It was Brigadier General John Magruder who had moved Edward G. Lansdale to Manila two months earlier. Hoyt Vandenberg or Magruder then sent Lansdale to the White House to brief President Truman's national security aide, Navy Captain Clark Clifford, and members of the Cabinet. President Truman decided to keep the discovery secret, and to recover as much of the Japanese loot as possible. At this stage, it is impossible to say precisely how these briefings unfolded, or exactly what President Truman did. The secrecy surrounding Santy's recoveries is nearly total.
What we do know, from two separate high-level sources in the CIA, is that Robert B. Anderson flew back to Tokyo with Lansdale, for discussions with MacArthur. After some days of meetings, MacArthur and Anderson flew secretly to Manila, where they were taken by Lansdale and Santy to some of the sites in the mountains, and to six other sites around Aparri at the northern tip of Luzon. In the intervening weeks, Santy's men, aided by hand-picked teams from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, had successfully opened several of these vaults, where MacArthur and Anderson were able to stroll down row after row of gold bars. Other sites were opened in subsequent months. In all, the recoveries took two years to complete, from late 1945 to early 1947.
From what was seen in these vaults, and also discovered by U.S. Army investigators in Japan, it became evident that over a period of decades Japan had looted billions of dollars' worth of gold, platinum, diamonds, and other treasure, from all over East and Southeast Asia. Much of this had reached Japan by sea, or overland from China through Korea, but a lot had been hidden in the Philippines.
Washington's `official' (public) figure for recovered Nazi gold still is only 550 metric tons. But Anderson knew better. One of his business associates saw photos in Anderson's office of an American soldier "sitting on top of stacks of bullion that Hitler had stolen from Poland, Austria, Belgium and France. It ended up with the Allied high command and no one was allowed to talk about it." The same source said he was taken to the courtyard of a convent in Europe where 11,200 metric tons of Nazi looted bullion had been collected.
After the Nazi defeat, the OSS and other Allied intelligence organizations searched Germany and Austria for art treasures and looted gold. Soviet troops and special units did the same in the Russian zone. More is known of what happened to the recovered art than to the recovered gold. When one hundred tons of Nazi gold were recovered from a salt mine near Merkers, Germany, the truck convoy carrying it to Frankfurt vanished; it was said to have been hijacked, but the more likely explanation is that this gold was among the bullion stacked in the convent courtyard.
The reason for all this discretion was a top secret project sometimes called Black Eagle, a strategy first suggested to President Roosevelt by Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson and his wartime advisors, John J. McCloy (later head of the World Bank), Robert Lovett (later secretary of Defense), and Robert B. Anderson (later secretary of the Treasury). Stimson proposed using all recovered Axis war loot (Nazi, Fascist, and Japanese) to finance a global political action fund. Because it would be difficult if not impossible to determine who were the rightful owners of all the looted gold, better to keep its recovery quiet and set up a trust to help friendly governments stay in power after the war. This was informally called the Black Eagle Trust after the German black eagle, referring to Nazi bullion marked with an eagle and swastika, recovered from underground vaults of the Reichsbank.
According to some sources, the Black Eagle Trust could only have been set up with the cooperation of the most powerful banking families in America and Europe, including the Rockefellers, Harrimans, Rothschilds, Oppenheimers, Warburgs, and others.
A brilliant Wall Street attorney, Stimson was a man of immense experience who had served in various posts for five presidents - Taft, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, Truman - but he was nearing the end of his extraordinary career. He knew Manila intimately, having served as governor-general of the Philippines in the 1920s. President Herbert Hoover had then named him secretary of State. (Like Hoover, Stimson thought highly of MacArthur.) By Pearl Harbor, Stimson was already in his seventies. He managed his vast wartime responsibilities by delegating authority to four assistant secretaries of War: Robert Patterson, a lawyer and former federal judge; Harvey Bundy, Boston lawyer and Yale graduate; and two dynamos Stimson called his Heavenly Twins - John McCloy and Robert Lovett. What they all had in common was their close relationship to the Harrimans and Rockefellers. Lovett's father had been the right-hand man of railway magnate E.H. Harriman, who once tried to buy the South Manchurian Railway from the Japanese. Following in his father's footsteps, Robert Lovett worked with Averell Harriman at the Wall Street firm of Brown Brothers Harriman, handling international currency and lending operations. John J. McCloy, by contrast, was a poor boy from Philadelphia who graduated from Harvard Law School, joined the Cravath firm on Wall Street, and gained the admiration of Averell Harriman by helping get $77-million worth of bond issues for the Union Pacific railroad. (McCloy engineered such deals for everyone from the House of Morgan on down.) Working for Secretary of War Stimson, Lovett and McCloy became midwives at the birth of America's postwar national security establishment, which was closely interwoven with the financial community.
McCloy was a troubleshooter and expert fixer. He said his job was "to be at all points of the organizational chart where the lines did not quite intersect". He made endless trips around the world during the war, solving problems, working with statesmen, bankers and generals. He was intensely involved in backstage strategy and understood, to borrow from Cicero, that "the sinew of war is unlimited money". Money also was to be the sinew of the Cold War. A wheeler-dealer, McCloy knew all the ins and outs of international finance. After the war he became a partner in the law firm of Milbank Tweed, which handled the affairs of the Rockefeller family and its Chase Bank, became a leader of the Council on Foreign Relations, head of the World Bank, chairman of Chase, and head of the Ford Foundation. He may have been the key player in executing the Black Eagle Trust, the one who took Stimson's idea and turned it into a working reality.
By comparison, Robert B. Anderson got off to an inauspicious start. Born in Burleson, Texas, on June 4, 1910, he taught high school for a while before studying law at the University of Texas. He was elected to the state legislature and appointed assistant attorney general for Texas in 1933, and state tax commissioner the following year. Then something clicked, and Anderson left government to become an extraordinarily successful financial consultant to very rich people. By the early 1940s he was general manager of the enormously wealthy WT. Waggoner estate, which owned ranch land and oil land all over Texas. Anderson was so deft at money management that President Roosevelt appointed him a special aide to Secretary of War Stimson with responsibility for keeping tabs on Axis looting. Navy Captain Clark Clifford, Truman's aide for national security matters who was briefed by Captain Lansdale, was Anderson's protégé and intimate friend. Together, Anderson and Clifford became major power brokers in postwar Washington.
Although Stimson retired from public life in 1945, and McCloy also left government service at that time, they and Anderson continued to be involved in overseeing the Black Eagle Trust. According to former CIA deputy director Ray Cline, the gold bullion recovered by Santa Romana was put "in 176 bank accounts in 42 countries". Anderson apparently traveled all over the world, setting up these black gold accounts, providing money for political action funds throughout the noncommunist world. Later we closely examine several.
In 1953, to reward him, President Eisenhower nominated Anderson to a Cabinet post as secretary of the Navy. The following year he rose to deputy secretary of Defense. During the second Eisenhower Administration, he became secretary of the Treasury, serving from 1957 to 1961. After that, Anderson resumed private life, but remained intimately involved with the CIA s worldwide network of banks, set up after the war by Paul Helliwell. Eventually, this led to Anderson becoming involved in BCCI, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, an Arab Pakistani bank with CIA ties that parlayed money-laundering and the discreet movement of black gold into ownership of the biggest bank in Washington, D.C. The collapse of BCCI in what the Wall Street Journal called "the world's largest bank fraud" also snared Anderson's protege, Clark Clifford, who was indicted for fraud. Clifford and his associate Robert Altman headed First American Bankshares, the BCCI front firm the nation's capital, and were accused of using political patronage to shield BCCI from full investigation.
Anderson's reputation began to crumble when it was revealed by Bernard Nossiter in The Washington Post that he had sought and received $290,000 from a Texas oilman while serving as Eisenhower's secretary of the Treasury. Anderson later pleaded guilty to federal charges of tax evasion and money laundering, and died in disgrace.
It is beyond the scope of this book to examine how Anderson, McCloy and the others administered the Black Eagle Trust from the top down. Because so much of the documentation is still sealed, we must content ourselves with evidence that has surfaced so far, and the players we know were involved in the field. But by looking briefly at what is known about the public side of the arrangements made at Bretton Woods, we find a window into the secret side.