Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #522 The Safari Club

Record­ed August 14, 2005

Con­tin­u­ing with analy­sis of the Fifth Col­umn that assist­ed the Islamo-fas­cists who per­pe­trat­ed the 9/11 attacks, the pro­gram access­es infor­ma­tion from a VERY impor­tant new book Pre­lude to Ter­ror by Joseph J. Tren­to. In this book, the author sets forth infor­ma­tion about the Safari Club, an “out­sourced” intel­li­gence net­work in which the Saud­is financed a pri­va­tized espi­onage estab­lish­ment that dom­i­nat­ed Amer­i­can intel­li­gence oper­a­tions for the bet­ter part of a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry. Uti­liz­ing the Sau­di GID and the Pak­istani ISI as proxy agen­cies, this net­work ran the Iran-Con­tra, Iraq­gate and Afghan mujahideen efforts. The most sig­nif­i­cant out­growth of this net­work was the birth of al Qae­da, with all that has result­ed from its con­cep­tion. One of the points that Tren­to makes is the fact that out­sourc­ing U.S. intel­li­gence oper­a­tions elim­i­nat­ed the nec­es­sary func­tion of counterintelligence—monitoring one’s allies in order to ver­i­fy their loy­al­ty and com­pe­tence. The fail­ure to con­form to this basic tenet of intel­li­gence has haunt­ed the U.S., and will con­tin­ue to do so. It is impor­tant to note that the elder George Bush and the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tions were at the core of the Safari Club. The Safari Club was specif­i­cal­ly cre­at­ed to cir­cum­vent Con­gres­sion­al and even Pres­i­den­tial over­sight! Note that Mr. Emory incor­rect­ly cit­ed FTR#367 in his con­clud­ing remarks. The broad­cast that details the sub­ver­sion of France in the run-up to World War II is FTR#366. For more about the Fifth Col­umn described here, see—among oth­er programs—FTR#’s 412, 462, 464, 467, 474.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The role of Prince Tur­ki (Osama bin Laden’s case offi­cer) in the Safari Club; the trans­fer of ultra-secret NSA soft­ware to the Saud­is through the Safari Club; the capa­bil­i­ty of this NSA soft­ware to com­pro­mise the U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty oper­a­tions and law enforce­ment; the use of the Safari Club by the Saud­is to spy on the Unit­ed States; warn­ings by US intel­li­gence ana­lysts that we were back­ing the wrong Islam­ic ele­ments in Afghanistan and that they would turn on us after the Sovi­ets were defeat­ed; the over­rul­ing of State Depart­ment employ­ee Michael Spring­man when he tried to pre­vent dan­ger­ous Islamists from gain­ing visas to vis­it the Unit­ed States; the Safari Club’s devel­op­ment of the BCCI as a finan­cial base for fund­ing high­ly ille­gal covert oper­a­tions; the use of the Safari Club to devel­op the Islam­ic bomb (a sub­ject that is cov­ered at length in FTR#524.)

1. Begin­ning with a sum­ma­ry intro­duc­tion of the mate­r­i­al in Pre­lude to Ter­ror (the superb, vital­ly impor­tant book from which the mate­r­i­al in this pro­gram is excerpt­ed), the pro­gram high­lights the fun­da­men­tal theme of the pri­va­ti­za­tion of U.S. intel­li­gence. As dis­cussed through­out the pro­gram, the “out­sourc­ing” of much of U.S. intel­li­gence to a Sau­di-dom­i­nat­ed net­work called the Safari Club set the stage for the events of 9/11. The Safari Club appears to have been an essen­tial ele­ment of the Fifth Col­umn inside the U.S. and its nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment. That Fifth Col­umn great­ly facil­i­tat­ed the attacks of 9/11. “Pre­lude to Ter­ror will focus on how the pri­va­ti­za­tion of intel­li­gence meta­mor­phosed from an instru­ment of lim­it­ed appli­ca­tion in the 1950’s into a broad-based core oper­at­ing mod­el of sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tions in the 1970’s and ‘80’s. Simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, a secret alliance was forged with Sau­di intel­li­gence. This alliance was orches­trat­ed by CIA covert man­age­ment, with­out the knowl­edge of Con­gress, and, in some cas­es, even the pres­i­dent. Ulti­mate­ly, as these two devel­op­ments became increas­ing­ly inter­twined, a dynam­ic of cat­a­stroph­ic pro­por­tions was cre­at­ed, one that left the Unit­ed States with a severe­ly com­pro­mised intel­li­gence appa­ra­tus in the Mid­dle East. . . .”
(Pre­lude to Ter­ror; by Joseph Tren­to; Copy­right 2005 by Joseph J. Tren­to; Car­roll & Graf [HC]; ISBN 0–7867-1464–6; p. xi.)

2. The Safari Club began dur­ing the peri­od when the elder George Bush was direc­tor of the CIA. Long an inti­mate of the Sau­di pow­er elite, the elder Bush (like his son) was deeply con­nect­ed to the Sau­di intel­li­gence milieu at the core of the Safari Club. “ . . . Dur­ing George Bush’s Zap­a­ta-Off­shore years, he had met most of the Gulf region’s roy­als and had devel­oped close per­son­al rela­tion­ships with sev­er­al of them. When Sau­di mon­ey began flow­ing into Texas in the 1970’s, Bush and his fam­i­ly became very friend­ly with the most influ­en­tial Saud­is liv­ing in the Unit­ed States.” (Ibid.; p. 100.)

3. One of the Sau­di intel­li­gence chiefs that func­tioned at the House of Saud’s end of the Safari net­work was Kamal Adham. When pressed about his rela­tion­ship with Adham, Bush dis­sem­bled. “The most impor­tant friend­ship Bush had was with a qui­et, dig­ni­fied man named Sheikh Kamal Adham, Direc­tor of Sau­di Intel­li­gence, whom Bush had met through his father. Bush has told reporters, ‘I nev­er met Kamal Adham per­son­al­ly.’ But accord­ing to lawyers for the late Sau­di intel­li­gence head and sev­er­al offi­cials at the CIA who served under Bush, there were sev­er­al offi­cial meet­ings inside and out­side the Unit­ed States, both before and after Bush was the DCI. ‘Bush and Kamal were old friends. I was present when they met in New York when Bush was still Unit­ed Nations Ambas­sador,’ Sarkis Soghana­lian said. Bush and Adham shared a fas­ci­na­tion with intel­li­gence. Bush also took a deep inter­est in the sheikh’s Amer­i­can-edu­cat­ed nephew, HRH Prince Tur­ki bin Faisal Al Sa’ud.” (Idem.)

4. Even­tu­al­ly, Adham was suc­ceed­ed by Prince Tur­ki, who ran Osama bin Laden for many years, both before and after the Afghan war against the Sovi­ets. (For more about the rela­tion­ship between Prince Tur­ki and Osama bin Laden, see FTR#343.) “Prince Tuki had been a sub­ject of CIA inter­est ever since his father had sent him to prep school at the Lawrenceville School in New Jer­sey. Agency tal­ent spot­ters on the fac­ul­ty at George­town Uni­ver­si­ty kept close track of Tur­ki until he dropped out of George­town Uni­ver­si­ty to return home at the out­break of the 1967 war with Israel. After lat­er com­plet­ing his edu­ca­tion in Eng­land, Tur­ki again returned home to pre­pare him­self to even­tu­al­ly suc­ceed his uncle-Kamal Adham as Direc­tor of Sau­di intel­li­gence.” (Idem.)

5. Among the part­ners Tur­ki had in his joint oper­a­tions with the off-the shelf intel­li­gence oper­a­tions with ele­ments of CIA were the asso­ciates of Edwin Wilson—Frank Ter­pil, Theodore Shack­ley and Thomas Clines, as well as their Cuban asso­ciates. (For more about this cast of char­ac­ters, see—among oth­er pro­grams–RFA#’s 4, 29, 30, avail­able from Spit­fire.) “ ‘On his vis­its, here,’ Robert Crow­ley recalled, ‘Agency man­age­ment made Tur­ki wel­come, know­ing full well that at some point Sau­di Arabia’s Gen­er­al Intel­li­gence Depart­ment [GID] would fall under his con­trol.’ As a young Sau­di bureau­crat, Prince Tur­ki was cul­ti­vat­ed by var­i­ous CIA oper­a­tives, includ­ing Shack­ley, Clines, and Te

rpil. In the ear­ly 1970’s, when Ter­pil and Wil­son first start­ed oper­a­tions in Libya, Ter­pil set Wil­son up with a Gene­va lawyer named Robert Tur­ren­ti­ni, who also han­dled bank­ing mat­ters for Tur­ki. Ter­pil told Wil­son that he went back years with Tur­ki through Turki’s per­son­al assis­tant. When Wil­son need­ed finan­cial back­ing in sev­er­al large-scale oper­a­tions, Prince Tur­ki put up the cash. In 1992, Wil­son said he shared mil­lions of dol­lars with Tur­ki in a Swiss bank account from an old oper­a­tion.” (Ibid.; pp. 100–101.)

6. The offi­cial ratio­nale for the estab­lish­ment of the Safari Club was the alleged hand­i­cap­ping of U.S. intel­li­gence by Con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tions of the 1970’s. Not men­tioned in the pas­sage quot­ed here is the fact that the House Select Com­mit­tee on Assas­si­na­tions was estab­lished at this time, look­ing into the assas­si­na­tions of Pres­i­dent Kennedy and Dr. Mar­tin Luther King. It is Mr. Emory’s view that this inves­ti­ga­tion is the one that most vexed U.S. intel­li­gence, not the tame Church Com­mit­tee or the even tamer Rock­e­feller Com­mis­sion. “Both Prince Tur­ki and Sheikh Kamal Adham would play enor­mous roles in ser­vic­ing a spy net­work designed to replace the offi­cial CIA while it was under Con­gres­sion­al scruti­ny between the time of Water­gate and the end of the Carter admin­is­tra­tion. The idea of using the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly to bypass the Amer­i­can Con­sti­tu­tion did not orig­i­nate in the King­dom. Adham was ini­tial­ly approached by one of the most respect­ed and pow­er­ful men in Wash­ing­ton, Clark Clif­ford, who rose to pow­er under Har­ry Tru­man and had enjoyed a rela­tion­ship with the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty for years. ‘Clark Clif­ford approached Kamal Adham and asked that the Saud­is con­sid­er set­ting up an infor­mal intel­li­gence net­work out­side the Unit­ed States dur­ing the inves­ti­ga­tions,’ Robert Crow­ley said. Crow­ley, in his role as the CIA’s liai­son to the cor­po­rate world, was privy to the plan, in which world­wide covert oper­a­tions for the Agency were fund­ed through a host of Sau­di bank­ing and char­i­ty enter­pris­es. Sev­er­al top U.S. mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence offi­cials direct­ed the oper­a­tions from posi­tions they held over­seas, notably for­mer CIA direc­tor Richard Helms, at this time Ambas­sador to Iran.” (Ibid.; p. 101.)

7. Next, we see still more about the links between Edwin Wil­son and asso­ciates and the Safari Club. Note that Thomas Clines claimed that the oper­a­tions under­tak­en in con­junc­tion with the Safari Club were ‘too sen­si­tive to be revealed.’ Ille­gal­i­ty appears to have been one of the things that could not be ‘revealed.’ “Ed Wil­son and his asso­ciates sup­port­ed the net­work. Accord­ing to Wil­son, Prince Tur­ki was used to finance sev­er­al of his intel­li­gence oper­a­tions dur­ing this time peri­od. Accord­ing to Wil­son, the amounts were in the mil­lions of dol­lars. Accord­ing to Tom Clines, the rela­tion­ship between the Saud­is and the pri­vate U.S. intel­li­gence net­work that grew out of the activ­i­ties of Clines and his col­leagues was ‘vital . . . these oper­a­tions were so sen­si­tive, they could not be revealed.’ Mike Pil­grim, who also played a role in the oper­a­tions of the pri­vate net­work dur­ing the 1980’s said, ‘It got to the point where we were used to sup­port GID oper­a­tions when the CIA could not.’ Accord­ing to those involved, there was no line drawn between what was offi­cial and what became per­son­al busi­ness.” (Idem.)

8. “Prince Tur­ki him­self acknowl­edged the pri­vate net­work for the first time in an unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly can­did speech giv­en to George­town Uni­ver­si­ty alum­ni in Feb­ru­ary 2002: ‘And now I will go back to the secret that I promised to tell you. In 1976, after the Water­gate mat­ters took place here, your intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty was lit­er­al­ly tied up by Con­gress. It could not do any­thing. It could not send spies, it could not write reports, and it could not pay mon­ey. In order to com­pen­sate for that, a group of coun­tries got togeth­er in the hope of fight­ing Com­mu­nism and estab­lished what was called the Safari Club. The Safari Club includ­ed France, Egypt, Sau­di Ara­bia, Moroc­co, and Iran. The prin­ci­pal aim of this club was that we would share infor­ma­tion with each oth­er and help each oth­er in coun­ter­ing Sovi­et influ­ence world­wide, and espe­cial­ly in Africa. In the 1970’s, there were still some coun­tries in Africa that were com­ing out of colo­nial­ism, among them Mozam­bique, Ango­la, and I think Dji­bouti. The main con­cern of every­body was that the spread of Com­mu­nism was tied up. Con­gress had lit­er­al­ly par­a­lyzed the work not only of the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty but of its for­eign ser­vice as well. And so the King­dom, with these coun­tries, helped in some way, I believe, to keep the world safe at the time when the Unit­ed States was not able to do that. That, I think, is a secret that many of you don’t know. I am not say­ing it because I look to tell secrets, but because the time has gone and many of the actors are gone as well.’” (Ibid.; p. 102.)

9. As recy­cled Sau­di petro-dol­lars assumed an increas­ing­ly large posi­tion with­in the U.S. econ­o­my, the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly under­wrote U.S. intel­li­gence. The rela­tion­ship between eco­nom­ic rela­tion­ships and the con­fig­u­ra­tion of the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty is an impor­tant one. Note that one of the prin­ci­pal finan­cial insti­tu­tions involved in the machi­na­tions of the Safari Club is the Rig­gs Bank. For more about Rig­gs Bank, use the search func­tion to locate past “For The Record” broad­casts deal­ing with this sub­ject. Pres­i­dent Bush’s uncle Jonathan is a direc­tor of the Bank. “Turki’s ‘secret’ was that the Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly had tak­en over intel­li­gence financ­ing for the Unit­ed States. It was dur­ing this peri­od that the Saud­is opened up a series of covert accounts at Rig­gs Bank in Wash­ing­ton. Start­ing in the mid-1970’s, bank inves­ti­ga­tors say, these accounts show that tens of mil­lions of dol­lars were being trans­ferred between CIA oper­a­tional accounts and accounts con­trolled by Sau­di com­pa­nies and the Sau­di embassy itself. Tur­ki worked direct­ly with agency oper­a­tives like Sarkis Soghana­lian and Ed Wil­son, ‘If I need­ed mon­ey for an oper­a­tion, Prince Tur­ki made it avail­able,’ Wil­son said. Clifford’s request for Sau­di help came at a very crit­i­cal time for the roy­al fam­i­ly. Although the House of Saud had long pla­cat­ed domes­tic con­ser­v­a­tive cler­ics by allow­ing an edu­ca­tion sys­tem that tar­get­ed the West—especially the Unit­ed States—as evil, they were still death­ly afraid of the estab­lish­ment of any Mus­lim fun­da­men­tal­ist regime in the region. Their inter­ests includ­ed keep­ing the shah in charge in Teheran and keep­ing an eye on an increas­ing­ly mil­i­tant Libya. Although nor­mal­ly Israeli and Sau­di inter­ests wee in con­flict, in this case they con­verged. It was in the inter­est of Albert Hakim, Frank Terpil’s some­time employ­er, to serve as a bridge between the two.” (Ibid.; pp. 102–103.)

10. “Sarkis Soghana­lian was close to Sheikh Kamal Adham dur­ing this peri­od. Adham fre­quent­ly asked Soghana­lian ‘about what kind of shape the shah was in. he com­plained the CIA was not giv­ing him the full pic­ture of how the shah was los­ing con­trol.’ Adham believed that that bind­ing Sau­di Ara­bia with the Unit­ed States would increase the House of Saud’s chances of sur­viv­ing an Islam­ic resur­gence. ‘Believe me,’ Soghana­lian said, ‘Kamal did not do these things out of char­i­ty, but sur­vival.’” (Ibid.; p. 103.)

11. Note that among the ben­e­fits for Sau­di intel­li­gence was a com­pre­hen­sive knowl­edge of U.S. intel­li­gence oper­a­tions. Cou­pled with the Saud­is’ acqui­si­tion of sen­si­tive key­word soft­ware devel­oped by the NSA, the foun­da­tion was laid for a deep pen­e­tra­tion of, and sub­ver­sion of U.S. intel­li­gence by those ele­ments of Sau­di intel­li­gence, Pak­istani intel­li­gence and the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood that were sym­pa­thet­ic to Osama bin Laden. “Adham worked close­ly with George Bush on the plan to pro­vide covert bank­ing ser­vices for CIA oper­a­tions. Like most things the Saud­is do, there were ben­e­fits for the roy­al fam­i­ly. The arrange­ment would give the Saud­is a com­pre­hen­sive

knowl­edge of U.S. intel­li­gence oper­a­tions. [Empha­sis added.] In 1976, when the CIA need­ed an influx of cash for oper­a­tions, Adham agreed to allow Nugan Hand Bank’s Bernie Houghton to open a branch in Sau­di Ara­bia.” (Idem.)

12. Note the GID’s hir­ing of Wah­habi fun­da­men­tal­ists. This helped set the stage for the “turn­ing” of the Sau­di intel­li­gence milieu on the U.S. in the wake of the Afghan war. “On the sur­face, the GID was orga­nized along the same lines as a minia­ture ver­sion of the CIA, but the hir­ing of case offi­cers was very dif­fer­ent. Part of Prince Turki’s job was to reach out to mul­lahs to pro­vide reli­gious offi­cers for the GID. Tur­ki, per­haps the most savvy politi­cian in the roy­al fam­i­ly, tried to recruit those who prac­ticed the reform ver­sion of Islam fathered by Ibn Abd al-Wah­hab. From an intel­li­gence view­point, bring­ing the extreme Wah­habis into the GID would make them loy­al to the roy­al fam­i­ly and help ensure the sur­vival of the state.” (Idem.)

13. Even­tu­al­ly, the Safari Club rela­tion­ship set the stage for the devel­op­ment of the Islam­ic bomb by the A.Q. Khan net­work. The role of the Safari Club milieu in the devel­op­ment of the Khan net­work will be dis­cussed at greater length in FTR#524. For more about the A.Q. Khan net­work, use the Spit­fire search func­tion. “In 1975, the roy­al fam­i­ly was approached by Pakistan’s gov­ern­ment for help in financ­ing a pan-Islam­ic nuclear weapon. Adham and his advis­ers had simul­ta­ne­ous­ly reached the con­clu­sion that the roy­al fam­i­ly could not sur­vive if they let the Israeli nuclear-weapons pro­gram stand unchal­lenged.” (Ibid.; pp. 103–104.)

14. Note the Safari Club’s deci­sion to devel­op a pan-Islam­ic mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ty. First used against the Sovi­ets, it is now being used against the Unit­ed States. “One of Adham’s clos­est Amer­i­can advis­ers said, ‘A deci­sion was tak­en to pur­sue a two-track pol­i­cy: pla­cate reli­gious Mus­lims by start­ing a covert effort to devel­op a pan-Islam­ic mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ty. [Empha­sis added.] The sec­ond pol­i­cy would be to oper­ate in con­junc­tion with the Unit­ed States on under­min­ing extreme Islam­ic move­ments that might lead to the instal­la­tion of an Islam­ic state.’ The Saud­is were adamant, how­ev­er, that the fund­ing for the Pak­istani pro­gram be for research only and that no bomb be test­ed.” (Ibid.; p. 104.)

15. One of the pri­ma­ry vehi­cles for covert oper­a­tions in the 1980’s was the BCCI. One can­not sep­a­rate the milieu of the BCCI and that of 9/11. For more about the BCCI (in par­tic­u­lar its rela­tion­ship to the events of 9/11) use the search func­tion, pay­ing par­tic­u­lar atten­tion to FTR#’s 356, 391, 424, 462, 464, 485. Note that the elder George Bush had an account at the bank’s Paris branch. “Adham under­stood that cre­at­ing a sin­gle world­wide clan­des­tine bank was not enough to assure the kind of resources nec­es­sary to stave off the com­ing Islam­ic rev­o­lu­tions that threat­ened Sau­di Ara­bia and the entire region. The Safari Club need­ed a net­work of banks to finance its intel­li­gence oper­a­tions. With the offi­cial bless­ing of George Bush as the head of the CIA, Adham trans­formed a small Pak­istani mer­chant bank, the Bank of Cred­it and Com­merce Inter­na­tion­al (BCCI), into a world­wide mon­ey-laun­der­ing machine, buy­ing banks around the world in order to cre­ate the biggest clan­des­tine mon­ey net­work in his­to­ry. Bush had an account with BCCI estab­lished at the time he was at the CIA. The account was set up at the Paris branch of the bank. Sub­se­quent sen­ate and oth­er inves­ti­ga­tions con­clud­ed that the CIA, begin­ning with Bush, had pro­tect­ed the bank while it took part in illic­it activ­i­ties. One source who inves­ti­gat­ed the bank and pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion about the Bush account in Paris was Jacques Bar­du, who, as a French cus­toms offi­cial, raid­ed the BCCI Paris branch and dis­cov­ered the account in Bush’s name.” (Idem.)

16. “Time mag­a­zine report­ed that the bank had its own spies, hit men, and enforcers. What no one report­ed at the time was that the bank was being used by the Unit­ed States and Sau­di Ara­bia as an intel­li­gence front.” (Idem.)

17. “There had nev­er been any­thing like it. Paul Hel­li­well may have made the mold, but Adham and BCCI founder Sheikh Agha Hasan Abe­di smashed it. They con­trived, with Bush and oth­er intel­li­gence-ser­vice heads, a plan that seemed too good to be true. The bank would solic­it the busi­ness of every major ter­ror­ist, rebel, and under­ground orga­ni­za­tion in the world. The invalu­able intel­li­gence thus gained would be dis­creet­ly dis­trib­uted to ‘friends’ of BCCI. Accord­ing to Wil­son and Crow­ley, Bush ordered Ray­mond Close, the CIA’s top man in Sau­di Ara­bia, to work close­ly with Adham.” (Ibid.; pp. 104–105.)

18. Accord­ing to author Joseph Trento’s sources, the late Anwar Sadat was paid through the BCCI. “Adham had oth­er impor­tant roles too. He arranged through DCI Bush to put Egypt’s Vice Pres­i­dent Anwar Sadat on an intel­li­gence-agency pay­roll for the first time. This made Adham, in effect, Sadat’s case offi­cer. This rela­tion­ship gave Adham lever­age when the time came to per­suade Sadat to sign the Camp David Accords.” (Ibid.; p. 105.)

19. Note again the Saud­is’ use of the Safari Club and its var­i­ous ele­ments (includ­ing the BCCI) to mon­i­tor U.S. intel­li­gence. “Adham and Abe­di believed the Unit­ed States need­ed mon­i­tor­ing. [Empha­sis added.] After Adham left the GID in 1977, he and Abe­di, using Clark Clif­ford, began infil­trat­ing the Amer­i­can bank­ing sys­tem with sur­rep­ti­tious pur­chas­es of major region­al banks. Because Adham, through his rela­tion­ships with Shack­ley and Bush, had inti­mate knowl­edge of just how des­per­ate U.S. intel­li­gence was for the ser­vices of a con­ve­nient, Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based bank, acquir­ing one became one of his main goals. Mean­while, as Clif­ford was mak­ing the con­nec­tion between the CIA and Adham, he was also call­ing on Attor­ney Gen­er­al Edward Levi to kill the probe—of the per­jury inves­ti­ga­tion of Helms’s lying to the Sen­ate about Chile—that was threat­en­ing the future of Shack­ley and Helms, as well as the use of the Safari Club.” (Idem.)

20. Note that the Safari Club’s BCCI had a “black net­work” of assas­sins and enforcers. “Adham did not rely sim­ply on mon­ey to car­ry out the plan. Adham and Abe­di under­stood that they would also need mus­cle. They tapped into the CIA’s stock­pile of mis­fits and mal­con­tents to help man a 1,500-strong group of assas­sins and enforcers. Time mag­a­zine called this group a ‘black net­work.’ It com­bined intel­li­gence with an effort to con­trol a large por­tion of the world’s econ­o­my. . . .” (Idem.)

21. Of par­tic­u­lar sig­nif­i­cance in ana­lyz­ing the devel­op­ment of the 9/11 Fifth Col­umn is the momen­tum devel­oped by the Safari Club. Dur­ing the Afghan war against the Sovi­ets, those few CIA ana­lysts who under­stood the poten­tial dan­ger pre­sent­ed by Osama bin Laden and his Mus­lim Broth­er­hood men­tor and mil­i­tary ally Abdul­lah Azzam were rebuffed. Despite clear indi­ca­tions that the “pan-Islam­ic mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ty” could be turned against the U.S., the Cold War dic­tum of “any bas­tard as long as he’s anti-com­mu­nist” held sway. (This term was first used by Allan Dulles to rebuff col­leagues who object­ed to his recruit­ment of Nazis to serve in the CIA.) “ . . . A year before the good folks at the CIA’s Afghan desk popped open the cham­pagne in cel­e­bra­tion of the Sovi­et pull­out, Osama bin L

aden planned his move into the vac­u­um that would fol­low the end of the war. Bin Laden’s goal was not just vic­to­ry in Afghanistan, but a world­wide jihad against the West—a jihad that would engulf his home coun­try and wash the entire region clean of the influ­ence of the ‘cru­sad­ing infi­dels,’ The Sau­di roy­al fam­i­ly con­tin­ued to believe that throw­ing mon­ey at mil­i­tary and social prob­lems would secure the family’s future and access to the Kingdom’s petrodol­lars. But the Saud­is’ com­pro­mise with the Wah­habi mul­lahs had rad­i­cal­ized sev­er­al gen­er­a­tions of Saud­is. The increas­ing­ly angry pop­u­lace, deprived of any seri­ous share of the oil wealth, watched help­less­ly as aver­age annu­al incomes were cut in half, from a high of $13,000 in 1981 to $6,000 by 2003.)” (Ibid.; pp. 338–339.)

22. Note that the DIA was told to back off the Saud­is, when it sound­ed the alarm that they were fund­ing ter­ror­ists. “As with the last years of the Pea­cock Throne in Iran, the CIA, reliant on the Sau­di GID and the Pak­istani ISI for region­al intel­li­gence, did not warn the pres­i­dent of the dan­ger ahead. When the Defense Intel­li­gence Agency rec­om­mend­ed that the Saud­is need­ed to be mon­i­tored because they were fund­ing ter­ror­ists, the DIA was told to dis­con­tin­ue all eaves­drop­ping, oper­a­tions tar­get­ing the King­dom, accord­ing to the DIA offi­cial in charge of the pro­gram, who wish­es to remain anony­mous.” (Ibid.; p. 339.)

23. The FBI was also pre­vent­ed from pur­su­ing crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tions of the Saud­is. “CIA offi­cials were blind to the flaws of their Sau­di bene­fac­tors. It had got­ten so extreme that the CIA sta­tion chiefs, start­ing in the 1980’s, actu­al­ly pro­tect­ed the head of Sau­di Intel­li­gence, Prince Tur­ki, and the GID and the Inte­ri­or Min­istry from the FBI on crim­i­nal mat­ters. The CIA insu­lat­ed the King­dom from the Unit­ed States’ own law enforce­ment offi­cials. When a shy and reli­gious Osama bin Laden went to Kab­ul to ‘help,’ it is not sur­pris­ing that men like CIA offi­cer Mil­ton Bear­den ‘did not pay much atten­tion to bin Laden.’ By giv­ing him an intel­li­gence port­fo­lio with the GID oper­at­ing in Pak­istan and Afghanistan, the Saud­is let a man in the tent who bril­liant­ly exploit­ed the oppor­tu­ni­ty by recruit­ing among the Wah­habis. As suc­cess came to bin Laden, the GID allowed him more and more scope, includ­ing rec­om­men­da­tions for recruit­ment for GID and Inte­ri­or Min­istry. Bin Laden was posi­tioned to do enor­mous dam­age to the Sau­di King­dom and to the Unit­ed States.” (Idem.)

24. Author Tren­to notes the absence of coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence capa­bil­i­ty avail­able to U.S. intel­li­gence, because its proxies—the Sau­di GID and Pak­istani ISI—were oper­at­ing with­out mon­i­tor­ing. These agen­cies were large­ly hos­tile to the Unit­ed States, and ele­ments of both are impli­cat­ed in the events of 9/11. “Because the CIA had effec­tive­ly giv­en up inde­pen­dent recruit­ment in the region, the Unit­ed States was oper­at­ing with­out a safe­ty net—without the abil­i­ty to detect some­one like bin Laden com­man­deer­ing the anti-Sovi­et cause. ‘You were rely­ing on two intel­li­gence ser­vices [the GID and ISI] to act in the Unit­ed States’ best inter­est with­out any abil­i­ty to ver­i­fy their promis­es or their work,’ a high-lev­el CIA offi­cial said. ‘That is what the Agency had become—simply a group of bureau­crats writ­ing checks. We had no con­trol over what was being done with the mon­ey and we delib­er­ate­ly ignored dan­ger signs—and there were plen­ty.’” (Idem.)

25. Con­sid­er the grave, dev­as­tat­ing impli­ca­tions of what fol­lows. Of what use would the key­word soft­ware giv­en to the Saud­is have been for those ele­ments of Sau­di intel­li­gence hos­tile to the Unit­ed States? It does not require a great leap of imag­i­na­tion to see this kind of trans­ac­tion hav­ing set the stage for the stun­ning role of Ptech in admin­is­ter­ing America’s air defens­es. For more about Ptech and the impli­ca­tions of this firm for the anom­alous per­for­mance of Amer­i­can air defens­es on 9/11, see FTR#’s 462, 464. “ ‘To make mat­ters worse,’ the offi­cial con­tin­ued, ‘the CIA per­mit­ted U.S. Cus­toms at Dulles Air­port to over­look an ille­gal export of our most secret eaves­drop­ping soft­ware to Sau­di Ara­bia.’ The soft­ware, referred to as ‘key word soft­ware,’ is a com­put­er code devel­oped for the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency by a com­pa­ny called E Sys­tems. The soft­ware allows key words and phras­es to be flagged by com­put­ers from tar­get­ed voice and oth­er com­mu­ni­ca­tions in real time. The prob­lem with export­ing the soft­ware is that any coun­try get­ting it could use it to tar­get U.S. inter­ests and allies. It could even be used to track what U.S. law enforce­ment, mil­i­tary, and intel­li­gence agen­cies were doing. [Empha­sis added. Con­sid­er the impli­ca­tions of this for the events in and around 9/11.] Lewis Sams, the man E Sys­tems ordered to deliv­er the soft­ware to the King­dom, said, ‘I was very ner­vous when I got to the air­port. I knew it was ille­gal to take it out of the coun­try, but I was giv­en the name of a Cus­toms offi­cial at Dulles Air­port and told if there were any prob­lems to ask for him. . . . E Sys­tems’ desire to do busi­ness with the roy­al fam­i­ly was why I thought they sent me.’ Sams said that E Sys­tems, which had close ties to the White House, main­tained the secret com­mu­ni­ca­tions gear for Air Force One. As it turned out, E Sys­tems did not get the con­tract for Sau­di Intel­li­gence, but the soft­ware was left with GID offi­cials even so, accord­ing to Sams.” (Ibid.; p. 340.)

26. More about the Safari Club and the man­ner in which it cir­cum­vent­ed the pri­ma­ry tenets of coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence: “Among the prob­lems with using a pri­vate intel­li­gence net­work is that the ben­e­fits of coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence are not avail­able. And if your pri­vate net­work is essen­tial­ly fund­ed by anoth­er coun­try, you are flout­ing a basic tenet of intelligence–trust no one, includ­ing your allies. The pur­pose of coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence is to test the verac­i­ty and hon­esty of sources and allies, and to pro­tect secrets. When an ille­gal net­work of pri­vate busi­ness­es and secret alliances car­ries out a nation’s covert oper­a­tions, coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence is not pos­si­ble. In the ear­ly 1990’s, the cost of not hav­ing any coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence capa­bil­i­ty would soar.” (Idem.)

27. “The absence of CI became a grow­ing prob­lem as the Unit­ed States relied more and more and more on proxy intel­li­gence oper­a­tions through oth­er coun­tries and pri­vate orga­ni­za­tions. The lack of vet­ting of those involved in Iran-Con­tra and Saddam’s regime, and final­ly of those who sup­plied the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion with false intel­li­gence on Iraq all demon­strate how dev­as­tat­ing the lack of a coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence capa­bil­i­ty can be.” (Ibid.; pp. 340–341.)

28. More about the fail­ure of U.S. intel­li­gence to heed the warn­ings of those rel­a­tive­ly few ana­lysts who, before the end of the Afghan war against the Sovi­ets, envi­sioned the threat that the bin Laden/Azzam axis rep­re­sent­ed for the Unit­ed States: “In the tumul­tuous times of 1988 and 1989, a hand­ful of ‘sec­ond-guessers’ and ‘naysay­ers’ at the CIA warned that the coun­try had allied itself with the wrong peo­ple in Afghanistan, but they were not being lis­tened to. The idea that our clos­est allies in Afghanistan could turn against us was not even giv­en con­sid­er­a­tion.” (Ibid.; p. 341.)

29. “When Osama bin Laden attend­ed events in Kab­ul in sup­port of the mujahideen, his pres­ence raised no curios­i­ty in the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty. Reports on bin Laden were nei­ther crit­i­cal nor prob­ing. The rela­tion­ship between the new pres­i­dent and the bin Laden fam­i­ly was no secret at the CIA, and they cozi­ly assumed Osama was on our side. For the CIA to miss the scale of the Sau­di-fund­ed Pak­istani nuclear-weapons pro­gram is an exam­ple of the woe­ful intel­li­gence pro­duced by the CIA dur­ing this peri­od. But miss­ing the trans­for­ma­tion of Osama bin Laden from the shy son of one of the most
promi­nent fam­i­lies in Sau­di Ara­bia to the leader of a ter­ror­ist net­work sup­port­ed by ISI and GID offi­cials in Pak­istan and Afghanistan was pure oper­a­tional neg­li­gence.” (Idem.)

30. “In many ways, bin Laden rep­re­sent­ed the penul­ti­mate com­pro­mise of the House of Saud. While half of the roy­al fam­i­ly rec­og­nized the need to do busi­ness with the West, the oth­er half felt uncom­fort­able with the ways of the West. The ini­tial intel­li­gence fail­ure took place in 1979 and 1980, when the CIA failed to see the con­nec­tion between bin Laden and hun­dreds of his family’s con­struc­tion work­ers and heavy equip­ment oper­a­tors mov­ing into the Afghan war zone at the same time the GID dis­patched there the most charis­mat­ic Mus­lim leader of the time, Pales­tin­ian Mus­lim Broth­er­hood leader Abdul­lah Azzam. Azzam joined forces with bin Laden in open­ing a recruit­ing center—Maktab al-Khi­damat (MAK—Services Office.) Though this was all ful­ly known to the CIA, the Agency’s region­al experts asked no ques­tions. Amaz­ing­ly enough, no one in the CIA’s Afghan oper­a­tion even asked why a Pales­tin­ian leader had sud­den­ly turned up in Afghanistan. CIA mon­ey was actu­al­ly fun­neled to MAK, since it was recruit­ing young Mus­lim men to come join the jihad in Afghanistan. (This infor­ma­tion comes from a for­mer CIA offi­cer who actu­al­ly filed these reports; we can’t iden­ti­fy him here because at the time of the writ­ing of this book, he was back in Afghanistan as a pri­vate con­trac­tor.)” (Ibid.; pp. 341–342.)

31. Despite Azzam’s hos­til­i­ty to the Unit­ed States and Israel, the MAK was allowed to recruit and train in the Unit­ed States! “Azzam, a Pales­tin­ian by birth, had been forced years before to flee to Jor­dan and then to Sau­di Ara­bia. In Peshawar, Azzam, fund­ed by bin Laden and GID, opened the Office of Ser­vices of the Holy War­riors (Mujahideen). Azzam’s mes­sage was clear­ly anti-Israeli and anti-Amer­i­can. And yet bin Laden’s open­ing MAK branch offices in the Unit­ed States, Europe, and Asia was applaud­ed by the CIA. [Empha­sis added.] The Agency nev­er sus­pect­ed that bin Laden might have had big­ger plans than Afghanistan. While bin Laden paid for the trans­porta­tion of the new fight­ers to the war zone, the Sau­di net­work of char­i­ties helped take care of their fam­i­lies.” (Ibid.; p. 342.)

32. “Bin Laden’s army was one of sev­en major mujahideen armies sup­port­ed by the CIA’s $500-mil­lion-a-year pro­gram. After the vic­to­ry over the Sovi­ets, many of the Islam­ic war­riors went home. They took with them the kind of con­fi­dence that can be gained only by help­ing to take out a great­ly supe­ri­or force. Bin Laden rec­og­nized that their expe­ri­ence and rad­i­cal­ism could change the face of the Islam­ic world. He kept the mujahideen train­ing camps in Afghanistan in oper­a­tion and expand­ed his efforts by spread­ing the holy war to Soma­lia, Bosnia, Koso­vo, the Philip­pines, and Chech­nya. The net­work was spread­ing, and, despite sub­se­quent denials, there is incon­tro­vert­ible evi­dence that the CIA’s knowl­edge was far deep­er than it has been will­ing to admit.” (Idem.)

33. Embody­ing and exem­pli­fy­ing the fail­ure of U.S. intel­li­gence is the expe­ri­ence of Michael Spring­man, a State Depart­ment offi­cer in Sau­di Ara­bia who had “red-flagged” visa appli­cants to the Unit­ed States, only to have his deci­sions over­ruled by supe­ri­ors. “An Amer­i­can con­sular offi­cer in Sau­di Ara­bia dis­cov­ered first hand that the CIA was allow­ing Afghan ‘free­dom fight­ers’ to get visas to come to the Unit­ed States dur­ing and after the Afghan War. Michael Spring­man, now a lawyer in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., was then an offi­cer in the U.S. Con­sulate in Jed­dah. Spring­man repeat­ed­ly con­front­ed his boss­es about their approval of ques­tion­able visa appli­ca­tions. At first, Spring­man sus­pect­ed that one of his boss­es was cor­rupt and was sell­ing visas to peo­ple who would nev­er nor­mal­ly be admit­ted to the Unit­ed States. Spring­man pushed so hard for answers that he was even­tu­al­ly warned to do what he was told. ‘In Sau­di Ara­bia, I was repeat­ed­ly ordered by high-lev­el State Depart­ment offi­cials to issue visas to unqual­i­fied appli­cants. . . . I com­plained bit­ter­ly at the time. . . . I returned to the U.S. I com­plained to the State Depart­ment here, to the Gen­er­al Account­ing Office, to the Bureau of Diplo­mat­ic Secu­ri­ty, and to the Inspec­tor General’s office. I was met with silence.’” (Ibid.; pp. 342–343.)

34. “As Spring­man kept push­ing for an expla­na­tion, his fit­ness eval­u­a­tions became more crit­i­cal of him and he was even­tu­al­ly dis­missed. It took him years to find out that Jed­dah was the cen­ter of the GID/CIA recruit­ing oper­a­tion. Spring­man said he should have been sus­pi­cious even before he was first sent to Jed­dah: ‘I had got­ten some strange ques­tions before I went out to Jed­dah from the then-ambas­sador, Wal­ter Cut­ler, who kept talk­ing about visa prob­lems. He said how I should do my best to make sure that every­thing ran smooth­ly. Once I got there, I found I was being ordered to issue visas to peo­ple who real­ly should not have got­ten a visa. I’ll give you just one exam­ple. There were two Pak­ista­nis who want­ed to go to an Amer­i­can trade show in the Unit­ed States. They claimed they were going with a Com­merce Depart­ment-spon­sored trade mis­sion. These guys couldn’t name the trade show and they couldn’t name the city in which it was being held. When I refused the visa after a cou­ple min­utes of ques­tion­ing, I got an almost imme­di­ate call from a CIA case offi­cer, hid­den in the com­mer­cial sec­tion [of the con­sulate], that I should reverse myself and grant these guys a visa. I told, ‘No.’ Not long after­wards, he went to the Chief of the Con­sular sec­tion and got my deci­sion reversed.’ This was exact­ly con­trary to nor­mal oper­at­ing pro­ce­dures. ‘Essen­tial­ly, in the State Depart­ment, the guy doing the inter­view­ing has the first, last, and usu­al­ly the only word regard­ing visa issuances. He can be reversed if it was done not accord­ing to reg­u­la­tion, for exam­ple. If some­body comes up with addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion that’s mate­r­i­al, you can push for a change in the peti­tion. But this was one of a pat­tern. . . . Week after week after week, and they got more brazen and bla­tant about it. And I was told on occa­sion, ‘Well, you know, if you want a job in the State Depart­ment in the future, you will change your mind.’ And oth­er peo­ple would sim­ply say, ‘You can change your mind now or wait until the Con­sul Gen­er­al revers­es you.’ I learned lat­er it was basi­cal­ly the CIA that had Osama bin Laden recruit­ing peo­ple for the Afghan War and tak­ing them to the U.S. for ter­ror­ist train­ing.’” (Ibid.; pp. 343–344.)

35. Note that al Qae­da was found­ed in 1988, before the Sovi­ets were dri­ven out of Afghanistan. Note that, by this time, bin Laden was already allied with Said Ramadan’s Mus­lim Broth­er­hood fac­tion. (For more about Ramadan, use the Spit­fire search func­tion, tak­ing par­tic­u­lar care to exam­ine FTR#’s 343, 381, 455, 456, 518.) “ . . . In 1988, Abdal­lah Azzam and Osama bin Laden found­ed the secret orga­ni­za­tion lat­er known as al Qae­da. The pur­pose of the orga­ni­za­tion was to con­tin­ue to the jihad beyond the vic­to­ry over the Sovi­ets. Mem­bers swore a blood oath to do this. Quick­ly, how­ev­er, Azzam began to com­plain that the move­ment was not ready to go out­side of Afghanistan until it secured a home­land for the Pales­tini­ans. Bin Laden had already allied him­self with Said Ramadan’s branch of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and was look­ing at change far beyond Afghanistan. He essen­tial­ly ignored the Pales­tini­ans. The argu­ments between bin Laden and Azzam end­ed in la

te 1989 when Azzam died in a car-bomb­ing. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 344.)


2 comments for “FTR #522 The Safari Club”

  1. [...] Nexus In Cen­tral Asia 6 04 2010 [“Safari Club” still active today, is the secret sup­ply net­work run by “for­mer” CIA and Iran/Contra fig­ures.  [...]

    Posted by US/Saudi/Pakistani Nexus In Central Asia « Therearenosunglasses’s Weblog | April 6, 2010, 4:40 am
  2. Joe Tren­to just released a top­i­cal Sarkis Soghana­lian fun-fact:

    FBI con­sid­ered a sting aimed at Newt Gin­grich in 1997

    By James V. Grimal­di,

    It is a curi­ous case in the annals of the FBI: The bureau con­sid­ered a sting oper­a­tion against then-House Speak­er Newt Gin­grich after sift­ing through alle­ga­tions from a noto­ri­ous arms deal­er that a $10 mil­lion bribe might get Con­gress to lift the Iraqi arms embar­go.

    The FBI end­ed up call­ing off the oper­a­tion in June 1997. It decid­ed there was no evi­dence that Gin­grich knew any­thing about the con­ver­sa­tions the arms deal­er was secret­ly record­ing with a man who said he was act­ing on behalf of Gingrich’s then-wife, Mar­i­anne, accord­ing to peo­ple with knowl­edge of the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    But details of the case, which became pub­lic this week in an arti­cle and doc­u­ments post­ed online by a non­prof­it jour­nal­ist, show how a series of sec­ond- and third-hand con­ver­sa­tions alleg­ing that the top man in Con­gress might be for sale caught the atten­tion of fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors.

    “There are so many false­hoods,” Mar­i­anne Gin­grich said Thurs­day. “The FBI, they should have been pro­tect­ing me, not going after me. This is scary stuff.”

    Her lawyer, Vic­to­ria Toens­ing, said: “There was no basis what­so­ev­er for an inves­ti­ga­tion. These were peo­ple puff­ing, which means they were mak­ing up access to a high-lev­el gov­er­ment per­son.”

    Gingrich’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign did not pro­vide imme­di­ate com­ment when asked for response Thurs­day.

    The inves­ti­ga­tion began after the arms deal­er, Sarkis Soghana­lian, told fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors and FBI agents in Mia­mi that Mar­i­anne Gin­grich said dur­ing a meet­ing in Paris in 1995 that she could pro­vide leg­isla­tive favors through her hus­band. The case pro­gressed to the point that it was deemed a major inves­ti­ga­tion requir­ing approval in Wash­ing­ton.

    Soghana­lian, a con­vict­ed felon who is now dead, said he want­ed the speaker’s help in get­ting the arms embar­go lift­ed so he could col­lect an $80 mil­lion debt from Iraqi leader Sad­dam Hus­sein, accord­ing to an FBI doc­u­ment filed to obtain con­tin­u­ing wire­tap autho­riza­tion for the case. The facts in the doc­u­ment were “devel­oped through a coop­er­at­ing wit­ness,” whom The Wash­ing­ton Post has con­firmed was Soghana­lian.

    Soghana­lian said Mar­i­anne Gin­grich assured him “she would be able to do any­thing [Soghana­lian] request­ed of her ‘as long as they had an under­stand­ing,’ ” the doc­u­ment states.

    Sev­er­al months after the meet­ing in Paris, a man who had been on the trip with Gin­grich and Soghana­lian told the arms deal­er that the embar­go could be lift­ed for the right price. In con­ver­sa­tions record­ed by Soghana­lian, the man, a Mia­mi car sales­man named Morty Ben­nett, stat­ed that Mar­i­anne “want­ed 10 mil­lion dol­lars to get the job done, five mil­lion of which would go direct­ly to Mar­i­anne Gin­grich,” the doc­u­ment states.

    Ben­nett said in an inter­view Thurs­day, “I knew some­body and intro­duced them to some­body and that was it. Thank you for call­ing, and don’t call me back.”

    The doc­u­ment and the exis­tence of the abort­ed sting was first revealed this week in a 6,400-word sto­ry by Joseph Tren­to, who oper­ates a Web site called DC Bureau (www.dcbureau.org). Tren­to inter­viewed Soghana­lian sev­er­al times before his death in Octo­ber at 82.


    The FBI doc­u­ment states that Soghana­lian, Mar­i­anne Gin­grich, Ash and Ben­nett spent sev­er­al days togeth­er in Paris. Gin­grich said “her rela­tion­ship with her hus­band was pure­ly a rela­tion­ship of con­ve­nience,” the doc­u­ment states. “She told [Soghana­lian] that she need­ed her hus­band for eco­nom­ic rea­sons, and that he need­ed to keep her close because she knew of all his ‘skele­tons.’ ”

    “She also told [Soghana­lian], ‘It’s time for me to make mon­ey using my hus­band, and after we get start­ed doing this, it will be easy,” the doc­u­ment says.

    In Jan­u­ary 1996, the doc­u­ment states, Soghana­lian said he received a call from Ben­nett, who said he was act­ing on behalf of Mar­i­anne Gin­grich and asked for $10 mil­lion to get the embar­go lift­ed. Ben­nett want­ed more than $1 mil­lion in advance, $300,000 in cash. The rest of the mon­ey was to be wired into Bennett’s bank account so that it could be trans­ferred to the Insti­tute for Advanced Strate­gic and Polit­i­cal Stud­ies, an Israeli-based think tank with offices in Wash­ing­ton where Ash was a fundrais­er, accord­ing to the doc­u­ment.

    “Ben­nett stat­ed that the way they had the deal struc­tured nobody would ever be able to prove it was any­thing ille­gal,” the doc­u­ment states. “Ben­nett stat­ed that it would be han­dled like a cam­paign pay­ment and ensured the source that [Mar­i­anne] Gin­grich knew what she was doing. Ben­nett stat­ed that the mon­ey was for Gin­grich and her hus­band and that they need­ed buffers to pro­tect them.”

    Mar­i­anne Gin­grich said Thurs­day, “All that’s hog­wash.”

    Soghana­lian asked for a tele­phone call with Mar­i­anne. Ben­nett said that “would spook Gin­grich” but that he would try to arrange it “for small talk about their Paris trip,” the doc­u­ment states.

    But Ben­nett nev­er pro­duced Mar­i­anne Gin­grich. He reestab­lished con­tact with Soghana­lian in Feb­ru­ary 1997, and the FBI asked for approval from head­quar­ters to keep record­ing the con­ver­sa­tions “to devel­op evi­dence of pos­si­ble Hobbs Act, Con­spir­a­cy, and Bribery vio­la­tions by Ben­nett, Ash, Mar­i­anne Gin­grich, and as yet uniden­ti­fied fed­er­al offi­cials,” the doc­u­ment states. Ash did not return calls seek­ing com­ment.

    In June 1997, Soghana­lian was plan­ning to meet Gin­grich and his wife at a fundrais­er in Mia­mi arranged by Ben Wald­man, a Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial who lat­er was lob­by­ist Jack Abramoff’s busi­ness part­ner in the con­tro­ver­sial pur­chase of a casi­no cruise line in Flori­da. Wald­man did not return calls for com­ment.

    FBI agents began prepar­ing to bug the meet­ing, but Neil Gal­lagher, then deputy chief of the FBI’s crim­i­nal divi­sion, ordered the inves­ti­ga­tion closed pri­or to the fundrais­er, peo­ple fami­lar with the case said. They said local agents were upset by Gallagher’s move.


    Oh my, so Ben Wald­man, co-own­er of the noto­ri­ous mob-con­nect­ed Sun­Cruz casi­no along side Jack Abramoff, was also part of this alleged arrange­ment? Well that’s inter­est­ing!

    Even a cur­so­ry look at the exec­u­tive man­age­ment of the cruise-to-nowhere com­pa­ny that Boulis found­ed turns up vio­lent thugs and orga­nized crime fig­ures. But that’s pret­ty typ­i­cal of South Florida...What is unusu­al are that in with Sun Cruz’s mobbed-up crew are promi­nent Repub­li­can Par­ty mem­bers with long-stand­ing, deep ties to the reli­gious right.

    Two Sun­Cruz exec­u­tives, Jack Abramoff and Ben Wald­man, are walk­ing exam­ples of the strange alliance between the fam­i­ly-val­ues par­ty and the gam­bling indus­try. Both men have strong ties to Pat Robertson’s Chris­t­ian Coali­tion, which is adamant­ly opposed to gam­bling; Wald­man was Robert­son top aide in the tel­e­van­ge­list’s run for the pres­i­den­cy.

    Abramoff, who per­haps wise­ly only took the title of vice pres­i­dent (less heat) has been con­nect­ed to the Chris­t­ian right since a stu­dent at Bran­deis Uni­ver­si­ty, where as head of the Col­lege Repub­li­cans he enlist­ed Top Chris­t­ian Ralph Reed as his top deputy. The two have remained close friends ever since.

    A man named Adam Kidan became Sun Cruz’s new chair­man. Kidan’s moth­er had been mur­dered in a gang­land-style hit in New York. Madonna’s one-time boyfriend and South Beach restau­ra­teur Chris Paciel­lo, was even­tu­al­ly con­vict­ed in the case.

    Today he is in Fed­er­al Wit­ness Pro­tec­tion, and word is there are sev­er­al movies about him in devel­op­ment.

    Just anoth­er Amer­i­can suc­cess sto­ry.

    I’m sure there’s a sim­ple expla­na­tion for all of this. For instance, maybe Mr Soghana­lian sim­ply hired Newt for some lessons on the his­to­ry of mon­ey-laun­der­ing and Newt, being the seri­ous his­to­ri­an that he is, decid­ed to bring in some addi­tion­al exper­tise. And who would know more about mon­ey-laun­der­ing than a mob-con­nect­ed casi­no owner/GOP fundrais­er? It looks to me like Newt was just engag­ing in some due dili­gence.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 18, 2011, 8:56 pm

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