of Michael Springman,
AJ: Im reading from a transcript from the BBC Newsnight report with out good friend, Greg Palast. Let me just read two paragraphs from this then we will go to our guest.
Newsnight has uncovered a long history of shadowy connections between
the State Department, the CIA and the Saudis. The former head of the American
visa bureau in Jeddah is Michael Springman.
Joining us for this newsmaker interview this evening is Michael Springman. Michael, thank you so much for joining us this evening. Great to have you on the show, Michael.
MS: Thank you.
AJ: Give us a little more about your bio about yourself and then break this incredible story down for us.
MS: Okay. Basically, Ive worked for the federal government for slightly more than 20 years. First, with the Commerce Department International Foreign Trade Administration and then with the Dept. of State. Id been a Consulate officer in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, a commercial attaché in New Deli, India. And on two separate occasions in Stuttgart, Germany, I had been an economic commercial officer and a political economic officer. My last assignment at the Dept. of State was as an economical analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. I dealt with essentially all of Latin America south of the Rio Grande and the Caribbean.
AJ: Impressive bio and on infowars.com, we have one of the CBC radio interviews that you have done, the (BBC) Newsnight TV interview there for folks to view. And Im glad weve got you here on this long-form radio show so you can really tell the story and how its developed, hopefully, in its entirety. Again we are talking to Michael Springman. How do you get involved in all of this? What really happened? How is it interconnected? Then, of course, what has happened since you started blowing the whistle?
MS: Okay, Ill try and give you the condensed version since this has been running for about ten or fifteen years now. I had been assigned to the Consulate at Jeddah and the first thing you have to remember is that the Consulate there is essentially a CIA operation of some 15 to 20 Washington-based Americans. There were only three people, including myself, whom Im certain had no ties to either, any of the American intelligence services, either professional or familial.
I had gotten some strange questions before I went out to Jeddah from the then ambassador, Walter Cutler, who kept talking about visa problems. And how I should do my best to make sure that everything ran smoothly. Once I got there, I found I was being ordered to issue visas to, as I said in the article, and as you mentioned earlier, to people who really should not have gotten a visa. Ill give you just one example. There were two Pakistanis who wanted to go to an American tradeshow in the United States. They claimed they were going with a Commerce Department-sponsored trade mission. These guys couldnt name the tradeshow and they couldnt name the city in which it was being held. When I refused the visa, after a couple minutes of questioning, I got an almost immediate call from a CIA case officer, hidden in the Commercial section, that I should reverse myself and grant these guys a visa. I told him no. Not long afterwards, he went to the Chief of the Consular section and got my decision reversed. And, essentially, in the State Dept., the guy doing the interviewing has the first, last and usually the only word regarding visa issuances. He can be reversed if it was done not according to regulation, for example. If somebody comes up with additional information, thats material, you can push for a change in the petition. But this was one of a pattern.
There was a guy there who I had refused repeatedly from the Sudan. But there were national security reasons to give him a visa. Nobody ever explained to me what they were. A Filipino electrician got his daughters student visas in the United States to go to high school here but he had been helpful to his Consulate. And if you went on, you know, week after week after week, and they got more brazen and blatant about it. And I was told on occasion, well you know if you want a job in the State Dept. in the future, you will change your mind. And other people would simply say, you can change your mind now or wait until the Consul General reverses you.
I learned later, once I got back to the states, from talking to a journalist, a guy with the local university and a fellow who was retired from the U.S. government, that what I was doing was not complaining about visa fraud, as you had mentioned earlier. It was basically the CIA that had Osama bin Laden recruiting people for the Afghan war and taking them to the U.S. for terrorist training.
AJ: And now we find out, because of Zbigniew Brzezinski in his book, The Grand Chessboard, national security advisor for Jimmy Carter and a founding member of the Trilateral Commission, that they actually staged that whole war and got the Afghans to attack the Soviets, to then set up this entire nest and take control of the oil and the other little goodies that grow on top of poppies there. I cant believe how much these guys are bragging out in the open. I guess they just think we are all totally stupid and they are just going to get away with it.
MS: Well, the American people dont get the full story. The mainstream press doesnt want to hear any of this stuff. And it seems to go from bad to worse. I thought that by raising hell and eventually losing my job over making the agency look bad, that all of this had stopped. But fifteen of the nineteen people who had gotten visas, who allegedly were responsible for flying airplanes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Towers, they came from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and got visas at the Consulate there. And ....
AJ: Thats an important point. Folks, I want you to wake up right now, put the Budweiser down, can you repeat that, one more time, for them, please sir?
MS: Sure. According to the Los Angeles Times, fifteen of the nineteen people, the Saudis who were allegedly responsible for flying planes into the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon, they got their visas from the Consulate at Jeddah. Now, according to a journalist I know in Florida, this was done through a new wrinkle in the visa procedures there. At the time I was running the visa section, I personally interviewed at least one member of the family or just about everyone who wanted to travel to the States. They had switched things so that the visas would be submitted, in many instances, through travel agencies, that were approved by the Consulate. And, according to a conversation that I had had with Celerino Castillo, some years ago, on an article I was researching, it was old agency ploy to put passports of his people in with legitimate trade groups or travel groups coming from travel agencies and send them to the Consular section.
AJ: Couldnt somebody, if its just a name at a travel desk or a travel agency, just show up with a fake ID and then board?
MS: Yeah, you could do that. The way it was explained to me is that they would go to the travel agency and say I want to go to the United States - either get me a visa, I have to visit relatives there, I have business there, etc. And they would simply send a package of passports and visa applications over to the Consulars section. And because they came from a reputable source, people didnt look too closely at it, I guess.
AJ: Well, Bush is telling us to give up our liberty for security and well be safe. Meanwhile, leaving the borders wide open and doing all this. And of course, in your interview with the BBC, it all ties back, as well, we really see an acceleration of all this, if Im going by the transcript correctly, accurately, it all really accelerates with Poppy Bush, Sr., former CIA Director, when he was vice president and president?
MS: Well, yeah, you could say that. I know that when I was in Jeddah, it got to the point where the CIA Base Chief demanded to examine all visa applications that I had approved before I would be allowed to issue the visas. Which I thought was really reaching for it. I had talked to a couple of people in the business, a former CIA case officer, who seemed to think it was kind of a local option as to whether the agency wanted to get that deeply involved in visa issuances. And I talked to a retired Consular officer who said he had been in various posts, and they werent quite as blatant about it as they were at Jeddah, but when he was in (garbled), for example, the Station Chief would come over and ask to troll his visa application files, looking for interesting people.
AJ: Amazing, so again, the media would like us to forget that bin Laden was this big hero back during the 80s. In fact, I did a Lexis-Nexis search at the library. This guy, I got dozens of mainstream reports, New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, AP, where hes this little hero from this great freedom fighter family in Saudi Arabia, over there fighting the evil Soviets and then now the media says, no connection, the government never knew bin Laden. But according to the evidence Ive seen, Ive read an article from the foreign press and its even been in our news, we have bin Laden in July for ten days with the CIA Section Chief, there at the American hospital.
MS: I had heard that from another guy. There must be something to it.
AJ: Well, it was in the Washington Times, Wall Street Journal, first broken in La Figuro over in France, BBC. Go to infowars.com, in the government prior knowledge section and wade through several hundred articles and theres a bunch of them in a subsection there. Continuing with this relationship. This was long before, what years was this? You had gotten back, you had gotten out of it and that chain of events, and then you are talking to former government people and journalists there in DC and New York area, and they are saying, on yeah thats bin Ladens people you were being told to give the visas to, it wasnt just a visa fraud issue.
MS: Oh yeah, I was in Jedi between 1987 and 1989. And there, in fact, was a CIA case officer assigned part-time to the Consular section. He would sit at the visa window with me sometimes. Hed say, hey Mike, let me take this next guy in line, hes one of my people, I want to deal with him.
AJ: And so when you get back to the states, I mean, how did your career progress? When did you finally get back and talk to the folks and find all of this out?
MS: Well I found it out after State had terminated my appointment. In fact, I had filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests to find out exactly why State terminated me. I was never given any real reason other than the basic, bureaucratic business about well you just simply dont measure up, fella.
AJ: So, they tell you in no uncertain terms, hey buddy, grease the skids, we want an open spigot on whoever we want coming through here to the U.S. out of Saudi Arabia, with our good little buddies over there - terror-funding central. And, again correct me if any of this is not accurate. And then you dont play ball and then they kick you out. You get back to the U.S., when did you start asking questions and finding more out from these individuals you mentioned earlier.
MS: It started, I guess, after I was out of the State Department in 91 and I guess in 92 and 93, I started hearing from the journalists and from the two guys who knew more about what was going on there than I did.
AJ: And, in more detail, what did these individuals in the government positions, what did they tell you?
MS: Well, they pretty much said, flat out, that the agency was bringing these people over for terrorist training. And that they wanted junior officers in the visa section with little or no supervision so that these people would sail on through. Or, if they did question them and did try to go by the Immigration and Nationality Act and the State Departments own regulations, they could be bounced out if it would appease these guys or (if they were) not with the program, they dont understand about the Foreign Service, theyre not cooperative, they are not diplomatic, etc. And, as I told people, okay so these guys were wrong. I misinterpreted what they were saying, why has State Department stonewalled me in my request for information all these years? And what was the real reason these guys got visas? Because if there is anything that the State Department fears, truly is that someone gets a visa that shouldnt get one. There are afraid of visa fraud, afraid of under the table payments. They periodically yank local staff and Foreign Service officers out and prosecute them for doing things like this.