Within 24 hours of the October 11 death of Jörg Haider, Austria’s controversial far-right political leader, the CIA issued an Initial Assessment Report (IAR) that left open the possibility of foul play. Coming only two weeks after Austrian rightwing parties scored historical gains in national elections, the auto wreck that killed Haider, 58, occurred near the entrance to a small Austrian village, where he supposedly lost control of his 2008 VW Phaeton at high speed as he overtook a slower moving car. (In a development that shocked Austria, it was revealed that he was returning from a gay bar, where he had drunk heavily after a fight with a male lover.)
Although Haider was wearing his seatbelt, and eight air bags deployed to protect his head, chest and abdomen, he sustained a severely fractured skull, crushed chest cavity, broken spine and nearly severed arm. An active U.S. intelligence asset familiar with the contents of the IAR tells Whistleblower that the Agency highlighted this and several other matters it deemed suspicious, including the refusal of Austrian authorities to identify the woman driving the slower vehicle.
Conspiracy theories about Haider’s death are already brewing, and the CIA’s early doubts about the accident can only fuel the speculation.
There were no skid or brake marks; no blood was evident on the driver’s seat, although Haider’s injuries led to massive blood loss; photos of a concrete pole that local police say Haidar slammed into show remarkably little damage; pictures reveal the accident scene was disturbed by police, with the car and other evidence moved before forensics teams arrived; and, on a police recording of the call that reported the accident, a woman’s voice is heard, in German, saying that there “are problems to get through.”
IARs are quick summaries prepared as first-pass crib sheets for politicians and intelligence officials, and they are written in a CIA-cover-your-ass style that says essentially ‘reader beware, this might all be wrong.’ The agency’s only response was a terse, “no comment.”
Still, with conspiracy theories about Haider’s death already brewing on the internet (suspects include the Mossad, Slovenian nationalists, the New World Order, and Jewish bankers), the CIA’s early doubts about the accident can only fuel the speculation. Memories of Princess Di, anyone?
Pakistan’s new president, Asif Ali Zardari, took swift action earlier this year when Bilawal, his 19-year-old son with the late Benazir Bhutto, turned up on the internet under an assumed named wearing a devil’s costume. “In this country, symbols matter,” he declared when he closed his son’s Facebook site.
This point was underscored recently by Islamabad’s radical Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), which issued a fatwa against Zadari for telling Sarah Palin that she was “gorgeous” when the two met at the United Nations. And now the president may have another set of photos to worry about.
Whistleblower has learned that a senior Republican senator who sits on the Foreign Affairs Committee has apparently shown a few trusted friends several surveillance photos that purport to be Zardari in compromising sexual situations. Whistleblower hasn’t seen the photos, but was told about them by a source who has proven reliable over 20 years regarding sensitive matters. What is not clear is if they are real or doctored, and if real—as the Senator believes—if they come from U.S. or Pakistani intelligence. Zadari, a widower since his wife’s assassination earlier this year, has enemies among the spooks in both countries.
The Senator—who has been touted as a possible Defense Secretary in a future administration—is not a Zardari foe, but he fears distribution of the photos could undermine America’s best chance to keep a moderate in control of the pivotal country. His office would not comment publicly on the matter.
In the West, salacious sexual pictures bring public shame and might end a politician’s career. In Pakistan, such photos could earn Zardari a death sentence from Islamic fundamentalists.
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.