Edited 13 March 2012: Please see correction below:
In an article that I just wrote yesterday titled, The Half-Truths and Missing Facts of Disarming Viktor Bout: The Chichakli – Schmidle Files, I mentioned that I haphazardly came across a ‘Pandora’s Box’.
I initially merely intended to write an article about a few inaccuracies in Nick Schmidle’s latest piece in The New Yorker, titled Disarming Viktor Bout. After I was contacted by Richard Chichakli about the many inaccuracies and half-truths based on their extensive email discourse as well as a query from another international journalist, I began to delved deeper into the truth. As I dug deeper I learned many more interesting pieces of the puzzle but at the same time it seemed that the puzzle also grew larger and became much harder to solve. Here is what I discovered.
Bad Journalist or Propagandist?
Last Sunday Richard Chichakli mentioned in one of his emails (quoted below), that he had nothing against Schmidle personally, he understood that he had editors and / or an agenda. I agreed with Richard Chichakli that Schmidle skewed the article as per his instructions but finding out whom instructed him was my ultimate objective. I initially had just a few minor queries in regards to Schmidle’s article. After I forwarded the [PDF] of his article to several associates, colleagues, journalists and other interested parties, my in box became quite active. Before I delved deeper into Schmidle’s background, I didn’t think that much about the questions and inaccuracies that I had found in his article. In fact, having met and spoken to Nick Schmidle on several occasions during the trial, I contacted him about my concerns regarding his article directly.
Here is my email to him:
Do you care to comment on my article that I am writing?
Dear Mr. Schmidle, I am writing a new article on Viktor Bout.
I would greatly appreciate any comments or clarification in your article that appeared in The New Yorker.
For isntance you quoted, “The U.S. allows federal agents to entice foreigners overseas into breaking American laws, and then capture them. It is one of only a few countries to do so.”
Can you please tell me other countries that you are aware of besides the United States as you mentioned there are a few, or at least one other country?
Also would you care to comment or name your source on the following quote: “After more than two years of legal wrangling, the Thai court approved Bout’s extradition.”
I do have sourced contradictory info regarding this topic that will appear in my article.
And finally, would you care to comment on why you would choose to interview or quote Stephen Braun and / or his relevancy? Unlike you or me, and Daniel Estulin as well as several others, Stephen Braun has never met nor interviewed Viktor Bout.
Thank you for your time and cooperation regarding this matter.
Have a wonderful day! Best regards, George Mapp
To his credit, Mr. Schmidle replied extremely promptly and politely. He pointed out that he had in fact not spoken to Stephen Braun and simply did not answer any other questions. I do admit it was extremely late when I read the article but the fact that he had quoted and / or referenced Stephen Braun [see correction below] shot out at me like a flare on a moonless night.
As I mentioned above it was extremely late when I read Schmidles’s piece. I accidentally confused the Brauns’ in the article. I apologize for any misunderstanding or confusion that this might have caused. I retract any reference to Stephen Braun being mentioned in Nick Schmidle’s piece that appeared in The New Yorker. It was in fact Michael Braun, the DEA’s former director of operations that was mentioned in his article. I am extremely proud that this is the first time that I have ever made a correction or retraction in any article that I have written! And I will gladly do so again immediately if I unknowingly print or write something that proves to be false.
As I my originally intention was to re-read Schmidle’s article and pick it apart, the truth of the matter was that I didn’t feel that it was worthy of my time. As Richard Chichakli, several other journalist’s as well as the dozen or so other articles saying that Schmidle was dishonest in his Navy SEALs take down of Osama bin Laden, including former CIA agent Larry Johnson, the direction of my article shifted. As I retracted the paragraph about Stephen Braun, it was only a small fraction of the article and doesn’t take away from all of the other stated facts nor shift or change any of my conclusions and opinions.
Nick Schmidle of New American Foundation on C-SPAN.
Now, getting back to my email with Schmidle. I will not go to great lengths in proving this quote by Schmidle was inaccurate, “After more than two years of legal wrangling, the Thai court approved Bout’s extradition.” After I clarify that this quote by Schmidle is false, I will not say too much more about him but mostly let others do the talking for me.
In regards to the extradition, the truth of the matter is that because Viktor Bout had a pending legal appeal within the Royal Thai court which the court proceedings would take some time to be completed, and by Thai law, Viktor’s extradition request would expire on 20 November 2011, thus making him a free man. Therefore, to avoid ‘by any means necessary’ Viktor Bout walking out of Thai prison a free man on 20 November 2011, the DEA kidnapped him on 16 November 2011.
It is important to note that those who are not familiar with the Thai proceedings, the U.S. had a lot of difficulties, setbacks and losses. It was not a cake walk by any means, Bout was in Thailand for over 2 1/2 years and the U.S. almost lost him. At which time the DEA kidnapped him. As Schmidle pointed out it is not illegal to do this according to U.S. law as stated by a 1992 Supreme Court Ruling titled, The United States v. Alvarez-Machain.
I was curious and asked Schmidle in my email to him to please name a few other countries where this is legal as he stated. I am not saying there are not any other countries but none that I could find. The 1992 Supreme Court ruling is as follows:
United States v. Alvarez-Machain, 504 U.S. 655 (1992), was a decision by the United States Supreme Court, which held that the fact of respondent’s forcible abduction does not prohibit his trial in a United States court for violations of this country’s criminal laws.
So the extradition, unlike reported by Schmidle, happened secretly, suddenly and without notice. Vikor’s wife Alla nor his attorney Lak were notified. According to Bout’s lawyer Lak [now deceased], there was never any paper work filed. There was no official transfer documents from Thai prison to U.S. custody. Here is a few excerpts from my article: Imaginary Crimes: The Never Ending Viktor Bout Story:
Viktor Bout Whisked Away
Alla Bout after her husbands extradition.
On Tuesday morning, 16 November 2010, Viktor Bout’s wife, Alla, received a most disturbing and completely unexpected phone call. She was informed that her husband Viktor was being extradited to the U.S. imminently. This phone call came to her before she was able to prepare and bring Viktor’s vegetarian lunch and visit him in prison, both of which she did routinely on a daily basis. After receiving the horrifying news, according to an article in the Guardian published that same day, “Alla rushed to the prison with his [Bout’s] lawyer when she heard her husband was about to be deported but did not get to see him.” Alla did not make it in time to say goodbye, her husband Viktor was already whisked away by the Thai commandos to Don Muang airport. Alla Bout would not see her husband Viktor again until five weeks later when they spoke briefly in yet another courtroom during his scheduled court date last Friday 21 January 2011. However, this time it was in a different court in a different country, a New York city Federal court room.
Viktor Bout being led off the plane by DEA agents in White Plains, NY.
The Schmidle Effect
In my attempt to achieve my objective of trying to find out whom Schmidle was ‘really’ working for, I came across a vast number of articles that questioned his sourcing and integrity as a journalist. Some called him a liar, others a bullshitter and someone said that he was “talking out of his ass”. Since the Viktor Bout piece had not officially hit news stands until this past Monday, over the weekend most of the articles I found focused on his Navy Seals and Osama Bin Laden piece in The New Yorker.
One was a Salon.com piece written by Russ Baker, an award-winning investigative journalist, founder and editor-in-chief of WhoWhatWhy.com, the article was titled, Who’s behind the New Yorker’s bin Laden exclusive? Here are a few excerpts:
The establishment media just keep getting worse. They’re further and further from good, tough investigative journalism, and more prone to be pawns in complicated games that affect the public interest in untold ways. A significant recent example is the New Yorker’s vaunted August 8 exclusive on the vanquishing of Osama bin Laden.
We might begin by asking the question: Who provided the New Yorker with its exclusive, and what was their agenda in doing so?
To try and sort out Schmidle’s sources, I read through the piece carefully several times. One person who spoke to the reporter, and who is identified by name is John O. Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser.
Brennan is quoted directly, briefly, near the top, describing to Schmidle pre-raid debate over whether such an operation would be a success or failure.
The mere fact of Schmidle’s reliance on Brennan at all should send up a flare for the cautious reader. After all, that’s the very same Brennan who was the principal source of incorrect details in the hours and days after the raid.
Freelance journalist Nicholas Schmidle. Photo credit: TerminalX.org
On August 7, 2011 this Terminal X report was both quite revealing as to Nick Schmidle’s real reasons for being in Pakistan as well as who actually funded his fellowship. The article titled, TX Report: How the CIA funded Nicholas Schmidle in Pakistan for propaganda, speaks for itself and also includes documented evidence. Here are a few excerpts:
In early 2006, Nicholas moved to Pakistan, backed by a writing fellowship from the Institute of Current World Affairs. He lived and reported in Pakistan for two years, before being deported from Pakistan in January 2008. He has also worked in Iran, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Central Asia, West Africa, Russia and the Balkans.
Interestingly, Nicholas Schmidle is also an NAF [New America Foundation] event director and is highlighted there for his celebrated New Yorker article on the alleged killing of Osama bin Laden.
For the article he had extraordinary access to national security officials and special operations members either involved or closely linked.Taking advantage of the bountiful NGO, DC-based array, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) covertly arranges support for such organizations in return for information and propaganda, just how many is mostly unknown despite periodic revelations, but the CIA has over a half-century experience in the practice initiated as early as 1948:
Disinformation and propaganda are basic tools of special operations and CIA-paid writers. Significantly, his Marine father, Robert E. “Rooster” Schmidle, Jr., is a former general in special operations and is now a Lt. General serving as deputy commander of Cyber Command.
General Richard Schmidle, aptly, appeared on an NAF panel in 2006 (sitting on the left)
Finally there is Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) suddenly expelling him from the country for spying. See the quote below:
Pakistan’s intelligence agencies had found leads linking Schmidle to suspicious activities during his stay in the country after which he was booted out in 2008 on charges of espionage. Another article about Schmidle that caught my eye was written by Larry C. Johnson, who worked previously with the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism, and whom is a recognized expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, crisis and risk management.
Mr. Johnson’s article which was titled, Boy, I Was Wrong About Nick Schmidle, was published in August 2011 and is referring to Nick Schmidle’s piece on the Navy SEALs mission to take down Osama Bin Laden which also appeared in The New Yorker a few days earlier.
Here are a few excerpts from Mr. Johnson’s article:
I gave Nick the benefit of the doubt that he was given access to the Navy SEALs who carried out the Bin Laden hit. Nope, I was wrong.
Great piece by C. Christine Fair, a Georgetown Professor, sheds more light on the fact that Schmidle was writing out of his ass:
Jesus Christ! The boy was writing fiction. Every thing he wrote about what the SEALs did was based on info from someone who was not there.
Mr. Johnson also embedded a correction form NPR concerning Schmidle’s inaccurate reporting. However, The New Yorker shamelessly stuck to their story that had more holes than the post-raid Osama Bin Laden.
The following are also taken from the previously mentioned article.
NPR issued the following correction: We incorrectly said that reporter Nicholas Schmidle had spoken with the Navy SEALs who participated in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Schmidle used information from others who had debriefed the SEALs; he did not speak with them himself. I was right that the New Yorker, via Schmidle, was bamboozling the American public on behalf of Obama.I just didn’t realize how shameless the effort was.
CIA Operation Mockingbird.
After reading Larry Johnson’s article, I contacted him via email and after a few brief exchanges, I asked him if he would mind to elaborate on his previous comments as well if he would mind being quoted. I asked him in so many words if he thought that Schmidle intentionally lied or was it simply bad journalism. Here is Mr. Larry Johnson’s complete response:
I think Nick was spoon fed an account by the White House and lacked the energy or incentive to actually check out the details of the story. His failure to interview a single member of the SEALS and his naive acceptance of implausible tactics exposed him as a sloppy journalist. For example, he offers an account of the SEALS entering Bin Laden’s bedroom that features one of the SEALS wrestling the Bin Laden wives to the ground. Anyone who knows the basics about room entry techniques with weapons understands you never put yourself in a position of having to wrestle anyone. The target could get a hold of your gun and shoot you.
You may use the above as a quote.
Another article titled, John Brennan: Immunizing the Truth written on 5 August 2011 by Emptywheel, also questioned Schmidle’s integrity in regards to reporting. The article was also referring to the Navy SEALs take down of Osama Bin Laden. Here are a few excerpts from the Emptywheel piece:
While this piece doesn’t tell us what details are false, it emphasizes that Schmidle did not source the article where it appears to be sourced, to the SEALs who took part in the operation.
Now, I’m not surprised folks within the Obama Administration are leaking such heroic versions of the OBL raid. But in the context of the Administration’s war on leaks, it deserves more discussion.
For example, I find it telling that a “counterterrorism official” repeatedly refutes the events presented from the perspective of the SEALs that–we know–Schmidle isn’t reporting directly.
Finally, though, the whole thing raises questions about who leaked this, presumably with Obama’sexplicit or implicit permission.
The White House Situation Room during Operation Geronimo.
One of the most interesting aspects of this particular article was the high level of access that a freelance reporter was given to very key White House officials. Here is the excerpt I am referring to:
In other words, this story relies almost entirely on four sources: the special-operations officer, the senior counterterrorism official, the senior Defense Department official, and the senior adviser to the President.
I also spoke to and emailed several other journalists that asked not to be quoted. The general consensus was that Schmidle cared much more about the byline than accuracy, truth and the facts. My understanding from the conversations was that he did or said whatever was more colorful or readable, whether or not it was factual.
I will add just one more final quote from the same Emptywheel piece: Still, this story is so thinly-veiled an Administration puff piece, it ought to attract as much attention for the sheer hypocrisy about secrecy it demonstrates as it will for the heroism such hypocrisy attempts to portray.
Operation Mockingbird, according to Wikepedia, was a secret Central Intelligence Agency campaign to influence media beginning in the 1950s. Most of my readers will have not have a hard time digesting this this type of information and many know much more than I do about it. However, as I always strive to reach as many readers as possible as well as expand people’s mental horizons, a few readers may be somewhat skeptical or simply uninformed. Just a few minutes of research will bring quite surprising results to those new to such topics as disinformation and Operation Mockingbird. I plead with those whom might be skeptical to spend the time and do their own research. I intentionally include as many links as possible for the reader for both researching as well as sourcing my quotes.
In an article titled, CIA Controlled Media: CIA Admits Using News To Manipulate the USA, published by The Intel Hub, they even include a video clip of Congressional hearings. The CIA was infiltrating the U.S. media back in the 1950’s – to what extent they influence or control today’s media is unknown. However, it most probable that over the years that they have had a much larger influence as opposed to a lesser role. This reminds me one one of my favorite quotations:
We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false. ~ William Casey, CIA Director
Here is an archived clip of different Congressional hearings that exposes the fact that the CIA directly plants stories in the media, both in the United States and the rest of the world.
The Ghost of Bulgaria
In my mind, one very important question in regards to Schmidle is that of access. For instance, Peter Mirchev’s name, the director of Bulgaria’s KAS Engineering as well as Viktor Bout’s long time friend was splashed throughout the trial. KAS kept coming up over and over again. At one point there were rumors that Bout’s defense would call Mirchev to testify. To this day I do not know if that was ever a realistic option. I did find it rather extraordinary both the fact that Peter Mirchev suddenly decided to talk about his business relationship with Viktor Bout as well as how easily Schmidle was able to contact him. At least according to the version in an abstract piece that also ran in The New Yorker a few days ahead of the full article.
The abstract was titled Viktor Bout and Friend, here is a quote:
Then, on one of the last days of the trial, they projected a screenshot from Bout’s computer, showing a Microsoft Outlook entry for Mirchev that included an e-mail and cell-phone number. I called the number a few days later. Mirchev answered. He said that he never spoke to journalists, and was about to hang up when I told him where I’d gotten his number, how his name had already been dragged through the dirt in an American courtroom, and that I wanted to hear his side of things—in person. I said I could be in Sofia within a week or two. He finally agreed.
A much younger Viktor Bout.
I also contacted Peter Mirchev via LinkedIn and asked him if cared to comment, add or dispute anything written about him in the article. I was not as lucky as Schmidle, perhaps he was the one journalist in the world that Mirchev would speak with. Peter Mirchev did not reply but he did on at least two occasions view my LinkedIn profile.I have the screens shots to prove it.
I do not take it personally that Mirchev has not replied to me, however, I find it overwhelming suspicious that he would suddenly appear to do a high profile piece and then vanish. Before the judge granted defense attorney Dayan a postponement of the sentencing date to 28 March 2012, it was originally set for 12 March 2012, exactly one week after The New Yorker piece ran. The article was without question catastrophic to Bout’s case, especially so close to sentencing and as Richard Chichakli reminded me, the DEA has another indictment pending against him. Therefore, if for any reason the prosecutors do not think that Bout’s sentence is tough enough, you can guarantee that they will bring out the second indictment. Unlike the first indictment, this second one also includes Richard Chichakli. I have added a link of the indictment for those of you who are curious. The reason this particularly indictment went almost completely unnoticed is that it was issued exactly the same time as Viktor Bout’s extradition from Thailand to America.Thus the media’s attention and was entirely focused on the actual news of his extradition as this second indictment was missed by most.
U.S. Announces New Indictment Against International Arms Dealer Viktor Bout and American Co-Conspirator for Money Laundering, Wire Fraud, and Conspiracy.
This opinion of damage to Viktor Bout’s case was expressed to me by at least two other attorneys. One attorney who asked not to be named, said that the article could very possibly be used against Bout in the future. Over the weekend during a conversation with another journalist, they were shocked that Mirchev would self incriminate himself like that, it just didn’t make sense. Then I asked them, “Does it also incriminate Bout?” They replied, “Of Course!” At that point I said, there you have it, objective achieved. I also added, don’t worry about Mirchev, he is protected. The following excerpts are quoted by an anonymous source:
I heard that Peter [Mirchev] was an informant for the agency [CIA]. I also heard that his deal with the US government is a standard deal, he reports who wants what and by who pay for smaller deals, gets an approval for large consignment, and that keeps him alive and maintain his business going without “legal” problems. The government wants to maintain dealers like Peter in order to stay informed of what is going on in the market, and more important to avoid surprises that maybe caused by “unknown dealers or unknown deals.” The US government wants to maintain the arms market similar to what they do with the drugs, allow it but control it and benefit from it.
However, in regards to his “future”, the way I see it, he is already way beyond his borders and he is likely to be replaced. It is possible now that he could be prosecuted after he implicated himself into the Angola and Congo affairs, the Bout matter, and the general supply of arms to “questionable” locations. However, the prosecution of Peter is unlikely because it is [not] in any government interest to have him speak out about his dealing which they have to approve, it is rather more likely – depending on how significant of a source he is, that he could land the Agency’s special list, so a car or ski accident, or similar “unfortunate” events may cause his demise as usually happens in such cases. It is just a matter of time, “when” not “if”.
Charles Taylor escaped from a US prison in 1985 and some analysts believe the CIA helped with the prison break [EPA
If my source is correct about Peter Mirchev it should not come as a huge shock. Especially when just last January the fact that Liberian War Lord Charles Taylor was splashed all over the international media as being a CIA asset. It sounds very similar to Peter Mirchev’s case. To keep track of the buyers and sellers, what countries and factions are at war with whom, sounds like very valuable intelligence. It is key in any market to know whom the buyers and sellers and sellers are whether you are dealing in stocks, commodities or arms. It makes sense that if it is known that Mirchev is running KAS for decades and is able to talk about it in the press and is still free, that fact speaks for itself. He is obviously being protected.
In January, Al Jazeera published an article titled, Accused war criminal Taylor ‘worked with CIA’, here are a few excerpts:
Liberia’s ex-president, now on trial in The Hague, worked with US intelligence agencies, officials admit.
He stands accused of funding rebels who hacked the arms off small children, smuggling blood diamonds, keeping sex slaves and torturing his opponents, but former Liberian President Charles Taylor also had another career – providing information to US intelligence agencies, according to information obtained by the Boston Globe newspaper.
While the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagon’s spy arm, confirmed its agents and CIA agents worked with Taylor in the 1980s, they would not reveal details of the relationship on national security grounds.
“When he became president [in 2001], George W Bush found out that Taylor was still being paid by CIA and put a stop to it,” Alexander Yearsley, a former investigative campaigner in West Africa with the NGO Global Witness who now works in the private sector, told Al Jazeera.
Jeffrey Michaels, a professor of war studies at the University of King’s College in London, said US-support for Taylor needs to be viewed in the context of the Cold War.
“I think that they probably recognised there are problems in getting into bed with these dictators and other unsavory people,” Michaels told Al Jazeera. “
If you look at the most prominent cases where the US has been involved, such as Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam… and [Manuel] Noriega in Panama – the CIA is there as an adjunct to foreign policy, to keep a leader who is generally aligned with US interests in power.”
Miraculously, he [Charles Taylor] escaped from the Plymouth House of Correction in 1985. Analysts believe US intelligence operatives helped with the prison break.
Taylor was elected president in 1997, after inspiring almost a decade of virtual civil war. “He was being advised [by the US] on how to carry-out the conflict,” Yearsley said.
Now that it comes out that Taylor was a proven CIA asset whom was working in the interests of the U.S., he would say about anything to put money in his pocket and to stay out of jail and especially to remain in power. Viktor Bout told me in front of several other journalist’s that he never met Taylor. In fact Bout said he has never been in the same room with Taylor. Two of the journalists I remember by name, a Swiss journalist named Kurt Pelda and a German journalist form Der Spiegel, named Thiole Thielke that he never met Taylor.
Child soldier from Liberia.
This article from Aangirfan titled CHARLES TAYLOR WORKED FOR THE PENTAGON, is much more blunt in its approach to Charles Taylor. Here are several excerpts from the article:
From the early 1980s onwards, Charles Taylor worked for the USA’s Defence Intelligence Agency.
In January 2012, this was confirmed by the Pentagon, thanks to a Freedom of Information request from the Boston Globe.
Taylor, former president of Liberia, is linked to the financing of 9 11.
“According to British and Israeli intelligence sources, Taylor enabled Al Qaeda to launder blood diamonds for cash through Liberia…
Liberia is run by the CIA and Pentagon, reportedly.
The Madness of Crowds
It is becoming very hard to decipher what is true as compared to half-truths, lies, planted stories and propaganda in todays media. However, it is obvious as it did exist over 50 years ago that todays media is also tarnished, manipulated and infiltrated by governments and intelligence agencies to meets their objectives and agenda’s. Exactly whom Schmidle is working for, is not certain. It is very possible he is an asset working in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Agency. I say asset as I would never knowingly reveal an actual agent.
However, I think it is more plausible given his recent escapades with the Osama Bin laden fairytale and his access to high level White House advisors, he is working for someone within the current administration. This especially makes snse given the current administrations record on leaks which is abysmal. The leaks in the current administration almost rivals that of Anonymous and Wikileaks. Thus the Bout case would falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Justice, which would be under the watch of Eric Holder’s and President Obama. This is what former CIA agent Larry Johnson alluded to, someone within the White House was feeding Schmidle. One must keep in mind that Schmidle is a ‘freelance’ journalist thus making him a free-agent if you will.
Former CIA covert operative and author Valerie Plame Wilson.
We have seen far too many examples of those in power abusing those who put them in power. Former President Bush outed Valerie Plame a covert CIA agent and lied to the American people about fake WMD’s, to start a war under false pretenses. Nada Prouty was a former FBI and CIA agent who was stripped of her U.S. citizenship, accused of being a Hezbollah spy until she was finally vindicated. That happened all because of a power hungry district attorney wanted to advance his career in the name of the war on terror.
In the Viktor Bout case, it has become crystal clear that he has far more enemies than friends. Especially as those who once did business with him are all coping a plea or dropping the dime on him. Andrew Smulian, Michael Snow and Peter Mirchev just to name a few. Viktor Bout is very strong and coping very well for a person who has endured so much. As of 6 March 2008, over four years ago is when Viktor Bout was first arrested in Thailand and has been incarcerated ever since.
In an email from Viktor a few days ago, he said “don’t worry about me.” He then went on to explain the various meditation and breathing exercises that he does to calm his mind. One thing is for sure, the saga is not over. I am sure whatever the result of the sentencing is at the end of the month that we can expect an appeal and perhaps some time in the near future another trial or a re-trial, anything is possible.