The Voice of the White House
Washington, D.C. May 29, 2016: “We are on a brief vacation until June 1.”
The Müller Washington Journals 1948-1951
At the beginning of December, 1948, a German national arrived in Washington, D.C. to take up an important position with the newly-formed CIA. He was a specialist on almost every aspect of Soviet intelligence and had actively fought them, both in his native Bavaria where he was head of the political police in Munich and later in Berlin as head of Amt IV of the State Security Office, also known as the Gestapo.
His name was Heinrich Müller.
Even as a young man, Heini Müller had kept daily journals of his activities, journals that covered his military service as a pilot in the Imperial German air arm and an apprentice policeman in Munich. He continued these journals throughout the war and while employed by the top CIA leadership in Washington, continued his daily notations.
This work is a translation of his complete journals from December of 1948 through September of 1951.
When Heinrich Müller was hired by the CIA¹s station chief in Bern, Switzerland, James Kronthal in 1948, he had misgivings about working for his former enemies but pragmatism and the lure of large amounts of money won him over to what he considered to be merely an extension of his life-work against the agents of the Comintern. What he discovered after living and working in official Washington for four years was that the nation¹s capital was, in truth, what he once humorously claimed sounded like a cross between a zoo and a lunatic asylum. His journals, in addition to personal letters, various reports and other personal material, give a very clear, but not particularly flattering, view of the inmates of both the zoo and the asylum.
Müller moved, albeit very carefully, in the rarefied atmosphere of senior policy personnel, military leaders, heads of various intelligence agencies and the White House itself. He was a very observant, quick-witted person who took copious notes of what he saw. This was not a departure from his earlier habits because Heinrich Müller had always kept a journal, even when he was a lowly Bavarian police officer, and his comments about personalities and events in the Third Reich are just as pungent and entertaining as the ones he made while in America.
The reason for publishing this phase of his eventful life is that so many agencies in the United States and their supporters do not want to believe that a man of Müller¹s position could ever have been employed by their country in general or their agency in specific.
Tuesday, 31 January 1950
McCarthy will be launching his attack against the State Department very soon. I trust he will stay sober long enough to do a good job. With that man, one cannot be certain what he will do. Loud, vain, violent and drunk, but effective enough. Thank God I have no public or official connection with him.
Still, at one time he defended the actions of the LAH (1st SS-Panzer-Division “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler,” ed.) at Malmedy. My son belonged to the same unit but later on. McCarthy did a good job then so one can forgive him a little.
In California, much fuss about Harry Bridges, an Australian communist labor leader who is on trial. The judge has been fighting with the defense attorneys in the case. No question Bridges is guilty but proving guilt is often very difficult. One can be a pro-communist liberal without being a spy. The trouble here is that the laws are too loosely defined and the swine can slip through the enormous holes. In addition to a national police force to deal with such assholes, we need laws that are very clearly defined so that these escapes prove impossible.
The ski trip has been planned now, very quickly, and everyone is happy, even Maxl who gets to come along as usual. Thank God he is well trained or my compartment would be hip-deep in dog shit!
I got a nice photograph of the brother and left it, framed, where Irmgard could see it. I admit to having a nasty sense of humor about this. I. said, looking at it sideways, that he was certainly “very good looking” and I replied, very seriously that, yes, he appeared to be but he had a terrible physical problem which made life hard for him. She, like all women, was at once curious. “Why he looks very healthy to me.”
“Yes, my dear, he is very healthy but nature was very unkind to him. He has quite a problem with the women because of it.”
“He’s too small?”
“Oh no, love, to the contrary.”
And I held my hands apart as if I was describing a champion trout. I would say now that Irmgard is very interested in brother.
Heini, who does get somewhat disrespectful at times, thought this was very funny and called me a dirty old man. I assured him that I was only in my 40s and bathed at least once a day.
The Roosevelt woman is at the UN and runs about chattering endlessly. Nothing can be done about her, of course, because Truman would never dare replace her. Better in New York than here anyway. Wednesday, 1 February 1950
The trip is on, bags are being packed, Irmgard is getting a new ski outfit (which I will have to pay for) but Bunny has her own, as I do. Heini doesn’t ski but he will now learn and we will pick up brother and sister in Iowa on the way.
I will have to stop this for a time and resume later.
We have three weeks and for various reasons, I am looking forward to it.
Talked with several real estate agents in Colorado and am determined to buy a home there. It will save a great deal of money on hotel bills and give me a place to stay when I eventually retire. If Truman runs again, I will stay here but if not, I think it would be wiser to go elsewhere. Eisenhower has been suggested, very quietly, as a Republican candidate and I must confess that Truman, while in my estimation an excellent president, is not too popular.
I know too much about Eisenhower to want to be around him, and if he ever found out about me, Arno would make the history books, cleaning that little situation up for me.
Early this afternoon, I had the opportunity of inspecting several “very rare and desirable” works of art. A connection at the National Gallery has a friend here who is a private art dealer. A trade with me was suggested.
What rare and wonderful things did we see? First, four pencil drawings by Dürer! They did look somewhat like D’s work but as graphitic pencils were not invented until the last part of the sixteenth century, they could not possibly be original. The next very rare piece was a “View of Delft” by Vermeer. I was told that it had been in the Thyssen exhibition in Munich in the early 1930s. The painting is nothing more than an eighteenth century Dutch landscape with over painting of some of the buildings in Delft.
I have never seen the original “View” in Holland but I have seen pictures of it and I have the extraordinary good fortune to own a very fine, albeit very small, original Vermeer acquired in Russia in 1941 by the Rosenberg people. Having once seen, examined (and owned!) an original Vermeer, no one but a drunken Russian could ever believe this quite ordinary landscape was by that master of technique and light. Vermeer’s paintings glow with an inner light that no other artist has ever approximated. To my mind, V. is the greatest of all painters.
The Thyssen collection, to be sure, has many fine pieces in it but recently, I believe, has added a number of items of very questionable provenience. I ought to know about this, considering what was sold to them by me. T. also had a number of fakes in the pre-war collection. I will keep my silence on what happened after the war.
Of course I had to disappoint my dealer and I told him the drawings were worthless and, if cleaned up of its over painting, the landscape was, at best, worth a few hundred dollars. The frame is worth more than the painting. Long faces indeed and many apologies! Do not teach grandmother to suck eggs!
As we know, the original Leonardo “Mona Lisa” was stolen, briefly, from the Louvre. It was duly recovered but not before the fakers made up a number of copies which were sold, one to someone in Argentina. An individual came to a friend of mine in Zurich in the 30s and tried to sell one of these copies. When the dealer, who has an extraordinary sense of humor for a Swiss, asked the man how it was stolen, he was told that the painting in front of them had been rolled up and hidden in a tube! Considering that the original had been painted on a walnut panel this act defies imagination! People wishing to commit a fraud and be successful with it, had best do their research first.
Enough high humor for today. We must now get down to packing and, hopefully, anticipating a thoroughly delightful vacation from the Great Swamp of Ignorance on the Potomac. I have the names of three real estate people in Colorado and will actively look for property there, now having more money than I know what to do with.
If my CIA associates ever find out about this place, I can be expected to be deluged with all kinds of bootlicking and ass-kissing attempts on the part of my sycophantic friends. Free lodging and food appeals to these assholes. I could do Truman and the nation a great favor by inviting the lot up there and poisoning them all with one of Arno’s little concoctions. I can’t imagine how we could cover that one up. Dozens of contorted corpses wedged in the bathrooms and behind beds, not to mention the vomit and shit all over the carpets. I think that would tax even Arno’s capacity for disposal.
They have those great, rotary snow plows on the railroad and perhaps we could pile up the elite of the CIA on the tracks and stand back while they are turned into frozen sausage meat. When spring came, the local cats and dogs could feast on the remains of the head of this office or the backside of another!
Well, no more writing until we return.
Sunday, 26 February 1950
Back again after a truly wonderful three weeks away from the zoo.
I am looking at an article in the paper that covers a speech made by McCarthy on the 12th to a group of Republican women (at Wheeling, West Virginia, ed.). Had heard about this while I was on the vacation but I did not have the time to check the details.
Much pleasure to learn that M. took one of my own paragraphs and used it in toto.
“One thing to remember in discussing the communists in our government is that we are not dealing with spies who get 30 pieces of silver to steal the blueprint of a new weapon. We are dealing with a far more sinister type of activity because it permits the enemy to guide and shape our policy.”
He got his figures wrong. M. said 57 communists in the State Department but there are actually 85. But the important paragraph he copied word for word from my own paper!
Now the real entertainment starts here and we will see where it goes. The minute I leave the city, we have all manner of interesting things happen. I knew he would start but I would like to have been on the scene. Now, I will have to get all the back papers to see just what was actually said.
Now, about the vacation.
The trip started out well, with some weather problems but nothing overly serious. As I am trying to wean Irmgard away from Heini, I had Heini fake a sprained ankle so he had his own compartment. Irmgard had hers, Bunny had hers and I shared one with Maxl who behaved very well. I had to walk him at various brief stops but all went well and I did not have to put my bare foot into a pile of steaming dog shit when I got up to use the tiny lavatory early in the morning.We picked up the brother, Charles, and the sister Gloria, in Iowa and they had their own separate quarters. The rest of the party consisted of Klaus (Müller’s cook, ed.) and Arno.
The ski hotel was an older but expensive building and there were a number of wealthy and prominent people there. Some were there for the skiing but others like to sit around in the lodge and play bridge or poker and enjoy the beautiful landscape.
The various romances, including my very own, went off more or less as I anticipated. Bunny and I had a suite and at last we have consummated that which I have worked so hard to accomplish. She is quite good in bed and a great deal of entertainment for me. A sense of humor is as important as physical prowess in these matters.
So much for Bunny. We skied almost every day and went to bed early and rose late. Klaus often served us in the suite that kept me out of the dining room and possible curious eyes. As I planned, Heini could not ski because he does not know how and has this terrible sprain.
Irmgard made an effort to be kind to Charles, or Chuck as he is known, and tutored him every day. On the second day, she vanished into his room and didn’t come out until noon the next day.
Arno, on the other hand, took an extra day to bed Gloria (Sic transit Gloria mundi!) but informed me that he was in love again. Every week, Arno falls in love. I suggested a platonic relationship but then said that the trouble with a platonic relationship is that the woman always gets pregnant. Arno was not amused at all.
He looked rather tired after several days and we saw very little of Heini’s siblings during the stay.
That left Bunny and myself, and sometimes I preferred skiing to sexual romps.
There was a Steinway in the lounge and in the bench, I found a number of musical scores, many over forty years old. I have now discovered one (Scott) Joplin, a Negro jazz musician and writer of ragtime pieces. Practiced a few of these and then one night when it was snowing heavily, Bunny and I decided to play the piano to entertain ourselves. I did a few German ballads (“The Little Rose” for example, which I sang) and she ran up and down the scales. When I mentioned the jazz, she asked me to play a few pieces for her.
I did so and of course was only paying attention to her as she sat next to me on the bench, but I suddenly realized that I had quite an audience around me. People were smiling and beating time with their feet and I finished off the concert with the “Felicity Rag” which is a wonderful, lively piece with a great feel to it. This got a round of applause and afterwards, a man came up to me and introduced himself to me as a New York producer who owned night clubs. He actually asked me how I would like a contract to play this music in one of his establishments!
I was much better dressed than he was and smoking a good Upmann and could probably buy his theater but I took his card anyway and thanked him.
I can hear Walter Winchell saying on that awful program of his: “Flash, America! We have just discovered that the chief of Hitler’s evil Gestapo is playing piano in an off-Broadway theater!” That would put the cat down the rat hole!
Poor Heini couldn’t ski because he doesn’t know how (I promised to tutor him myself later) but he put a brave face on things. He enjoyed my concert and told me that if I ever lost my job, he could get me a position in a Kansas City whorehouse!
So much for the trip.
Irmgard is now in love with Heini’s brother although she told me in some anger that he was not “that large” after all.
Arno whistles around the house, off key, and may well be in love.
One day, I will have to tell Bunny that I am not Swiss. She already knows that because she speaks excellent High German and knows the difference between real German and Swiss German. I told her I was “in business” in Germany before the war and picked up the accent at “school.”
She assumes, as she has said, that I must have a degree from a university. What she does not know is that I had to leave school when I was fourteen and go to work in an aircraft engine factory to help out the family. My father, while a good father and a fine man, is not a business success and never could be.
Everything I have now and have had before, I worked for and very often worked very hard for. Now that there is a good bit of money, all carefully hidden here and there just in case, I can spend what I want and on what I want but the ingrained habits of thrift learned painfully as a child are not easy to shake off.
I gave Bunny a very decent emerald ring set about with diamonds. It is elegant without being ostentatious but she immediately recognized that it was worth a great deal of money. There were protestations but in the end, she accepted it. What she doesn’t know is that it cost me nothing, having been acquired during the course of the last war. If I had to pay for a gift, I would have gotten her a collection of sheet music or a nice scarf (like the one she bought for me). Still, I find that I like her far better than any of the others.
I ask myself: Why? I am not Freud but perhaps because she is a good pianist and likes the same kind of music I do and because she is intelligent and excellent company. The fact that she is a very handsome, patrician woman does not hurt either but the first two factors are the most important ones, believe me.
There has been sufficient writing and I will retire.
The Bible says “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” and I can now say “Amen” and go to bed.
Heinrich Müller was a complex person in one sense but quite simple in another. His family was poor and Müller did indeed have to make his own way in the world without assistance from rich parents.
Intense ambition coupled with an incredible ability for hard and effective work made him a success in both the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. In politics, Müller was a member of the Bavarian People’s Party, a conservative, Catholic entity which was very influential in post-World War I politics.
Very anti-communist, Müller was equally anti-Nazi and his acceptance into the SS and his subsequent progression up the bureaucratic ladder infuriated the old-time Bavarian Nazis who had suffered his persecutions prior to their assumption of power in 1933.
German files are still filled with loud complaints and expressions of outrage that this strong opponent of the Nazi Party was now a rising star in the government. Old Party members were appalled by the fact that Müller was in possession of the sacred Blood Order, only given to Party members who took part in the 1923 putsch in Munich. Müller, after all, was an active member of the Bavarian Political Police who actively opposed the Putsch and were responsible for rooting out and arresting its participants.
The other face of the ambitious, aggressive policeman and bureaucrat could be seen in Müller’s attitude towards his co-workers in Berlin, most of whom had worked with him in Munich. To them, and to his staff, he was not “Herr Gruppenführer” but only “Herr Müller,” or to his friends, simply “Heini.”
Müller was possessed with a strong, if sometimes grim, sense of humor, and candid pictures of him away from his official duties showed him constantly smiling.
Aside from his duties, which occupied fourteen to fifteen hours a day, seven days a week, Müller found relaxation in his piano, in reading, painting (mostly landscapes in watercolor), skiing and mountain climbing, chess (at which he was a master) and finally, in his pursuit of attractive women.
His love affairs tended to be long-standing and semi-permanent and in response to a question from a friend as to why his former lady friends sent him birthday and Christmas cards, Müller’s response that one always started an affair with a smile and always ended it the same way.
To those who would be horrified, not only by Müller’s survival but his successes, the vision of him in an expensive tuxedo, smoking an expensive Cuban cigar and playing ragtime in an exclusive Colorado ski resort will no doubt cause what Müller would have called “a first class case of spastic colon.” It is the victors who always write the first, and very official, versions of history and only later do different, and often very unpleasant, themes and variations begin to emerge for the enlightenment of some and to the fury of others.
Napoleon once said that written history was merely fiction that everyone agreed upon.
The further progressions of Heinrich Müller, his lovers and his friends, will no doubt be a subject of fascination and approbation from some and ill-concealed fury from others. His frank and revealing discussions of the activities of his Gestapo are rivaled by his chronicles of the early days of the CIA and the inside, and hitherto very private observations on the administration of Harry Truman and the activities of such individuals as Senator Joseph McCarthy, “Kim” Philby, and others. Only some of the characters that appear in his journals are enshrined in the pantheon of American heroes, an enshrinement based almost solely on the writings of court historians. More often than not, emperors are not the only ones with new clothes.
Turkish President Erdogan ‘condemns’ US for backing Kurdish fighters in Syria
Turkey’s president has slammed the US for its support of Kurdish forces fighting the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) in Syria. US troops were photographed wearing the insignia of a militia that Ankara considers a terrorist group.
May 28, 2016
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday condemned Washington and accused the United States of not being “honest” about its alliance with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG).
“The support they give to… the YPG (militia)… I condemn it,” Erdogan said in a speech he delivered in the mostly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir in Turkey’s southeast.
“Those who are our friends, who are with us in NATO, should not and cannot send their soldiers to Syria wearing YPG insignia.”
US commandos in Syria were this week photographed wearing YPG patches on their uniforms. Keen to avoid a rift with Turkey, a US military spokesman said Friday that American troops were not authorized to wear the emblems and had been ordered to remove them.
Ankara regards the Syrian YPG as a terror group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has waged an insurgency against the Turkish government for more than three decades.
“The PKK, the PYD, the YPG, Daesh (Islamic State), there is no difference. They are all terrorists,” Erdogan said.
Washington also classifies the Turkish PKK as terrorists, but sees the YPG Syrian Kurdish militia as an advantageous ally in the fight against IS. Around 200 US special military personnel are in northern Syria helping local militia in an offensive to push IS out of Raqqa province, home to the group’s de facto capital.
Despite disagreements over the role of the YPG, the US State Department said NATO ally Turkey remained a close partner in the fight against IS.
Iran says its pilgrims will not attend haj in Saudi Arabia
May 29, 2016
Iran’s Haj and Pilgrimage Organization said on Sunday the country’s pilgrims would not attend the annual Muslim haj pilgrimage, blaming regional rival Saudi Arabia for “sabotage” and failing to guarantee the safety of pilgrims.
Relations between the two countries plummeted after hundreds of Iranians died in a crush during last year’s haj and after Riyadh broke diplomatic ties when its Tehran embassy was stormed in January over the Saudi execution of a Shi’ite cleric.
The dispute has provided another arena for discord between the conservative Sunni Muslim monarchy of Saudi Arabia and the revolutionary Shi’ite republic of Iran, which back opposing sides in Syria and other conflicts across the region.
“Due to ongoing sabotage by the Saudi government, it is hereby announced that … Iran’s pilgrims have been denied the privilege to attend the haj this year, and responsibility for this rests with the government of Saudi Arabia,” the Haj and Pilgrimage Organization said in a statement carried by Iran state media.
Saudi media earlier said an Iranian delegation had left the kingdom without an agreement over the haj, the second time the two countries have failed to reach a deal.
Saudi Arabia has blamed Iran for the impasse.
“The issue of ensuring the safety of the pilgrims was very important for us, considering the past actions of the Saudi government last year and the martyrdom of many pilgrims from Iran and other countries,” Iranian Culture Minister Ali Jannati told Iran state television.
Iran boycotted the haj for three years after 402 pilgrims, mostly Iranians, died in clashes with Saudi security forces at an anti-U.S. and anti-Israel rally in Mecca in 1987.
Eight months after the last haj, Saudi Arabia has still not published a report into the disaster, at which it said more than 700 pilgrims were killed, the highest death toll at the annual pilgrimage since a crush in 1990.
(Reporting by Dubai Newsroom. Editing by Jane Merriman)
Protesters chant ‘no more refugees’ & burn EU flag at pro-Brexit demo
May 29, 2016
A group of British far-right demonstrators burned the EU flag during a rally in Dover, which also happens to be the UK’s closest town to continental Europe.
The relatively small number of far-right activists marched along the town’s seafront on Saturday while police officers surrounded the group, AFP reports.
Between a series of right-wing speeches at the Eastern Docks, the protesters burned an EU flag while encouraging people to vote to “Leave” in the referendum, which will be held on June 23 to determine if the UK leaves the 28-member bloc.
They also chanted “no more refugees” as the march commenced with one protester holding up an England flag with “Refugees NOT welcome” written on it.
Hundreds of police officers lined the streets outnumbering protesters, who were also met by a handful of counter demonstrators, but the march didn’t see any arrests.
Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke said he hoped the low turnout of protesters on both sides would show they’re not welcome in the port town.
Elphicke has been campaigning to see a change in public order legislation, which would give police the power to ban such demonstrations.
“The far right and far left are realising that the town doesn’t want them and that officers will turn up with the correct amount of force needed to ensure proportionate, effective and appropriate policing,” he told Kent Online.
Three left wing protesters stood with signs reading: “Decent people oppose fascists” and “Racism hurts everyone” during the day.
Paul Pitt, a member of the South East Alliance, said the protest took place “against all odds” and blamed immigration for “what’s happening to our country.”
It’s not the first time far-right protesters staged similar protests and burned the EU flag. In April, a larger march in Dover saw eight people arrested where members of the South East Alliance wore “FCK ISIS” shirt and called for Europe to “keep their foreigners.”
Chinese detergent maker sorry over controversy, blames foreign media
Shanghai Leishang Cosmetics has said it was sorry over the controversy caused by a racist ad for one of its products. Having caused a major stir on social media it might be too little, too late.
May 29, 2016
A Chinese detergent maker apologized Saturday “for harm caused to the African people” by its ad in which a black man is “washed” by its product and transformed into a fair-skinned Asian man. The campaign attracted a great deal of attention on social media.
Shanghai Leishang Cosmetics halted the controversial ad, which had aired first on social media. The ad for Qiaobi laundry detergent shows a black man entering a room, where he attempts to seduce an Asian woman. She then feeds him a Qiaobi detergent drop and stuffs his body into a washing machine. When the cycle on the machine completes, a fair-skinned Asian man appears out of the washer – much to the delight of the woman.
The company initially defended its campaign, saying it had wanted to provoke in the first place, but didn’t expect to receive such hostile reactions.
“The foreign media might be too sensitive about the ad,” a spokesman for Shanghai Leishang Cosmetics originally said.
It later emerged, however, that the commercial was a spin-off from an Italian advertisement campaign with the opposite message, showing a white man being forced into a washing machine in a similar and a black man emerging out of it, followed by the slogan, “Colored is better.”
A half-hearted apology
The company said in a statement that it strongly condemned racial discrimination and added that it wanted to express regret over the controversy, which it says was amplified by the media.
“We express regret that the ad should have caused a controversy,” a statement issued late Saturday read.
“But we will not shun responsibility for controversial content. We express our apology for the harm caused to the African people because of the spread of the ad and the over-amplification by the media,” the company said. “We sincerely hope the public and the media will not over-read it.”
Fair skin: beautiful or internalized racism?
The controversial ad campaign was launched in March but took several weeks to become infamous around the globe. In China, it has been aired on television and in movie theaters, without much of a reaction from audiences.
The clip went viral, however, in the United States and parts of Europe, where it received harsh criticism and was widely regarded as blatantly racist.
China celebrates fair skin as a sign of beauty, as do other parts of Asia such as wide sections of India. Bleaching creams, which have been shown to be harmful to skin, are popular across Asia despite campaigns trying to raise awareness about the inherent racism in propagating such products.
Earlier in 2016, a new hashtag campaign took Twitter by storm as a growing number of Asian women in particular began to embrace their natural skin tone while rejecting the prevalent beauty standard in Asia endorsing fair skin.
UN: 700 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean shipwrecks
May 29, 2016
by Sarah El Deeb
POZZALLO, Sicily — Over 700 migrants are feared dead in three Mediterranean Sea shipwrecks south of Italy in the last few days as they tried desperately to reach Europe in unseaworthy smuggling boats, the U.N. refugee agency said Sunday.
The shipwrecks over three days appear to account for the largest loss of life reported in the Mediterranean since April 2015, when a single ship sank with an estimated 800 people trapped inside.
Carlotta Sami, spokeswoman for UNHCR, told The Associated Press by phone that an estimated 100 people are missing from a smugglers’ boat that capsized Wednesday off the coast of Libya. The Italian navy took horrific pictures of that capsizing even as it rushed to rescue as many people as possible from the sea.
Sami said about 550 other migrants and refugees are missing from a smuggling boat that capsized Thursday morning after leaving the western Libyan port of Sabratha a day earlier.
Refugees who saw that boat sink told her agency it was carrying about 670 people, didn’t have an engine and was being towed by another packed smuggling boat before it capsized. She said about 25 people from the capsized boat managed to reach the first boat and survive, 79 others were rescued by international patrol boats and 15 bodies were recovered.
Italian police said survivors identified the commander of the boat with the working engine as a 28-year-old Sudanese man, who has been arrested.
In a third shipwreck on Friday, Sami said 135 people were rescued, 45 bodies were recovered and an unknown numbers of migrants were still missing.
Because the bodies went missing in the open sea, it is impossible to verify the numbers who died. Humanitarian organizations and rescue authorities typically rely on survivors’ accounts to piece together what happened.
Italian police corroborated the UNHCR description of Thursday’s sinking in their own interviews with survivors, but came up with different numbers of possible missing.
They say, according to survivors, the boat being towed was carrying about 500 migrants when it starting taking on water after about eight hours at sea. Efforts to empty the water — with a line of migrants passing a few 5-liter bailing cans — were insufficient and the boat was completely under water after an hour and a half, police said. At that point, the commander of the first smuggling boat doing the towing ordered the tow rope to be cut.
The migrants on the top deck of the sinking boat jumped into the sea, while those below deck, estimated at 300, sank with the ship, police said. Of those who jumped into the water, just 90 were rescued.
Survivors were taken to the Italian ports of Taranto on the mainland and Pozzallo on the island of Sicily. Sami says the U.N. agency is trying to gather information with sensitivity considering that most of the new arrivals are either shipwreck survivors or traumatized by what they saw.
Italy’s southern islands are the main destinations for countless numbers of smuggling boats launched from the shores of lawless Libya each week packed with people seeking jobs and safety in Europe. Hundreds of migrants drown each year attempting the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing.
Warmer waters and calmer weather of late have only increased the migrants’ attempts to reach Europe. Last week, over 4,000 migrants were rescued at sea in one day alone by an Italian-led naval operation.
Colleen Barry in Milan contributed to this report.
The man who seduced the 7th Fleet
May 27, 2016
by Craig Whitlock
For months, a small team of U.S. Navy investigators and federal prosecutors secretly devised options for a high-stakes international manhunt. Could the target be snatched from his home base in Asia and rendered to the United States? Or held captive aboard an American warship?
Making the challenge even tougher was the fact that the man was a master of espionage. His moles had burrowed deep into the Navy hierarchy to leak him a stream of military secrets, thwarting previous efforts to bring him to justice.
The target was not a terrorist, nor a spy for a foreign power, nor the kingpin of a drug cartel. But rather a 350-pound defense contractor nicknamed Fat Leonard, who had befriended a generation of Navy leaders with cigars and liquor whenever they made port calls in Asia.
Leonard Glenn Francis was legendary on the high seas for his charm and his appetite for excess. For years, the Singapore-based businessman had showered Navy officers with gifts, epicurean dinners, prostitutes and, if necessary, cash bribes so they would look the other way while he swindled the Navy to refuel and resupply its ships.
In the end, federal agents settled on a risky sting operation to try to nab Fat Leonard. They would lure him to California, dangling a meeting with admirals who hinted they had lucrative contracts to offer.
He took the bait. On Sept. 16, 2013, Francis was arrested in his hotel suite overlooking San Diego’s harbor. It was the opening strike in a sweep covering three states and seven countries, as hundreds of law enforcement agents arrested other suspects and seized incriminating files from Francis’s business empire.
A 51-year-old Malaysian citizen, Francis has since pleaded guilty to fraud and bribery charges. His firm, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, is financially ruined.
But his arrest exposed something else that is still emerging three years later: a staggering degree of corruption within the Navy itself.
Much more than a contracting scandal, the investigation has revealed how Francis seduced the Navy’s storied 7th Fleet, long a proving ground for admirals given its strategic role in patrolling the Pacific and Indian oceans.
In perhaps the worst national-security breach of its kind to hit the Navy since the end of the Cold War, Francis doled out sex and money to a shocking number of people in uniform who fed him classified material about U.S. warship and submarine movements. Some also leaked him confidential contracting information and even files about active law enforcement investigations into his company.
He exploited the intelligence for illicit profit, brazenly ordering his moles to redirect aircraft carriers to ports he controlled in Southeast Asia so he could more easily bilk the Navy for fuel, tugboats, barges, food, water and sewage removal.
Over at least a decade, according to documents filed by prosecutors, Glenn Defense ripped off the Navy with little fear of getting caught because Francis had so thoroughly infiltrated the ranks.
The company forged invoices, falsified quotes and ran kickback schemes. It created ghost subcontractors and fake port authorities to fool the Navy into paying for services it never received.
Francis and his firm have admitted to defrauding the Navy of $35 million, though investigators believe the real amount could be much greater.
“I ask, when has something like this, bribery of this magnitude, ever happened in this district or in our country’s history?” Robert Huie, an assistant U.S. attorney in San Diego, said during a court hearing last year. “Mr. Francis’s conduct has passed from being merely exceptional to being the stuff of history and legend.”
Today, the Navy remains in the grip of overlapping civilian and military investigations that are slowly unraveling long skeins of misconduct.
So far, four Navy officers, an enlisted sailor and a senior agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) have pleaded guilty to federal crimes and are already behind bars or are facing prison time. So have Francis and two other Glenn Defense executives.
On Friday, three more current and former Navy officers were charged in federal court with corruption-related offenses. Charges are also pending against two former Navy contracting officials who were arrested last year. Many others remain under investigation.
Exactly how many is a mystery. When he pleaded guilty, Francis admitted to bribing “scores” of Navy officials with cash, sex and gifts worth millions of dollars — all so he could win more defense contracts and overcharge with impunity.
A federal prosecutor hinted at the extent of the case last year when he said in court that more than 200 “subjects” were under investigation.
A striking portion of the Navy’s senior brass could be tarnished. In December, Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, summoned about 200 admirals to a special gathering in Washington.
Without naming names, he revealed that about 30 of them were under criminal investigation by the Justice Department or ethical scrutiny by the Navy for their connections to Francis, according to two senior Navy officials with direct knowledge of the meeting.
The damage to the Navy could match the toll from the Tailhook scandal of the early 1990s, when 14 admirals were reprimanded or forced to resign over an epic outbreak of sexual assault at a naval aviators’ convention.
Because all but five of the 14 defendants charged in the Fat Leonard case have pleaded guilty, and no trials have taken place, only a small fraction of the evidence has been made public so far.
This account of how Francis corrupted the Navy is based on interviews with more than two dozen current and former Navy officials, as well as hundreds of pages of court filings, contracting records and military documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Ethan Posner, an attorney for Francis, declined to comment. The Navy declined interview requests and referred questions to the Justice Department.
Laura Duffy, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California whose office is leading the investigation, declined to answer questions. “The investigation continues apace, uncovering substantial wrongdoing,” she said in a brief statement.The investigation has mushroomed partly because Glenn Defense was a pillar of U.S. maritime operations for a quarter-century.The 7th Fleet depended on the firm more than any other to refuel and resupply its vessels.
Over time, Francis became so skilled at cultivating Navy informants that it was a challenge to juggle them all. On a near-daily basis, they pelted him with demands for money, prostitutes, hotel rooms and plane tickets.
Leonard Francis grew up in a prosperous family in Penang, Malaysia, enriched by the maritime logistics firm his maternal grandfather had started in 1946 along the Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
Although Francis came from wealth and was tutored in private schools, he bore scars from a dysfunctional childhood.
His mother had split from his philandering father. She took her daughter and another son with her, leaving Leonard behind “with the bizarre task of keeping an eye on his father to ensure that he did not bring other women home,” according to a summary of Malaysian court records published in a national law journal.
In 1986, a 21-year-old Francis got into serious legal trouble. He opened a pub that was “frequented by undesirable characters” in Penang and was arrested after police found two Smith & Wesson revolvers, 14 rounds of ammunition and a bulletproof vest in his bedroom, according to the court records. He pleaded guilty.
Under Malaysia’s strict gun laws, he was supposed to receive a mandatory whipping and a prison sentence. The trial judge imposed a $5,800 fine but spared him the whipping and incarceration, citing a psychiatrist’s testimony that he was obese, emotionally fragile and suffering from a blood disorder. His estranged parents jointly paid the fine.
Apparently angry at the light sentence, however, police rearrested Francis as he was leaving the courthouse and charged him with committing a string of robberies, a Malaysian newspaper reported at the time.
The robbery charges were dropped. But after an appeal by prosecutors, a court stiffened Francis’s sentence for the gun crimes, ordering him to spend 18 months behind bars and submit to six strokes of the lash.
After absorbing his punishment, Francis devoted himself to the family business. There was money to be made working for the U.S. military, especially after the Navy was forced to shutter its giant Subic Bay base in the Philippines in 1992 and stepped up port visits elsewhere.
Lacking knowledge to navigate the byzantine world of U.S. defense contracts, Francis hired people who did: several former Navy officers, as well as retired brass from the Malaysian, Thai and Philippine navies.
Francis soaked up military culture from the veterans on his payroll. He learned Navy lingo and wore neckties emblazoned with the American flag. His cellphone played country singer Lee Greenwood’s rendition of “God Bless the U.S.A.”
He moved his headquarters to Singapore and opened branches all over Asia. By the early 2000s, he had secured contracts to service U.S. Navy ships in ports from Vladivostok, Russia, to Papua New Guinea. He also won business from the navies of Britain, France, Mexico, India and the Netherlands.
At its height, Glenn Defense and its subsidiaries boasted a fleet of more than 50 vessels. Most were tugs and barges, but the firm also advertised the services of a patrol ship with armed guards — British-trained Gurkha soldiers from Nepal — to fend off pirates.
After he moved to Singapore, Francis projected the image of a wildly successful tycoon. As he rode around the city, bystanders would gawk at his black, armored SUV with the puncture-resistant tires.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, hundreds of people would pass by his 70,000-square-foot estate, marveling at the spectacular holiday-light extravaganza his staff erected each year.
A Singapore newspaper estimated that he spent $75,000 on the light show, with its life-size reindeer, giant snowmen, 35-foot-tall Christmas tree and a Nativity scene. A Roman Catholic, Francis encouraged the publicity but politely declined to say how much the decorations cost.
“You can’t put a value on happiness,” he told the Straits Times of Singapore.
“The Soviets couldn’t have penetrated us better than Leonard Francis,” said a retired Navy officer who worked closely with Francis and spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisal. “He’s got people skills that are off the scale. He can hook you so fast that you don’t see it coming. . . . At one time he had infiltrated the entire leadership line. The KGB could not have done what he did.”
In his dealings with the Americans, Francis went to great lengths to ingratiate himself with senior officers, recognizing that they often cared more about high-quality service than how the bill would be paid.
Whenever a Navy vessel arrived in port, the odds were high that Francis would be waiting at the pier. Like a five-star concierge, he would arrange for shopping trips, sightseeing tours and concert tickets. A limousine and driver would be reserved for the ship’s commander.
Select sailors would be invited to an extravagant banquet, featuring cognac and whiskey, Cohiba cigars from Cuba, and platters of Spanish suckling pig and Kobe beef. Francis would sometimes fly in a band of pole dancers, which he called his Elite Thai SEAL Team, for X-rated shows, court records show.
In another display of panache, he purchased an aging, decommissioned British warship, the RFA Sir Lancelot. He refurbished and renamed it the Glenn Braveheart.
The vessel became the flagship of his fleet, and it would often deploy alongside the USS Blue Ridge, the 7th Fleet’s flagship. When in port, Francis would sometimes turn the Braveheart into a giant party boat, with prostitutes in the wardroom to entertain U.S. officers, according to court records and interviews.
Even when he didn’t offer anything illicit, Francis earned a reputation as a reliable and responsive businessman who was eager to help the Navy in unfamiliar locales.
Soon enough, senior officers were dashing off ebullient thank-you notes known as Bravo Zulus, a Navy term meaning “well done.”
- “Many of crew are still talking about the great adventures they experienced,” then-Capt. John J. Donnelly, then 7th Fleet chief of staff, said in a March 10, 2000, letter. He lauded Francis’s “warm hospitality,” calling it “truly remarkable” and that it “will long be remembered by all of us.” Donnelly would become a three-star admiral and commander of all U.S. submarine forces.
Now retired, Donnelly said he had no memory of ever meeting Francis and that the letter was “a pro forma thank you note” generated by his staff. “I probably signed hundreds of similar letters during my two years in that job,” he added.
- “Dear Leonard,” wrote then-Vice Adm. Robert F. Willard, then the 7th Fleet commander, on June 3, 2003. “Thank you for the top-notch hospitality. Your timely efforts and service will remain unparalleled.” Willard would become a four-star admiral and commander of all U.S. military forces in the Pacific. Now retired, he declined to comment.
- “Thank you for the superb services,” gushed then-Vice Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the next commander of the 7th Fleet, on March 9, 2006. “Over the years, the reputation of Glenn Marine remains exceptional. . . . Keep up the great work. I wish you and your staff the very best and continued success!” Greenert would become chief of naval operations, the top job in the Navy. He retired last year and declined to comment.
Francis treated the Bravo Zulu notes as celebrity endorsements, highlighting them in company brochures.
To further advertise his access to the highest levels of command, he published an array of grip-and-grin photographs featuring him alongside the Navy’s top admirals in their dress-white uniforms.
One brochure, published in 2008, shows Francis, smiling, in a collage of photos with Greenert and Willard and Adm. Sam Locklear, who later became commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific.
And with Adm. Mike Mullen, a chief of naval operations who became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And with Adm. Gary Roughead, another chief of naval operations.
All have since retired. Locklear and Roughead declined to comment.
Sally Donnelly, an adviser to Mullen, issued a statement on his behalf saying that he appeared in thousands of informal photographs a year with people, many of whom he did not know.
“Admiral Mullen had no — and has no — personal or professional connection to the individual in this photograph, nor has anyone even suggested that he is in any way party to the activities for which this individual is being investigated,” she said.
Another retired admiral, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigations, recalled how he once attended an officers’ dinner with Francis. He said he complimented the contractor on his fashionable, bespoke suit and his “blowtorch of a cigar lighter.”
The next morning, as the admiral’s ship was preparing to leave port, Francis arrived at the pier bearing gifts: a $700 cigar lighter like the one he showed off the night before; two pewter platters worth about $500 apiece; a pack of 25 Cuban Cohiba cigars; and a business card for his bespoke tailor.
The admiral said he declined the presents. “There’s no question in my mind that he tried to influence me,” he said. “It’s like fishing. He’s got the hook. If he got an inch, he’d go for a foot. If he’d get a foot, he’d go for a yard.”
Glenn Defense also would dispense its largesse under the guise of charity. The firm became a leading sponsor of the Navy League of the United States, a civilian nonprofit group that advocates on behalf of the Navy.
At one military ball organized by the league’s Singapore chapter, Glenn Defense donated the top door prize: a pair of his and hers gold Rolex watches, valued at $30,000, according to two individuals who were present.
Francis didn’t hesitate to exploit his connections, especially when lower-ranking officers challenged his exorbitant bills, according to several current and former Navy officers and court documents.
David Schaus, a junior officer assigned to the Navy’s Ship Support Office in Hong Kong, became livid after receiving a huge invoice from Glenn Defense in 2004. Schaus said it charged the Navy for pumping 100,000 gallons of sewage from a destroyer that spent four days in port — an impossible amount, because the ship’s tanks held just 12,000 gallons and were serviced only once a day.
Schaus told The Post that he summoned Francis for an explanation. “He became furious, accusing me of calling him a liar. And I told him, ‘I am calling you a liar.’ He said, ‘Lieutenants don’t tell me what to do. Do you know who I am?’ He was being profane and banging on the table.”
Afterward, Schaus said he was told by other Navy officials to back off, something that he said invariably happened when he raised questions about Glenn Defense.
The company “was rotten from the first day I worked with them in 2004, and everyone knew they were rotten,” Schaus said. “Everyone knew what was going on, and it was just accepted as the way it was. If you tried to rock the boat, you got squashed.”
Later that year, on Christmas Eve, the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and three other warships arrived in Hong Kong.
Francis threw a Christmas party for the visiting officers at the Island Shangri-La, a five-star hotel. They were treated to filet mignon, lobster and Dom Pérignon champagne, and they mingled with female escorts dressed as Santa’s little helpers, according to Schaus and a second officer who was present in port.
A handful of senior officers were invited to an after-party with the escorts, whom Francis had dubbed the “Santa Niñas,” or Santa’s girls, according to a third individual who was present.
The next day, Francis boarded one of the warships and delivered a $600,000 sewage bill, according to the second officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he remains on active duty and wasn’t authorized to speak to a reporter.
“He came into my office with a big grin wanting to be paid,” the officer said. The officer protested and brought up the lavish party from the night before. “I came right out and told Francis that we were paying for it with this bill.”
The officer said he lost the argument, and Francis got what he wanted.
Eighteen months later, the cycle repeated itself when another aircraft carrier visited Hong Kong.
Rear Adm. Michael H. Miller, commander of the USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group, knew Francis well. In early 2006, he emailed the contractor to say he’d be coming to Asia soon, that he looked forward to renewing their friendship and could use some shopping advice, according to Navy documents obtained under FOIA.
The Reagan and three other ships in the strike group docked in Hong Kong on June 10. The next day, at Miller’s request, Francis arranged a splendid banquet for officers at the Island Shangri-La, this time at Petrus, a swanky French restaurant with views of Victoria Harbor.
Miller and his officers were accustomed to eating well with Francis. One week earlier, when the strike group had visited Malaysia, Francis took them to the Chalet Suisse restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. Before that, in Singapore, he arranged for dinner at Jaan, ranked as one of Asia’s 50 best restaurants.
To comply with ethics rules, Miller and two other senior officers wrote personal checks to reimburse Francis. They estimated the fair market value at between $50 and $70 per meal.
In fact, the dinners actually cost more than 10 times that much: about $750 per person, according to the findings of a Navy disciplinary investigation that was completed last year.
After the meals, Miller and other officers showered Francis with Bravo Zulu messages.
“Words cannot adequately express my appreciation for the service you have provided in all our ports of call,” Miller wrote to Francis two days after he left Hong Kong. “You are as much a member of the U.S. Navy team as any of us, and we are all proud to call you ‘Shipmate.’ ”
The Navy investigation found Miller’s note amounted to an official endorsement of Glenn Defense, a violation of ethics rules. He was formally censured by the Navy last year and retired soon after. He declined to comment.
Other officers colluded with Francis “to conceal the true nature” of the Hong Kong officers’ banquet from the Navy’s Ship Support Office, which was still tangling with Francis over his invoices, the investigation found.
Schaus, the ship support officer, said he suspected at the time that Glenn Defense was overcharging the Navy for the Reagan’s visit. He alerted NCIS and asked for a criminal inquiry.
An NCIS agent assigned to the Reagan interviewed him, he said. But the case went nowhere and only provoked a backlash. “Everybody on the ship hated me,” Schaus said. Navy officials declined to comment.
He resigned his Navy commission a few months later. He said he left for many reasons but that “the endemic corruption I observed during my short tenure of working within the supply world was certainly a major factor.”
On Francis’s payroll
Around the same time, Francis planted a couple of moles in the Navy’s regional contracting office in Singapore.
Starting in 2006, Sharon Gursharan Kaur, a Singapore national who worked for the Navy, leaked confidential contract information to Francis for about $100,000 in cash and luxury vacations in Bali and Dubai, according to the Singapore Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.
Kaur has been charged with corruption and money-laundering offenses in Singapore. Her case is pending. Her attorney did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Also in 2006, Francis began a relationship with Paul Simpkins, an American civilian who worked in Singapore as a Navy contract supervisor.
Over the course of several surreptitious meetings in a Singapore hotel bar, Francis offered Simpkins $50,000 to rig the bidding for Navy contracts in Thailand and the Philippines, according to a federal indictment of Simpkins.
Prosecutors allege Simpkins demanded more and ultimately received $450,000 in cash and payments wired to foreign bank accounts controlled by his wife.
In addition to allegedly rigging the Navy contracts for Francis, Simpkins served as a secret fixer in other matters for Glenn Defense, according to the indictment.
For example, when a Navy official in Singapore flagged questionable bills from the company related to a port visit by the USS Decatur, a guided-missile destroyer, Simpkins nipped the inquiry in the bud, prosecutors said.
“Do not request any invoices from this ship,” Simpkins ordered his colleague in an email, according to court records. “Do not violate this instruction. Contact the ship and rescind your request.”
Prosecutors also allege that in 2007, Simpkins ordered the Navy’s Hong Kong office to stop using flow meters to measure the amount of sewage that Glenn Defense pumped from ships, making it easier for the firm to gouge the Navy for the service.
Simpkins left the Singapore office that year to become a senior contracting executive for the Justice Department and later for the Defense Department. Prosecutors have accused him of maintaining a relationship with Francis while he worked in Washington.
During a return trip to Singapore for vacation, Simpkins asked Francis to arrange for some prostitutes, court records show.
“Can u set up some clean, disease free wome[n]when I am there?” Simpkins emailed. A few days later, he added: “Whats the plan to meet up and maybe do some honeys?”
“Honeys and bunnys,” Francis replied, confirming the date.
Simpkins has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial. His attorney did not respond to requests for comment.
‘A snake charmer’
Francis’s most audacious achievement was his penetration of 7th Fleet headquarters in Japan. Four officers and an enlisted sailor who worked there have pleaded guilty to taking bribes.
In each case, court records show, Francis or his executives carefully groomed their targets, befriending them while searching for weak points: money or marital problems, alcohol, loneliness, lust, low self-esteem.
Lt. Cmdr. Todd Malaki, a logistics planner for the 7th Fleet, said he was introduced by his commander to Francis in 2004 at one of the contractor’s famous parties.
“He was charming, personable and incredibly influential,” Malaki recalled in a confessional letter to a federal judge. “As we drank together, he convinced me into believing that we were friends and he was a mentor. I’m ashamed to admit that I wanted to believe we were equals.”
Before long, Malaki was handing over classified ship schedules and proprietary information about Glenn Defense’s competitors. In turn, Francis gave him about $3,000 in cash, paid for him to stay in hotels around Asia and provided him with a prostitute after a night at a Malaysian karaoke club.
“There is no excuse for what I did, but I fell under the charm of Mr. Francis,” Malaki wrote. “I suspect that he sensed the weakness of my character. He was like a snake charmer, preying on my flaws and manipulating me to serve or advance his interests.”
Malaki was sentenced in January to a 40-month prison term.
In 2010, Glenn Defense executives hooked Dan Layug, a petty officer who worked in logistics for 7th Fleet, initially by bribing him with a free cellphone, court records show.
Over the next three years, as Layug leaked competitors’ secrets and classified ship schedules to the firm, it rewarded him with more electronic gadgets, including video-game consoles, cameras and tablet computers. The company also provided free hotel rooms in ports across Asia to him and his friends.
Eventually, Layug worked his way up to an allowance of $1,000 a month. According to prosecutors, he’d drive to the Glenn Defense offices in Japan, roll down his window in the parking lot and exchange classified material for a cash-filled envelope.
“I let my ego and my greed take over me and ended up betraying my country,” Layug said at a January court hearing in San Diego. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison.
Capt. Daniel Dusek, who served as deputy director of operations for the 7th Fleet, said in court papers that a mentor introduced Francis to him in 2010 as “a great friend of the Navy.”
At the time, Dusek said he was feeling vulnerable because he was overworked, prone to heavy drinking and depressed by “the tortuous ending of my second marriage.”
Within months, Glenn Defense began supplying him with prostitutes, alcohol and stays at luxury hotels. In turn, Dusek handed over classified ship schedules and steered aircraft carriers to “fat revenue ports” controlled by Glenn Defense. He became such a valuable agent that Francis labeled him “a golden asset.”
In a court memo, Dusek confessed to his crimes but suggested that the corruption was widespread. He blamed an “endemic culture within the Navy in Asia” and charged that Francis “was able to leverage his way to the top in plain view of generations of senior Naval Officers and Admirals.”
Dusek was sentenced in March to 46 months in prison. He declined to comment for this article.
The sex factor
Perhaps the most effective bribe Francis offered was sex.
He was choosy about his prostitutes and worked with trusted escort agencies in several countries. He kept meticulous notes about the physical desires of Navy officials, such as who liked Thai girls, or group sex.
Sometimes, he would debrief the hookers afterward, looking for scraps of information he could exploit, according to court records and an individual familiar with his methods.
Once, he personally videotaped a Navy officer having sex with twin Vietnamese prostitutes in a hotel room in Singapore, according to two people familiar with the incident.
In another case, Francis went to unusual lengths to cater to Cmdr. Jose L. Sanchez, a married logistics officer at 7th Fleet headquarters who became one of his most valuable moles starting in 2009.
According to an affidavit filed by federal agents, Francis once asked an Indonesian madam to send four prostitutes to Singapore to spend four days with Sanchez and three other Navy officers.
Although that port visit was canceled at the last minute, on other occasions Francis hired prostitutes to spend time with Sanchez and friends in his “wolf pack” in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, a second affidavit shows.
Another time, Francis messaged a prostitute with a last-minute request to see Sanchez in the Philippines. “Hey Love Jose is in Manila at the Diamond Hotel go and see him he needs some love asap.”
“Papi, I’m here,” the prostitute replied. “Jose’s fone is not answering. I’m here having drinks at the lobby. Call him:( maybe his sleeping?” Later, she emailed Francis with an update. “I’m with him already heehehe.”
Sanchez has pleaded guilty to accepting as much as $120,000 in cash, travel and sex with prostitutes. Prosecutors say he regularly leaked classified ship and submarine schedules to Francis and tipped him off whenever Glenn Defense came under suspicion for defrauding the Navy.
He is awaiting sentencing. His attorney, Vincent Ward, declined to comment.
In 2010, Glenn Defense executives began targeting Cmdr. Michael Misiewicz, another married officer who was moving to 7th Fleet headquarters.
Edmond Aruffo, a retired Navy officer who headed Glenn Defense’s operations in Japan, took Misiewicz out to dinner. Then he paid for the commander and his family to attend a production of “The Lion King” in Tokyo
“We gotta get him hooked on something,” Francis told Aruffo in an email entered into court records.
Within weeks, Aruffo discovered that Misiewicz had a fondness for Japanese prostitutes, liked fancy hotels and needed to pay for international travel for his extended family. The contractor obliged repeatedly on all counts, and soon Misiewicz was funneling classified material to the company.
“We got him!!:)” Aruffo emailed Francis.
“You bet the Godfather,” Fat Leonard replied.
“All hail!!!” cheered Aruffo, who has since pleaded guilty to bribery and is awaiting sentencing. His attorneys did not respond to requests for comment.
Misiewicz and Francis emailed, phoned and texted each other thousands of times, according to prosecutors. In a court filing, they said the officer became Francis’s “trained bulldog” in 7th Fleet headquarters and fed him highly sensitive military secrets, including information about ballistic missile defense operations in the Pacific.
In a letter to the judge in his case, Misiewicz blamed his behavior on marital troubles and personal insecurities. He said Francis mentored him and acted like a big brother.
“He made me feel special,” Misiewicz wrote. “I needed that given the personal isolation I was experiencing in my marriage.
Misiewicz was sentenced in April to 6 1/2 years in prison.
Francis the untouchable
In 2010, Glenn Defense’s fraudulent tactics finally began to draw serious attention from the Navy. NCIS opened two separate criminal investigations into the company for its billing practices in Thailand and Japan.
But Francis had another ace in the hole: a turncoat law enforcement agent.
John Beliveau II, an NCIS agent based in Singapore and later at Quantico, Va., had known Francis for at least two years. In exchange for prostitutes, cash and other favors, he tapped into an NCIS database as the cases unfolded and fed Francis raw material from investigators’ notes and interviews.
According to prosecutors, the information enabled Francis to cover his tracks and intimidate witnesses. His NCIS spy proved so reliable and so valuable that Francis became giddy.
“I have inside Intel from NCIS and read all the reports,” Francis boasted in a 2011 email to another one of his moles. “I will show you a copy of a Classified Command File on me from NCIS ha ha.”
Francis’s intelligence machine worked so well that Navy personnel in Singapore suspected their offices had been bugged; some even thought they were under surveillance by private detectives.
There were other reasons for Francis to feel untouchable.
Despite the ongoing NCIS investigations, in June 2011 the Navy awarded Glenn Defense three major contracts, worth up to $200 million, to service ships in Southeast Asia, East Asia, Australia and the Pacific Isles.
Top Navy brass seemed as pleased as ever with Francis. They extended invitations for him to attend military change-of-command ceremonies alongside Navy VIPs, diplomats, and relatives and close friends of the commanders.
In September 2011, he boarded the USS Blue Ridge, the 7th Fleet flagship, to watch Vice Adm. Scott Swift take charge from Vice Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, according to documents obtained by The Post under FOIA.
Six months later, he traveled to Hawaii for another ceremony in which Adm. Locklear took command of all U.S. military forces in the Pacific from Adm. Willard, the documents show. A seat was reserved for Francis near the front.
Even when his luck turned bad, Francis always seemed to navigate back out of trouble.
In October 2012, Philippine authorities caught one of his ships, the Glenn Guardian, illegally dumping about 200,000 liters of wastewater near Subic Bay. The wastewater had been collected from the USS Emory S. Land, a submarine tender, during a port visit.
An investigation by the Philippine Senate found that Glenn Defense had been dumping millions of liters of wastewater from U.S. Navy ships for years without proper permits.
Company executives argued that as a U.S. defense contractor the firm was protected from liability under terms of a U.S.-Philippines defense treaty. Despite a public outcry, the company was not penalized or fined in the end.
The trap is sprung
In the end, Francis’s overconfidence led to his downfall.
Navy officials eventually realized that Francis had infiltrated NCIS. Cybersecurity teams discovered that Beliveau had been downloading hundreds of files about Francis from the law enforcement database, even though the NCIS agent wasn’t assigned to the case.
In July 2013, they planted false information in the database, stating that all investigations against Glenn Defense had been closed and no charges would be filed.
Two months later, thinking he was in the clear, Francis flew to San Diego to attend another change-of-command ceremony and to drum up business from the Navy’s Global Logistics Support Command.
Instead, he fell into the Navy’s trap. After giving a PowerPoint briefing to two admirals about ways that he said Glenn Defense could save the Navy money, he returned to his hotel and was arrested.
Beliveau was arrested the same day in Washington. He has pleaded guilty to bribery charges and is awaiting sentencing.
Beliveau’s attorney, Jessica Carmichael of Alexandria, said he “fell under Francis’s spell” and “will forever regret his conduct.”
“The range and number of high-level officials involved shows the influential and manipulative nature of Leonard Francis,” she added. “He was clearly a dynamic personality who could con so many senior officials into his far-reaching scheme.”
Francis has been locked up in San Diego since his 2013 arrest. He is awaiting sentencing and faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. When he pleaded guilty last year, court papers show he promised to cooperate in a bid for leniency.
Authorities have identified only a few of the 30 admirals under investigation.
The Navy announced in November 2013 that two admirals in charge of the service’s secrets — Vice Adm. Ted “Twig” Branch, the director of naval intelligence, and a deputy, Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless — were under criminal investigation by the Justice Department.
Since then, the two officers have been mired in limbo, neither charged nor cleared. Navy and Justice officials have disclosed no other details. Branch and Loveless declined to comment.
In a previously undisclosed case, NCIS agents are also investigating Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau, a supply and logistics officer, according to a senior Navy official and two people who have been questioned.
Gilbeau came to know Francis during several deployments to Asia and is also under scrutiny for his relationships with contractors when he served in Afghanistan in 2012 and 2013, according to the people questioned in the case.
Reached by phone, Gilbeau confirmed he was under investigation but declined to comment further.
The open-ended nature of the investigation, with so many officers under scrutiny, has hampered the Navy’s ability to fill command jobs and move forward with promotions.
It has also led to grumbling that many officers have been forced to work under a cloud of suspicion for years, without facing charges, unable to clear their names.
“I’m not the guy to sweep this under the rug. In my view, there was a problem,” said Peter H. Daly, a retired vice admiral who serves as chief executive of the U.S. Naval Institute, a nonprofit military association in Annapolis. “But to let this thing drag out is wrong. It’s just bad, bad, bad. It shouldn’t be this way. It’s not fair.”
Prosecutors have said it has taken so long to get to the bottom of the scandal because there is a mountain of evidence to mine.
Investigators said they have amassed 18 terabytes of data from more than 100 email and Facebook accounts, as well as dozens of computer hard drives, tablets and smartphones. Nine federal agents were assigned just to organize and upload the materials.
The evidence remains under a protective order to prevent it from being made public. But, occasionally, new details emerge that illustrate the scope of Francis’s penetration of the Navy.
Last month, for instance, lawyers for Misiewicz, one of the officers who has pleaded guilty, filed a court document stating that Francis had gone so far as to bribe Navy public-affairs specialists “to advise and train him on the Navy’s strategic talking points.”
The document gave no other details. But a person close to the investigation said the public-affairs officers worked for the Hawaii-based U.S. Pacific Fleet and that Francis bribed them with a combination of cash, dinners and prostitutes.