“We are all Georgians,” John McCain announced in August, when he condemned what appeared to be an unprovoked Russian attack on the disputed border area of South Ossetia. But some of us, it turns out, are more Georgian than others, and McCain most likely knew, when he spoke those words, that it was the Georgians, not the Russians, who fired first. Certainly his top foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, knew.
Scheunemann’s two-person lobbying firm, Orion, has represented Georgia since 2001 and signed its latest contract with the government of President Mikheil Saakashvili on April 17, the same day that McCain announced support for Saakashvili, following a private phone call with him. (Scheunemann officially took a leave from Orion in May.)
On the NSA recording, Saakashvili gave the McCain aide a heads-up that all hell might break out.
An active US intelligence asset tells Whistleblower that Saakashvili phoned Scheunemann on August 6, one day before Georgian rockets hit Tskhinvali, the isolated separatist capital of South Ossetia, and that this phone call was monitored by the National Security Agency. According to the intelligence analyst familiar with the NSA recording, Saakashvili was surprisingly blunt in giving the McCain aide a heads-up that all hell might break out.
On August 9 it did, when Russia launched an over-the-top retaliation for two days of Georgian shelling and started a bloody mini-war. The international press portrayed this as a full-scale Russian invasion of Georgia, which was swiftly condemned by both US presidential candidates. Only in recent weeks have independent reports by military observers cast doubt on Georgia’s version of the clash.
Did Scheunemann tell McCain that the Georgians were not the innocent victims they played so well? If so, then McCain misled the country about an event that just happened to bolster his campaign rhetoric. And if Scheunemann didn’t tell his boss, then perhaps it was another case of McCain choosing staff with unfortunate conflicts of interest.
Calls for comment to Orion and Senator McCain’s office were not returned. A public affairs specialist at the NSA said, “We do not comment on actual or alleged operations.”
Last week Whistleblower revealed that the CIA’s Initial Assessment Report on the October 11 death of Austrian rightwing politician Jörg Haider suspected foul play rather than the simple car wreck described by Austrian authorities. Now, a similar scenario is being played out in Mexico, where the US Drug Enforcement Agency has doubts that the November 6 small plane crash that killed Interior Minister Juan Camilo Mouriño and government security adviser José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos was an accident. Mourino, the country’s second most powerful politician after the president, had deployed thousands of troops in an aggressive war against the country’s powerful drug cartels. Vasconcelos, who was formerly responsible for extraditing Mexican drug traffickers to the U.S, had survived a previous assassination attempt.
The Learjet crashed near a main thoroughfare in Mexico City, injuring dozens on the ground and killing all nine aboard. The deaths of Mouriño and Vasconcelos were celebrated in Western Mexico by drug gangs of masked men who crammed into pickup trucks and rode around firing automatic weapons in the air in triumph.
The crash site was still under seal when Luis Téllez, the Transport Minister, wasting no time, told the press, “There have been no signs that permit another hypothesis than an accident.”
But the DEA, in an internal classified report, cites several on-the-ground witnesses who heard as many as three explosions and saw large plumes of black smoke before the plane crashed. There was no distress call from the cockpit. A conversation between the pilots and the control tower only moments before the plane began an almost vertical nosedive gave no hint of any problem.
British and U.S. aviation experts are reportedly now in Mexico, but they have been hampered by the fact that the crime scene was dismantled before they arrived, and about ten percent of the plane is missing (disintegrated or not collected say Mexican authorities). The black box has been recovered, but according to one investigator who has heard the recording, it ends with a sudden static, often the sign of a major mechanical failure or foul play. DEA and other government agencies declined to publicly comment on the matter.
“They [the drug cartels] pulled it off brilliantly,” says one Homeland Security source familiar with the investigation. “And the Mexicans aren’t even going to go after them, they are just so embarrassed that it happened.”
Gerald Posner is the award-winning author of 10 best-selling books of investigative nonfiction ranging from political assassinations, to Nazi war criminals, to 9/11, to terrorism ( www.posner.com). He also has written dozens of articles for national magazines and newspapers. He is a regular contributor to NBC, CNN, CBS, and MSNBC. Posner lives in Miami Beach with his wife, the author Tricia Posner