Assassination Jokes, Anthrax Spores, and Russian Mobsters

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

My inbox this morning had a few of these press releases forwarded to me:

ExecutiveAction today announced it will hold a press conference on Wednesday, November 14, at 10:30 a.m. at the National Press Club to release the threat assessment – Spores: The Threat of a Catastrophic Anthrax Attack on America. At the press conference will be:

Neil Livingstone – CEO of ExecutiveAction and one of the nation’s top terrorism experts.
R. James Woolsey – Former Director of the CIA and Vice President of Booz Allen Hamilton.
Professor Yonah Alexander – Senior Fellow at the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University and author of more than 90 books on terrorism and international affairs.
David Wright – CEO of PharmAthene, a biodefense company headquartered in Annapolis.

The arresting name of the company holding the press conference, Executive Action—code for assassination—is fully intended. “Think of us as a McKinsey & Company with muscle, a private CIA and Defense Department available to address your most intractable problems and difficult challenges,” declared its CEO and founder Neil Livingstone when the group opened its doors in the Watergate last summer.

But it hasn’t been all assassination jokes for Livingstone, who has taught terrorism courses at Georgetown and was reportedly an associate of Oliver North during Iran Contra. As HarpersKen Silverstein and US News‘ Washington Whispers reported last spring, Livingstone was sued for $2 million by his old firm, Global Options, for allegedly taking customers. Among the clients Livingstone was accused by Global Options of taking with him to ExecutiveAction, according to Whispers, “a firm owned by the daughter of Uzbekistan’s strongman president; one secretively dubbed ‘Project M’; and the feuding family of Sumner Redstone, chair of Viacom.”

A Wall Street Journal story earlier this year would seem to suggest that a possible candidate for Project M is one Simeon Mogilevich, a post Soviet entrepreneur indicted on 45 counts by the Feds. As the Journal reported, last year, Livingstone brokered high level meetings for a Mogilevich hired gun with top levels of the Justice Department:

… Mr. Mogilevich is accused in a 45-count racketeering and money-laundering indictment in Philadelphia of masterminding an elaborate stock fraud using a web of shell companies in Europe. The Justice Department also is investigating whether there are any ties between Mr. Mogilevich and a recent series of billion-dollar natural-gas deals between Russian gas giant OAO Gazprom and Ukraine, people familiar with the matter said. The probe is being led by the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section.

According to people familiar with the matter, Mr. Sessions recently approached former colleagues at Justice with an unusual offer: Mr. Mogilevich would provide the U.S. with intelligence on Islamist terrorism if prosecutors opened negotiations to resolve his legal problems in the U.S. Federal prosecutors rejected that offer, lawyers and others familiar with the matter said. …

The Mogilevich talks were brokered by a prominent Washington security expert named Neil C. Livingstone, who was briefly in the news during the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal for his work on terrorism issues with White House aide Oliver North.

He declined to discuss the Mogilevich talks, other than to say they involved “very sensitive issues.”

Very sensitive indeed. Maybe after Henry Waxman gets done investigating private security contractors running amok in Iraq, he can start investigating the same issue here at home. Protection recommended.

We Recommend


Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.