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  • My understanding is that that the AQ Khan network was originally a Pakistani nuclear technology acquisition program started in the early-mid 1970s with the DCI Bush CIA looking the other way as part of the Safari Club deal with the Saudis. That genesis program was not codenamed Merlin.

    Not until later, during the Clinton years, did that program morph into CIA/CPD manipulation (management?) of the AQ Khan network as a tracking and sabotage program.

    I recall that Iran got its first shipment of Khan centrifuges in 1987 shortly after Iraq, as the Reagan-Bush Admin. played both sides off of each other. Some other countries, Libya, got their Khan equipment at this time, I recall.

    Merlin was the codename for the more limited operation run out of CIA/CPD to give Iran false A-bomb plans. I recall that goes back to late 1999 or early 2000. The was codenamed Operation Merlin and “may have been one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA,” according to Risen.

    The pressure on CIA/CPD to fabricate intel started immediately after the Bush-Cheney came into office with a call for reassessment of the programs of all targeted countries, including Iraq and Iran. Some within CIA/CPD resisted this and continued to produce honest reporting of the Chinese aluminum tubes headed to Iraq, for instance. Armitage publicly blew CIA/CPD’s cover on the AQ Khan operation on June 1, 2001. Grossman and some other people at State also outed CPD personnel at that time. CIA WINPAC, which is on the Agency’s analytical side, was more compliant. Outside contractors, such as Wade/Wilkes, were involved with some of the aluminum tube intel fabrications while Hatfill at CACI worked on the dummy germ trailers. Upon her return from maternity leave, Plame was transferred to the Iraq Task Force.

  • It’s not quite that way. Operation “Merlin” predates the Bush 43 era, and it was essentially a covert CIA effort to delay and sabotage Iran’s nuclear program that dates to the mid-1980s. The AQ Khan network sold a bunch of crappy second-hand uranium enrichment centrifuges that always broke down requiring specialized imported replacement parts to several targeted countries.

    For years, the CIA was able to monitor the (lack of progress) the targeted countries were making by the rate they ordered replacement parts. The Khan P-1 centrifuge device was no doubt the worst in the world.

    The corresponding plan to give Iran false nuclear bomb plans was just one part of a larger deception and slow sabotage program. It was a particularly dangerous one because, had Iran been foolish enough to try to make such a device, the Bush Admin. would have jumped on it as a casus belli, similar to the false accusations of a reconstituted Iraqi WMD program.

    Ironically, it was the Bush-Cheney cabal that outed the work of the CIA Counter-Proliferation Division (CIA/CPD) when, in late May 2001, Richard Armitage leaked to the Rupert Murdoch Times of London a story that the US was watching AQ Khan and his customers.

    Why Armitage was never indicted for this wrecking of CIA/CPD and his related outing of Valerie Plame at CIA/CPD is the real untold back story.

    Sterling appears to have been a junior officer who took the heat for the failed Merlin faulty bomb plans operation. Valerie Plame was on maternity leave at the time the operation went down in flames.

    Risen isn’t quite a hero on this as he could have been, as he waited until after the ’04 elections to publish the story, and skipped over the role of Armitage (Cheney) in outing CIA/CPD in 2001.

  • leveymg commented on the blog post Using Domestic Surveillance to Get Rapists to Spy for America

    2011-06-07 13:51:57View | Delete

    They hate our freedoms.

    To the Olsons and the Sibermans, we are a nation of snitches and terrorists.

    No wonder they hate our freedoms. It gets in the way of their operations that produce more . . . you got it, snitches and terrorists.

    Ad nausea, a boot coming down on a human face, forever.

  • leveymg commented on the diary post DoD Inspector General: Intel Agency Ordered to Stop Pre-9/11 Tracking of Bin Laden by Jeff Kaye.

    2011-05-25 11:54:43View | Delete

    . . . e-mail at the end of the article. ;-)

  • leveymg commented on the diary post DoD Inspector General: Intel Agency Ordered to Stop Pre-9/11 Tracking of Bin Laden by Jeff Kaye.

    2011-05-25 11:46:52View | Delete

    Thank you, Jeff. Great catch. What’s the best way to get back to you if I find anything you might be interested in?

  • leveymg commented on the diary post DoD Inspector General: Intel Agency Ordered to Stop Pre-9/11 Tracking of Bin Laden by Jeff Kaye.

    2011-05-25 07:41:30View | Delete

    This is new material that hasn’t been published before. Needs new title as a lot of people will assume this is about ABLE-DANGER or the CIA’s Alec Station. DO5 is not elsewhere on Google, which is amazing. What are the page references and links for IG report where we can read the reference first-hand? BTW: [...]

  • leveymg commented on the blog post Government Subpoenas James Risen for the Third Time

    2011-05-24 12:04:49View | Delete

    Reading between the lines, and the timeline, it appears that Sterling thought he was scapegoated for the failure of Merlin, a program he seems to have been an internal critic. Nobody likes a skeptic. It was a lose-lose for him when the operation went sour in February 2000. Sterling was low man on the totem pole and most expendable.

    Perhaps, looking for an honorable out from the CIA — without judging its merits — Sterling filed his discrimination suit in April, something he would not have otherwise done at that time. The higher-ups in the Agency did not appreciate that action by Sterling, and revoked his security clearance – effectively firing him in March 2001. Later in 2002, after the Agency denied his complaint and officially terminated him in January 2002, Sterling first communicated by e-mail with Risen at The NYT.

    The Sterling matter has some parallels with the Bush-Cheney Administration’s outing of CIA/Counter-Proliferation Division (CIA/CPD) where Sterling and Plame had worked. (Did Sterling take over some of Plame’s job duties when the latter went out on maternity leave, dodging the bullet when the operation went bad? – anyone know?) In June 2001, Richard Armitage leaked to The Financial Times of London that the US had learned about AQ Khan’s nuclear proliferation network, which was an overlapping project for the CPD team.

    By revealing what he did, Armitage effectively tipped off the Pakistanis and the rest of Khan’s network, along with their customers. This was followed by Scooter Libby’s outing of Valerie Plame (who had worked in the same unit – CIA/Counter-Proliferation Division), which was not fully cooperative with the Bush-Cheney White House’s efforts to “sex up” evidence of an Iraqi WMD program. In July 2003, the Plame Affair became public, and after the 2004 election, Risen published his book, which exposed the botched Merlin operation.

    Sterling has detailed first-hand knowledge of many of the details of CIA/CPD’s work in Iran, as well as the AQ Khan network that would be embarrassing to the Agency and shed light on the Bush-Cheney’s outing of the unit and of Plame. The invocation of State Secrets and the subpoena of Risen now is an effort to put those genies back in the bottle and damage containment with a chilling effect on any corporate media that would still report these sort of things.

    Operation Merlin Wiki:

    Operation Merlin is an alleged United States covert operation under the Clinton Administration to provide Iran with a flawed design for building a nuclear weapon in order to delay the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program.


    In his book State of War, author and intelligence correspondent for The New York Times, James Risen claims that the CIA chose a defected Russian nuclear scientist to provide deliberately flawed nuclear warhead blueprints to Iranian officials in February 2000. Operation Merlin backfired when the nervous Russian scientist noticed the flaws and pointed them out to the Iranians, hoping to enhance his credibility and to protect himself against retaliation by the Iranians, while still advancing what he thought was the CIA plan to use him as a double agent inside Iran. Instead, the book alleges, Operation Merlin may have accelerated Iran’s nuclear program by providing useful information, once the flaws were identified, and the plans compared with other sources, such as those presumed to have been provided to the Iranians by A. Q. Khan.
    Indictment of former CIA-officer

    In late 2010, former CIA-officer Jeffrey Alexander Sterling was indicted for revealing to James Risen the transfer of the nuclear blueprints by the CIA to Iran.

    Jeffrey Sterling Wiki:

    CIA employment

    Jeffrey Alexander Sterling joined the CIA on 14 May 1993, and in 1995 became Operations Officer in the Iran Task force of CIA’s Near East and South Asia division. He held a Top Secret security clearance and had access to Sensitive Compartmented Information, including classified cables, CIA informants and operations. After training in Persian in 1997 he was sent first to Bonn, Germany, and two years later to New York City to recruit Iranian nationals as agents for the CIA, as part of a secret intelligence operation related to the weapons capabilities of Iran. In April 2000, Sterling filed a complaint about racial discrimination practices by CIA management with CIA’s Equal Employment Office. The CIA subsequently revoked Sterling’s authorization to receive or possess classified documents concerning the secret operation, and placed him on administrative leave in March 2001. After the failure of two settlement attempts, his contract with the CIA was terminated on 31. January 2002.

    Equal Employment law suit

    Sterling’s law suit accusing CIA officials of racial discrimination was dismissed by the judge invoking the State secrets privilege, as the litigation would have required the disclosure of classified information. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal, ruling in 2005 that “there is no way for Sterling to prove employment discrimination without exposing at least some classified details of the covert employment that gives context to his claim.”
    Indictment and arrest under the Espionage Act

    Between 2002 and 2004 the U.S. federal government intercepted several interstate emails to and from Sterling, which were “(…) routed through a server located in the Eastern District of Virginia (…)”. The authorities also traced telephone calls between Sterling and – according to a senior government official – the journalist and book author James Risen. In the intercepted communications Sterling allegedly revealed national defense information to an unauthorized person.

    On 22 Dec 2010, U.S. attorney Neil H. MacBride filed an indictment against Jeffrey Alexander Sterling on the Unlawful Retention and Unauthorized Disclosure of National Defense Information, Mail Fraud, Unauthorized Conveyance of Government Property, and Obstruction of Justice. Sterling was arrested on 6 January 2011. Sterling became the fifth individual in the history of the United States who has been charged under the Espionage Act with mishandling national defense information.

    In a hearing at the U.S. District Court on 14 Jan 2011, Sterling’s defense attorney Edward MacMahon entered a not guilty plea. MacMahon reported to the court that he was still waiting for clearance to discuss the case in detail with his client.

    Valerie Plame Wiki:

    Beginning in 1997, Plame’s primary assignment was shifted to the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The CIA’s Ishmael Jones confirmed her status as a NOC or “deep cover officer” and remarked that she was talented and highly intelligent, but decried the fact that her career largely featured US-based Headquarters service, typical of most CIA officers.

    She married Wilson in 1998 and gave birth to their twins in (January) 2000, and resumed travel overseas in 2001, 2002, and 2003 as part of her cover job. She met with workers in the nuclear industry, cultivated sources, and managed spies. She was involved in ensuring that Iran did not acquire nuclear weapons.(Note: that Plame may have been on maternity leave at the time that Merlin went bad)

    During this time, part of her work concerned the determination of the use of aluminum tubes purchased by Iraq. CIA analysts prior to the Iraq invasion were quoted by the White House as believing that Iraq was trying to acquire nuclear weapons and that these aluminum tubes could be used in a centrifuge for nuclear enrichment. However, David Corn and Michael Isikoff argued that the undercover work being done by Plame and her CIA colleagues in the Directorate of Central Intelligence Nonproliferation Center strongly contradicted such a claim.


    Flow of Valerie Plame Information
    Main articles: CIA leak grand jury investigation, Plame affair, and Plame affair criminal investigation

    On July 14, 2003, Washington Post journalist Robert Novak, from information obtained from Richard Armitage at the US State Department, effectively ended Valerie Plame’s career with the CIA (from which she later resigned in December 2005) by revealing in his column her identity as a CIA operative. Legal documents published in the course of the CIA leak grand jury investigation, United States v. Libby, and Congressional investigations, allegedly establish her classified employment as a covert officer for the CIA at the time that Novak’s column was published in July 2003.

    In his press conference of October 28, 2005, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald explained in considerable detail the necessity of “secrecy” about his grand jury investigation that began in the fall of 2003 — “when it was clear that Valerie Wilson’s cover had been blown” — and the background and consequences of the indictment of Lewis Libby as it pertains to Valerie E. Wilson.

  • Reports of mystery helicopters have unfortunate connotations. Seems like something that may waste a lot of time and raise questions about the judgment of those who pursue this angle too avidly, if not altogether a poisoned well. But, certainly raises questions about why this was previously unknown and why the flight log would be redacted.

    Would be more significant if the helicopter were somehow involved before the body was found. But, as always . . . step carefully in cow pastures.

  • Guess the real question is: were the anthrax attacks in the wake of 9/11 opportunistic, or was there a coordinated plan of action that would have sprung out of the same “cells” (I wasn’t the one who first applied that term) that had been, since at least 1997, preparing the false intelligence that justified the Iraq invasion?

  • Re: Porton Down connection(s). One facet that has not received enough attention is the QinteQ and Porton Down connection through another Board member and the CEO. Guess who recently took over the US affiliate of the privatized UK biowar company? Steve Cambone. Who was second to the top of the Office of Special Plans (OSP) chain of command under Rumsfeld?

    Read the top and bottom several paragraphs of this:

    Daily Kos: US, UK Built “Replica” Iraqi DirtyBomb and Germ Labs …- Aug 4 Stephen Cambone, Rumsfeld’s Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, …. Dr. Kelly was head of the Microbiology Division at Dstl, Porton Down, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/3/27/153157/057/243/484860

  • What the evidence seems to point to here is that the anthrax was made to look like it was Iraqi,and those findings came from Dept. of Defense labs. Furthermore, the FBI never did adequately trace that back to determine exactly by whom and why that apparent fakery was carried out.

    The implication I read here is that the anthrax attacks were carried out as part of the falsified intelligence that got us into the Iraq War. As we all know, much of the Iraq deception operation was organized by the Office of Vice President Cheney and the Office of Special Plans (OSP) under Donald Rumsfeld, Steve Cambone, Doug Feith, Luti, et al., and that this same group was also involved in engineering the faked aluminum tubes findings.

  • When you’re passing through Immigration, you’re in legal no-man’s land.

    No right to an att’y at the Port-of-Entry.

    That’s why, if you are facing hostile questioning, it’s a really bad idea to answer any substantive questions without counsel other than to insist that one is a U.S. Citizen with a lawful passport and are thus entitled, by law, to admission.

    They can take you into custody at the Port-of-Entry, but they can’t detain or interrogate you for a prolonged period without charges or a warrant. If they do detain a US Citizen or Lawful Resident without charges, one’s lawyer should file an Emergency Habeas Corpus with a U.S. District Judge. CBP may threaten one with a period of detention pending a hearing before an Immigration Judge on the issue of citizenship, but counsel may still go immediately to US District Court to seek release.

    This is without reference to the particulars of Mr. Mohamed’s case. If I were with the FBI, I would also try to question him at the airport, but would have to release him after a couple hours if he didn’t incriminate himself and there wasn’t enough to charge him with anything.

    However, if they really want to hold onto you, the feds will do as they did in the Jose Padilla case: remove you to another federal facility without giving your family or lawyer notice. A kind of internal rendition. In the Rumsfeld v. Padilla case, SCOTUS found by a 5-4 that the habeas petition had been misfiled because it was filed in NY and named Def. Sec. Rumsfeld instead of the brig commander in S. Carolina where Padilla had been moved without notice. That presumably remains a legal tactic.

    - Mark