CNN | Feb 2016 | SeaWorld admits its employees spied on PETA

  @CNNMoney
February 25, 2016: 12:44 PM ET

SeaWorld says it will no longer allow its employees to pose as animal rights activists to spy on its critics.

This is the first time that SeaWorld has publicly admitted that its employees did pose as animal rights activists, a charge first made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals last summer.

SeaWorld (SEAS) CEO Joel Manby announced the new policy when talking with investors Thursday. He did not issue any apology for the actions of SeaWorld employees.

“This activity was undertaken in connection with efforts to maintain the safety and security of employees, customers and animals in the face of credible threats,” Manby said.

Manby did not say who in the company authorized employees to spy. He only said that the company conducted an internal investigation when PETA made the allegation.

Paul McComb, the SeaWorld employee named by PETA, was placed on administrative leave during that internal probe. Manby said Thursday that McComb was back at work at the company, though in a different department. He did not give details about his former or current position.

SeaWorld also announced that it has hired Freeh Group International Solutions, a firm headed by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, to help vet its security practices

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Guardian | May 2012 | Banned Iranian terror group lobbies for legitimacy on Capitol Hill

Chris McGreal in Washington
Tuesday 22 May 2012

A banned terrorist group is conducting what members of Congress describe as one of the most effective lobbying campaigns seen on Capitol Hill, winning support from politicians even in the face of a government investigation of its legality.

Former heads of the CIA, FBI, homeland security and the US military have joined members of Congress of both major parties in backing a legal action by the People’s Mujahideen Organisation of Iran, known as the MEK, to be removed from the US list of proscribed terrorist organisations.

But the openness of the campaign and the large amounts of money backing it, with donations to congressional campaign funds and large payments for speeches in support of the MEK, has prompted an investigation into potential breaches of laws against financial dealings with banned organisations and whether the campaign amounts to material support for terrorism.

Among those under investigation are the former chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, General Hugh Shelton, the former FBI director, Louis Freeh, and Michael Mukasey, who, as attorney-general, oversaw the prosecution of terrorism cases.

The heavyweight political backing for the MEK has surprised some US officials because of the organisation’s past as a Marxist-Islamist group responsible for the killing of Americans. At one time the MEK supported the Islamic revolution in Iran.

Double standard

But some critics contend that if the MEK’s supporters were not so powerful, they would face the same treatment as that meted out to less influential Americans jailed after being convicted of supporting terrorism for actions such as offering conflict resolution advice, donating money for schools and rebroadcasting a Hezbollah television station.

Reza Marashi, a former official on the US state department’s Iran desk who was part of the team that reviewed evidence against the MEK and regards the terrorism designation as appropriate, said he is astonished that the group is able to operate so openly.

“My former government colleagues are bewildered by the freedom of movement that a designated terrorist organisation enjoys on Capitol Hill. They’re disgusted by former US government officials willing to make a quick buck by shilling for the MEK,” said Marashi, who is now research director for the National Iranian American Council. “Do we really want to open the door to other terrorist organisations to spend millions of dollars lobbying to get off the terrorist list?”

Among those campaigning for the MEK to be unbanned are former CIA director James Woolsey; former New York mayor Rudolf Giuliani; ex-homeland security chief Tom Ridge; and Barack Obama’s former national security adviser, James Jones.

Cole said he believes that Americans should be free to speak in favour of unbanning the MEK. But he regards it as hypocritical for officials to criminalise similar actions by others.

“The MEK has demonstrated through very, very generous contracts that if you can get a lot of powerful people to speak up for you, you might succeed in getting yourself off the list,” he said. “You need only compare this to the prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation in Dallas, Texas, which was the largest Muslim charity in the United States prior to 9/11. By basically giving aid to build schools and provide healthcare to organisations that were not designated as terrorist, these individuals had committed the crime of supporting terrorism and are spending 65 years in prison.

“There are plenty of people sitting in jail today who were initially investigated by treasury but ultimately prosecuted by the justice department. That said, the people sitting in jail are not people with the power and the connections that Michael Mukasey, Tom Ridge, Ed Rendell, Louis Freeh and Rudi Giuliani have.

“The reality is that people like that are very unlikely to be criminally prosecuted, whereas people without that power and without those connections will be prosecuted and have been. There’s clearly a double standard.”

 

CNN Opinion | Sep 2011 | Take Iran opponent MEK off terror list

By Louis Freeh, Lord Corbett of Castle Vale and Lord Waddington, Special to CNN
September 12, 2011 7:04 p.m. EDT

Editor’s note: Louis Freeh served as director of the FBI from 1993-2001; Lord Corbett of Castle Vale heads the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom; and Rt. Hon. Lord Waddington QC is a former British home secretary and leader of the House of Lords. Freeh has received payment for travel expenses and speaking at conferences organized by groups that want People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran removed from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

In 1997, the Clinton administration added the MEK to the State Department’s blacklist in what a senior administration official, according to the Los Angeles Times, described as a good will gesture to Iran — thought at the time to be moving toward a more moderate form of government. The Bush administration maintained the ban, which many saw as an effort to persuade the Iranians to abandon their nuclear weapons program. But Iran is no closer to moderation and its nuclear ambitions get closer and closer to fulfillment.

Former U.S. officials calling for the MEK to be de-listed include former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, three former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, two former directors of the CIA, former commander of NATO Wesley K. Clark, two former U.S. ambassadors to the U.N., former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, a former White House chief of staff, a former commander of the Marine Corps, former U.S. National Security Adviser Fran Townsend, now a CNN contributor; and even President Obama’s recently retired National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones. Their call is backed by 93 members of Congress, who have signed a bipartisan resolution urging the president to revoke the designation, and by prominent Democratic and Republican leaders such as Howard Dean and Rudy Giuliani.

 

The Intercept | Feb 2015 | House of Cards: Tom Ridge’s Code Rich

Feb. 2 2015

by Ken Silverstein

Tom Ridge was not a rich man when he resigned as the chief of the Department of Homeland Security in 2004. His financial disclosure from that year showed he had investments worth between $100,000 and $815,00 in companies. Though modest by the current standards of senior government officials, those investments included companies “with contracts with his department and others who want to profit from homeland security,” a CQ story said at the time.

Yet soon after leaving government service, Ridge bought a property in Chevy Chase, Maryland worth about $2 million. His home, which was featured in Home & Design, aka “The magazine of luxury homes and fine interiors,” boasts custom interior decorations, including a table designed by the brother of the late Princess Diana, a dining room paneled with “native Sweetgum” and artwork “representative of the Tudor period.”

So how exactly has Ridge made all his money?

….

Soon after leaving government in 2004 (and boasting of “more than 22 consecutive years of public service”) Ridge cashed in on the homeland security gravy train.

Like Louis Freeh and many other former government officials, Ridge has been well paid to speak on behalf of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran, which was designated as a terrorist organization by the United States between 1997 and 2012, and before many other outfits. Other post-government speaking gigs include the North American Commercial Real Estate Congress. (“Tom Ridge is uniquely qualified to discuss the threats facing real estate,” said a promo.)

 

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Las Vegas Review-Journal | Sep 2011 | Freeh, Ridge push legalization

September 15, 2011

By Steve Tetreault

WASHINGTON — Casino corporations that advocate legalizing Internet poker rolled out some big guns Thursday to advance their cause.

An industry-funded coalition introduced former FBI Director Louis Freeh and former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to bolster the argument that federal regulation of online poker would protect consumers and allow authorities to police sites that sponsor games.

Freeh has joined Ridge on the board of FairPlayUSA, an effort launched this summer with startup funding from Caesars Entertainment Inc. and MGM Resorts International to build support to legalize online poker.

Despite indictments this spring targeting three of the largest online poker companies, the former federal law enforcers said current law on Internet gaming has been ineffective.

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ESPN | Nov 2011 | Penn St. panel to investigate abuse case

Penn State’s board of trustees will appoint a special committee to investigate the child sex-abuse case that has shaken the university and threatened to end coach Joe Paterno’s decades-long tenure as football coach.

In a statement Tuesday, the Penn State board said it was “outraged by the horrifying details” of the case and possible cover-up centered on former assistant Jerry Sandusky. The committee will be appointed at the board’s regular meeting Friday, and will closely examine the “circumstances” that resulted in the indictments of Sandusky, athletic director Tim Curley and senior vice president Gary Schultz.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said he plans to attend the meeting, and will examine “what failures occurred and who is responsible and what measures are necessary to ensure” similar mistakes aren’t made in the future.

The board also promised those responsible would be held “fully accountable.”

….

Penn State president Graham Spanier also has lost support among the trustees ahead of Friday’s board meeting, the person said, although precisely how much has been unclear.

Late Tuesday, however, a source close to the situation told ESPN’s Joe Schad that the board has weighed the possibility of having former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge replace the embattled Spanier.

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Star Tribune | Jan 2016 |Millions of dollars, wild cast of characters in bitter Edina divorce

By John Reinan
JANUARY 9, 2016 — 6:49PM

It’s not your typical Edina divorce.

Not when it includes Middle Eastern royalty, a former head of the FBI and the wealthy businessman who bought Neiman Marcus suits for Norm Coleman.

The monumental separation battle between Nader and Jibil Kazeminy has ground on for more than three years, involving four judges, dozens of attorneys, mountains of court documents and millions in legal fees.

The couple is already divorced. What’s at issue in the trial, set to begin Monday, is whether Jibil Kazeminy is entitled to continue living in the manner to which she’s become accustomed.

Veteran Minneapolis attorney William Skolnick, who represents Jibil, said he’s never seen anything like it.

“This case is not unusual,” Skolnick said. “It’s very, very unusual.”

Nader Kazeminy, 51, is the son of Nasser Kazeminy, an Iranian-born multimillionaire who surfaced as Coleman’s benefactor during his hard-fought 2008 U.S. Senate campaign against Al Franken.

Nader Kazeminy’s ex-wife, Jibil, 53, was born into a prominent Iranian family and fled the country as a teenager during the Islamic Revolution.

Nasser Kazeminy drew widespread attention when he admitted giving gifts worth more than $100,000 — including suits from Neiman Marcus — to Coleman, then a U.S. senator. Nasser Kazeminy hired former FBI Director Louis Freeh to investigate the gifts; Freeh issued a report saying they weren’t illegal.

Days after Freeh concluded his investigation, court documents show, Nasser Kazeminy gave Freeh’s wife a half-interest in a penthouse condominium on Worth Drive in Palm Beach, Fla., perhaps the most prestigious oceanfront address in the wealthy resort area.

Chris Madel, an attorney for Nasser Kazeminy, said that Freeh in fact paid for half the condo. Madel said Nasser Kazeminy made the deal “because he likes to have everyone visit near his home in Florida and they all benefit from the anticipated appreciation in the property.”

Freeh later became a trustee of Nader Kazeminy’s trust funds, a job in which he apparently took little interest.

“He was not all that informed about anything,” a special magistrate handling the divorce case said in a hearing after Freeh testified about his management of the trusts.

Freeh isn’t the only powerful official in the Kazeminys’ orbit. The board of GreenZone Systems, a Kazeminy-affiliated company, includes former CIA Director James Woolsey and the nation’s first Homeland Security secretary, former congressman and Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge.

“These are the kind of powerful people who are against me,” Jibil Kazeminy said.

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