Friday, December 17, 2010

Wikileaks has treasure hunting connection

My apologies to our buddy Homer on this one. He sent this and several related stories to me a week or so ago but we have been so busy in the field on our treasure sites that I haven’t had time to get the information posted for our other readers.

Thanks to Homer and his time on the internet we now know that there are a few government conspiracy theories that are true. Before I give you the story I’m going to add my own two cents worth on this. You didn’t really think you would get away without me giving an opinion, did you?

As far as the pin-head wikileaks guy goes, I have mixed feelings. I don’t know exactly how or where he got his info from but if someone gave it to him and he simply posted it then it would be my opinion that he is covered by the First Amendment. With that said, anyone that has any responsible bone in their body would understand that a government has to have secrets to properly protect it’s citizens and certain things aren’t for the consumption of the general populace. I dislike secrets as much as the next guy but for the most part, I don’t necessarily need to know who we are spying on or how we are doing it.

In my opinion, because of some of the information this guy posted on his site, he is a moron and should be considered dangerous. What do we do with him? I don’t have a clue but as much as I hate to congratulate the guy, I almost have to for a portion of the information he did post.

It seems good ole Uncle Sam is screwing his citizens, specifically treasure hunters, once again and using the cloak of secrecy do it with. Our government was/is supplying a foreign government confidential information on a US company and it’s activities. All for the sole purpose of brokering a deal for a single painting.

I find this to be despicable, unconscionable and a criminal act. The individuals within our government that were/are involved with this should be fired and prosecuted, not to mentioned sued by the Odyssey Marine treasure hunting company for everything they have now and will have for the rest of their lives.

Just in case you can’t tell, this aggravates the crap out of me! As treasure hunters the government has been giving us the short end of the stick for years and now you can’t even trust your own government to back you in court against a foreign government. Not only will they not back you up, they intentionally screw you just for their own gratification.

OK, I have put my soap box away. Here is the story.

U.S. secretly helped Spain fight treasure hunter

Diplomat turned over documents to aid legal battle over gold and silver, cables show

TAMPA — Sunken treasure, WikiLeaks documents and a priceless French painting.

Suddenly, a great deal of international drama has touched down in Tampa and reads like a diplomatic thriller — with half a billion dollars in gold at stake.

For years, Tampa's Odyssey Marine treasure hunting company has been fighting with the Spanish government over a 17 tons of gold and silver coins that Odyssey discovered and brought up off the Atlantic Ocean floor.

Now, it turns out, Spain has been getting secret help since 2007 from an unlikely source: The U.S. government.

Among the thousands of documents released by WikiLeaks are several U.S. diplomatic cables describing how U.S. ambassadors were helping Spain in their cause — partly to help broker a deal to bring a famous painting in Spain to a U.S. citizen who claimed it was looted by the Nazis in World War II.

Specifically the U.S. offered to provide confidential customs documents prepared by Odyssey that Spain in turn planned to use in court to fight the company.

Odyssey officials are not pleased.

"The cables seem to indicate that someone in the U.S. State Department has literally offered to sacrifice Odyssey and its thousands of shareholders along with the many jobs created by the company in exchange for the return of one painting to one U.S. Citizen," the company said in a statement to the Tribune. "It is hard to believe that this really happened. It sounds like something out of a Hollywood script."

London's Guardian newspaper first reported the cables, as part of its ongoing digestion of thousands of documents released by WikiLeaks. The U.S. government has condemned the release and called for prosecution of WikiLeaks founders.

The Spanish were cool to the idea of returning the painting, the cables show, but were grateful after Department of Homeland Security staff in the U.S. embassy in Madrid handed the Spanish customs import documents that Odyssey had filed when bringing the treasure to Tampa.

"The information was confidential," the U.S. cable stated, "and to be used only for law enforcement purposes." The Spanish replied that they were "interested in obtaining the Odyssey customs information to provide to lawyers representing the [Government of Spain] in the Tampa Admiralty Court."

Odyssey found the treasure in May 2007 and has since argued that the treasure was on board a Spanish commercial vessel. The ship sank in international waters, possibly in 1804 while carrying commercial goods from Peru, Odyssey says, and was thus fair game for any salvage company that found it. Odyssey is now locked in a protracted legal battle with Spain, which claims the treasure was on a military mission at the time, and thus Spanish property forever.

A diplomatic cable a year later describes how the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, Eduardo Aguirre, suggested a deal.

He met with Spanish Minister of Culture Cesar Antonio Molina on June 30, 2008, who told the U.S. Ambassador that they should meet over the issue of a claim by an American citizen, Claude Cassirer, to recover a painting by Camille Pissarro. Cassirer claims the Nazis in 1939 forced his grandmother to sell them the painting and it passed through several hands before ending up in a Spanish museum.

"The [U.S.] ambassador noted also that while the Odyssey and Cassirer claim were on separate legal tracks," the cable states, "it was in both governments' interest to avail themselves of whatever margin for manouevre they had, consistent with their legal obligations, to resolve both matters in a way that favoured the bilateral relationship."

The Spanish official replied, the cable says, that there were many steps required before any movement on the painting, but that he had recently flown to Washington, in part, to meet with lawyers that Spain retained in the Odyssey case. He expressed "indignation" after a CNN interview where Odyssey CEO Greg Stemm aimed to keep the treasure and return only items of archeological value.

The treasure now sits in a vault warehouse in an undisclosed location. The legal case already went through federal court in Tampa, and now rests in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. However the case is decided, observers expect it to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Another two cents of my opinion, if I were Odyssey Marine I would move every bit of that half billion dollars worth of gold and silver to my own island somewhere and tell everybody, especially Uncle Sam, to kiss my . .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, many Governments have many secrets about WWII loot: