hard to imagine a cover-up in a case where someone has been charged with a
27-count Federal indictment.
But that’s what’s
happening in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, where the trial of
controversial Guyanese pilot Michael Brassington completed its third
week of testimony last Friday, in what can be viewed as a case study about just
how much of the truth can—and cannot—be spoken in America today.
It’s as if “Son of Sam” serial killer David Berkowitz were on
trial for double-parking his car while committing his string of violent
homicides… but wasn’t being charged with the murders.
We're not suggesting that "the boys" at
Platinum Jet share anything in common with the Son of Sam. Still,
take a look at them. What sort of work would
you recruit them for?
The news the
jurors won’t get to hear includes:
Just three days before the scheduled start of Brassington’s trial,
his attorney filed a pre-trial motion asking U.S.
District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh to exclude testimony mentioning terrorism or
the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
During the investigation into the crash
of the Challenger CL-600 luxury jet flown by Brassington’s Platinum Jet
Management, the motion revealed, the FAA’s lead investigator had an Agent from
the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) “assigned” to be with him
when he interviewed witnesses.
Michael Salnick of West Palm Beach,
Brassington's attorney, requested that this be concealed from the jury.
Of course, this is not the first time
Brassington's name has been mentioned in connection with covert activities, drug
smuggling, terrorism, and matter of national security. More on this shortly.
But first, let's re-visit the scene of
the (latest) crime.
"Its always the 'little people' that get hurt."
started with a Bombardier ChallengerCL-600
jet running off a runway and then through an airport fence before hurtling,
during morning rush hour, across a busy 6-lane highway,clipping the tops off two
cars stopped at a red light,then finally embedding itself into the side of a
“The last thing I saw was the wing coming toward me," Rohan Foster, a
36-year-old father of four, said as he sat in a wheelchair at a hospital in
Teaneck, N.J., his broken nose fitted with an oxygen tube.
He was sitting at a stoplight, Foster
said, when his passenger yelled "Look out! Look out! A plane is coming!"
luxury jet had shot off a runway right in front of them.
Frozen with fear, the two men carpooling to
nearby jobs in a metal finishing plant watched in
horror as the out-of-control jet skidded off the
runway, barreled through the airport fence at 100
MPH, and hurtled toward them across 6-lane Route 46 in New Jersey.
At the hospital, Foster's father,
Lloyd, said, "They ducked. If not, their heads would be gone. The plane
took the top of the car off."
A moment later, the
twin-engine Challenger CL-600
smashed into a warehouse- its wings snapping off like twigs- and burst into
“One passenger in the car remains in
a coma,” reported a local New Jersey newspaper the next day, “while lawyers
wait in the wings.”
"Mum's the word 'bout Wally Hilliard"
was a “rogue” charter jet company
that catered to the ultra-rich and A-List celebrities, everyone from rapper
Jay-Z to football legend Joe Montana; from Bon Jovi to Pavarotti to Celine Dion.
The day before the plane crashed, in fact, Jay-Z and R&B singer Beyonce, who
were apparently an item at the time, were aboard the plane as it flew from Las
Vegas to Teterboro.
fact not likely to be emphasized is that both former Presidents George Bush Sr. and Bill
Clinton were also Platinum charter customers.
Likely to be
left out entirely is the fact
that--even after the crash!-- Brassington continued flying illegal charters, as the
personal pilot of the wildly-corrupt (even by Caribbean standards) Premier of
the Turks and Caicos Islands, Mike Misick, aboard a Gulfstream II luxury jet
owned by a former Clinton White House aide, Jeffrey Watson, who was once called
Clintons’ “go-to guy” in Miami.
Attorney Scott B. McBride presented a carefully-sanitized version
Brassington’s identity, activities, and motives to jurors to explain why he
(allegedly) routinely violating FAA safety rules, and then lied about it
to Federal officials.
as a long-time employee of terror flight school owner Wallace J. Hilliard will
almost certainly go unmentioned.
Evidence will not be presented to show how Brassington’s charter
jet company was his “cover” for a decade-long stint flying drug
and money-laundering flights on luxury jets into and out of the U.S. for a drug
trafficking operation which has been led— since at least the mid-1980’s—by a
corrupt element of America’s political elite which was first exposed in the
Yet that fact is
crucial to understanding why—and how—Brassington was able to thumb his nose to
federal authorities for so long.
"A bit of a sticky wicket, that."
not being addressed is the curious timing of the indictment.
crash which is the centerpiece of the prosecution’s case occurred in February of
2005. Yet Brassington wasn’t charged until three years later…two short weeks
after the Bush Administration left office.
It is highly unlikely that prosecutors
learned anything about the Teterboro crash in 2009 that they didn't
already know by the end of 2005.
So the question becomes:
Why was the Bush Administration protecting from prosecution a foreign
national pilot who had flown charter flights into the U.S. in 2000
As Asst. U.S. Atty McBride is no doubt aware, he is treading through a mine field.
This explains his misleading opening statement to the jury:
“This is a trial
about a company that intentionally jeopardized human lives to save money on jet
fuel, culminating in the 2005 crash of one of its jets at Teterboro Airport,”
McBride told jurors.
“You will hear about
a shockingly reckless game of Russian roulette on the runway … with oblivious
passengers acting as test dummies to increase [the company’s] bottom line,” the
federal prosecutor said at the start of the trial.
"They did it because
they were greedy."
Well, no, not
exactly… The world is filled with greedy
people. Some of them no doubt run charter aircraft companies.
Yet the federal
prosecutor would be hard-pressed to cite any other air charter company which has
displayed anything remotely like the utter contempt for the rule
of law shown by "the boys" at Platinum Jet Management.
Meet Farhad Azima from Iran--and Iran Contra
So if they didn’t do
it because—or just because—they were greedy…what then?
They did it because
they could. They were protected.
"The Friends of Wally Hilliard," there are other cases offering an exact parallel.
Wally Hilliard's Iran Contra connections
begin, of course, with Adnan Khashoggi and his henchman Ramy El-Batrawi.
is another former Iran Contra operative, and business partner of Hilliard's, whose
history of being considered above the law is germane here.
Farhad Azima has an illustrious,
or infamous, CIA pedigree. He and Hilliard
were business partners in a company called
SPATIALIGHT, INC, which had something to do with HD-TV
chips. In any event, it no longer does, because, like literally dozens of
companies associated with this operation, it has gone bankrupt,
its stock is now worth 3/10,oooth of a cent per share.
an Iranian whose family was close to the Shah, owns a cargo airline in Miami and
Kansas City, Global International Air, which
was part of Oliver North's logistical
network, shipping arms—including 23 tons of TOW missiles to Iran—to
the Ayatollah, as well as other Iran Contra swag
left behind by El-Batrawi’s cargo airline.
Azima's relationship with the CIA goes back
to the 1970's. He supplied air and logistical support to EATSCO (Egyptian
American Transport and Services Corporation) a company owned by former CIA
agents Thomas Clines, Theodore Shackley, and Richard Secord, which was
prominently involved in the activities of former CIA agent Edwin Wilson.
Drugs, financial fraud, the CIA, amd "seeming impunity"
Azima's company was even cited for having
chartered a Boeing 707 for the PLO, who used it to ship a load of
weapons to the Sandinistas. There were,
presumably, red faces all around. But then... who knows?
Friend-of-Wally-Hilliard-Azima has in common with
Both had "Get Out of Jail Free" cards.
was broken by ace reporter Pete Brewton
in the Houston Post.
During the Savings & Loan Crisis, a
failed Kansas City bank gave millions of dollars in loans to Farhad Azima.
The IRS asked the Justice Department to
probe Azima's role in the bank's failure.
But, according to former federal prosecutor Lloyd
Monroe, the investigation of Azima's role in the collapse of Indian Springs S &
thwarted because of his alleged ties to the CIA.
Monroe said the CIA told the FBI that Azima
was "off limits" because he
had "CIA connections."
“U.S. authorities probing the
collapse of a small Kansas bank in the mid-1980s had been told by the Federal
Bureau Of Investigation to lay off a key figure because he "had a
get-out-of-jail-free card" from the CIA."
was told that Azima had a get-out-of-jail-free card," an FBI source in the
investigation told The Houston Post in a copyrighted story.
For his pains, Brewton should have won a
Pulitzer Prize. Instead, like Gary Webb, he was run out of journalism. Today he
teaches at a small college in Texas.
"A grave threat to national security."
trial in Federal Court is a ring-side seat to the spectacle of hearing
eyewitnesses testify under oath about an elite group of people who have
been running amok for decades.
And its always the “little people” who pay the price...
Like former U.S. Customs Agent James Sanders, who had a life-changing
encounter with Brassington on the evening of April
6, 2004, at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport.
On a typically balmy night, with a
light breeze coming in off the Atlantic Ocean, the inbound traffic at the US Customs
station at the General Aviation Terminal, bustling during daytime,
There was nothing to alert rookie
Customs Agent Sanders to what was about to occur.
“It was a Tuesday, the slowest day of
the week,” Sanders remembered, “when Mike Brassington came
in. He went through immigration
first. And the immigration inspector had ‘top-stamped’ his
Customs Declaration, which meant he needed to be ‘secondary-ed,’ meaning given
a close inspection.”
A drug smuggling pilot for the owner of
a 9/11 flight school... with clout.
"I was confused. Even the tail number of the
Gulfstream he flew
in on, N60S, had a record in the system. Yet Brassington was waving a letter
from a Customs official in Washington in my face, to convince me to expedite his
“So I called the ICE Agent in Miami who
was listed as the 'point of contact" in Brassington’s file, which means he was basically the
lead agent tracking his movements,” stated former U.S. Customs Agent James
Sanders in an interview for a new documentary, “The New American Druglords.”
“His name was Norm Bright. And Norm
Bright said I was to treat him, Brassington, as a grave threat to national security.
He told me that I needed to check him (BRASSINGTON) search him, and search all
his passengers. And that's what I did."
"I didn't think of him as a terrorist suspect," said Sanders. "I just thought he
was really into drugs, and I needed to check him really close.
about his tr3atment to Jason Ahearn, a top Customs official in Washington.
his diligence, Sanders was fired.
The entire episode
is covered in "The New American Drug Lords.)
Since the discovery that he was the co-pilot on 39 weekly drug flights to South
America and back on a Learjet belonging to the owner of the Florida flight
school attended by Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, the terrorist pilots who
crashed airliners into the two World Trade Center Towers on Sept 11,
Brassington’s exploits have been covered in this space (see box for previous
just the past year, his name has figured prominently in government
investigations in three different countries: the U.S., the Turks & Caicos, and
his native Guyana.
The truth being suppressed about Michael Brassington is starkly visible in a
picture we've received, which was taken in a hanger on the Turks & Caicos