First reported on November 20, 2003, updated April 20, 2005, WASHINGTON, DC—In
a case eerily reminiscent of the death of British Ministry of Defense bio-weapons
expert, Dr. David Kelly, an official of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence
and Research Near East and South Asian division (INR/NESA), John J. Kokal, 58,
was found dead in the late afternoon of November 7, 2003.
Police indicated he may have jumped from the roof of the State Department.
Kokal's body was found at the bottom of a 20-foot window well, eight floors
below the roof of the State Department headquarters, near the 23rd and D Street
location. Kokal's death was briefly mentioned in a FOX News website story on
November 8 but has been virtually overlooked by the major media. In light of
recent revelations concerning UN ambassador nominee John Bolton's bizarre and
physically abusive behavior, a re-examination of the Kokal death is in order.
Kokal's INR bureau was at the forefront of confronting claims that Iraq possessed
weapons of mass destruction. Washington police have not ruled out homicide as
the cause of his death. Kokal was not wearing either a jacket or shoes when
his body was found. He lived with his wife in Arlington, Virginia.
However, a colleague of Kokal's told this writer that the Iraq analyst was
despondent over "problems" with his security clearance. Kokal reportedly
climbed out of a window and threw himself off in such a manner so that he would
"land on his head." At the time Kokal fell from either the roof or
a window, his wife Pamela, a public affairs specialist in the Bureau of Western
Hemisphere Affairs, was waiting for him in the parking garage. Mrs. Kokal had
previously worked in Consular Affairs where she was involved in the stricter
vetting of visa applicants from mainly Muslim countries after the Sept. 11 attacks.
State Department officials dispute official department communiqués that
said Kokal was not an analyst at INR. People who know Kokal told the French
publication Geopolitique that Kokal was involved in the analysis of intelligence
about Iraq prior to and during the war against Saddam Hussein. According to
State Department sources, Kokal briefed Secretary of State Colin Powell at least
once a week on Iraq, adding that Kokal was a skeptic on the Iraqi weapons of
Another INR official, weapons expert Greg Thielmann, said he and INR were largely
ignored by Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security John
Bolton and his deputy, David Wurmser, a pro-Likud neoconservative who recently
became Vice President Dick Cheney's Middle East adviser. Kokal's former boss,
the recently retired chief of INR, Carl W. Ford, later said that Bolton often
exaggerated information to steer people in the wrong directions.
Now that Bolton has been nominated for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations
and we have learned through Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings that
Bolton was verbally and physically abusive to his colleagues over the past several
years, it is time to take a close look at some violent deaths of State Department
and CIA officials who tangled with the Bush administration over Iraq policy.
It is noteworthy that Bolton's ideological soul mate at the National Security
Council (NSC), ex-Iran-Contra felon Elliot Abrams, has also been psychologically
and physically abusive to his subordinates. Bolton and Abrams are long-time
friends, having both helped devise the neoconservative game plan for U.S. global
domination through their activities with the Project for a New American Century
According to a UPI report, Abrams once led CIA officer Ben Miller (who was
on loan to the NSC from the agency) to an open window at the NSC and told him
to jump. Abrams and Bolton share a mercurial and maniacal management style that
includes physical threats against subordinates. While Bolton was demanding the
firing of State Department and CIA personnel, including State Department analyst
Christian Westermann and CIA officer Fulton Armstrong, Abrams fired Miller and
two of his NSC colleagues, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann.
Ford testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Bolton was
a "quintessential kiss-up and kick-down sort of guy." A lingering
question is whether Bolton is a "kick out" (as in window) sort of
guy. Since Abrams's position at the NSC does not require Senate approval, the
testimonies of Miller, Leverett, and Mann against Abrams were never heard by
A former INR employee revealed that some one-third to one-half of INR officials
are either former CIA intelligence agents or are detailed from the agency. He
also revealed it would have been impossible for Kokal to have gained entry to
the roof on his own. INR occupies both a Sensitive Compartmented Information
Facility (SCIF) on the sixth floor that has no windows and a windowless structure
on the roof that has neither windows nor access to the roof, according to the
former official. The other windows at the State Department have been engineered
to be shatter proof from terrorist bomb attacks and cannot be opened.
The suspicious fatal fall from the Watergate complex of ex-CIA and NSC official
Dr. Gus Weiss a few weeks after Kokal's similar death at the nearby State Department
also merits investigation. Weiss, like Kokal, was adamantly opposed to the Iraq
war and Weiss, uncharacteristically, went public with his protests.
Weiss worked in the office of Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson in the
1970s, along with Iraqi war architects Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. He
also served on the U.S. Intelligence Board under President Jimmy Carter and
was considered a hawk during the Carter and Reagan administrations. However,
in later years, Weiss broke ranks with his old neoconservative colleagues and
came out against the Iraq misadventure.
INR and other State Department officials reported that a "chill"
set in at the State Department following Kokal's defenestration. A number of
employees were afraid to talk about the suspicious death. It also is unusual
that The Northern Virginia Journal, a local Arlington newspaper, has not published
an obituary notice on Kokal.
Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based journalist and syndicated columnist.
His forthcoming book is "Jaded Tasks: Big Oil, Black Ops & Brass Plates."