The 60 Minutes hatchet job that Lara Logan aired last month and then had to retract because it was based on a lie was most likely based on information fed to her and her colleagues not by the person she interviewed on air, but most likely by the person she sleeps with at home. Notice how Joseph W. Burkett, Logan’s husband, who has a shady background and an unnamed employer is a stay at home dad with nannies and hired help; shades of David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell where authors of the printed word meet commanders of military might to produce fanciful fiction designed to encourage imperialism. In Logan’s case both inhabit the same dwelling.
Nobody at 60 Minutes has been fired or even publicly disciplined for its odd, inflammatory and dead-wrong October 27 story on the Islamist assault in Benghazi that killed U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. But it has apologized. That mea culpa, however, left some large and troubling questions unanswered; the most important one is how CBS’s superstar correspondent, Lara Logan, her producer and other network news executives let security contractor Dylan Davies on the air with his explosive tale about what he did and saw during that attack.
While Davies was the central on-camera personality in that report, the most interesting figure in this mystery was never on screen, nor listed as a contributor to the piece. It is Logan’s husband, Joseph W. Burkett, a former Army sergeant and onetime employee of a private intelligence outfit hired by the Pentagon to plant pro-U.S. stories in the Iraqi media in 2005.
One recent account implied that Burkett, 42, was the Svengali behind the now infamous story that pinned responsibility for the Benghazi attack on al Qaeda, without citing any sources.
“He was an employee of the Lincoln Group, a now-shuttered ‘strategic communications and public relations firm’ hired by the Department of Defense in 2005 to plant positive stories written by American soldiers in Baghdad newspapers during the Iraq War,” the website Gawker reported.
The Gawker account also implied Burkett was a key operator in the covert action. A source intimately familiar with Burkett’s family told Newsweek that he regularly suggested he was some sort of super-spook.
According to an internal company document obtained by Newsweek, the Lincoln Group specialized in producing films, news clips, and print stories in Baghdad that would be fed to the media through cutouts on an unattributed basis, making them appear as originating from legitimate news organizations.
During the 2006 battle for Fallujah, “Our development of documentaries of the Fallujah campaign and our ability to develop non-Coalition attributable messages enabled us to reach out to the Iraqi audience,” the document says. “This multifaceted project produced content for Western, Arab, and Iraqi audiences and is still ongoing. For each audience we have identified content and formatting that is appropriate andnon-attributable to the actual source.” (Italics added.)
But others who claim to have known Burkett in Baghdad paint a starkly different portrait of the former enlisted man, one more akin to the role Steve McQueen played as a gofer for army supply sergeant Jackie Gleason in Soldier in the Rain.
According to a source intimately familiar with his family, Burkett routinely implied, without foundation, that he was a key player in classified operations in Iraq.
“He’s what we call a puffer – he puffs himself up,” said the source, on condition of anonymity. “He alluded to top-secret work, but he didn’t make as much money as a truck driver over there. He had some kind of minuscule position.… He was kind of an errand person or something like that.”
Besides, the source says, “People who are spies don’t really tell people they’re spies.”
When Logan and Burkett began their affair in Baghdad, he was married and she was in a relationship. They were married in 2008. “I knew him for about six years before we got together,” she told The New York Times in a soft-focus feature in 2012. “He had a very secretive job, and I always respected that. I know tons of people in that world, and I never ask them questions because it’s a violation right there.”
“He never crossed my boundaries,” Logan said of Burkett. “I never crossed his.”
After Logan was named CBS’s chief foreign correspondent, she purchased a $1.5 million home in D.C., which she now shares with Burkett and their two children. When asked for comment on Wednesday at the couple’s Cleveland Park home, Burkett angrily ushered me out the door. (CBS also declined to comment.)
Since returning from Iraq, Burkett appears to have cut ties with Lincoln and its various corporate permutations, but he has clearly kept a hand in the world of security contractors. In 2011, according to Texas public records, he was listed as “managing member” of Janus Lares Associates, an Austin-based ammunition dealer. (Burkett is from a prominent family in Kerrville.) In 2011, he was also named as the “governing person” of Sakom Services LLC in San Marcos, Texas, which lists an office in the UAE, whose owner-director is Justin Penfold, a U.K.-based “subject matter expert in the security industry” with experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Whatever Burkett is doing now, it doesn’t appear to be a full-time job. When New York Times reporter Sally Singer interviewed Logan at her home last year, she identified Burkett as a “work-at-home Congressional liaison,” without noting his employer. When I spoke to him midday on Wednesday, Burkett was home in jeans and a T-shirt, having just emerged from the shower, helping take care of the couple’s two kids with paid helpers in the kitchen and the backyard.
“Congressional liaison” is another way of saying lobbyist, but a search of public records did not reveal Burkett’s name. Nor did his name pop up in a search of the Justice Department’s registered foreign agents.
None of this would matter or even be a topic of conversation had Logan’s Benghazi story not included so many errors, documented most thoroughly by McClatchy Newspaper’s Cairo correspondent Nancy A. Youssef.
The unmasking of security contractor Davies as a fabricator was the starting point for Youssef and other critics, but what stood out for them was Logan’s unsourced allegations pinning responsibility for the attack solely on al Qaeda, and in particular, operatives with close ties to Osama Bin Laden. The effect of such allegations is to once again undermine the Obama administration’s position that the attack had local origins and came as a surprise, and that all that made rescuing the besieged Americans very difficult, if not impossible. And the 60 Minutes broadcast was hardly off the air when South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, a persistent critic of the administration for its handling of the Benghazi attack, declared he would block all of Obama’s nominations for government posts until he got more answers.
The State Department and CIA have conducted extensive internal investigations that, to unbiased observers, persuasively debunk charges of an orchestrated cover-up of the events in Benghazi.
Asked about the 60 Minutes report this week, a senior U.S. intelligence official toldNewsweek that, based on what U.S. intelligence has learned, “members of several militia groups and al Qaeda linked affiliates participated in the attack.” However, he added on the condition of anonymity, since he was discussing a still-sensitive matter, “even though it has yet to be determined who called the shots, I have not seen any credible information that it was core al Qaeda.”
So why did Logan put that story on the air? Her pro-military bias is as well known, but so is her mettle – she’s worked in some of those most dangerous parts of war-ravaged Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt, where she was sexually assaulted by a mob. She won an Emmy for one of her Iraq reports.
In other words, she’s a smart, tough, experienced reporter. And the producer and writers and reporters who helped her put this Benghazi story together are honored, respected professionals, many of whom have been covering the region for years. Whoever fooled them, whoever convinced them that al Qaeda orchestrated that attack on the U.S. embassy, had to be smart, incredibly persuasive and savvy about the media. And unquotable.
In other words, an intelligence source. And the person closest to Logan with those credentials is her husband. But he’s not talking.
- Lara Logan’s Husband Was a Propagandist for the U.S. Military (kstreet607.com)
The following editorial is not unique to Saudi Arabia, rather it’s an Arab Gulf mentality that is steeped in tribalism and nationalism and from the looks of the comments generates intense feelings among many of the people who live there. I remarked after reading it, what would the king of Abyssinia or the people of Medina say to the nascent Islamic community that came to them seeking shelter from the oppression of the Quraish; would there even be an Islamic community if they were not afforded freedom from oppression that all mankind is entitled? If these two diverse communities of faithful….the Christian king of then Abyssinia or the at that time faithless people of Medina (Yathrib) had not been forthcoming with this fundamental right would there even be a Saudi Arabia today? Of course one could not know that….but equally certain, the all encompassing faith of Islam cannot coexist with the racialism of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Read on and then take time to read the comments posted after the article
Since the beginning of the campaign against illegal workers, some foreigners who were born in the Kingdom or spent years working here have started calling on the authorities to consider granting them Saudi citizenship.
Those born in the Kingdom argue that they have spent most of their lives here, speak Arabic and adapted to its culture. They say it would be very difficult to adjust in their home countries.
This sounds to be a valid argument if one was born in a developed industrialized nation. In those countries, a foreigner makes efforts to assimilate in society by learning local languages and adapting to its ways of life.
However, in most Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia most foreigners rarely interact with locals and if they do, they communicate in a language, which is a mix of badly spoken Arabic and sign language. It could be termed gibberish. Moreover, almost every ethnic group lives nearly in complete isolation from the rest of the local community, and other ethnic groups. Every group lives in self-designated neighborhoods busy with its communal activities. For instance, Ethiopians mostly inhabit Riyadh’s neighborhood Manfouha.
In such neighborhoods, there are community schools that only teach their own curriculum instead of using Saudi textbooks. The students only engage with those from the same ethnic background and are deprived of any possibility of interacting with Saudi children. Moreover, communal activities are limited to the same group, including social visitations and functions, as well as religious celebrations, such as Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. These communities even have their medial care and business systems, which cater specifically to their needs. How could a person living in such a social and economic setup hopes to become a Saudi, not to mention if that person is living illegally in the country?
On the other hand, there are those who claim that they have lived long years in the country enough to earn the right to Saudi citizenship. But for decades they have taken away jobs that rightfully belong to the Saudis and yet they demand citizenship.
In my opinion, it would be a grave mistake to grant foreigners Saudi citizenship on any basis. These demands run counter to the objectives of Saudization of the labor market, which is controlled by foreigners with skills that can be found among the local population or Saudis can be trained to occupy these jobs.
Observers may recall that when the new naturalization law was introduced a few years back, the naturalized citizens were flocking to government’s financial institutions seeking loans of all types and to even avail themselves of the benefits of Hafez, a program that provides monthly stipends to the unemployed. One can obviously conclude that the primary purpose for seeking citizenship is to acquire monetary benefits rather than a genuine sentiment of belonging to the Saudi society. We have seen in the past that thousands of foreigners succeeded in obtaining Saudi citizenship and most of them started their businesses in various areas. Interestingly, when one visits their establishments, one would find people belonging to their native countries only.
This situation has been exacerbated by the investment law that permitted foreigners with almost trivial financial resources to invest in projects that have no added value to the economy or in the employment of Saudis. Nevertheless, they are eligible to receive all economic benefits. One of the consequences of opening doors to foreign investors is that they began operating as monopolies. Ubiquitously known among Saudis, each ethnic group controls a particular type of trade, and does not like outside competition. When a Saudi decides to start a new business, such groups work to drive this person out of business or force him to sell his business project to the group. Moreover, these ethnically dominated businesses only hire staff belonging to the same group. In case they hire a Saudi national, it is because of the labor law, and eventually this person would be driven out of his job by creating uncomfortable environment or by alienating and undermining his skills and potentials.
The local press frequently reports the same methods being practiced by most foreigners at managerial or mid-level positions in the private sector. It is not hard to imagine what such elements would do to Saudis if they were granted citizenship.
The Saudi education system and various training programs have produced thousands of competent graduates for the job market. They can easily occupy most of the managerial and mid-level jobs currently occupied by individuals from the developing countries. Hence, the cause of the massive unemployment of Saudis is not due to a lack of skills; it is because of an unfriendly environment and the continuous undermining of the skills and potentials of the Saudi youth by foreigners, pushing them away from their rightful jobs.