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August 31, 2007


My take after reading the April 24 doc is that Judge Burns sealed the plea and transcripts without any evidence that they needed to be sealed. He relied on what he admitted was 2nd hand info from someone he "believed" to be a US Atty. He also said that the info that the San Diego Attys got was "presumably" from "the prosecutor" - meaning one or other of the unnamed prosecutors. At the hearing were 2 unnamed US Attys- one an Assistant US Attorney from an unnamed location and the other a SeniorAssistant United States Attorney, also from an unnamed location.
Burns wants an actual written doc from them and they put him off- trying to just get by with a sidebar discussion of some "nitty gritty" stuff re K. Burns appears to fall for their ruse and at first agrees to use Halpern's report although it is very "vague." Finally, Burns asks the group to write a report in case another court reviews his decision. Burns gives them several days to give him something and extends the sealing.

Sheesh- shouldn't someone have to swear that K was really an important asset. You know, just in case, some political USAtty is lying? So there could be some consequences later?

Hmmm. US Attourney. California's Southern District. What was the name of that woman he used to work for? You know, the one who was investigating the Dukester and his web? Oh, well. It's probably nothing. I mean, we should be able to trust a USA, no matter who it is. Right? 'Specially when we're talking about money laundering, the Saudis, terrorists, money, the Saudis, bribery, US Congress, Intelligence Committees, etc. And I'll bet there's no reason we should doubt that we can trust Tommy K to be shooting straight with us in American for whom he obviously shows great concern. No reason at all. No reason to suspect he'd double-cross us? Is there?

EW - I haven't done more than a fast cruise through a part of the most recent transcript (April 24) but one thing that came out was that Michael's first atty DID know (and presumably Michael knew) that K was cooperating. It wasn't considered so ultra-super-secret then- to let counsel for another defendant know. They kind of sputter out that they think Michael won't say anything about the cooperation, even though K may be testifying against him, bc you know, "family" stuff. That was a weird part and really craters the call for secrecy IMO. A defendant with adverse interest knows and has no legal restraints on his ability to talk - but it's a Big Secret?


In any event, the other thing that kept coming to my mind is as sense that they are talking about investigation(s) about things that just might not even be crimes.

I can't pull it all out, but this is probably the most direct statement, from Judge Burns to the agent there, explaining to him why they need to keep everything supersecret:

These [redact] are in violation of United States Laws as far as you can tell

From that and some other things, I got the sense that maybe what K is helping them with is financial transactions involving Islamic "charities" fronting for terrorist groups or laundering money for terrorist activities.

As long as it isn't in the Loyal Bushie lexicon to go after the missing billions in Iraq or the aides to Gen. Petraeus or the US commissions of torture, this would actually be a potentially big payoff area for them to get info and it might take some processing. The intel guys who worked the financial end, unlike the torturers and illegal eavesdroppers, actually did do a pretty darn good job in putting together credible and helpful information.

That is the only kind of thing I can think of that would have the Judge both allowing the lock down on info and yet also having this bewildered sounding inquiry into whether or not the things being described to him "generically" really are a crime under US law. And it would also fit with their references indicating many interlinked investigations.

fwiw, jmo, spec.


I noticed that too. The prosecutor--if that's what he was--didn't seem entirely forthcoming, what for the 1/4 of his side of the conversation. In any case, it's almost surely money laundering--since that's what K is good it. It MIGHT be weapons sales--remember, he had the attempted arms sale to Greece.

So far we really only know one thing K wanted out of all of this- help on the sale of fighter planes to Greece.

We also know that in 2003, Kontogiannis was picked up in Greece and accompanied Abduljawad, Cunningham and Calvert on a "fact finding " mission to Saudi Arabia. Kontogiannis did meet with some Saudi ministers. I doubt it was to shoot the bull.

So far, this investigation has brought down a former war-hero-turned-dumb-as-all get-out-Congressman who took bribes, 2 defense contractors who bribed the Congressman, the no 3 man at the CIA, the former head of the CIA, and the nephew of of a Greek immigrant who bribed Congressmen, laundered money from the defense contractors, screwed his nephew, ripped off a school district, wrote $50 million in fraudulent mortgages, bribed an embassy official, stole someone's identity and built some houses that violated the codes and were not the same as the plans he submitted. Kontogiannis was also investigated for involvement in undisclosed illegal campaign expeditures in a Congressional race. All of these folks (with possible exception of John Michael) would tell us they have served this country in some way- yet only Tommy K has been treated like a hero instead of the criminal that he is.

My guess is that Tommy K launders money for arms and perhaps delivers the weapons too. Shades of Iran-Contra- it is the only thing I can think of that makes him more valuable than a dumb-ass-but loyal congressman, CIA head, #3 man at CIA and 2 defense contractors. It also would explain why he visited Saudi Arabia.

i wonder,

maybe tommy k is a double agent.

he works for the cia (maybe)


he works for tommy k.

a "domestic" double agent, playing both sides to the middle.

this is the kind of guy the cia just loves to get involved with - i'm thinking of some of the cuban gangster trash in the 60's.

the larger point is that the cia, when pressed to go "human intelligence", "boots on the ground", inevitably picks goof balls with criminal records.


because the cia guys are soft-handed, soft-bodied fans of movie tough-guys.

it's astonishing to observe the cia's repetition of poor judgment in picking their "agents".

orionATL, are you saying Kontogiannis is perhaps the Greek Chalabi?


While we don't really have a ton of evidence to that point, it sure seems like a distinct possibility, doesn't it? Sidle up to the Duke Cunninghams on HPSCI to jimmy up US intelligence, and then flip as a double agents for the US whenever you get in trouble.

Don't forget, the FBI got played (big time) by the "Triplecross" guy Ali. They weasled him out of more criminal beefs than you could shake a stick at. And all the while he was in direct contact with OBL.

I had a client once, who got into a fraud beef and worked out a cooperation deal for him. The deal was based on a specific investigative thread and looked to be a finite thing. He does X and hget his 5-K1 letter at sentencing and gets at least 2 points off hius Sentencing Guidelines calculation. So far do good.

However, it turned out he knew about all kinds of other unrelated stuff--stuff he was picking up in the locker room at his gym no less.

And foolishly mentioned it to his control agent. Next thin I know, they want him for 5 more investigations that have nothing whatsoever to do with his orgibnal cooperation agreement.

But he "worked off" almost all of his sentence.

Magor reduction in time.

That could be what 's going on with Tommy K

Check out Laura Rozen's latest post at WarandPiece.com. The Kontogiannis family has been carrying on in the comments section of the TPM MR for weeks. Some of them think that Tommy K set up a rocket attack on the US embassy in Greece so he could give advance notice of it and take the credit for fighting "terrorism".

I agree that weapons sales is a good shot, with his specific ties as well. There is the IG investigation going on, and once upon a time the Chicago FBI was in contact with Donald Vance about his knowledge. Of course, he found out what happens when you try to be a whistleblower via an instrument of Bush government.

But I'm thinking that weapons guys tied in with Cunningham and the larger net would all be very wary as soon as Cunningham's plea was announced and also that they are all very tightly tapped in and aren't likely to be among the "last to know." Also, that Micheals might have been more likely to give some heads up there and it is a bad group for someone like K to burn. Especially when you have the US Gov and military working hand in glove with somoene like Bout. It also seems that there would be less confusion on the Judge's end as to whether or not the general descriptions being given to him are actually crimes or not. That's not a definite, though, bc there are all kinds of grey areas there - and obviously no one is very interested in lining Bush up with charges for, say, his dealings with Bout. I'm just thinking too many in Bushgov are tied in with illicit weapsons deals for them to rattle that cage, at least with any credibility. I guess you can go after someone for a shipment, when your own President and direct boss has "lost" hundreds of thousands weapons, but its a pretty shakey thing.

So I think it is an excellent possiblity, but I lean towards thinking the charities/funding. In part because this is a place where they did seem to actually have competent people at work and where there has seemed to be a nationwide network of investigations pulling in several offices. The fact that it would, on its face, be less directly tied in to K and Cunningham seems to make it more likely that they would have thought they could actually achieve something via the secrecy and it might make more sense, if that was the area of cooperation, for Michaels to not be as interested in tipping anyone off. And their indications of not "hearing" anything vis a vis Michaels could be tied in to their belief they have the "charities" connections pretty well covered with surveillance. FWIW. I don't really have a strong leaning - just a little bemusement that things would go so far while the Judge seems so uncertain as to whether things at issue are even "for sure" violations of law. Odd, that.

I'm also not sure why they left in all the info about Burns enjoying clerking with the Office that the "secret" guys are working from. Seems like that wouldn't be too hard for someone to back into.

We've got some character of undetermined loyalty who specializes in money laundering related to weapons.

Are these things related?

Aide to Petraeus is implicated

Whistleblowers on Fraud are Jailed and Tortured

Italy probe ties illegal arms sales to Iraq

Iran Contra, writ large -- what Elliott Abrams said were the key learnings from Iran Contra.
-- can’t trust our friends
-- C.I.A. has got to be totally out of it
-- can’t trust the uniformed military
-- got to be run out of the OVP

Kontogiannis will not be CIA since CIA people could swing either way, and he's hardly a friend if he's willing to do as alleged in TPM's threads; he's a "universal fascist" that believes in creative destruction like Ledeen if anything. He's clearly not military, and is willing to screw the military.

Just need the trail to the OVP. And I will continue to wonder how large all the illegal arms sales are for the purposes of money laundering, and exactly what the money is intended for. Fueling a war with Iran? Buying elections? They may be escalating an assault on Iran to cover their tracks and to increase the opportunity for more money laundering, in advance of 2008 elections.

On the weapons front, here's a case that would "fit" the times frames.


From June 8, 2007 (June to August was a time frame mentioned in the transcripts IIRC)

A wealthy Syrian international arms dealer who once "considered himself untouchable" sought to supply millions of dollars in weapons to Colombian rebels to attack American forces there, U.S. officials said Friday. ... The indictment said al-Kassar has provided weapons and military equipment to violent factions in Nicaragua, Brazil, Cyprus, Bosnia, Croatia, Somalia, Iran and Iraq. His customers included known terrorist organizations determined to stage "attacks on United States interests and United States nationals," it said.

Profits were laundered through bank accounts around Europe.

Big fish. Most wanted lists - esp Iraq. Trouble nailing him (he walked from a case in Spain involving the Achille Lauro). I haven't been able to find any update on his extradition, but if he's arrested now, that would certainly be a rationale for unsealing some of this now.


al-Kassan might fit with the "specific event planned for June" (although it was early- ish) and having K out of the country in June might be tied to making him available to Spanish authorities in connection with the extradition application - or just doing more trackback on the laundered accounts.

see what you think - later.

One last point on al-Kassan. Since one of the overseas K trips was to Greece, the tie with the {then Greek} Achille Lauro and that failed Spanish prosecution may all be a part of the puzzle.

dang - twice.

KassaR Bad typists and to heel with it profreeders untied.

"Special K" - Perfect name for this cluck; he is indeed special. I have no idea exactly why he is so special; but clearly he is for some reason or reasons in the Government's eyes. The situation that LHP described of a serial cooperator that can't stop yakking to the Feds and gets off on it appears to be a good possibility; but it doesn't explain the bizarre nature of the substance of his cooperation. Mary's information regarding al-Kassar looks like it could fit some of the timeline/facts we seem to have. I am very struck by Rayne's note that this reeks of Cheney; it really does. My best guess is that it is some of all of the above. And that is the problem, Special K has got his fingers in to many Fed pies, and they have a first rate clusterfuck going on.

Experienced and ethical prosecutors and case agents have a severe aversion to sharing their confidential informants (CIs) and other assets with other agencies. There is nothing but trouble when one asset is being run by multiple concerns; the interests never line up well, the asset usually starts playing one against another, and often ends up using this interplay to serve himself and sometimes to give himself cover for the ongoing or new commission of crimes. If you want a prime example of this, check out the sordid story of Sammy the Bull; a tale that played out it's convoluted conclusion (unless Gravano acquires a cat's tenth life, which I would not put past him) in Arizona and I, ahem, saw more of than I wanted to.

The thing that strikes me is that no one person or entity seems to have a full bead on what Special K is up to. The local AUSAs in California sure as hell didn't. They then bring in the supposed answer men from New York and it sure looks very much like they were obfuscating even more because they were not really positive of the big picture either. Clearly no court that TK has been in front of has gotten the full story. TK's lawyer doesn't even know (or he is faking very convincingly, which I don't think is the case). My best guess at this point is that it started off routine, like LHP suggested, and got more convoluted by the day from there. As we stand today, I think Special K is being run by at least three agencies; the FBI, CIA and DOD. Now if this mess had started off as a big time CIA/DOD matter, I don't think TK would have been being prosecuted for the various smaller things that he was initially; that would have been slid under the carpet. But now, even the pros from New York don't seem to really know. Did you notice their two step on the avowal of factual basis and/or affidavit that Burns wanted for his record on the seal? I think they were trying the best they ethically could under the circumstances. My guess is they were dispatched by someone very high up in the Administration to go to California and make lemonade out of the lemons. And my further wild hair guess is that Rayne is right and Cheney is at the end of the finger on this button. Now I leave this long winded comment with a question for everybody. why are they still jerking around with this moron? Could it be that special K has evidence of someone big's involvement in this hairbrained mess and managed to secure proof in such a manner that he has them over a barrel? Someone Big Time?

I'm getting too old to rely on memory. The Achille wasn't, as I thought, Greek, but instead was Italian at the time. Rome, Athens - whichever. ;)

It is all Greek to me....

It is possible that Tommy K's "value" is being overinflated. The government is hinting under the cloak of secrecy that he is an intelligence asset. My guess is that he is the go-to guy for money laundering and an arms broker to boot. His "value" is that he can launder money from defense appropriations for stuff that congress did not intend when they made those appropriations. Thus, the big need to keep it secret.

The govt did not intend to have to go to trial against Tommy's nephew, John T. Michael. They offered him a plea deal that he did not accept. So, they smacked him with an additional charge. This messes up the govt desire to keep everything sealed.

In Marcy's previous post about the Seal-Fight, she noted that the defense in a "fairly anal brief" was trying to accuse Michael or his atty of "leaking" the FBI reports to the SDUT. In fact, Michael's attorney had attached the FBI interview to his brief and sent a copy to the SDUT attorneys- who were also making a plea with regard to the secrecy. I've reread that brief and although IANAL, the govt accusation that Michael's atty did something wrong seems, well, "anal."

Even in the resealing hearing, Judge Burns had a problem with sealing things that Michael already had a copy of and/or that K had discussed with his nephew.

Remember also that Congress refused to reveal the report on the investigation into the committees that Cunningham served on. There is something there that they went hushed up.

chrisc - I certainly have no greater information or knowledge of the specifics of this convoluted series of cases than anyone else here; just some former experience in the trenches and with somewhat analogous cases (can't say I've seen much that is trul like this mess before). But, yeah, I think it is quite possible that TK's value is being vastly overrated. I guess, in a way, that is part of what I was trying to get at above. The government doesn't need this schmuck to sell airplanes or weapons to the Greeks or Saudis; christ, the government has a gazillion inbred weapons dealers, not to mention Cheney and Bush themselves, why would they need TK for this? If he is involved in weapons and money laundering, it has to be domething off the books and improper along the lines of Iran/Contra. And either Mary, or whoever above, keeps appropriately reminding us, the neocons absolutely had a set of take away lessons from Iran/Contra that included more restrictive secrecy and running it out of the OVP. That just keeps popping up in my mind no matter what different angle I try to look at this through. It is quite possible that TK is just a goof, but a goof that got to close to the real action and he has found a way to sufficiently protect himself with some knowledge or evidence he gathered along the way. He might have one of those "Rockefeller letters in the safe deposit box" somewhere; and he has let them know that in no uncertain terms. Who in the world knows, but there is something extraordinary and unusual going on here; this guy sure isn't Bond 007 or anything.

bmaz, there are some laws that prevent the US from directly funding terrorist groups.
So, they may need a money launderer to do it indirectly. And, yes, I am thinking about regime change in Iran.

Also, Tommy K has some shipping businesses and he has the US customs office leasing his building.

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