2013Who is Marc Grossman?
By James Corbett
October 1, 2013
Marc Grossman’s career with the State Department stretches back to 1977 when he served at the US Embassy in Islamabad. Over the course of the next four decades, Grossman has served a variety of posts, including time as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Ankara from 1989 to 1992, time as Ambassador to Turkey from 1994 to 1997, and time as number three in the State Department as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in the Bush Administration.
When Marc Grossman was appointed US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan in Hilary Clinton’s State Department in 2011, foreign policy circles in the US hardly batted an eyelid.
News coverage of the appointment dutifully noted Grossman’s long career at the State Department and past accomplishments, including his appointment as Career Ambassador by President Bush in 2004 and his Secretary of State Distinguished Service Award in 2005. Carefully excised from this glowing praise, however, was any mention of his early exit from Turkey before the end of his scheduled appointment as US Ambassador, the decade-long FBI investigation into Grossman’s conduct at the State Department, the accusations of bribes and string pulling, his involvement in the nuclear spying ring identified by a landmark 2008 Sunday Times investigation, or, as we examined last week, his role as the first person to actually blow Valerie Plame’s cover by warning Turkish officials of Brewster Jennings & Associates’ role as a CIA front.
Grossman’s role in a Turkish espionage ring that traded in US nuclear secrets was first detailed in the Sunday Times investigation. In the piece, the Times reported FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds’ accusations that Grossman (identified as a high-ranking State Department official in the report) was selling classified State Department and Pentagon secrets to foreign operatives in return for money, position, and political objectives. The help included providing security clearance to Turkish and Israeli moles for them to gain access to sensitive nuclear research facilities in the US.
Edmonds’ own knowledge of the case—gleaned from her time as an FBI translator in the early part of the last decade working on the FBI investigation into this espionage network—goes back to the mid-1990s, when Grossman was acting as US Ambassador to Turkey. According to Edmonds, Grossman was also working as a handler in the Turkish branch of Operation Gladio, a US/NATO led operation to fund Turkish paramilitary and ultranationalist groups to carry out drug running, false flag operations, and assassinations. When a car crash in Susurluk in 1996 killed notorious Turkish drug trafficker and hired assassin Abdullah Çatlı along with a high-ranking Turkish MP and a well-known police officer, the resulting scandal threatened to expose Grossman and the US’ role in the entire affair, requiring his early return to Washington.
As we reported last week,. Edmonds also detailed how FBI taps of Grossman’s phone conversations caught him warning his Turkish contacts in Washington about Brewster Jennings, the CIA front that Valerie Plame listed as her employer during her time as a covert operative involved in counter-proliferation operations for the agency. That conversation, which Edmonds subsequently informed the DOJ about, took place in 2001, a full two years before the “Plamegate affair” that supposedly exposed Plame’s CIA ties.
The case against Grossman is remarkable for several reasons. Firstly, it is well-documented. Not only has Edmonds provided sworn testimony regarding the information she learned working on the FBI investigation into the spy ring in question, former FBI counterterrorism manager John M. Cole has independently verified that there was a decade-long investigation into the activities of Grossman and others on these matters. The specific FBI case ID that Edmonds provided the Times for their investigation into the claims was initially denied outright by the FBI, but when the Times was able to independently source a document signed by an FBI official confirming the file’s existence, the Bureau subsequently admitted the document’s existence.
Secondly, the case is remarkable because Grossman, despite “strongly denying” the accusations in the Times piece, has never attempted to pursue Edmonds for libel or perjury charges, despite the fact that these accusations were made in sworn testimony in public court.
Most remarkable of all, however, is that despite all of this damning information against him, despite the decade-long investigation into the espionage ring which he was involved with, despite the fact that Patrick Fitzgerald’s own inquiry into the Plame affair likewise concluded that Grossman was the first to leak Valerie Plame’s identity, he has never faced censure or criminal charges of any kind for his actions, and continues to be appointed to high-ranking positions in the State Department. As Giraldi points out, these positions would require extensive background checks, checks that seem to have been waived for Career Ambassador Grossman. Recently, Philip Giraldi, ex-CIA analyst and someone who has reported on the case for The American Conservative and other outlets in the past, appeared on The Corbett Report to discuss this aspect of the case.
At this point, the question is how this could add up to anything but an active attempt within the halls of government to cover this information up and protect Grossman from prosecution for these actions. But if this is the case, how far does it go?
Next week in this series, we will examine the DOJ’s role in protecting Grossman, as well as its commitment to sweeping the real Plamegate scandal under the rug so that this uncomfortable information would never see the light of day.