Susan Lindauer

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Susan Lindauer

Progressive communication network

Progressive Communication Network March 5, 2016:

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See More — with Susan Lindauer, David Palmer, Roberta Baralis Paul, Andrew Carter, Dylan Ratigan, Alexis Chita, James E. F. Riley, Robert Malin, Nanny F. Baker, Francesca Fiore, Pam Pendergraft, Robert Bruce Rodgers, Brian Stetten, Barbara Wildes, Robert Connors, Jeff Carlson, Paul Bohannon, Julie Kindle Driscoll, Brian Alger, Dan Liftman, Edward James Olmos, Alfred Rogers, Joel V. Fears, Jr., Monica Puig, Mike Deren, Jr., Joe Kreps and Carol Porter.

Iraqi agent?

On the morning of March 11, 2004, Susan Lindauer woke to find five F.B.I. agents at her front door. After reading her her rights, the agents took Lindauer from her home in Takoma Park, Md., to the F.B.I. field office in Baltimore, where she was charged with having acted as an unregistered agent of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government and otherwise having elevated the interests of a foreign country above her allegiance to the United States.

Seated on the shady porch of her tumbledown cottage, overlooking a purple azalea bush, Lindauer was alternately pensive and bubbly as she talked about her encounter with the F.B.I. On her knees, she balanced a photo album, which contained photographs of her wild years in Alaska, where she grew up, and her time as an undergraduate at Smith College, where she majored in economics. She showed me pictures of her mother, Jackie, who died of cancer after Susan graduated from college, and her father, John, an academic economist who once ran on the Republican ticket for governor of Alaska.

Having grown up in a household in which public policy was frequently the stuff of dinner-table conversation and impassioned family arguments, Lindauer wanted to helpchange the world. The way she chose to do so, however, was not by signing petitions or marching in demonstrations, but by engaging in the kinds of clandestine encounters that you read about in spy novels -- meeting foreign diplomats, passing along secret messages and engaging in other activities that would eventually lead to her arrest. I'm what they call a useful idiot, she said with a laugh. According to the federal charges filed against her by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Lindauer repeatedly violated U.S. law beginning in 1999 by meeting with Iraqi diplomats at the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations in New York and with agents of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Intelligence Service (I.I.S.). She was also indicted for accepting money from the Iraqis and traveling to Baghdad, where she met with Iraqi intelligence agents, in violation of federal law. From on or about Feb. 23, 2002, through on or about March 7, 2002, the indictment charged, Susan Lindauer, aka 'Symbol Susan,' met with several I.I.S. officers in Iraq, including at the Al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad, and received cash payments of approximately $5,000.00.

The press was quick to identify Lindauer as an Iraqi spy.

I'm an antiwar activist, and I'm innocent, Lindauer told WBAL-TV as she was led to a car outside the F.B.I. field office in Baltimore. I did more to stop terrorism in this country than anybody else. In a moment of crisis, it seemed, having just been fingerprinted and charged with betraying her country, Lindauer was acting the way a person might act in a dream, blurting out the constituent parts of her fractured reality into a waiting microphone.

The substance of the government's case against Susan Lindauer was contained in the indictment. While Lindauer was not accused of espionage, as initial reports of her arrest suggested, the government did charge her with a serious crime, even if the charge itself may seem like a technicality. By failing to register herself formally as a lobbyist and by supposedly following instructions from Iraqi diplomats and intelligence agents at the United Nations, the government charged, Lindauer had been acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government, a violation of federal law that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Lindauer acknowledges that the meetings detailed in the federal indictment took place, but denies acting as an agent of Iraq or any other country.[1]

Background

On paper, at least, there is little to distinguish Lindauer from hundreds of other bright young people who come to Washington in the hope of making a difference. She graduated from Smith in 1985 and then went to the London School of Economics, where she earned a master's degree and developed an interest in the Arab world. In 1990, she went to Washington, where she briefly worked as a journalist and then as a press secretary for liberal Democrats in the House and Senate, including Ron Wyden and Carol Moseley Braun. None of her jobs lasted more than a year. Her most recent job on Capitol Hill, as a press secretary for Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, ended in May 2002.

The case against her

Writing press releases often seemed less important to Lindauer than her own one- woman campaign to advance the cause of nonviolence in the Muslim world. Lindauer's highly individual brand of politics combined passions that were commonly identified with opposite poles of the political spectrum during the 90's. While she opposed sanctions on Libya and Iraq, she was also eager to awaken the West to the gathering threat posed by Middle Eastern terrorist organizations. In pursuit of her ideals, she says, she began traveling to New York as often as twice a week, meeting with diplomats from Muslim countries, including Yemen and Malaysia, as well as representatives of Libya and Iraq. Her aim, as she explained it, was to function as a handholder and cheerleader, an unofficial go-between who could help break the cycle of isolation, paranoia and suffering created by sanctions.

U.S. intelligence knew what I was doing, she said when I asked her about the precise nature of her contacts with the Libyans and the Iraqis. You see, the thing is, it's very hard to have these relationships, and so, when you have them, there are people who are very interested in the fact that you have them, who also want something from them, too.

Evidentiary material contained on a stack of compact disks turned over to her by the government included wiretapped conversations with friends, neighbors, foreign diplomats and fellow activists.

Among the documents was a transcript of a telephone conversation with Muthanna al-Hanooti, the president of Focus on American and Arab Interests and Relations, a nonprofit organization in Southfield, Mich., dated July 30, 2003, two days before the Arab-American activist made one of his frequent trips to Iraq. During the call, Lindauer praised al-Hanooti for being a man who believes in peace and exhorted him to stay with God -- just stay with God. As the conversation continued, al-Hanooti seemed to hover between impatience and boredom. Other people are doing bad things, and they may try to use you as cover for bad things, Lindauer said. So don't let them.

It's a very delicate balance, as you know, al-Hanooti replied. But, ah, we'll do our best, you know. We'll do our best.

There were also other conversations the F.B.I. recorded that seem to suggest that Lindauer had other motivations for pursuing the work she did.

He does not know about my visions -- he will never know about my visions, O.K.? she said, speaking to an undercover F.B.I. agent about another acquaintance. You're probably the only person you're going to meet other than my closest friend at the Iraqi Embassy who knows these things, O.K.? So don't ever talk about it with anyone.

Susan Lindauer said she started making visits to the Libyan Mission to the United Nations in 1995 and started meeting with Iraqis at the United Nations in 1996. The F.B.I. first began tapping Lindauer's phone and intercepting her e-mail in July 2002, she said. A year and a half earlier, Lindauer contacted Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff, with letters containing what purported to be secret diplomatic communiques from the government of Iraq to the incoming Bush administration.

Lindauer reached out to Card, she explained, because he is a distant cousin on her father's side of the family. She said she believed that the fate of the world depended on the sensitive communications she dropped on the doorstep of his house in suburban Virginia.

One of Lindauer's earliest notes was left at Card's home on Dec. 23, 2000, a decade after sanctions were imposed on Iraq and a month before George W. Bush took office.

Lindauer gave reporter David Samuels, a letter to support her contention that she was working as a back channelbetween the governments of Iraq and the United States. The letter was addressed to Vice President-elect Cheney, and in it Lindauer presented the fruits of what shen described as a private Nov. 26, 2000, meeting with Saeed Hasan, then the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations.

Ambassador Hasan has asked me to communicate to you that Iraq most vigorously wishes to restore healthy, peaceful relations with the United States, including economic and cultural ties, Lindauer wrote. At our meeting, Ambassador Hasan demonstrated a pragmatic understanding that the United States requires the reinstatement of weapons monitoring in order to lift the sanctions. Ambassador Hasan, she said, had also emphasized that Iraq is ready to guarantee critical advantages for U.S. corporations at all levels.

Fuisz confirmed that he saw Lindauer about once a week on average between 1994 and 2001 and that she would drop by to talk to him about her personal life as well as about her contacts with the Libyans and the Iraqis. She would drift into the office fairly often, or call. Usually those weren't just social calls. Those were calls about what she was doing, or trying to do, Fuisz explained. In the early years, her activism generally took an approach which was Arabist, but Arabist from the standpoint of trying to lift sanctions, so that children would do better, and trying to get medicines into countries -- principally I'm talking about Iraq and Libya.

After Sept. 11, 2001, Lindauer was no longer a welcome visitor to his office. Susan, in her discussions, went from benign, in my opinion, to malignant, he said. These discussions changed and now involved a very strong seditious bent.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, Lindauer became a frequent visitor to the Iraqi Mission in New York. During a Sept. 18, 2001, trip to the mission, she had what she described in a letter to Card, the White House chief of staff, as a short, tense conversation with Hasan's successor, Ambassador Mohammad Al-Douri, in the embassy foyer. There's starting to be talk in Washington about Iraq's possible involvement in this attack,

Lindauer told Card she said to Al-Douri.It is not possible, Al-Douri is said to have replied. It is the Mossad who says this.

The ambassador, she wrote, sounded abrupt and confident and stern. When Lindauer warned him not to do anything that would jeopardize the lifting of sanctions, the ambassador seemed surprised.

Of course! she recalled him as saying. We are ready for talks at any time.

In that same letter, she described coming back to New York to receive a communication from Baghdad addressed to me -- a message saying that the panic- stricken Iraqis were willing to meet any American official in a covert or in covert manner to discuss the common issues.

In October 2001, according to the federal indictment, she met with officers of Iraqi intelligence in New York. On Dec. 2, Lindauer wrote to Card again, to convey further news: The Iraqis were willing to permit the return of weapons inspectors and offered other concessions. These are not intended to limit the universe of possibilities, Andy, she wrote.

The picture that emerges from Lindauer's letters is of Iraqi diplomats trying to feel their way through a fog. It is hard to judge what any of her messages from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry might mean, however, since they could be read only through the haze of Lindauer's naive and self-aggrandizing personality. In February 2002, soon after President Bush delivered his State of the Union address naming Iraq part of an axis of evil, the Iraqis invited Lindauer to Baghdad.

It was beautiful, she said of Al Rashid Hotel, where she stayed between her meetings with Iraqi officials. I had a suite, so it was very nice.'

There were bo further messages to Andrew Card after this point.[2]

9/11?

One conversation John Lindauer had with his sister in the summer of 2001 stuck in his mind for. So she goes, 'Listen, the gulf war isn't over...There are plans in effect right now. They will be raining down on us from the skies.' His sister told him that Lower Manhattan would be destroyed. And I was like, Yeah, whatever, he continued. When he woke up six weeks later to the news that two planes had crashed into the twin towers, and watched as ash settled on the window ledge of his sublet in Brooklyn, he had a dislocating sense of having his reality replaced by Susan's strange world -- an experience he would have again when he learned that his sister had been arrested by the F.B.I.

Parke Godfrey, a close friend of Lindauer's for the last 15 years, is a professor of computer science at York University in Ontario. He says that Lindauer warned him not to take a job at N.Y.U. the summer before the Sept. 11 attacks. That Lindauer's outlandish predictions actually came true, Godfrey suggests, further encouraged the exalted sense of personal mission that brought her to Washington in the first place.

Susan is perfectly capable, in certain ways, to live a reasonable life, to take care of herself, to get around, and at any localized time, sitting at dinner, she's completely coherent, he said, skirting the blunt layman's question of whether his friend is playing with all her marbles. It's in these longer-term views of memory, in what she remembers, in how she's pieced the world together, that she functions unlike the way anyone else does, Godfrey concluded. It's not the same mental model that you and I use.[3]

Jihad

There is now a jihad, Susan Lindauer told Samuels. Tragically, stupidly, we started it. We launched the first attack, which was unrighteous, and vicious and sadistic, and we are going to pay for this mistake. I think the Islamic world now is going to burn.

Lindauer detailed the horrific abuses, the sexual torture being visited on innocent Iraqis by coalition troops. That is why, she explained, in June 2003 she met with an F.B.I. agent posing as a Libyan intelligence officer who, according to the indictment, purported to be seeking to support resistance groups in postwar Iraq. Lindauer said that in those meetings she was seeking financial backing for a lawsuit against the United States and British governments for crimes she claimed they committed during the occupation of Iraq. She continued to exchange e-mail with the undercover agent until she was arrested.[4]

Beginnings

The winding path that led Lindauer to the door of the Iraqi Mission to the United Nations began in November 1993 at a diner in Virginia, where she met a friend of her father's, a woman who worked as the chief of staff for a Republican member of Congress. Worried that Lindauer was lonely, her father's friend brought another lonely guest, Paul Hoven, a gentle Army veteran who had piloted attack helicopters in combat in Vietnam. He was interested in spies and spying.

You guys say you're peace activists, Lindauer recalled Hoven telling her that night.

'You say you're liberal do-gooders. What exactly are you doing? You do nothing. You're not active. You're passive.' And that conversation was probably one of the most important dinner conversations of my life.

It was Hoven who gave Lindauer the nickname Snowflake, which was quick to catch on among an informal circle of Capitol Hill staff members and intelligence-community enthusiasts who gathered every Thursday night at a Hunan restaurant across the street from the Heritage Foundation. I'm the one who named her Snowflake, because she's from Alaska and she's nuts, Hoven told me. In addition to feeling sorry for Lindauer, he was taken with her unusual mind. She seems to have the ability to take unrelated facts and string them together, to the point where you're left with, Gee, it probably happened that way. For her part, Lindauer says that she enjoyed leading a double life, working for liberals during the day and hanging out with conservatives interested in counterterrorism at night.

Not long after their first dinner, Hoven introduced Lindauer to his friend Dr. Richard Fuisz, a globe-trotting Virginia-based businessman whom Lindauer described to me asmy contact in the C.I.A.

Lindauer's first meeting with Fuisz plunged her into a thicket of conflicting theories about the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The government blamed Libya for the bombing, and Libya later agreed to pay $2.7 billion to the families of the victims. There were others in the Washington intelligence community who said they believed that the real culprit was the terrorist Ahmed Jabril, who was based in Syria. Lindauer says that Fuisz told her at that first meeting that he knew who was responsible for the bombing. Dr. Fuisz has said that he can confirm absolutely that no Libyan national was involved in planning or executing the bombing of Pan Am 103, she later wrote in an account of their initial meeting. If the government would let me, she quoted Fuisz as saying, I could identify the men behind this attack today. I was investigating on the ground, and I know.

Several months after she first met with Fuisz, Lindauer met with Libyan diplomats in New York in order to share with them the story she claims she got from Fuisz. She says she hoped her story would clear Libya of responsibility for the attack.

Lindauer's decision to drive to New York and visit the Libyans, she says, was also motivated in part by her deep personal faith in God, the all-powerful, all- encompassing spirit that she had known since she was a child.[5]

References

  1. [The New York Times August 29, 2004 Susan Lindauer's Mission To Baghdad, By David Samuels.SECTION: Section 6; Column 1; Magazine Desk; Pg. 25]
  2. [The New York Times August 29, 2004 Susan Lindauer's Mission To Baghdad, By David Samuels.SECTION: Section 6; Column 1; Magazine Desk; Pg. 25]
  3. [The New York Times August 29, 2004 Susan Lindauer's Mission To Baghdad, By David Samuels.SECTION: Section 6; Column 1; Magazine Desk; Pg. 25]
  4. [The New York Times August 29, 2004 Susan Lindauer's Mission To Baghdad, By David Samuels.SECTION: Section 6; Column 1; Magazine Desk; Pg. 25]
  5. [The New York Times August 29, 2004 Susan Lindauer's Mission To Baghdad, By David Samuels.SECTION: Section 6; Column 1; Magazine Desk; Pg. 25]