US Ambassador in Albania Mr Withers implicated in involvement with Albanian gun runners, fraud, and what really happened at Gërdec?
The ever inquisitive Mr Waxman's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has discovered from a zealous military attaché that the United States ambassador to Albania since July 2007, career diplomat John L. Withers II endorsed a plan by the (and now from March EX) Albanian Defence minister Fatmir Mediu, to hide boxes of ammunition with Chinese markings from a visiting reporter hot on the trail of a DOD defence scam by a Miami contractor run by 21 year old . The ammunition was being repackaged (supposedly Evdin Ltd owned and run by by Henry Thomet – aSwiss businessman) to disguise its origins and shipped from Albania to Afghanistan by Miami Beach arms-dealing company AEY Inc.,run by 21 year old Efraim E. Diveroli who has just been indicted with 3 others for arms smuggling, fraud etc etc.,
The attaché, Maj. Larry D. Harrison II of the Army, tells of late night meeting on Nov. 19 last year when Fatmir asked for help from the Ambasador because he was concerned the reporter would discover he had been profiting from selling arms. According to Albanian diplomatic speak AKA Albanian Mafioso speak, the Ambassador "owed him one". Major Harrison was very unhappy with this arrangement he explained to the Committee investigators... unlike the Ambassador.
Fatmir told the top Albanian General (Now EX Top general Luan Hoxha)to get rid of the Chinese ammunition being repackaged at Rinas Airport in Tirana, ahead of the reporter's visit according to transcripts made available by Mr Waxmans committee yesterday of Major Harrison's testimony, obtained by telephone interview.
According to the transcript excerpts released by the committee, Major Harrison told investigators he disagreed with the decision to hide the boxes from the reporter, and said that he felt “very uncomfortable” during the meeting because it was his job to train, equip and modernize Albania’s military. He further explained his suggestion to bar the reporter from visiting the Albanian air base was rejected.
Interfering Mr Waxman has told the Secretary of State, part time pianist, Condoleezza Rice, that he intends to interview Mr Withers to discuss this ..er... cover up. Apparently ahead and after the New York Times blew the story open on March 27th , e mails, available to the Committee, show that the ordure was hitting the air conditioning and there was much relief expressed by the embassy’s regional security officer, Patrick Leonard in an e-mail to an assistant , “No mention of Embassy involvement — thank God!”
The persistent Mr Waxman said yesterday , that the e-mail correspondence among embassy officials, combined with Major Harrison’s statements, “raises questions about both the State Department’s role in the shipment of illegal Chinese ammunition and the candour of the department’s response to the committee.”
None of this of course has anything to do with smoothing over the Albanian entry to NATO or even the declaration since teh President's visit last year to agree on supporting Kosovan independence and a government run by Mafia gangsters.
What is of course causing problems is the massive (and mysterious) explosion at Gerdec (Which is near Tirana) when at least 21 (and rising) people were killed, Mr Mediu's early bath after it, demands for compensation and what a reporter succinctly asked Mr Withers on June 12th ..."It is three months now from the Gërdec explosion. The immunity of the former Defense Minister has finally been lifted; the Prosecutor General is conducting investigations, sometimes under attacks from politicians; former employees are on hunger strike claiming for more compensation from the government. How do you see the whole Gërdec affair developing?"
The same reporter questioned Mr Withers ..."There have been reports in the media that munitions from Albania have been transported to Afghanistan, reports implicating the American company AEY. Can you let us know how are investigations in the U.S. proceeding” Has there been cooperation between the American and Albanian prosecutors on this issue?"
To receive the answer - Ambassador: Let me say at the start that under our laws I cannot comment on the substance of any ongoing investigation. What I can tell you is that a very serious investigation is under way, looking at all aspects of this issue, including the role of the company that you cite, AEY, that all avenues of evidence are being looked into. There is cooperation between our authorities and the Albanian authorities to get to the bottom of that matter as well. For the moment, I really cannot say much more than that. But rest assured that, as we advise the Albanian government to conduct an inquiry based on evidence and evidence alone and to prosecute whomever and wherever that evidence leads, we are doing the same.
This is currently to be found on the US Embassy website for Albania ...
Here is a You Tube video of the Gerdec explosion ..which is awesome ..just like Camp Falcon In Baghdad. see Monday, October 23, 2006Network claims Tactical nuke went up in October 11th Falcon Base Camp. Latest reports talk of 26 killed and 300 injured the new Defence Minister Gazmend Oketa decided on some changes ...
.... and last Monday Albanian President Bamir Topi sacked the country's top General Luan Hoxha as well as General Zija Bahja over the Gërdec affair . Defence Minister Fatmir Mediu and another general, Shpetim Spahiu, had already fallen on their swords. (Gjeneral Spahiu: Mediu urdhëroi ndërtimin e Gërdecit)
The US ambassador in Tirana had condemned Albanian’s Premier and Parliament speaker for stalling a probe into an explosion at an army depot on March 15, which killed 26 and wounded over 300 which might have suggested that the explosions at the bse 10 miles from Tirana were not "accidental". Ambassador John L. Withers met Prosecutor General Ina Rama who has repeatedly asked for former defence Minister Fatmir Mediu,immunity to be lifted although the Prime Minister Berisha's silence sits badly with his former promise that no Government official would hide behind parliamentary immunity. Rama mysteriously talks about a flagrant violation in the process of handling munitions involving the employment of children.
Former defence Minister Fatmir Mediu continues to blame the generals who had had approved the location of the operation to deactivate the stored cold war munitions in a village, which lay in a heavily populated area (see comments below).
None of this has anything to do with upgrading the Albanian Coastal defence force, the purchase from Holland for US45Mn of 4 ships one built in Holland and the next three at Vlora Naval Base of Orikumi, built originally for the protection of Russian submarines under the "Varsavia" agreement. (eventually).
Nor even the use of the base for clandestine transportation of the odd person or three to Italy.
It all does make you wonder why the US Ambassador was so anxious to help in concealing the re-packaging of Chinese ammunition that was moving onwards to Afghanistan on a multi million DOD contract with a very lightly capitalised outfit run by a 21 year old entrepreneur ...whose contacts in Albania involve a Mr Kosta Trebicka, and Mr Ylli Pinari Director of Meico, the official arms export agency of Albanian Ministry of Defense and Efraim Diveroli's "alleged telephone conversations" which can hear here along with the complete transcripts.
These were allegedly made by Mr Kosta Trebicka on his Nokia cellphone June 11, 2007 when Diveroli was in Florida and relate to the fact that you "can't play monkey business with the mafia ... and all those fucking guys in Albania"...""Call him up, beg him, kiss him, whatever..." and in another Diveroli tells his Albanian contact. "Send one of your girls to fuck him... Let's get him happy. Maybe he gives you one more chance to do the job. No?" Give him a little money, give him something in his pocket… And he’s not going to get much… If he gets $20,000 from you…
Mind you Efraim does also say in another "overheard conversation" with Kosta Trebicka" "Probably I will be invited in Washington DC from the CIA guys and from my friends over there" also mentioned are Mihal Delijorgji – Albanian “businessman” (contractor for AEY and Southern Ammunition, now under arrest - in Albania )Sali Berisha – Albanian Prime Minister and his son Shkelzen Berisha .
Maybe that's what they teach them at Diplomatic School as well as charm offensives over the canapès.