Uranium jerky: Coincidences with shipping, big data, and a special niche of the industry – Part VI

Uranium jerky: Coincidences with shipping, big data, and a special niche of the industry – Part VI

This article, the sixth in a six-part series, continues an exploration of some strange and remarkable incidents in and related to the history of the uranium trade in the years 2008 and 2009.  The justification for having this interest, in the middle of the most crucial U.S. election in at least 150 years, is laid out in the introduction to Part II.

The first five parts of the series reviewed incidents and trends with direct implications for two particular episodes:  the involvement of Goldman Sachs in trading and possessing physical uranium starting in 2009 (discussed in Part I); and the weird history of the freighter M/V Arctic Sea, which supposedly went missing in the Eastern Atlantic for 15 days in 2009 – yet actually didn’t (laid out in Part II).

Part II and Part III surveyed some very unusual details (“the deets”) that involved a vast cross-section of actors, from Russia to the Clintons to George Soros and his connections in Eastern Europe.

In Part IV, we looked at hints that the supposed “hijacking” of Arctic Sea was related to the ship carrying special material, possibly nuclear, at some point in her voyage.  Part IV concluded with a look at the ship’s fate after 2009, which was an unusual interlude for the next two years until she was sold to a charter freight company in late 2011.

Part V continued with a look at some unique and interestingly contemporaneous developments surrounding the Arctic Sea transit in 2009, with a focus on the movement of uranium and other nuclear-related material.  It was a time of eye-opening and untoward nuclear-linked events, from mafia involvement in radioactive waste disposal to bribery in the uranium transport industry – a pattern of corruption that encompassed firms and activities with links to the Clintons, and allegedly even involved the Clintons themselves.

When we left the topic, a Russian firm that was reportedly bribing the Clintons was in turn being bribed by a U.S. logistics firm that specializes in uranium transport.  We’re still calling that coincidence, for now.  As Part V noted, there was a strange, coincidental coincidence in which the consulting and investment firm of a pair of Clinton cronies figured prominently.

In Part VI, we turn to some additional coincidences of timing and relevance from this remarkable period.

This article is about coincidences with no obvious direct, specific connections to the Arctic Sea incident or a demonstrated link to Goldman Sachs’s uranium foray. Nevertheless, they have an obvious generic connection to quite a few of the plot features we’ve surveyed to date.  The first one leads off Part VI’s focus on the shipping side of the equation.

The NSA of global trade

That coincidental circumstance Is the founding in 2010 of the shipping-data tracking company CargoMetrics, by former Coast Guard officer and maritime-affairs specialist Scott Borgerson, who is alleged to be Ghislaine Maxwell’s boyfriend.  (He says he’s not.)  Maxwell was reportedly living in a house owned by Borgerson for much of 2019, until she bought a place of her own in New Hampshire – the home at which she was arrested by the FBI on 2 July 2020.

Maxwell’s connection to Borgerson goes back to around 2013, reportedly encompassing a common interest between the two in the future of the Arctic and its environment.

Scott Borgerson; Ghislaine Maxwell at the Arctic Circle conference in 2014. Arctic Circle video via The Australian

But CargoMetrics is of particular interest to us given the company’s mission, which is to maintain running data on global shipping – cargo and ship movements – to a level of such granularity that investment and futures-trading decisions can be made about the goods being shipped and the industries represented by them, based on analysis of the trends thus revealed.

That, at least, is a description designed to sell the company products, which now include a quantitative investment fund, to futures traders and investors, whose interest is in the trends more than the goods.

But a telling feature of CargoMetrics’ M.O. is the one expressed in Borgerson’s trademark slogan from the outset: “We aim to be the NSA of global trade.”

Here is how a summary of a Borgerson presentation put it in CargoMetrics’ earliest years:

It is incredibly costly to buy every possible source of trade data, and have a supercomputer to run algorithms in real time to cross-reference sources against vessel movements. CargoMetrics must be generating government-scale quantities of fresh data every day. According to Dr Borgerson, an early investment in Amazon cloud servers is paying dividends. He refused to say more about the inner workings of CargoMetrics, beyond that “we archive all the data – it’s a searchable Google of trade”.

What CargoMetrics started as in 2010, therefore, is a firm that keeps a gigantic database.  The database can pump out not only algorithmic interpretations of trends, but reams and reams of information about, very specifically, what is being shipped where, and how much.

CargoMetrics’ commercial service may not be intended to provide even more specific data on a one-stop shopping basis, such as the derived (or overtly present) identities of shippers, sellers, and buyers.  As far as I can tell, Borgerson has never suggested that it is.  But it’s minable for information that would help derive those specifics.

Data-fied. Public Domain; LU Staff

In that sense, it has a very particular similarity to NSA’s trademark data store.  Remember, NSA’s intended service isn’t unmasking Americans, as individuals, in their discrete communications events.  But the data that flow through the NSA mechanisms generate a minable source from which to derive such information.  The limits of the intended service haven’t stopped government agencies from mining the NSA-brokered data trove for exactly that specific, granular information about U.S. persons.

There are a lot of customers who would have an interest in such information about shipping and cargo.  The late Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell would certainly be among them.  Their whole profession was centered on holding certain types of information over powerful political and corporate officials; i.e., having “dirt” on them.

Being brokers of such information could also be very profitable.  What people are shipping around the world is one of the most important things to know about what’s going on in it, especially when it comes to quantities like arms, drugs, cash, human traffic, energy commodities and products – and, among other high-value mineral commodities, nuclear material.

Where big data go, one guy’s never far behind

Borgerson doesn’t explicitly hawk his product in those terms.  (He stepped down as CEO of his company about a month ago, after the media frenzy began over his connection to Ghislaine Maxwell.)  We’ll see below the commercial-focused direction he took CargoMetrics after its initial debut as a big-data vendor.

But tracking ships and cargo, at the level of patterns and expectations that would help maintain a security posture, is certainly important to homeland security, and it’s through this nexus that we find a link of exceptional interest in 2009.

Bear in mind that Borgerson wanted CargoMetrics to be the “NSA of global trade.”  Obviously, that was a gleam in his eye well before the company was founded in 2010.  CargoMetrics needed investors to get it off the ground, and in 2007, Borgerson had met a fellow former Coast Guard officer, Randy Beardsworth, at a Coast Guard Academy dinner.  Borgerson had been named a fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations the same year, and was making a reputation as a maritime affairs expert.

Beardsworth was a partner in Catalyst Partners, a D.C. consultancy specializing in homeland security.  He and Borgerson hit it off, and in 2009, when Borgerson was looking for investors, he approached Beardsworth for advice.

Although this may have been solely because of their earlier connection, it seems like a good bet that it had something to do with what Beardsworth was doing at the time: chairing a government interagency group, working for the new Obama administration on a plan to consolidate the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council (which were separate advisory bodies when Obama took office).  Borgerson was a CFR fellow, attuned to the activities of government.

Scott Borgerson (R), in discussion with former Iceland Pres Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, CFR conference on the Arctice, 2013. CFR video, YouTube

At the top of the totem pole for that consolidation project, just under Barack Obama, was Obama’s Homeland Security Adviser and counterterrorism “czar,” John Brennan.

Prior to initiation of the consolidation review for the HSC and NSC, Randy Beardsworth had been on the Obama transition team after the 2008 election, working with Brennan on the homeland security and counterterrorism portfolio.  In fact, Beardsworth’s background in homeland security included his being among the first executive-level officials of the Homeland Security Department when it was created under George W. Bush, a career detail that would have brought him in contact with the first director of what became the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) – John Brennan.

It matters that Beardsworth was the ops chief for Border and Transportation Security, supervising, among other things, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA).  We’ll go into that in more depth in a separate article; for the purposes of this one, the relevant points are that (a) TSA’s mission, which included keeping tabs on a no-fly list, was one of the main reasons John Brennan wanted his own contract workers from The Analysis Corporation (TAC) to be embedded at the NCTC (see links below); and (b) Beardsworth was well aware of the significance of big-data gathering on millions of individuals to homeland security.

None of that means Beardsworth had improper intentions.  I assume he didn’t.  However, it’s been Brennan’s genius for years to get himself in the middle of government activities that seem to have the most burning necessity for national security, producing opportunities for information-wielding and profit that, shall we say, he may or may not be exploiting.

The point in this case is how quickly Borgerson’s big-data story rubs up against Brennan, and in a timeframe highly relevant to everything else we’ve uncovered so far about Brennan’s role in Spygate and Russiagate.

Note this: the interagency group in 2009 was looking at a plan to consolidate the NSC and HSC in such a way that the HSC staff would work under Brennan at the NSC.  Whatever sentiment about that might have leaped to the fore in 2009, there can be little doubt how most of us would feel about it in 2020.

John Brennan in an interview with Graham Allison at the John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard, in 2016. Harvard U. video, YouTube

There’s more.  When Borgerson applied to him for funding advice, Beardsworth commended Borgerson to an acquaintance, Doug Doan, a West Point graduate who had a venture capital firm called Hivers and Strivers, specializing in start-up investment in former military entrepreneurs.  Doan had been a fixture around Washington for some time, and had his own experience with homeland security from the DHS start-up under Bush (see the Institutional Investor article linked above).

Randy Beardsworth’s DHS background was in policy and management on the government side.  Doan’s was in contracting for homeland security technology and data requirements.  He and his wife – Lurita Doan, who became Bush’s General Services Administration (GSA) chief in 2006 – ran a company called New Technology Management, Inc. (NMTI), which among other things was at the forefront of automating Customs and Border Protection operations after 9/11.

NMTI’s venture with what became CBP started before 9/11.  But 9/11 kickstarted its urgency and changed its focus: “The company completed a proof of concept at seven crossings in Arizona and was set to begin a five-year rollout across the country when the terrorists’ strike occurred,” according to the 2002 report by Washington Technology.  “Now the multimillion-dollar project has gone from a five-year rollout to two years, and the emphasis is on catching terrorists instead of drug runners, Doan said [emphasis added – J.E.].”

That emphasis, in other words, was about having an automated database with information on people in it, focused on the data needed for catching “terrorists instead of drug runners.”  This too fit the criteria of John Brennan’s special area of interest, as manifested in his management of TAC after he left the newly created NCTC in 2005.  As we’ve reviewed in earlier reporting, TAC had obtained long-term analytical and database maintenance contracts with NCTC and the FBI, for exactly this kind of data, by the end of 2009.

Courtesy of both NSA and law enforcement, the database and the systems that used it saw private information on millions of Americans flow through them – and by 2012, Brennan had arranged to loosen the valve for sharing the data between the agencies.  The Obama administration also made it easier to retain the data instead of getting rid of it promptly, for all the U.S. persons of whom nothing was suspected.

Brennan’s knowledge of what was available through Big Data was, in hindsight, quite directly analogous to the possibilities of CargoMetrics being the “NSA of global trade.”  Mining databases for siftable data that reveals more than it’s formally intended to is right up Brennan’s alley.  There’s no smoking gun indicating he knew what Borgerson was up to.  But if Brennan and Beardsworth were working on a homeland security organization project at the same time Beardsworth was talking with Borgerson about a start-up so obviously relevant to homeland security interests, it would be atypical for Brennan not to hear of it.

Meanwhile, Doug Doan hooked Borgerson up with the financing to get CargoMetrics off the ground in 2010.  I assume Doan’s role was an innocent one, like Beardsworth’s.  Borgerson’s intent was to make his gigantic data store serve, for ship movement and cargo information, the same role as the NSA database for the counterterrorism mission of the FBI, NCTC, and DHS.  It was to be the basis of trend and relational analysis; Borgerson’s advertising patter emphasized the commercial utility of it.

But again, it seems extremely unlikely that when Borgerson shopped his proposal to homeland security veterans in 2009, no one saw the possibilities of his big-data idea for keeping tabs on what industries and individual companies and shippers were doing.  Why should such information be stovepiped at Treasury or Commerce, after all, or in U.S. intelligence channels where the population of data was limited to formal national security priorities?

Don’t even think about it. Guard gate at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) in McLean, VA. Google Street View

These were the same questions that set the framework for Brennan’s policy changes on “counterterrorism” information at the FBI and NCTC in 2012.  The beauty of CargoMetrics and its data is that, although they effectively capture millions of private business transactions in their net, the information itself isn’t privacy-protected.  As a thought experiment, it’s no stretch to conclude that Brennan, if no one else, would see the tremendous opportunities in harvesting such data.

As for the general timing of CargoMetrics’ debut, the trend of technology naturally factored into a start-up in 2010.  The idea of mining Big Data for relational analysis and trend-based decision-making was reaching maturity.

But it’s still interesting that CargoMetrics was launched within months of Goldman Sachs’s initial involvement in moving uranium around, and the explosive shipping incidents of Arctic Sea and Francop, all in 2009.  The interest of homeland security specialists with a link to John Brennan, in the same period, can’t fail to be an arresting detail, especially since it involved financing the venture.

Another Clinton angle (this one with Obama-era links too)

We need not, of course, belabor the connection of Maxwell and Epstein to the Clintons.  Everyone knows it’s there.  But that, also, is food for thought.  Journalists tracking down the link between Maxwell and Borgerson date it to about 2013, which would be several years after Borgerson launched CargoMetrics.

The “professional” hook for their relationship is routinely reported as a shared interest in the Arctic and its environment, which among other things led to both of them participating in 2014 in the summit conference of a group called Artic Circle, an NGO started by the president of Iceland the previous year (2013) with Borgerson’s participation.

Ghislaine Maxwell launched her TerraMar Project, a maritime environmental initiative, at the same time, and as numerous Internet sleuths have noted, she partnered with the Clinton Global Initiative to get “sustainable development goals” adopted by international institutions.  The partnership was to the tune of $1.25 million.

But there are a couple of features of that Borgerson-Maxwell-Arctic story that merit particular mention.  One is that a key instigator of the Arctic Circle group is a lady named Alice Rogoff, who at the time was the wife of the CEO of the politically super-connected Carlyle Group, an elite private equity firm.  (Its operations are on a par with the Blackstone Group.)

Ms. Rogoff and her husband, David Rubenstein, who founded the Carlyle group in 1987, divorced three years ago.  But the Carlyle Group has a revolving door with the highest echelon of the Washington, D.C. government establishment, including ex-secretaries of defense, senior appointees from State and Treasury, and former presidential advisers.  As a relevant example of its firepower, Carlyle bought the energy firm Cogentrix from our friend Goldman Sachs in 2012, a company that had more than a dozen electric power plants under its management at the time.  (Cogentrix, which Goldman Sachs had begun acquiring controlling interest in back in 2003, was a factor in the firm’s deliberations about getting into hands-on uranium dealing in the 2008-09 period.)

It must be no surprise then that the Clintons (see here as well) and Barack Obama have made tidy sums from giving speeches at Carlyle-sponsored events.  (George W, Bush, who sat on Carlyle’s board before becoming president, had a somewhat unfortunate history with the firm that seems to have made speaking engagements less likely.)

Alice Rogoff (R) speaks with Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski at the Arctic Circle conference in 2018. Arctic Circle video

But the interesting feature that is Alice Rogoff, per se, goes beyond that.  In 2012, Scott Borgerson appeared at an event he later described as pivotal for him: a conference held in Alaska under the banner of an initiative called Arctic Imperative (a precursor to the Arctic Circle initiative).  It was the second in a two-year series of the gatherings, and Rogoff was the driving force behind it.

Notably – to flesh out her profile – Rogoff bought the flagship newspaper in Anchorage a couple of years later, the Daily News.  This gave her a high profile in the state, and in fact, she acquired a home there, at which she hosted President Obama during a visit he made to Alaska in 2015.  She also hosted Ghislaine Maxwell in 2014, when Maxwell went along for the ride with an Iditarod team.

And that’s not just a shallow sample of the company Borgerson has been running in.  It appears to mean a bit more than that.  In his 2016 interview with Institutional Investor, Borgerson credited a meeting with an unnamed CIO of “a large investment firm,” which he declined to identify, at the 2012 Arctic Imperative conference in Alaska, with kickstarting an experiment in using CargoMetrics’ data trove to drive quantitative trading decisions.  (There’s no direct proof of this, but looking over the record of attendance at the 2011 and 2012 conferences, it appears that the CIO Borgerson was most likely to have met would have been Carlyle’s.  David Rubenstein himself took an interest in and participated in the Arctic Imperative conferences.)

That data-to-trading experiment was a real-world proof of concept for the quant fund Borgerson had begun to envision in the first couple of years after taking CargoMetrics live as the “NSA of global trade.”  As the Institutional Investor story observes, that was a major shift in emphasis for the company.  (For one thing, it meant buying out the original venture capital investors, who had bought in on the starting premise of focusing on the data product.)

After the “large investment firm” came on board, says Institutional Investor, “Live trading using CargoMetrics’ models began in December 2012.”  Over the next year and a half, CargoMetrics geared up to begin operating a fund, something that required support from outside investors.  Blackstone became one of them; meanwhile, another investor which had already taken interest in Borgerson’s quant-fund plan for CargoMetrics was Callaway Capital Management, a Washington, D.C.-based investment firm started by Daniel Freifeld.

Then-Sec. of State Hillary Clinton speaks at U.S-EU Energy summit in 2010. Dept. of State video, YouTube

Freifeld had been a senior adviser on Eurasian energy issues to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, after being an adviser to the Hillary campaign in 2007-08.  The picture of Borgerson as a semi-anonymous maverick data-monger starts to fade a bit as these various facts emerge.*  Borgerson may not have known the Clintons or Obama’s top administration officials, but the people who ran in their orbit knew Borgerson.

Borgerson was developing his quant-fund plan with the help of such connected people between 2011 and 2013.  And that’s when he and Ghislaine Maxwell ran into each other through their shared interest in the Arctic.  We need not emphasize, but merely note, that the collision occurred when Borgerson’s company entered the field of serious fund management.

That’s the second interesting feature of the Borgerson-Maxwell nexus: the timing of the quant-fund breakout versus the connection with Maxwell.  Of equal note is that CargoMetrics’ quant-fund backers include not only the Blackstone Group but Paul Tudor Jones, Howard Morgan of Renaissance Technologies, shipping-industry giants Idan Ofer, Clarksons PLC, and Maersk Tankers – and Hillary pal Eric Schmidt of Google.  We should all have such backing for our experimental quant-fund start-ups.

How Ben “Echo Chamber” Rhodes ended up in the Uranium Jerky series

Speaking of shipping: one of the most peculiar features of the revelations about the Deep State in the last several years is one we looked at in 2018.  The precipitating incident involved a private security firm approaching the wives of Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl – yes, that Rhodes and Kahl – apparently hoping to gain information that would shed light on a client’s complaint about fictitious accounts being set up in his name by the banking giant Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The client was a Taiwanese shipping company owner named Nobu Su.  The private security firm was the Israeli company Black Cube, for defaming which there was a minor cottage industry in the mainstream media in 2017 and 2018.  The gist of the story was that Su had hired Black Cube to get background information for him on RBS’s alleged use of his identity to launder money through fake bank accounts.  (RBS was found by investigations in the U.S. and UK to have laundered money in the same period as HSBC and other banks.  The question in Nobu Su’s case was about his own identity being implicated.)

It seems like such a nice place. Royal Bank of Scotland lobby in St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh. RBS video, YouTube

The timeframe of the alleged money-laundering was 2007 to 2009.  The investigation by Black Cube wasn’t until 2017, however.  Reporting in 2018 alleged that Black Cube was actually contracted for the job by “aides to Donald Trump,” but Israeli media confirmed the approaches to Rhodes’s and Kahl’s wives were made under the contract with Su.

Two features of this tale are of special interest.  One is that it involved money-laundering in relation to sanctions-busting (e.g., sanctions against Iran), arms trafficking, and narcotics.  Such money-laundering was a big problem with some of the world’s largest banks, including HSBC, RBS, and BNP Paribas of France.

Notably, the client, Mr. Su, was said to be the party who started the Black Cube probe with “Iranian nuclear” interests.  An article at Haaretz asserted that “A source close to the company said the purpose of its data collection was to serve the client’s business or legal interests, and had nothing to do with Trump. The source also said correspondence regarding Iranian nuclear issues related to the business interests of the client who hired the spy firm [i.e., Su hiring Black Cube; emphasis added].”

And as the placement of this incident in our narrative suggests, it’s significant, with this especially interesting feature, that Su’s business is shipping.

Su reportedly believed that “the 2008 financial crisis, and the financial predicament Su consequently found himself in, made him a convenient target for blackmail.”  But his shipping business and reported company interest in “Iranian nuclear issues” were likely to be the tiebreakers for any decision by RBS to launder money through accounts in his name.

That supposition would be strengthened by the other special feature of the tale.  Black Cube zeroed in on Rhodes and Kahl in 2017, some eight to ten years after the alleged money-laundering.  Rhodes’s and Kahl’s involvement in Iran policy in the Obama administration dated to the time the JCPOA was being negotiated.  The agreement was negotiated starting in 2013 and announced in July 2015, so what they had knowledge of from that perspective would have been after the fact for Su’s timeline.

As regards Su’s timeline:  Rhodes, for his part, had become a speechwriter for Obama in 2007, and before that had been an assistant to former Representative Lee Hamilton (D-IN), helping to draft the Iraq Study Group Report which surveyed, among other things, the post-war findings on WMD in Saddam’s Iraq.

Kahl was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East from 2009 to 2011; prior to that he was a fellow at the Center for a New American Security think tank.  In the later period of the JCPOA negotiations, encompassing 2014 through January 2017, both were top advisers at the NSC level.

If Black Cube was pursuing a substantial lead with its Rhodes and Kahl overtures in May 2017, one possibility is that RBS activity from 2007 to 2009, which Nobu Su knew about because it affected him personally, had continued through the period of Rhodes’s and Kahl’s time on the JCPOA team.  What RBS might thus have been laundering money for circa 2015, and in whose name, would make very interesting reading.

Ben Rhodes in a 2018 interview. CBS News video

This information isn’t of interest because it’s a smoking gun.  It’s of interest because it illuminates a dark corner of sanctions-busting, shipping, the sanctions on Iran, and which personalities potentially had knowledge of what.  In the intelligence profession, you don’t ignore such clues; you pursue them.

The collateral relevance of other factors we have looked at in the Uranium Jerky series should be obvious.  If U.S. intel and law enforcement haven’t at least investigated the alleged fake accounts set up by RBS, and followed all the related threads to see where they go, that needs to be done.

The new wind across the Great Lakes

In the case of the next, final coincidental circumstance, there’s a connection few readers (other than ours) may know about.  That connection is to Obama – and it became most evident at the very end of his administration, and in his first months out of office in 2017.

This link maps to the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes again.  The circumstance is the 2009 purchase of Manitowoc Marine of Wisconsin, maker of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship, by the Italian shipbuilding giant Fincantieri.  Regular readers will remember uncovering this in the investigation of the Italian connection to Obamagate, involving Link Campus University in Rome and Joseph Mifsud, the shadowy “Maltese Professor.”

President Trump visits Fincantieri Marinette Marine (formerly Manitowoc Marine) in Jun 2020. White House video

In the course of running the details down, we encountered former President Obama visiting Milan for a conference in May of 2017, and having a special visit with Italian luminaries including the chairman of Fincantieri, Giampiero Massolo, at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies, of which Massolo is the president.  During the same trip, Obama also met with previous Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (whose government had been replaced shortly beforehand).

Obama’s Milan visit was remarkably timed, as coincidences go: his meetings with senior Italian officials were on 9 May 2017, the day James Comey was fired by President Trump.

It was also at exactly the same time that an Italian government investigative team was accompanying the FBI on visits to two U.S.-located servers used for business by an Italian entrepreneur, who was being probed by Italian law enforcement over allegations of cyber-attacks on government officials.  Giulio Occhionero lodged information with the court afterward that in the course of these visits to the U.S., the law enforcement agents apparently tried to plant data on the servers that seemingly pointed to Hillary Clinton’s 30,000 “missing” emails.

Digging out these nuggets highlighted some other developments whose importance had become evident only in hindsight.  These included, in particular, the prominent presence of a Mifsud crony and senior Italian Social Democrat politician in an Italian delegation to the Democratic National Convention in July 2016.

Another was the interesting emphasis in the Obama administration’s last months on holding a state dinner for then-PM Matteo Renzi, in October 2016.  (Alert readers will recall that NSC staffer Eric Ciaramella, officially working for Vice President Joe Biden, was also prominent in the arrangements for the Renzi visit.)

Fincantieri chairman Massolo, who met with Obama in Milan, is a veteran of Italy’s intelligence service and diplomatic corps, and an elder-statesman sponsor of Link Campus University’s revolving door with 5-Star Movement coalition governments.  He shows up around LCU on a fairly regular basis, and clearly was privileged to have direct access to Obama during the Milan visit.

(This tweet’s image was from the same event, but was posted more than a month later. It shows Obama in discussion with Giampiero Massolo.)

For our purposes in this article, however, the coincidence of interest is that Fincantieri completed its purchase of Manitowoc Marine in January 2009.  That was before Massolo had become the chairman.  But it was a significant wind of change in one of North America’s top seagoing and shipbuilding hubs.

It’s not uninteresting, for that matter, that Fincantieri was also constructing a special-purpose vessel for Russia during the same time period (as well as a class of diesel and battery powered submarine intended by Russia for export).  The special-purpose vessel is a platform designed for the transport of nuclear waste, and it was delivered for service in 2016.

An awful darn lot of pathbreaking things happened in the first year or two of the Obama administration.  More of them than the public realizes involved uranium and shipping, including patterns in which both factors intersected.  It is by no means out of bounds to survey the big picture and recognize that the never-solved conundrum of Arctic Sea may have been linked to some of them – and that their meaning went beyond coincidence, and beyond the mere hope of incidental profits for the political officials (like the Clintons) with a stake in them.

As argued in the introduction to Part II of this series, after the survey in Part I of Goldman Sachs’s unique and little-known initiative with buying and selling physical uranium, we must at least consider that the events may not have been as much about the profits as they were about the uranium.


* I know of nothing against Borgerson as regards his CargoMetrics idea or company.  The point of painting the larger picture of his connections is not to impugn him, but to illustrate that he’s been more conventionally plugged in to the establishment networks than is conveyed by most coverage of him, and that he was on the establishment’s radar.  With stints at the Fletcher School and the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as time plying the NGO circuit for his Arctic interests, he is hardly an outsider.  What’s of interest is the service his idea offers to actors with a “secret intelligence” level interest in, basically, knowing everyone’s business.  That takes on a special shading when the business involves moving things around like uranium, dual-use technology, controlled commodities, and components for nuclear energy and weapons.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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