Tip-off Thwarted Nuclear Spy Ring Probe
By Chris Gourlay, Jonathan Calvert, Joe Lauria in Washington
Times" -- -- 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
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 célèbre.
The claims that a State Department official 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
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 secrets.
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
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 operation.
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
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.
© Copyright 2008 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Click on "comments" below to read or post comments
Be succinct, constructive and
relevant to the story.
We encourage engaging, diverse
and meaningful commentary. Do not include
personal information such as names, addresses,
phone numbers and emails. Comments falling
outside our guidelines – those including
personal attacks and profanity – are not
See our complete
use this link to notify us if you have concerns
about a comment.
We’ll promptly review and remove any
Send Page To a Friend
with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material
is distributed without profit to those who have
expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational
purposes. Information Clearing House has no
affiliation whatsoever with the originator of
this article nor is Information ClearingHouse
endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)