BFP Breaking News- Omidyar’s PayPal Corporation Said To Be Implicated in Withheld NSA Documents

The U.S. Government, An Implicated Billionaire, Fortune-Seeking Journalists &        A Public in the Dark

Update 2:
Glenn Greenwald Goes on Record: “I Don’t Doubt PayPal Cooperates with NSA!”

Update 1:
Verbatim Copy of Mr. Binney’s Statement

The 50,000-pages of documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden contain extensive documentation of PayPal Corporation’s partnership and cooperation with the National Security Agency (NSA), according to three NSA veterans. To date, no information has been released as to the extent of the working relationship and cooperation between the two entities- NSA and PayPal Corporation. What’s more, the billionaire owner of PayPal Corporation has entered into a $250 Million business partnership with two journalists-Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, a journalist duo who possess the entire cache of evidence provided by Edward Snowden. Despite earlier pledges by the journalists in question, only one percent (1%) of Snowden’s documents has been released.

BFP was recently contacted by a retired NSA official who claims that the documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden contain extensive documentation pertaining to NSA’s partnership with major U.S. financial institutions, including credit card companies and PayPal Corporation. The official, who requested anonymity, also alleges that a deal was made in early June, 2013 between the journalists involved in this recent NSA scandal and U.S. government officials, which was then sealed by secrecy and nondisclosure agreements by all parties involved.

Upon receiving this report BFP contacted three other high-level former NSA officials for additional information and comments.

On December 11, 2013 we contacted Mr. William Binney, a former top official at the National Security Agency (NSA), and asked him to comment on the legitimacy of the above report, and whether he had any knowledge of the partnership and cooperation between NSA and financial institutions such as PayPal. He confirmed the legitimacy of the report and added:

The NSA has had the cooperation of major financial institutions, including credit card companies, to obtain all financial transactions of these companies’ clients-international and domestic. Further, the NSA not only obtains and stores the financial data of Americans and foreigners, but it also shares them with other government agencies such as the FBI and DEA.

When asked about the apparent conflict of interest and controversy involving the new business venture between the journalists in question and PayPal’s billionaire owner Pierre Omidyar, he had the following statement:

Sunlight, transparency, is the only cure; the only way to bring about needed changes. This is why the public is entitled to have all the evidence and documents. The partnership with PayPal’s owner, thus, the new ownership of Mr. Snowden’s documents by an individual who is implicated in these documents, presents grave concerns and consequences, and a major conflict of interest for transparency, integrity and whistleblowers.

Russell Tice, a former NSA Intelligence Analyst and Capabilities Operations Officer, also confirmed the report, and stated that based on his knowledge, NSA regularly obtains financial information from major financial institutions, including credit card companies and PayPal. In January 2009, during an interview with Keith Olberman, he stated that information from credit card records and other financial transaction was being collected and stored by NSA (See the interview here).

On December 10, 2013, in an exclusive interview with BFP, Mr. Tice expanded upon the NSA-Financial Institutions collusion:

For NSA, information from financial institutions such as PayPal is equally if not more valuable and sought after than that obtained from social media and other software companies such as Facebook, Microsoft and Google.” He added, “I wouldn’t doubt the existence of evidence and documents implicating corporations such as PayPal within the large cache obtained by Edward Snowden. The partnership and data collection arrangements have existed for many years.”

When asked about his opinion on Glenn Greenwald’s new $250 Million venture partnership with PayPal Corporation’s billionaire owner Pierre Omidyar, multi-million dollar book and movie deals, and recent unexplained immunity from the U.S. government, he stated the following:

“I would be outraged and highly vocal if I were in Edward Snowden’s shoes. For a journalist whom I had placed my trust in to go and withhold documents meant for the public?! For the journalist to make fortune and fame based on my sacrifices and disclosure?! Forming a lucrative business partnership with entities who have direct conflicts of interest?! No. That wouldn’t have been acceptable.”

Despite our submitted requests for confirmation, denial or comments, PayPal has refrained from responding to this report and contained allegations.

Other whistleblowers from the intelligence community have also expressed grave concerns over the serious implications of the recent venture partnership between journalist Glenn Greenwald and PayPal owner Pierre Omidyar. Indeed, the journalists in question have decided to hold back the release of the remaining 99% of the whistleblower’s documents, and have been inconsistent and vague as to when and how much they intend to release further documents. Their decision to withhold the majority of the documents appears to coincide with their new $250 million business venture with PayPal’s Omidyar, and recent mega-bucks book and movie deals.

Crytome.Org’s John Young, whom we sought comments from for this news story, considers the claims by these former NSA insiders valid and legitimate:

Government access to financial transactions has always been top priority for all government agencies, worldwide. Nothing is more important to governments than where the money is, especially money for taxation required to avoid death-stake in the heart of governments. So it is consistent that NSA (and other spies) have access to all on- and off-line financial services providers. As you know, financial services are required to cooperate with their governments, perhaps second only to defense industries, perhaps first due to the need to track worldwide arms sales. Control of arms means control of wealth, and nothing is more appreciated by the few wealthy to offload arms cost to millions of taxpayers.

We asked Mr. Young how he viewed the implications of the same billionaire who is allegedly implicated in these documents, buying out the involved reporters (both of them) and getting ownership of the whistleblower’s leaked documents:

Billionaires are as obliged as financial services to cooperate with governments in order to protect their wealth and to guard against excessive taxation, expropriation, confiscation, prosecution, stigmatization and exclusion from government contracts. Cooperation with governments is essential for wealth accumulation, the greater the wealth the greater the cooperation… Whistleblowing on the whistleblowing industry is overdue, but that will take courage and ingenuity to avoid appearing to have been taken over by those expecting to avoid full disclosure.

Here is what WikiLeaks had to say about Pierre Omidyar and his PayPal Corporation’s war on whistleblowers:

"How can you take something seriously when the person behind this platform went along with the financial boycott against WikiLeaks?" Harrison was referring to the decision in December 2010 by PayPal, which is owned by eBay, to suspend WikiLeaks' donation account and freeze its assets after pressure from the US government. The company's boycott, combined with similar action taken by Visa and Mastercard, left WikiLeaks facing a funding crisis.

"His excuse is probably that there is nothing he could have done at the time," Harrison continued. "Well, he is on the board of directors. He can't shake off responsibility that easily. He didn't even comment on it. He could have said something like: 'we were forced to do this, but I am against it'."

Whistleblower William Russell, who served with the NSA, U.S. Secret Service, and as an officer and transport pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps, had the following reaction to this exploitive PayPal-Journalist-Government collusion:

I completely agree with these whistleblowers. This is a major conflict of interest and highly convoluted. Omidyar has billions at stake if the details of his cooperation with government is ever exposed. So this guy pays $250 million and buys out the 2 journalists who have the entire cache?! Simply outrageous!"

Sibel Edmonds, the founder and director of National Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC) which represents over 150 government national security whistleblowers, states:

We have been told that these journalists have had over one hundred meetings with U.S. government officials in order to clear what “could be” or “could not be” released. That’s a fact, and it is highly disturbing. On one hand they say the government considers these documents and revelations highly classified and stolen property. Yet, we see a mainstream publisher offering millions of dollars to the journalist, and getting a ‘go ahead’ from the US government to publish it. We see a billionaire corporate man, never known for being pro civil liberties or Human Rights, and someone who is implicated in these illegal government activities paying off the journalists and getting ownership of the NSA documents. We see a government sanctioned Hollywood mega-million movie deal. We see lies, inconsistencies, contradictions, censorship, voluntary withholding, exploitation of a whistleblower … This smoke and mirrors filled fakery stinks to high heaven!

As stated by Guardian’s Rusbridger, who recently gave evidence to the British parliamentary committee about stories based on Snowden’s NSA leaks: Greenwald and the Guardian had consulted with government officials and intelligence agencies – including the FBI, GCHQ, the White House and the Cabinet Office – on more than 100 occasions before the publication of stories.

The enormous conflict of interest and ethical impropriety of PayPal owner Omidyar’s business venture with Glenn Greenwald, the journalist in possession of the documents, is not limited to PayPal being directly implicated in documents exposing NSA’s illegal activities and operations. There are other equally disturbing and outrageous facts that put in question the integrity of the journalists, including their sudden enormous gains, wealth, fame, and the apparent government’s consent.

There is documented evidence illustrating Pierre Omidyar’s historical attitude and position on publishers, reporters and whistleblowers who publicize incriminating government documents. Here is one, coming directly from billionaire Omidyar:

That’s right. The above twit was typed by Omidyar’s own fingers on July 16, 2009.

But please don’t be mistaken. Pierre Omidyar doesn’t only talk the talk. No sir, the man actually walks his talk. Slightly over a year after Omidyar made the above statement he engaged in the following action:

NEW YORK: US-based online payment service PayPal has decided to block financial transfers to WikiLeaks after governments around the world initiated legal action against the whistleblower website.

"PayPal has permanently restricted the account used by WikiLeaks due to a violation of the PayPal Acceptable Use Policy, which states that our payment service cannot be used for any activities that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity," PayPal said in statement released late Friday.

Wikileaks was not the only whistleblower entity to fall victim to PayPal’s war on government whistleblowers’. In 2011, two years after freezing Wikileaks’ account, Omidyar’s PayPal cut off the account for Bradley Manning Support:

Glyn Moody now points us to the news that PayPal has also decided to cut off the group "Courage to Resist," which was handling funds for Bradley Manning's defense effort. PayPal admits there's no legal basis for this. Apparently, the company just doesn't believe that some people should be allowed a fair trial.

The report also notes that they've had a PayPal account in good standing since 2006, with no problems at all. It's only once they were taking funds for Bradley Manning that PayPal shut them down. This is somewhat horrifying, frankly, and raises serious questions about PayPal as a business worth trusting.

Then, yet another recent example of violations inflicted by PayPal, this time upon Mailpile. Mailpile attempted to create a webmail client that is built with both security and usability in mind to counter government’s intrusions into hosted webmail accounts:

PayPal, for reasons known only to PayPal, has decided to freeze their funds and won't let Mailpile access the money that people donated PayPal is demanding an insane level of detail into Mailpile's personal finances and businessEven worse, it seems that the folks at PayPal recognize that it holds power over Mailpile, and seems almost to be lording that power over them

The history of the billionaire’s stand and actions, when it comes to liberties, whistleblowers and freedom of the press, seems to be limited to: opposing, fighting and quashing government whistleblowers at every chance. Simply put, Mr. Omidyar has been consistently maintaining his stand as a billionaire who is pro-government, anti-government whistleblowers, and against transparency.

Omidyar’s pro government and anti-whistleblowers philosophy and principles are shared equally when it comes to his partners and close associates. Here is Mr. Omidyar’s PayPal Partner and close friend- Max Levchin, who says that the NSA isn’t being evil, and that the agency’s violation is for our own good and protection from terrorists:

The NSA is designed to protect us from terrorism, so even if it oversteps its bounds, PayPal co-founder Max Levchin says we shouldn’t hate it. That’s diametrically opposed to the sentiment of many in the tech industry, including Michael Arrington who thinks the NSA’s spying doesn’t stop terrorism — it is terrorism.

“I think it’s ridiculous for a citizen of a country that view his government’s duty to protect me, protect all of us from evil, from harm, from terrorists, from foreign powers meaning ill — to classify a body of government that is designed to figure out what might hit us next and prevent it, throwing them into an evil bucket is just thoughtless.”

Let’s watch Pierre Omidyar’s PayPal partner and close friend in action, shall we?

PayPal Co-Founder Defends NSA Surveillance

This interview was conducted in the summer of 2013. This was right in the midst of the Edward Snowden and NSA Scandal. This is what Pierre Omidyar and his closest friend and PayPal partner believed then. And this is what they believe now. There has been no change either in Omidyar’s or his partner’s position and belief since. There has been zero indication of either of them seeing the light called civil liberties.

PayPal co-founder Max Levchin is not the only PayPal man who is pro-NSA illegal surveillance and corporate-government partnerships in targeting the population at large. Here are other PayPal Men and former partners who have been directly linked to government spying and surveillance operations, and of course, the CIA:

Palantir Technologies, a Silicon Valley firm, is, according to the tipster, providing the technology that enables the mass-surveillance NSA project known as PRISM.

Palantir (which, at time of writing, had not responded to requests for comment) was founded in 2004 by, among others, venture capitalist Peter Thiel and CEO Alex Karp. It's a sort of second-party data intelligence company--it's not a public company, but it was founded with early investment from the CIA and is heavily used by the military and the White House. Karp is an ex-PayPal guy, and leveraged his expertise in security he gained at PayPal (which was constantly fighting off hackers) into his new venture.

Here is more on this CIA Company and its originators, all from PayPal’s early days:

Palantir’s advisors include Condoleezza Rice and former CIA director George Tenet, who says in an interview that “I wish we had a tool of its power” before 9/11. General David Petraeus, the most recent former CIA chief, describes Palantir to FORBES as “a better mousetrap when a better mousetrap was needed” …

We must not forget PayPal’s position and its actual business goals. PayPal is an international e-commerce business allowing payments and money transfers to be made through the Internet. It operates in 190 markets and manages more than 232 million accounts, more than 100 million of them active. PayPal allows customers to send, receive, and hold funds in 26 currencies worldwide. It is subject to the US economic sanction list and subject to other rules and interventions required by US laws or the government. All that, and the fact that PayPal has always been a valuable asset and partner of the U.S. government, even when it comes to operations directed against the people’s rights and privacy.

Remember, NSA wants access to our data. All data. Based on the latest revelations we already know that:

“Companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft — they all get together with the NSA and provide the NSA with direct access to the backends to all of the systems you use to communicate, to store your data, to put things in the cloud, and even just to send birthday wishes and keep a record of your life. And they give the NSA direct access that they don’t need to oversee, so they can’t be held liable for it.”

So far, Greenwald and the rest of the mainstream media have been emphasizing a handful of company names valuable to the NSA as great sources of data gathering on individuals - companies and organizations such as Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft. Now think about it, if NSA is that interested in garbage personal details we post on Facebook, how interested would it be in a far more telling database such as PayPal, where it can get all our expenditures, money transfers, payments and donations?

Prior to Snowden revelations we had NSA’s easy access to and control of telecommunication companies such as AT&T and Verizon. Recently, based on less than 1% of Snowden’s documents we became aware of NSA’s incestuous partnership with social media and software companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple.

We still don’t have access to 99% of Snowden’s NSA documents and revelations. Obviously the 50,000+ page documentations includes many other companies and organizations, including those in possession of the public’s financial transaction data. We are talking credit card companies and other related financial institutions. More importantly, we are talking about one of the world’s largest online money transfer entities, PayPal Corporation.

Thus, we all should be alarmed when we see that those implicated in the whistleblower’s documented evidence are now forming a multi-million dollar business venture with those in possession of that evidence.  We all must question the unexplained changes in the U.S. government’s position on the ownership and publication of these documents. We must all be wary when we see how readily mainstream publishers and Hollywood studios are signing up to publicize these documents and the case with some unexplained immunity. We have to ask ourselves: what has changed? What gives? Only a few months ago there was all this talks about apprehension, jailing, hanging and droning of all parties involved. Only a few months ago the parties involved put on a magnificent show on how they were threatened, endangered, and were going to be persecuted and prosecuted. Then, suddenly, something changed. Something gave. Was it a secret deal struck between the government and the involved parties establishing immunity and support in return for something much more cynical and dark? Was it the involved parties using the cache as a blackmailing tool to secure a $250 million payoff?  Was it a solemn oath to withhold and never release the ‘real’ deal in return for a glamorous life with Hollywood studio deals and multi-million dollar book contracts? 

Which one is it? We have no way of knowing, since lips seem to have been sealed, and the release of the ‘real’ documents has been vaguely put on hold for years to come. On the other hand, thanks to some ‘real’ whistleblowers out there, we are getting some information putting this smoke and mirrors filled stage into perspective. Even if so far we have gotten to see only the tip of this convoluted and corrupted iceberg.

# # # #

Sibel Edmonds is the Publisher & Editor of Boiling Frogs Post, the Founder & Director of National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC), and the author of the Memoir Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story. She is the recipient of the 2006 PEN Newman's Own First Amendment Award for her “commitment to preserving the free flow of information in the United States in a time of growing international isolation and increasing government secrecy” Ms. Edmonds has a MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University.

William Binney Spent almost 40 years at the NSA but resigned after Sept. 11 over concerns about growing domestic surveillance. He spent time as director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group and was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network.

Russell Tice is a Former NSA Intelligence Analyst & Capabilities Operations Officer Specializing in Offensive Information Warfare (O-IW). In 2005 Tice helped spark a national controversy over claims that the NSA and the DIA were engaged in unlawful and unconstitutional wiretaps on US citizens, and later admitted that he was one of the sources that were used in the NY Times’ reporting on the wiretap activity in 2005.

William H. Russell served nine years with the U.S. Secret Service as a Computer Systems Analyst, and nine years with NSA, working with and supervising NSA contractors for the installation and testing of computer systems. Mr. Russell also served four years as officer and transport pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Class of 1957, and is a Graduate of McPherson College, Kansas in Business Administration.

John Young is the founder and publisher of Crytome.Org, the digital library that functions as a repository for information about freedom of speech, cryptography, spying, and surveillance. According to its mission statement, "Cryptome welcomes documents for publication that are prohibited by governments worldwide, in particular material on freedom of expression, privacy, cryptology, dual-use technologies, national security, intelligence, and secret governance—open, secret and classified documents—but not limited to those."

Podcast Show #111: Why is Edward Snowden Censored by Craven Media – Washington Post & Guardian?

The Boiling Frogs Show Presents John Young

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In this episode of the Boiling Frogs Post Show Cryptome.Org’s John Young joins us to discuss and evaluate the recent controversies involving NSA’s illegal surveillance, PRISM, and whistleblower Edward Snowden. Mr. Young talks about Snowden’s choice of publications to release the crucial information, and these craven outlets’ arm-waving, self-aggrandizing verbosity, after conspiring to obey official demands to censor his information, as a pattern well-documented by unfettered disclosure sites. We discuss the trust-worthiness and reliability of the mainstream media outlets when it comes to disclosures and leaks by whistleblowers and much more!

Listen to the Preview Clip Here

Here is our guest John Young unplugged!

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BFP Exclusive: Revisiting My Silence on WikiLeaks

The Question(s) of Disappeared Documents & Missing Links

assangeA year or so ago I wrote a couple of pieces on the WikiLeaks case explaining my reluctance to form and communicate a conclusive opinion or reaction on this confusing intrigue. I encourage you to read my only two responses to the case here and here. Today, a new article paired with another fairly recent development in the case and a not so recent disclosure by a former WikiLeaks insider prompted another long-withheld response from me. Let me begin with the curious article from today’s news via RT:

US Government Demands Wikileaks Destroy All Files About Them- Assange

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has told a media summit that the US government has ordered Wikileaks to destroy all the material is has published on them and stop working with its sources in the government.

­“[When we released our documents] the Pentagon said we must destroy everything we published and were going to publish,” Assange said. ”And if we didn’t, we would be ‘compelled to do so,’” the summit’s website says. Assange made the allegation in the course of a speech made via Skype at the News 2011 Summit in Hong Kong.

Now let’s pair this up with two other developments in this case. I’ll start with the first one in December 2010.

Last December a former Wikileaks insider in one of its European branches contacted me with excitement and an anticipation inducing piece of information. According to this credible source the large cache of the State Department Cables contained explosive communication- discussions and reports that were directly related to my case which involved secret joint US-Turkey operations in Central Asia, the Caucasus and Balkans.

WikileaksThese cables, dated 1996 to 2002, were part of the case files I worked on during my work with the FBI. These FBI files and cases were later designated as ‘State Secrets Privilege,’ and with that came all the classification, gag orders and other retaliations in my case, spilling into congressional inquiries and active court cases. Basically everyone, every party, whether congressional offices or federal court judges, were slapped with a gag by the US government under the guise of ‘State Secrets’ only to cover up criminal black operations as part of hypocrisy-ridden US foreign policy in the target region. [Read more...]

The “Exceptionally “Redacted 9/11 Commission Interview

Newly Released 9/11 Commission Files at Cryptome.Org

911commLast week John Young’s information site Cryptome.Org began publishing documents related to the interviews conducted by the 9/11 Commission which were released for the first time. On January 3, Cryptome posted the 9/11 Commission’s report on my interview (the infamous Sibel Edmonds Case), and aptly titled this particular file as “Sibel Edmonds Censored Yet Again.” Once you read the PDF document you’ll quickly see the reason for Cryptome’s appropriate label. The entire report, by that I mean the entire report, is blacked out (actually, whited-out;-). It took me less than one minute to scan the entire document; basically, scrolling down the white pages-one white page after another. Initially, I was not a bit surprised. Hey, I’ve been declared the most gagged and classified person in US history, after all- State Secrets Privilege invocation twice, gagging the entire Congress for the first (and only) time in US history, hundreds of pages of blacked out DOJ-IG report… So, as I said, I didn’t find it a bit surprising.  However, after the minute it took to go over these blank pages, I started clicking and scanning all the other files (interviews by the 9/11 Commission), and that’s where I was truly surprised:

Despite some redactions here and there, and in a few cases fairly extensive redaction, there were no interviews where the entire interview (and the report on the interview) was blacked out in its entirety. Mine was the only one privileged and honored to such degree! Why? I mean, come on, we are talking about interviews with: FBI Special Agent in Charge on Counterterrorism, CIA Officers with Directorate of Intelligence with a Specific Focus on Drugs & Thugs, The Chairman of National Intelligence Council, NSA Chief of Counterintelligence & SIGNIT Support, Senior CIA Analysts…Yet, none of these interviews was redacted in its entirety. None. Please be my guest and make your own comparison; My 9/11 Commission interview document here, and the rest, here, here, here, here, here…You can check out the rest published by Cryptome here, and if you want more here for thousands of them. [Read more...]

Podcast Show #25

The Boiling Frogs Presents John Young

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John Young provides us with a brief overview of the history, purpose and mission of his well-known website Cryptome.Org. He talks about the recent controversy involving Microsoft Corporation’s attempted legal action against Cryptome, and the temporary shutdown of the site by the ISP Network Solutions. He speaks to the importance of the free flow of information and challenging the governments’ self-serving secrecy as prerequisites for an informed citizenry and a functioning democracy, the importance of whistleblowers and anonymous disclosures, the existence of various trap websites, impostors and false flag operators to manipulate information, trick whistleblowers, and or plant specific propaganda, and more.

John Young John Young is a New York based architect and online archivist who owns and operates Cryptome.Org, a website that functions as a repository for information about freedom of speech, cryptography, spying, and surveillance. In February 2010, the ISP Network Solutions shut down Mr. Young’s website after he posted a document summarizing Microsoft’s dealings with law enforcement agencies. Shortly after initiating legal action to suppress a document on how to subpoena online user data Microsoft withdrew the complaint, and the website was restored.

Here is our guest John Young unplugged!

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Week 1 Countdown Update & Noteworthy News

BFP Countdown, NATO & Drug Smuggling, Holbrook’s Stan(s), Ron Paul & More

Today marks the end of week 1 of our online fundraising campaign. I am thankful to those of you who have kindly donated and helped with getting the word out. We have had contributions from 235 of you; thank you! We still have a long way to go to reach the first benchmark of 1000. As you can see I am counting the number of supporters rather than the dollar amount. For me, that is far more important, and that’s why no amount is considered too small; your willingness to support this site is what really counts. So please, let’s unite on this and take the countdown journey together. We need your help to get the word out and invite others to join this campaign. How hard is it to bring together 1000 or so members of the irate minority club?  We can do it!
 

PLEASE DONATE NOW

Other Updates

Peter and I are scheduled to interview three exciting guests: Activist and the founder of Cryptome.Org, John Young, author and activist Naomi Wolf, and the Director of Project Censored, Peter Phillips.

Here is the latest from Jamiol’s World:
 

PatActExt

  
And here are a few noteworthy articles and links:

German company accused of drug smuggling in Afghanistan
Nancy Isenson, APN/AFP

A German waste management firm employed by the NATO mission in Afghanistan has been accused of involvement in drug smuggling. Allegations against Ecolog and the Macedonian family behind it date back to the war in Kosovo.

Allegations have surfaced that a German-based company contracted by NATO's ISAF troops in Afghanistan may have been involved in smuggling drugs out of the country.

"There is a chance that drugs or other such things have been smuggled," NATO General Egon Ramms, chief at ISAF headquarters in the Netherlands told German public broadcaster NDR.

The German general confirmed that an investigation was underway into allegations that Dusseldorf-based Ecolog used contracts with NATO or ISAF for illegal activities. The firm had been working for NATO in Afghanistan since 2003, Ramms said.

Ecolog is employed by ISAF to handle laundry services at various locations in Kabul as well as garbage disposal at the military airport and ISAF headquarters in the Afghan capital. The company had been in charge of fuel deliveries to NATO troops in the past.

According to NDR, initial allegations against Ecolog and the Macedonian-Albanian family behind the company date back to the war in Kosovo. Then NATO-led KFOR troops had already suggested there may have been links between the Destani family and organized crime.

NATO is investigating NATO, again; right?!  Anyone here remember Jan Willem Matser? Of course not. How could we be asked to remember something we never knew about? Thanks to our media here the name wouldn’t ring a bell with anyone except a few irate members here who read my piece last June.

Matser, a Dutch Lieutenant Colonel in Staff to NATO Secretary General George Robertson in charge of Eastern Europe, whose job gave him access to classified NATO material, was arrested on February 2003 in Wemmel, Belgium, and charged with trying to launder at least $200 million for an international drug cartel from his office at the alliance’s HQ in Brussels. Other criminals involved in Matser’s case were Mohammed Kadem, a Moroccan, and Pietro Fedino, a wealthy Sicilian with a previous conviction for cocaine smuggling.

Here is some background as reported by Times UK :

According to documents seen by The Sunday Times, the investigation began last September after customs police at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam received a tip-off about a FedEx parcel sent from Colombia to an address in the Netherlands. The parcel was found to contain a receipt for a £120m deposit at a bank in Bogotá and a fake document authorising the transfer of the same amount of money to Tender SA, a company registered in the Romanian town of Timisoara. The company is not suspected of any wrongdoing.

And here is some more background on the investigations from the same report by Times UK:

The information was passed to a police unit working for the Dutch finance ministry that specializes in combating organised crime. The package was fitted with a bug and resealed. It was allegedly received by Fedino, who is suspected by the Dutch police of being an Italian mafia boss. Five agents monitored him around the clock and listened to his telephone calls. It was this surveillance that led police to Matser. In a call taped on September 7, a man later identified as Matser said he was “going to be leaving NATO in half an hour”.

In a further conversation, on December 27, Matser allegedly said: “I’ll make false documents for the entire transaction . . . It’s no problem; my computer’s very patient and I can even recreate the official notary seals from old documents.” Matser also held several meetings with his alleged accomplices. One meeting with Kadem on Christmas Eve at the Airport hotel in Rotterdam was filmed by the surveillance team. Kadem was already the focus of four international drug investigations and had been sought by Interpol since 1996.”Investigators believe Matser helped to set up the scheme when NATO sent him to Romania last year to instruct central European intelligence chiefs on how to raise standards.”

Interestingly Dick Cheney’s Halliburton happened to be another contender for control of Romania’s Petrom. Here is the ‘Interesting’ Connection:

Matser and Tender are further connected by their failed attempt to gain control of PETROM National Society (SNP), a soon-to-be privatized Romanian oil-company, which produces 10% of the Romanian GDP. Tender, Matser and Halliburton formed a consortium in an effort to gain controlling stakes – 51% estimated to be worth approx. US$ 1 billion. A few days following the announcement of this trio’s interest, Matser was arrested. Subsequently, Romania’s Economy Ministry has made it known that the consortium had not met its criteria and was no longer being considered.”

NATO or its defendants never answered the following question that arose from the Matser Case, I guess they didn’t have to; after all, they are ‘NATO’:

The silence has been deafening which has greeted the revelation that NATO officials consort with some of the biggest gangsters in organised crime. Yet it is obvious what questions Matser’s convictions throws up. What did Matser’s bosses at NATO, including the Secretary-General, know about his criminal activities? How can a NATO official, with all the security controls which such a post implies, entertain friendship and business contacts with well-known gangsters and criminals? How can he amass such stupendous sums of money while holding down a full-time office job?

Despite serious charges supported by tons of evidence Matser was mysteriously acquitted :

A Dutch court on 27 January acquitted former NATO official Jan Willem Matser of charges he attempted to launder $200 million by channeling money from a Colombian bank account to Belgium via Romania, AP and AFP reported (see “RFE/RL Newsline,” 14 January 2004). The judge said prosecutors had failed to support the money-laundering charges. Matser was found guilty of forgery and fraud on two other accounts and was sentenced to 14 months in prison, but was ordered released because he has already served two-thirds of the sentence in pretrial detention. He was given three years’ probation.

No ‘real’ explanation has ever been provided for his acquittal. Matser was convicted of forgery but acquitted of other charges, including belonging to a criminal organization. Yep, that’s the kind of immunity you get if you are a NATO man directly or indirectly.

I don’t want to sound like an online gambling center operator, but who wants to bet against me on this:

The company in question, Ecolog, won’t be touched; NATO will make it swoooshhhhh disappear, and continue its ‘real’ business with our Langley guys in Afghanistan (and elsewhere).

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Holbrooke seeks Central Asia help for Afghanistan
Peter Leonard, AP News

U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke visited Kazakhstan on Sunday to drum up regional assistance in stabilizing Afghanistan, the last stop on his tour of former Soviet states in Central Asia.

The recent surge in the U.S. military contingent in Afghanistan has been accompanied by a U.S. effort to enlist help from neighboring nations in rebuilding the war-ravaged country and to provide reassurances that the war won't spill over the border. We are talking to all the countries that have a concern in the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and that is why we are here today," Holbrooke said in Kazakh capital of Astana.

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