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“THEY WANTED TO STOP IT AT ALL COSTS”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jan. 24, 2015) — On Wednesday, The Post & Email reported on the story of U.S. Army Reserve officer 2Lt. Scott Bennett, who has extensive knowledge and documentation that money from thousands of Swiss bank accounts has funded Middle Eastern terrorist activities since at least 2007, thereby killing and maiming the U.S. service members Bennett was tasked to protect.
As a college undergraduate, Bennett pursued a double major in the areas of Advertising and Film Production. He is fluent in Spanish and French. He holds a Master’s Degree in International Commerce and Public Policy and a Ph.D. (ABD) in Political Theory, the thesis for which was written on “Military-Intelligence Contractors, Swiss Banks, and Terrorist Threat Financing Networks and Operations.”
From December 2003 to January 2008, Bennett utilized his expertise within the Bush administration in the areas of domestic policy and military strategy by incorporating his knowledge of counterterrorism operations with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the State Department and the U.S. Department of Defense.
In January 2008, he was offered employment at Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH), a U.S. defense contracting company founded more than 100 years ago which works closely with U.S. intelligence agencies. The organization employs more than 22,000 people. Over its storied history, it has developed forensic analysis methods and devices, evaluation methods to combat threats to public health, and new cybersecurity measures following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011. The company provides management consulting services and engineering expertise for “governments, businesses and non-profits.”
In its work with defense-related organizations, BAH states that “From battlefield to boardroom, Booz Allen’s global defense experts have the experience, perspective, and know-how to support the Department of Defense’s toughest missions.” BAH is a supporter of the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2).
Regarding its commitment to the U.S. military, BAH further states:
United States Veterans and Wounded Warriors are our co-workers, business partners and neighbors. They made personal sacrifices to serve our country, and it is in that same spirit of service that Booz Allen pledges its commitment to these heroic men and women. We are privileged and honored to serve and support our military men and women, their families, and the vast network of public, private, and nonprofit organizations that also support them.
In 2009, along with his employment at BAH, Bennett entered the U.S. Army Reserves, completed officer training and served in the 11th Psychological Operations Battalion, during which he held a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmentalized Information (SCI) clearance.
In early 2010, BAH asked Bennett to transfer to Florida to work as a Terrorist Threat Finance Analyst. Obtaining approval from his base commander to transfer his Army duties to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Bennett prepared to make the move from Washington, DC to begin the next chapter of his BAH experience.
He flew to Florida on a “VIP” military flight, moving into housing arranged by BAH.
In his new position, Bennett became aware that funding was flowing through Swiss bank accounts, most notably held by Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), through front organizations, potentially killing hundreds or even thousands of U.S. soldiers who Bennett felt it his mission to protect. He began informing his superiors at BAH and in his military chain of command and was surprised at their lack of response.
Bennett told The Post & Email that many members of Congress have accounts at UBS.
In June 2013, former BAH employee Edward Snowden revealed extensive spying on average Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA) to reporter Glenn Greenwald of The UK Guardian from a hotel room he had secured in Hong Kong, from which he declared, “I do not expect to see home again.” After several days and interviews with Greenwald, Snowden left Hong Kong, landing in Russia and sleeping in the airport’s “transit zone.” He was eventually granted asylum in Russia for a year which has recently been extended.
According to statements made during a live chat session as reported by CNN, Snowden would like to return to the U.S. but perceives that its whistleblower protections are inadequate, particularly given their lack of application to him as the former employee of a private firm, not the U.S. government.
In response to Snowden’s NSA revelations, Obama announced changes he said he planned to make in the collection of phone call metadata “in response to legitimate privacy concerns that have been raised” while insisting that “No evidence of abuse has been found involving surveillance programs.”
Several state legislatures have introduced bills to cut off water and other utilities to the NSA termed a “Fourth Amendment Protection Act.”
In April 2010, Bennett was stopped on two occasions at gunpoint on the base, taken into police custody, and accused of possessing unregistered firearms. He was interrogated for hours with his hands handcuffed to a chair behind his back, then accused by the U.S. Justice Department of wearing a military uniform without authorization and violating federal firearms laws. The Justice Department then prosecuted Bennett for making a false statement in his housing report and impersonating a police officer. In July 2011, after undergoing a seemingly-surreal civilian trial as a military officer, Bennett was convicted by the jury and sentenced to an “enhanced” punishment of 36 months in federal prison.
From his prison cell, Bennett typed extensive reports of his knowledge of the Swiss bank accounts and their effects on U.S. fighting men and women which he sent to more than 100 members of Congress, numerous media outlets, and the Inspector General of the Department of Defense.
In February of last year, Bennett was released, after which he began telling his story in the interest of continuing his mission to stop the funding of terrorist groups intent on harming U.S. troops. He was first interviewed by Kerry Cassidy of Project Camelot radio, and later, by Mike Harris of Revolution Radio and Erik Rush on his “Full Contact” show.
On his website, Bennett states of the federal government’s failure to act on the intelligence he attempted to provide:
This is the true story of what might possibly be viewed by history as the greatest example of political corruption, military failure, and media conspiracy, in the history of the United States of America—if not Western Civilization. It spans the globe through the web of modern international banking, terrorist organizations, and the military-intelligence-media complex; and yet has remained hidden to most Americans because of Congressional cowardice and corruption, the Patriot Act’s unconstitutional authoritarianism, and the brain-numbing paranoia of constantly combating Islamic extremists (now, like National Security, conveniently redefined as an endlessly evolving term)…
His book, Shell Game: A Military Whistleblowing Report to the U.S. Congress Exposing the Betrayal and Cover-Up by the U.S. Government of the Union Bank of Switzerland-Terrorist Threat Finance Connection to Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) and U.S. Central Command, can be purchased here. He has also written several other books, one of which contains all of the letters he sent to military, congressional and media points of contact which have gone unanswered.
The sole response Bennett received was a form letter from the office of Sen. Rand Paul. Others who received his 76-page report written in late May 2013 include Sen. Dianne Feinstein, former chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee; Sen. Ted Cruz; former Rep. Mike Rodgers, who chaired the House Select Committee on Intelligence until his retirement from Congress earlier this month; former House Armed Services Committee chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon; and Sen. Carl Levin, chair of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
McKeon, Levin, and Rodgers all decided not to seek re-election in November 2014.
Bennett believes that whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed his knowledge of the NSA’s spying on American citizens in part resulting from Bennett’s discoveries of the Swiss bank account funding and the government’s refusal to take action. As in Bennett’s case, Snowden’s revelations involved the CIA.
During our interview, Bennett invoked the names of Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, and Bradley Manning, who turned over classified Army intelligence to Assange. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, while Assange, who published the documents provided by Manning, sought refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has remained for more than two years.
Bennett has adhered to his oath of office not to reveal any classified information.
Bennett also told us that at the time he died in a fiery car accident in Los Angeles in June 2013 at the age of 33, journalist Michael Hastings was investigating material which Manning, Assange, and Bennett had compiled involving the CIA. Hours before his death, Hastings had written in an email that “close friends and associates” at Buzzfeed, where he last worked, were under FBI investigation.
The Obama regime has incarcerated other military veterans on fabricated charges, particularly after they have voiced opposition to limits on freedom of speech, perceived threats to their Second Amendment rights and other constitutional protections, and local government corruption left unchecked by informed federal authorities. Beginning in 2009, veterans returning from recent wars were labeled “potential domestic terrorists” in an inter-agency collaborative program dubbed “Operation Vigilant Eagle” in which potentially hundreds or even thousands of veterans may have been harassed, threatened, and falsely arrested for expressing their opinions.
While in prison in Pennsylvania, Bennett met and spoke extensively with American citizen and former Swiss banker Brad Birkenfeld, who in 2007 had approached the U.S. Justice Department, the IRS, and ultimately the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations with evidence that approximately 19,000 bank accounts held by UBS were funneling money to terrorist activity throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East. Birkenfeld’s intent was to assist the United States in denying funding to terrorist organizations as part of the “War on Terror.”
Like Bennett, Birkenfeld also received an “enhanced” sentence, to which Levin reportedly responded by requesting “leniency” of the court.
To begin, The Post & Email asked Bennett about his mindset following the wrongful conviction which placed him in prison for more than two years. “How does that feel every day, sitting in that cell, knowing that you did nothing wrong?” we asked.
LT. BENNETT: It’s like being thrown into the icy-cold water of Siberia in the dead of winter and floating down to the very bottom. You’re in pitch-black isolation with no one; you just have yourself and God to create enlightenment and healing. I have an assertive personality, but I was trained to work in solitude; in Special Operations in the Army, you work as a team but also as an isolated, “lone wolf,” in a sense.
I treated it as a project and a training mission, and for a long time, I seriously thought it was. I thought the charges were so ridiculous that it had to be a training exercise. There had to be, at any moment, a group of men and women who would walk in the door with military uniforms and say, “Lieutenant, we want to inform you of a national security exercise which you conducted and in which you were the trainee…
THE POST & EMAIL: “And you passed…”
LT. BENNETT: “And you passed. And here’s your paycheck and your promotion; here is why we did it, and here’s the next exercise.” If they had done that, I would have said, “OK, I understand. I understand your not telling me, but I really don’t appreciate how this was done.” But they didn’t do that. This was a dog pile. This was, “This guy’s a problem; he’s digging, he’s making noise; we don’t like that; no one is going to tell us how to run this operation; no one is going to be exposing things and shaking up the apple cart.”
A lot of the military guys aren’t that knowledgeable or sophisticated in some of the interconnectedness behind a lot of the materials that I was researching and working on, because all they did was military stuff. I had done Bush administration economic development between 2003 and 2008; I’d done family and social domestic policy, so when I saw a lot of the ineptitude, cover-up and incompetency in military finance operations and the State Department and other places, I could see that there were things that needed to be addressed and fixed. They didn’t want that, so that’s why they dog-piled and then tried to use this as an excuse for trying to silence me.
I don’t think they expected me to keep digging and working on my mission, which was to find bad guys and their money sources. In the prison system, I met a lot of military guys and learned of a lot of sad, tragic stories. One guy had been in Germany and been assaulted by two Muslim guys in a bar, and miraculously, he walked away without killing them. He didn’t even fight back because he’d been ordered by his commanders not to stir up anything. He was reprimanded by his commander because he’d been assaulted with a bloody face, and this guy kind-of lost it and threatened the commander, and the next thing you know, he’s put into a federal civilian prison. He was an active duty soldier.
THE POST & EMAIL: Was this in Pennsylvania, where you were?
LT. BENNETT: This was in Oklahoma, as I was being transferred up to Pennsylvania. They put me on a long bus ride, I think, to torture me a little bit more. But again, I treated it like a military training exercise, which is never comfortable in the first place, so it really didn’t affect me in that regard.
I learned a lot, and then, of course, I met Brad Birkenfeld, the Swiss banker whistleblower, and that was truly miraculous. When that happened, it was an unleashing of material and documents that had been purposely covered up by Lanny Breuer and Eric Holder and Obama and Carl Levin and John McCain and everyone on the Senate Permanent Subcommittee of Investigations. The CIA and Edward Snowden came into the picture later as Snowden described the NSA/CIA targeting.
So all of these things just started opening up, and I began immediately digesting them as intelligence materials, as I’d been trained to do. The picture I received was incredibly powerful, and it was something that every military commander who was worthy of being called a military commander would have wanted because they would have immediately jumped on it, and overnight, they could have shut down a lot of the terrorist financing.
But to their shame, no military commander ever did, and no congressman or senator ever did with either Brad or me. I think they saw when we got together that all hell was about to break loose, so they paid him off $104 million on the same day as the Benghazi attacks, September 11, 2012. So there is a crossover or a connection or a cover-up that connects Benghazi to Brad Birkenfeld’s payments which, of course, is related to my terrorist finance reports from a military officer.
[Editor’s Note: On September 11, 2012, The New York Times reported that “Bradley C. Birkenfeld, a former banker at UBS, recently served two and a half years in prison for conspiring with a wealthy California developer to evade United States income taxes. But Mr. Birkenfeld, 47, has a lot to show for his time and effort: The Internal Revenue Service acknowledged on Tuesday that information he had provided was so helpful that he would receive a $104 million whistle-blower award for revealing the secrets of the Swiss banking system.”]
I know it will eventually be brought out in public, but this is just the beginning of the story.
THE POST & EMAIL: Does that make you wonder what the U.S. government is actually doing? They say they’re all about getting terrorists and “supporting partners on the front lines,” but when you look at the reality that you were faced with after going to your superiors at both Booz Allen and in the military saying, “This is what I’ve uncovered. If we cut this off, we’ll cut off a substantial source of terrorist funding” and then they didn’t want to do it, what went through your mind?
LT. BENNETT: It was sort-of just letting things fall into place. I was a man of deep faith and trust, and I know God always is in charge of all things that come to us. “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven,” good or bad. The Bible is full of trials, and Joseph was someone who was put into prison illegally, endured for ten years, and was betrayed by the people in jail with him. Eventually, he was released, and his response to his brothers when they finally came to meet him was, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.”
I always treated this as a situation where God was leading me down the path that I needed in order to be loyal, faithful, diligent and attentive in my mission. This wasn’t a time of self-pity; this wasn’t a time of anger; this wasn’t a time of anything other than, “I’m in here; why am I here? What am I going to investigate?”
Perhaps it’s difficult for civilians to grasp the intensity that military officers, especially military Special Operations officers, develop. It’s part of the natural constitutional personality that when you are perishing in a war zone and are all alone, you need to formulate a plan. You have to recognize your location, you have to understand the timeline, the whole gamut of the military mindset and operations.
So I went in and started to discover this and research things. I had a team of people inside of the prison consisting of a lot of men: ex-military, lawyers, stockbrokers and doctors. I found myself being very blessed with the Education Department. I was also teaching inmates. It was a minimum-security facility, so in a sense, it was like a boys’ camp. It was like a school; you just couldn’t leave.
I had a great job; no one could believe I was in there; all the prison staff thought I was a CIA military undercover guy because they couldn’t fathom that I would be in a civilian prison. I was asked by the warden, “I’ve got all sorts of calls from the military about you asking who you are, do you have any military gear, do you have any documents with you?” because I was submitting reports to Congress and the military, and they wanted to stop that at all costs. But the cat was out of the bag; they couldn’t really pounce on me in prison for writing because then it would have opened up Pandora’s box and people would have asked, “Well, what is he writing that you’re trying to silence him?”
Editor’s Note: Part 2 of our interview with Lt. Bennett will detail how he “had to sneak out letters and reports” in order to continue in his mission to protect U.S. service members by exposing sources of terrorist funding.