In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed William Donovan as head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), an organization that was given the responsible for espionage and for helping the resistance movement in Europe. He was helped in this by William Stephenson and Britain's MI6 chief, Stewart Menzies.
Donovan was given the rank of major general and during the Second World War he built up a team of 16,000 agents working behind enemy lines. The growth of the OSS brought conflict with John Edgar Hoover who saw it as a rival to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He persuaded President Harry S. Truman that the OSS in peacetime would be an "American Gestapo". At the end of the war, Truman ordered the OSS to be closed down leaving a small intelligence organization, the Strategic Services Unit (SSU) in the War Department.
After leaving the OSS Frank Wisner joined the Wall Street law firm, Carter Ledyard. However, in 1947, he was recruited by Dean Acheson, to work under Charles Saltzman, at the State Department's Office of Occupied Territories. Wisner moved to Washington where he associated with a group of journalists, politicians and government officials that became known as the Georgetown Set. This included Frank Wisner, George Kennan, Dean Acheson, Richard Bissell, Desmond FitzGerald, Joseph Alsop, Stewart Alsop, Tracy Barnes, Philip Graham, David Bruce, Clark Clifford, Walt Rostow, Eugene Rostow, Chip Bohlen, Cord Meyer, Richard Helms, Desmond FitzGerald, Frank Wisner, James Angleton, William Averill Harriman, John McCloy, Felix Frankfurter, John Sherman Cooper, James Reston, Allen W. Dulles, Walter Lippmann and Paul Nitze.
The group often meat the home of Chip Bohlen on Dunbarton Avenue. Most men brought their wives to these gatherings. Members of what was later called the Georgetown Ladies' Social Club included Katharine Graham, Mary Pinchot Meyer, Sally Reston, Polly Wisner, Joan Braden, Lorraine Cooper, Evangeline Bruce, Avis Bohlen, Janet Barnes, Tish Alsop, Cynthia Helms, Marietta FitzGerald, Phyllis Nitze and Annie Bissell.
The Office of Strategic Services provided a model for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that was established in September 1947. Others have suggested that it was the British Security Coordination (BSC) that was really the important organisation. According to Joseph C. Goulden several of the "old boys" who were around for the founding of the CIA like repeating a mantra, “The Brits taught us everything we know - but by no means did they teach us everything that they know.” The role of the CIA was to evaluate intelligence reports and coordinate the intelligence activities of the various government departments in the interest of national security. Frank Wisner remained concerned about the spread of communism and began lobbying for a new intelligence agency. He gained support for this from James Forrestal, the Defense Secretary. In June 1948, George Kennan, drafted a directive that resulted in the Office of Special Projects.
Wisner was told to create an organization that concentrated on "propaganda, economic warfare; preventive direct action, including sabotage, anti-sabotage, demolition and evacuation measures; subversion against hostile states, including assistance to underground resistance groups, and support of indigenous anti-Communist elements in threatened countries of the free world". Thomas Braden later recalled: "Wisner brought in a whole load of fascists after the war, some really nasty people. He could do that, because he was powerful. Harrison E. Salisbury commented: "He (Wisner) was the key to a great many things, a brilliant, compulsive man, of enormous charm, imagination, and conviction that anything, anything could be achieved and that he could achieve it."
Later that year Frank Wisner established Operation Mockingbird, a program to influence the American media. Wisner recruited Philip Graham (Washington Post) to run the project within the industry. According to Deborah Davis (Katharine the Great): "By the early 1950s, Wisner 'owned' respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles."
Rear Admiral Sidney W. Souers, who was the Deputy Chief of Naval Intelligence, was appointed the first Director of Central Intelligence. Walter Bedell Smith took over the post in 1950 and held it until being replaced by Allen W. Dulles in 1953.
According to Deborah Davis, the CIA operative Cord Meyer became the "principal operative" of Operation Mockingbird. One of the most important journalists under the control of Mockingbird was Joseph Alsop, whose articles appeared in over 300 different newspapers. Other journalists willing to promote the views of the CIA included Stewart Alsop (New York Herald Tribune), Ben Bradlee (Newsweek), James Reston (New York Times), Charles Douglas Jackson (Time Magazine), Walter Pincus (Washington Post), William C. Baggs (Miami News), Herb Gold (Miami News) and Charles Bartlett (Chattanooga Times). According to Nina Burleigh (A Very Private Woman) these journalists sometimes wrote articles that were commissioned by Frank Wisner. The CIA also provided them with classified information to help them with their work.
After 1953 the network was overseen by Allen W. Dulles, director of the Central Intelligence Agency. By this time Operation Mockingbird had a major influence over 25 newspapers and wire agencies. These organizations were run by people with well-known right-wing views such as William Paley (CBS), Henry Luce (Time Magazine and Life Magazine), Arthur Hays Sulzberger (New York Times), Alfred Friendly (managing editor of the Washington Post), Jerry O'Leary (Washington Star), Hal Hendrix (Miami News), Barry Bingham Sr., (Louisville Courier-Journal), James Copley (Copley News Services) and Joseph Harrison (Christian Science Monitor).
The Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) was funded by siphoning of funds intended for the Marshall Plan. Some of this money was used to bribe journalists and publishers. Frank Wisner was constantly looked for ways to help convince the public of the dangers of communism. In 1954 Wisner arranged for the funding the Hollywood production of Animal Farm, the animated allegory based on the book written by George Orwell. According to Alex Constantine (Mockingbird: The Subversion Of The Free Press By The CIA), in the 1950s, "some 3,000 salaried and contract CIA employees were eventually engaged in propaganda efforts". Wisner was also able to restrict newspapers from reporting about certain events.
Another project started by Frank Wisner was called Operation Bloodstone. This secret operation involved recruiting former German officers and diplomats who could be used in the covert war against the Soviet Union. This included former members of the Nazi Party such as Gustav Hilger and Hans von Bittenfield. Later, John Loftus, a prosecutor with the Office of Special Investigations at the U.S. Justice Department, accused Wisner of methodically recruiting Nazi war criminals. As one of the agents involved in Operation Bloodstone, Harry Rositzke, pointed out, Wisner was willing to use anyone "as long as he was anti-communist".
Frank Wisner began having trouble with J. Edgar Hoover. He described the OPC as "Wisner's gang of weirdos" and began carrying out investigations into their past. It did not take him long to discover that some of them had been active in left-wing politics in the 1930s. This information was passed to Joseph McCarthy who started making attacks on members of the OPC. Hoover also passed to McCarthy details of an affair that Wisner had with Princess Caradja in Romania during the war. Hoover, claimed that Caradja was a Soviet agent.
In August, 1952, the Office of Policy Coordination and the Office of Special Operations (the espionage division) were merged to form the Directorate of Plans (DPP). Frank Wisner became head of this new organization and Richard Helms became his chief of operations. The DPP now accounted for three quarters of the CIA budget and 60% of its personnel.
At this time Frank Wisner began plotting the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran. He had upset the US government by nationalizing Iran's oil industry. Mossadegh also abolished Iran's feudal agriculture sector and replaced with a system of collective farming and government land ownership.
On April 4, 1953, Frank Wisner persuaded Allen W. Dulles to approve $1 million to be used "in any way that would bring about the fall of Mossadegh." Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, was put in charge of what became known as Operation Ajax. According to Donald N. Wilber, who was involved in this CIA plot to remove Mossadegh from power, in early August, 1953, Iranian CIA operatives, pretending to be socialists, threatened Muslim leaders with "savage punishment if they opposed Mossadegh," thereby giving the impression that Mossadegh was cracking down on dissent. This resulted in the religious community turning against Mossadegh.
Iranians took to the streets against Mohammed Mossadegh. Funded with money from the CIA and MI6, the pro-monarchy forces quickly gained the upper hand. The military now joined the opposition and Mossadegh was arrested on August 19, 1953. President Dwight Eisenhower was delighted with this result and asked Wisner to arrange for Kermit Roosevelt to give him a personal briefing on Operation Ajax.
In March 1953, 209,842 acres of United Fruit Company's uncultivated land was taken by the government which offered compensation of $525,000. The company wanted $16 million for the land. While the Guatemalan government valued $2.99 per acre, the American government valued it at $75 per acre. Samuel Zemurray, United Fruit Company's largest shareholder, with the help of Tommy Corcoran, organized an anti-Arbenz campaign in the American media. This included the claim that Guatemala was the beginning of "Soviet expansion in the Americas".
A State Department policy paper published in August 1953 stated: “Our secret stimulation and material support of the overthrow of the Arbenz Government should subject us to serious hazards. Experience has shown that no such operation could be carried on secretly without great risk of its leadership and backers being fully known. Were it to become evident that the United States had tried a Czechoslovakia in reverse in Guatemala, the effects on our relations in this hemisphere, and probably the world at large, could be as disastrous as those produced by open intervention.”
The CIA decided that Jacobo Arbenz had to be removed from power. Frank Wisner, as head of the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC), took overall responsibility for the operation. Also involved was Richard Bissell, head of the Directorate for Plans, an organization instructed to conduct covert anti-Communist operations around the world. The plot against Arbenz therefore became part of Executive Action (a plan to remove unfriendly foreign leaders from power).
Jake Esterline was placed in charge of the CIA's Washington task force in the overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala. Tracy Barnes was field commander of what became known as Operation Success. David Atlee Phillips was appointed to run the propaganda campaign against Arbenz's government. According to Phillips he initially questioned the right of the CIA to interfere in Guatemala: In his autobiography Phillips claims he said to Barnes: "But Arbenz became President in a free election. What right do we have to help someone topple his government and throw him out of office?" However, Barnes convinced him that it was vital important that the Soviets did not establish a "beachhead in Central America".
The CIA propaganda campaign included the distribution of 100,000 copies of a pamphlet entitled Chronology of Communism in Guatemala. They also produced three films on Guatemala for showing free in cinemas. Phillips, along with E. Howard Hunt, was responsible for running the CIA's Voice of Liberation radio station. Faked photographs were distributed that claimed to show the mutilated bodies of opponents of Arbenz. William (Rip) Robertson was also involved in the campaign against Arbenz.
The CIA began providing financial and logistic support for Colonel Carlos Castillo. With the help of resident Anastasio Somoza, Castillo had formed a rebel army in Nicaragua. It has been estimated that between January and June, 1954, the CIA spent about $20 million on Castillo's army.
The Guatemalan Foreign Minister, Guillermo Toriello, asked the United Nations for help against the covert activities of the United States. Toriello accused the United States government of categorizing "as communism every manifestation of nationalism or economic independence, any desire for social progress, any intellectual curiosity, and any interest in progressive liberal reforms."
President Dwight Eisenhower responded by claiming that Guatemala had a "communist dictatorship.. had established... an outpost on this continent to the detriment of all the American nations". Secretary of State John Foster Dulles added that the Guatemala people were living under a "communist type of terrorism".
On 18th June, 1954, aircraft dropped leaflets over Guatemala demanding that Arbenz resign immediately or else the county would be bombed. CIA's Voice of Liberation also put out similar radio broadcasts. This was followed by a week of bombing ports, ammunition dumps, military barracks and the international airport.
Guillermo Toriello appealed to the United Nations to help protect Guatemalan government. Henry Cabot Lodge tried to block the Security Council from discussing a resolution to send an investigation team to Guatemala. When this failed he put pressure on Security Council members to vote against the resolution. Britain and France were both initially in favour but eventually buckled under United States pressure and agreed to abstain. As a result the resolution was defeated by 5 votes to 4. The UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold was so upset by the actions of the USA that he considered resigning from his post.
Carlos Castillo and his collection of soldiers now crossed the Honduran-Guatemalan border. His army was outnumbered by the Guatemalan Army. However, the CIA Voice of Liberation successfully convinced Arbenz's supporters that two large and heavily armed columns of invaders were moving towards Guatemala City.
The CIA was also busy bribing Arbenz's military commanders. It was later discovered that one commander accepted $60,000 to surrender his troops. Ernesto Guevara attempted to organize some civil militias but senior army officers blocked the distribution of weapons. Arbenz now believed he stood little chance of preventing Castillo gaining power. Accepting that further resistance would only bring more deaths he announced his resignation over the radio.
Two weeks after the overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, Thomas C. Mann arrived in the country as deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy. Castillo's new government was immediately recognised by President Dwight Eisenhower. Castillo now reversed the Arbenz reforms. In July 19, 1954, he created the National Committee of Defense Against Communism and decreed the Preventive Penal Law Against Communism to fight against those who supported Arbenz when he was in power. Over the next few weeks thousands were arrested on suspicion of communist activity. A large number of these prisoners were tortured or killed.
The removal of Jacobo Arbenz resulted in several decades of repression. Later, several of the people involved in Operation Success, including Richard Bissell and Tracy Barnes, regretted the outcome of the Guatemala Coup.
Frank Wisner managed to get a copy of the speech that Nikita Khrushchev made at the 20th Party Congress in February, 1956, where Khrushchev launched an attack on the rule of Joseph Stalin. He condemned the Great Purge and accused Stalin of abusing his power. He announced a change in policy and gave orders for the Soviet Union's political prisoners to be released.
Wisner leaked details of the speech to the New York Times who published it on 2nd June, 1956. Khrushchev's de-Stalinzation policy encouraged people living in Eastern Europe to believe that he was willing to give them more independence from the Soviet Union. Over the next few weeks riots took place in Poland and East Germany.
In Hungary the prime minister Imre Nagy removed state control of the mass media and encouraged public discussion on political and economic reform. Nagy also released anti-communists from prison and talked about holding free elections and withdrawing Hungary from the Warsaw Pact. Khrushchev became increasingly concerned about these developments and on 4th November 1956 he sent the Red Army into Hungary. Wisner expected the United States would help the Hungarians. As Thomas Polgar later pointed out: "Sure, we never said rise up and revolt, but there was a lot of propaganda that led the Hungarians to believe that we would help."
Frank Wisner, who had been involved in creating this propaganda, told friends that he felt the American government had let Hungary down. He pointed out that they had spent a great deal of money on Radio Free Europe "to get these people to revolt". Wisner added that he felt personally betrayed by this behaviour. During the Hungarian Uprising an estimated 20,000 people were killed. Wisner told Clare Boothe Luce, the American ambassador in Italy: "All these people are getting killed and we weren't doing anything, we were ignoring it."
In December, 1956, Frank Wisner had a mental breakdown and was diagnosed as suffering from manic depression. During his absence Wisner's job was covered by his chief of operations, Richard Helms. Wisner's friends believed the illness was triggered by the failure of the Hungarian Uprising. A close friend, Avis Bohlen said he "was so depressed about how the world was going... he felt we were losing the Cold War."
In January 1959 General Fulgencio Batista, the military dictator of Cuba, was ousted by Fidel Castro. In its first hundred days in office Castro's government passed several new laws. Rents were cut by up to 50 per cent for low wage earners; property owned by Batista and his ministers was confiscated; the telephone company was nationalized and the rates were reduced by 50 per cent; land was redistributed amongst the peasants (including the land owned by the Castro family); separate facilities for blacks and whites (swimming pools, beaches, hotels, cemeteries etc.) were abolished.
Some of Castro's new laws also upset the United States. Much of the land given to the peasants was owned by United States corporations. So also was the telephone company that was nationalized. The United States government responded by telling Castro they would no longer be willing to supply the technology and technicians needed to run Cuba's economy. When this failed to change Castro's policies they reduced their orders for Cuban sugar.
Castro refused to be intimidated by the United States and adopted even more aggressive policies towards them. In the summer of 1960 Castro nationalism United States property worth $850 million. He also negotiated a deal where by the Soviet Union and other communist countries in Eastern Europe agreed to purchase the sugar that the United States had refused to take. The Soviet Union also agreed to supply the weapons, technicians and machinery denied to Cuba by the United States.
In March 1960, President Dwight Eisenhower of the United States approved a CIA plan to overthrow Castro. The plan involved a budget of $13 million to train "a paramilitary force outside Cuba for guerrilla action." The strategy was organised by Bissell and Helms. An estimated 400 CIA officers were employed full-time to carry out what became known as Operation Mongoose.
Sidney Gottlieb of the CIA Technical Services Division was asked to come up with proposals that would undermine Castro's popularity with the Cuban people. Plans included a scheme to spray a television studio in which he was about to appear with an hallucinogenic drug and contaminating his shoes with thallium which they believed would cause the hair in his beard to fall out.
These schemes were rejected and instead it was decided to arrange the assassination of Fidel Castro. In September 1960, Richard Bissell and Allen W. Dulles, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), initiated talks with two leading figures of the Mafia, Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana. Later, other crime bosses such as Carlos Marcello, Santos Trafficante and Meyer Lansky became involved in this plot against Castro.
Robert Maheu, a veteran of CIA counter-espionage activities, was instructed to offer the Mafia $150,000 to kill Fidel Castro. The advantage of employing the Mafia for this work is that it provided CIA with a credible cover story. The Mafia were known to be angry with Castro for closing down their profitable brothels and casinos in Cuba. If the assassins were killed or captured the media would accept that the Mafia were working on their own.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had to be brought into this plan as part of the deal involved protection against investigations against the Mafia in the United States. Castro was later to complain that there were twenty ClA-sponsered attempts on his life. Eventually Johnny Roselli and his friends became convinced that the Cuban revolution could not be reversed by simply removing its leader. However, they continued to play along with this CIA plot in order to prevent them being prosecuted for criminal offences committed in the United States.
When John F. Kennedy replaced Dwight Eisenhower as president of the United States he was told about the CIA plan to invade Cuba. Kennedy had doubts about the venture but he was afraid he would be seen as soft on communism if he refused permission for it to go ahead. Kennedy's advisers convinced him that Fidel Castro was an unpopular leader and that once the invasion started the Cuban people would support the ClA-trained forces.
On April 14, 1961, B-26 planes began bombing Cuba's airfields. After the raids Cuba was left with only eight planes and seven pilots. Two days later five merchant ships carrying 1,400 Cuban exiles arrived at the Bay of Pigs. The attack was a total failure. Two of the ships were sunk, including the ship that was carrying most of the supplies. Two of the planes that were attempting to give air-cover were also shot down. Within seventy-two hours all the invading troops had been killed, wounded or had surrendered.
After the CIA's internal inquiry into this fiasco, Allen W. Dulles was sacked by President John F. Kennedy and Richard Bissell was forced to resign. Richard Helms now took over the Directorate for Plans. He now introduced a campaign that involved covert attacks on the Cuban economy.
In 1962 the CIA became increasingly involved in the Vietnam War. By this time President John F. Kennedy was convinced that Ngo Dinh Diem would never be able to unite the South Vietnamese against communism. Several attempts had already been made to overthrow Diem but Kennedy had always instructed the CIA and the US military forces in Vietnam to protect him. Eventually, in order to obtain a more popular leader of South Vietnam, Kennedy agreed that the role of the CIA should change. Lucien Conein, a CIA operative, provided a group of South Vietnamese generals with $40,000 to carry out the coup with the promise that US forces would make no attempt to protect Diem. The generals had promised Diem that he would be allowed to leave the country they changed their mind and killed him.
At 11.00 a.m. on Friday, 27th September, 1963, a young American entered the Cuban consul's office. He told Silvia Duran that his name was Lee Harvey Oswald and that he needed a Cuban transit visa. Oswald told Duran that he planned to leave in three days' time and stay in Cuba for a couple of weeks. He then intended to move onto the Soviet Union. To establish his identity Oswald showed Duran her his passport, correspondence with the American Communist Party, his membership card for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, a newspaper clipping about his activities in New Orleans and a photograph of Oswald in custody, accompanied by two police officers.
Silvia Duran was suspicious of Lee Harvey Oswald. She could not understand why Oswald had not applied in advance by contacting the Communist Party in Cuba. Duran told him that he would need a passport photograph to apply for a visa for Cuba. He returned an hour later with the photograph. Duran then told Oswald she could not issue a transit visa without confirmation that he had clearance for travel to the Soviet Union. Oswald was told it would be at least seven days before his transit visa could be issued. Oswald replied that he could only stay for three days.
Duran told Lee Harvey Oswald he would need to visit the Soviet embassy to get the necessary paperwork. This he did but Vice Consul Oleg Nechiperenko informed him that the visa application would be sent to the Soviet embassy in Washington and would take about four months. Oswald then returned to the Cuban consulate at 4.00 and told Duran that he had been to the Soviet Embassy and that they were willing to give him a visa straight away. Duran phoned the embassy and was told that Oswald was lying and that the visa would not be issued for some time. After a brief argument Oswald left the consulate. Six times Oswald needed to pass the newly installed CIA camera as part of the LIERODE operation.
The CIA surveillance program worked and on Monday, 30th September, Anne Goodpasture recorded details of Oswald’s visits to the Cuban consulate. As Goodpasture noted, the two types of “security” information that most interested the CIA station concerned “U.S. citizens initiating or maintaining contact with the Cuban and Soviet diplomatic installations” and “travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens or residents.”
The CIA tape of the Oswald call to the Soviet embassy was marked “urgent” and was delivered to the station within 15 minutes of it taking place. Winston Scott read Goodpasture’s report and next to the transcript of Duran’s call to the Soviet embassy, he wrote: “Is it possible to identify”.
It later emerged that the CIA station in Mexico was already monitoring Silvia Duran. According to Winston Scott and David Atlee Phillips, the CIA surveillance program had revealed that Duran was having an affair with Carlos Lechuga, the former Cuban ambassador in Mexico City, who was in 1963 serving as Castro’s ambassador to the United Nations.
When Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in Dallas shortly after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Duran immediately recognized him as the man who visited the Cuban consul's office on 27th September. This was reinforced by the discovery of Duran's name and phone number in Oswald's address book. However, Eusebio Azcue, another man who met Oswald in the office, said the man had dark blond hair and had features quite different from those of the man arrested in Dallas.
The CIA surveillance program worked and on Monday, 30th September, Anne Goodpasture recorded details of Oswald’s visits to the Cuban consulate. As Goodpasture noted, the two types of “security” information that most interested the CIA station concerned “U.S. citizens initiating or maintaining contact with the Cuban and Soviet diplomatic installations” and “travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens or residents.”
The CIA tape of the Lee Harvey Oswald call to the Soviet embassy was marked “urgent” and was delivered to the station within 15 minutes of it taking place. Winston Scott read Goodpasture’s report and next to the transcript of Duran’s call to the Soviet embassy, he wrote: “Is it possible to identify”.
Soon after the assassination of John F. Kennedy Scott contacted Luis Echeverria and asked his men to arrest Silvia Duran. He also told Diaz Ordaz that Duran was to be held incommunicado until she gave all details of her contacts with Lee Harvey Oswald. Scott then reported his actions to CIA headquarters. Soon afterwards, John M. Whitten, the CIA head of the Mexican desk, called Scott with orders from Tom Karamessines that Duran was not to be arrested. Win told them it was too late and that the Mexican government would keep the whole thing secret. Karamessines replied with a telegram that began: “Arrest of Sylvia Duran is extremely serious matter which could prejudice U.S. freedom of action on entire question of Cuban responsibility.”
Silvia Duran, her husband and five other people were arrested. Duran was “interrogated forcefully” (Duran was badly bruised during the interview). Luis Echeverria reported to Winston Scott that Duran had been “completely cooperative” and had made a detailed statement. This statement matched the story of the surveillance transcripts, with one exception. The tapes indicated that Duran made another call to the Soviet embassy on Saturday, 28th September. Duran then put an American on the line who spoke incomprehensible Russian. This suggests that the man could not have been Oswald who spoke the language well.
Four days later she was arrested Richard Helms cabled Winston Scott: "We want to ensure that neither Silvia Duran nor Cubans get impression that Americans behind her rearrest. In other words, we want Mexican authorities to take responsibility for whole affair."
On 25th November, Gilberto Alvarado, a 23 year-old Nicaraguan man, contacted the U.S. embassy in Mexico City and said he had some important information about Lee Harvey Oswald. The U.S. ambassador, Thomas C. Mann, passed the information onto Winston Scott and the following morning, Scott's deputy, Alan White and another CIA officer interviewed Avarado. He claimed that during a visit to the Cuban Embassy he overheard a man he now recognised as Oswald, talking to a red-haired Negro man. According to Alvarado, Oswald said something about being man enough to kill someone. He also claimed that he saw money changing hands. He reported the information at the time to the U.S. Embassy but they replied: "Quit wasting our time. We are working here, not playing."
Winston Scott told David Atlee Phillips about what Gilberto Alvarado had said to Alan White. On 26th November, Phillips had a meeting with Alvarado in a safe-house. Avarado told Phillips that the red-haired black man had given Oswald $1,500 for expenses and $5,500 as an advance. Although he was not sure of the date, he thought it was about 18th September.
Thomas C. Mann and David Atlee Phillips believed Alvarado but Scott was not so sure. He argued that there was an "outside possibility" that it might be a set-up by the right-wing government in Nicaragua who wanted the United States to invade Cuba. However, as Jefferson Morley pointed out in Our Man in Mexico: "The unstated message emanating from the White House was by now clear to Win - though not to Mann. Speculation about Oswald's motives was to be cut off, not pursued."
On 27th November, Luis Echeverria told Scott that they had rearrested Silvia Duran because she was trying to leave Mexico for Cuba. Thomas C. Mann sent a message to Winston Scott that stated: "Duran should be told that as the only living non-Cuban who knew the full story, she was in exactly the same position as Oswald prior to the assassination. Her only chance of survival is to come clean with the whole story and cooperate fully. I think she'll crack when confronted with the details."
On 28th November, Scott contacted Luis Echeverria and told him that Washington wanted the Mexicans to interrogate Gilberto Alvarado. On 29th November, Winston Scott received a message from John M. Whitten saying: "Please continue to keep us filled in on status of interrogations of Slvia Duran, Alvarado and others implicated as fast as you can get info."
J. Edgar Hoover sent FBI agent, Larry Keenan, to Mexico City in order to have a meeting with Scott, Thomas C. Mann and David Atlee Phillips. Mann started the meeting by expressing the belief that Fidel Castro and the DGI were behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy and that it was just a matter of time before the United States invaded Cuba. However, Keenan replied that Hoover, Lyndon B. Johnson and Robert Kennedy, all believed that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
Thomas C. Mann later told Dick Russell: "It surprised me so much. That was the only time it ever happened to me - We don't want to hear any more about the case - and tell the Mexican government not to do any more about it, not to do more investigating, we just want to hush it up.... I don't think the U.S. was very forthcoming about Oswald... it was the strangest experience of my life."
In reality, J. Edgar Hoover had not ruled out the possibility of a communist plot to kill John F. Kennedy. At 1.40 on 29th November, Hoover told Lyndon B. Johnson on the telephone: "This angle in Mexico is giving us a great deal of trouble because the story there is of this man Oswald getting $6,500 from the Cuban embassy and then coming back to this country with it. We're not able to prove that fact, but the information was that he was there on the 18th of September in Mexico City and we are able to prove conclusively he was in New Orleans that day. Now then they've changed the dates. The story came in changing the dates to the 28th of September and he was in Mexico City on the 28th. Now the Mexican police have again arrested this woman Duran, who is a member of the Cuban embassy... and we're going to confront her with the original informant, who saw the money pass, so he says, and we're also going to put the lie detector test on him."
That evening Fernando Gutiérrez Barrios told Winston Scott that Gilberto Alvarado had recanted and signed a statement admitting that his story of seeing Lee Harvey Oswald in the Cuban Embassy was completely false. He said his motive was to try to get the United States to take action against Fidel Castro.
A few days later Gilberto Alvarado reverted to his original story. He told his Nicaraguan handler that the only reason that he recanted was that his interrogators threatened "to hang him by his testicles". However, soon afterwards, he recanted again. David Atlee Phillips later claimed that Alvarado was "dispatched to Mexico City by the Somoza brothers... in what they considered a covert action to influence the American government to move against Cuba". Jefferson Morley argues that Phillips is being disingenuous: "Phillips knew all along about Alvarado's service as a CIA informant. Even the FBI knew all along he was under CIA control."
Silvia Duran was questioned about her relationship with Lee Harvey Oswald. Despite being roughed up she denied having a sexual relationship with Oswald. Luis Echeverria believed her and she was released. However, Duran later admitted to a close friend that she had dated Oswald while he was in Mexico City.
A week after the assassination Elena Garro reported that she had seen Oswald at a party held by people from the Cuban consulate in September 1963. The following week, June Cobb, a CIA informant, confirmed Oswald presence at the party. She also had been told that Oswald was sleeping with Duran. Winston Scott reported this information to CIA headquarters but never got a reply.
It emerged later that when Duran was interviewed by the Mexican authorities soon after the assassination she described the man who visited the Cuban consul's office as being "blond-haired" and with "blue or green eyes". Neither detail fits in with the authentic Oswald. But these details had been removed from the statement by the time it reached the Warren Commission.
When John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Richard Helms was given the responsibility of investigating Lee Harvey Oswald and the CIA. Helms initially appointed John M. Whitten to undertake the agency's in-house investigation. After talking to Winston Scott, the CIA station chief in Mexico City, Whitten discovered that Oswald had been photographed at the Cuban consulate in early October, 1963. Nor had Scott told Whitten, his boss, that Oswald had also visited the Soviet Embassy in Mexico. In fact, Whitten had not been informed of the existence of Oswald, even though there was a 201 pre-assassination file on him that had been maintained by the Counterintelligence/Special Investigative Group.
John M. Whitten and his staff of 30 officers, were sent a large amount of information from the FBI. According to Gerald D. McKnight "the FBI deluged his branch with thousands of reports containing bits and fragments of witness testimony that required laborious and time-consuming name checks." Whitten later described most of this FBI material as "weirdo stuff". As a result of this initial investigation, Whitten told Richard Helms that he believed that Oswald had acted alone in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
On 6th December, Nicholas Katzenbach invited John M. Whitten and Birch O'Neal, Angleton's trusted deputy and senior Special Investigative Group (SIG) officer to read Commission Document 1 (CD1), the report that the FBI had written on Lee Harvey Oswald. Whitten now realized that the FBI had been withholding important information on Oswald from him. He also discovered that Richard Helms had not been providing him all of the agency's available files on Oswald. This included Oswald's political activities in the months preceding the assassination.
Whitten had a meeting where he argued that Oswald's pro-Castro political activities needed closer examination, especially his attempt to shoot the right-wing General Edwin Walker, his relationship with anti-Castro exiles in New Orleans, and his public support for the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee. Whitten added that has he had been denied this information, his initial conclusions on the assassination were "completely irrelevant."
Richard Helms responded by taking John M. Whitten off the case. James Jesus Angleton, chief of the CIA's Counterintelligence Branch, was now put in charge of the investigation. According to Gerald McKnight (Breach of Trust) Angleton "wrested the CIA's in-house investigation away from John Whitten because he either was convinced or pretended to believe that the purpose of Oswald's trip to Mexico City had been to meet with his KGB handlers to finalize plans to assassinate Kennedy."
President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Admiral William Raborn, head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Helms became Raborn's deputy but became increasingly influential over decisions being made in Vietnam. This included the covert action in neighbouring Laos and the formation of South Vietnamese counter-terror teams.
The following year Johnson promoted Richard Helms to become head of the CIA. He was the first director of the organization to have worked his way up from the ranks. His standing with Johnson improved when he successfully predicted a quick victory for Israel during the Six Day War in June, 1967. However, Helms information about the size of enemy forces in Vietnam was less accurate. Johnson was told in November, 1967, that the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces had fallen to 248,000. In reality the true figure was close to 500,000 and United States troops were totally unprepared for the Tet Offensive.
President Richard Nixon ordered Richard Helms to implement what became known as the Huston Plan. This was a proposal for all the country's security services to combine in a massive internal surveillance operation. In doing so, Helms became involved in a secret conspiracy as it was illegal for the Central Intelligence Agency to operate within the United States.
In 1966 Ted Shackley was placed in charge of the CIA secret war in Laos. He appointed Thomas G. Clines as his deputy. He also took Carl E. Jenkins, David Morales, Raphael Quintero, Felix Rodriguez and Edwin Wilson with him to Laos. According to Joel Bainerman it was at this point that Shackley and his "Secret Team" became involved in the drug trade. They did this via General Vang Pao, the leader of the anti-communist forces in Laos. Vang Pao was a major figure in the opium trade in Laos. To help him Shackley used his CIA officials and assets to sabotage the competitors. Eventually Vang Pao had a monopoly over the heroin trade in Laos. In 1967 Shackley and Clines helped Vang Pao to obtain financial backing to form his own airline, Zieng Khouang Air Transport Company, to transport opium and heroin between Long Tieng and Vientiane.
According to Alfred W. McCoy (The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade) Shackley and Clines arranged a meeting in Saigon in 1968 between Santo Trafficante and Vang Pao to establish a heroin-smuggling operation from Southeast Asia to the United States.
Ted Shackley employed David Morales to take charge at Pakse, a black operations base focused on political paramilitary action within Laos. Pakse was used to launch military operations against the Ho Chi Minh Trial. In 1969 Shackley became Chief of Station in Vietnam and headed the Phoenix Program. This involved the killing of non-combatant Vietnamese civilians suspected of collaborating with the National Liberation Front. In a two year period, Operation Phoenix murdered 28,978 civilians.
In 1970 it seemed that Salvador Allende and his Socialist Workers' Party would win the general election in Chile. Various multinational companies, including International Telephone and Telegraph (ITT), feared what would happen if Allende gained control of the country. Richard Helms agreed to use funds supplied by these companies to help the right-wing party gain power. When this strategy ended in failure, Nixon ordered Helms to help the Chilean armed forces to overthrow Allende. On 11th September, 1973, a military coup removed Allende's government from power. Allende died in the fighting in the presidential palace in Santiago and General Augusto Pinochet replaced him as president.
Ted Shackley played an important role in the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile. As his biographer, David Corn points out: "Salvador Allende died during the coup. When the smoke cleared, General Augusto Pinochet, the head of a military junta, was in dictatorial control... Elections were suspended. The press was censored. Allende supporters and opponents of the junta were jailed. Torture centers were established. Executions replaced soccer matches in Santiago's stadiums. Bodies floated down the Mapocho river. Due in part to the hard work of Shackley and dozens of other Agency bureaucrats and operatives, Chile was free of the socialists."
During the Watergate Scandal President Richard Nixon became concerned about the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. Three of those involved in the burglary, E. Howard Hunt, Eugenio Martinez and James W. McCord had close links with the CIA. Nixon and his aides attempted to force the CIA director, Richard Helms, and his deputy, Vernon Walters, to pay hush-money to Hunt, who was attempting to blackmail the government. Although it seemed Walters was willing to do this, Helms refused. In February, 1973, Nixon sacked Helms. His deputy, Thomas H. Karamessines, resigned in protest. The following month Helms became U.S. Ambassador to Iran.
James Schlesinger now became the new director of the CIA. Schlesinger was heard to say: The clandestine service was Helmss Praetorian Guard. It had too much influence in the Agency and was too powerful within the government. I am going to cut it down to size. This he did and over the next three months over 7 per cent of CIA officers lost their jobs.
On 9th May, 1973, Schlesinger issued a directive to all CIA employees: I have ordered all senior operating officials of this Agency to report to me immediately on any activities now going on, or might have gone on in the past, which might be considered to be outside the legislative charter of this Agency. I hereby direct every person presently employed by CIA to report to me on any such activities of which he has knowledge. I invite all ex-employees to do the same. Anyone who has such information should call my secretary and say that he wishes to talk to me about activities outside the CIAs charter.
There were several employees who had been trying to complain about the illegal CIA activities for some time. As Cord Meyer pointed out, this directive was a hunting license for the resentful subordinate to dig back into the records of the past in order to come up with evidence that might destroy the career of a superior whom he long hated.
Ted Shackley also brought others into his drug operation. This included Richard L. Armitage, a US Navy official based in Saigon's US office of Naval Operations, and Major General Richard Secord. According to Daniel Sheehan: “From late 1973 until April of 1975, Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Armitage disbursed, from the secret, Laotian-based, Vang Pao opium fund, vastly more money than was required to finance even the highly intensified Phoenix Project in Vietnam. The money in excess of that used in Vietnam was secretly smuggled out of Vietnam in large suitcases, by Richard Secord and Thomas Clines and carried into Australia, where it was deposited in a secret, personal bank account (privately accessible to Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Secord). During this same period of time between 1973 and 1975, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines caused thousands of tons of US weapons, ammunition, and explosives to be secretly taken from Vietnam and stored at a secret "cache" hidden inside Thailand."
This money, with the help of Raphael Quintero, found its way into the Nugan Hand Bank in Sydney. The bank was founded by Michael Hand, a CIA operative in Laos and Frank Nugan an Australian businessman.
Saigon fell to the NLF in April, 1975. The Vietnam War was over. Richard Armitage was dispatched by Ted Shackley, from Vietnam to Tehran. In Iran, Armitage, set up a secret "financial conduit" inside Iran, into which secret Vang Pao drug funds could be deposited from Southeast Asia. According to Daniel Sheehan: “The purpose of this conduit was to serve as the vehicle for secret funding by Shackley's "Secret Team," of a private, non-CIA authorized "Black" operations inside Iran, disposed to seek out, identify, and assassinate socialist and communist sympathizers, who were viewed by Shackley and his "Secret Team" members to be "potential terrorists" against the Shah of Iran's government in Iran. In late 1975 and early 1976, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines retained Edwin Wilson to travel to Tehran, Iran to head up the "Secret Team" covert "anti-terrorist" assassination program in Iran.”
When Ted Shackley was recalled in February, 1972, he was put in charge of the CIA's Western Hemisphere Division. One of his major tasks was to undermine Philip Agee, an ex-CIA officer who was writing a book on the CIA. The book was eventually published as Inside the Company: CIA Diary, but did not include the information that would have permanently damaged the reputation of the CIA.
After Richard Nixon resigned, Gerald Ford brought in George H. W. Bush as Director of the CIA. This was followed by Ted Shackley being appointed as Deputy Director of Operations. He therefore became second-in-command of all CIA covert activity.
Donald Freed (Death in Washington: The Murder of Orlando Letelier) claims that on 29th June, 1976, Michael V. Townley had a meeting with Bernardo De Torres, Armando Lopez Estrada, Hector Duran and General Juan Manuel Contreras Sepulveda. The following month Frank Castro, Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch and Guillermo Novo established Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU). CORU was partly financed by Guillermo Hernández Cartaya, another Bay of Pigs veteran closely linked to the CIA. He was later charged with money laundering, drugs & arms trafficking and embezzlement. The federal prosecutor told Pete Brewton that he had been approached by a CIA officer who explained that "Cartaya had done a bunch of things that the government was indebted to him for, and he asked me to drop the charges against him."
One Miami police veteran told the authors of Assassination on Embassy Row (1980): "The Cubans held the CORU meeting at the request of the CIA. The Cuban groups... were running amok in the mid-1970s, and the United States had lost control of them. So the United States backed the meeting to get them all going in the same direction again, under United States control." It has been pointed out that George H. W. Bush was director of the CIA when this meeting took place.
In 1975 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee began investigating the CIA. Senator Stuart Symington asked Richard Helms if the agency had been involved in the removal of Salvador Allende. Helms replied no. He also insisted that he had not passed money to opponents of Allende.
Investigations by the CIA's Inspector General and by Frank Church and his Select Committee on Intelligence Activities showed that Richard Helms had lied to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They also discovered that Helms had been involved in illegal domestic surveillance and the murders of Patrice Lumumba, General Abd al-Karim Kassem and Ngo Dinh Diem. Helms was eventually found guilty of lying to Congress and received a suspended two-year prison sentence.
The committee looked at the case of Fred Hampton and discovered that William O'Neal, Hampton's bodyguard, was a FBI agent-provocateur who, days before the raid, had delivered an apartment floor-plan to the Bureau with an "X" marking Hampton's bed. Ballistic evidence showed that most bullets during the raid were aimed at Hampton's bedroom.
Church's committee also discovered that the CIA and FBI had sent anonymous letters attacking the political beliefs of targets in order to induce their employers to fire them. Similar letters were sent to spouses in an effort to destroy marriages. The committee also documented criminal break-ins, the theft of membership lists and misinformation campaigns aimed at provoking violent attacks against targeted individuals.
One of those people targeted was Martin Luther King. The FBI mailed King a tape recording made from microphones hidden in hotel rooms. The tape was accompanied by a note suggesting that the recording would be released to the public unless King committed suicide.
In its final report, issued in April 1976, the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities concluded: Domestic intelligence activity has threatened and undermined the Constitutional rights of Americans to free speech, association and privacy. It has done so primarily because the Constitutional system for checking abuse of power has not been applied. The committee also revealed details for the first time of what the CIA called Operation Mockingbird.
The committee also reported that the Central Intelligence Agency had withheld from the Warren Commission, during its investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, information about plots by the Government of the United States against Fidel Castro of Cuba; and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had conducted a counter-intelligence program (COINTELPRO) against Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
On 16th May, 1978, John M. Whitten appeared before the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA). He criticised Richard Helms for not making a full disclosure about the Rolando Cubela plot to the Warren Commission. He added " I think that was a morally highly reprehensible act, which he cannot possibly justify under his oath of office or any other standard of professional service."
Whitten also said that if he had been allowed to continue with the investigation he would have sought out what was going on at JM/WAVE. This would have involved the questioning of Ted Shackley, David Sanchez Morales, Carl E. Jenkins, Rip Robertson, George Joannides, Gordon Campbell and Thomas G. Clines. As Jefferson Morley has pointed out in The Good Spy: "Had Whitten been permitted to follow these leads to their logical conclusions, and had that information been included in the Warren Commission report, that report would have enjoyed more credibility with the public. Instead, Whitten's secret testimony strengthened the HSCA's scathing critique of the C.I.A.'s half-hearted investigation of Oswald. The HSCA concluded that Kennedy had been killed by Oswald and unidentifiable co-conspirators."
John M. Whitten also told the HSCA that James Jesus Angleton involvement in the investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy was "improper". Although he was placed in charge of the investigation by Richard Helms, Angleton "immediately went into action to do all the investigating". When Whitten complained to Helms about this he refused to act.
Whitten believes that Angleton's attempts to sabotage the investigation was linked to his relationship with the Mafia. Whitten claims that Angleton also prevented a CIA plan to trace mob money to numbered accounts in Panama. Angleton told Whitten that this investigation should be left to the FBI. When Whitten mentioned this to a senior CIA official, he replied: "Well, that's Angleton's excuse. The real reason is that Angleton himself has ties to the Mafia and he would not want to double-cross them."
Whitten also pointed out that as soon as Angleton took control of the investigation he concluded that Cuba was unimportant and focused his internal investigation on Oswald's life in the Soviet Union. If Whitten had remained in charge he would have "concentrated his attention on CIA's JM/WAVE station in Miami, Florida, to uncover what George Joannides, the station chief, and operatives from the SIG and SAS knew about Oswald."
When he appeared before the HSCA Whitten revealed that he had been unaware of the CIA's Executive Action program. He added that he thought it possible that Lee Harvey Oswald might have been involved in this assassination operation.
Ted Shackley was hoping to eventually replace George H. W. Bush as director of the CIA. However, the election of Jimmy Carter was a severe blow to his chances. Carter appointed an outsider, Stansfield Turner, as head of the CIA. He immediately carried out an investigation of into CIA covert activities. Turner eventually found out about Shackley’s “Secret Team”. He was especially worried about the activities of Edwin Wilson and the Nugan Hand Bank.
One of the men Wilson employed was former CIA officer Kevin P. Mulcahy. He became concerned about Wilson's illegal activities and sent a message about them to the agency. Ted Shackley was initially able to block any internal investigation of Wilson. However, in April, 1977, the Washington Post, published an article on Wilson's activities stating that he may be getting support from "current CIA employees". Stansfield Turner ordered an investigation and discovered that both Shackley and Thomas G. Clines had close relationships with Wilson. Shackley was called in to explain what was going on. His explanation was not satisfactory and it was made clear that his career at the CIA had come to an end. Richard Helms, reportedly said: "Ted (Shackley) is what we call in the spook business a quadruple threat - Drugs, Arms, Money and Murder."
After leaving the CIA in September, 1979, Ted Shackley formed his own company, Research Associates International, which specialized in providing intelligence to business. He also joined with Thomas G. Clines, Raphael Quintero, and Ricardo Chavez (another former CIA operative) in another company called API Distributors. According to David Corn (Blond Ghost) Edwin Wilson provided Clines with "half a million dollars to get his business empire going". Shackley also freelanced with API but found it difficult taking orders from his former subordinate, Clines. Shackley also established his own company, Research Associates International, which specialized in providing intelligence to business (in other words he sold them classified information from CIA files).
According to Daniel Sheehan: “In 1976, Richard Secord moved to Tehran, Iran and became the Deputy Assistant Secretary of defense in Iran, in charge of the Middle Eastern Division of the Defense Security Assistance Administration. In this capacity, Secord functioned as the chief operations officer for the U.S. Defense Department in the Middle East in charge of foreign military sales of U.S. aircraft, weapons and military equipment to Middle Eastern nations allied to the U.S. Secord's immediate superior was Eric Van Marbad, the former 40 Committee liaison officer to Theodore Shackley's Phoenix program in Vietnam from 1973 to 1975.”
From 1977 until 1979, Richard Armitage operated a business named The Far East Trading Company. This company was in fact merely a "front" for Armitage's secret operations conducting Vang Pao opium money out of Southeast Asia to Tehran and the Nugan Hand Bank in Australia to fund the ultra right-wing, private anti-communist "anti-terrorist" assassination program and "unconventional warfare" operation of Theodore Shackley's and Thomas Cline's "Secret Team". (Daniel P. Sheehan’s affidavit).
In his book, The Crimes of a President, Joel Bainerman argues that the "Secret Team" still used the Nugan Hand Bank to hide their illegal profits from drugs and arms. The President of the Nugan Hand Bank was Admiral Earl P. Yates, former Chief of Staff for Strategic Planning of US Forces in Asia. Other directors of the bank included Dale Holmgree (also worked for Civil Air Transport, a CIA proprietary company) and General Edwin F. Black, (commander of U.S. troops in Thailand during the Vietnam War). George Farris (a CIA operative in Vietnam) ran the Washington office of the Nugan Hand Bank and the bank’s legal counsel was William Colby.
The bank grew and had offices or affiliates in 13 countries. According to Jonathan Kwitny, Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA, Crimes of Patriots), the bank did little banking. What it did do was to amass, move, collect and disburse great sums of money.
In 1980 Frank Nugan was found dead in his car. His co-founder, Michael Hand had disappeared at the same time. The Australian authorities were forced to investigate the bank. They discovered that Ricardo Chavez, the former CIA operative who was co-owner of API Distributors with Thomas G. Clines and Rafael Quintero, was attempting to take control of the bank. The Corporate Affairs Commission of New South Wales came to the conclusion that Chavez was working on behalf of Clines, Quintero and Wilson. They blocked the move but they were unable or unwilling to explore the connections between the CIA and the Nugan Hand Bank.
The Secret Team (Ted Shackley, Thomas G. Clines, Richard Secord, Ricardo Chavez, Rafael Quintero, Albert Hakim, Edwin Wilson, William Francis Buckley, and Richard L. Armitage set up several corporations and subsidiaries around the world through which to conceal the operations of the "Secret Team". Many of these corporations were set up in Switzerland. Some of these were: (1) Lake Resources, Inc.; (2) The Stanford Technology Trading Group, Inc.; and (3) Companie de Services Fiduciaria. Other companies were set up in Central America, such as: (4) CSF Investments, Ltd. and (5) Udall research Corporation. Some were set up inside the United States by Edwin Wilson. Some of these were: (6) Orca Supply Company in Florida and (7) Consultants International in Washington, D.C. Through these corporations the "Secret Team" laundered hundreds of millions of dollars of secret Vang Pao opium money.
Ted Shackley had still not given up hope that he would eventually be appointed director of the CIA. His best hope was in getting Jimmy Carter defeated in 1980. Shackley had several secret meetings with George H. W. Bush as he campaigned for the Republican nomination (his wife, Hazel Shackley also worked for Bush). Ronald Reagan won the nomination but got the support of the CIA by selecting Bush as his vice president. According to Rafael Quintero, during the presidential campaign, Shackley met Bush almost every week.
It is believed that Shackley used his contacts in the CIA to provide information to Reagan and Bush. This included information that Carter was attempting to negotiate a deal with Iran to get the American hostages released. This was disastrous news for the Reagan/Bush campaign. If Carter got the hostages out before the election, the public perception of the man might change and he might be elected for a second-term.
According to Barbara Honegger, a researcher and policy analyst with the 1980 Reagan/Bush campaign, William Casey and other representatives of the Reagan presidential campaign made a deal at two sets of meetings in July and August at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid with Iranians to delay the release of Americans held hostage in Iran until after the November 1980 presidential elections. Reagan’s aides promised that they would get a better deal if they waited until Carter was defeated.
On 22nd September, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran. The Iranian government was now in desperate need of spare parts and equipment for its armed forces. Carter now proposed that the US would be willing to hand over supplies in return for the hostages.
Once again, the CIA leaked this information to Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. This attempted deal was also passed to the media. On 11th October, the Washington Post reported rumours of a “secret deal that would see the hostages released in exchange for the American made military spare parts Iran needs to continue its fight against Iraq”.
In October, 1980, Ted Shackley joined the company owned by Albert Hakim (he was paid $5,000 a month as a part-time “risk analyst”). Hakim was keen to use Shackley’s contacts to make money out of the Iran-Iraq War that had started the previous month.
A couple of days before the election Barry Goldwater was reported as saying that he had information that “two air force C-5 transports were being loaded with spare parts for Iran”. This was not true. However, this publicity had made it impossible for Jimmy Carter to do a deal. Ronald Reagan on the other hand, had promised the Iranian government that he would arrange for them to get all the arms they needed in exchange for the hostages. According to Mansur Rafizadeh, the former U.S. station chief of SAVAK, the Iranian secret police, CIA agents had persuaded Khomeini not to release the American hostages until Reagan was sworn in. In fact, they were released twenty minutes after his inaugural address (October Surprise).
The arms the Iranians had demanded were delivered via Israel. By the end of 1982 all Regan’s promises to Iran had been made. With the deal completed, Iran was free to resort to acts of terrorism against the United States. In 1983, Iranian-backed terrorists blew up 241 marines in the CIA Middle-East headquarters.
The Iranians once again began taking American hostages in exchange for arms shipments. On 16th March, 1984, William Francis Buckley, a diplomat attached to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was kidnapped by the Hezbollah, a fundamentalist Shiite group with strong links to the Khomeini regime. Buckley was tortured and it was soon discovered that he was the CIA station chief in Beirut.
Ted Shackley was horrified when he discovered that Buckley had been captured. Buckley was a member of Shackley’s Secret Team that had been involved with Edwin Wilson, Thomas Clines, Carl E. Jenkins, Raphael Quintero, Felix Rodriguez and Luis Posada, in the CIA “assassination” program.
Buckley had also worked closely with William Casey (now the director of the CIA) in the secret negotiations with the Iranians in 1980. Buckley had a lot to tell the Iranians. He eventually signed a 400 page statement detailing his activities in the CIA. He was also videotaped making this confession. Casey asked Shackley for help in obtaining Buckley’s freedom.
Three weeks after Buckley’s disappearance, President Ronald Reagan signed the National Security Decision Directive 138. This directive was drafted by Oliver North and outlined plans on how to get the American hostages released from Iran and to “neutralize” terrorist threats from countries such as Nicaragua. This new secret counterterrorist task force was to be headed by Shackley’s old friend, General Richard Secord. This was the beginning of the Iran-Contra deal.
Talks had already started about exchanging American hostages for arms. On 30th August, 1985, Israel shipped 100 TOW missiles to Iran. On 14th September they received another 408 missiles from Israel. The Israelis made a profit of $3 million on the deal.
In October, 1985, Congress agreed to vote 27 million dollars in non-lethal aid for the Contras in Nicaragua. However, members of the Ronald Reagan administration decided to use this money to provide weapons to the Contras and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
The following month, Ted Shackley traveled to Hamburg where he met General Manucher Hashemi, the former head of SAVAK’s counterintelligence division at the Atlantic Hotel. Also at the meeting on 22nd November was Manuchehr Ghorbanifar. According to the report of this meeting that Shackley sent to the CIA, Ghorbanifar had “fantastic” contacts with Iran.
At the meeting Shackley told Hashemi and Ghorbanifar that the United States was willing to discuss arms shipments in exchange for the four Americans kidnapped in Lebanon. The problem with the proposed deal was that William Francis Buckley was already dead (he had died of a heart-attack while being tortured).
Ted Shackley recruited some of the former members of his CIA Secret Team to help him with these arm deals. This included Thomas Clines, Rafael Quintero, Ricardo Chavez and Edwin Wilson of API Distributors. Also involved was Carl E. Jenkins and Gene Wheaton of National Air. The plan was to use National Air to transport these weapons.
In May 1986 Wheaton told William Casey, director of the CIA, about what he knew about this illegal operation. Casey refused to take any action, claiming that the agency or the government were not involved in what later became known as Irangate.
Wheaton now took his story to Daniel Sheehan, a left-wing lawyer. Wheaton told him that Tom Clines and Ted Shackley had been running a top-secret assassination unit since the early 1960s. According to Wheaton, it had begun with an assassination training program for Cuban exiles and the original target had been Fidel Castro.
Gene Wheaton also contacted Newt Royce and Mike Acoca, two journalists based in Washington. The first article on this scandal appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on 27th July, 1986. As a result of this story, Congressman Dante Facell wrote a letter to the Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, asking him if it "true that foreign money, kickback money on programs, was being used to fund foreign covert operations." Two months later, Weinberger denied that the government knew about this illegal operation.
On 5th October, 1986, a Sandinista patrol in Nicaragua shot down a C-123K cargo plane that was supplying the Contras. Eugene Hasenfus, an Air America veteran, survived the crash and told his captors that he thought the CIA was behind the operation. He also provided information on two Cuban-Americans running the operation in El Savador. This resulted in journalists being able to identify Rafael Quintero and Felix Rodriguez as the two Cuban-Americans mentioned by Hasenfus. It gradually emerged that Thomas Clines, Oliver North, Edwin Wilson and Richard Secord were also involved in this conspiracy to provide arms to the Contras.
On 12th December, 1986, Daniel Sheehan submitted to the court an affidavit detailing the Irangate scandal. He also claimed that Ted Shackley and Thomas Clines were running a private assassination program that had evolved from projects they ran while working for the CIA. Others named as being part of this assassination team included Rafael Quintero, Richard Secord, Felix Rodriguez and Albert Hakim. It later emerged that Gene Wheaton and Carl E. Jenkins were the two main sources for this affidavit.
It was eventually discovered that President Ronald Reagan had sold arms to Iran. The money gained from these sales was used to provide support for the Contras, a group of guerrillas engaged in an insurgency against the elected socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Both the sale of these weapons and the funding of the Contras violated administration policy as well as legislation passed by Congress.
On 23rd June, 1988, Judge James L. King ruled that Sheehan's allegations were "based on unsubstantiated rumor and speculation from unidentified sources with no firsthand knowledge". In February, 1989, Judge King ruled that Sheenan had brought a frivolous lawsuit and ordered his Christic Institute to pay the defendants $955,000. This was one of the highest sanction orders in history and represented four times the total assets of the Christic Institute.
In 1993 Cleveland Cram completed a study carried out on behalf of the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence (CSI). Of Moles and Molehunters: A Review of Counterintelligence Literature was declassified in 2003. Cram, who investigated the activities of James Angleton, argues that several senior CIA officers, including Clare Edward Petty, Angleton's assistant, were convinced that the former Chief of Counterintelligence, was a KGB agent.
In his book, Oswald and the CIA (2008), John Newman argued: "In my view, whoever Oswald's direct handler or handlers were, we must now seriously consider the possibility that Angleton was probably their general manager. No one else in the Agency had the access, the authority, and the diabolically ingenious mind to manage this sophisticated plot. No one else had the means necessary to plant the WWIII virus in Oswald's files and keep it dormant for six weeks until the president's assassination. Whoever those who were ultimately responsible for the decision to kill Kennedy were, their reach extended into the national intelligence apparatus to such a degree that they could call upon a person who knew its inner secrets and workings so well that he could design a failsafe mechanism into the fabric of the plot. The only person who could ensure that a national security cover-up of an apparent counterintelligence nightmare was the head of counterintelligence."