In the view of the Subcommittee, the real story of Ed Rogers' involvement in the BCCI scandal has yet to be fully revealed. Rogers, a former White House Political Director, left his position at the White House in early August 1991 to start the political consulting firm of Rogers and Barbour in Washington D.C. By the end of August Rogers, who had only briefly practiced law, was offered a $600,000 contract with Kamal Adham.
Rogers was deposed by the Subcommittee in March 1992. His account of how he received the contract with Adham, who he consulted before accepting Adham as a client, and his relationship to Adham after withdrawing from the contract, are all called into question by his telephone logs, documents provided to the Subcommittee and interviews conducted by the Subcommittee.
Rogers described to the Subcommittee the events leading up to his representation of Kamal Adham. According to Rogers, in mid-August after he left the White House, a friend of his, the General Manager at the Grand Hotel, Samir Darwisch, called him to tell him that "his friend Moussa Raphael was in town looking for lawyers and asked me if I would please come by the hotel and meet him."(1) Rogers stated that he knew Darwish from "being around the hotel and events at the hotel."(2) Rogers said while at the White House he went to the hotel "once every couple of weeks." He also explained that the Hotel's owner, Joe Yazbek, had been to the White House, to discuss "events in Lebanon" with then White House Chief of Staff, John Sununu. At some point Rogers learned that Moussa Raphael was the lawyer for the Mr. Yazbek's business interests.
Rogers says that when Darwish first called him he did not mention the name Kamal Adham, but Rogers was nonetheless sufficiently interested by Darwish's invitation that he met with Raphael that same night at the Grand Hotel. According to Rogers, Raphael "provided a general overview of what was doing here on behalf of the sheik, in order to organize the sheik's legal affairs." The general overview included "the problems that were relevant to the sheik, or First American, BCCI," and, testified Rogers, at some point Raphael "must have" identified Plato Cacheris as the criminal defense lawyer for Adham.(3) In his testimony Rogers did not indicate whether Raphael discussed the Sheik's financial affairs in the United States.
After meeting with Raphael, Rogers discussed the possibility of representing Adham with his partner, former political director of the Reagan White House, Haley Barbour. They decided, however, that before accepting the account, Rogers should get more information on Adham.
Rogers has provided at least three different accounts of whom he consulted before accepting the Adham account. In his letter to White House Counsel Boyden Gray on October 28, Rogers stated, "Prior to agreeing to represent Mr. Adham, I made inquiries about him among former government officials and people in the private sector who have had dealings in Saudi Arabia. Invariably those who knew or knew of Mr. Adham said he was a man of stature and prestige in the region and that he had the respect of Americans who had dealt with him in the past."(4)
On December 18, 1991, Rogers was contacted by Subcommittee staff concerning prospective testimony to the Subcommittee. During the conversation, Rogers indicated that he "checked out Adham with a guy who does business in the Middle East, checked him out with a widely respected former government official, and finally talked to two other former government officials." Rogers claimed that each of these contacts urged him to take the account, noting that with his experience he would not be getting offers from non-controversial entities like "Quaker Oats."(5)
In his deposition with the Subcommittee, Rogers indicated that he only contacted Sam Bamieh, a businessman and Sandra Charles, a mid-level former NSC and Defense Department staffer. Rogers explained the discrepancies in the following way: "Perhaps as I prepared that [his letter to Boyden Gray] I used those two people as plural, but I don't have any recollection of talking to other people."(6)
Although there is some difference of opinion between Rogers and White House Counsel Boyden Gray as to exactly when in early August Rogers left the White House, Rogers' office phone logs at Rogers and Barbour indicate that on August 5th, he placed a phone call to Mr. Sam Bamieh at Intertrade Group in San Mateo, California. According to Mr. Gray, Rogers officially left the White House on August 6, the day after phone records show Rogers called Bamieh.
Sam Bamieh is someone whom Rogers has indicated that he spoke with concerning the advisability of taking on the Adham account. Bamieh is a well know Palestinian-American businessman with strong ties to the Republican party and to various individuals in the Middle East, including the Saudi Royal family. According to press reports, in the late 1970's Bamieh financed the trip of Ruth Carter Stapleton, President Carter's sister, to the Middle East. During the 1980's Bamieh testified on several occasions before the US Congress on issues related to the Middle East.(7)
According to Rogers he met Bamieh during the 1988 campaign because "he was a friend of Lee Atwater's who I worked for."(8) Rogers told subcommittee staff that while he was at the White House he spoke on the telephone to Bamieh on a regular basis, indicating "There was no pattern to it, but monthly."(9)
However, shortly after he left the White House, Rogers was in frequent contact in with Bamieh placing calls to him on August 5,13,14,15,16,26,28 and attending a party at his house in San Mateo, California on August 27 which Bamieh hosted for Adnan Khashoggi.
Rogers could not explain his frequent contact with Bamieh, other than to say that he and Bamieh were friends and "It would not be unusual for him to call."(10) Rogers did not say why he was calling Bamieh on such a regular basis. According to Bamieh, who was interviewed on the telephone by staff on two separate occasions, he wanted Rogers to come to work for him. But in his deposition, Rogers stated that he could not recall discussing possible representation of Bamieh and said that neither was he "soliciting business."
Rogers meeting with Khashoggi at a party hosted by Bamieh is of particular interest to the Subcommittee because of Khashoggi's ties in the Middle East, including reported business dealings with Adham, and his role in BCCI. Khashoggi had accounts with BCCI in France and used those accounts to move millions of dollars for financing US arms sales to Iran.
The Subcommittee learned of the Bamieh party for Khashoggi from Bamieh: Mr Rogers did not offer this information at his pre-deposition interview by Subcommittee staff. When asked under oath, Rogers told the Subcommittee that at Bamieh's party he only engaged in "social chit-chat" with Khashoggi and did not discuss Adham.(11) He described his conversation as "just a few polite moments -- a couple of minutes at the most."(12) Rogers testified that "there were several other people" at the party.(13) In fact, besides Rogers and his wife, Bamieh invited only a dozen people to meet Khashoggi.(14) Bamieh also contradicted Rogers when he told Subcommittee staff that Rogers did discuss Adham with Khashoggi. Moreover, Bamieh claims that when Rogers first called him to discuss Adham, Bamieh told him that representing Adham "would be a political mistake", but he promised to find out more about the Sheik. When asked with whom he checked, Bamieh said "Khashoggi."(15)
The other person with whom Rogers claims to have discussed Kamal Adham was Sandra Charles, a former staffer on the National Security Council who left the White House at approximately the same time Rogers did in order to work for the International Planing and Analysis Center, a consulting firm headed by Frank Carlucci, the former Deputy Director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense. Like Bamieh, Charles had a background in the Middle East.(16)
Charles checked her calendars and told the Subcommittee that she first talked to Rogers on August 26 when he indicated that he was being considered as one of a team of advisors to Sheik Kamal Adham. She told Subcommittee staff that Rogers identified Adham to her as a "former chief of Saudi intelligence."(17) (Rogers can not remember from whom or when he learned that Adham was a former chief of Saudi intelligence) Charles told Rogers that she didn't know much about Adham, but that she would try to gather information and report back to him. According to Charles, she then called "a Saudi diplomatic source at the embassy" who confirmed that Adham was a former head of Saudi intelligence, that he was related by marriage to the former king, and that he was a wealthy businessman. (18) Her source also told her that Adham had a very close relationship to Sadat and that he was man of great status in the Middle East.(19)
According to Rogers, he later asked Charles to set up a meeting for him with Frank Carlucci to discuss whether or not Mr. Carlucci's firm could act as "financial advisors" to Sheik Adham. The meeting took place on October 7, 1991 and, according to Rogers, Carlucci told him "[w]e don't manage finances. We don't manage people's money. We do things on a deal-by-deal basis."(20) That, testified Rogers, was the extent of the meeting.
Rogers did not ultimately decide to accept the Adham account until he and Haley Barbour actually met with Adham. On August 31, the two political operatives flew to Jeddah where, according to Rogers, they had three days of meetings with the Sheik's legal and financial advisors. Although he had dinner with Adham one evening, Rogers implied to the Subcommittee that the trip was all work: he never discussed his friend Sam Bamieh or his acquaintance Adnan Khashoggi with the Sheik. According to Rogers, near the end of their three day stay, Adham made him an offer. In his deposition, Rogers explained why he believes he was hired:
Mr. Pilcher. [Office of Senator Brown] When you go to talk to somebody ....How do you sell yourself. What is it that you say about your firm that is interesting?
Mr. Rogers. That we are two lawyers. I am of counsel to a 120 person firm that provides a broad array of experience.
Mr. Pilcher. What do you consider your personal specialty? When you say broad array of experience, what expertise in particular o you have?
Mr. Rogers. Managing other people's affairs. Managing other people's problems, managing other people's business.
Mr. Pilcher. My mother-in-law is like that, but what do you mean exactly by it?
Mr. Rogers. When people present me with a problem, I like to think that they can turn their back on it. They can tell me what the problem is and they'll know that I'll know how to go about my business to organize their affairs and do things on their behalf.
Mr. Pilcher. When this particular case was brought to you, what specific problem did you see that you thought you might be able to solve?
Mr. Rogers. An organizational problem. A large business concern that needed a lot of different kinds of representation.
Mr. Pilcher. Meaning BCCI?
Mr. Rogers. Meaning Sheik Adham, not BCCI.
Rogers' counsel in the deposition explained to Subcommittee staff that "[i]t's hard for him to say what he was doing since it had a very short life."(21) Nevertheless, the Subcommittee finds it odd that Mr. Rogers who represented Sheik Adham for over two months and met with him and his advisors for several days at a time in the Middle East, could be so vague about his duties.
After Rogers returned to the United States, he wrote Sheik Adham thanking him for the opportunity to join his legal team. One week later he received a $136,000 down payment on his $600,000 contract. And ten days later he registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent, indicating that his work on behalf of Adham might "border on political." In his deposition, Rogers acknowledged that his representation of Sheik Adham related to "the Sheik's problems with the Feds."(22) Moreover, Rogers provided the Subcommittee with copies of letters written by Cacheris concerning the investigations being conducted by the US Federal Reserve and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.(23) Rogers received these letters only days before flying to Cairo to meet with the Sheik. These events appear to contradict other Rogers testimony that his agreement with Sheik Adham specified that "matters regarding criminal investigations didn't come to me for any type of management participation."(24)
Rogers had two more meetings with the Adham legal and financial team. At the end of September he flew to Cairo, stopping over in London at the Four Seasons --Inn on the Park, where BCCI regularly hosted important clients. Rogers would not discuss with the Subcommittee the substance of any of his meetings in Cairo with Adham or his "legal or financial advisors" citing attorney-client privilege.
Rogers flew to Cairo with Plato Cacheris, the prominent Washington criminal defense attorney for Sheik Adham. By this time, of course, both the Justice Department and the Manhattan District Attorney had communicated with Adham their concern over his involvement with BCCI, particularly as it related to the Sheik's "holdings" in First American Bank. With no background in business, in criminal law, or in any facet of the law for that matter, the 33 year old Rogers must have accompanied Cacheris for one reason only: his political skills and access.
Rogers returned to the Middle East one more time to meet with the Sheik in mid-October in Jeddah. On this trip, Rogers met briefly on two occasions with David Eisenberg of the Justice Department. According to Rogers, "[h]e [Eisenberg] came into the room to meet with the Sheik. I walked out and we shook hands."(25) Rogers testified that he met Eisenberg the next morning in a "virtual identical encounter."(26) Robert Mueller, the Assistant Attorney General, provided a similar account of events several months earlier in testimony before the Subcommittee.(27)
On October 23, the story of Rogers's representation of Adham was reported in the press. Two days later, President Bush, in a press conference, said that he didn't know what Ed Rogers "is selling," and that "he didn't know anything about the man."(28) From the President's comments it was unclear whether or not he was referring to Rogers or Adham, but, in fact, he appears to know both men reasonably well. In his deposition, Rogers testified that he sat in on meetings with the President "on numerous occasions."(29) In an interview with the Middle East News Network, Kamal Adham, who was head of Saudi intelligence during the same years that President Bush headed the CIA, stated:
Shortly thereafter Rogers reportedly resigned the Adham account, writing to Boyden Gray:
I registered [with the Justice Department] out of an abundance of caution. The ethics atmosphere at the Bush White House was to go the extra mile to assure that no one could ever say any ethics requirement was violated or avoided. I followed this philosophy and registered, as I did not want anyone to say that I should have registered but did not do so. Unfortunately, going beyond the requirements of the law has resulted in an embarrassing spate of stories for my client, the Administration and me.(31)
Responding to Congressman's Charles Schumer's call for an investigation of the matter, Counsel Gray purported to mount an inquiry. However, Gray never met with Rogers. Instead, two of Grays's assistants, with whom Rogers was "friendly" called him on the telephone two times each to discuss the matter.(32) According to Rogers, the conversations lasted ten to fifteen minutes each. On November 1, 1991, Gray wrote Congressman Schumer that "Mr. Rogers was not responsible for and did not participate in any matters concerning to BCCI at the White House."(33)
The question, however, is not only whether Rogers had access to information on BCCI at the White House, but whether or not he began the process of negotiating his contract with Adham while he was at the White House. On this point, Rogers provided conflicting and confusing testimony:
Mr. McKean. [staff of Senator John Kerry] He [Moussa Raphael] was here in March. Did you meet with him then?
Mr. Rogers. Mr. Raphael?
Mr. McKean. Yes.
Mr. Rogers. Yes.
Mr. McKean. You met with in March of 1991?
Mr. Rogers. Oh,no, I'm sorry. I thought you meant --
this is March now.
Mr. McKean. Right.
Mr. Rogers. No, I thought you meant -- I have met with him since this whole thing blew up.(34)
Later in the deposition Rogers also denied having met with Raphael in March, 1992 and after the deposition his counsel wrote the Subcommittee indicating that "Mr. Rogers did not meet with Mr. Raphael in March 1991 or in March 1992."(35) Hotel records indicate that Raphael stayed at the Grand Hotel in March 1991, but not in March 1992. It seems plausible that Rogers could have met Raphael in March 1991: Rogers told the Subcommittee that he gave his notice to the White House in January and Adham needed help as the Federal Reserve Board had just issued a cease and desist order to First American concerning its status vis a vis BCCI. The most logical time for Adham to have sought political influence and access was March 1991.(36)
Rogers ostensibly resigned the Adham account in October, although he will not reveal whether or not he returned his retainer to Sheik Adham. Rogers' counsel has told the Subcommittee that Rogers' fees are a confidential matter.(37)
During the month of November 1991 Rogers continued to work on the Adham account in so far as he provided assistance to other lawyers for Adham who assumed his responsibilities. He also continued to meet with Moussa Raphael. According to Rogers:
"I met with him to finalize and hand over matters we were working on, specifically on the trust, then I met with him one more time subsequently to that, just -- I dropped by the Grand Hotel to say hello. He asked me to. He was worried about me."(38)
Subsequent to Rogers' deposition, his lawyer wrote the Subcommittee that the last time his client met with Mr. Raphael was in December 1991, or January of this year. However, as recently as April, the Subcommittee has learned that Raphael was calling Rogers' office.(39)
1. S. Hrg. 102-350 Pt.4, p.935. Subcommittee staff met with Darwish and talked to him on the telephone. His account of how Moussa Raphael met Rogers is essentiaally the same as Rogers' account. According to Darwish, Raphael asked the hotel executive if he knew any good lawyers," and Darwish recommended Rogers. Despite the similarlity of accounts, the Subcommittee is skeptical of his story: Rogers had virtually no legal experience and Moussa Raphael was well acquainted with Adham's criminal lawyer, Plato Cacheris, who presumedly had better contacts in Washington's legal establishment than the general manager of the Grand Hotel.
2. Rogers told the Subcommittee that there Republican political events at the Grand Hotel.
Darwish told the Subcommittee that he knew Senate Majority leader George Mitchell well (Senator Mitchell is of Lebanese extraction), but that he did not know and, in fact, had never even met Governor Sununu (also of Lebanese extraction).
3. Id. p.935.
4. Letter to C. Boyden Gray, Counsel to the President, from Ed Rogers, October 28, 1991.
5. Memo to Files, From Jonathan M Winer, Conversation with Ed Rogers, December 18, 1991.
6. S. Hrg. 102-350, pt. 5,p.944.
7. According to press reports, in 1987, Bamieh told the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa the following:
-- In November 1981, prince Fahd, who later became the king, told Bamieh that he was pleased Congress had agreed to sell AWACS surveillance planes to the kingdom. In exchange for AWACS, Fahd said, "We will help you guys fight anti-communist movements," according to Bamieh.
--In 1983 [Prince] Bandar asked Bamieh if he would go into business with Richard V. Secord and Albert Hakim to bid on a security project at a Saudi airport. Secord and Hakim were key figures in the plan to channel money from the sale of US weapons to Iran to the Contra rebels fighting Nicaragua's leftist government. The business relationship was never cemented because the three never got the contract.
-- In 1983, Saudi officials asked Bamieh to funnel money to Morocco for the training of UNITA guerrillas. The Saudis said former CIA Director William Casey was aware of the plan, Bamieh said.
-- In February 1984, Bandar approached Bamieh in Cannes, France, asking him to set up an offshore company that would supply goods and services to anti-communist movements and oil to South Africa. Bandar aid he declined, even though Bandar said, "Don't worry about the legalities" because Casey was discussing the matter with King Fahd.
Another newspaper article reported on Bamieh's statements about the Iran Contra affair:
An American businessman with extensive ties to Saudi Arabia's royal family contends King Fahd was the chief financier of Iran's secret US weapons purchases in 1985 and 1986.
Investigators of the Iran-Contra scandal have concluded Iran paid about $30 million for the arms, at prices double or triple the Pentagon's cost, and about $3.5 million of the profits were diverted to the Nicaraguan Contra rebels.
The reason they paid those high prices was because the money wasn't theirs," he said of the Iranians.
Bamieh, of San Mateo, California, said he based his assertion that Fahd paid for the arms on statements made to him by confidants of Fahd and international arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi and on dealings and on dealings made in his presence by Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian who investigators have found played a significant role in financing the early US arms shipments to Iran, was serving as Fahd's emissary in the deals, Bamieh said.
Finally, Bamieh is quoted in the press on the CIA's involvement in an assassination attempt of a high ranking Lebanese official:
Top secret CIA reports in 1985, conflicting with author Bob Woodward's recent assertions, said Syria masterminded an assassination attempt against a radical Moslem leader without agency cooperation, U.S. intelligence officials say.
But California businessman Sam Bamieh, who describes himself as a former close friend of Saudi King Fahd, said he has evidence of reports of Syria's involvement were part of a Saudi cover story and that Woodward's report in his new book is largely correct.
Woodward, an assistant managing editor at the Washington Post, described the unsuccessful attempt to kill Hezbolah leader Sheik Fadahllah, whose organization bombed several American facilities in Lebanon in his book, "Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA in 1981-1987."
8. S. Hrg. 102-350, pt. 5. p.937.
9. Id. p.938.
10. Id. p.941.
11. Id. p.939.
12. Id. p.945.
13. Id. p.939.
14. Invitation list. 8/27/91. Provided by Sam Bamieh.
15. telephone interview with Mr. Bamieh, 2/10/92. Bamieh also told staff that he had met Adham on two occassions: once in 1975 for about ten minutes and then again in December, 1991. According to Bamieh he was staying at the Hilton in Cairo when Adham called and asked for a meeting. According to Bamieh, Adham "wanted to get things off his chest."
16. According to a recent article in the New York Times:
The Bush Administration today confirmed reports that Saudi Arabia engaged in unauthorized transfers of American made military equipment to Iraq, Syria and Bangladesh.
Administration officials said, however, that they had brought these unauthorized transfers to the attention of both Saudi Arabia and the Congress, as required by law, and had been told by the Saudis that the shipments were "inadvertent."
Sandra Charles, the former director of Middle East and South Asia affairs at the Defense Department in 1986, and she recalled that the Saudis had gone out of their way to alert Washington about the inadvertent. Other officials, though, say it was American military officials in Saudi Arabia who first detected the transfer.
"It was a small number," Miss Charles said. "It was not considered significant. The bombs were in a warehouse with equipment for other countries."
She said she not recall whether Washington pressed Riyadh to get the bombs back, adding, "It just didn't seem very consequential at the time.
17. telephone conversation with Sandra Charles, 2/10/92.
19. telephone conversation with Sandy Charles, 1/29/9.
20. S. Hrg. 102-250, pt. 5. p.943.
21. Id. p.950.
22. Id. p.942. When asked if he was discussing his representation of Sheik Adham with Mr. Bamieh, Rogers replied, "Never, I wouldn't have discussed any matters relating to the Sheik's problems with the Feds."
23. see letter to John Moscow, Deputy Chief Investigations, New York Country District Attorney's Office, from Plato Cacheris, September 25, 1991 and letter to J. Virgil Mattingly, General Counsel, Federal Reserve from Plato Cacheris, September 26, 1991.
24. S. Hrg. 102-250. pt. 5. p. 950.
25. Id. p.943.
27. S. Hrg. 102-350. pt.3. p.800.
28. Transcript, White House Press Conference, President Bush, 10/25/91.
29. S. Hrg. 102-350. pt. 5. p.933.
30. "A Victim of Operation Overkill by West, Says Adham." Middle East News Network, 1/18/92.
31. letter to C. Boyden Gray, Counsel to the President, from Ed Rogers, October 28, 1991.
32. Id. p.946.
33. letter to Congressman Charles Schumer from C. Boyden Gray, Counsel to the President, November 1, 1991.
34. Id. p. 941.
35. Id. p.931.
36. William Safire, columnist for the New York Times, speculated that the relationship arose in another context:
This same Sununu toady helped organize the meeting on May 23 that founded the Arab American Council, an oil backed elite lobbying group scorns broader-based Arab-American organizations. Mr. Sununu and the Syrian Ambassador were stars of the gathering; out of Lebanese contacts made there or later, I presume, came Mr. Roger's huge contact.
see "BCCI and Sununu", by William Safire, The New York Times, November 28, 1991, p.25.
It is worth noting that Sam Bamieh is a member of the Arab-American Council and that Mr. Bamieh acknowledges contacts with Mr. Sununu when Sununu was Chief of Staff at the White House and afterwards.
37. staff conversation with Jonathan Schiller, 8/20/92.
38. Id. p. 941.
39. phone records of Moussa Raphael at The Grand Hotel, subpoenaed by the Subcommittee.
40. Safire, p.25.