Sunday, January 31, 2010

Landrieu phone plot: Men arrested have links to intelligence community

Landrieu phone plot: Men arrested have links to intelligence community

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Two of the three men arrested on Monday along with "ACORN pimp" James O'Keefe for "maliciously tampering" with Sen. Mary Landrieu's (D-LA) phones in her New Orleans office have ties to the United States intelligence community.

The three accused by the FBI of "aiding and abetting" O'Keefe are Stan Dai, Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel. O'Keefe is 25, and the other three are 24.

Dai's links to the intelligence community appear to be particularly strong. He was a speaker at Georgetown University's Central Intelligence Agency summer school program in June 2009, and is also listed as an Assistant Director at the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence at Trinity in D.C.

The university's president Patricia McGuire told The Associated Press that it promoted careers in intelligence but denied that it trains students to be spies.

The Trinity program received a "$250,000 renewable grant from the U.S. Intelligence Community" upon launching in 2004, according to its Web site. The program's goals are stated:

The IC CAE in National Security Studies Program was established during 2005 in response to the nation's increasing need for IC professionals who are educated and trained with the unique knowledge, skills and capabilities to carry out America's national security objectives.

The CIA summer school packet also notes that Dai "served as the Operations Officer of a Department of Defense irregular warfare fellowship program."

standai  Landrieu phone plot: Men arrested have links to intelligence communityDai has been an undergraduate fellow with the Washington-based national security think tank Foundation for the Defense of the Democracies (FDD), according to his College Leadership Program award biography at the Phillips Foundation -- as Lindsay Beyerstein first reported.

FDD claims that it's partly funded by the US State Department. Its Leadership Council and Board of Advisers comprise many high-profile conservative politicians and public figures -- including former House speaker Newt Gingrich, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), former Bush official Richard Perle and columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Dai traveled to Israel for two weeks in 2004 on an FDD-sponsored trip, the Daily Herald reported. "All expenses (room, board and travel) will be assumed by FDD," FDD's Web site said of its Israel program.

A host of FDD testimonials from Academic Fellows reveal that many fellows have traveled to Israel for training and field trips. The Foundation says the course includes "lectures by academics, diplomats, military and intelligence officials, and politicians from Israel, Jordan, India, Turkey and the United States."

FDD proclaims that "Like America, Israel is at the forefront in the war on terrorism." Further explaining its interest in Israel, FDD declares:

fdd Landrieu  phone plot: Men arrested have links to intelligence communityBoth the United States and Israel are democracies, and both face the same enemy. It is this connection between Israel's experience and the future of the United States that is the essence of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

One FDD testimonial, by 2004-2005 fellow Dr. Cathal J. Nolan, highlighted the group's bond with high-level intelligence and government officials in Israel:

The access which FDD provided to top government officials--and to academic, police, security service, and intelligence experts at the highest levels--was truly remarkable. I know of no other foundation or fellowship program which is able to provide so much top-level access and first-hand intelligence and security service information in so compact a form, or in such an intellectually stimulating environment.

The CIA and Office of Director of National Intelligence have both told Politico that despite Dai's evident connections to the intelligence community, he never officially worked for them.

Dai's co-conspirator Robert Flanagan is currently seeking a Master of Science degree from the Missouri State University's (Fairfax, Virginia) Defense and Strategic Studies program, according to his LinkedIn profile (which was captured by Beyerstein before it was taken down Tuesday.)

The DSS Web site description affirms its connections to "the intelligence community":

The program’s location also provides DSS with the opportunity to draw adjunct faculty members from the top ranks of government, the defense industry, and the intelligence community.

flanagandai Landrieu phone plot: Men arrested have links to  intelligence communityThe program also appears to have a close relationship with the conservative establishment. Inside Higher Ed reported in 2007 that the program's "full-time faculty of three and its nine affiliated lecturers tend to come mainly from positions in Republican administrations and conservative-leaning institutions."

It appears to be an elite program and one Facebook group bills it as ardently conservative on national security and foreign policy issues. "We Do Defense (far) Right!" it proclaims:

Are you preparing for the inevitable U.S. v. ChiCom War? Are you praying every night for the employment of Ballistic Missile Defense? Do you think nuclear weapons are important for American security? Do you think MAD is a trashy liberal theory? Are you educated by great professors with real life experience?

Then this is the place for you.

Flanagan has also blogged for the conservative Pelican Institute until as recently as this month. In one post last month, he highlighted criticisms directed at Landrieu.

Flanagan's father, William Flanagan, is currently the acting US Attorney for Louisiana's western district. But because Flanagan was arrested in the state's eastern district, his father will not oversee his prosecution.

The New Orleans newspaper NOLA.com, which first broke the news, reported that "one of the four was arrested with a listening device in a car blocks from the senator's offices." The FBI's affidavit noted that Flanagan and Basel were in the building with O'Keefe, and a federal law enforcement official confirmed to AP that Dai was the one in the car.

The New York Times pointed out that "[t]he [FBI] affidavit did not accuse the men of trying to tap the phones, or describe in detail what they did to the equipment." But the optics of the situation have led to suspicions that bugging Landrieu's phones was their intention.

Although Robert Flanagan's Facebook page has been removed, the other three all list each other as "friends" on the social networking site.

large acorn sting pimp Landrieu phone plot: Men arrested have  links to intelligence communityAll four of the men arrested in the plotMonday have well-documented conservative ties, The Associated Press revealed. Three of the suspects wrote for conservative publications while in college, and Flanagan has written for the national Pelican Institute.

Flanagan's blog, flanaganreport.com, has also been deleted, but some of its content can still be found in Google's archives. In one post, Flanagan criticized former vice president Dick Cheney.

Joseph Basel was listed by the University of Minnesota, Morris in 2005 as one of its fifteen "College Republicans."

The publications O'Keefe and Basel wrote for while in college allegedly received money from the nonprofit education foundation The Leadership Institute.

"Leadership Institute Vice President David Fenner said in a phone interview this morning that the group had 'informal, above-board relationships' with both James O'Keefe and Joseph Basel when they were college students," Talking Points Memo reported Wednesday.

Landrieu's office released the following statement on the incident, according to NPR:

Because the details of yesterday's incident are part of an ongoing investigation by federal authorities, our office cannot comment at this time.

The community activist group ACORN slammed O'Keefe, who angered them after unveiling their ostensibly dodgy practices. "Couldn't have happened to a more deserving soul," the group posted on its Twitter feed.

The incident "is further evidence of his disregard for the law in pursuit of his extremist agenda," ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis told AP in a statement.

Protests As US Halts Life-Flights Out of Haiti

Doctor: Quake victims dying without US airlifts

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The U.S. military has halted flights carrying Haitian earthquake victims to the United States because of an apparent cost dispute, though a doctor warned that some injured patients faced imminent death if the flights don't resume.

The evacuations were temporarily suspended Wednesday, said Capt. Kevin Aandahl, spokesman for U.S. Transportation Command. The flights were halted a day after Florida Gov. Charlie Crist asked the federal government to help pay for care.

However, Dr. Barth Green, a doctor involved in the relief effort in Port-au-Prince, warned that his patients needed to get to better hospitals.

"We have 100 critically ill patients who will die in the next day or two if we don't Medevac them," said Green, chairman of the University of Miami's Global Institute for Community Health and Development.

At a temporary field hospital at Haiti's international airport, set up with donations to Green's institute, two men had already died of tetanus. Doctors said 5-year-old Betina Joseph faced a similar fate within 24 hours unless evacuated to a U.S. hospital where she can be put on a respirator.

The girl — infected with tetanus through a two-inch cut on her thigh — weakly shooed a fly buzzing around her face as her mother caressed her corn rows, apparently unaware that getting the girl out could mean life or death.

"If we can't save her by getting her out right away, we won't save her," said Dr. David Pitcher, one of 34 surgeons staffing the field hospital.

"If we can't save her by getting her out right away, we won't save her," said Dr. David Pitcher, one of 34 surgeons staffing the field hospital.

There were some states that would not accept patients who needed care in the U.S., and they could not be transported without a hospital to accept them, Aandahl said.

Aandahl declined to specify which states declined to accept patients, and he referred further questions to a Pentagon press office, where an after-hours answering service could not accept incoming messages Saturday.

Florida officials said Saturday that they were not aware of any hospital in the state refusing to take in the patients. However, in a letter Tuesday to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the governor said "Florida's health care system is quickly reaching saturation, especially in the area of high level trauma care."

Crist asked Sebelius to activate the National Disaster Medical System, which is typically used in domestic disasters and pays for victims' care. His letter noted the state's health care system was already stretched by the winter tourism season and annual "snowbird" migration. South Florida hospitals also were preparing for a surge in visitors for the NFL Pro Bowl on Sunday and the Super Bowl next weekend.

While in Tampa on Saturday, Crist said Florida's Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon estimated the state's costs had reached about $7 million.

Poor coordination and limited resources, not medical care costs, drove the governor's request, said John Cherry, spokesman for the state Division of Emergency Management.

"We've made it clear that (the cost) is an issue we'll deal with down the road," he said.

Health officials say the medical flights landed without any advance notice, and the poor coordination may be keeping some survivors from getting the help they need, Cherry said. He cited the case of a burn victim flown earlier this week into Tampa, which is not equipped to treat those injuries.

Crist said his state remains committed to caring for injured earthquake victims and reuniting families, though he was reaching out to other states to help care for them as well.

As of Friday, the Florida Department of Health reported that 526 patients had been received at hospitals in the state: more than 400 in South Florida, 76 in the Orlando area and 37 in the Tampa area. Four burn victims were transported to North Carolina, Crist spokesman Sterling Ivey said.

"Recently we learned that federal planning is underway to move between 30-50 critically ill patients per day for an indefinite period of time," Crist told Sebelius, saying Florida could not handle so many patients.

More than 135 patients remain hospitalized in South Florida, said Jeanne Eckes-Roper, the health and medical chairwoman of a state domestic security task force for the South Florida region.

She requested on Monday that new patients be taken elsewhere in Florida.

"We had to make sure we did not overwhelm our capacity," she said. "We stand ready to take whatever the government wants to give us."

Aandahl said no evacuation requests have been made by U.S. military medical facilities in Haiti, including the hospital ship the USNS Comfort, since the flights were suspended Wednesday.

There were only about a dozen medical evacuations by the U.S. military after the Jan. 12 earthquake, he said.