by Sander Hicks
My eight months of investigation into the claims of FBI whistle blower, Randy Glass, led me to new information about Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff. So I was shocked when he was nominated for Director of Homeland Security, and dumbfounded when he skated through his confirmation hearings.
Chertoff is a master of cover-up. He defended a financier of Osama bin Laden and kept him out of jail. He looked the other way during the investigation into the death of White House lawyer Vince Foster. Chertoff advised the White House and CIA on the legality of torture. No one said a word about any of this, and now Chertoff is in Bush’s Cabinet as Director of Homeland Security.
The 9/11 Money
The June 20, 2000 Bergen County Record reported that attorney Michael Chertoff defended Dr. Magdy Elamir, a suspected terrorist financier. Dr. Elamir’s HMO was sued by the State of New Jersey to recoup $16.7 million in losses. At least $5.7 million was unaccounted for, funneled “to unknown parties … by means of wire transfers to bank accounts where the beneficial owner of the account is unknown.”
Magdy Elamir financially supported the Al Salam Mosque, where the blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman preached before he was arrested for his alleged role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
This is the same Dr. Magdy Elamir who was featured in the Dateline NBC investigation with Randy Glass. In fact, Glass said he had spoken with Dr. Elamir as part of his under-cover infiltration of the ISI-linked arms dealers. “Dateline” reported that intelligence reports accused Dr. Elamir of having “had financial ties with Osama bin Laden for years.” During a recorded telephone conversation with Glass Elamir’s brother, Mohamed, tried to purchase “small arms and ammunition.”
In the words of attorney Lynne Stewart, even the most despicable deserve representation. But as Stewart knows, unless you have White House connections, defending the despised carries a high price. Stewart faces 30 years in prison for actions taken in defense of the Blind Sheikh. Dr. Elamir was a suspect in a highly-monitored, sensitive operation at the center of the secret history of 9/11. But thanks to Michael Chertoff, Elamir was not charged.
“Dateline” reported that Dr. Elamir and his corporations paid at least $5,000 to arms dealer Diaa Moshen. In an ambush interview on camera, Dr. Elamir referred to Moshen as “a family friend.”
“By the time Operation Diamondback culminated in arrests in the summer of 2001, Michael Chertoff was the assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division. Operation Diamondback would have fallen under his purview since it was a criminal case and not a counterterrorism case,” said researcher Allan Duncan.
That means that after defending an alleged financier of 9/11, Chertoff became a prosecutor who should have prosecuted the same financier. In fact, there was a brief period before the verdict on Elamir came in and after Chertoff was nominated, in which there was an overlap between the two.
Chertoff served as assistant attorney general of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice from 2001 to 2003. The post is the same one Robert Mueller held when he stymied Senator John Kerry’s investigation into BCCI.
Master of Finances
In October 2001, fresh from his defense of El-Amir, Chertoff was picked by the White House to head Operation Green Quest, the multi-agency initiative to target sources of funding for terrorist organizations. Chertoff told the Associated Press on Oct. 25, 2001 that, “The lifeblood of terrorism is money, and if we cut the money we cut the blood supply.”
Two years later, former White House terrorism expert Richard Clarke stated, “The US effort to shut down financial support for terrorist networks is being seriously hampered by a government reorganization that has left the most experienced agencies without any real power.” Clarke was a counter-terrorism expert in the Clinton and Bush administrations until he left government in disgust in 2003. “The decision to put the Federal Bureau of Investigation in charge of terror finance investigations, and to give new powers to the Department of Homeland Security, [has] set the campaign back.” (1)
In Congressional testimony, Clarke seemed to agree with Glass’s assessment of the FBI: “Having the current structure where the FBI is in charge and tells everybody else what to do, is a recipe, I think for failure…The FBI by tradition doesn’t co-operate well with other federal agencies and it doesn’t share information. It treats other federal agencies as second-class participants in the overall effort.”
While head of Green Quest, Michael Chertoff played a central role in formulating U.S. anti-terrorism policy, which included a vast expansion of police powers and the secret detention of hundreds of Middle Easterners in the United States. Chertoff was one of the chief architects of Title III of the USA PATRIOT Act, also known as the International Money Laundering Abatement and Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001.
The Vince Foster Connection
Patrick Knowlton was a licensed DC private investigator. He spent seven years looking into the death of White House attorney Vincent Foster. Having voted for Clinton, he wasn’t attracted to the issue out of any anti-Democratic ire. Knowlton spent seven years on the issue because he had personally stumbled into the crime scene on July 20, 1993 when he stopped at Ft. Marcy Park in Arlington, VA and something about the scene struck him as odd. He observed a man glaring at him menacingly in the park’s parking lot, as Knowlton quietly relieved himself.
Later, Knowlton found out he had been there 70 minutes before Foster’s body was discovered. But he recalled enough about that awkward moment in the parking lot to remember that neither of the two cars there matched the description for Vince Foster’s car. Over the next seven years, as Knowlton spoke out, he became a grand jury witness to the Starr inquiry. He faced intense harassment from individuals he learned were working for the FBI. He filed a lawsuit against FBI Special Agent Russell Bransford and others.
Meanwhile, he observed the bipartisan Senate investigation pursuing a lackadaisical investigation, advised by Senate Counsel Michael Chertoff. “Chertoff knew what we knew,” Knowlton told the Press, “it wasn’t that hard to find. Nobody could leave that much information out there unless they knew nobody was going to get to it. And that was Chertoff’s job, not to get to it.”
“It was obvious Foster’s car wasn’t in the park, Michael Chertoff never went near that issue,” said Patrick Knowlton. “One of the things he was notorious for is that he would never do follow-up questions.”
Knowlton was referencing the time that Chertoff took the deposition of Park Police officer Cheryl Braun. Braun mysteriously mentioned a visit to the hospital morgue “to retrieve some property” on her way from the Park to inform Foster’s family. Chertoff is incurious as to the nature of that strange diversion.
When Park Police officer John Rolla was under oath with the other incurious Senate Counsel, Richard Ben-Veniste, Rolla blurted out that he didn’t find any car keys on Foster’s body: “I searched [Foster’s] pants pockets. I couldn’t find a wallet or nothing in his pants pockets. Later on, Investigator Braun and myself…searched the car and we were puzzled why we found no keys to the car.”
Neither Ben-Veniste nor Chertoff were interested in asking why Foster’s car was not in Fort Marcy park until after Foster allegedly committed suicide. The attorneys ignored why car keys weren’t on the body, but showed up next to it later, at the morgue.
Knowlton and a group of researchers concluded that Foster did not commit suicide on July 20, 1993. But that conclusion was outside the Washington consensus.
In a surprise twist, the three judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals who supervised Independent Counsel Ken Starr, forced Starr to include a twenty page addendum to his report on Foster. This addendum was largely made up of Patrick Knowlton’s testimony on the harassment he endured for suggesting there was evidence the investigators overlooked. Legal researcher Hugh Turley, who assisted Knowlton’s case, told me, “This addendum marked the first time in U.S. history an independent counsel had criminal activity by his own staff attached to his report!”
I asked John H. Clarke, Knowlton’s lead attorney, for his impression of Chertoff: “He’s a dishonest bastard. He went along with the Foster cover-up.” When Clarke, Turley, and Knowlton tried to get the media to look at the addendum to Starr’s report, key members of the Washington press corps told them that the “official story” of suicide had already been determined to be true, and that writing about Knowlton’s harassment by FBI would only “raise more questions.”
On the Fast Track
In June 2003, Michael Chertoff was nominated to the Third Circuit U.S Court of Appeals. Though there is no formal career path for federal judges, it is common for appellate judges to have served as district judges prior to appointments, according to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. Despite having never served in the judiciary, Chertoff was made a federal judge whose jurisdiction included Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the US Virgin Islands.
After 19 months, Chertoff was nominated by President Bush to the position of Secretary of Homeland Security. Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a government advocacy watchdog agency, noticed Chertoff’s advancement from assistant attorney general of the Department of Justice to Secretary of Homeland Security nominee over the past four years. “It’s an exceptional rise to power,” said Fitton.
Michael Chertoff advised the CIA on the legality of torture techniques in Afghanistan and at Abu Ghraib prison. His hearings focused on this, but by using the spotlight to denounce torture, Chertoff was able to make it a public relations coup. Little time was spent on the fact that Chertoff had personally cut a deal with the lawyers for John Walker Lindh, the “American Taliban” who had been about to testify about his torture at the hands of his jailers in June 2002.(2) Chertoff’s deal gagged Lindh and prevented the public awareness of US torture until the Abu Ghraib prison scandal broke in late April 2004.
Chertoff was approved as Director of Homeland Security. Meanwhile, journalists banged their heads on the wall trying to get editors to look at Chertoff’s involvement in Operation Diamondback. For example, around this time, I spoke with John Pacente at the Palm Beach Post, who had originally tipped me off to Chertoff’s posting as an Assistant US Attorney despite his past defending Elamir. As I worked on a piece on Chertoff for the University Star(3), he complained that he was having trouble getting a piece approved on Chertoff/Elamir for the Post.
Randy Glass later told me that John Mintz at the Washington Post had similar trouble. Mintz and the Post share stories with NBC on occasion. The day the “Dateline” story was broadcast, wrote a front-page preview story on Glass. The story didn’t mention Dr. Elamir.
Around the time of Chertoff’s confirmation hearings, Glass contacted Mintz. Glass remember, “John loved it — Chertoff — that whole piece … All of a sudden, John called me up and said, ‘Randy, you know, listen. They’re not letting me run with it … something funny’s going on. I talked to other people in the biz… There’s a lot of strings being pulled in town. And everything you told me is true, we verified everything.'”
I phoned Mr. Mintz at the Post. He insisted that his comments to me not be quoted. But to paraphrase, he denied that he had said the above to Glass. As his tone became increasingly hostile, Mintz insisted that he had made a decision free from outside influence — the Chertoff/Elamir story didn’t meet his criteria for what he could put in the Washington Post. He eventually accused me of implying that he had missed a story here, and called the Elamir angle a conspiracy theory.
CIA Director William Colby once said the “the Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any major significance in the major media.” Now, I’m not a fan of broad generalizations. But the Mintz experience didn’t help me develop a moderate stance. When Mintz jumped down my throat just for asking a few questions about why he took a pass on the Chertoff/Elamir story, I wasn’t all that surprised. Remember, this is the same reporter who ran CIA people expressing how benevolent and useful the Muslim Brotherhood is in his Washington Post news features.
Since publication of my book, Big Wedding, new revelations have come to light: As is the case with former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Michael Chertoff holds dual US/Israeli citizenship; a fact which, for Hicks and other 9/11 revisionists, casts a light on the questionable motives of Chertoff and the neo-cons. As head of Operation Green Quest, the multi-agency initiative to target sources of funding for terrorist organizations, Chertoff did little to stop terrorism. Chertoff was also one of the chief architects of Title III of the USA PATRIOT Act, and advised the CIA regarding the legality of torture at Abu Ghraib.
©2005 Sander Hicks, author of Big Wedding: 9/11, the Whistle-Blowers and the Cover-Up, published by Vox Pop/DKMC on October 30, 2005 and distributed by SCB Book Distributors, of Los Angeles, California. Price: $14.50, 200 pages. Vox Pop publisher Sander Hicks has issued a call for the resignation of Michael Chertoff, Head of the Office of Homeland Security.
ABOUT THE BOOK
9/11 ushered in an era of permanent war, rule-by-fear, illegal torture, and indefinite detentions-all justified by an attack that the Bush Administration claimed was a complete surprise. But as publisher of the critical Bush biography Fortunate Son, Sander Hicks had a unique position from which to cast a hard look at the official story around the attacks. With original research and interviews, his new book, The Big Wedding: 9/11, the Whistle-Blowers and the Cover-Up, provides a new level of proof that Bush’s advisors had detailed foreknowledge of 9/11. The Big Wedding examines the CIA’s controlling, client relationship with Pakistani intelligence, who had close, documented, under-reported links to the 9/11 terrorists. In Big Wedding, Hicks hits the road and in Florida, finds FBI whistle-blower Randy Glass, who documents how the FBI was warned by Pakistani intelligence three years before the attacks.
ABOUT THE PUBLISHER
VOX POP/DKMC is a new publishing company with an exciting retail storefront in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. Founded by indie publishing wunderkind Sander Hicks, and retail coffee veteran Holley Anderson, Vox Pop publishes essential non-fiction and gathers the people together around “Books, Coffee, Democracy” in their bookstore/coffeehouse on Cortelyou Road in Brooklyn. For more info, visit http://www.voxpopnet.net or http://www.sanderhicks.com.
Bill Lessard, [email protected]
Drench Kiss Media Corporation
1022 Cortelyou Road
Flatbush, Brooklyn 11218
(1) Shake-Up Amid War on Terror ‘Has Hit Campaign'” by Edward Alden; Financial Times; 10/23/2003; p. 2.
(2) Chertoff and Torture, Dave Lindorff, www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20050214&s=lindorff, Posted January 27, 2005.
(3) The piece appeared in San Marcos University’s University Star and was co-written with Star reporter Melissa Johnson. www.universitystar.com/main/article.php?aid=1236.
FACT CHECKING NOTES
To avoid accusations of anti-Semitism with the Israeli citizenship material, it is also important to publish this internal fact-checking memo, as well:
This was a set of questions from the guy who wrote the Chertoff call with me. I think it shows a good reliance on facts and fact-checking.
With his dubious background with the Foster case and later in the Elamir investigation, what were Chertoff’s credentials for being named Head of Homeland Security?
Official Answer from the Homeland Security website:
As Assistant Attorney General, he helped trace the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the al-Qaida network, and worked to increase information sharing within the FBI and with state and local officials.
i.e. he had helped Bush draft legislation to justify Bush’s “War on Terror” including the indefinite detentions and torture that has stained the soul of the country.
But the answer about qualifications is especially negative, in light of:
* The long history of the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of NY looking the other way in regards to FBI infiltration of Jersey City’s Al Salaam Mosque, and the resultant 1993 WTC attack. (Sources on this: the 4-time Emmy-awarding Peter Lance, formerly of ABC News and 20/20)
* The failure of Chertoff’s Operation Green Quest to track terrorist financing. In fact, according to Green Quest veteran and government insider Rita Katz (author of Terrorist Hunter) there was direct intimidation and surveillance of Green Quest investigators by outside intelligence agencies.
Was it cronyism, as in Brown appointment, or is there something more sinister at work, as suggested by the media cover-up and afterwards the Lindt deal?
Yeah, the John Walker Lindt stuff is great, and people may have heard about that, as per the Nation piece. Or, as an intro, you can always lead off with the fact that Chertoff authored sections of the almost universally-despised PATRIOT Act, or that Chertoff was the CIA’s go-to man for advice on torture.
How substantive are the claims of Israeli citizenship? If there is any merit to them, as evidence of Mossad at the highest reaches of our government, why would Mossad want to fund Al Qaeda?
Al Qaeda is at best former CIA linked Islamists who got lucky on 9/11. But more likely, Al Qaeda is a false flag operation created by the best in the business: the CIA.
His mom’s Israeli, so it’s automatic. Jewish tradition if your mom’s Jewish, so are you. Sounds like it’s the same with Israeli citizenship? Yes, that checks out, as per: http://www.israelexperts.com/visa.html.
According to Israeli citizenship law, you are considered to be a citizen of the State of Israel if you were born in Israel, or if you acquired Israeli citizenship by immigrating to Israel, or if you were born outside of Israel to a parent who is a citizen of Israel (mother or father) and who acquired Israeli citizenship by birth or through immigration to Israel.
Seamus also had no doubts about this, earlier today.
Wikipedia, the open-source encyclopedia, has this to say- and no one is disputing the entry:
Michael Chertoff (November 28, 1953), is the current United States Secretary of Homeland Security.
Born an Israeli citizen (by virtue of his mother’s Israeli citizenship) in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the son of a rabbi and El Al’s first flight attendant (Livia Chertoff), Michael Chertoff went to The Pingry School in high school. He later attended Harvard University, graduating in 1975. He then graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1978, going on to clerk for appellate judge Murray Gurfein for a year before clerking for United States Supreme Court justice William Brennan from 1979 to 1980. He worked in private practice with Latham & Watkins from 1980 to 1983 before being hired as a prosecutor by Rudolph Giuliani, then the U.S. attorney for Manhattan, working on mafia and political corruption-related cases.
What was the name of the firm Chertoff worked for when he was representing Elamir?
Latham & Watkins