With permission, in the belly of the beast:

Remember the curious and intriguing interconnections between One Jerusalem, a Likud/settler group chaired by Natan Sharansky, and two U.S-led “NGOs” with overlapping or interchangeable directorates — the “Policy Forum on International Security Affairs (PF)” and the newly minted “Case for Freedom” — that we discovered in the participants list of the “Prague Democracy and Security” conference where George W. Bush appeared despite the concerns of his State Department last June? I wrote about the conference twice, once describing it as a “Neo-Conservative International” and a second time focusing on those very same connections under the title, “More on that Meeting in Prague.”

Well, there are some new developments that raise fresh questions about these groups, their provenance, and interrelationships. At the time of the conference, the websites of both the Policy Forum (PF) and the Case for Freedom (CCF) were “under construction,” but now they’re up (click on their names and you’ll see them), although the PF site seems somewhat comatose. The second piece of news is that the Pentagon’s policy office — formerly run by Doug Feith (a co-founder with Sharansky of One Jerusalem) and currently directed by one of the remaining neo-cons at the Pentagon, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman — awarded a $79,416 no-bid contract to the Policy Forum and its director, Devon Gaffney Cross (yes, that’s Frank Gaffney’s sister) last September.

As I pointed out last June, Cross, who remains a member of the the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board (DPB), a voluntary group that is supposed to give policy advice (presumably untainted by any conflicts of interest) to the secretary of defense, has been arranging exclusive, off-the-record get-togethers between senior Pentagon officials and prominent neo-conservatives and fellow-travelers at even more exclusive venues in London and Paris. Among her guests have been Edelman himself; former Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Rodman; ret. Gen. (and Surge architect) Jack Keane; neo-con heavyweights James Woolsey and Michael Barone; and even sometime-neo-con/sometime-realist Henry Kissinger. (Like Cross, Keane and Kissinger also serve on the DPB.) But, because their sessions are off the record, we don’t know who else has been featured at these tetes-a-tete. Here are the group’s purpose and performance as laid out on the PF website:

    “Our aim is to create an open channel of dialogue between those who create the international news and those who report it, in an effort to articulate more clearly and accurately the animating forces behind American foreign policy.

    The response to our efforts, among the media, has been both prompt and enthusiastic — [sic] editors of The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The London Times, The Economist, The Sun and The Spectator have all participated in our discussions.”

    Leading columnists and members of editorial boards have at various times been included, and visiting participants have written to us emphasizing how important our gatherings have been in elevating the level of discourse in the British press about American politics and diplomacy.”

Until now, I had the impression that these little chats were privately funded; as a former senior of several far-right foundations, a former president of the Donor’s Forum on International Affairs, and the spouse of New York Jets president Jay Cross, Devon Cross is clearly a woman of means who would presumably not have to resort to the public treasury to spread the word to elite journalists about Washington’s good intentions in the Middle East. But here are the relevant excerpts of the July 23, 2007 “presolicitation notice” put out by the Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) Acquisition and Procurement Office of the Pentagon:

    “The Washington Headquarters Services (WHS) on behalf of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy plans to award a sole source contract to Policy Forum on International Security Affairs (PFISA), a small business, under FAR PART 13.5 in conjunction with FAR Part 12. The purposed contract action is for services which the Government intends to solicit with only one source in accordance with FAR Part 6.302-1. This procurement is for technical support and consulting services for public liaison and media outreach services in support of the diplomacy mission including addressing and informing European and Middle Eastern audiences on the challenges facing U.S. National Security policies. The awardee will engage London based European and Arab media in candid discussions on a wide variety of national security issues of interest to senior Department of Defense (DoD) officials. No solicitation will be issued. This notice is not a request for competitive quotations. Performance period is for a 12-month base period and (4) 12-month option periods. Award is imminent.”

The award actually was made two months later, according to WHS officials, who told me that the total contract was for some $79,000 and made out for Devon Cross herself.

Now, admittedly, this is not an enormous amount of taxpayer money at stake, but I’m intrigued by a number of questions raised by this transaction. These include:

    1) Is there a conflict of interest between her membership in the DPB and her receiving a contract from the office on whose behalf the DPB volunteers its time?

    2) Do other members of the DPB also receive “honoraria” for their appearances arranged by Cross?

    3) Are the members of the press invited to these events informed of the Pentagon’s financial sponsorship?

    4) Is the Pentagon financing the appearances of “unofficial” guests, such as Woolsey and Barone (whose views may not reflect those of the administration at any given moment)?

    5) Why is this being contracted out to a private group when the Pentagon presumably can use its own public- and media-affairs personnel to arrange dinners and coffees in London and Paris? (They can certainly run a more up-to-date website!)

    6) And, recalling the fact that Cross also serves as an adviser to the Lincoln Group — the Pentagon contractor that paid Iraqi newspapers to print pro-U.S. propaganda — is this little program part of a larger information operation in the Rumsfeldian sense of the phrase? (Bear in mind that Amir Taheri, one of Cross’s closest collaborators and a frequent invitee at these affairs, has a long history of disseminating disinformation about the Iranian regime, the most recent being the widely circulated story about Tehran requiring religious minorities, including Jews, to wear different colored ribbons on their outer garments (a la Third Reich) to distinguish them from Muslims.)

Finally, if, indeed, as it asserts, the website is supposed to promote discussion of U.S. foreign policy to the general public in Europe, as well as to opinion-shapers in the elite media, why is it so lacking in transparency? There’s not a word about the organization’s directors or officers or its financial sources or governance or just about anything else of an institutional nature.

It’s not that we don’t know about other individuals involved in PF’s work, although we have to rely on other sources, like the Prague Conference’s Participants List, to identify them.

Thus, we learned from the list that an Allen Roth also represented the Policy Forum at the Prague Conference. As we noted last June, Roth, a New York-based attorney was also serving as president of Sharansky’s One Jerusalem at that time (although onejerusalem’s website has since been changed in a way that makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to determine its current directors or staff. The same goes for the new PF and CFF websites.) Roth’s association with PF was confirmed by another source: a Nexis search found a business profile by the London-based ICC Information Group of the “Policy Forum on International Security Issues”. In a December 13 2007 entry, it named Devon Gaffney Cross as the group’s “Foundation Director” and Allen Roth as its “Public Policy Analyst.”

Another Prague attendee who was identified on the Participants List as PF’s “director” was Steven Schneier. As I pointed out last June, Schneier was identified by a 1999 Jewish Week investigative article entitled “Likud’s Tangled Charity Web” as a key U.S. fund-raiser for and top adviser to former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. His job was apparently to funnel campaign contributions from Likud’s supporters in the U.S. — among them, “Casino King” Irving Moskowitz, a major backer of the most radical Jewish settler groups in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and, not coincidentally perhaps, also a big contributor to Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy (CSP) and to the American Enterprise Institute (where he funded David Wurmser’s work in the late 1990s) — through various Likud-controlled charities. Schneier also helped handle the “charitable contributions” of Manfred Lehmann, identified by the Week as “the late philanthropist who defended Dr. Baruch Goldstein’s murder of 29 Palestinians in Hebron in 1994.” So a quick glance at the Prague participants list might have suggested to Sec. Edelman or his staff that some heavy-duty settler/Likudniks were associated in some way with the organization to which his office was about to give a no-bid renewable contract.

There is one other individual who has been publicly identified with the Policy Forum, a rather mysterious German national named Zacharias Gertler who, according to another ICC profile served as a “managing director” of “The Policy Forum on International Security Issues” from December 18, 2003 — that is, soon after Cross set up shop in London — until he resigned on March 1, 2007. Gertler, who clearly shuns publicity, appears to be the same “Zac Gertler” described by the May 1 2007 edition of London’s Evening Standard as one of “London’s Secret Rich.” With some 200 million pounds sterling in real estate, according to the Standard, “Zacharias Gertler is a leading member of a German-Jewish family with large property holdings. the Gertlers have major property investments in the former East Germany. In London, their portfolio includes chunks of King’s Cross and the City as well as a number of buildings in Baker Street. They also own hotels in Israel. Gertler lives quietly in St. John’s Wood. He has only three publicly-listed UK directorships, one of which is the German-British Forum.”

So back to the Prague Conference where, curiously, Cross herself was not, as you would expect, identified as executive director of the Policy Forum, but rather as a representative of “Case for Freedom,” a new organization that appears to have been launched at the conference. Strangely, however, a search for “devon” on CFF’s new site yields nothing, although “The Policy Forum for International Affairs” — along with a number of other interesting sites — appears on its “recommended links” list. And, while the CFF site describes the organization as “a dynamic community for dissidents and freedom’s advocates across the globe,” there doesn’t appear to be any information about who runs it. Moreover, the community which is supposed to be mobilized by CFF appears to be virtually non-existent. According to its “forums” section, there are only five registered users. Like onejerusalem, the CFF’s home page is lively and seemingly up to date, but the actual content beyond the home page, besides the “latest news” section, is desultory.

One of the strangest things about the site is the “Interview with Gary Kasparov” which is featured in the center of the home page. The interviewer is Jeffrey Gedmin, who introduces himself correctly as the president of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), but then adds that he is conducting the interview “for the caseforfreedom.org” — a rather bizarre introduction for the head of a U.S. government agency — unless, of course, the caseforfreedom is an RFE/RL project. If you search the rferl website, however, nothing comes up either for “Case for Freedom” or “caseforfreedom.org.” The CFF home page also features an audio interview with Kambiz Tavana, acting deputy director of Radio Farda, the RFERL entity that broadcasts to Iran, which appears to be a major preoccupation of the site, as it was at the Prague Conference itself.

Gedmin, who headed AEI’s New Atlantic Initiative and subsequently headed the Aspen Institute in Berlin, was appointed to his current position in early 2007. A dyed-in-the-wool neo-con, he was also a charter signatory (along with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Libby, etc.) of the Project for the New American Century in 1997 and of a letter (co-signed by Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney, Doug Feith, and David Wurmser, among others) from “the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf” that advocated overthrowing Saddam Hussein the following year. He signed the September 20 2001 PNAC letter, which called for Saddam to be ousted as part of the “war on terror,” and the subsequent April 2002 PNAC letter (along with all the hard-line neo-cons, including the Likudniks at AEI, Gaffney, and John McCain’s foreign policy spokesman, Randy Scheunemann) that concluded, “Israel’s fight against terrorism is our fight.”

I also have it on excellent authority that Gedmin has a longstanding and close working relationship with Gaffney Cross. After all, not only have they been running in the same hard-line neo-con circles for years, but, with Cross in London and Gedmin in Berlin and now Prague (RFE/RL’s European headquarters), their mission to alter Europe’s negative attitudes toward Bush administration policies in the Middle East has been very similar. One wonders whether RFE/RL, in addition to Edelman’s shop, is also providing support in some way to Cross’ efforts in her PF or CFF capacity — a question that will have to go begging for now because no press officer at RFE/RL is returning my calls.

Now, what was particularly intriguing about the interrelationships between PF and CFF and One Jerusalem back in June was the fact that, until May, Cross’ PF email account, press@policyforumuk.com, was hosted by the “onejerusalem.org” mail server in Israel, as shown by the screen capture we reproduced in the June 16 post. Shortly after the screen capture was taken, however, Cross appears to have changed her organization’s email server to gmail.

What we’ve now found, however, is that onejerusalem.org, policyforumuk.com, and caseforfreedom.org are not only all hosted by the same Israel-based ISP, but they also share exactly the same IP address, (along with carolineglick.com, the personal blog by the pro-settler editor of the Jerusalem Post by the same name). Theoretically, this could be a total coincidence, but experts I’ve spoken to insist that all of these sites are almost certainly managed, hosted and owned by the same organization or individual which, we believe, must be onejerusalem. (It was the first to register the domain, back in 2000.) One Jerusalem was the the only one of the three sites that listed an actual phone number on its registration, and, when we called it, the receptionist answered, “Allen Roth’s office,” presumably the same Allen Roth who last year was listed as One Jerusalem’s president nine months ago. This would add to the impression that we first gained last June: that the CFF and Cross’ PF work very closely with and may well be fronts for One Jerusalem.

Now, let us recall what One Jerusalem stands for and who its founders were, at least according to its website last June. It was founded during the Camp David negotiations in late 2000 to rally public opinion in Israel and in the United States, in particular, against any peace deal — indeed, any negotiation — that could conceivably result in ceding any part of Jerusalem, including Arab East Jerusalem, to the Palestinians. It is thus opposed to the official policies, at least in principle, of both the current Israeli and U.S. governments. Indeed, in the run-up to last November’s Annapolis summit hosted by Bush himself, One Jerusalem ran a well-financed (thanks to Netanyahu buddy, Ronald Lauder), public campaign designed to discredit and undermine it in advance. One Jerusalem’s founders included Sharansky, Netanyahu adviser Dore Gold, Feith (who even opposed the original Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt), David Horowitz (of Islamofascism Awareness Week); and David Steinmann, the former chairman of the ultra-hawkish Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), among other hardline Likudists.

So, you may ask, why is the Pentagon policy office awarding a no-bid contract to an organization whose institutional relationships and affiliations appear so opposed to official U.S. policy and which is so utterly lacking in transparency? And how is that such clearly pro-Likud individuals as Cross and Gedmin (not to mention the new Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, James Glassman who, like Gedmin, is an AEI alumnus) are put in charge of U.S. public-diplomacy efforts in Europe, let alone the Middle East? How does this happen?


0 0 votes
Article Rating