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Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The Anderson files
Why does the FBI want to get hold of this man's personal papers?

The man in question is the late Jack Anderson, a muckraking reporter who is considered to have been the best in his business -- a progenitor to people like Sy Hersh, Murray Waas and of late, James Risen.

Mr. Anderson died in December, but that hasn't stopped the federal government he once haunted from haunting him right back. According to Tribune:

WASHINGTON -- Jack Anderson turned up plenty of government secrets during his half-century as an investigative reporter, and his family hoped to make his papers available to the public after his death last December--but the government wants to see and possibly confiscate them first.

The FBI believes the columnist's files may contain national security secrets, including documents that would aid in the prosecution of two former lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, who have been charged with disclosing classified information.

Lawyers for the family are preparing a letter saying no to the FBI, said the columnist's son, Kevin Anderson.

"He would absolutely oppose the FBI rifling through his papers at will," Anderson said.

Although some of the documents may be classified, he said, they contain only "embarrassing top secrets--hammers that cost a thousand dollars and things like that."

Anderson said it was unlikely his father had papers relevant to the AIPAC case, since he had done little original reporting after being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1990.

The FBI contends that classified documents belong to the government and cannot be retained as part of a private estate.

"The U.S. government has reasonable concern over the prospect that these documents will be made available to the public at the risk of national security and in violation of the law," FBI spokesman Bill Carter said Tuesday.
Read the WaPo/LAT version of the story here (and catch the blip about Fox News anchor Brit Hume having once worked for Anderson in this glowing, gushing encomium by Howard Kurtz here.) But some of Anderson's fans and fellow muckrakers suspect something much darker is at work. Says blogger/investigative reporter Wayne Madsen:

...The Bush regime's draconian desire to confiscate Anderson's papers comes after it began reclassifying documents held by the National Archives and Records Administration. Some of the affected documents were from the administration of Bush's father and Ronald Reagan and involved Iran-Contra and CIA assassination plots (including those during the CIA directorship of George H. W. Bush). Anderson's papers also reportedly include documents on Iran-Contra and other Bush family scandals. Anderson's papers are being sorted for cataloging by George Washington University's Gellman Library in Washington, DC, which also houses the non-government National Security Archives. Chillingly, the FBI maintains that any classified documents in Anderson's papers collection are the property of the U.S. government. These include secret grand jury testimonies from the Watergate trials of top Nixon officials.

Anderson and Drew Pearson, his predecessor as editor of "Washington Merry-Go-Round," one of the most popular and insightful political columns in the history of American journalism, earned the wrath of successive administrations for uncovering a number of scandals, including Watergate-related abuses by the Nixon administration, that shook Washington's political elite.

Other subjects of Anderson's investigations include the CIA's and the Mafia's involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, CIA plots to kill Fidel Castro, Howard Hughes' links to Richard Nixon and the CIA, the involvement of the CIA and ITT/Harold Geneen/Dita Beard in the coup against Chile's Salvador Allende, George H. W. Bush's role with anti-Castro Cubans in the contract assassination of former Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier and Roni Moffit in Washington, DC in 1976, the role of George H. W. Bush in the "October Surprise" plot against Jimmy Carter in 1980, terrorist bombing of a Cubana Airlines Boeing 707 off of Barbados in 1976 and the helicopter bombing assassinations of Panama's President Omar Torrijos and Ecuador's President Jaime Roldos Aguilera in 1981, the Keating Five scandal that includes embarrassing information about GOP 2008 front runner for President -- Senator John McCain, and a plot by Watergate chief "plumber" G. Gordon Liddy to assassinate the muckraking Washington journalist. ...
Heavy stuff, and by the way, Anderson was so good, he was the subject of a long-forgotten murder plot by Nixon administration "plumbers" including G. Gordon Liddy. ... Madsen continues:

It is clear that the Bush regime is using the FBI to remove from public scrutiny documents that could prove very embarrassing to Poppy Bush. Linking Bush the Elder to acts of terrorism (for which there is no statute of limitations) and murder will further ensure the demise of the Bush political dynasty. For that reason, Anderson's papers are a prized catch for the Bush Crime Family. The FBI is laughably claiming that Anderson's papers are needed to ferret out leakers in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)-Pentagon espionage investigation. However, the Larry Franklin-Keith Weismann-Steve Rosen espionage story broke long after Anderson retired from active investigative journalism. However, it is quite possible that Anderson's papers contain information about high-level Israeli intelligence moles in the Reagan administration and that these may have some bearing on a recent Israeli request to trade jailed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard for imprisoned Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti. However, such a deal would inflame the already demoralized US intelligence community and Anderson's papers may include evidence about the severe damage that Pollard and his likely compatriots in the Reagan administration did to U.S. national security. If a deal for Pollard's release is in the works, some US intelligence officers want Israeli nuclear scientist Mordecai Vanunu released from house arrest in Israel and be allowed to move to the United States. Vanunu is reportedly well aware of Israel's secret program to illegally obtain nuclear materials with the help of agents of influence in the United States, Western Europe, Soviet Union, and South Africa. Some of these same networks -- run by Israeli-Russian crime syndicates -- continue to exist today and were used by Iran and Pakistan to successfully obtain nuclear materials and components.

That may sound far out, but Madsen isn't the only person out there who believes that "agents of a foreign power" may be, or may recently have been, operating inside the United States government (the feds are prosecuting two of them, and has accepted a guilty plea from a third, Doug Feith's former Pentagon analyst and Office of Special Plans operative Larry Franklin.) Tom Flocco, a rather alarmist blogger who nonetheless claims to have amassed documentary evidence of many of his claims about the Bush and Clinton administrations, claims Feith and Paul Wolfowitz operated as such "agents" of the Israeli government. And if even a fraction of the other things Flocco believes are true, there is a lot the administration might want to hide, on its own behalf and on behalf of former presidents.

Whatever the FBI is really looking for, it does seem unlikely that it's directed related to the AIPAC case, since so many who knew Anderson agree he wasn't working on it as a journalist. What seems much more likely is that the FBI is searching for some of the same material the Nixon crowd (many of whom are still around as part of the current administration) -- once wanted Anderson assassinated over. It's also likely that few in the media will really dig into this. As usual, we'll learn the truth when somebody -- preferably inside the FBI -- leaks.

Update: via Truthout, the NYT's Scott Shane reports "Recovery of leaked C.I.A. and White House documents that Jack Anderson got back in the 70's has been on the F.B.I.'s wanted list for decades," according to Scott Blanton of the National Security Archive in D.C. And there's this:

F.B.I. agents are investigating several leaks of classified information, including details of domestic eavesdropping by the National Security Agency and the secret overseas jails for terror suspects run by the C.I.A.

Makes for interesting speculation...

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posted by JReid @ 3:59 PM  
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