How Jones-Lewinsky Scandals led to the 1996 White House Classified Directive for FBI COINTELPRO II
Hello everyone, and welcome to the 23rd episode of Probable Cause. This is our second episode on the case of Dennis Hastert. In our first segment I briefly explained the case and why it is likely to be dropped or lost-on-purpose, and provided you with the broad picture of involved interests and those with much at stake if the case were to proceed as a ‘real’ case.
For this episode I am going to take you back twenty years to when the FBI’s covert and illegal operations targeting high-profile US officials, elected and appointed, began. I will go on-record with the White House Covert Order during Bill Clinton’s Administration directing the FBI to begin conducting new COINTELPRO operations in response to two sexual scandals and the likely risk of impeachment.
I’ll talk about the FBI’s illegal surveillance of government officials and misuse of FISA, how the information was used by the US government, the cases of three FBI insiders who spoke up and reported these operations, how and why those cases were classified and gagged by the US government and censored by the US media, and finally, how all this will come into play in the coming trial of Dennis Hastert.
All right; I think this is a great point at which to start this episode, which is fully-loaded with explosive facts. I am going to start with a press release disseminated in March 2007 by NSWBC, National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, an organization I started in 2004, with over 150 former and current intelligence and law enforcement veterans.
Two FBI Whistleblowers Confirm Illegal Wiretapping of Government Officials and Misuse of FISA
The National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC) has obtained a copy of an official complaint filed by a veteran FBI Special Agent, Gilbert Graham, with the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General (DOJ-OIG). SA Graham’s protected disclosures report the violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in conducting electronic surveillance of high-profile U.S. public officials.
Before his retirement in 2002, SA Gilbert Graham worked for the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO) Squad NS-24. One of the main areas of Mr. Graham’s counterintelligence investigations involved espionage activities by Turkish officials and agents in the United States. On April 2, 2002, Graham filed with the DOJ-OIG a classified protected disclosure, which provided a detailed account of FISA violations involving misuse of FISA warrants to engage in domestic surveillance. In his unclassified report SA Graham states: “It is the complainant’s reasonable belief that the request for ELSUR [electronic surveillance] coverage was a subterfuge to collect evidentiary information concerning public corruption matters.” Graham blew the whistle on this illegal behavior, but the actions were covered up by the Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s office.
The report filed by SA Graham bolsters another FBI whistleblower’s case that became public several months after Graham’s official filing with the Justice Department in 2002. Sibel Edmonds, former FBI Language Specialist, also worked for the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO), and her assignments included the translations of Turkish Counterintelligence documents and audiotapes, some of which were part of espionage investigations led by SA Graham. After she filed her complaint with the DOJ-OIG and Congress, she was retaliated against by the FBI and ultimately fired in March 2002. Court proceedings in Edmonds’ case were blocked by the assertion of the State Secrets Privilege by then Attorney General John Ashcroft, and the Congress gagged and prevented from investigating her case through retroactive re-classification of documents by DOJ.
Edmonds’ complaint included allegations of illegal activities by Turkish organizations and their agents in the United States, and the involvement of certain elected and appointed U.S. officials in the Department of State, Pentagon, and the U.S. Congress in these activities. In its September 2005 issue, Vanity Fair ran a comprehensive piece on Edmonds’ case by reporter David Rose, in which several former and current congressional and Justice Department officials identified former House Speaker Dennis Hastert as being involved in illegal activities with the Turkish organizations and personnel targeted in FBI investigations. In addition, Rose reported: “…much of what Edmonds reportedly heard seemed to concern not state espionage but criminal activity.”
Another Former Veteran FBI Counterintelligence and Espionage Specialist at FBI Headquarters in Washington DC also filed similar reports with DOJ-OIG and several congressional offices regarding violations of FISA implementation and the covering up of several espionage cases involving FBI Language Specialists and public corruption cases by the Bureau. The cases reported by this whistleblower corroborate those reported by SA Graham and Sibel Edmonds. In an interview with NSWBC investigators the former FBI Specialist, who wished to remain anonymous, stated: “…you are looking at covering up massive public corruption and espionage cases; to top that off you have major violations of FISA by the FBI Washington Field Office and HQ targeting these cases. Everyone involved has motive to cover up these reports and prevent investigation and public disclosure. No wonder they invoked the state secrets privilege in Edmonds’ case.”
I will post the link to the original press release and SA Graham’s redacted report signed and filed with DOJ’s Inspector General’s Office.
So you have two FBI insiders blowing the whistle on the same operations, and another veteran FBI agent doing the same thing but anonymously. One is a decorated veteran agent, Gilbert Graham, with 25+ years in FBI’s Counterintelligence Unit, one is a linguist-analyst who worked on the same counterintelligence operations, and another a senior special agent from the same division who had not retired at the time of the release. These cases were filled individually, totally separate from each other. All three cases resulted in classification, redaction, gag orders, invocation of State Secrets Privilege, and of course, severe retaliation.
Now: what were these illegal operations? When did they occur? By whose directive or order? Who were they targeting? Why? Ultimately, what happened to those operations? Why? How does all this relate to the Dennis Hastert Case? What is at stake as far as the FBI and DOJ go? What is at stake as far as the Clinton and Bush administrations are concerned? What do dozens of other very high-profile US officials have to worry about?
Rather than bombarding you with too much information, I am going to answer the first category of these questions for this episode. I will leave the others for following episodes. Okay Let’s begin.
1996- Bill Clinton Orders the DOJ & FBI to Begin COINTELPRO II
In mid-1996, still bogged down with the Paula Jones Scandal, a case that refused to quickly go away, while preparing for another sexual scandal, the Monica Lewinski case, Bill Clinton and his top White House team put together a political retaliation plan meant to retaliate against and then neutralize the Republican Party and key elected Republican officials. The main objective of the plan was to:
- Collect major dirt on key Republican officials
- Use the information to blackmail those Republicans as a means to prevent impeachment
- Strategically release the cases of those who did not back down by blackmail if the impeachment process were to proceed
It was a good plan. However, this was not a plan that could be directly executed by the White House. They needed the Justice Department and the FBI, which not only had existing information on the target Republicans, but the ability to quickly gather more useable dirt.
After several meetings and consultation sessions, the White House had what they needed, including cover and justification, with Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI’s Director Louis Freeh, both their own hand-picked and appointed people.
One of the main divisions in the FBI, with full access and capacity to collect the needed dirt, was the FBI’s Counterintelligence Unit that operated under FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance ACT). So, with a special covert waiver from the White House, the FBI’s counterintelligence unit was directed to conduct a ‘Special Surveillance Program’ and given a set of operations and targets that went with that.
Of course, the lower-level agents, those who actually performed the operations, were told neither the reason nor the purpose. It was just that all of a sudden their operational scope, together with the means and certain abilities, was suddenly expanded.
But not all agents are equally blind or stupid. Based on hushed whispers, floating rumors, and what was taking place with Bill Clinton’s sexual scandals, some were able to add two and two and arrived at a solid unquestionable Four.
For their new operation certain previously strict FISA rules were relaxed, while others were totally over-ridden - eliminated.
Now, let’s go back and revisit the press release and the report by Veteran Special Agent Gilbert Graham, since he was one of those non-blind thinking agents:
SA Graham’s protected disclosures report the violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in conducting electronic surveillance of high-profile U.S. public officials.
On April 2, 2002, Graham filed with the DOJ-OIG a classified protected disclosure, which provided a detailed account of FISA violations involving misuse of FISA warrants to engage in domestic surveillance. In his unclassified report SA Graham states: “It is the complainant’s reasonable belief that the request for ELSUR [electronic surveillance] coverage was a subterfuge to collect evidentiary information concerning public corruption matters.”
Okay everyone, doesn’t it make more sense now?
Same with my own case:
Edmonds’ complaint included allegations of illegal activities by Turkish organizations and their agents in the United States, and the involvement of certain elected and appointed U.S. officials.
Now, back to the results and the Clinton Administration: Their strategy, the new covert COINTELPRO, proved to be highly successful. Let me give you a few examples:
In 1998, the Speaker of the House, Bob Livingston, resigned due to his exposed sex scandals. Let me read from an article published by Chicago Tribune in December 1998:
On the eve of the House debate to impeach President Clinton for lying about sex with Monica Lewinsky, House Speaker-elect Bob Livingston told his Republican colleagues Thursday night that he had strayed from his marriage and had adulterous affairs.
Guess what? He was not the only Republican targeted by the FBI’s new COINTELPRO, blackmailed, and later, strategically outed by never-identified insiders tipping off the media. I’ll continue to read:
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-Idaho), and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) acknowledged affairs in the wake of the Lewinsky investigation. Hyde admitted to an affair 30 years ago, and Burton acknowledged having a child out of wedlock.
And here comes the most significant quote from CNN on December 21, 1998:
Early Saturday morning before the impeachment vote, House Speaker-designate Bob Livingston called majority whip Tom DeLay with a piece of news: I'm resigning. When he made the same announcement on the House floor, it was his second bombshell in three days. The first was his forced confession--the media were about to out him--that "I have on occasion strayed from my marriage." Livingston gave no details, which left Hustler publisher Larry Flynt to spread around whatever he pleased. With no sign of proof, Flynt claimed four women had told his staff about past liaisons with Livingston. Flynt said he has a tape of Livingston engaging in "raunchy" phone sex
Do you know where those phone records came from? That’s right. The information, the recorded sexual acts, all came from the FBI’s counterintelligence unit in Washington DC.
Guess what? Are you familiar with my State Secrets Privilege Gallery, released in 2008? You have the link at the bottom of this post. Let’s just say, Bob Livingston and Dan Burton are both in that gallery; they have been since 2008. Consistency and sticking to the facts is good; isn’t it?
In fact, Bob Livingston, as soon as he resigned, registered with DOJ as a Foreign Agent and lobbyist. His top client was, of course, Turkey. Clinton has much to thank the FBI’s Counterintelligence Unit on Turkey for.
Now, let me read a few quotes on Dan Burton and his Turkish ties and interests, published by the American Prospect in December 2001, six months before my case became public:
He also took thousands of dollars in legal contributions from people with business interests in Turkey. Afterwards, he made a statement on the floor of the House of Representatives he had cribbed from a Turkish government official. The statement defended Turkey against well-documented charges that its government committed serious human rights violations against the Kurds.
In 1996, Burton made another floor statement that almost exactly echoed materials that Turkey's lobbying firm gave to members of Congress, according to The Los Angeles Times.
I believe with my 13-year old on-record case, Veteran Agent Gilbert Graham’s report, NSWBC press release, and all the examples and media quotes cited, you’re starting to grasp what I’m talking about here. We are not looking at some circumstantial evidence collected here and there. I am providing you with rock solid facts, supported by reports, articles, under-oath testimonies, and much more.
Time to make a full circle and go back to the case of Dennis Hastert. Dennis Hastert, who became the Speaker of the House after Bob Livingston’s resignation. I have to say that of all the FBI’s new COINTELPRO targets he, Dennis Hastert, had the thickest file. I would say the dirt on him would not be matched even if you were to put together all the dirt from all the other dirty targets.
However, the incredible amount of criminal, corruption and sexual scandals gathered on Hastert by the DOJ-FBI between 1996 and 2002 was never used, other than for ‘Blackmail.’. They never had to release those. Did the Clinton Administration blackmail Hastert with what they had during the initial stage; around 1997-1998? You bet. Did he bow? Obviously. So they let him continue. They protected him. In fact, they gave him such a level of immunity and such an untouchable status that he went on breezing through several scandals during his tenure.
Dennis Hastert’s untouchable status, first granted to him by Clinton and later continued by the Bush Administration, made him so bold that after the exposé by the Vanity Fair Article he continued his tenure in Congress for another two years - while engaged in all those criminal-corrupt activities, and as soon as he left Congress in 2007 he formally registered himself as a Foreign Agent for Turkey, and became a lobbyist for several million dollars a year.
Interestingly, his protected status was not only granted and observed by the government. This status applied to the US media as well. Can you imagine? In 2005 Vanity Fair publishes an explosive seven-page article with facts supported not only by me, but also by several other government insiders and congressional officials, yet, not a single US mainstream media outlet publishes a single word on it. Not a single word.
Now, 20 years since the start of COINTELPRO II, somehow, for some reason, due to someone, somewhere, it’s been decided to bring some significant criminal financial activities and sexual abuse charges against this same Dennis Hastert.
What would happen if the case proceeded, if the case were treated as a ‘real’ case, if the case put on the stand ‘real’ witnesses, if the case admitted all real documents and evidence? What would happen?
Clinton and his counsel and advisors during his tenure would be exposed. The FBI and its new COINTELPRO operations re-sanctioned in 1996 and its violations of law, including FISA, would be exposed. Other US officials who have been successfully blackmailed and kept in line, together with all their criminal and sexual violations, would be outed. Previously quashed and gagged whistleblower cases such as mine and Graham’s and several others’ would see the light of day. The American public, at least many of them, would wake up and admit to the realities governing their government and so-called representatives.
As John Lennon said: ‘Imagine.’ But can you really imagine that? I can’t. This is why I expect the case to be dropped, or on purpose to be fought-to-lose.
Well, it is time to wrap up our second episode in the series on the Dennis Hastert case, the main players, the ‘real’ records, and a court case that will be going away.
Thank you for joining me on this 23rd edition of Probable Cause. Several links with related information and articles will be posted on the website under this episode. I am looking forward to your responses, questions and all your comments. I’ll be back soon to pick up where we left off. So long, and until then.
Sibel Edmonds is editor and publisher of Boiling Frogs Post, founder and president of the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), and author of the acclaimed book Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, and The Lone Gladio, a Political Spy Thriller. Ms. Edmonds is a certified linguist, fluent in four languages, and has an MA in public policy from George Mason University and a BA in criminal justice and psychology from George Washington University. She is the recipient of the 2006 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award.
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