Israel’s spies are highly active, in several stories with no clear endings in sight. Read on if you like reading about spook conspiracies.
If you’re a resident of a small Texas city and in need of hurricane recovery funds, you’ll have to certify that you’re not boycotting Israel.
Dickinson, Texas, announced earlier this week that it was accepting applications for grants to help residents rebuild homes and businesses damaged by Hurricane Harvey, which took a particularly devastating toll on this Houston-area town of some 20,000 people. The application is mainly comprised of unremarkable legalities, with one notable exception: a clause stating that the applicant will not take part in a boycott of Israel for the duration of the grant.
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Today, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging one of those laws — a Kansas statute requiring state contractors to sign a statement certifying that they do not boycott Israel, including boycotts of companies profiting off settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
We are representing a veteran math teacher and trainer from Kansas who was told she would need to sign the certification statement in order to participate in a state program training other math teachers. Our client is a member of the Mennonite Church USA. In response to calls for boycott by the church and members of her congregation, she has decided not to buy consumer goods and services offered by Israeli companies and international companies operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Our client is boycotting to protest the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians and to pressure the government to change its policies.
Mysterious Jewish Retrieval Operation:
The earthquake of 19 September had hardly occurred, and two countries had ignited their warnings. In a few minutes, more than three thousand kilometers from the epicenter of the emergency in Mexico City, a minister and two foreign ministers agreed that 122 specialists, including rescuers and engineers, would travel to Mexican territory. What seemed like sending international aid to the disaster, in fact hid an urgent mission: rescue two targets listed as top priority.
The dispatch of soldiers and civilians with military training was agreed upon. These were Spanish military personnel specialized in rescue operations with a high degree of complexity; as well as Israeli civilians with elite training, all with different ranks as officers, who were recruited as reserves of the Israel Defense Forces, specifically for the strategic operation being planned in Mexico.
Minutes after the quake, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray via telephone, confirmed Israeli ambassador to Mexico, Jonathan Peled. A communication in the same tone would be made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Government of Spain, Alfonso Maria Datis, with the chancellor. In both cases the multinational operation had been agreed in Mexico City.
Both teams of specialists settled in less than 24 hours. And 12 hours later, the 122 specialists were already operating in the landslides located in Álvaro Obregón 286, in the colony Roma Norte; in Scotland, colony Del Valle; in the factory of clothes of the colony Obrera, and in the Housing Unit Tlalpan.
On September 21, his first day in the country, the Israeli team moved to the company of the colony Obrera. In a few hours they rescued Jaen Askenazi, a 76-year-old man, a textile entrepreneur of Argentine origin and owner of the factory. A man, very religious, father of six children, and a man very dear in the Jewish community, that lost the life along with its employees when the property collapsed. Once they recovered the body did not do more, they left the place and they went to the colony Roma. And it is that the 286 of Alvaro Obregon was the center point for both rescue groups, Spanish and Israeli.
Within minutes, the Israeli team mounted a tactical and inconspicuous operation. Mexican authorities in the area were allowed to control the rescue operations along with the group from Los Angeles, California, accompanied by the country’s ambassador, Roberta Jacobson.
Everything happened quickly. They collected the information needed to locate the character they were looking for and, in 36 hours, reached the exact point, the second floor of the building. Among the debris they found the body of a woman who wore black trousers and long black boots. Completed the mission, the Israeli team withdrew from the site, and hours later left the country.
On the same floor and only a few meters away, were the other two characters of interest to the Spanish government, a man and a woman, whose bodies were recovered almost six days after their arrival in Mexico. A day later, the Spanish team also returned to their country, taking the body they were looking for.
Hours later, the Secretary of the Navy set about retrieving some computers from the second floor, which they carefully removed and placed in their vehicles. Dependence did not want to talk about it.
At the second level, Valora Consultores, a company of Spanish origin based in La Coruña, was based in the Autonomous Community of Galicia. In its website, it says that it focuses on the development of sustainability and social responsibility strategies for large corporations such as British American Tobacco, Aeropuertos del Sureste and Autlan, among its main clients. There is no more public information available, but sources consulted by this weekly recognized that it is a company “high profile for the development of projects of great strategic value.”
Based on interviews with officials, review of documents and a dozen testimonies of survivors, relatives and rescuers, execuentral reconstructed the mysterious story of the 2 floor of the building of Alvaro Obregon 286.
The building marked 286 was in the perimeter that form the avenues Alvaro Obregón, Huichapan, Cacahuamilpa and Avenue Amsterdam, in the colony Rome North. In all those streets during 15 days were realized works of search, rescue and removal of debris.
It was a building with a café facade, very well connected to reach the center and south of the City.
It reached the six levels and its interior had been modified to expand its capacity, according to specialists in structures and protagonists of the rescue. Without being reinforced, two structural elements were removed from the central part at each level, at least two years before the earthquake, to expand the spaces that could be rented as offices.
The spaces for rent varied between 35 thousand and 60 thousand pesos. While in 2011 a contract with Inmobiliaria Álvaro Obregón SA de CV for the rent of 2-A floor, with an area of 270 square meters was signed for 35 thousand 100 pesos per month; for 2017, the rent for 140 square meters for the Clínica Crisalida was negotiated in more than 60 thousand pesos per month.
The first contract, signed in 2011, was closed with the company Impulsa Incubadora de Negocios SA de CV, represented then by the architect Ernesto Sota López. This personage is son of Ernesto Sota Cisneros, whom the tenants called “The Engineer” and identified like proprietor of the property. Both had offices as building administrators in a section of the 6th floor, along with the S-Peak Language Academy, which occupied Floor 6-B.
Both were rescued around 6:00 pm on September 19, along with an accountant and two secretaries; all had been sheltered in the 6th Floor and were part of the 25 people rescued alive, practically unharmed, the same day of the earthquake.
THE DATA. Among the debris of the building located in the colony Roma Norte, in the Cuauhtémoc delegation, 28 people were rescued alive and 49 bodies recovered, according to official figures.
Floor to floor
The most energetic wave that released the September 19 earthquake came to the city half a minute after 1:14 pm. In just 15 seconds he demolished the structure of the building of Álvaro Obregón 286.
Most of the occupants were on floors 2 and 4. On the second level were the offices of Valora Consultores, which leased between February and March of this year. The fourth level was occupied by the firm Aguilera Contadores. Most of those who were there could not get out.
In part of the first floor was located a space destined to coworking for the offices located in the 3 floor. One of these, the 3-B was occupied by Aguilera Contadores; while in the office 3-A had its offices the company Semantik, in which worked Lucía Zamora, who was also rescued from the rubble.
Finally, floor 5 was temporarily unoccupied, but not empty, since on the day of the earthquake there were construction workers doing remodeling work and a locksmith.
The earthquake collapsed from floor 2 to 6 and left intact the ground floor and partially collapsed floor 1 levels at which no load walls nor columns were removed. The rest of the floors turned into rubble.
Carolina Muñiz Botello attended a work appointment on Tuesday, September 19, with staff from Valora Consultores. It was on the 2nd floor when the earthquake began and there it was trapped. Jorge Enrique Gómez Zamarripa, his ex-wife, said that, from that level, the columns that supported the structure were demolished along with a load wall, which was in the central part of the structure. The result was that from level 2 to 6 open spaces of 22 meters were achieved, which were divided into two sections of 11 meters each, qualified as office space. Two for each level. With the reforms, the structure had only load walls at the west and east ends, columns at the north and south ends of the structure, and a glass mirror on the exterior facade.
The floors 4 and 5 have a Catalan slab, whose thickness is 60 centimeters, which has concrete, sand, tezontle, sand and concrete. That slab weighs between 2 and 3 tons (…) But up, the roof of the 6th floor, which Catalan slab if it falls does not kill you, “said Gómez Zamarripa.
But it is not the same as falling three or four slabs on the 2nd floor, where my wife was. The norm of normal construction marks that it should have a superhighway of 10% of the free areas. That had three walls, I saw pictures of the interior (from floor 2) and it was pure glass, there were no load walls, “he said.
Ruins. Aspect of the facade of building 286 after the earthquake of 19 of September. PHOTO: SPECIAL
The building became a deadly trap. Extensions to the living spaces also reduced the width of the central stairs, which surrounded the elevator hub. This structure served levels 1 and 2 in case of emergency. From levels 3 to 6, evacuation protocols were directed to the service stairs, located at the rear of the building, which remained intact. Through these ladders the rescue teams began work to locate the survivors and prop up the collapsed structure.
On September 26, Humberto Morgan, a liaison between the Government of Mexico City and relatives and affected by the landslide in Álvaro Obregón 286, confirmed that the property could only support two levels, and that the slabs of Catalonia were vicious in their construction . The Attorney General of Mexico City investigates the owners, to determine if they have any responsibility.
The woman in black boots
The Israeli search and rescue team reached ground zero of the collapsed building at Álvaro Obregón 286 in the early hours of September 21, after a 20-hour flight aboard an IDF plane with a 295 registration. Immediately, a group of approximately 45 men and women were deployed with equipment and tactical equipment.
They came quietly. No one prevented them from crossing the security lines in the direction of the remains of the collapsed building. Marinos, federal and Mexico City police officers opened the way to the mission led by Colonel Dudi Mizrahi, a civilian communications expert recruited by the IDF specifically to command it.
At the same time, a small medical center in Mexico Cadena was installed, the exclusive service for the Jewish community, with equipment capable of simple surgical intervention and attending a critical condition on the way to the hospital.
The operation required information. It was then that Captain Karin Kabitke organized a group of Jewish volunteers who deployed around the perimeter. Some were placed in the entrances to the area, others where the support team was accommodated, some among the Mexican rescuers and in the food stalls. This thin woman, medium height, white complexion and redhead, wearing her green uniform, interviewed the survivors, the policeman guarding the door of the building, the relatives of the victims, the volunteers and emergency forces that arrived first, and rescuers who worked in the last hours in zone zero. In just three hours, his group had gathered enough information to know the number of people who remained under the rubble,
The plan of the building by then was not had, the authorities of the delegation Cuauhtémoc provided until the fourth day; Meanwhile, one of the bodies of volunteers, Urban Rescue took pictures on more than three occasions with one of their drones, then printed the images and defined among all the specialists the sectors to work, according to the data of the victims .
As the data were confirmed against the architectural memory of the building, Kabitke transmitted the information to the members of the Israeli team that would execute the rescue of the target by which they had arrived at Mexico. US rescuers supported them so that it was the Israeli team that coordinated the rescue operations, thereby displacing Mexicans, Spaniards, Colombians and Koreans, who were ordered to carry rubble.
The Israeli team, using the images of the dron, focused on the D-2 quadrant and began to work to remove the slab. Other rescue teams objected, because by then there were data from two people who could be rescued more easily, but they were placed in quadrant A. Although the representatives of the federal government that were in the place, they were left convinced by the Israelis, who said they could speed up locating people if they let them work.
Until that time, the Israeli team had not occupied any heavy machinery. What they did work with was a tactical team with which they detected vital signs, breaths or heartbeats under the debris or the signal that could emit a cell phone, to geolocalize to its objective.
The Israel team never said that they were looking for a specific person, simply that they were helping in the rescue tasks, but in reality they were only interested in one person, and it was a woman who was on the 2nd floor, in the offices of Valora Consultores , in one of the points of greater complexity, because it remained trapped under a concrete block. Neither the shabbath , the Jewish holy day nor the celebration of the Rosh Hashanah , the Jewish New Year, which coincided with this date, stopped the work.
A smaller group stayed at work in sector A, trying to reach those who would later discover were two women who had also been trapped on the 2nd floor.
As they advanced in their quest, the Israeli team wanted to break a collapsed lock, which put the entire structure at risk, and which came out of the safety parameters considered by the rest of the rescuers who opposed, including the Spanish.
The Israelis did not initially accept suggestions, work alone. In fact, they wanted to dismantle the security measures that had been implemented with The Rescue Urban Canada team , in order to safeguard in principle the only plane that was not collapsed and to preserve the lives of both those working on the first floor and those working in “said Angel Pereyra , who was in charge of the Rescue and Rescue Squadron in the Dock Sud Fire Department. ” It’s a very strange thing, “said Pereyra .
It was late on Saturday night, Colonel Mizrahi and a member of the Los Angeles fire brigade called a meeting in a closed tent with a representative from each rescue team. The words, rather than a request, announced what would follow: “If we do not do this (using heavy machinery) we will take 20 years to recover the bodies.”
All those in zone zero perceived how the Mexican authorities gave a greater priority, and a greater degree of participation to the groups USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) against the national ones. “The brigades like Israel, which in my opinion did not do a good job, did not meet the necessary security measures, and even put the rest of the rescuers at risk,” Pereyera said.
Another confrontation came. The situation became much more tense, to the point that some stopped collaborating with them. Towards Saturday night, with the help of a telescopic crane, a gap was fitted, which was accessed by the back of the collapsed building, which was prepared the route to remove the body of the mysterious woman. The rest of the teams came down from the rubble and cleared the way for the Israelis. The task was not simple. One of the slabs was removed, and the structure resisted.
They first encountered the body of a Mexican woman, whom they took out of the rubble and brought in expert services. Minutes later, the body that the Israelis were so quickly seeking was left in sight, they had only one problem, one of their legs had been trapped in another independent slab to be cut.
The maneuvers they had made, before continuing, to reinforce with poles and beams the ground floor and the first floor, and then begin to cut the new slab. All this would take at least 12 more hours or a full day. Part of the team met and it was decided to amputate one leg to remove it immediately from the debris. The rest that was in the place did not realize this, it was very fast, with a lot of stealth and care.
“No one reported anything. It was learned that there were people alive, I know that there were people who stayed longer and could not get it out. I feel that there is something bigger, but I do not know what, I know that they took at least five bodies from behind and were not notified, and there was the Army, the Navy. Who really knows what happened there or who were there ❞ .
Adriana Oarim , therapist who managed to leave the building
The already released body was placed on a stretcher and lowered down the back. Authorities certified the death in seconds: a 30-year-old Mexican woman who had lost one leg as a result of the collapse of Huichapan Street, number eight, in the Hipódromo colony. Although another direction appeared, it did not matter, they just wanted to take the body. The name was reserved and in the middle of the night no one could describe it, they could only see that he was wearing long boots and black pants.
They immediately withdrew. All the deployment in the area, even the small medical center, packed everything and disappeared.
According to Israeli ambassador to Mexico, Jonathan Peled, they had no information about “Israeli citizens” among the rubble. “A victim who belonged to the Jewish community here in Mexico, Argentine (…) a Mexican-origin but there was no Jewish citizen at any time, nor discovered Israeli citizens , ” he said to ejecentral .
Civilians who traveled from Israel were all specialists in structures, rescue, information management and medicine. It was a group of 71 men and women who are part of the IDF reserves, explained the diplomat, integrated to the Front House Command.
Almost all are officers. They are colonels, lieutenant colonels, elders and captains. They are very professional, but they are architects, engineers or doctors, they are civilians who in times of emergency the Army calls them and lists them, “he added about the team that worked seven days and seven nights in Mexico.
He also said that the team also participated in the collapse of the Housing Unit of Tlalpan, and allocated at least 25 specialists in structures to review public buildings. “Our assignment was made by the Command Center, the C5. They decided where to send each of the rescue corps that came from outside, “he said.
On the remains of the Jewish-Argentine citizen who was rescued, the Télam Agency confirmed that it was Jaime Achequenaze. Neither the ambassador nor any other official means recorded the death of the woman in black boots. Contrary to the ambassador’s refusal to rescue more people from his community, the JDN news portal, written in Hebrew, stated that in an operation led by Markos Kain, the Israeli team was looking for two “Jews from the community”, from those “feared” had been trapped in the rubble.
> “The Israelis did not initially accept suggestions, work alone. In fact, they wanted to disarm the security measures that had been implemented with the urban rescue team, they did not want anyone to side. ”
Ángel Pereyra, rescuer
We come for Jorge
The protocol launched 36 hours earlier already had the first 17 elements of the Emergency Military Unit (UME) on Mexican soil as advanced to recognize the terrain of the tragedy and plan the rescues. On 22 September, on board an Airbus of the Spanish Army would arrive at the capital of the country another 37 staff.
Under the orders of Commander Álvaro Martín Molina, the 54 members of the EMU were put in charge of the Mexican federal Civil Protection authorities, at first, in the headquarters that was raised in the National Center of High Performance, to the east of the city, where they coincided with the Japanese, Israeli and American contingents.
The team was divided into 12-hour shifts, so they would cover 24 hours a day. In the debris of the colony Del Valle rescued the body of Leopoldo Nieto Cisneros, a Spanish citizen; but still lacked the primary objective: Jorge Gómez Varo, an apparent executive of Malaga origin, whose specialty was to be “flattening” or architect’s assistant, who worked for Valora Consultores, and who at the time of the quake was in his office in the second floor of 286 of Álvaro Obregón.
Unlike the Israelis, the Spaniards arrived at 286 from Álvaro Obregón and presented themselves with the emergency bodies of the ERUM, the volunteers and the Interior authorities, and explained:
We came to look for Jorge Gómez Varo, but we help and support all other rescues. ” And so they did.
TO 288Jorge Gómez Varo, turned out to be a character of political interest for the Spanish government. His body was rescued without life on September 29, 10 days after the earthquake, along with his assistant, a young Mexican woman.
Gómez Varo, was an architect, an assistant architect, grew up in the neighborhood of Pedregalejo, next to the Baños del Carmen, where he lived almost all his life together with his family. He studied in La Asunción, a Spanish province and belonged to the “Very Illustrious, Old and Venerable Sacramental Brotherhood of Our Father Jesus Nazareno de Viñeros, Nuestra Señora del Traspaso y Soledad de Viñeros and San Lorenzo Mártir”, better known as Brotherhood of Viñeros and the Archosfría of the Expiration, also known as the Pontifical, Royal, Illustrious and Venerable Sacramental Arch-brotherhood of Worship and Procession of the Most Holy Christ of the Expiration and Most Holy Mary of the Painted Coronation.
Just two years ago he came to Mexico to work with the company Valora Consultores, under the orders of Senén Ferreiro, CEO of the company, which officially dedicated to decorative projects, consulting companies on social responsibility issues and also develop software with the same goal known as GCSIC, a management tool for SMEs that are members of the Spanish network of the United Nations Global Compact.
Although the Spanish rescuers had been so open to explain their mission, at times they behaved with some secrecy.
The first impression was that maybe the Attorney General came to do the survey, the photographs, but no. Everything was by agreement with the Spaniards, because they wanted to remove all the bodies, because apparently they were not only looking for this body (the Gómez Varo), but strange documentation that he had there, “said Jorge Enrique Gómez Zamarripa, exesposo of one of the victims of the second floor.
In the same quadrant D and very close to the C, were the bodies of the Malagueño and the Mexican. Just a few feet back from the woman in black boots.
Still the Spanish team remained one more day in the rescue work, but only one more day. On September 24, the four canine units, medical equipment, shoring, drilling, vertical rescue, communication; as well as for the movement of loads and the location of people, and even that which detects air pollution by chemical, bacteriological or gas material, all were lifted. The mission was over.
Building 286 included officials from the Ministry of the Interior, such as Undersecretary Roberto Campa Cifrián, and from Mexico City, from the Ministry of Mobility and Civil Protection. Also located was the C-2 mobile unit of the police of the capital, which functions as an operational center of liaison with the C-5, from where the head of government, Miguel Angel Mancera, was coordinating much of the emergency.
The area was sheltered by federal police, the Army and the Navy, an institution that was entrusted with one last mission, to recover from the second floor computers and documents that were possible. So they did, carefully and stealthily, took a few teams, the rest had been totally lost. Thus the mission was completed, without clear and precise traces of what was in that office, but which was so important to mobilize two rescue teams from Europe.
The Uranium-Clinton story is still running:
As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom — which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show.
Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show.
“In the context of a possible trip to Russia at the end of June, WJC is being asked to see the business/government folks below. Would State have concerns about WJC seeing any of these folks,” Clinton Foundation foreign policy adviser Amitabh Desai wrote the State Department on May 14, 2010, using the former president’s initials and forwarding the list of names to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s team.
While we apparently still don’t know whether Bill Clinton was ultimately approved to hold those meetings, his team did confirm that he met with Vladimir Putin at his private residence.
The documents don’t indicate what decision the State Department finally made. But current and former aides to both Clintons told The Hill on Thursday the request to meet the various Russians came from other people, and the ex-president’s aides and State decided in the end not to hold any of the meetings with the Russians on the list.
Bill Clinton instead got together with Vladimir Putin at the Russian leader’s private homestead.
Russian intelligence targeted Hillary Clinton before she became secretary of state in 2009, FBI documents show.
New FBI information about corruption in a Clinton-approved uranium deal with Russia raises questions about Clinton’s actions after the FBI broke up a deep-cover Russian spy ring in 2010.
For a decade, the FBI ran an operation called Ghost Stories to monitor and rip apart a deep-cover Russian agent network. Ghost Stories tracked a ring Russian spies who lived between Boston and Washington, D.C., under false identities. It was one of the FBI’s most elaborate and successful counterintelligence operations in history.
After the FBI arrested 10 of the spies in June, 2010, Secretary of State Clinton worked feverishly to return the Russian agents to Moscow in a hastily arranged, lopsided deal with Putin.
It all happened as the uranium deal was in play: An arrangement to provide Moscow’s state Rosatom nuclear agency with 20 percent of American uranium capacity, with $145,000,000 to pour into the Clinton Family Foundation and its projects.
For the Clintons, the FBI’s biggest counterintelligence bust in history couldn’t have come at a worse time.
The day the FBI arrested the Russian agents, on June 28, 2010, the day before the secretary of state’s husband, Bill Clinton, was to give a speech in Moscow. A Kremlin-connected investment bank, Renaissance Capital, paid the former president $500,000 for the hour-long appearance.
An unnamed Hillary Clinton spokesman told ABC News that there was “no reason to think the Secretary was a target of this spy ring.”
That was a lie.
State Department spokesman Phil Gordon brushed off the spy ring as old news: “I don’t think anyone was hugely shocked to know that some vestiges of old attempts to use intelligence are still there.” Breaking the spy network, he said, was “a law enforcement action.” Gordon’s implication was that it had nothing to do with the department Clinton headed.
That didn’t explain why Clinton stayed silent and worked hard to return the 10 spies back to Moscow, before any could be put on trial or turned by the FBI. Or why Clinton settled for a very poor bargain in a one-sided spy swap. But other evidence does.
FBI says Russian spies targeted Hillary Clinton in 2008
Redacted evidence that the FBI submitted to a federal court shows that Russia’s External Intelligence Service (SVR), the former KGB First Chief Directorate, targeted Clinton in 2008 and tried to burrow into her inner circle the next year when she was secretary of state. (Press reports often confuse Russia’s main internal security entity, the Federal Security Service, or FSB, with the SVR.)
The SVR spy ring was no old “vestige” from Soviet times that was “still there.” It was a network of younger agents emplaced long after the Soviet collapse. The FBI considers it one of an unknown number of deep, expensive, thorough networks to penetrate and influence the United States government for generations.
Under the code name Operation Ghost Stories, the FBI had been working the ring for a decade. Its targets had burrowed in along the Acela Corridor between Boston, New York, and Washington DC. They lived normal daily lives as Americans to attend universities, run businesses, marry, and conceive and raise children to infiltrate society and subvert government institutions. One of the SVR agents had stolen the identity of a six week-old Canadian baby who had died in 1963. That prompted the Ghost Stories code name. The ring inspired the FX network’s television series, “The Americans.”
As with any secretary of state, Hillary Clinton would be a primary target under any circumstance. But she was much more. She was a known quantity: predictable, vain and ruthless, and with an insatiable desire for cash to enrich her family, friends, and political machine. Blindly ambitious to become president of the world’s only superpower and swearing to come back after losing in 2008 to Barack Obama, she was the 21st century KGB’s perfect mark.
As professional as it had been as the KGB’s espionage division, the SVR invests heavily in long-term human intelligence. The SVR’s crown jewel is its global network of deep-cover agents that it calls “illegals.” Illegals live under presumed identities, without official diplomatic status that would protect them from arrest.
From New York, SVR agent Lidiya Guryeva had Clinton in her sights. Guryeva had a real-life job, under the assumed name Cynthia Murphy, as vice president of a high-end tax services company in lower Manhattan. Guryeva’s prime targets, FBI evidence and later news reports show, were Clinton and no fewer than five members of her inner circle.
Guryeva was far more important than a fellow agent would become the most famous member of the spy ring. The publicity would go to Anna Vasilyevna Kushchenko, who after her arrest would be become a glamourous spy princess under her married name, Anna Chapman.
While the FBI’s unclassified information is vague, it is clear that Guryeva’s target was an early Obama administration member from New York who handled foreign policy after having run for high-level public office. Clinton is the only person fitting that description.
Clinton became secretary of state on January 21, 2009. Two weeks later, on February 3, Guryeva sent an encrypted message to the SVR’s Moscow Center. The agent reported “several work-related meetings” with a New York-based “financier” who was “prominent in politics,” an “active fundraiser” for a major political party whose name the FBI redacted, and “a personal friend” of an Obama cabinet official whom the FBI did not publicly identify. Guryeva told her bosses that she would seek to use that personal friend to “provide” inside information on American foreign policy and the White House, and invite her to major political events.
Politico first identified the financier as Alan Patricof, a venture capitalist who had been finance chairman of Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign from New York, and co-chair of her 2008 presidential campaign. Guryeva’s tax services company had Patricof’s firm as a client. After the arrest, when faced with news reports that he was one of the spy targets, Patricof did what any innocent person would do: He immediately told the press his side of the story and said he had no idea that the person he knew as Cynthia Murphy was actually a Russian spy.
Living under deep cover, illegals take targets of opportunity. FBI evidence to the federal court showed that Guryeva discussed with her husband, also an SVR spy, about whether she should infiltrate the State Department. Guryeva expressed concerns that she would fail a background investigation. So she considered approaching others to gain internal access indirectly.
The Guryev couple’s espionage job, the FBI said, would be “to begin targeting other people, who can be recruited as sources on behalf of Moscow Center.”
Guryeva and her husband would sell their New Jersey house and follow Clinton to the nation’s capital. There, she could get a job with a Washington, DC-based company or policy shop. A tasking message dated October 18, 2009, from Moscow Center sought agents to seek out information “unknown publicly but revealed in private by sources close to State Department, Government, major think tanks.”
As the FBI told the court, “the SVR requested information on the U.S. position with respect to a new Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, Afghanistan, and Iran’s nuclear program.” Moscow Center specifically asked Guryeva for intelligence concerning “approaches and ideas” of what the FBI called “four names of sub-cabinet United States foreign policy officials, omitted,” meaning that all four were deputies to Secretary Clinton whose identities had been redacted.
So we see the SVR target list developing: Clinton, four of her deputies, her former top fundraiser and presidential campaign co-chairman, and influential foreign policy people in Washington.
Hillary Clinton’s interests in Russia when Russians targeted her
All normal activity for the SVR or any other intelligence agency. Now, let’s see what Clinton was doing at the time.
Clinton pledged at Foggy Bottom to “reset” relations with the Putin-controlled regime. She blamed the former George W. Bush administration for the bad feelings. To the Kremlin’s relief, she opposed what would become the Magnitsky Act to sanction Russian criminal oligarchs and regime figures. Weeks into her tenure as secretary, she told Russian television, “our goal is to help strengthen Russia.”
She immediately used her position as America’s top diplomat to pour Russia-related money into her family foundation. One of her earliest acts as secretary of state was personally to authorize the State Department to arrange for 28 American tech CEOs and venture capitalists – 17 of them Clinton Foundation donors – to visit a Russian high-tech hub called Skolkovo. With Skolkovo, the SVR doesn’t need to steal when it can arrange legal purchases. The US military calls Skolkovo “an overt alternative to clandestine industrial espionage.” The Skolkovo visit, which reportedly began as a Clinton Foundation initiative, occurred in May, 2010, a month before the arrests.
Four days before the FBI would break up the ring, on June 24, Obama personally met with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, to coordinate billions of dollars in deals with Kremlin-affiliated businesses. Putin held power behind the scenes as prime minister, between his terms as president.
At the time, Obama was pushing a bilateral Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, which it argued would help stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. And, subject to Clinton’s approval, the Russians were in the process of taking control of Uranium One – and taking one-fifth of America’s annual uranium output.
The Government Accountability Institute’s Peter Schweizer discovered the Clinton connection to the Kremlin-connected investment bank and to the approval of US uranium to the agency that controls Russia’s nuclear warhead production. Stakeholders in Uranium One, Schweizer found, would pump $145 million into the Clinton foundation and its sponsored projects.
So Hillary Clinton was mining Kremlin cash for her personal benefit while secretary of state, at the exact time Putin’s SVR spies were targeting her and penetrating her inner circle. She had every personal motivation to make the spy problem disappear and deny that she had been a target.
Once the FBI broke the ring on June 28, 2010, attorney general Eric Holder said that the sudden arrests were to prevent one of the spies from fleeing the United States. FBI counterintelligence chief Frank Figliuzzi later shared a different reason: “We were becoming very concerned they were getting close enough to a sitting US cabinet member that we thought we could no longer allow this to continue.”
There is logic to the FBI’s reasoning. Normally the FBI would want to keep its prizes to knock them out of the spy business for good, or to turn some of them, or to use them as bargaining chips. There is no counterintelligence reason to hand them over in a bad deal. The previous big spy swap with Moscow had been under President Reagan, carefully orchestrated for years, back in 1985. The US exchanged four Soviet bloc spies for five Polish prisoners and 20 alleged American spies in the Soviet bloc. There can also be diplomatic reasons to hang on to captured spies as leverage in negotiations.
Hillary wanted the spy ring issue to disappear fast
Clinton didn’t want leverage. She wanted the issue to go away. She toiled feverishly to get the 10 Ghost Stories spies back to Moscow as quickly as possible. She accepted whatever Putin would give her to pass off as a face-saving swap.
She folded America’s strong hand of cards. The US had ten relatively young, highly trained Russian spies in custody with immense, fresh knowledge of SVR statecraft. A normal secretary of state would bide her time and get the best deal.
The State Department coordinated quickly with the Kremlin to return the spies in a lopsided swap over a busy Fourth of July weekend, when few in Washington were paying attention.
In return, the US accepted an SVR officer who had been an American double agent, an open-source researcher whom Amnesty International considered a political prisoner, a Russian military intelligence colonel who spied for the British, and an elderly ex-KGB man from Soviet times whom not even a Communist court convicted of treason.
All the while, in a separate investigation that John Solomon and Sara Carter separately revealed this week, the FBI was probing Russians involved with the pending Uranium One deal on a range of corruption issues.
The bottom line
So here are the key facts: The FBI found that Russian intelligence had targeted Hillary Clinton before and during her time as secretary of state. Clinton’s spokespersons denied that this was so. Clinton opposed the Magnitsky sanctions on officials tied to Putin. After her husband received a half-million dollars in Moscow from a Kremlin-connected investment bank, Clinton moved with unusual speed to whisk the ring of 10 Russian spies out of the country and back to Moscow. She had the lopsided swap take place over a long summer weekend, before the FBI was finished with the spies, and before the spies could stand trial. While the FBI was separately investigating Russians involved with buying Uranium One, she approved the sale of American uranium to Russia’s nuclear weapons agency. Principals in the sale then plowed $145 million into her family foundation and projects.
Several questions come to mind. Precisely what did the FBI know about Russia’s spy service targeting Hillary Clinton and her inner circle? Why did Clinton deny through spokespersons that she had been a Russian target? Why did she work so feverishly to get the spies out of the United States and back to Russia? Why has the FBI leadership not been more vocal in touting one of its greatest counterintelligence successes ever? And why did nobody in the FBI leadership raise this issue during the 2016 Russian election meddling controversy?
Michael Waller is a vice president of the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC. His 1994 book, Secret Empire: The KGB In Russia Today, predicted the former KGB’s takeover of Russia’s political and economic system.