May 3 2017 — If this story is a CIA success, what does a CIA failure look like? In his first public speech, CIA Director Mike Pompeo told his audience that one the CIA’s great successes was to shut down the A. Q. Khan’s nuclear network. As often with Mike Pompeo, that statement needs a bit of “Facts Checking”. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY
RELATED POST: CIA Director Mike Pompeo tells a whopper
RELATED POST: Dr A. Q. Khan: The Bomb, the Swiss and the CIA
UPDATE (May 3 2021) — In the Seventies, Dutch technician Frits Veerman worked on a British, German and Dutch uranium enrichment programme at the Physical Dynamic Research Laboratory (or in Dutch: FDO) in Amsterdam.
Mr Veerman discovered that A. Q. Khan was a spy and he repeatedly reported the facts to the authorities.
For the reasons I have explained in this post, Khan was not arrested… But Mr Veerman was fired. And for decades after, he was harassed by security agencies to keep silent.
Mr Veerman was also put on an international watch-list and for many years was questioned by the authorities when he traveled abroad.
Five decades later, a report (July 2020) by the Huis voor Klokkenluiders — the new Dutch Whistleblowers Authority — finally absolves Mr. Veerman.
The report also helps explain why he and not Khan was punished.
New Documentary Series : “The Man Who Stole The Bomb”
Mr Veerman’s life story has been acquired by London-based Ten10 Films and Amsterdam-based Le Boxeur Films for a new series – ‘The Man Who Stole The Bomb,’ written by Nadeem Rajwani and produced by Joris van Wijk (Le Boxeur) and Tendeka Matatu.
Producer Joris van Wijk commented recently:
“We’re honoured that Frits has entrusted us with his remarkable story. I have had the privilege of getting to know him over the last six months, his relationship with Khan was one of a genuine friendship that was masterfully manipulated and spectacularly betrayed.”
According to Robert Einhorn, who worked on nonproliferation in the Clinton and Obama administrations, the CIA’s failure to stop Khan in 1975 was a monumental error.
This statement is quite incorrect. The CIA did not fail to stop Khan in 1975.
The CIA prevented the Dutch authorities to arrest him and they allowed him to export all the information he needed to build a nuclear bomb in Pakistan.
PS — Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet.
The Doomsday Clock is set every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 13 Nobel laureates.
The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and disruptive technologies in other domains.
In January 2020, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved its Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, the latest it has stood since its creation in 1947.
END of UPDATE
In his first public speech (April 13 2017), CIA Director Mike Pompeo told his audience — and the rest of the world — that:
“Our accomplishments generally remain classified, but a few special ones are known to the world.”
Unlike Walter Burke (The Recruit), Director Pompeo made no references to past failures, and that is perhaps all right.
But Pompeo also suggests that one the CIA’s great successes was to shut down the A. Q. Khan’s nuclear network.
“For example, CIA has been a crucial player in the global campaign against nuclear proliferation.
We’ve helped unravel the nuclear smuggling network used by A.Q. Khan.”
That statement is simply not true. In fact, it is documented that the CIA allowed Khan to build his network.
If it was not for the intervention of the CIA in the Netherlands, Khan would have been arrested first in the 70’s and then again in the 80’s.
CIA Resisted Khan Arrest in the Netherlands
Ruud Lubbers, a former Dutch prime minister, revealed in August 2006 that the Dutch authorities came close to arresting Khan twice — first in 1975 and later in 1986 — but the CIA requested that they let him act freely.
Dutch intelligence had suspicions that Khan was stealing nuclear secrets in the Netherlands.
Related Post: European Agencies: The Netherlands
They began to monitor Khan as soon as he arrived at the Physical Dynamic Research Laboratory.
However, according to Lubbers, the country’s security agency asked the Ministry of Economic Affairs in 1975, then headed by him, not to act against Khan.
“I think the American intelligence agency put into practice what is very common there; just give us all the information. And do not arrest that man; just let him go ahead.
We will have him followed and that way we can gain more information.”
“The man was followed for almost 10 years, and, obviously, he was a serious problem.
But again I was told that the secret services could handle it more effectively,” Lubbers said.
“The Hague did not have the final say in the matter. Washington did.”
Lubbers suspects that Washington allowed Khan’s activities because Pakistan was a key ally in the fight against the Soviets.
At the time, the U.S. government funded and armed mujaheddin such Osama bin Laden.
They were trained by Pakistani intelligence to fight Soviet troops in Afghanistan. (And we know how that one turned out.)
Anwar Iqbal, Washington correspondent for the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, told “ISN Security Watch” that Lubbers’ assertions were correct.
“This was part of a long-term foolish strategy.
The United States knew Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons but couldn’t care less because it was not going to be used against them.
It was a deterrent against India and possibly the Soviets.”
The CIA did not help “unravel the nuclear smuggling network used by A.Q. Khan.” The Agency made it happen.
Abdul Qadeer Khan: ‘My name is clear’
UPDATE (May 3 2020) — On April 15 2019, Mike Pompeo participated in a Q&A discussion at Texas A&M University.
Pompeo could not resist telling his audience how proud he is to have served as Director of the CIA.
RELATED POST: Cholo Pompeo Gangsta Rap: “We Lie, We Cheat, We Steal.”
One question and its answer speaks volumes about Mike Pompeo and his “Christian” principles.
“So I always begin with a deep understanding that no secretary of state gets through their first day without recognizing it’s a tough world out there. We don’t appreciate how glorious it is to be here in the United States of America on a consistent enough basis and with enough fervor. Maybe you do here at Texas A&M, but I think too many Americans don’t understand how blessed we are. These are – are many, many tough places out there.
Having said that, not all tough places are the same. They each present a different set of challenges. I – it reminds me, you would know this as – it’s a bit of an aside. But in terms of how you think about problem sets, I – when I was a cadet, what’s the first – what’s the cadet motto at West Point? You will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do. I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. (Laughter.) It’s – it was like – we had entire training courses. (Applause.) It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.”
Please, keep this in mind when you read this three years old post…
THE RECRUIT — A film review by Steve Rhodes
The true story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market
One Year Ago — The true story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market
Two Years Ago — The True Story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market
Three Years Ago — The True Story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market
Three Years Ago — The True Story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market [UPDADE — New Series : The Man Who Stole The Bomb]
Four Years Ago — The True Story of Dr A. Q. Khan’s Nuclear Black Market [UPDATE — Five decades later, Dutch Authority absolves whistleblower.]