Questions Arise As To Defense Contractor Involvement In Syrian Gas Attack
September 7, 2013
The trail to TechWise begins with the recent disclosure of anonymously hacked military emails that were posted to Pastebin, involving conversations between Colonel Anthony MacDonald (now retired) and a shadowy DoD employee named Eugene Furst, as well as communications between MacDonald’s wife, Jennifer and a friend.
These emails show insider knowledge of the chemical attacks in Syria. The MacDonald/Furst emails show Furst congratulating MacDonald on 8/22 of his “success” in a recent operation then linking to a Washington Post article on the Syrian chemical attack. The emails are copied here:
From: AJMacDonald [mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, August 22, 2013 2:31 PM
To: Furst, Eugene P CIV (US)
Subject: Re: Follow-up, 20130820
As you see I’m far from this now, but I know our guys did their best.
I enjoyed catching-up with you. Hope to see you soon again.
On Aug 22, 2013, at 2:14 PM, “Furst, Eugene P CIV (US)”
You’re exactly right. We have to work with both theater on the requirement
and the organization that owns the contract to ensure we don’t have too few
or too many contractors.
CITP – Rock Island Contract
CIAT – DIA Contract
By the way, saw your latest success, my congratulations. Good job.
The emails between MacDonald’s wife, Jennifer and a friend named Mary Shapiro show Jennifer MacDonald reassuring her friend that her husband “comforted her,” telling her that the (Syrian) “kids weren’t hurt, it was done for cameras.”
The exchange is copied here:
Date: Sun, 25 Aug 2013 14:59:42 -0700
Subject: Re: Let’s talk
I saw it either and got afraid very much. But Tony comforted me. He said the kids weren’t hurt, it was done for cameras. So you don’t worry, my dear.
That’ll be nice to get down to NC to see your Dad and Lee. If you feel like a road trip about 1/2 hour down the road, go visit the “resort” and have Molly give you a tour of campus. She’d love to see you guys since she didn’t get to PA for Steve’s COC.
Would love to see you during the 7-11 October visit. Ugh, my birthday! We need to go to FL instead of you coming here! I’m trying to forget that day…..But seriously, it would be great to see you anytime.
I will have time to chat this week. Can’t believe Tuesday is the Stallion Stampede. Grace’s first FH game is Wednesday. She has had 2 scrimmages so far and they have won both of them.
From: mary shapiro
To: jennifer macdonald
Sent: Friday, August 23, 2013 1:30 PM
Subject: RE: Let’s talk
Everytime I hear about HighPoint…it sounds like a place that I want to live! I hope all goes well in MA. I know its difficult for Pat without you living nearby.
Thank you for you offer to visit over Labor Day, however we are going to my Dad’s house over that weekend. Its going to be a tight turn around, but if we don’t go then it may be a while before we can head down there.
I am going to be joining Steve at his Capstone class 7-11 October so we should be able to meet for dinner then. Also I would like to try and come down during the day in September to celebrate your bday. So we can start thinking about a few dates.
You know, I can’t stop thinking about that terrible gas attack in Syria now. Did you see those kids? I was really crying. They were poisoned, they died. When is it over? I see their faces when in sleep. What did Tony say you about this?
WHO IS ANTHONY JAMES MACDONALD?
MacDonald’s resume includes experience as Chief of Staff for the Defense Intelligence Operations Coordination Center and extensive experience in the theater of war, including intelligence. A sample from his CV follows:
According to Lt. Colonel Don Peters of Army Public Affairs, MacDonald retired in July of this year.
In some of the hacked emails, we see MacDonald, who goes by “Jamie,” actively looking for other employment. On August 6, 2013, he emailed Robert Cox, a civilian with the DIA, stating “I am applying for jobs and learning stuff.”
MacDonald was introduced to Tony Abati with TechWise by US Army Colonel Laura Potter. In one of the hacked emails, she wrote to both of them stating that “I have the utmost respect for both of you and you’d make a great team!”
Abati was clearly courting MacDonald. A series of emails under the header “Linking up Great Professionals,” indicates that a potential hiring conversation was taking place. On June 14, 2013, Abati wrote Potter: “I look forward to speaking with Jamie and discussing current and future opportunities with him.” Following this were emails back and forth between Abati and MacDonald resolving the best time for a skype call.
Attached to Abati’s emails to MacDonald were two job descriptions — one for a Battlestaff Training and Education Program Advisor and one for a Primary Doctrine Writer (Intelligence Doctrine).
Both job descriptions begin with the following:
Techwise Global is conducting a Capabilities Enhancement Project for a military client in the UAE. The project is sanctioned by the US government and supports national security objections in the Middle East. This project involves multiple aspects, including developing enhanced training capabilities and comprehensive doctrine that are required for a full spectrum operation in a joint, combined interagency environment.
TechWise was founded in the mid nineties by Shawnee Huckstep. In 2008, Huckstep was honored as SBA Person of the Year. A televised 2008 interview with Huckstep has her stating that the company now maintains a research lab. In 2012, TechWise received $26 million in defense contract allocations and subsequently set up an office in Dubai.
TechWise Executive VP Rivet Daigre declined to answer if MacDonald was subsequently employed by TechWise. He also declined to answer if there were any TechWise employees in Syria on or around August 21, the date of the alleged chemical attack. Huckstep is reportedly in Dubai and was unable to be reached.
Neither Anthony MacDonald, Jennifer MacDonald nor Mary Shapiro responded to requests for comment.
Lt. Colonel Don Peters of the Pentagon issued a terse statement concerning MacDonald and the implications of the emails:
We are aware of this situation and it is under investigation. We don’t comment on ongoing investigations.
Peters was not able to provide any details as to what sort of work Eugene Furst does for the Department of Defense.
Tony Abati was reached in Abu Dhabi and asked if Techwise hired MacDonald. He declined to answer the question, saying:
We are talking about a man who has given his life for his nation and I don’t understand why people are saying the things that they are saying about him. I don’t want anything to do with it.
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