[ RadSafe ] Tip-off thwarted nuclear spy ring probe

Clayton Bradt dutchbradt at hughes.net
Sun Jan 27 13:14:10 CST 2008

>From The Sunday Times (UK)
January 27, 2008
Tip-off thwarted nuclear spy ring probe
Insight: Chris Gourlay, Jonathan Calvert, Joe Lauria in Washington
AN investigation into the illicit sale of American nuclear secrets was 
compromised by a senior official in the State Department, a former FBI 
employee has claimed.

The official is said to have tipped off a foreign contact about a 
bogus CIA company used to investigate the sale of nuclear secrets.

The firm, Brewster Jennings & Associates, was a front for Valerie 
Plame, the former CIA agent. Her public outing two years later in 2003 
by White House officials became a cause celèbre.

The claims that a State Department official (This official has been 
identified elsewhere as Marc Grossman, former No. 3 at the Dept. of 
State who recently resigned to join The Cohen Group, consultants to the 
American Turkish Council...cjb) blew the investigation into a nuclear 
smuggling ring have been made by Sibel Edmonds, 38, a former Turkish 
language translator in the FBI’s Washington field office.

Edmonds had been employed to translate hundreds of hours of 
intercepted recordings made during a six-year FBI inquiry into the 
nuclear smuggling ring.

She has previously told The Sunday Times she heard evidence that 
foreign intelligence agents had enlisted US officials to acquire a 
network of moles in sensitive military and nuclear institutions.

Her latest claims relate to a number of intercepted recordings 
believed to have been made between the summer and autumn of 2001. At 
that time, foreign agents were actively attempting to acquire the West’
s nuclear secrets and technology.

Among the buyers were Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Paki-stan’s 
intelligence agency, which was working with Abdul Qadeer Khan, the 
“father of the Islamic bomb”, who in turn was selling nuclear 
technology to rogue states such as Libya.

Plame, then 38, was the glamorous wife of a former US ambassador, Joe 
Wilson. Despite recently giving birth to twins, she travelled widely 
for her work, often claiming to be an oil consultant. In fact she was a 
career CIA agent who was part of a small team investigating the same 
procurement network that the State Department official is alleged to 
have aided.

Brewster Jennings was one of a number of covert enterprises set up to 
infiltrate the nuclear ring. It is is believed to have been based in 
Boston and consisted of little more than a name, a telephone number and 
a post office box address.

Plame listed the company as her employer on her 1999 tax forms and 
used its name when she made a $1,000 contribution to Al Gore’s 
presidential primary campaign.

The FBI was also running an inquiry into the nuclear network. When 
Edmonds joined the agency after the 9/11 attacks she was given the job 
of reviewing the evidence.

The FBI was monitoring Turkish diplomatic and political figures based 
in Washington who were allegedly working with the Israelis and using 
“moles” in military and academic institutions to acquire nuclear 

The creation of this nuclear ring had been assisted, Edmonds says, by 
the senior official in the State Department who she heard in one 
conversation arranging to pick up a $15,000 bribe.

One group of Turkish agents who had come to America on the pretext of 
researching alternative energy sources was introduced to Brewster 
Jennings through the Washington-based American Turkish Council (ATC), a 
lobby group that aids commercial ties between the countries. Edmonds 
says the Turks believed Brewster Jennings to be energy consultants and 
were planning to hire them.

But she said: “He [the State Department official] found out about the 
arrangement . . . and he contacted one of the foreign targets and said 
. . . you need to stay away from Brewster Jennings because they are a 
cover for the government.

“The target . . . immediately followed up by calling several people to 
warn them about Brewster Jennings.

“At least one of them was at the ATC. This person also called an ISI 
person to warn them.” If the ISI was made aware of the CIA front 
company, then this would almost certainly have damaged the 
investigation into the activities of Khan. Plame’s cover would also 
have been compromised, although Edmonds never heard her name mentioned 
on the intercepts. Shortly afterwards, Plame was moved to a different 

The State Department official said on Friday: “It is impossible to 
find a strong enough way to deny these allegations which are both false 
and malicious.”

It would be more than two years before Khan was forced to admit he had 
been selling nuclear weapons technology to Libya, Iran and North Korea.

In the meantime, the role of Plame and Brewster Jennings became public 
knowledge in 2003. Plame’s husband, Wilson, wrote a report that 
undermined claims by President George W Bush that Saddam Hussein’s 
regime had attempted to buy uranium in Niger – a key justification for 
the invasion of Iraq.

The following week Robert Novak, a journalist, revealed that Wilson’s 
wife was a CIA agent. In the scandal that followed, Novak’s sources 
were revealed to be two senior members of the Bush administration. A 
third, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was convicted of obstructing the criminal 
investigation into the affair.

Phillip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, said: “It’s pretty clear Plame 
was targeting the Turks. If indeed that [State Department] official was 
working with the Turks to violate US law on nuclear exports, it would 
have been in his interest to alert them to the fact that this woman’s 
company was affiliated to the CIA. I don’t know if that’s treason 
legally but many people would consider it to be.”

The FBI denied the existence of a specific case file about any outing 
of Brewster Jennings by the State Department official, in a response to 
a freedom of information request. However, last week The Sunday Times 
obtained a document, signed by an FBI official, showing that the file 
did exist in 2002.

Plame declined to comment, saying that she was unable to discuss her 
covert work at the CIA.
Clayton J. Bradt
dutchbradt at hughes.net

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