John McCain makes occasional mention of his friend, Admiral Chuck Larson, whose distinguished career includes the command of nuclear submarines and the management of the Naval Academy.
Not as well known but by no means concealed is Larson’s link to Washington’s ViaGlobal Group, the successor company to ViaFinance and Galway Partners.
In 2004, ViaGlobal was serving as the “business incubator” for Rosetta Research and Consulting LLC, best known as the company involved in luring Afghan tribal chieftain and accused drug kingpin Haji Bashar Noorzai to the U.S., where he was arrested in April of 2005.
Rosetta’s Department of Defense sponsors, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld, brokered an introduction to CNN military commentator General David Grange, who serves as an advisor to ViaGlobal.
Grange made the initial arrangements between Rosetta, represented by former Katten Muchin Zavis Rosenman partner and ex-NSC attorney Joseph Myers, now with the International Monetary Fund, and ViaGlobal’s chairman, Frank Gren.
Another former Katten Muchin Zavis Rosenman partner, Carole Van Cleefe, brokered a deal between Rosetta and Oracle. Oracle project managers Barbara Bleiweiss and Peter Bloom attempted to establish a joint venture using an existing contract vehicle with the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force (FTTTF), but was unsuccessful due to Rosetta’s cost demands.
Gren and his colleagues sought to obtain additional funding for Rosetta, as millions of dollars in investment money had been spent on payments to secure the confidence of Noorzai. Myers, Gren, and others sought sources of funding such as a contract with the FBI as well as an investment from fallen tobacco lawyer Dickie Scruggs.
ViaGlobal appears to have used McCain, acting through staffer Chris Paul, to divert a 2004 FBI internal investigation into dealings between Rosetta contractors and certain FBI employees. This was the subject of a meeting held with the FBI’s Deputy Director John Pistole in late 2004. Paul convinced Pistole and others at the FBI that Rosetta and ViaGlobal were pursuing Noorzai, a “high value target” designated by Bush as part of an operation ordered by Rumsfeld and overseen by Wolfowitz. Since an FBI investigation would disrupt the operation, Pistole relented.
Nonetheless, in mid 2006, the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General conducted an investigation into criminal activities of the same FBI employees. Rosetta’s phone, email, and contractual records were subpoenaed. In addition, several Rosetta officials and advisors were questioned for several weeks.
Papers filed as part of the Noorzai case show that Rosetta, acting under the orders of senior U.S. officials, promised Noorzai he would not be arrested. Rosetta also paid substantial sums to various foreign government officials who then lied to Noorzai about the actual purpose of the meetings. Noorzai had been indicted as a drug kingpin, and since efforts to secure his cooperation in other matters had failed, the decision was made to bring him to the United States and arrest him.
The papers also show that Rosetta sought and obtained in excess of ten million dollars from investors, who believed they were investing in a security company.
Instead, the money was being used to finance the lavish and extensive travel needed to locate Noorzai and gain his confidence. The investors are understandably upset, but since the Rosetta principals are known only as “Mike” and “Brian” no success has been had in locating them.
Rosetta also had improper relationships with a handful of FBI employees, who were later investigated for contributing to Rosetta’s alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices and Neutrality Acts.
As part of the incubation arrangement, ViaGlobal sought to obtain ownership of Rosetta’s proprietary database of terrorist financiers as well as access to the extensive network of contacts in the Middle East developed as part of the dealings with Noorzai.