovered while working at the FBI to anyone willing to listen since she was fired in 2002. I covered the history of what has happened to her in the 2nd edition of American Judas, Time for change at Democratic Underground also has a wonderful summary of her life experience. If I were working for Project Censored, I would nominate Sibel Edmonds for the Top Censored Story of the Decade.

Her story took a new turn in July of 2009. First came the revelation on the Mike Malloy radio show guest hosted by Brad Friedman, where Edmonds said that the US maintained 'intimate relations' with Bin Laden, and the Taliban, "all the way until that day of September 11." While this story made some waves in the left-wing blogosphere before fading away, things heated up again in August when Sibel Edmonds was subpoenaed for a case before the Ohio Elections Commission; Schmidt v. Krikorian. That she received a request to provide sworn deposition and affidavit testimony in court in and of itself should have been headline news; this was the first time during the Obama administration that an opportunity arose where her attorneys requested that Attorney General Holder review the state secrets privilege invoked in her case and reverse the decision made under former President Bush. While the FBI attempted to block her testimony with a two page letter of objection to her attorneys and the Department of Justice pressured the Ohio Commission to drop the subpoenae, ultimately no one showed up in court to stop her deposition and on August 8, 2009, she provided what any rational person would describe as explosive testimony.

While this testimony did receive attention from liberal media outlets like Huffington Post and a subsequent cover article in conservative media outlet American Conservative, MSM gave the news a complete blackout. Too bad, they missed out on informing the world about how Valerie Plame's CIA cover company, Brewster Jennings & Associates, initially had their cover blown:

"Basically," she said, "I told them how [third-ranking State Dept. official in the Bush Admin and former Ambassador to Turkey] Marc Grossman disclosed" that Brewster Jennings was a CIA front company to the target of an FBI investigation. "And it was under oath and that some lives may have been lost."
"Novak has nothing to do with it. Wilson has nothing to do with it. Valerie Plame has nothing to do with it. The whole operation has to do with something totally different and it had to do with the American Turkish Council and the Turkish clients who were about to hire Brewster Jennings as an analyst ... and Grossman found out about it, and tipped off his diplomatic contact who was a target of the FBI counter-intelligence, and that person notified the ISI [Pakistani intelligence agency], etc."
She says that Brewster Jenning was then "dismantled as soon as the FBI notified the CIA," after which "FBI requested CIA to do a damage assessment, to see if lives would be lost."
All of this, she re-iterated, was "long before, three years before," Novak outed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative in his newspaper column.
Brewster Jennings was "absolutely" dismantled in August of 2001.
"Grossman and [Richard] Armitage, they are the only two people involved. Later on Cheney and his people may have used it, but it had nothing to do with those other things, [Brewster Jennings] was completely destroyed and gone by the summer of 2001."
For those not fully up on Edmonds' story, her job at the FBI was to listen to wiretaps in the counter-intel department, to translate foreign targets caught on those taps. Presumably, that's where her details on the destruction of Brewster Jennings comes from. She was hired by the agency shortly after 9/11.
Bombshell enough for ya? Let's see if anyone in the corporate media bothers to agree, and/or pick up on this --- now that it's officially "on the record" and, as Edmonds took pains to point out: under oath!

Remember when Dick Armitage attributed his leak regarding Valerie Plame's covert status to being a gossip? Something tells me if a real reporter like Brad Friedman had MSM exposure, that story wouldn't hold water.
Before I get to STORY #2, I want to post a quote from the 2nd Edition of American Judas that shows how these UNDER THE RUG stories dovetail:
Essentially, there is only one investigation – a very big one, an all-inclusive one. Completely by chance, I, a lowly translator, stumbled over one piece of it. But I can tell you there are a lot of people involved, a lot of ranking officials, and a lot of illegal activities that include multi-billion-dollar drug-smuggling operations, black-market nuclear sales to terrorists and unsavory regimes, you name it. And of course a lot of people from abroad are involved. It's massive. So to do this investigation, to really do it, they will have to look into everything… That's the beauty of it. You can start from the AIPAC angle. You can start from the Plame case. You can start from my case. They all end up going to the same place, and they revolve around the same nucleus of people. There may be a lot of them, but it is one group. And they are very dangerous for all of us.

-Sibel Edmonds
What Sibel Edmonds is talking about is what Peter Dale Scott defines as Deep Politics. As it exists today in the United States of America, it might more appropriately be termed a Deep State, as opposed to a public state, such as what was exposed in a 1996 scandal known as Susurluk. One aspect of how the Deep State exists in America has been revealed through the AIPAC spy scandal, which was brought to it's ignominious conclusion this year:

STORY #2: Larry Franklin's 12 Year Sentence Reduced to Probation - Never Served One Day in Prison After Pleading Guilty to Passing Classified Info to Israel
As I gave credit above to the excellent reporting skills of Brad Friedman where the story of Sibel Edmonds is concerned, so shall I give credit to Luke Ryland for covering what most people missed regarding Larry Franklin. He also has done wonderful work reporting on Sibel Edmonds too, but he seemed to be the only reporter highlighting the end of the Larry Franklin story:

Friday, June 19, 2009

Larry Franklin, Free at Last

"For those who missed it (because it is not being reported in the MSM) Larry Franklin, the Pentagon AIPAC spy who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to twelve years in prison, has had his sentence reduced to probation and ten months of community confinement, which is presumed to be some kind of halfway house or possibly freedom to stay at home with some kind of monitoring bracelet. The adjustment was made last night by the same judge who let Rosen and Weissman go free in the AIPAC trial that was recently terminated without a conviction. Franklin did zero prison time as he was allowed to stay out of jail because of his willingness to testify in the trial. According to Franklin’s lawyer, Plato Cacheris the poor man has been having a rough time lately as no one wants to hire him… Cacheris ain’t cheap. Wonder who paid the bill?"
"(Larry Franklin) didn't know at the time that Rosen and Weissman worked for the pro-Israel lobbying group (AIPAC)."
Too funny for words.
More from Politico:
"(Franklin's lawyer) Cacheris's description of Franklin's cooperation also produced some intriguing news.

"He's given them other cases involving people who cannot come into this country," the defense lawyer said cryptically.

Cacheris also suggested that Franklin was the target of witness tampering in the Aipac case. "Someone came to approach Franklin to have him, in effect, disappear," the defense attorney said. He said Franklin immediately reported the incident to authorities.

Cacheris did not elaborate on the episode, but it could help explain why the FBI sought to interview Jewish leaders several years ago about attempts to provide financial assistance or employment to Rosen and Weissman.

In response to a question from Ellis Thursday, Franklin confirmed speculation that his rendezvous with Rosen and Weissman was arranged by Michael Makovsky, a former energy analyst for the Pentagon. Makovsky, who has left the government, was not charged in the case and was expected to be a witness at the trial of Rosen and Weissman."
Makovsky's brother and father are both in Sibel Edmonds' State Secrets Privilege Gallery.

This is the pathetic end of a story I covered on this blog as far as I could stomach. For anyone who missed it (which is most of the free world) I shall reprint it in full:

Friday, May 8, 2009

Where in the World is Larry Franklin?

During the period of November 2008 to January 2009, when Barack Obama was still a President-Elect and George W. Bush was the lamest of lame ducks, speculation was rampant that Scooter Libby would top the list of last minute pardons. I didn't put much stock in such predictions because it seemed so pointless: the sentence had already been commuted, Libby would never serve a day for his crimes. The one felon I was certain would get a pardon was Larry Franklin. It seemed to me Bush had the most to lose from not pardoning him. To review:

Lawrence Anthony Franklin is a former U.S. Air Force Reserve colonel who has pleaded guilty to passing information about U.S. policy towards Iran to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the foremost pro-Israel lobbying organization in the U.S, while he was working for the Defense Department. He claims this was an attempt to get the information to the United States National Security Council, which he was not able to do through regular Pentagon channels. Two former employees of AIPAC (Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman) also faced charges (that would later be dropped) that they assisted him in the AIPAC espionage scandal and passing classified national defense information to an Israeli diplomat Naor Gilon. On January 20, 2006, Judge T.S. Ellis, III sentenced Franklin to 151 months (almost 13 years) in prison and fined him $10,000.

I assumed Bush had everything to gain from pardoning a loyal neo-con who had been rotting in prison since January 20, 2006. There was one problem with this assumption that I discovered recently while investigating the revelations that Sibel Edmonds has provided on this scandal reported by Luke Ryland: LARRY FRANKLIN IS NOT IN JAIL!

One other interesting part of the interview, highlighted by Mizgin, is that indicted spy Larry Franklin was working with Richard Perle and Douglas Feith at the ATC way back in 1994. According to Sibel, Franklin was "one of the top people providing information and packages during 2000 and 2001." Despite many media reports to the contrary, Larry Franklin is not currently in jail,(emphasis added) and it is not clear what will happen to him if the trial of Rosen & Weissman from AIPAC doesn't proceed as planned in June.

I clicked on the link where I boldprinted and this came up:

Inmate Locator - Locate Federal inmates from 1982 to present
Name Register # Age-Race-Sex Release Date

Where the hell could he have disappeared to?! I kept investigating and today I came across this revelation: LARRY FRANKLIN IS STILL A FREE MAN!

In this interview at, CQ's Jeff Stein - who broke the new allegations about U.S. Rep. Jane Harman's alleged involvement in seeking leniency for Rosen and Weissman - says that the Pentagon leaker at the heart of the affair, Larry Franklin, is in jail, doing 12.5 years and moreover, the sentence is relatively lenient, only because Franklin is expected to cooperate at trial.

That might have come as a surprise to Franklin, who was seen last week hanging around the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, sporting camouflage pants and boots (the weather has been very weird in DC of late. And he is a former Air Force colonel.) I mean, the Ronald Reagan Building is less than inspiring, it's true, but a prison it's not.

(Jeff's not the only one who's made this mistake - just the latest. I keep hearing references to Franklin being in jail.)

Franklin was sentenced to just over 12.5 years, it is true - and that was by all accounts not a lenient sentence - but his time was deferred until after he testifies at the Rosen and Weissman trial. I heard from sources at the time that prosecutors would recommend a reduction to three years should he cooperate, and that Judge T.S. Ellis was likely to take the deal.

But that was over three years ago. And now the case might not even go to trial. And if it does, I've heard that prosecutors are reluctant to use him.

This, I've heard, is remarkable; prosecutors pull key witnesses only if they've done serious damage to their credibility while awaiting trial (for instance, a repentant mob hitman who just can't break the habit.) Franklin's abided by the conditions of his sentencing, including avoiding reporters like the plague.

So why not use him? His outbursts during his allocution when he pleaded guilty might be illustrative: The promise of the crux of the government case shouting out "it wasn't classified and isn't classified" when he's on the stand must be giving prosecutors the willies.

So what does this mean for Franklin? His crimes are not unserious: He swore to keep the secrets he leaked not only to Rosen and Weissman, but to Naor Gilon (the Israeli diplomat coming soon to an international incident near you.) (all emphasis mine)Franklin's unhappy profile as a prosecution witness might not necessarily mean he isn't "helpful" - just truthful.

But 12.5 years, especially after being held in limbo for more than three years?

And a deal's a deal, right?

We'll soon find out.

Unfortunately, though it almost slipped under the radar, we soon found out that the charges against Rosen and Weissman were dropped:

WASHINGTON — A case that began four years ago with the tantalizing and volatile premise that officials of a major pro-Israel lobbying organization were illegally trafficking in sensitive national security information collapsed on Friday as prosecutors asked that all charges be withdrawn.


While Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman trafficked in facts, ideas and rumor, they had done so with the full awareness of officials in the United States and Israel, who found they often helped lubricate the wheels of decision-making between two close, but sometimes quarrelsome, friends.


The investigation of Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman also surfaced recently in news reports that Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat long involved in intelligence matters, was overheard on a government wiretap discussing the case. As reported by Congressional Quarterly, which covers Capitol Hill, and The New York Times, Ms. Harman was overheard agreeing with an Israeli intelligence operative to try to intercede with Bush administration officials to obtain leniency for Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman in exchange for help in persuading Democratic leaders to make her chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee.


Over government objections, Judge Ellis had also ruled that the defense could call as witnesses several senior Bush administration foreign policy officials to demonstrate that what occurred was part of the continuing process of information trading and did not involve anything nefarious. The defense lawyers were planning to call as witnesses former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Stephen J. Hadley, the former national security adviser; and several others. Government policy makers indicated they were clearly uncomfortable with senior officials’ testifying in open court over policy deliberations.


So chalk up another rug-sweeping victory for the Deep State. They got to Judge Ellis, who if you read the text of the sentence against Franklin completely reversed the logic he used to sentence Franklin by setting the standard that Rosen and Weissman had to be proven to try to harm the security of the United States to be convicted, whereas Ellis admonished Franklin for providing the defense that he meant no harm! So Rosen and Weissman, along with their probable co-conspirators Hadley and Rice go free.

But what about Franklin? His freedom was contingent upon his testimony at the Rosen and Weissman trials. Now that there will be no trials, does anyone know where Franklin is now? While I have to give credit to Counterpunch and for exposing the bullshit behind the excuses for the dismissal, neither have reported correctly the current status of Larry Franklin. Only Luke Ryland has been staying on top of this:

One other point: None of the coverage today mentions the fact that Larry Franklin is currently a free man, and that his eventual sentence was supposed to be dependent on him co-operating. What happens to Franklin now? And what happens to all of the other evidence he has given FBI counter-intelligence in the meantime? Will that ever be acted upon?
Posted by lukery at 5/02/2009 10:33:00 AM
Labels: AIPAC, Larry Franklin, Rosen, Weissman

Robert Paulsen said...

Thank you so much for staying on top of this. It boggles my mind that nobody, not in MSM, not on any other alternative media internet site, NOBODY EXCEPT YOU, seems to be aware of this oversight. I've tried posting about this on DU and everyone there seems to be unaware as well.

Three years after being sentenced to 12.5 years in jail, LARRY FRANKLIN IS STILL A FREE MAN!

I'll keep shouting out about this injustice if you keep researching. Any updates as to Larry Franklin's current whereabouts? I'd like to see at least one person pay for this scandal.
May 8, 2009 5:50 AM
lukery said...

RP - Franklin was last seen in DC. I suspect he still lives there.
May 8, 2009 8:54 AM

UPDATE: From Josh Gerstein -

Judge formally drops case against pro-Israel lobbyists


The dismissal aspect of Ellis' order, which was posted on the court's docket today, is essentially a formality. What was more interesting is that he said he is expecting some kind of action from the government regarding Larry Franklin, a Pentagon analyst who pled guilty early on in the case.

Ellis sentenced Franklin in 2006 to more than 12 years in prison for disclosing classified information to Rosen, Weissman and others. However, Franklin agreed to cooperate with the government and never reported to jail.

"It is further ordered that the government is directed to advise the Court, by 5:00 p.m., Thursday May 14, 2009, regarding when it contemplates filing an appropriate motion with respect to defendant Franklin," Ellis's new order says.
(emphasis added)

Lawyers involved in the case expected Franklin to seek a reduction in his sentence once the trial against Rosen and Weissman was complete. Now that the trial will never happen, it's an open question of how much of a sentence reduction Franklin will get. Presumably, it's not his fault the case was abandoned. In any event, Ellis will have to rule on any sentence reduction. The judge may have to make a hypothetical judgment about how much Franklin's testimony may have helped in a trial that will never take place.

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