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Robert Levinson former FBI missing in Iran


Paul Brancato
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Former FBI agent Robert Levinson has been missing in Iran for 6 years. Our government denies he was working for the CIA when he disappeared, but a year long AP investigation now says that he was on a secret CIA assignment being run by three 'intelligence analysts' who had no CIA official authorization to do so. According to the AP, the US government paid Levinson's family $2.5 million to keep them quiet.

I am posting this here because the story as presented by AP sounds very familiar re Oswald, who may have been working for the FBI and/or CIA/ONI out of someone's 'hip pocket'. How can anyone believe the files we extricate via FOIA can ever tell the whole story? When it comes to 'deep' history we have no choice but to use logical inference, like Newman and Scott have so ably done, when constructing the probable truth behind the JFK, MLK, RFK assassinations. The sheep dipping and framing of Oswald is proof of the conspiracy.

We know enough. Our government will never come clean, and our media will never have the courage to tackle this.

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In the book, “Watergate Exposed”, which is based on what Robert Merritt, a government confidential informant, told me about the scandal, there is a section dealing with Robert Levinson (pp. 60-61.) Merritt’s controller was Washington, D.C. police detective Carl Shoffler. Shoffler was a military intelligence agent who had been assigned to the Washington Metropolitan Police. Shoffler arrested the Watergate burglars on June 17, 1972, having been tipped off by Merritt two weeks earlier of the planned break-in at the Democratic National Committee.

Shoffler is widely thought of as being “Deep Throat” as he telephoned the Washington Post a short time after he arrested the burglars and alerted the newspaper as to the crime.

Shoffler also worked for Interpol.

The Financial Times of April 13, 2007, carried an article about Robert Levinson titled, “Missing American feared a victim of “dirty war.” The article states, “As the Financial Times revealed this week, Mr. Levinson disappeared on March 8 after a six-hour meeting on the Iranian island of Kish with Dawud Salahuddin, an American who converted to Islam and was recruited by revolutionaries to assassinate an Iranian opposition activist near Washington in 1980….

“Over the years, Mr. Salahuddin – who goes by the name of Hassan Abdulrahman in Iran, where he is married to an Iranian and works as an editor – developed an intense relationship over the telephone with Carl Shoffler, a legendary Washington, D.C. police detective.

“Mr. Shoffler, who died in 1996, followed the 1980 murder and tried to persuade Mr. Salahuddin to return to the U.S. Mr. Salahuddin says he nearly did. In the meantime he helped Mr. Shoffler liaise with an Iranian criminal investigator on tracking down drug smugglers bringing heroin from Afghanistan through Iran and on to the west. Mr. Levinson shared those same interests.”

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Douglas - I just spent some time reading your previous posts on this subject and on Schoffler, and also Hougan's article. Don't you think the latest revelations regarding a US govt payoff to Levinson's family, the family's insistence that Levinson was on an intelligence assignment, and the AP investigation results regarding 'hip pocket' operations by CIA analysts supercedes your previous posts?

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Paul:

I am not quite certain that “supersedes” is the right word here. I think my prior posting above and those I made in the Watergate Topic of the Education Forum complement the latest reported developments in the Levinson’s case.

The $2.5 million payoff to the Levinson family may be to assure that they keep quiet about what they know regarding Levinson’s assignment that led to his disappearance. It may also be an acknowledgement by the government that Levinson is no longer alive.

After Shoffler died in 1996, Merritt contacted his family and was told by a family member that the family had signed a confidentiality agreement with the government that prevented them from commenting on any aspect of the intelligence work Shoffler had done for the government. Merritt was not told at that time that there was a monetary payoff attached to the confidentiality agreement but one could assume this might be the case.

Doug

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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I see your point - the word supersede is not the best choice. I wonder if anyone reading this sees my point about intelligence agencies denials re Oswald. They mean little. Ernie Lazar has been back and forth with Paul Trejo for a while regarding veracity of FBI files regarding Harry Dean. I am not sure Dean is an exact parallel to Merritt, or Oswald to Levinson. But expecting further releases of CIA or other intelligence files regarding JFK to finally reveal a smoking gun is probably dreaming. There may be incremental improvements in our understanding of Intelligence ties to Oswald, and that's good.

Edited by Paul Brancato
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Paul:

"There may be incremental improvements in our understanding of Intelligence ties to Oswald, and that's good."

This is a great phrase to use in what we do here on the forum in regard to JFK's assassination. Brick by brick we are building a more complete and accurate picture of what occurred and the subsequent impact it has had on the world.

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McCain: CIA 'did not tell truth to Congress' in Robert Levinson case

• Senator says Iran knows fate of former FBI agent
• Foreign minister: Iran has 'no traces' of American

Associated Press in Washington

·

· theguardian.com, Sunday 15 December 2013 14.08 EST

·

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/15/robert-levinson-cia-iran-john-mccain

Senator John McCain suggested on Sunday that the CIA has not been forthcoming with Congress regarding details about an American who disappeared while on a secret intelligence mission to Iran.

Iran's foreign minister, meanwhile, asserted that Robert Levinson was "not incarcerated by the government and I believe the government runs, pretty much, good control of the country".

An Associated Press investigation, published on Thursday, found that Levinson was working for the CIA, investigating the Iranian government, when he went missing in 2007. The US long has publicly described Levinson as a private citizen who traveled to an Iranian island on private business.

McCain told CNN "the CIA did not tell the truth to the Congress" about the case. He added that he is confident the US is doing all it can to learn what has happened to Levinson, but he said he is disturbed that the Obama administration has not been more forthcoming with information.

McCain said he doesn't "think there's any doubt" about whether Iran knows Levinson's fate.

But the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, asked on CBS' Face the Nation where Levinson is, replied: "I have no idea."

"If we can trace him and find him, we will certainly discuss" returning him to the United States, Zarif added, though he made clear that "we have no traces of him in Iran".

Secretary of State John Kerry dismissed a suggestion by Levinson's family that the US government was not doing enough to find out what happened to Levinson.

"There hasn't been progress in the sense that we don't have him back. But to suggest that we have abandoned him or anybody has abandoned him is simply incorrect … and not helpful," he told ABC's This Week.

"The fact is I have personally raised the issue not only at the highest level … but also through other intermediaries. So we don't have any meeting with anybody who has something to do with Iran or an approach to Iran where we don't talk to them about how we might be able to find not just Levinson, but we have two other Americans that we're deeply concerned about."

Right now, Kerry said, "we're looking for proof of life".

Iran's press counselor at the United Nations called on Washington to explain Levinson's mission in Iranian territory, after the AP investigation revealed that the former FBI agent had been on an unauthorized assignment for the CIA when he vanished on Iran's Kish Island in March 2007.

US officials have raised the Levinson case with Iran repeatedly over the years. But until the AP investigation was published, it was not known that Levinson was hoping to gather information in his role as an independent contract investigator who expected to be compensated by a group of analysts at the CIA.

After he vanished, the CIA at first told lawmakers he had previously done contract work for the agency, but that he had no current relationship with the agency and there was no connection to Iran. However, in October 2007, Levinson's lawyer discovered emails in which Levinson told a CIA friend that he was working to develop a source with access to the Iranian government. The emails were turned over to the Senate intelligence committee, which touched off an internal CIA investigation.

Three veteran analysts were forced out of the CIA and seven others were disciplined as a result of a breach of agency rules.

The last photos and video of a bearded, emaciated Levinson were released anonymously to his family in 2010 and early 2011. Investigators say his trail has grown cold since.

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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I love the line about Levinson doing this work hoping he would be compensated later. The three veteran CIA analysts and 7 others disciplined for this is also rather funny. Reminds me of Hoover's discipline of several FBI like Hosty for dropping the ball on Oswald.

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American Spy in Iran: TIME Talks to the Assassin at the Center of the Robert Levinson Saga

In 2007, CIA contractor Robert Levinson met American exile Dawud Salahuddin on an Iranian resort island. Levinson was arrested and remains in Iranian detention. Salahuddin speaks out on the affair.

By Karl Vick @karl_vickDec. 16, 20134 Comments

TIME

http://world.time.com/2013/12/16/american-born-assassin-in-iran-robert-levinson-never-said-he-was-working-for-the-cia/?iid=gs-main-lead

Dawud Salahuddin, who was named David Belfield when he was growing up on Long Island, says he’s never regretted serving as an assassin for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Salahuddin converted to Islam as a young man and in July 1980, disguised as a mailman, he shot and killed the spokesman for the exiled Shah of Iran in the foyer of the man’s home in Bethesda, Md. Salahuddin then fled to Iran, where he has lived ever since. But something else has been a burden on the conscience of the American fugitive for more than six years: the fate of Robert Levinson, the retired FBI agent who was arrested by security officials while visiting Salahuddin in Iran in March 2007 and has not been seen since.

“Not any more,” Salahuddin tells TIME. The revelation in several American news outlets over the weekend that Levinson was a CIA contractor aiming to turn Salahuddin into an agency “asset” leaves Salahuddin feeling only irritation and disappointment, he says. (The leaked news has also riled the CIA and politicians in Washington.) Salahuddin may have secrets worth knowing but no desire to work for a U.S. government he says he despises as deeply as Iran’s.

“I’m not ready to trade on that kind of stuff,” Salahuddin says, speaking by telephone from his home in Karaj, a suburb of Tehran. “I consider that to be less than honorable. That’s all I’ll say about that. I might know some of those things, yeah, but I’m not a snitch, man.”

The obvious question, then, is why did Salahuddin travel from suburban Tehran to the Persian Gulf island to meet a stranger?

“Pure curiosity,” says Salahuddin. “I had nothing in it. No financial incentives, nada. I was just curious.” According to Salahuddin, Levinson was up-front about his history with the FBI, where he specialized in tracking money laundering. But Levinson indicated he was working for private clients, not any government, Salahuddin says. “He told me he was there on behalf of British American Tobacco, and he wanted to talk to some Iranian officials about cigarette smuggling in the Persian Gulf,” Salahuddin says. “We talked. Very nice man, very personable, anybody would feel comfortable with him.

“Of course I had no idea that he was misrepresenting himself. And what has come out in the last few days, about him trying to cultivate me as a source, came as a surprise to me, a very unpleasant surprise. I never had any desire to work for the American government in any way, surreptitiously or otherwise. I never intimated that.” Nor did Levinson broach the topic in some six hours of conversation, which continued over dinner, Salahuddin says. Salahuddin recalls the visiting American “regaled me with past cases” and made allusions to the wealth of former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, “but as the hamburger commercial used to phrase it, ‘where’s the beef?’ He said we would get down to brass tacks the next day but that day never came.”

Salahuddin is a well-known figure in expatriate circles in Tehran, the city where he has been marooned for more than half of his 63 years, waylaid on what he said was a promise by Iranian officials that he could continue on to China after fleeing the United States. He has worked as a journalist for state news outlets, traveled to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet army, and parried overtures from Iranian security services to take on new assignments, including, he says, one request to hijack a Kuwaiti airliner and another to assassinate Saddam Hussein.

Articulate, insightful – he was mentored by Said Ramadan, longtime aide to the Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan Banna – and perhaps a bit lonely, Salahuddin meets with reporters who seek him out, and has been profiled in documentaries, books and magazines. In 2001, he showed up in the role a doctor in Kandahar, an Oscar-nominated feature film. He confirms he met Levinson through the author of a story for The New Yorker magazine, longtime NBC producer Ira Silverman, who had known Levinson as a source. Salahuddin and Levinson spoke two or three times by phone before Levinson proposed meeting in person on Kish, a resort island in the Persian Gulf foreigners can enter without a visa.

The timing was less than auspicious, Salahuddin recalls pointing out. Just three months earlier, U.S. forces had detained five Iranians in northern Iraq, setting the stage for Iranian reprisals. “But he decided not to [postpone], and I figured that he might know something that I didn’t know,” Salahuddin says. “But he didn’t.”

They met at the Maryam Hotel, where Levinson had booked them into the same room – a fatal error, Salahuddin came to realize. The presence of two Americans drew the attention of the Interior Ministry, whose officials routinely check hotel registrations. Both men were detained by ministry officials; Salahuddin spent the night in jail, and never saw Levinson again.

“The notion that it was some kind of brilliant move on the part of Iranian intelligence is bullxxxx,” Salahuddin says. “It was dumb luck. I’ve been around these guys long enough to know when they’re on to something and when they get lucky. And those guys were lucky. If they were so damn efficient, they’d be able to keep their nuclear scientists alive.”

Upon his release the next day, Salahuddin made inquiries, first at the hotel, and later with contacts in the security services, who signaled that Levinson was in their custody but would be released soon. When he wasn’t, Salahuddin took his story to the Financial Times, hoping to create pressure. He also met with Levinson’s wife when she traveled to Tehran, on a visit arranged by the Swiss embassy, which represents U.S. interests in Iran. Salahuddin said Levinson had talked at length about his her, and their seven children. “High school sweethearts,” Salahuddin says. “Deeply attached to each other.”

Levinson’s whereabouts remain unknown. Iranian officials claim ignorance of the case, and there has been no sign of him since a “proof of life” video sent to his family in late 2010, followed by still photos early in 2011, in which Levinson looked gaunt and wore an orange jumpsuit.

Salahuddin faced consequences as well. He brushes off the “veiled threats” from Iran’s security apparatus that followed, but laments the loss of his passport, and with it the ability to pursue overseas business opportunities. In 2009, he was fired from his job as a digital journalist for the state news service Press TV after walking out on election night rather than report the rigged re-election of then-President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, he says.

“Long story short, over the years I have lost a lot of respect for the Iranian system,” Salahuddin says. “It relies on blunt force. Iranians are afraid of their government. The basis of their rule is not love and respect for their rulers, it’s fear. It has nothing to do with religion and, everything to do with power, corruption and enrichment.”

Which does not mean he’s keen to return to America. “What is in the States for me, man? Jail.”

He does, however, expect Levinson to surface, if he’s still alive. It’s the most plausible explanation, he says, for the news of Levinson’s ties finally surfacing, after years of news organizations voluntarily holding information back. “What I suppose is once [new President Hassan] Rouhani got into place they began to talk about this behind the scenes, and they figured out a way to get this guy released – I have no inside knowledge on this, it ‘s just the only thing that makes sense – allow both sides to save face and remove a potential impediment from the nuclear talks,” Saladdin says. “So I expect that the guy will show up in a place like Muscat, clean-shaven, new suit, pair of Gucci loafers and that’ll be the end of the story and both sides will save face.… For the first time, the Americans and the Iranians actually need each other, in a very real way. The Iranians because they need to get out from under these sanctions. And for the Americans, Mr. Obama needs a legacy. These separate sets of interests may allow this man to surface


Read more: Robert Levinson Saga: U.S. Exile CIA Contractor Met in Iran Talks to TIME | TIME.com http://world.time.com/2013/12/16/american-born-assassin-in-iran-robert-levinson-never-said-he-was-working-for-the-cia/#ixzz2ngLvc15n

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This has nothing to do with Oswald or Levinson, which in both cases involved CIA controversies, but it does show the mindset of the CIA even today:

------------------------------------------------

Senators clash with Justice Department lawyer over CIA intelligence memos

CIA nominee Caroline Krass angers intelligence committee by claiming legal opinions on torture are beyond its scope

· By Spencer Ackerman

· theguardian.com, Tuesday 17 December 2013 19.52 EST

· )

· Dianne Feinstein suggested Caroline Krass had placed her nomination as CIA general counsel in jeopardy.

An argument about a secret congressional committee's ability to review the US intelligence agencies exploded into rare public view on Tuesday as angry senators demanded legal memos from a nominee to run the CIA's legal office.

Caroline Krass, a top justice department lawyer, sparked the ire of several Senate intelligence committee members by claiming that crucial legal opinions about intelligence matters were beyond the scope of the committee.

Asked directly and repeatedly if the Senate panel was entitled to the memos, which several senators claimed were crucial for performing their oversight functions, Krass replied: "I do not think so, as a general matter."

Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the committee, suggested that Krass placed her nomination as CIA general counsel in jeopardy. "You are going to encounter some heat in that regard," Feinstein said.

The Senate intelligence committee, whose public hearings are increasingly rare, is usually a bastion of support for the CIA and its sister intelligence agencies. The exception is the committee's prolonged fight with the CIA over a 6,300-page report on the agency's torture of terrorism detainees in its custody since 9/11.

The committee has prepared its report for years; the former chairman, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, said the classified version contains 50,000 footnotes. For a year, the panel has sought to release a public version that multiple members of the panel say documents both the brutality of CIA torture and what they have called "lies" told by the CIA to the oversight committees in Congress and the rest of the executive branch concerning its torture practices.

CIA director John Brennan, who was a senior CIA official during the years scrutinised by the committee, is resisting release of the report. The CIA has told reporters that the report contains numerous factual errors, which Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat on the panel, said on Tuesday was a "misleading" and self-serving description of differences of "interpretation" between the agency and the committee. "I'm more confident than ever in the factual accuracy" of the torture report, Udall said.

The panel said at the hearing that the CIA is stalling on the provision of documents to the committee that will help it complete its work. Krass, a former White House official who worked alongside Brennan there, did not assure the committee she would help provide them.

Krass said the general counsel of the CIA had a "duty and obligation to make sure the committee understands the legal basis" for CIA activities. She worried that disclosure of the legal memos themselves would inhibit the executive branch from candidly discussing policy proposals for fear of embarrassing public disclosure.

Several senators found Krass's statement insufficient. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who has investigated torture while serving on the Armed Services Committee as well, asked if the committee was "entitled" to the opinions as a matter of oversight.

Krass said her "caveated answer" was, "I do not think so, as a general matter."

It is unclear if the committee will reject Krass's nomination. But the two-hour exchange highlighted the difficulties the intelligence committees can face in getting basic factual information from the intelligence agencies they are tasked with overseeing.

Those difficulties carry over to the ongoing controversy about the NSA's bulk surveillance activities, Udall and his colleague Ron Wyden of Oregon have charged. But they are the only dissenters on a committee that has been stalwart in favour of the NSA, even as the committee is feuding with the CIA.

Feinstein got Krass to say she disagreed with a federal judge's opinion on Monday that the NSA's bulk surveillance of US phone data was likely unconstitutional. Krass, who would have a limited ability to oversee that program at CIA but likely has insight into it through her Justice Department role, disputed Judge Richard Leon's assessment that such constitutional protections surround that data.

"I have a different view about the Fourth Amendment," Krass said.

Feinstein said she agreed with Krass, but said no one on the committee wished to contravene the constitution, urging the Supreme Court to settle the issue.

Edited by Douglas Caddy
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