Tuesday, September 26, 2006


KTM - First Scalp?

Very interesting news. In my backgrounder post regarding Douglas and Melek Can Dickerson, I wrote:
The Dickersons appear to have already disappeared into retirement - and by all accounts haven't been seen since they fled the country.
It turns out this isn't true - Miguel explains (in his very best AP voice):
Key Figure In US/Turkish Espionage Scandal Promoted

The case of former FBI whistleblower and translator Sibel Edmonds may have taken yet another bizarre twist. NATO sources who recently viewed the Belgian broadcast of the new documentary about Edmonds' case, Kill The Messenger, have contacted the whistleblower to say that Air Force Major Douglas Dickerson who, along with his wife, is accused by Edmonds of being involved in espionage and other illegal activities on behalf of Turkey, has received a promotion.
According to the sources, Dickerson has been promoted from Major to Lieutenant Colonel and transferred from Belgium to Yokota Air Force Base in Japan where he is the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron Director of Operations . A Google search appears to partially confirm Edmonds' NATO sources: a January 23, 2006 online article of the military publication Stars and Stripes identifies a Douglas Dickerson as 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron's "acting commander", although he is still identified as a Major. It is not clear when, if ever, Dickerson's promotion took place.

If true, the incident is another piece of evidence that the Bush Administration's "war on terror" is directed principally at low-level suspects like former Guantanomo Bay translator James Yee, with well connected figures such as Dickerson being protected and even rewarded for potentially treasonous acts. The Turkish espionage is significant in the "war on terror" because Edmonds has intimated on more than one occasion that there were significant ties between al Qaeda's financial network and Turkish groups in the years leading up to 9-11, although this information apparently has been kept under wraps by the Bush Administration in order to avoid embarrassing what is now a key U.S. ally in fighting al Qaeda guerillas in Afghanistan.

Those familiar with the FBI translator case will recall that it was Douglas Dickerson's wife, Melek Can Dickerson, who was alleged to have mistranslated several wiretaps related to FBI targets at the Turkish Embassy and the American Turkish Council (ATC), an organization where Dickerson had previously held an intern position. According to Edmonds, shortly after Melek Dickerson joined the FBI as a Turkish translator, she and her husband Doug Dickerson paid an unexpected visit one Sunday morning to the Edmonds' household and made a blatant attempt to recruit Sibel and her husband Matthew into the ATC. The recruitment attempt led to the FBI agent in charge of Turkish counterintelligence requesting Sibel Edmonds to review Dickerson's wiretap translations, many of which upon re-translation appear to have been deliberately mistranslated in order to cover-up a major scandal: Some of the wiretaps revealed Turkish nationals boasting of payoffs to high-level U.S. officials- and the involvement of Turkey in the nuclear black market and Bin Laden-linked heroin trade.

What remains unclear is whether Doug Dickerson is currently under investigation by the United States Air Force. In early 2002, the Air Force opened an investigation into Dickerson based on a letter sent by Edmonds' attorneys. That initial investigation was closed down that same year. However, David Rose, who wrote the Vanity Fair article on Edmonds, "An Inconvenient Patriot", later
related on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now that the Air Force investigation had been re-opened in 2005. According to Edmonds, the Air Force has never contacted her as a witness, so it is not clear whether or not the second investigation of Dickerson is still under way. In addition to relating to Edmonds news about Dickerson's apparent promotion, the NATO sources say Dickerson's bosses " are the same individuals who have been protecting Douglas Feith & Richard Perle from being thoroughly investigated by the FBI." Feith and Perle, both associated with the Turkish lobbying firm International Advisors Inc. (IAI) were claimed by Brad Friedman of Bradblog.com in March of this year of having an ongoing relationship with Douglas Dickerson. That relationship has not been independently confirmed.

Here is the quote from David Rose on Democracy Now, Aug 05:
"I think there's one very important new development, which has not been reported, because it took place after the magazine went to press, which is that in addition to making her complaints against the F.B.I. and talking about the apparent evidence of possible espionage, which she had discovered on the part of her colleague, Melek Can Dickerson, at the F.B.I., and her husband, an Air Force major, Douglas Dickerson. Back in 2002, Sibel Edmonds wrote to the Office of Special Investigation and the Air Force Inspector General, which conducted a very brief investigation in the summer of 2002 and in September 2002, after less than three weeks, without interviewing Sibel herself, the Air Force Inspector General wrote to Sibel Edmonds and her then attorneys and said that the case was closed, that they were not pursuing her allegations against the Dickersons, which I will go into in just a moment.

But the new development is that just ten days ago, her attorney in Washington, Mark Zaid, received a message from the Office of Special Investigation at the Air Force saying that after this very long gap, nearly three years, they were reopening the investigation into the Dickersons, into Can Dickerson and her husband, Douglas, and might at some near future date seek to interview Sibel. Now, it may or may not be coincidental that, as part of the research for my article for Vanity Fair, I had submitted about 150 different questions about the entire case to the Air Force, to other parts of the Pentagon, to the D.O.J. and the F.B.I., and none of these questions were answered, but they did, of course, set out in enormous detail the various allegations that are being raised. Following the receipt of those questions, the investigation was formally reopened, which is, I think, perhaps significant."
The letters that Sibel and her attorneys sent to Joseph E. Schmitz (Inspector General, DoD), Senator John Warner, & Alberto Gonzales, demanding an investigation into the Dickersons are here.

Dickerson's squadron recently "set out on a 120-day deployment this week in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom." Dickerson had the nerve to reflect thusly:
"Just one week from today is the day that Al Qaida struck the World Trade Center... We're coming up on the five-year anniversary of Sept. 11 and Airmen are just as enthusiastic (to deploy) today as they were then."
The Dickersons' assets are now reportedly under Melek Can's maiden name, Melek Can Harputlu, and she is now based in Ankara.

via email, Miguel notes:
" So this is now it works- play by the rules, you get harassed, steamrolled and villified. Lie, cheat, steal and take bribes and you get a raise and a nice cushy assignment in the Far East. It's the Peter Principle on steroids."
Incidentally, Douglas Dickerson was previously in weapons procurement - first as an attache in Ankara from 1991-1995, then in Germany till 1999 when the Dickersons moved to the US and he was given weapons procurement responsibility for all of the Turkic countries.

Thanks to the folks at NATO, let us know if you have any more dirt. Same for the good folks at Yokota.

(Incidentally, Miguel has previously speculated that Dickerson was at Yokota. Great job Miguel!)

(updated for clarity)

One slight clarification- when I contrast Dickerson vs. Yee, I don't mean to imply that Dickerson is so much higher ranking than Captain Yee- my point is that Dickerson is allied with powerful people like Perle and Feith- who are 'protected'- while Yee has no important political connections that I know of.
One thing I've never understood- is how the US military gets involved in "weapons procurment" for other countries. Does this mean Dickerson is like a salesman, showing these countries which weapons systems used by the U.S. military that they should buy for their own countries?

In other words, is Dickerson just a front for defense contractors who want to make big profits?
Miguel - point understood re Yee - so you want me to amend it?
re "weapons procurement" - I'm not sure how it works either.

but yes, generally, in one way or another, it seems like Dickerson was just a front.

It's kind of to reconcile that with what he is doing now, though. I'm not sure how that all fits together.
Yes, if you could amend it would be great. How about "well connected" instead of "higher level"?
I'll repost the comments/responses to Viget's post from over at DKOS to Viget's same question:

LENLARGA: You Are A Very Wise Person Viget

"When did Sibel's intercepts date from? Are they pre-9/11? Because maybe the reason Plame joined JTFI in 2001 was that was when BJ's cover was blown?"

Her intercepts dated from 1997 to early 2002 (Feb.-March). Which means Plame/BJ's cover was blown at least a year and a half before the Novakula article.


VIGET: So then ...what do you think of the Fitzgerald investigation? If her cover was blown, then why bother investigating at all? I tend to think that her cover (as a covert CIA operative) wasn't necessarily blown pre-2003, but maybe her front company was. She clearly was still doing covert work as a part of the JTFI during the relevant time period.


"but maybe her front company was."

Once her front company cover was blown, any agent associated with that company was rendered useless as a covert operative- permanently. As far as the Fitzgerald investigation goes, it is hard to evaluate at this point. We still don't know the intent of Armitage and others in leaking her name- in one scenario, Armitage might have been trying to put the final stake in the coffin of B&J. But one point we must concede to the Rightists, however, is that Brewster, Jennings and Company's cover was not blown by Karl Rove or Scooter Libby- it was blown by a Clinton appointee retained by the Bush Administration- Marc Grossman several months before Wilson's oped. However, us Lefties have a concession prize- the involvement of Perle and Feith- directly or indirectly- in the very dirty business dealings that Plame and the CIA were monitoring.

I don't have much to add to that. It looks like Len and Viget did most of the heavy lifting.

Re Fitz, it's all a bit of a mystery, and it's also a mystery why Libby et al kept telling lies. They obviously thought they had something to hide, and Fitz apparently wants to know why.

I've been thinking about the genesis of the Fitzgerald investigation a lot recently. And I've decided that the Plame outing was, at its core, a shot across the bow of the CIA by the admin. In other words, we're not afraid to ruin any of your people's career if you don't play ball with us.

Now, the convenient fact that it also probably rolled up Plame's network of spies in Iraq and Iran reporting back to the JTFI was sort of icing on the cake (and this may be where Armitage and Grossman come in). And of course, it probably just made it all the easier to game future intel on Iraq and Iran (and thus make an Iran invasion easier to sell).

So, if I'm Fitzgerald, and I'm given this criminal complaint by the CIA investigators, which was probably launched by Tenet at the behest of his top lieutenants, I'm going to do my darndest to try and right things.

The fact that Valerie may have already been useless as a "pratical" covert agent (ie being able to work in the field) is meaningless when you're talking about an IIPA violation. All that matters there is that she *was* in the field at some point in the previous 5 years AND that the CIA is still taking pains to hide her affiliation with the agency.

Even if foreign intel services all KNOW that Plame is a spook, it doesn't matter, as long as that information isn't widely known in the US.

So what Libby, Rove, and possibly others did was still a violation of IIPA as long as Fitzgerald could prove that they KNEW Plame was covert when they leaked this info to journalists.

I think that's what Fitzgerald is having a hard time proving, as to be able to prove this in a court of law probably would require classified testimony and evidence which is all too susceptible to greymail defenses. And this may be why he chose to indict on perjury, obstruction, etc., because he KNEW a crime had been committed and justice needed to be carried out.

But I think, more intriguingly, is that by Libby lying his ass off, he's possibly opened up the door for Fitzgerald to charge conspiracy to obstruct and possibly conspiracy to out Plame. And hopefully, he's still working on this angle to get the big dick.

I think what motivates Fitzgerald today is not so much the Plame leak, per se, but rather the incidental info he discovered during the course of his investigation. In other words, I think he's mad as hell that the admin is misusing classified info and compromising national security for political gain. And he wants to nail the bastards on that. And I think he also believes that the folks at the CIA would be happy if he could get the admin (especially the Shooter) on charges that proves they were using classified info to shape opinion to lead us to war. And the Plame leak is just part of that I think.

So in the end, it's probably irrelevant to Fitzgerald whether for all practical purposes Valerie was no longer covert by July of 2003 (indeed, even if she was transitioning to official cover (meaning every foreign intel service would know she's a spy), she'd still be protected by IIPA). This whole investigation is more about punishing those who would use classified info for political gain at the expense of national security. And the Plame leak was just the most egregious (and unprecedented) example of that.
One other thing--

We'll probably never know, and I doubt Joe Wilson would tell us, but I'd absolutely LOVE to know what exactly the relationship is between Grossman and Wilson. Were they college buds at UCSB? Are they still friends? Were they friends at the time of Valerie's outing?

I just don't understand how you could screw over a friend's wife like that. And if that's true, why is Wilson protecting Grossman? Unless Grossman knows where Joe's skeletons are hidden?

To me this is one of the more intriguing bits of the Plame affair. But as it involves a lot of personal and private details, I guess we'll never know for sure. Though it could come out during the Wilson's suit.
Thanks for your excellent posts. I hope Luke will bump it up to keep the conversation going.

First of all, I agree with you that even if the BJ cover (and by extension Plame's cover) was blown well before July, 2003, the IIPA act may still have been violated. BJ being outed by Grossman, however, does have some implications for how the Left should approach this story.

I don't think we can any longer make the argument that Rove, Libby or Armitage destroyed a sensitive operation. Although Rove is a bastard that I'd like to see strung up by his Buster Browns, he is a small player in the whole thing, at least as far as what I know up to this point.

Where I believe the focus needs to be is on WHAT and WHO Brewster Jennings was spying on- a nuke black market trade that partially involves (according to Sibel), high-level U.S. officials like Perle, Feith and Grossman and God knows who else.

The outing of Plame in particular no longer interests me. I wish Val the best of luck in her lawsuit, though I don't trust her husband since he has shady business links with the ATC.

What I'm most interested in is shutting this black market trade down to the extent it can be; and making sure that any companies operating out of the U.S.- be they Turkish, Israeli or South African- put out of business.
I don't think Grossman intentionally went out to destroy Plame's career. In the initial leak (somtime in 2002 or before) Grossman had obviously been taking bribes from Turkey and he sold the information on Brewster Jennings to the Turks in exchange for money.

At least that's what I hypothesize.

In the second stage, which began in '03, I am not sure what Grossman was trying to do when he put Plame's name and covert status on that State Dept. Briefing.
btw, viget, welcome back! How is the residency going?

Not residency yet, I'm still in the lab trying to finish my phd, then I'll go to the clinics to finish up med school. It's been a long haul. Prob will graduate in 2009.

Yes, I agree with you. But I still think the Fitzgerald investigation is important for the reasons I highlighted, namely the leaking of classified info for political gain. Has it been done before? Almost assuredly.

But never with the brazeness and callousness that Cheney and co displayed. That kind of thinking and behavior needs to stop. Information is either classified or not for national security concerns, not to hide evidence of a crime or to score political points. And I think that's where Pat Fitzgerald wants to take this case.

I don't know if I agree in toto about conceding the fact that Libby, Rove, etc., may not have blown any sensitive info with their leak. That's too easily spun by the news cycle as "nothing to see here folks," and will diminish the import of the investigation IMHO. The point is that they were perfectly willing to out an American spy for political gain. Whether or not she was useful for practical considerations, I think, is a moot point. Certainly she had tons of experience in the agency, and was a valued asset in terms of her managerial experience. And I'm sure she could still be used in some covert capacity, albeit in a much reduced role.

But Libby and company deprived the CIA of her usefulness by outing her to the American public and shutting down her unit. Perhaps there were some NOCs in her unit that were under deep cover that hadn't been found out yet, but once it was definitively demonstrated that Plame was CIA, and the world saw the flap over that, foreign intel services, black market interests, terrorists, etc., might have decided to basically treat everyone she had contact with as a potential spy. And also Joe Wilson's contacts too.

Who knows what kind of damage might have been done? The CIA still hasn't done a formal damage assessment. (at least, not that we know of)

I'm sure we'll never know the whole picture, it'll all be classified and/or squelched by higher interests in the IC. Thought I too share your desire to see this black market operation shut down. But it seems like it's just too profitable for multinational players for that to happen. Too many people are playing both sides of the fence against each other.

Hopefully there is still a DoJ/CIA investigation on Perle/Feith that's active and is highly classified. Perhaps we'll know more if the dems take back the congress.

I agree with you in that it seems like Perle/Feith always are at the center of this spider web; certainly a number of active DoJ investigations seem to peripherally involve at least Perle (the AIPAC scandal and the Lord Black/Hollinger case are two that immediately come to mind).

For all we know, Fitzgerald may himself be coordinating some of these investigations. I can only hope he's at least sharing info with trusted careerist prosecutors who desire to see us rid of these rats!
thnx viget. all good points.

I've front-paged your comments again here

and added a couple of partial answers to yuor questions about an investigation into Feith and your question about a damage assessment.
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