Michael Chertoff and the sabotage of the Ptech investigation
A little background, from the mainstream, even, thanks to WBZ-TV:
Joe Bergantino, a reporter for WBZ-TV's investigative team, was torn. He could risk breaking a story based on months of work investigating a software firm linked to terrorism, or heed the government's demand to hold the story for national security reasons. In mid-June, Bergantino received a tip from a woman in New York who suspected that Ptech, a computer software company in Quincy, Mass., had ties to terrorists. Ptech specialized in developing software that manages information contained in computer networks.
Bergantino's investigation revealed that Ptech's clients included many federal governmental agencies, including the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Naval Air Command, Congress, the Department of Energy, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, NATO, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service and even the White House.
"Ptech was doing business with every federal government in defense and had access to key government data," Bergantino said.
Bergantino was ready to air the story by September, but the government had different plans. Federal authorities told Bergantino not to air the story because it would jeopardize their investigation and would threaten national security. According to federal authorities, documents would be shredded and people would flee if we ran the story, Bergantino said.
But Bergantino claims the government's demand to hold off on the story was merely a pretext.
In October 2001, President George W. Bush signed an executive order freezing the assets of individuals linked to terrorism. According to Bergantino, the list identified Saudi Arabian businessman Yassin Al-Qadi as a key financial backer of Osama Bin Laden. As it turns out, Bergantino said, Al-Qadi also is the chief financier of Ptech. The government failed to investigate Ptech in October 2001 and didn't start it's investigation until August 2002 when WBZ-TV's investigation called attention to Ptech.
Even if Ptech was unaware that the President's October 2001 order contained the name of its chief financier, documents seized in a March 2002 government raid revealed Ptech's connections with another organization linked to terrorism, Bergantino said. And again, the government failed to investigate Ptech.
Bergatino's tipster was Indira Singh, who has said she recognizes the separate command and control communications system Mike Ruppert describes Dick Cheney to have been running on September 11th as having "the exact same functionality I was looking to utilize [for] Ptech."
Now, how does Chertoff figure in the Ptech story? It goes back to the turf war of two years ago over Operation Greenquest, "the high-profile federal task force set up to target the financiers of Al Qaeda and other international terrorist groups." The aggressive, Customs-led task force was folded into Homeland Security, sending both the FBI and its minders at the Department of Justice into a tizzy. They "demanded that the White House instead give the FBI total control over Greenquest."
Now, consider this, also from the two-year-old Newsweek:
The FBI-Justice move, pushed by DOJ Criminal Division chief Michael Chertoff and Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, has enraged Homeland Security officials, however. They accuse the bureau of sabotaging Greenquest investigations—by failing to turn over critical information to their agents—and trying to obscure a decade-long record of lethargy in which FBI offices failed to aggressively pursue terror-finance cases.
One prime example of the tension is the investigation into Ptech, the Boston-area computer software firm that had millions of dollars in sensitive government contracts with the Air Force, the Energy Department and, ironically enough, the FBI. In what turned into a minor embarrassment for the bureau, the firm’s main investors included Yasin Al-Qadi, a wealthy Saudi businessman whom the Bush administration had formally designated a terrorist financier under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Al-Qadi has vigorously denied any connection to terrorism.
The Ptech case turned into an ugly dispute last year when company whistleblowers told Greenquest agents about their own suspicions about the firm’s owners. Sources close to the case say those same whistleblowers had first approached FBI agents, but the bureau apparently did little or nothing in response. With backing from the National Security Council, Greenquest agents then mounted a full-scale investigation that culminated in a raid on the company’s office last December. After getting wind of the Greenquest probe, the FBI stepped in and unsuccessfully tried to take control of the case.
The result, sources say, has been something of a train wreck. Privately, FBI officials say Greenquest agents botched the probe and jeopardized other more promising inquiries into Al-Qadi. Greenquest agents dismiss the charges and say the problem is that the bureau was slow to respond to legitimate allegations that an outside contractor with terrorist ties may have infiltrated government computers.
Whatever the truth, there is no dispute that the case has so far produced no charges and indictments against Al-Qadi or anyone else connected with Ptech. The company has denied wrongdoing.
The turf war was won on May 13, 2003, when John Ashcroft and Tom Ridge signed a "Memorandum of Agreement bet7ween the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, giving the FBI "unprecedented unilateral control of all terrorist-financing investigations and operations."
Several seasoned government agents fear for the nation’s security should the FBI be tackling most terrorism cases, as their ineptitude in preventing terrorism has been established time and time again. Yet, the memorandum between Ashcroft and Ridge places the FBI in an incredibly powerful position over Homeland Security. According to the memorandum, "all appropriate DHS leads relating to money laundering and financial crimes will be checked with the FBI."
Well, no reason to fear now, now that Michael Chertoff is heading up Homeland Security. Right?
Also, a noteworthy admission today from the Department of Justice, released in a "37-page, unclassified summary of a broader, 100-page internal review over Edmonds' case":
From Associated Press:
Evidence and other witnesses support complaints by a fired FBI contract linguist who alleged shoddy work and possible espionage within the bureau's translator program in the months after the September 2001 terror attacks, according to a report Friday by the senior oversight official at the Justice Department.
The department's inspector general, Glenn Fine, said the allegations by former translator Sibel Edmonds "raised substantial questions and were supported by various pieces of evidence." Fine said the FBI still has not adequately investigated the sensational claims.
A show of hands: how many have heard US cable news whisper, even once, the name "Sibel Edmonds"? I have. Once. It was about the time of Edmonds' press conference last Spring, held between sessions of Thomas Kean's 9/11 Commission. Paul Begalia, the designated liberal of CNN's Crossfire, gingerly raised her more reasonable-to-mainstream charges. (At least, those of which John Ashcroft's gag order permits her to speak.) Tucker Carlson, as if on cue, called her a "conspiracy theorist" and, I seem to recall, a "nutjob."
And according to CNN, that's the last we've heard of her.
Naturally, neither Sibel Edmonds nor Indira Singh, nor Ptech, warrant a mention in the official 9/11 Commission report. Though Edmonds is gagged, Singh did give testimony to the 9/11 Citizens' Commission, Sept 9, 2004 in New York. She read an open letter from Edmonds, and added "what I have uncovered in Ptech connects with some of the things that she has discovered. Sibel is not allowed to disclose content but she can ask me questions. I know some of the things that she mentioned there connect directly to what I discovered."
INDIRA SINGH: I did a number of things in my research and when I ran into the drugs I was told that if I mentioned the money to the drugs around 9/11 that would be the end of me. That is a current threat that I’m under and therefore I will speak out about the drugs at another forum.
I did not expect the Kean Commission to go anywhere near the FBI and Ptech. But I hope all Americans will demand answers regarding the FBI and Ptech. I would like to leave you with this one question. Not only why is Ptech still operating but why did Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chertoff state that they cannot differentiate between terrorism, organized crime and drug dealing and is that the reason the Kean Commission will not make terrorism financing a priority in the future?
Ptech was with Mitre Corporation in the basement of the FAA for two years prior to 9/11. Their specific job is to look at interoperability issues the FAA had with NORAD and the Air Force in the case of an emergency. If anyone was in a position to know that the FAA, that there was a window of opportunity or to insert software or to change anything it would have been Ptech along with Mitre. And that ties right back to Michael Ruppert’s information.... The functionality that Michael is claiming that Dick Cheney utilized is the exact same functionality I was looking to utilize Ptech for in the bank. I was looking to set up a shadow surveillance system on everything going on, every transaction and the ability to backdoor, to look at information unobtrusively and to backdoor intelligent agents out there to do things that other people would not be aware of. To stop… in risk the whole shift is from bad things going on and finding it after the fact to preventing it from happening. So we were looking for patterns and have the intervention in there. So we were looking for interventive software, something that would stop. What Mike Ruppert is referring to is exactly the same kind of functionality…surveillance and intervention.
Another show of hands: have you heard anything like that, ever, on US cable news?