Friday, June 18, 2010

"The Franklin Scandal": An Interview with Nick Bryant

American Commentary readers, be prepared to take another trip into the rabbit hole. If you haven’t heard of the Franklin Scandal, the story is so bizarre it will seem impossible to be true. But if you do a little looking into the background of this case, it immediately becomes clear that at the very least, something fishy has transpired. Wikipedia actually has a pretty good summary of the original scandal. On Nick Bryant’s website is a documentary that was made for the Discovery Channel, which also has a lot of good information. I spoke with Nick Bryant over the phone to learn more about this case.

American Commentary: Nick Bryant, I’m glad to be talking to you. You wrote a book called “The Franklin Scandal: A Story of Powerbrokers, Child Abuse, and Betrayal”. Can you give me a basic overview of “The Franklin Scandal?”

Nick Bryant: The Franklin Scandal is a book that I spent seven years investigating, and I travelled 40,000 miles. It’s about an interstate pedophile network that pandered children to the rich and powerful, and was ultimately covered up by a corrupt subgenus of federal law enforcement, and state law enforcement. The epicenter of the network was Omaha Nebraska, and the network had two primary camps, one was Lawrence E. King of Omaha, Nebraska, and the other was Craig Spence of Washington DC. They were both Republican powerbrokers . What ultimately happened, and how the book got its name, “The Franklin Scandal”, is Lawrence King was the manager of a credit union, the Franklin Credit Union. The credit union provided lower socio-economic loans, to people who aren’t as well off. Well the Feds raided the Franklin Credit Union [in 1988]—it hadn’t been audited in over four years, even though the audits were supposed to be annual. So ultimately, what happened is the Franklin Credit Union came up 40 million dollars short. Then a state subcommittee formed to investigate the 40 million dollar embezzlement. Now when the state subcommittee formed to investigate the embezzlement, they had no idea about the child abuse allegations, and the interstate pedophile network that was essentially being run by Lawrence King. Also what happened is social services had gotten wind of the network much earlier, and they notified both federal and state law enforcement that Lawrence E. King was running an interstate pedophile network, but they were simply ignored by both federal and state law enforcement. So when the state subcommittee formed , these social services personnel went to the senate, and said there’s much more going on than just embezzlement at the Franklin Credit Union.

AC: So early on, social services knew that much about a pedophile network?

NB: Yes, the social services had various reports that Lawrence E. King was running a nationwide pedophile network, and they initially contacted state law enforcement, and state law enforcement didn’t respond so then they contacted federal law enforcement, and they didn’t respond either.
So these senators, they started to investigate Lawrence E. King and this reported pedophile network, and they suddenly found themselves under a tremendous amount of heat, and pressure, because the FBI and various state law enforcement entities within the state of Nebraska were saying that there was no pedophile network. But yet, a couple of kids had come forward at this point, saying that they had been pandered, or that Lawrence E. King was instrumental in pandering children-- they had various sources. Ultimately they hired a crack investigator named Gary Caradori. Caradori started to investigate it, and he found other victims, so ultimately six victims came forward, but the victims were pressured—I mean Caradori knew of many more victims, but he felt that the FBI was getting to them before he could, because he realized his phones had been tapped. And a number of the senators had realized that their phones had been tapped too.

AC: So these investigations were being led by senators? Were they state or federal?

NB: State senators. There was about 7 or 8 of them, and they originally formed to just investigate the looting of the Franklin Credit Union, but then all these allegations eventually drifted to the sentators and they decided that they had to investigate because law enforcement hadn’t properly investigated the child abuse allegations.

AC: Ok. There was a grand jury trial, is that right?

NB: What ultimately happened was Gary Caradori started finding additional victims. Then he video taped them. Law enforcement had said that the child abuse allegations didn’t add up, but then all of the sudden you’ve got six victims that come forward, on video tape. They then gave the videotapes to law enforcement, and also to people within the state judiciary and law enforcement who they trusted , and these law enforcement officials, and judiciary officials, said that they felt the victims were credible. So if the cover-up was going to continue, both state and federal law enforcement were forced to call grand juries to cover up the child abuse—and that’s what happened. There was both a federal and state grand jury that were formed in Nebraska to cover up the child abuse allegations.

AC: I saw the end result of one of those grand juries, and they ruled that the whole thing was a “carefully crafted hoax”.

NB: The state grand jury said this. I had the good fortune of scoring the entire testimony and exhibits from this grand jury trial. In my book I show how perfidious and corrupt that grand jury was. It’s very easy to sway a grand jury- a lot of Americans don’t know this about the grand jury system. Grand jurors are just regular citizens who are called to jury duty, and they are essentially pooled into a grand jury. And it’s essentially up to the prosecutor of the grand jury to really seek the indictments and he’s the one that chooses witnesses that will be found, and he’s the one that chooses exhibits that will be shown to the grand jurors. So it’s very easy for a special prosecutor to sway a grand jury. It’s very easy. There was a New York appellate judge who once remarked that a special prosecutor could get grand jurors to indict a ham sandwich.

AC: Ok, I didn’t know this. So grand juries aren’t necessarily respected for ferreting out the truth?

NB: No, grand juries are infamous for cover ups.

AC: So where do you see the source of this resistance, or coverup as you say?

NB: In the Washington DC section of the book I show—through the grand jury documentation I acquired about 200 of Lawrence King’s flight receipts. And the vast majority of them go to Washington DC. And in DC there was a pedophilic pimp named Craig Spence, and he was also a CIA asset. And he said he was a CIA asset, and then I found other sources to corroborate that. And a lot of these pedophile parties went down in Craig Spence’s home. And his home was wired for audiovisual blackmail. Spence was a blackmail specialist.

AC: So he was doing this to blackmail powerful people?

NB: Spence’s guest lists were a veritable who’s who of people in congress, people in the upper echelon of the Reagan administration, the upper echelon of what would become the Bush administration, the upper echelon of the judiciary. So there were a number of people compromised by Craig Spence—not only with children but he spent 20,000 dollars a month at an escort service. So if you wanted a young man in his 20’s, that’s what you could get. Same if you wanted a young woman, and so on. Whatever you wanted you would be provided, and then you would subsequently be blackmailed. And this is why it had to be covered up in Nebraska, because if this unfolded in Nebraska, it would have been a domino effect all the way to Washington DC, and it would have shown Americans just how corrupt their political system is. And that people within the government are actually willing to use children to compromise politicians, and other powerbrokers.

AC: I’m still wondering, you say people were met with fierce resistance by law enforcement, have you come up with any really damning evidence of this cover up specifically?

NB: Well the cover up occurred in two places, it occurred in Washington DC, and you had the Department of Justice basically pulling the strings, and you had the Secret Service doing all the dirty work. In Nebraska you had the Department of Justice pulling all the strings and the FBI doing all the dirty work. Now the FBI threatened to kill a perpetrator who wanted to come forward and seek immunity. And the FBI also threatened victims with perjury if they kept on with their abuse story.

AC: I saw that some of the original victims to come forward were actually convicted of perjury, is that so?

NB: There were two kids who refused to recant their abuse and they were both indicted on multiple counts of perjury. And one was subjected to a kangaroo court, her name was Alisha Owen, and she was given between 9 and 15 years for perjury—because she wouldn’t recant her abuse. And she spent nearly two years in solitary confinement. All the victims were told that if they went on with this story they would go down for perjury, so it was essential that an example be made of Alisha Owen. And the federal grand jury that also covered up Franklin indicted her on 8 counts of perjury too. And Alisha’s 17 year old brother died under very mysterious circumstances. And another victim who testified with her, his brother also died under mysterious circumstances. The state investigator and his son also died under mysterious circumstances. And there were other people in Nebraska affiliated with the ring who supposedly committed suicide too. And then Craig Spence also committed suicide. So in the Franklin Scandal, there are about 2 or 3 mysterious deaths that turn up every chapter. It’s basically an acropolis.

AC: Yeah, I saw the Gary Caradori’s plane had crashed.

NB: Yeah, if you read the book, he was in Chicago, and I’ve got 5 corroborations that he had acquired compromised pictures of Kings pedophile network, and he was flying back to Nebraska, and these pictures would have busted the whole thing wide open. And that’s when he had this mysterious plane crash.

AC: Well that certainly does sound suspicious. It seems like there’s a lot of breadth and depth to your book. How long is it now?

NB: The narrative is about 500 pages, but some of the documents I have are just so mind-boggling and shocking. Pertaining to the FBI, and also a pedophile network that was squashed by the CIA, that we decided that we had to throw the documents in their entirety into the book. They’re just so mind-boggling and unbelievable that we felt that we had to have actual proof of these documents.

AC: Yeah, I would think so. This story is outrageous, so it would really need the kind of treatment that you seem to have given it. By which I mean incredibly thorough investigation.

NB: Well, I really felt that the bar had to be very high as far as corroboration. Because with this story I’m basically accusing the federal government, or a corrupt subgenus of the federal government, of aiding and abetting child trafficking. And no one has ever done that before. So I felt that if I was to be taken seriously I had to have and overkill of corroboration. That’s why I spent seven years on it, and travelled 40000 miles.

AC: That’s good, because this is the kind of story that normally would trigger disbelief. And in order to overcome that you have to come forth with a whole ton of evidence. Was this scandal at one time relatively well-known?

NB: Well not really. The New York Times covered it, and and CBS covered it, but they did a hatchet job on Gary Caradori and on the senate subcommittee. So either through omission or commission the media played a really integral role in covering it up. And it’s difficult to know whether they just took law enforcement’s version hook line and sinker, or if there was actually some people compromised within the media. Because the names of some major media folks who were compromised in that Washington DC house had come up. So, it’s really difficult to know, whether the story was just too bizarre, that a lot of the media organizations just wanted to take a “wait and see”, or if there were some people in the media who were compromised, and played a role in helping to cover this up.

AC: Ok, so from your angle, what you’ve been able to tell is at the very least they didn’t give it a fair treatment.

NB: Well, there wasn’t any investigation whatsoever. The New York Times jumped on this story almost immediately when the subcommittee formed and the social services personnel alluded to them the existence of this pedophile network and then they backed away from it for a year and a half, and then they just went with the grand jury version of things. Which was a very bizarre grand jury report – it said the child abuse allegations were a carefully crafted hoax. But the grand jury never named who would have concocted this hoax.

AC: So they were saying these allegations were part of a conspiracy, but they weren’t able to show who or what would have been behind such a conspiracy.

NB: Yes, the grand jury report is unbelievably bizarre, but the fact that they called it a carefully crafted hoax, but then refused to name the hoaxsters is even more bizarre.

AC: I know there were different victims willing to come forward at different times, how many have there been altogether?

NB: In the original investigation there were six victims who came forward, but the city investigator, Gary Caradori, he identified like 60 victims, and I’ve taken the victims he identified and I’ve spent a number of years looking for them. And I was able to get another couple of victims to come forward. They’re very hard to find because these kids came from very dysfunctional backgrounds, they were turned onto drugs at a young age, and they were repeatedly molested. And then as they got into later adolescence they were expunged. So basically you have a person who’s been repeatedly molested and a drug addict. So the kids went on to perpetrate various crimes and the vast majority of them lived very marginalized lives, where they very seldom used their social security numbers. So it was very difficult for me to find a lot of the victims. But I did end up finding a number of them.

AC: Ok, so you talked a little about the Washington DC connection here and I’ve heard that the scandal stretches all the way to the White House, is that right?

NB: Well, Craig Spence was very plugged in with the Reagan administration, as was Lawrence King—and the Bush administration too. And Craig Spence was taking male hookers, one we know was a minor, on midnight tours of the White House. And it’s very bizarre that you’ve got this powerbroker, pedophile, drug addict, taking male prostitutes on midnight tours of the White House, under George HW Bush’s administration. And the names that have come up as far as senators and congressman that have been compromised, is mind boggling. I heard from a very solid source in my book that someone very high in the department of justice was being pandered adolescent boys, and he certainly would have had the resources to initiate the cover up.

AC: Mind boggling is the right term. There was a documentary about this that was supposed to come on the Discovery Channel awhile back wasn’t there?

NB: Yes there was a documentary, and if you go to, I’ve got the most pristine copy of that documentary, also with scenes that had never been seen before.

AC: Ok good, because that never made it on the air.

NB: No, it was going to be shown in the UK by the Discover y Channel, but they pulled the plug on it before it was finished. But someone in the production of this documentary felt it was so important that they leaked a copy of this documentary.

AC: I also wanted to ask you about the reception you’ve gotten thus far. Have you gotten a lot of disbelief, have you had to do a lot of work in order to keep this story from being labeled a “conspiracy theory”?

NB: Well I’ve worked very very hard to corroborate this thing so it was beyond a conspiracy theory. But the mainstream media has just been very unwilling to interview me or give this story any kind of ink. I wrote an article about it, no major magazine would touch it. I wrote a pretty attractive book proposal on it, I had an agent try to sell it, everyone rejected it, and then this book came out which has been vetted by fact-checkers and lawyers and the media is still reluctant to give me a shot. Oprah’s producers have the book, Nancy Grace’s producers have it, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann’s producers have it, a lot of people have the book, but they just refuse to address it.

AC: Wow, you must find that frustrating, because this is the culmination of many years of hard research. And it could possibly be the hugest story since Watergate. And while I’m very grateful and humbled to have you hear to speak with, you should be far too busy to do interviews for my little blog right now.

NB: Well the story is gaining momentum, and without a lot of PR we’re going to a second printing and I’m reading good reviews in minor publications on the internet. And it’s a slow burn, unfortunately.

AC: Well hopefully the level of scholarship that’s gone into the book, with the level of verification you said you’ve gotten, will give this thing so much momentum it will be impossible to ignore.

NB: Well that’s what I’m hoping. The modus operandi of the media seems to be to ignore the Franklin Scandal, but if enough people read it, enough people will be completely outraged, and hopefully it will attain a critical mass where it can no longer be ignored. Because the thing about the Franklin Scandal, is any time you have a corrupt subgenus of the government involved in child trafficking, you have a disease. And any time you have politicians being blackmailed, you have a disease. So I’m diagnosing the disease. And on the former point, depending on which organization you are talking to, there’s 100,000 to 300,000 American children being trafficked every year domestically. So obviously these very large networks are still in existence, but nobody ever gets busted for running a large pedophile ring. It’s always some guy in a trailer park smoking crack with a 14 year old. So society doesn’t really know that these organized and protected pedophile networks are out there, pandering children to the rich and powerful. But you can’t cure a disease until it’s been diagnosed.

AC: You are also donating some of the proceeds from this book?

NB: 50% of the books proceeds are going to charities that assist abused children.

AC: It seems you’ve run into the same problem a lot of investigators run into when they uncover a true scandal, which is that the media turns the other way. Like Iran-Contra. Some of the crucial aspects of that case never got much treatment in the media.

NB: Well it’s very frustrating Iran Contra was basically subverted by George HW Bush, who pardoned everybody. What he did was unprecedented; he pardoned people even before their trials. But the Franklin Scandal most likely would’ve been the end of that administration, and it also would’ve shown the American public that their political system is very corrupt, and a number of their politicians are blackmailed and compromised. And that was why this had to be covered up, they couldn’t let this cat out of the bag. It almost got out when they started investigating in the subcommittee, but they managed to keep a lid on it.

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