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Friday, July 31, 2009

Jersey Devils

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The New Jersey corruption probe has given rise to a mystery death -- that of Jack M. Shaw, Democratic operative, consultant to and hobnobber with the other politicos nabbed in the bribery/money laundering investigation. The feds say that Shaw took a $10,000 bribe from their undercover informant, Solomon Dweck. The bribe, we are told, was handed over to Jersey City mayor Jeremiah Healy. Healy has not been charged.

A one-time power-broker whose glory days were behind him, Shaw was found dead in his apartment in what the authorities now call a probable suicide. The initial report was rather more vague:
The circumstances surrounding the death of the consultant, Jack M. Shaw, are “suspicious,” said Edward J. DeFazio, the Hudson County prosecutor. He said it did not appear to be a homicide. “It could be natural, it could be accidental, it could be suicide,” he said, refusing to elaborate. An autopsy is set for Wednesday.
This story says that the body was found near "several bottles of pills." However, he was on several medications for diabetes and other ailments.

Shaw was originally an Illinois boy:
Mr. Shaw was a longtime Democratic operative who cut his teeth working for Mayor Richard J. Daley of Chicago...
This is from the follow-up NYT piece:
Some friends speak of the Jack Shaw they still believe was the straightest of arrows and the kindest of souls. But there was also the Jack Shaw who fled Illinois after being investigated on suspicion of mishandling $50,000 from a Democratic organization, and was later accused by a business partner in New Jersey of embezzling money to support a drug habit.
The Illinois episode goes back to the 1970s, so those looking for an Obama link will remain disappointed. Still, his corruption did follow a colorful path:
At one point, Mr. Shaw and Mr. Pulver took control of the Hudson County chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. But the State Commission of Investigation issued a blistering report citing “horrid” conditions at their shelter after a worker was seen beating a dog with a shovel. It also blasted the shelter’s financial operations, saying that the “diversion of money was rampant.”
For those of a paranoid turn of mind, the obvious suspicion is that Shaw -- a classic opportunist -- signaled a willingness to rat out his partners in crime.

In completely unrelated news...

Remember Larry Franklin? He's the Department of Defense employee caught passing classified data to AIPAC officials, who then passed them on to Israeli intelligence. Franklin eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to more than 12 years. That stiff sentence was later unstiffened to probation and ten months house arrest.

The wrist-slap gives Franklin the opportunity to shop his side of the story to publishers. In his new book, Franklin hopes to convince the public that the FBI is a hotbed of anti-Semitism.
In an interview with Israel's Haaretz newspaper earlier this week, Franklin speculated on the possibility that anti-Semitism may have driven the FBI to look for Israeli spies inside the US government.

At the time of his arrest, many of Franklin's superiors at the Pentagon, including Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, were Jewish.

"Franklin believes these two senior officials were the actual, main targets of the FBI investigation, which, he says, wanted to incriminate them through him on a charge of spying for Israel," Haaretz reported.

"I find it embarrassing to admit to a foreign journalist that highly passionate prejudices and biases like these still exist in an organization that is so respected and admired by the majority of Americans," Franklin told Haaretz. "I was asked about every Jew I knew in the [defense] secretary's bureau and had left, and that disturbed me very much."
You can bet your kidneys that you'll soon see stories blaming the arrest of Isaac Rosenbaum on this same imaginary cabal of anti-Semites at the Bureau.

The Washington Times has covered this tale:
Former FBI counterintelligence agent and supervisor I.C. Smith said anti-Semitism in pursuing Israeli spying was "not my experience" during a lengthy career in the FBI.

"There was a great deal of frustration within the FBI in dealing with the Israelis," Mr. Smith said. "In my time in the Intelligence Division [later the National Security Division], the Israelis displayed a very real arrogance and with their constant contacts on Capitol Hill, they showed a confidence that they could do just about anything they wanted to do, and they could."

He said the Pollard case, in which Israel ran a clandestine agent in the U.S. intelligence community, was "simply shameful" and not in keeping with Israel's role as a staunch U.S. ally.

In another case, Mr. Smith said, a Jewish presidential appointee was found during an FBI background check to have "very real problems" related to Israeli interests, but the White House ignored the FBI and went ahead with the appointment.

But, he said, "This frustration the FBI had with the Israelis did not cross over into anti-Semitism, at least in my experience."
Some will argue that applying to word "arrogance" to an Israeli is prima facie evidence of anti-Semitism. Isn't it nice to have a permanent get-out-of-jail-free card?

Have you ever noticed how much recent weirdness originates in New Jersey?

Let us recall the example of Golan Cipel, the obvious Mossad agent who was the alleged boyfriend of former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey. Previously, Cipel had worked as an "information officer" in the Israeli consulate. (If you've ever read any books about spies, you know what that means.) He then went back to Israel, where he met McGreevey, who was on a junket.

Cipel tried to blackmail the governor to the tune of $50 million. Today, Cipel claims that that the governor subjected him to repeated sexual assaults. Believe that if you will. Cipel has said that he never had sex with the Governor while the Governor insists that he and the Israeli made the beast with two parallel backs. Why would any major politician falsely claim that he had had a gay affair, when in fact he had not?

Cipel also claims that McGreevey never tried to have him appointed to a high-level Homeland Security position. But the evidence confirms that the governor did exactly that.

Cipel had held a similar job previously during his days in the consulate, when he maintained
"the country's terrorism portfolio, keeping government authorities abreast of terrorist activities and threats, maintaining a database of such activities and coordinating that information with data obtained from other agencies."
(The quote comes from McGreevey's lawyer.)

Cipel was brought to the United States under the auspices of New Jersey real estate mogul Charles Kushner, who eventually got into legal trouble and expected a pardon from the governor. No such pardon came, and shortly thereafter the affair with Cipel became public. To the best of my knowledge, no-one has linked Kushner to the current corruption probe, although he is closely linked to current governor Jon Corzine -- who (coincidentally) also happens to be a Goldman Sachs alum.

After his terror-watching stint in the consulate, Cipel returned to Israel in 1999. He came back to the United States in 2001.

At this time, the Israelis had set up a spy ring in New Jersey.
We know this because the only people arrested on September 11th for celebrating the destruction of the twin towers were the five dancing Israelis, soon determined to be spies in New Jersey. Then we had the two Israelis, working for a New Jersey moving company caught with classified submarine fuel near a US base in Tennessee. We also know by January 2002, an entire Israeli spy ring was shut down using the services of art students and mall kiosk workers, a network which spanned the entire country.
Did those Israelis have advance knowledge of the terror attack? How long were they in place? Was it operational in 1999? Did Golan Cipel know about the spy ring?

(Incidentally, 31 year-old spymaster Dominick Suter -- the head of Urban Moving Systems in NJ -- simultaneously maintained an expensive S.O.B. apartment in the San Fernando Valley, on the West Coast. I wonder what he was up to?)

Four of the anthrax letters were mailed from Trenton.

When Cipel was terror-watching at the consulate, he may have been keeping an eye on Magdy El-Amir, an accused Al Qaida funder. Oddly, El-Amir was defended by Michael Chertoff, later head of Homeland Security. In 1999, the FBI launched a probe called Operation Diamondback, which investigated El-Amir's alleged involvement in the smuggling of nuclear materials.

I'm not sure what it all amounts to. I'm not sure if one can weave these threads into one pattern. But I'm certain of this: The Jersey Devil is not the only strange beastie lurking in the Garden State.
Joseph, did you see that there has been about a dozen anthrax letters mailed to various New Jersey politicians and law enforcement? This is from the NJ Star Ledger...

FBI investigates 11 letters with unknown white powder
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
By Judy Peet

Eleven letters containing suspicious white powder have been sent to government and private offices in North Jersey over the past 10 days, the FBI said yesterday.

No one has been injured and initial tests showed the powder did not appear to be dangerous, authorities said. However, the mailings prompted temporary shutdowns throughout Bergen and Passaic counties while hazmat units investigated.

The FBI, the lead agency in the investigation, released few details. In each case, the powder was in an envelope that was inside another envelope. Since July 17, the agency said, letters were sent to locations in Totowa, Clifton, Wayne, Ringwood, Woodland Park and Fair Lawn.

Final testing on the first three letters concluded there was no evidence of biological agents, an FBI spokesman said.

The agency would not say where the letters were sent, but the Fair Lawn Police Department confirmed one was received by Police Chief Erik Rose on Friday morning.

That same morning, another letter was delivered to the law office of Vivino & Vivino in Wayne. The office was evacuated for about two hours before emergency crews declared the substance was not dangerous, police officials said. Partners at the firm were not available for comment yesterday.

The FBI is working with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and local and county investigators on the case. Federal officials urged people to be on the lookout for suspicious letters, such as those with no return address, misspellings, excessive postage or unknown powder.

Letters containing suspicious white powder have become common since 2001, when letters laced with anthrax powder -- one of which was processed at the post office in Hamilton, Mercer County -- killed five people.

In the past eight months alone, white powder letters forced workplace evacuations at a pharmaceutical company in Montvale, a securities firm in Woodbridge and the offices of Senate President Richard Codey. Gov. Jon Corzine was also among 30 governors to receive white powder letters late last year.
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