Polonium poisoning is very much in the news this week. First, investigators exhumed the body of Turkish President Turgut Ozal
, who died in 1993, officially of heart failure. His body showed signs of several poisons, including radioactive polonium.
Now, forensic experts are checking the remains of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
. There have long been rumors that poison brought down Arafat in 2004, although the official cause of death is listed as a stroke. Not long ago, trace amounts of polonium showed up in clothing once worn by Arafat.
I may have much more to say about these mysteries anon. Right now, the factor that interests me is the remarkable ability of our media pundits to discuss the possibility of assassination without once touching upon the question of motive. Neither do our newsfolk feel comfortable with any attempt to focus on a potential perpetrator. In the world of American journalism, assassinations simply happen at random, like lightning strikes.
So far, I've encountered no American journalist -- not even on the left -- courageous enough to say that, if Arafat was assassinated, the obvious suspect is the Mossad. If Israel did kill the PLO leader (who was once thought to have more lives than a planeload of cats), the plan certainly backfired, since the current Palestinian leadership is more obdurate.
Our commentariat has always known how to hold their tongues. Whenever the conversation turns to Israel, they use velcro and Gorilla glue.
The case of Ozal -- who served as Prime Minister between 1983 and 1989, and President between 1989 and 1993 -- is also instructive.
Ozal had survived an assassination attempt in 1988, an incident ascribed to a lone gunman named Kartal ("Lee Harvey") Demirağ. Within Turkey, it is widely believed that Demirağ worked under the direction of General Sabri Yirmibeşoğlu, a far-right heavyweight and leader of Turkey's National Security Council. That's the conclusion Ozal himself eventually reached.
(Yirmibeşoğlu is an interesting fellow. He once admitted that his forces burned a mosque in Cyprus in order to blame the outrage on opposing forces.)
Now that we can be fairly certain that Ozal died by plutonium poisoning, the obvious suspects would be far rightists within Turkey's intelligence agencies. Our journalists will probably allow themselves to say as much -- but only
that much. Do not expect your journalists to tell you that the American CIA has long had close links to both Turkey's intelligence community and to the Turkey extremist right. Some cynics have even suggested that our spooks control
During the Cold War, an important asset was the Counter-Guerrilla, and the Grey Wolves; the paramilitary youth branch of the Nationalist Movement Party. Before the death of Counter-Guerrilla Alparslan Türkeş, the far-right paramilitary Grey Wolves were used to attack leftists.
The CIA also maintains a cadre of moles inside the National Intelligence Organization, as acknowledged in 1977 by its former deputy director—and CIA recruit—Sabahattin Savasman.
Perhaps the name "Grey Wolves" seems vaguely familiar to you. If so, you may have seen it crop up in news coverage of the man who shot Pope John-Paul II in 1983, Mehmet Ali Agca. At the time, a cadre of spooked-up American journalists tried to convey the impression that Agca worked for Bulgarian communists. The truth of the matter was quite different: Agca was a creature of the Grey Wolves, and of the more-or-less fascist forces operating within Turkey on behalf of the CIA's "Gladio" scheme.
(Today, Agca remains convinced that he is Jesus Christ. David Shayler
, the former British MI5 agent turned bean-spiller, has come to the same conclusion about himself, even though he previously sounded quite rational. I'm beginning to think that someone somewhere has concocted a "Jesus" drug. A few drops into the target's morning coffee -- and presto!
Back to Ozal. Although this site
seems, well, a little weird, it offers a post from 2010 which may give us a few leads:
For many years, the rumor has circulated that President Özal did not die of a heart attack on 17 April 1993, but was assassinated by Gladio; that is to say, Turkish agents operating under NATO's orders.
As to possible motive:
In 1993, the Kurdish minority within Turkey, under the banner of the PKK party, fought to establish a separate nation. The military formulated a tough, anything-goes battle plan against the Kurds, using special forces, assassins, Grey Wolves, local thugs and mafiosi. The counter-revolutionary plan also called for psy-war tricks of the sort we've already discussed in relation to General Yirmibeşoğlu. This whole grisly effort was under the control of Interior Minister Mehmet Ağar, who got a lot (and by "a lot," I mean a lot
) of weapons from the Israelis.
Two people stood in his way: Turgut Özal and a general named Esref Bitlis. They both sought a peaceful way to deal with the Kurdish problem. And neither of them wanted to be controlled by the Americans.
Bitlis died in plane crash in early 1993 (a little more than a week after James Woolsey became DCI) -- and that crash is now known to have been the result of sabotage. The American CIA has long been the prime suspect
in that event.
As for Özal -- well, we now have a better idea as to what happened to him.
Again: Don't expect our journalists (even the ones who work for MSNBC) to talk much about the CIA and Israeli links to the forces that killed Özal. Even after evidence of foul play comes to light, our media would prefer not look very deeply into such matters.