Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The terrorist who worked at JFK Airport: Update

I'm gratified that the previous post in this series, which discusses terror plotter Russell DeFreitas' employment by the CIA's primary airline, received so much attention. Some readers seem to have used my piece as the basis for rather specific conspiracy theories. My purpose is not to propose answers but to ask questions, and to encourage journalists with greater resources to ask the same questions. I do not pretend to understand these events -- but as they say in Lucas-land, "I've got a bad feeling about this."

This following collection of data points may relieve or exacerbate that feeling of unease.

The Complaint. I'd still like to know how a court document "under seal" made its way to the internet so rapidly. As far as I can tell, the first person to point to the document's online location was Michelle Malkin. She says she received it from "Robert Nardoza at the United States Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York."

He is the public affairs officer under USA Roslynn Mauskopf. Some cynics have suggested that Mauskopf, who is poised to become a judge, wanted a big terrorist bust on her resume.

"Consensual recordings." The Complaint frequently cites "consensual" recordings of the bad guys plotting their activities. I doubt that the recorded parties actually gave their consent; criminals are, by nature, paranoid. If these recordings are not admitted into evidence in a court case, we may never hear these men say the words ascribed to them.

The whole issue of when incriminating recordings may or may not be used is, of course, quite complex. When a prosecutor prepares an indictment, the pretense of consent simplifies matters greatly.

When did DeFreitas work for Evergreen? We still have no clear notion as to the length and nature of DeFreitas' employment by the CIA's favorite airline. Some news reports still point to 1995, while others speak of 2001. Obviously -- and as I have noted before -- it would be quite embarrassing to the administration if someone involved with a foreign criminal organization worked at JFK airport after September 11, 2001.

An Oregon news station reports that DeFreitas trained at the main Evergreen headquarters in McMinnville, Oregon:
Cable News Network (CNN) tells KOIN News 6 that DeFreitas trained at Evergreen Aviation in McMinnville, Ore. DeFreitas did not enter a plea during his initial arraignment in New York City's federal court.

Investigators call him a former J-F-K airline cargo worker who, according to CNN, trained at Evergreen Aviation between July 2000 and May 2001. Officials at Evergreen refused to comment, saying confidentiality policies keep them from confirming or commenting on past and present clients or employees.
This article says something similar, but subtly different:
KGW obtained public records that indicated Defreitas worked for Evergreen from July 2000 to May 2001.
DeFreitas was, at this time, a man in his mid-50s. It seems odd that he would train for the better part of a year. Also keep in mind that we still have no clear idea as to what the man actually did. Evergreen Eagle offers "support services" at a number of airports, including JFK.

The fact that we have yet to receive a straight story about the man's employment history leads me to ask whether he continued to work at JFK -- not necessarily for Evergreen -- after May, 2001.

What you are about to read is HIGHLY SPECULATIVE. I don't mind engaging in blue-sky surmise as long as it comes clearly labeled as such -- and in this case, I've used boldface.

Flight 587. A month after the 9/11 attacks, American Airlines Flight 587 crashed soon after departure from from JFK airport. Although there were scattered witnesses who spoke of explosions in the air, everyone now agrees that the aircraft was doomed when it lost its vertical stabilizer -- that is, the tail.

The vertical stabilizer was later fished out of the water intact. As the photo demonstrates, it was sheered off with remarkable precision, even though the bolts and lugs holding it place were composed of titanium and an ultra-strong composite material. Without the tail, the aircraft spun like a boomerang.

(A haunting report holds that investigators found, in the center of the craft, the body of a man holding a baby.)

What could have caused such clean breakage? The NTSB says that pilot Sten Molin was guilty of "over aggressive rudder inputs." However:
A group of aviation experts do not agree with the findings of the NTSB in their entirety. The Airbus, climbing at VY (the best rate-of-climb airspeed) was well below the maneuvering speed range VA. According to FAA certification standards, operating at or below VA does not cause structural damage at full control deflection. While that doesn't mean one can violently yank the controls such as the rudder back and forth, this will also not cause a structural failure of such severity unless the structure was weakened beforehand.
(Emphasis added.) Another source put the matter more colorfully:
At the time, an official of the Allied Pilots Association said, “Building a plane where the tail falls off if you over-control the rudder is like building a car where the wheels fall off every time you hit the brakes too hard.
For these reasons, some continue to believe that Flight 587 was sabotaged. Those presuming such a scenario tend to argue that a member of the ground crew would have found some way to weaken the tail assembly.

Evergreen Eagle does not list American Airlines as one of its "clients."

And that's why I would be very interested to know if Russell DeFreitas, or anyone associated with him, worked for any other firm at JFK airport after May, 2001.
Comments:
Joseph, the following applies in general to consensual recordings:

(snip)

'Secret recordings made by a party to a conversation without the knowledge or consent of the other party to the conversation are commonly referred to as “surreptitious recordings.” Such recordings are also referred to as “one-party consensual recordings.” The issue is not whether such recordings are legal. Under federal law it is not unlawful “for a person not acting under color of law to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic communication where such person is a party to the communication or where one of the parties to the communication has given prior consent to such interception unless such communication is intercepted for the purpose of committing any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any State.” 18 U.S.C. § 2511(2)(d)(1994).'

(unsnip)

So, it is permissible for an informant or mole (or, in the jargon of the underworld, a "rat") to record telephone conversations, even if those who subsequently become defendants don't realize they are being recorded. But I am not a lawyer, so those who havemore familiarity with the laws can feel free to jump in.
 
This is too far out for me.

Weakened beforehand yes, but manually? How? How to weaken a flight surface enough to fail but invisible to visual inspection which planes get on maintanence and prior to take off.

Use Occum's Razor here. Firstly, the weakness issue gets to the real question at hand -- about composite materials, age, and stress. Dig around on the web, and aviation forums about this topic and see how much there is out there about this, even finding pilots who won't fly certain Airbus models, and the lack of testing and knowledge about what happens to these composites.

If someone wanted to sabatoge a flight, the most reliable way would be explosives, the next most reliable via powerplants, Trying to pre-engineer a material failure due to fatigue that would escape visual detection seems far-fetched to say the least. If it wasn't done with explosives, it hardly seems possible. And that would leave chemical signatures.

I love the blog and I know you had a Caveat, but.....
 
Re DeFreitas as being "trained" at Evergreen International in 2000-01, your previous post quotes the Newsday story as saying the documents show he was a "trainee supervisor" there. Someone has concluded and everyone seems to be repeating (I'm not sure why), that this title means he was the trainee. I took it as he supervised trainees. I also take it that working at EI means he spent that time in Oregon and apparently returned to NYC sometime later in 2001. These stories specify that he worked as a "contract" baggage handlier for an EI subsidiary at JFK, while Newsday reports EI documents showing he was an EI "employee." I may not be putting the pieces together right, but that makes me think he worked at JFK for some time before or after June 2000-May 2001.

My point: He couldn't have been a "contract baggage handler" for the subsidiary and a "trainee superviser" for the parent company during the same time period. Of course, the MSM reporting somewhere could always be wrong, too.

The Newsday reminiscences of acquaintances have DeFreitas living normally in NYC in 1997 and coming to friends around 2001 ("six years ago) as homeless and injured from a car accident, which I assume the source knew only from DeFreitas saying that was why he wore a back brace and collected welfare. Was he really injured, and if so was it really from an accident with a "gypsy cab"? That was odd specificity on the cab, too. The only reason I can think of anyone (DeFreitas) would contribute that to the injury story is to explain why no liability suit and so why he was claiming to be broke.

But, as you pointed out Joseph, who can afford to transport junk by plane to South America? Who would he have sold this junk to for transport? I hope the Newsday reporter is following this up on that money trail.

And, that story also referenced he had a brother he was enmeshed with (over a junk fridge?!) and that brother since died. Your previous post referred to the indictment or some document referencing a "brother," and your speculation was something different than mine. I thought that document referred to DeFreitas' brother. But, I wasn't reading that portion closely.

And, one last observation: You ask a good question about how an "under seal" indictment got out. I think those don't even get press releases, so I wonder if it was really ever "under seal" at all. The press releases are real and seem routine.

Under normal circumstances, it is not odd that Malkin called the flak and received by email a copy of the indictment in pfd. We do that all the time. I wonder why the NYC MSM didn't do that in this story, or if they did and were denied, or if they did and received it and just were shortsighted not to have included that detail in reporting or posted online themselves. Whichever MSM referred to it as "under seal" should explain that one in folo.

But the weirder thing there, even if not under seal it is highly unusual for prosecutors at any level to give out tapes and transcripts of the evidence. I can't say I've ever seen that, certainly not within a day of the grand jury handing up an indictment. That's very stange -- and suspect.
 
In re to the other two comments:

1) One- and two-party consent is a matter of state law and varies greatly, except where federal jurisdiction applies. A case comes to mind involving a Dem congressman from the NW who was convicted of using for political campaign purposes a slanderous recording about his opponent a few years ago. The recording was legal in Florida, where it was taped, but for reasons I don't remember -- probably interstate commerce, transfer, use, whatever -- the lower courts deemed it wasn't protected under federal law requiring two-party consent (I think .... my memory is cloudy on this). In short, the "consensual recordings" is something I, too, find curious and surely something any defense lawyer will pick apart to get the case thrown out, right down the old memory hole (but it will have served it's purpose today, right?)

2) I've reported on certain airline issues as they involve intelligence agencies (I'll leave it at that), and it's viable that this plane was sabatoge. The commenter who pointed out the CIA has someone at every airport is pretty much correct, and access to sabatoge planes is one of the main reasons they are there. Sometimes, that agent also is military personnel, a great cover. The CIA is very good at the plane sabatoge game. It has ways to crash them -- in particular when there is someone on board they want out of the picture -- and it has ways to disable them as a warning to the airline owner. In the later, the process is gradual. If one were pursuing that sheered tail story, they should ask the owner if there had been other unusual complications with his/her company planes soon before that crash, and they would inspect the passenger manifest very closely. Often, the work histories of the passengers give good indications of NOC status (I think it's not unheard of that the black ops side needs someone from white ops out of the way, although I can't officially prove that). Disclaimer here: This understanding comes from confidential sources and isn't substantiated to the level of responsible reporting. Sources in this arena have questionable motives, but I'm relating what I believe to be true based on cumulative information over years.
 
Joseph: You don't need to post this, but I would advise you not to be shy about asking the reporters with holes in stories or with contradictory reports to follow up or explain. We appreciate the interaction, really, and with the tight pursestrings sometimes just don't have time to dwell on a story as long as you might assume.

Or, call or email the source, if it's provided, and ask for the scoop.

People often express how impressed they are at information I get and think it's something special. It's not a mystery. When I wonder about something, I just pick up the phone and call, or send an email, whether I'm asking as a MSM journalist, a private blogger or just a private person (I ID myself appropriately to the source). Most times, people answer unreluctantly.

It's America. Anyone can ask anything they want of anyone they want. The source can answer or not, but nothing prevents anyone at all from asking.
 
Joseph, this is very interesting stuff. I'm going to be looking into the politics of Guyana -- one alleged plotter was an MP there -- which are as byzantine and at times violent and CIA infested as the politics of small Caribben countries can get.

One correction though. When Newsday says that De Freitas sold incense on the streest of "Jamaica," they mean the African-American neighborhood in Queens not far from JFK airport -- ie Jamaica, Queens. "Downtown Jamaica" as it's called has a very dense commercial strip called Jamaica Avenue where, in fact, there are lots of peddlers, including incense peddlers.

As for making money shipping junk to the Caribbean, it's not that far fetched. Import restrictions make appliances and parts ridiculously expensive for small business people and there is a flourishing black market in such junk. Because of the huge Caribbean immigrant community here in Queens, as well as in Brooklyn, there are literally hundreds of Caribbean shipping companies that will ship your junk to the Caribbean easily and cheaply.

Other than those quibbles, it's a fascinating story -- it kind of gave me a kind of Duh! moment when you connected drug trafficking, JFK, baggage handlers, a drug dealing informant and the CIA.

Thanks

HamdenRice from DU
 
Joseph, here are a few very unconnected dots that may interest you. When I first heard about the "terrorist plot" suspects being Muslims from Trinidad and Guyana, I immediately thought of V.S. Naipul's famous essay about the "Black Power Killings" in Trinidad. That's because the "Muslim" movement in both Trinidad and Guyana are extremely strange and play a somewhat bizarre role in those country's bizarre politics -- especially Afro-Caribbean nationalism or "Black Power" politics.

Trinidad and Guyana do not have traditional Islam as part of the religious mix. Muslims are a fringe group of do-it-yourself converts, more like Louis Farrakan's Nation of Islam. The overwhelming majorities of both countries are divided very evenly between Afro-Caribbean Christians and Indo-Caribbean Hindus.

As for their role in politics, rather than try to become familiar with lots of party acronyms and politicians names, you can understand the politics of both countries in this simple way: It's the Afro-Caribbeans versus the Indo-Caribbeans. When slavery was abolished, the British brought in "cooley" labor from India. In both countries, the population is almost perfectly divided between Blacks and Indians and most party politics follow ethnic lines. All politics is about whether the Black party or the Indian party gets to govern.

When a charismatic figure has come along to try to end racial politics (such as academic historian Walter Rodney of Guyana) he has been assassinated, it is said, with CIA help. We think of the Caribbean as friendly, relatively stable vacation destinations, but the US supported several Afro-Caribbean nationalist despots, such as Forbes Burnham of Guyana, Eric Gairy of Grenada, and seemed especially intent on preventing the development of Afro-Indian cooperation and substance-based politics in Guyana.

Here's where the Muslims fit in. They are not orthodox Muslims. They are more like the old "Nation of Islam" in the US in the 1960s -- ultra nationalist pan Africanists, often former criminals. Politicians on the Black political party side tend to use them to stir up the most extremist parts of their constituency for political purposes.

These then are the kind of "Muslims" that were involved in the JFK airport plot.

Now here are some interesting coincidences for the conspiracy minded. The second most notorious "Muslim" in Trinidad's history after Bakr and the JAM gang was a man named Abdul Malik aka Michael X aka Michael Dereitas. (Any relation to Russell?) He can probably be thought of as the founder of Black Nationalist Islam in Trinidad.

Michael Defreitas immigrated from Trinidad to England where he became a pimp, drug dealer and petty criminal in London of the swinging 1960s. He became a minor celebrity after he restyled himself as England's Malcom X -- hence Michael X. He published a book and some poetry and was patronized by several celebrities, including John Lenon and Yoko Ono. He founded a commune in England, but it failed. He migrated back to his island of origin, Trinidad, in the early 70s.

Coincidentally, there is quite a bit of press and internet buzz about him lately after being forgotten for some 30 years because a historically-based scandal film premiered at Cannes in which Derreitas plays a minor role. It seems that in his role as London's Michael X, Defreitas had obtained sexually explicit photos of Princess Margaret and deposited them in a safety deposit box in a bank. The film claims that MI5 staged a bank robbery in order to get the pictures.

Sometime thereafter Defreitas aka Michael X aka Abdul Malik arrived back in Trinidad where he founded the Muslim movement of which JAM is I believe a sort of successor. Again he set up a "revolutionary" compound that was also a mixture of incoherent politics, drugs and sex. He was invited by Guyana's Afro-Caribean semi-dictator at the time, president Forbes Burnham, presumably to stir up the ultra nationalists. Unfortunately for Defreitas, while he was in Guyana, the body of a dead white girl was discovered in a shallow grave in the compound. (Even back then the press went crazy over missing or dead white girls, but especially if they were found in the compound of ultra Black-nationalists.) Defreitas fled just ahead of the police into the Guyanese outback. He was captured in Linden (the same town of which JFK plotter, former Guyanese MP and Afro-Guyanese nationalist party member Abdul Kadir was mayor). Defreitas was brought back to Trinidad, tried and sentenced to death. Stupefyingly, he became the subject of a celebrity campaign that treated him as a political prisoner, which was not successful inasmuch as he eventually was hanged. His reputation was utterly eviscerated by the famous essay be VS Naipul I mentioned above.

JAM was also founded by an Afro-Trinidadian convert to unorthodox Islam, Yasin Abu Bakr, born Lennox Philip. The same pattern emerged -- an organization that combines incoherent but radical Islamic politics, ultra Afro-Caribbean nationalism, extortion, drug trafficking and murder, but with seemingly inexplicable protection in very high places. JAM got its reputation as a terrorist organization when it launched a coup against the elected government of Trinidad in the early 1990s, taking over the television station, holding the Prime Minister and several cabinet members and parliament members hostage for 10 days, leading to several deaths and millions in property damage when looting broke out. Inexplicably, they were not prosecuted, supposedly because they had negotiated an amnesty during the coup attempt as a condition of surrender. Even more inexplicably, they participate in national politics, again, stirring up anti-Indian hatred around election time.

I realize these dots are perhaps just coincidences, but the do form an interesting pattern -- ultra nationalism, drug trafficking, CIA surveillance at least, extortion, and terrorism.

HamdenRice at DU

PS Just so you know I don't have an ax to grind, I'm not Indo-Caribbean, but African American. It's just that I have some Guyanese friends (Afro-Caribbean) who have educated me about that country's horrible politics and how their population, which is basically agreed on the substance of their political goals (mild socialism) have been maniuplated and divided for the last 40 years.
 
Ye Olde Simple Breakdown of How Terror Enters the World:

1. Crooked Iran-Contra/BCCI connected Intel Spooks - these guys planned it. They are multi-national crooks.

2. Compromised Informant/Agent Provocateurs - these guys are the link to the top. They are compromised and dirty so either no one believes what they say. Or they keep quiet to hide their secrets and avoid getting sent to jail by the guys in #1. Or they keep quiet and go to jail anyways to avoid something worse.

3. Dupes / Patsies / and Dumbasses - The idiots, morons,clowns and general bozos who don't understand the nature of top-down conspiracies and that get framed up for what the guys at the top did and planned and then go to jail.
 
You may find this article on Global Research to be interesting. It's entitled "The JFK 'plot': another grossly inflated threat".
 
This article reports that Defreitas "exports broken air conditioners to Guyana." The question is, what would someone working for a CIA-connected airline be shipping back in the empty plane?
 
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