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Curt Weldon's Mouthpieces

NewsMax's Kenneth Timmerman is the latest to allow the defeated Republican congressman to spin his conspiracy theories unchallenged and un-fact-checked -- a bad thing, because Weldon's hanging out with people the CIA considers liars.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 12/13/2006

Curt Weldon is not going quietly into that electoral good night.

Despite having lost his House of Representatives seat in November to Democrat Joe Sestak, the Republican is still peddling his conspiracy theories. As ConWebWatch detailed before the election, Weldon found a willing scribe in WorldNetDaily columnist (and fellow conspiracy-monger) Jack Cashill, who portrayed Weldon as the victim of Clinton-directed nefariousness.

But the election's over now, Weldon must vacate Congress -- and find another willing scribe. This time, NewsMax's Kenneth Timmerman takes the bait, allowing Weldon to spin his conspiracy theories unchallenged or even, apparently, double-checking Weldon for accuracy. Timmerman's Dec. 11 article repeated Weldon's claim that the CIA and the FBI are "out of control" (and, of course, the Clinton conspiracy stuff), racking up a bevy of misleading or inaccurate claims in the process.

Timmerman wrote:

Six weeks before last November's election, Weldon continue to dominate his Democratic opponent in the polls. Then, out of nowhere, "anonymous law enforcement sources" leaked to the press that the FBI was conducting a federal probe into the Pennsylvania Republican for alleged influence peddling.

In fact, while the poll taken "six weeks before last November's election" did indeed show Weldon with a large lead over his Democratic opponent, Joe Sestak, that poll was taken by a Republican polling organization, according to the Delaware County Times. Timmerman ignored that, as the Delco Times reported, another poll by a nonpartisan polling organization taken two weeks later -- and two weeks before the FBI investigation was made public on Oct. 13 -- showed Weldon and Sestak in a statistical dead heat.

Further, news of the investigation into Weldon hardly came "out of nowhere." In February 2004, the Los Angeles Times reported that Weldon's daughter Karen, as TPM Muckraker put it, "then in her late twenties, ran a lobbying firm that was raking in approximately $1 million a year -- and by some strange coincidence, her three main clients all had developed a relationship with her father, Curt."

Timmerman also gave Weldon the opportunity to spout uncontested his conspiracy theory that "he became a top target of the national Democratic Party because of his investigations into Clinton-era national security scandals." Timmerman also allowed Weldon to deny that incoming House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes met with "Iran-contra figure" Manucher Ghorbanifar without explaining the full details of the alleged meeting or why it would controversial for Reyes to meet with him (or, for that matter, explicitly state that Reyes is a Democrat, though he made sure to note that "[i]mpeached former federal judge Rep. Alcee Hastings" is a Democrat).

Timmerman describes Ghorbanifar only as an "Iran-contra figure." In fact, Ghorbanifar was the middleman arms dealer in the arms-for-hostages deal between Iranian officials and the National Security Council's Oliver North and Michael Ledeen. As a 2004 Washington Monthly article pointed out, Ghorbanifar has been the subject of two CIA "burn notices"; the agency believes Ghorbanifar is a serial "fabricator" and forbids its officers from having anything to do with him.

Timmerman dismissed the allegation against Reyes as coming from a "left-wing Internet publication ... that was clearly aimed at thwarting Reyes's candidacy to take over the sensitive intelligence oversight position," but he never named the publication (The American Prospect's Tapped blog) though he named the author, Laura Rozen. Timmerman also ignored something else Rosen reported as well: that Weldon was also at the alleged meeting with Ghorbanifar:

Reyes, Ortiz and Weldon were returning from a Congressional delegation that included Russia, and Uzbekistan, on a "technical stopover" in Paris 28/29 August, to give the (US military) crew rest. Weldon had dinner the Friday night before at the ambassador's residence, at which he told the ambassador, when asked, that he had no meetings planned in Paris. He and his group met as planned the next morning with his source Fereidoun Mahdavi who brought his business partner Ghorbanifar to the meeting in a corner of the mostly empty Sofitel lobby in the morning 9am. The US government had spotters on the corner outside and in the lobby out of concern that Ghorbanifar might try to set Weldon up. After Mahdavi and Ghorbanifar showed up, the spotter in the lobby was instructed not to linger.

Timmerman never explained that Weldon himself was there at the time of the alleged meeting, nor did he state whether Weldon himself did, in fact, meet with Ghorbanifar -- which presumably would have been just as objectionable as if Reyes had met with him.

In allowing Weldon the space to defend Reyes, Timmerman failed to mention other questions that have been raised about him. Indeed, a NewsMax article posted the same day as Timmerman's article noted that Reyes failed to correctly identify the Muslim movement that controls al-Qaeda.

Further, Timmerman repeated unchallenged Weldon's claims that the former CIA station chief in Paris, William Murray, was a source not only on the alleged meeting but "leaked to the press the name of a confidential source in Paris who had provided Weldon with intelligence information on Iran." That source was Fereidoun Mahdavi, a business partner of Ghorbanifar; Timmerman doesn't state Mahdavi's name nor his relationship to Ghorbanifar. Timmerman suggests that Murray leaked the name to Rozen in the Nov. 17 Tapped post; in fact, Rozen first reported the name in April 2005, and Murray's name is mentioned nowhere in that article.

By refusing to name Mahdavi as Weldon's "confidential source," Timmerman conveniently sidestepped having to address Mahdavi's -- and, thus, Weldon's -- credibility problems. In that April 2005 article, Rozen quoted Mahdavi -- an official in the Shah of Iran's government who fled the country in 1979 during the Islamic revolution and is currently living in France -- as saying he "gave information to Weldon from Ghorbanifar.” A June 2005 American Prospect article by Rozen points out that Weldon's book "Countdown to Terror" was based in large part on "reproduced pages of comically overwrought 'intelligence' memos faxed from the Iranian émigré’s Paris location to Weldon’s office between 2003 and 2004." Further, according to Rozen, Mahdavi "said he was stunned and perplexed to learn that Weldon had used his information to write a book, emphasizing that Weldon never even told him about the book":

“Someone is using me for their purposes,” he raged. “How is it possible that something like that book comes out and the people who publish it don’t inform me? Don’t you think that’s strange? What I cannot understand is, if you had not called me and told me there is a book coming out from Weldon, I would have never known about it. You informed me. But this is now, I am sure, there is a fight between all these [U.S. government] organizations, and they are using this issue and using me.”

Rozen's article quotes Murray as describing Mahdavi's information to be "fabrications":

“Mahdavi works for Ghorbanifar,” said Murray, noting that the agency still forbids its employees from dealing with the colorful, fast-talking arms dealer. “The two are inseparable. Ghorbanifar put Mahdavi out to meet with Weldon. Ghorbanifar decided to have a cutout.” When Mahdavi consistently refused to provide any information to verify the credibility of his sources or their increasingly outlandish allegations, Murray determined that the information was a mix of fabrications, babble, and useless political analysis.


“This man [Mahdavi] never said a single thing that you could look back later and he said it would happen and it did happen,” the retired station chief continued. “He refused to give me any information that would indicate he actually had access to people in Iran who had access to that information.”

In that June 2005 American Prospect article, Rozen also noted that Timmerman played a peripheral role in all of this (which, of course, he failed to mention):

Meanwhile another book on Iran and terrorism by Kenneth Timmerman, a right-leaning journalist long interested in Mideast affairs, is due to be published by Crown next week as Countdown to Crisis, a title almost identical to that of Weldon’s book. Timmerman told the Prospect that Regnery changed Weldon’s title to imitate Timmerman’s after publicity materials about the Timmerman book appeared on Crown’s Web site.

Interesting that Timmerman chose to attack Rozen even after serving as a source for one of her previous articles. That seems to show a lack of respect for Rozen; he was all too willing to use her to air a complaint against Weldon, but now that he's telling Weldon's story, he has no problem throwing her under the bus, dismissing her as a "left-wing" reporter who can't be trusted while misleadingly depicting what she wrote.

NewsMax already has one writer -- Ronald Kessler -- known for his embarrassing fealty to Republicans (well, the Bush administration, at least). Does it really need another in Ken Timmerman?

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