Saturday, January 29, 2011

Medical Examiner Confirms Former Bush Official Murdered

I earlier discussed the tragic death of John P. Wheeler III, a former member of George W. Bush's administration who turned up dead in a landfill in Delaware on New Year's eve. There has been a lot of conspiracies circulating about why he may have been killed after he made a short trip to D.C. shortly before he turned up dead. Weeks later, a medical examiner has confirmed Wheeler was killed as a result of "brunt force trauma":

Homicide victim John P. Wheeler III, a former Pentagon official and presidential aide whose body was discovered Dec. 31 in a Wilmington landfill, was beaten to death in an assault, the Delaware medical examiner’s office announced today.

The official cause of Wheeler’s slaying was “blunt force trauma,’’ agency spokesman Karl Kanefsky said about a case that has drawn worldwide media coverage.

Police reiterated today that the case remains under investigation but acknowledge they cannot fill in critical gaps in the murder mystery.

Within hours of the grisly New Year’s Eve discovery, state pathologists had ruled that the 66-year-old New Castle resident was a homicide victim, but until today authorities had been mum on the cause of his death -- an unusual posture in Delaware, where such information is usually released promptly.

The four-week delay has helped fuel rampant speculation that Wheeler, a defense consultant and expert on chemical and biological weapons, was poisoned by enemies -- a theory that persisted in part because he was seen stumbling around Wilmington in the days before he died and officials said they were awaiting the results of toxicology tests.

As troubling as Wheeler's death is, I found it more troubling that he was wandering the streets in a disoriented state for at least two days and nobody bothered to come to his rescue. The medical examiner's toxicology report makes it clear drugs played no role in him appearing to others to be disoriented.
Wheeler is believed to have been on a train from Washington, D.C., to Wilmington on Dec. 28, Newark police said.

A cabbie interviewed by The News Journal, however, said he picked Wheeler up at the train station on Dec. 29.

Video and witness accounts of Wheeler's behavior in the 48 hours before his body was found show him disoriented, carrying one of his dress shoes, and looking in vain for his car in a Wilmington parking garage blocks from where his vehicle was located.

On Dec. 30, Wheeler was captured on surveillance video at the Nemours building at 10th and Orange streets in downtown Wilmington, where he asked for train fare at the Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz law firm.

The last image of him that day was leaving the Nemours building and walking southeast on 11th Street, past and through the Hotel du Pont valet parking area. He continued southeast and crossed Market Street and was last seen in camera view at 8:42 p.m. walking toward the East Side, a low-income neighborhood known as a hot spot for crime.

Freelance investigative reporter Wayne Madsen has a different take on Wayne Madsen Reports as to what might have happened to Wheeler, who he notes was an Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force when the Minot, North Dakota nuclear missile fiasco took place back in 2007. He notes Wheeler is among a string of odd deaths involving people tied to the incident:

John Wheeler III, special assistant to Air Force Secretary during the 2007 B-52 nuke incident at Minot, found dead in Delaware landfill

What the "news" is not telling you is -

Wheeler was the assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force in the George W. Bush Administration. It was the Secretary of the Air Force who discovered that Richard Cheney had set up an alternative chain of command to the nuclear weapons wing of the AF. In the process, six minutemen missiles armed with nuclear warheads were secretly transported from Minot AFB to Barksdale AFB. The later is the chief staging base for the Middle East war. The alarm system for the weapons was deactivated for the transport, something that not even the base commander could authorize. The orders had to have come from above. Many point to Cheney. Before the warheads could be flown via B-52 to the Iraq/Iran theater, the Secretary of the Air Force ordered the stand-down of all B-52 flights. When he discovered the alternative chain of command to Cheney, he fired all military personnel who were involved. Cheney was said to have been livid. The Secretary ordered an investigation of what the AF press release called an oversight, and 70 enlisted men and 5 officers were removed from the Minot nuclear system.

At the same time, people involved began to die mysteriously. Wheeler is only the latest casualty.
While I'm on the topic of strange deaths and Wayne Madsen, he also has an interesting take on the "freak accident" in which D.C. lobbyist Ashley Turton burned up in her automobile after a low speed collision in her home's garage near Capitol Hill:

Progress Energy lobbyist and ex-chief of staff to Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Ashley Westbrook Turton, opened the door of her BMW suburban utility vehicle a few minutes before 5 am on January 10. The 37-year old mother of three young children, including twin boys, and the wife of Dan Turton, President Obama’s chief liaison to the House of Representatives, was on her way to work. Later that day, an announcement would come from Duke Power that it was buying Progress Energy for $26 billion, creating the largest power utility in the United States.

Ashley Turton would never make it to work that day. Turton’s car was engulfed in flames after she turned the ignition. The Washington Metropolitan Police Department, which can always be counted on to come up with the best fiction any time there is a suspicious death with political implications, surmised that Turton’s car was involved in a “low-speed” crash in her garage with a work bench that triggered a chemical fire. But to top it all off, the police said an “unknown medical condition” was also likely involved in what was described as a “freaky” accident . . .

Based on the presence of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, and former Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) at Turton’s funeral service on January 14 at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, there is little doubt that Turton and her husband were a “power couple” in the nation’s capital. But there was also a sense from those in attendance, including members of Ashley Turton’s family from North Carolina, that all the information about Ashley’s tragic death was not being brought forward by the police or the fire department.

In her eulogy of her former chief of staff, DeLauro spoke of someone who could exude the mannerisms of the “southern belle” but who was also politically attuned. DeLauro said that Ashley’s two favorite expressions belied her on-the-surface Southern charm: “shit fire” and “rat bastard.” DeLauro said that she had not heard such language “since Rahm Emanuel moved out of Stan’s and my basement.” DeLauro’s reference was to the rent-free use by Emanuel of her and her husband, Democratic lobbyist Stan Greenberg’s, townhouse, while Emanuel was a congressman from the Illinois 5th congressional district from 2003 to 2008.

DeLauro said she last saw Ashley Turton at her and Greenberg’s Christmas Party. DeLauro last communicated with Ashley Turton on January 5, the day the new Congress was sworn in. Ashley Turton was at a political event in Arizona where featured speakers included Democratic pollster and lobbyist James Carville, Greenberg’s business partner, and Karl Rove, the chief political adviser to President George W. Bush. Ashley Turton indicated to DeLauro that while she would probably attend Carville’s session, she probably would not bother with Rove’s.

Ashley Turton’s friends described in Turton a person who had an appetite for possible gossip. In some cases, while discussing a juicy bit of political rumor, Ashley Turton would tell her friends, usually over a glass of wine, that “this conversation needs to go out on the porch.” Ashley Turton confided in a close friend that she wanted to leave Washington and return to North Carolina to raise her family.

Considering Ashley Turton’s job as DeLauro’s chief of staff, legislative aide, and press secretary for a number of years; Emanuel’s use of DeLauro’s townhouse while he was a member of the House and in charge of doling out or withholding Democratic Party funds to candidates around the country; the presence of Greenberg’s partner Carville and Rove at the Arizona political confab attended by Ashley Turton’s just five days before her suspicious death, the question will always remain: What “juicy gossip” might have Ashley Turton taken with her to the grave?
Yes, let's not forget Chicago's future mayor and Obama pal Rahm Emanuel got an apartment in Congressman DeLauro's Capitol Hill residence she owns with her husband, BP lobbyist Stan Greenberg, rent-free, a clear violation of House ethics rules for which Emanuel was given a total pass. As Madsen noted in a recent interview, Emanuel's transgressions were arguably worse than those of U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel, who was recently censored for violating House ethics rules. I won't hold my breath waiting to see a products liability lawsuit filed against BMW for Turton's wrongful death either.

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