Gene Wheaton was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1936. After serving in the Marine Corps he became a police officer in Tulsa. Later he became an OSI agent in the Air Force. After nine years in the Air Force he became an officer in the (CID) of the United States Army. He was based at Ford Ord in California and also saw service in Vietnam.
In 1971 Gene Wheaton was transferred to Iran where he became the narcotics and counter-terrorism advisor to the Shah of Iran. After two years in Iran he was stationed in Chicago until retiring from the Criminal Investigation Division in 1975. Wheaton now returned to Iran where he helped the government in security and counter-terrorism matters.
This was followed by the post of executive assistant to one of the vice presidents of the Rockwell Corporation, and director of security for the billion-dollar IBEX airborne electronic intelligence program. This program was being funded by the Iranian government and the Central Intelligence Agency. It was during this period Wheaton became very friendly with Carl Jenkins, a former senior CIA officer.
Gene Wheaton became a history teacher at East Central High School, San Antonio, Texas (1976-1977) before serving as headmaster of the Florida Air Academy in Lauderdale (1977-1978). This was followed by working as an instructor in the Psychology of Education (1978-1980).
In the early 1980s Gene Wheaton began work as a security advisor in Saudia Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt. In 1985 Wheaton became vice president of a cargo airline called National Air. He asked Jenkins to become the company's representative in Washington. He agreed and Jenkins introduced Wheaton to George Bush and Oliver North.
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.
Gene Wheaton was recruited to use National Air to transport these weapons. He agreed but began to have second thoughts when he discovered that Richard Secord was involved in the operation and 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 was not involved in what later became known as Irangate.
According to David Corn (Blonde Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusade) in 1985 Carl Jenkins introduced Gene Wheaton to Paul Hoven. Jenkins and Wheaton were at this time involved in trying to "win federal contracts to transport humanitarian supplies to anticommunist rebels, including the Mujahedeen of Afghanistan and the Contras". They failed in this venture and then complained to the State Department about the activities of Richard Secord, Oliver North, Ted Shackley, Edwin Wilson and Tom Clines.
Hoven arranged for Wheaton to meet with 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.
Paul Hoven also put Wheaton into contact with 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 Fascell 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 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 Thomas Clines and Ted Shackley 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 the Secord-Clines 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.
Gene Wheaton later recalled: "This stuff goes back to the scandals of the 70s... of Watergate and Richard Helms, the CIA director, being convicted by Congress of lying to Congress, of Ted Shackley and Tom Clines and Dick Secord and a group of them being forced into retirement as a result of the scandal over Edmond P. Wilson’s training of Libyan terrorists in conjunction with these guys, and moving C-4 explosives to Libya. They decided way back when, ‘75-’76, during the Pike and Church Committee hearings, that the Congress was their enemy... Ted Shackley and Vernon Walters and Frank Carlucci and Ving West and a group of these guys used to have park-bench meetings in the late 70s in McClean, Virginia so nobody could overhear they conversations. They basically said, "With our expertise at placing dictators in power," I’m almost quoting verbatim one of their comments, "why don’t we treat the United States like the world’s biggest banana republic and take it over?" And the first thing they had to do was to get their man in the White House, and that was George Bush. Reagan never really was the president. He was the front man. They selected a guy that had charisma, who was popular, and just a good old boy, but they got George Bush in there to actually run the White House."
In 1995 Gene Wheaton approached the Assassination Records Review Board with information on the death of John F. Kennedy. Anne Buttimer, Chief Investigator of the ARRB, recorded that: "Wheaton told me that from 1984 to 1987 he spent a lot of time in the Washington DC area and that starting in 1985 he was "recruited into Ollie North's network" by the CIA officer he has information about. He got to know this man and his wife, a "'super grade high level CIA officer" and kept a bedroom in their Virginia home. His friend was a Marine Corps liaison in New Orleans and was the CIA contact with Carlos Marcello. He had been responsible for "running people into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs." His friend is now 68 or 69 years of age... Over the course of a year or a year and one-half his friend told him about his activities with training Cuban insurgency groups. Wheaton said he also got to know many of the Cubans who had been his friend's soldiers/operatives when the Cubans visited in Virginia from their homes in Miami. His friend and the Cubans confirmed to Wheaton they assassinated JFK. Wheaton's friend said he trained the Cubans who pulled the triggers. Wheaton said the street level Cubans felt JFK was a traitor after the Bay of Pigs and wanted to kill him. People "above the Cubans" wanted JFK killed for other reasons." It was later revealed that Wheaton's friend was Carl E. Jenkins. Wheaton also named Irving Davidson as being involved in the assassination.
John Simkin attempted to contact Rafael Quintero via his close friend Don Bohning. Quintero refused to be interviewed but he did say that Gene Wheaton was telling the truth as "he knew it". His explanation of Wheaton's story was that he and Carl Jenkins had been lying to him when they said they were involved in the assassination. However, Quintero was once quoted as saying: “If I were ever granted immunity, and compelled to testify about past actions, about Dallas and the Bay of Pigs, it would be the biggest scandal ever to rock the United States.”
Throughout 1985, Paul Hoven, a friend of Sheehan's and a Vietnam veteran, regularly attended parties of ex-Agency men and weekend warriors, some associated with Soldier of Fortune magazine. (Hoven worked at the Project on Military Procurement, an outfit funded by liberals and devoted to exposing Pentagon waste.) At a bash near Christmas, Carl Jenkins, a former CIA officer who had been assigned to Miami and Laos, introduced Hoven to Gene Wheaton, a balding middle-aged fellow.
Wheaton was an odd bird. As Wheaton has related his life story, he was a Marine in the 1950s and then joined the Tulsa police force. He was an army detective in Vietnam and in the mid-1970s a security officer at a top-secret CIA-Rockwell surveillance program in Iran called Project IBEX. In 1979 he returned to the United States, went through a string of security-related jobs, and became obsessed with the covert world and drug-trafficking. When he met Hoven, Wheaton, now representing a California aviation company, was scheming with Jenkins and Ed Dearborn, a former CIA pilot in Laos and the Congo, to win federal contracts to transport humanitarian supplies to anticommunist rebels, including the Mujahedeen of Afghanistan and the Contras. So far, the trio had failed to collect any. They had even complained to a State Department official that Richard Secord and Oliver North improperly controlled who got the Contra-related contracts. They badmouthed Secord, noting that he had been mixed up with Shackley, Wilson, and Clines. One set of spooks was pissed at another.
At the Soldier of Fortune party, Hoven pegged Wheaton as someone who thought he was a player but who truly was not. Nevertheless, he agreed to assist Wheaton. Hoven set up a meeting with a congressional aide who followed the Afghan program. Hoven did not realize that Wheaton had more on his mind than contracts. Wheaton had spent much of the previous year hobnobbing with arms dealers, ex-CIA officers, and mercenaries, and he had collected information on past and present covert operations, including the secret Contra-arms project.
Wheaton was obsessed with the 1976 assassination in Iran of three Americans who worked on Project IBEX. He believed the killings were linked to U.S. intelligence, that a ring of ex-spooks was running wild in Central America and elsewhere.
So when Wheaton met with the congressional staffer and Hoven, he skipped the presentation on supplying the Mujahedeen. Instead he launched into a speech about political assassinations related to U.S. intelligence. He rattled on about the mysterious IBEX murders. Hoven had a hard time following Wheaton. His claims were based on a mishmash of speculative hearsay, fanciful information, and some actual facts. But Wheaton made his bottom-line point obvious: a rogue element in the U.S. government had engaged in a host of nefarious activities, including assassinations.
The congressional staffer wanted nothing to do with the rambling intrigue Wheaton was peddling. But Hoven was interested. He called Danny Sheehan, thinking he ought to hear Wheaton's tale.
Sheehan already had developed an interest in the murky community of mercenaries, Cuban exiles, and others secretly aiding the Contras. By early 1986, press accounts had revealed that a clandestine Contra support network ran all the way into the White House and that Oliver North, a low-level aide, was involved-even though Congress had seemingly barred the administration from militarily aiding the rebels. (The White House claimed these stories were wrong.) Here was the perfect target for Sheehan: a furtive program supporting a covert war against a leftist government. He wondered if he could strike at it in the courts. He always was looking for cases that made good stories-ones in which he could be a hero. Then he met Gene Wheaton, who had a helluva tale for Sheehan.
Sheehan and Wheaton sat down in the kitchen of Hoven's house in early February of 1986. It was magic. To a wide-eyed Sheehan, Wheaton, posing as an experienced operator, tossed out wild stories of clandestine operations and dozens of names: Wilson, Secord, Clines, Hakim, Singlaub, Bush. A whole crew was running amok, supporting Contras, conducting covert activity elsewhere. Drugs were involved. Some of this gang had engaged in corrupt government business in Iran and Southeast Asia. Now the same old boys were running weapons to Latin America. Central to the whole shebang was a former CIA officer named Ted Shackley. Sheehan was captivated. He had struck the mother lode.
Sheehan spoke a few times with Carl Jenkins. At one session, Sheehan listened as Jenkins and Wheaton discussed what Wheaton was calling the "off-the-reservation gang"- Secord, Clines, Hakim, and Shackley - and the operations they ran in and out of government. According to Hoven, Wheaton and Jenkins wanted to see information about this crowd made public and saw Sheehan as the mechanism of disclosure.
Wheaton and Jenkins did not tell Sheehan that they hoped to settle a score with a band they believed had an unfair lock on the air-supply contracts they desired. But to Hoven it was clear that one faction of spooks was whacking another. Hoven was not sure who was on what side. He guessed that somebody somewhere - maybe even in the Agency itself - was upset with the freelancers and wanted to see them reined in. But if Jenkins or anyone else thought they could use Sheehan as a quiet transmitter of damaging information, they were as wrong as they could be.
Throughout the winter and spring, as Sheehan talked to Wheaton and Jenkins, he had something else on his mind: a two-year-old bombing in Nicaragua. On May 30, 1984, a bomb had exploded at a press conference in La Penca, Nicaragua, held by Eden Pastora, a maverick Contra leader who resisted cooperating with the CIA and the main Contra force. Several people were killed, but not Pastora. Afterward, Tony Avirgan, an American journalist who suffered shrapnel wounds at La Penca, and his wife, Martha Honey, set out to uncover who had plotted the attack. A year later, they produced a book that charged a small group of Americans and Cuban exiles-some with ties to the CIA and the Contras-with planning the murderous assault. One of the persons they fingered was John Hull, a Contra supporter with a spread in northern Costa Rica and a relationship with North and the CIA. Their report noted that some Contra supporters were moonlighting in the drug trade.
Hull sued the couple for libel in Costa Rica. He demanded $1 million. Avirgan and Honey, who lived in San Jose, received death threats. They considered retaliating by filing a lawsuit in the States against individuals in the secret Contra-support network. But they could find no lawyer to take such a difficult case. Eventually Sheehan was recommended to them. They checked him out. The reports were mixed. But he had one undeniable positive attribute: he would accept the case. The couple retained him.
Come late spring of 1986, Sheehan was mixing with spooks in the Washington area, and he was pondering how to craft a lawsuit for Avirgan and Honey. He collected information on the Contra operation. He drew closer to Wheaton, who had a new tale every time they met. Then Sheehan made a pilgrimage to meet the dark angel of the covert crowd: Ed Wilson.
The imprisoned rogue officer made Sheehan's head swim. The essence of Wilson's story, Sheehan claimed, was that the Agency in 1976 had created a highly secretive counter terrorist unit modeled on the PRUs of Vietnam and had run this entity apart from the main bureaucracy. The mission: conduct "wet operations" (spy talk for assassinations). After the election of Jimmy Carter, this group was erased from the books and hidden in private companies, and Shackley was the man in charge of the unit both in and out of government. The program was divided into different components. CIA man William Buckley supposedly had directed one out of Mexico with Quintero and Ricardo Chavez. Another unit was headed by a former Mossad officer. Felix Rodriguez was involved in yet one more in the Mideast. Sheehan took Wilson at his word. "Wilson went into such detail," Sheehan later maintained. "It's not something that's being made up."
At one point after Sheehan met with Wilson, it dawned on him: everything was connected. The La Penca bombing, the North-Contra network, the Wilson gang, all those CIA-trained Cuban exiles, the whole history of Agency dirty tricks, the operations against Castro, the war in Laos, the nasty spook side of the Vietnam War, clandestine Agency action in Iran. It was an ongoing conspiracy. It did not matter if these guys were in or out of government. It was a villainous government within a government, a plot that had existed for decades, a permanent criminal enterprise. Sheehan had a unified held theory of covert U.S. history. And Shackley was the evil Professor Moriarty, the man who pulled all the strings. The avenging Sheehan now was determined to take Shackley down.
Sheehan melded the La Penca bombing case to his Wheaton - influenced investigation of the old-boy network. Avirgan and Honey shared with him all the information they carefully had developed on the Contra support operation. Names and stories he threw at them - including Shackley's - were unfamiliar. They took it on faith that Sheehan knew what he was doing when he blended the results of their professional investigation with the grab-bag of information he had collected from Wheaton, Wilson, and others. "We saw John Hull as the center, and Sheehan saw it as Shackley," Honey recalled. "Shackley was the main ingredient. I don't know why Danny fixated on him. He told us he had lots of information on Shackley's involvement in La Penca. That was b.s. But what do we know, sitting in Costa Rica?" Sheehan was looking for a case he could play before a large audience. He repeatedly told Avirgan and Honey the public did not care about La Penca. But people would pay notice if the enemy was one grand conspiracy headed by a dastardly figure.
Sheehan applied the resources of his small Christic Institute to the case. Wheaton continued investigating the Wilson crowd and other covert sorts. He started telling Jenkins that he believed he was chasing a decades-old, top-secret assassination unit. Wheaton claimed it had begun with an assassination training program for Cuban exiles that Shackley had set up in the early 1960s. The target was Castro. The secret war against Cuba faded, but the "Shooter Team" continued. It expanded and was now called the Fish Farm, and Shackley remained its chief.
Sheehan knitted together all this spook gossip and misinformation with a few hard facts, and on May 29, 1986, he dropped the load. In a Miami federal court, Sheehan filed a lawsuit against thirty individuals, invoking the RICO antiracketeering law and accusing all of being part of a criminal conspiracy that trained, financed, and armed Cuban-American mercenaries in Nicaragua, smuggled drugs, violated the Neutrality Act by supporting the Contras, traded various weapons, and bombed the press conference at La Penca. Sheehan's plaintiffs were journalists Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey. The conspirators were far-flung: John Hull in Costa Rica; Cuban exiles based in Miami (including Quintero); drug lords Pablo Escobar and Jorge Ochoa in Colombia; arms dealers in Florida; Contra leader Adolfo Calero; an Alabama mercenary named Tom Posey; Robert Owen, a secret North aide; the unknown bomber at La Penca; and Singlaub, Hakim, Secord, Clines, and Shackley. Sheehan alleged that Shackley had peddled arms illegally, plotted to kill Pastora, and (with Secord, Clines, and Hakim) accepted money from drug sales for arms shipments. Sheehan demanded over $23 million in damages.
With this lawsuit, Sheehan believed, he could break up the Contra support operation and cast into the light shadowy characters who had been up to mischief for years. Sheehan and Wheaton had stumbled across some real players and some real operations. But they both possessed hyperactive imaginations, and whatever truth they did uncover they had twisted into a false, cosmic conspiracy.
The filing-drafted sloppily by Sheehan-surprised Shackley and his fellow defendants. Hoven and Jenkins were stunned. Neither expected Sheehan to produce such a storm. Sheehan clearly was in this for politics and ego. He was not about to be a quiet disseminator of information. "I had been left with the assumption," Hoven noted, "that I was set up to pass information to Sheehan. But they" - whoever they were - "mucked it up because Sheehan was not playing it close to the script."
I am faxing you one page of a CV prepared by a retired CIA officer who was a very close friend of mine in the mid-1980s. Our friendship was so close that I kept a bedroom in his home in Adington, Va, socialized with him and his wife (a high-level active CIA officer) and was virtually with them 24 hours a day.
Through him I met many of the Bay of Pigs veterans, both Cuban and American. We had many intimate discussions about covert operations, Kennedy assassination, etc.
He was totally in charge of infiltrating sabotage and assassination teams into Cuba from 1960 onward (see * on his bio).
I had discussions with him and one of his key Cuban agents about obtaining immunity for them if they would come forward about their knowledge of involvement in the Kennedy assassination plots. This man's programs included JMWAVE, Mongoose, ZR-RIFLE, among others, operating out of the Miami Station.
If you think I can help, we will have to meet. Dr. Tunheim has my bio. If you need another copy please let me know.
Note: The USMC Reserve Unit that my associate established was in the New Orleans area to act as a cover for CIA Latin-American Operations.
I have blanked out his I.D. until we can meet to discuss this further.
Wheaton began by telling me he would only give me limited information over the telephone although he was willing to meet me face to face to provide as much information as he had. He said he had no physical proof of what he would eventually tell the Board; however he said he does have a number of documents which he will need to show me in order for me to believe what he has to say.
By way of providing background on himself Wheaton explained he is a 59 year old retired military intelligence officer. He works as a consultant investigating terrorist attacks around the world and said he expects his telephone will ring in the next few days with an offer to work on the Oklahoma City federal building bombing. He said if this happens he will also probably be called to Washington DC and would meet with me here. If he does not he would still agree to meet with us but would have to do so on the West Coast. He lives in Riverside County, California near Palm Springs.
Wheaton told me that from 1984 to 1987 he spent a lot of time in the Washington DC area and that starting in 1985 he was "recruited into Ollie North's network" by the CIA officer he has information about. He got to know this man and his wife, a "'super grade high level CIA officer" and kept a bedroom in their Virginia home. His friend was a Marine Corps liaison in New Orleans and was the CIA contact with Carlos Marcello. He had been responsible for "running people into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs." His friend is now 68 or 69 years of age.
Over the course of a year or a year and one-half his friend told him about his activities with training Cuban insurgency groups. Wheaton said he also got to know many of the Cubans who had been his friend's soldiers/operatives when the Cubans visited in Virginia from their homes in Miami. His friend and the Cubans confirmed to Wheaton they assassinated JFK. Wheaton's friend said he trained the Cubans who pulled the triggers. Wheaton said the street level Cubans felt JFK was a traitor after the Bay of Pigs and wanted to kill him. People "above the Cubans" wanted JFK killed for other reasons.
Wheaton said we must look at his friend and his associates in order to know what really happened to JFK. One of those associates was I. Irving Davidson who was/is "the bag man for the intelligence community." Davidson runs a group called the Timber Center which handles payoffs and payments for the CIA, the NSA and the Pentagon. He is a friend of Jack Anderson's and was indicted with Carlos Marcello in the 1980's on a Teamster's kick-back charge. Davidson is a non-practicing attorney in Washington D.C. He is now about 70 years old.
Wheaton said he would speak to the Board confidentially but would not allow his name to be used publicly because his friend and the friend's associates "said they would destroy me in the media with a blitz of disinformation to destroy my professional reputation. They will make me out to be a conspiracy nut. I'm not afraid of them, I've been a cop too long and besides, they only kill the people on the inner circle. The rest of us end up having our reputations destroyed."
Wheaton concluded by saying "this matter is not complex but it is convoluted. I need to show you the paper trail to show the contacts of these people."
Carl (Jenkins) was my (National Air) Washington, D.C. rep. who connected me to Nestor Pino, Bill Bode, Rob Owen, Vaughn Forrest, Chi Chi Quintero, Nestor Sanchez, et al. I was V.P. of National Air in 1985-86 (see my Bio).
Ref the attached letters from your former Chief Investigator Anne Buttimer, Edq dated 16 May 95, and 12 July 1995. Ms Buttimer and I had several contacts by phone/fax as well as the meeting on 11 July 95, in the Washington, D.C. area.
At the July meeting I furnished her with rather sensitive documents, photos, and information related to the CIA covert connections to Cuba, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Mexico during the months and years prior to, and after, the assassination in Dallas.
During and after the July 95 meeting Ms. Buttimer stated she wanted to follow-up and expand on the data I provided.
However, she shortly thereafter appears to have suddenly departed from the Board. I have never heard from her again, and no subsequent Board investigator has contacted me. The only thing I receive are the periodic news releases.
I would appreciate it if you would advise me as to any action, research, or follow-up inquiry re the data I provided. I would also request you have Ms. Buttimer contact me, or provide a means for me to contact her.
Thank you for your March 31,1998 letter. Over the years we have received thousands of leads and suggestions regarding the existence and location of records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
We appreciate that you furnished Ms. Buttimer with materials related to the CIA, Cuba, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico City. These are all areas we have explored extensively. Please be assured that all leads are carefully reviewed and always helpful to our efforts. However, due to limited resources, it would be virtually impossible to link any records that have been released as being opened as a result of materials provided by a particular individual.
Our mandate is to be completed on September 30, 1998, and I hope that you understand our priority is to release the remaining records that relate to the assassination. But please know that your contributions to our efforts are appreciated.
Again, thank you for writing. I hope this information is helpful to you.
While running back and forth to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and Egypt in the ‘80s, early, mid 80s... I kept my contacts with the embassies around the world and with the State Department, and with the Agency, so that I could get quicker access into countries whenever I got a project that I could work on. In 1985 I became the vice-president of a cargo airline called National Air. It was during that period, summer of ’85, that some of my old CIA contacts -- who were no longer full-time employees of the agency -- but when they retire these guys they usually give them a contract as an outside contractor on the side, and then they have deniability for working for the agency. They can say, "No, he’s not an employee of the agency," but in fact they are contractors and they still carry security clearances and have to be polygraphed once in a while. I was recruited into Ollie North’s network by that group during the summer of ’85 because they wanted my airplanes for missions to the Contras, and they wanted my Middle East background for helping devise a plan for movement of weapons to the Mujahadin in Afghanistan. I had traveled across Afghanistan before, and again, I speak the language, and had been in and out of in Afghanistan and Pakistan more so than anybody they could find within the agency.
The guys that I had known for several years, uh, primarily Carl Jenkins, who was a long-time career CIA paramilitary mercenary operator, uh, probably the most highly respected of those people in that division of the agency... he was the commander of the biggest CIA base in Laos while Shackley was over there, and while Bill Sullivan was over as ambassador. Carl and I became very close friends in the early 80s, to the point where I would keep a bedroom in his home in Washington with clothes and papers and things so I didn’t have to carry them from California. I was commuting regularly back and forth when I was going overseas, and Carl and his wife, who was an active super-grader in the agency - he was her case officer and she had been his interpreter, and then he got her a master’s degree and then she got her Ph.D. She went on to head one of the branches of the agency - we became like brothers and sisters, between me and them.
So I was back in Washington trying to drum up business for this little cargo airline, and Carl agreed to be my Washington representative, uh, for marketing purposes to open doors for me in Washington, D.C. ... to see if I could get some cargo contracts. It was in that vein that Carl told me it was time... that the guys in the national security council wanted to bring me into the inner circle. And that’s where I sort of got at the very national level of this. I had previously attended some black-tie functions with Bill Casey and the veterans of the OSS; had been invited to a party where the guest of honor was Vice President Bush. My wife and I were invited. We were running with a fairly high-level crowd. In December of, uh, ’85 was the scheduled time for me to actually meet with Ollie North, so they had a black-tie dinner at the Palm Restaurant in Washington D. C. on the 4th of December. It was the day that Bud McFarland resigned as national security advisor.
At that black tie party at the Palm Restaurant on the 4th of December in 1985, I was specifically invited by Neil Livingston and to come in and meet Ollie North, and it was a party to promote Neil Livingston’s book, called "Fighting Back", and the subtitle was "The War on Terrorism". He and a State Department/CIA spook by the name of Terry Arnold wrote that book together and this was the coming-out party for the book, and all the covert operations community, the real snake eaters, were going to be there with black ties. Ollie North was there and Bud McFarland and I don’t know, 75 or 100 people in black ties, having drinks and dinner and hobnobbing and they felt like... the atmosphere at that party was one of ‘We are the shadow government running the United States.’ It was almost like a diplomatic party or a State Department coming out party for a regime. These guys were in charge, and that was how they presented it.
There was a plan that was approved later on by the Congress in August, no, excuse me, October of 1985 - Congress was going to vote in 27 million dollars in non-lethal aid for the Contras and it was going to be a legitimate but covert, uh, program to supply the Contras with everything from medicines to tents and uniforms and food and whatever else they might need that was non-lethal, but as it turned out, that program became a lethal one too, because they would ship what they would laughingly refer to as hard rice, meaning weaponry, in with the $27 million worth of stuff.
Carl took me to the, what they called the Humanitarian Aid Office for the State Department in Roslyn, Virginia, and I met with Chris Arcos who was the deputy for that program to a guy, an Ambassador Dumeling. We were trying to get some of the 27 million dollars of cargo to haul to Honduras for the Contras that Congress had approved, and we were told several times in no uncertain terms that the only way we could do it was to work through Dick Secord and that aviation supply route, and I refused to do that because I knew that Secord had an unsavory reputation; he been forced into retirement out of the Air Force as a major general in ’83 over the Ed Wilson scandal in Libya. So I was advising the people around Ollie North, the liaison people between me and him, that they were dealing with a bunch of unsavory characters that had a reputation, an official public reputation, of causing extreme embarrassment to the government. At that time I didn’t... I thought the contractors - Secord and that group - I thought they had a legitimate covert contract with the government, but they were also diverting aircraft and hauling illegal cargo on the side, and I was receiving direct information about their movement.
Well, in May of ’86, I personally briefed CIA director Bill Casey, and of course he looked startled. I had no idea at the time that he was one of the masterminds behind all this illegal stuff, but he said he’d look into it and get back to me. And he said he had to leave the country the next day, and would be back in touch with me in two or three weeks. It was exactly the same weekend, or the week, I think the 30th of May, when I met with him, or the 31st, when Ollie North was on that secret trip with Bud McFarland to Tehran. So I suppose Casey was going over to Israel to brief them about it. I didn’t know that at the time. Casey sent a message to me after he got back saying that the agency wasn’t involved in any of this stuff, and that the government wasn’t involved in this illegal diversion, and "If you think you can do anything about it, let the chips fall where they may," as a bluff. I’m just a raggedy little old Oklahoma country boy, retired chief warrant officer, and I guess he figured I couldn’t do it.
Anyway, as result of those briefings in the summer of ‘86, and I was kind of - this struck me as being treason and grand larceny on a major scale, stealing from the taxpayers’ money, - and having been a cop all my life, I thought it was kind of wrong. So I got with a couple of Washington D.C. journalists that I knew. And one of them was a two-time Pulitzer prize winning journalist by the name of Newt Royce. And Newt Royce and Mike Icoca, who was a free-lancer who was writing with him - Newt at that time was with the Hearst newspaper chain in Washington D. C., with their bureau. I had information - direct knowledge from the Saudi royal family - that kickbacks were being, from the Saudi AWACS program, were being used to help fund the Contras, to buy weapons from different countries around the world. And I furnished Newt with the names of other people that could back up what I was saying, and that this was a scam because Secord, who was on active duty after the Iranian revolution, was the chief architect of the Saudi AWACS program. The Saudi AWACS program was identical to our Iran IBEX program that we had to close down in Iran. They just moved it across the Persian Gulf to Saudi Arabia and renamed it. It was an 8 billion dollar program, and those guys were talking about 10 % or 15%, so you’re talking about an 800 million dollars minimum, estimate, that that these guys could get whenever they wanted it, out of the bag.
And Newt and Mike Icoca wrote it up on the wire service for Hearst newspaper chain, and it went out on the wires and was made a front page headline of the San Francisco Examiner on the 27th of July of 1986. As a result of that article in August of ‘86, Congressman Dante Facell wrote a letter to then secretary of defense Casper Weinberger asking him if it was true that foreign money, kickback money on programs, was being used to fund foreign covert operations. And in September of ‘86 Cap Weinberger wrote a letter back to Facell denying that it was being done by the U.S. government, with any knowledge of it being kickback money. That eventually, one of George Bush’s last acts - and Larry Walsh, the special prosecutor, indicted Weinberger as a result of that correspondence - and Bush pardoned him as one of his last acts. And that’s how this whole mess got started.
This stuff goes back to the scandals of the 70s... of Watergate and Richard Helms, the CIA director, being convicted by Congress of lying to Congress, of Ted Shackley and Tom Clines and Dick Secord and a group of them being forced into retirement as a result of the scandal over Edmond P. Wilson’s training of Libyan terrorists in conjunction with these guys, and moving C-4 explosives to Libya. They decided way back when, ‘75-’76, during the Pike and Church Committee hearings, that the Congress was their enemy. They felt that the government had betrayed them and that they were the real heroes in this country and that the government became their enemy. In the late 70s, in fact, after Gerry Ford lost the election in ’76 to Jimmy Carter, and then these guys became exposed by Stansfield Turner and crowd for whatever reason... there were different factions involved in all this stuff, and power plays... Ted Shackley and Vernon Walters and Frank Carlucci and Ving West and a group of these guys used to have park-bench meetings in the late 70s in McClean, Virginia so nobody could overhear they conversations. They basically said, "With our expertise at placing dictators in power," I’m almost quoting verbatim one of their comments, "why don’t we treat the United States like the world’s biggest banana republic and take it over?" And the first thing they had to do was to get their man in the White House, and that was George Bush."
Reagan never really was the president. He was the front man. They selected a guy that had charisma, who was popular, and just a good old boy, but they got George Bush in there to actually run the White House. They’d let Ronald Reagan and Nancy out of the closet and let them make a speech and run them up the flagpole and salute them and put them back in the closet while these spooks ran the White House. They made sure that George Bush was the chairman of each of the critical committees involving these covert operations things. One of them was the Vice President’s Task Force On Combating Terrorism. They got Bush in as the head of the vice president’s task force on narcotics, the South Florida Task Force, so that they could place people in DEA and in the Pentagon and in customs to run interference for them in these large-scale international narcotics and movement of narcotics money cases. They got Bush in as the chairman of the committee to deregulate the Savings and Loans in ’83 so they could deregulate the Savings and Loans, so that they would be so loosely structured that they could steal 400, 500 billion dollars of what amounted to the taxpayers’ money out of these Savings and Loans and then bail them out. They got hit twice: they stole the money out of the Savings and Loans, and then they sold the Savings and Loans right back to the same guys, and then the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation - the taxpayers money - paid for bailing out the Savings and Loans that they stole the money from.. and they ran the whole operation, and Bush was the de facto president even before the ‘88 election when he became president.
See, when Harry Truman signed the National Security Act creating the CIA, he specifically stated in that act that they could not have any police powers. And they could not operate domestically in the United States, because he feared a secret police coup. By creeping in a little at a time, that coup has taken place.
This crowd really believes that the unwashed masses are ignorant, that we are people who are not capable of governing ourselves, that we need this elitist group to control the country, and the world -- these guys have expanded. They look at the United States not as a country, not in any kind of patriotic mode now, but they look on it as a state within a world that they control. And that’s this attitude that they have. They’re not unlike any other megalomaniac in the world. They’re nutty as fruitcake, but they’ve got distinguished gray hair, three-piece dark suits and they carry briefcases, and they’ll stand up and make speeches just as articulate as anybody in the world, but they don’t socialize and function outside their own little clique. My experience with them is that they could be certified as criminally insane and put away in a rubber room and have the key thrown away. That’s how dangerous they are. But they’re powerful, and they’re educated. And that makes them twice as dangerous. And that’s basically what’s running the world right now.
If I had not been part of this, and hadn’t seen it first hand, I would not believe a word I’m saying. You couldn’t convince me that something like this - and the American people will not believe it. Because you can’t get the average citizen... I’ve talked to judges and lawyers who have invited me in to talk to them. Some of them really patriotic concerned people. It turns them off, because it changes their entire life experience, and the reason that they have existed, and the things they have believed in all their life if you tell them this.
I have sat on the banks of the Potomac in restaurants with 75 and 80-year-old retired CIA people and retired generals, West Point graduates, honorable people... these old men have sat with tears in their eyes and told me that, "Gene, what you’re into, you understand it more than we did, and it’s absolutely true, but it’s just so big you can’t do anything about it." I guess if I believed that, I’d go off to some South Sea island and drink a few Cuba Libres laying in the sand or something, but somebody has to keep charging in there, you know. The biggest chink in their armor - and it would take somebody smarter than me to figure out how to exploit it - is their insecurity. They are afraid of a peasant with a pitchfork. And the reason they react so strongly and violently against anybody who opposes them, is because they’re afraid someone will grab a thread and unravel it, and their whole uniform will come unraveled...
The only way I can think of to get this thing exposed, would be to coordinate with all of the different independent small newspapers and radio stations in the United States - and television networks - and get them to start blasting this thing - and some universities - because the major media’s not going to do anything about it.
In the summer of 1991 I got to know William Northrup, the Israeli arms dealer who was arrested in Bermuda in 1986 for selling arms to Iran. Before leaving for the States in September, he told me to try and get out to California and meet Gene Wheaton. "Gene's a good man," he assured me.
Wheaton had been investigating Reagan-Bush covert operations since the early 1980s and had seen from the inside how these secret agendas operated. In addition to his 25 years' experience as a criminal investigator for the U.S. Army, he had designed security systems for airports in the Middle East and served as an anti-smuggling narcotics advisor to the Shah.
By that time I had interviewed covert operators like Richard Secord, and Iran-Contra players such as Yaacov Nimrodi. Now I had someone who looked at the world of covert operations from the perspective of an investigator. Unlike intelligence agents, Wheaton didn't thrive on lies and deceit. Judging from his very modest home, he obviously wasn't in it for the money.
In 1985 Wheaton was vice president of a small cargo airline company that Oliver North's network wanted to use to haul arms to the Contras and rebels elsewhere, such as in Afghanian Wheaton had the expertise the secret team wanted, so they set out to recruit him. While Wheaton may have fit their political profile, he was conservative and right-wing; he was a cop, not an intelligence agent. He was brought into the center circle, where he stayed long enough to learn about the White House's ties to drug runners, the massive arms transfers to rebel groups, the mountains of falsified documentation and miscarriages of justice.
"I had no objection to the covert end of it, as long as it was legal," says Wheaton. "It wasn't. Whenever I asked about the legality of a certain operation I was told, `It's all right, this is a vital national security issue.' I talked myself out of the inner circle but I was in it long enough to get to know the players and their method of operation. The government officials I met in the Pentagon called supporting the private covert operator 'intelligence support activity.' These covert operators trampled on our Constitution and made a mockery of our judicial system. They aren't motivated strictly by anti-communism, power, or money, but by the adrenaline that stems from being able to create chaos. They would gladly destabilize a democratic ally of America just so they can go back in and save it."
Wheaton explains that the origins of Oliver North's network was in the mid-1970s. There were, he says, literally tens of thousands of ex-covert operators and former Air America "employees" running around loose in the U.S. These weren't the kind of guys to lay back and run 7-11 stores, so they set up an array of covert airlines using the assets of Air America, the former CIA proprietary airline which had helped fly heroin out of Burma and Laos.
When Air America was liquidated it created scores of smaller airlines, including Global, Capital, and Southern Cross. All tolled, these companies employed over 15,000 people. The subsidiary companies of Air America, Southern Air Transport, Continental Air Services, and Air Asia were also broken up. This meant this secret team was able to supply pilots and mechanics, logistics and control people for future, privatized covert operations.
The 800 or so covert operators who got thrown out of the CIA by Jimmy Carter in 1977 allied themselves with the conservative element of the Republican Party. Their goal was to get George Bush elected to either president or Vice President. They didn't care which one it was, as long as their man got into the White House. They rallied around Bush and worked like a political action committee. They put their unique talents into action. They were going to do in America what they had done throughout the 1960s and 1970s in Africa and South and Central America: rig elections and overthrow governments.
One aspect of the covert operators' activities was the "October Surprise" theory, which claims members of Reagan's 1980 campaign team, including George Bush and William Casey, made a deal with Iranian leaders not to release the 52 American hostages they were holding until after the November presidential election.
Wheaton claims Quayle was brought "into the game," Bush and Casey's network of the Secret Team, early on. He believes that a major source of Quayle's political power in his home state of Indiana comes from an old friend of William Casey's, Beurt SerVaas, who was on the executive board of the Veterans of the OSS, the predecessor organization of the CIA. SerVaas's daughter is married to what Wheaton describes as an "off-the-books" French intelligence asset, Bernard Marie. Wheaton says that he introduced Marie to Defense fense Intelligence Agency officials who were part of the Reagan-Bush White House's secret arms deals with Iran in the early 1980s.
"Quayle is being groomed," says Wheaton. "Quayle was a true believer and they wanted to bring him up through the ranks. It wasn't easy for Bush and Casey to find people who would go along with their far right-wing philosophy, who at the same time were articulate and presentable." Quayle's "smoking gun" was Robert Owen and Owen's ties were to John Hull, a native of Indiana who owned and managed 8000 acres of land in northern Costa Rica 30 miles from the Nicaraguan border. The CIA and Oliver North used Hull's ranch as a supply depot to move weapons to the Contras. Hull used American government protection to fly drugs from there into the U.S., sometimes on the very same planes.
Wheaton points to a October 15th, 1980, "Memorandum for the Record," written by then - Assistant Secretary of State - Harold Saunders, stating that "Bob Owen had been made privy to the details of a pre-1980 election arms-for-hostages offer made by Iranian arms dealer Houshang Lavi to President Carter's State Department and the CIA. In her 1989 book,October Surprise, author Barbara Honegger cites an unnamed source that claims Owen, Dan Quayle's legislative aide, covertly "worked" (i.e., reported to) for Donald Gregg in October 1980 when Gregg was still serving in Carter's National Security Council. (When Bush became Vice President, Gregg was appointed his National Security Advisor. Gregg is assumed to have played a major role in the "October Surprise" operation.)
If Owen knew about the 1980 deal, then it's likely that Quayle also knew, and therefore he would be privy to many of the Reagan-Bush White House's deepest secrets and covert agendas.
John Hull visited Washington in July 1983 to convince Congress that Contra leader Eden Pastora should not be supported, claiming he was being controlled by the Sandinistan government. Pastora and Hull both visited Quayle and his legislative assistant, Robert Owen. Owen arranged for other congressional aides to talk to the visitors too, such as Vaughn Forrest, an administrative assistant for Representative Bill McCollum (R-Florida), and also introduced Hull to Oliver North.
In November 1983 Owen began working for Gray and Co., a powerful Washington, D.C., public relations and lobbying firm known for its close ties to the Administration and U.S. intelligence bodies.
In April 1984 Contra leader Adolfo Calero, head of the Nicaraguan Democratic Front, the largest Contra group, asked Gray and Co. to represent the Contras. Owen was given the assignment and came up with plans to raise money in the U.S. through non-profit organizations and companies to purchase weapons for the Contras.
On May 16, 1996, Buttimer followed up the telephone call with a letter to Wheaton in which she offered to meet with Wheaton should he find himself in the Washington D.C. area. We have also a copy of another letter from Buttimer to Wheaton in which she refers to a personal meeting with him in July 1996, at which time Wheaton delivered additional reference material to Buttimer. Unfortunately no contact report has been found for this meeting.
There is no further record of any contact by Buttimer or anyone else from the ARRB with Wheaton. In March, 1998 he again faxed the Board and noted that Buttimer seemed to have departed from the Board. He was never contacted again and only received generic Board news releases. The only response to his effort at follow-up is a very general reply from Eileen Sullivan, Press and Public Affairs Officer. In this "form letter" response, she refers to the Board as having received thousands of leads and suggestions and not being able to link any document releases to information provided by a particular individual.
Apart from this generic "thank you," there is no expression of further interest from the Board. And there was no further record of any comment from Gene Wheaton on the subject until Malcolm Blunt located the Wheaton ARRB files and brought them to the attention of this author, who then pursued the matter with the help of William Law. Law contacted and interviewed Wheaton in 2005, where he confirmed what was in the ARRB records.
A good deal of background research has been done on the Wheaton documents and on the names which Wheaton eventually disclosed to the ARRB in the documents submitted to Buttermer. These include the CV which Wheaton eventually identified as that of Carl Elmer Jenkins; a copy of Jenkin's passport circa 1983; and business cards for Carl Jenkins (ECM Corporation - International Security Assistance Specialists, New York, Washington DC, California, PO Box in Falls Church Va., Consultants for Human Development, Falls Church Va., identified as a mail drop and National Air, Liaison Officer). The National Air card has a note on it indicating that Jenkins had connected Wheaton to Raphael "Chi Chi" Quintero, Nestor Sanchez, Nestor Pino, Bill Bode, Rob Owen, and Vaughn Forrest.
Research confirms that beyond a doubt, Carl Jenkins was indeed a senior CIA officer who worked on paramilitary activities in support of the Bay of Pigs project and that by 1963-64 he was indeed directly involved with the AM/WORLD project, with Artime (AM/BIDDY) and Quintero (AM/JAVA-4).
In September, 1963 Jenkins wrote a general memo describing Artime's operational philosophy and concepts. This summarized his views about commando teams, infiltration teams, and guerrilla actions. The memo addresses military operations as Artime conceives them to be organized and conducted under a single organization (AM/WORLD) in which the Cubans can have faith. In a section on Commandos, there is discussion of the use of abductions and assassinations targeted against Cuban G-2 intelligence informants, agents, officers, and foreign Communists to raise the morale of people inside Cuba.'
In December, 1964, Jenkins prepared a summary report of Quintero's visit to Europe for a dialogue with Rolando Cubela in preparation for further meetings with Artime. The goal of this meeting was to develop contacts with a group inside Cuba which was capable of "eliminating Fidel Castro and of seizing and holding Havana, at least for an appreciable time that would be sufficient to justify recognition."'
There seems to be no doubt that Jenkins was indeed involved in a very special project in 1963-64 just as the CV Wheaton provided to the ARRB indicates. It should be noted that these AM/ WORLD activities were completely segmented from JM/WAVE and communications from Jenkins and Hecksher were not run through JM/WAVE. In fact ' the AM/ WORLD group operated its own facility in Miami (cryptonym "LORK")...
There seems some reason to at least speculate that both Quintero (who became second in command to Artime) and Rodriguez (who also joined Artime's offshore autonomous effort in 1963) may have been associated with CIA paramilitary officer Carl Jenkins before the Bay of Pigs. It also seems possible that Rodriguez may have been involved with the assassination project described in the NPIC memo and that the project was overseen by Carl Jenkins-this being the operation described by the NPIC personnel.
It appears that Carl Jenkins' paramilitary activities in support of Cuban operations were exactly as described to Gene Wheaton and exactly as summarized in the Jenkins CV submitted to the ARRB. There is also no doubt that Jenkins was very closely associated with Quintero in this period, as described by Wheaton. There are two books in print that also confirm these descriptions of Jenkins.
In The Death Merchant: The Rise and Fall of Edwin P. Wilson, author Joseph Goulden presents information from the CIA officer whom Quintero went to when he became suspicious of an assassination assignment being promoted to Quintero and other exiles by Ed Wilson. The officer (given the pseudonym "Brad Rockford") talks about entering the CIA on detached duty from the Marines, being career paramilitary, and running CIA paramilitaries out of JM/WAVE. It seems clear that Rockford was in fact Carl Jenkins.
In his book Manhunt: The Incredible Pursuit of a CIA Agent Turned Terrorist, Peter Maas mentions Carl Jenkins by name as the case officer for Quintero prior to the Bay of Pigs. Quintero was part of an advance team sent in before the invasion by Jenkins. After the landing failed, he hid out in Cuba for six weeks before making his way back to Florida. Afterwards Clines would assume a case officer role for Quintero, who would go on make to a number of sabotage and assassination missions into Cuba."
It seems worth pointing out that Jenkins' name has never been mentioned in any of the numerous works on the Bay of Pigs, the Miami station, or the secret war against Castro. Prior to this investigation of Wheaton's ARRB communications, Carl Jenkins had a far lower profile than even David Morales.
Interestingly, Gene Wheaton recommended that William Law read these books in a 2005 interview. Wheaton suggested that they would describe the individuals he had been associating with or had source information on from what has become known as Iran-Contra.
Additionally, it is of interest that Ted Shackley and Tom Clines (who was to succeed Jenkins as Quintero's case officer) would be familiar names from both JM/WAVE and the Wilson affair. It is also of interest that David Morales's long time friend Ruben independently mentioned that Morales had introduced him to Shackley, Clines and Wilson on a trip to Virginia-and later, to Artime.
Another name mentioned in Wheaton's communication with the ARRB was that of Irving Davidson. Wheaton implies no direct role for Davidson in the conspiracy, however he seems to suggest that Davidson may have unwittingly served as a sort of cut out, bagman, or facilitator. Davidson was a very long time "arranger" in Washington, a registered lobbyist for clients including the Samozas of Nicaragua, the Trujillos of the Dominican Republic, and the Murchisons of Dallas.
In Chapter 16 we examined Davidson's role as the broker of a Murchison deal involving a Haitian meat packing plant in which Bobby Baker had been involved. Baker and VP Johnson had traveled to the Dominican Republic in 1963 and Baker had gone back shortly afterwards, possibly leveraging Johnson's name in regard a casino deal involving his Las Vegas business partners. During the Dominican crisis, tapes record President Johnson and Abe Fortas discussing an intermediary involved in discussions with potential leaders. The name used in the conversation is "Davidson."
Murchison had introduced Davidson to FBI Director Hoover (Anthony Summers relates an interview with Davidson, who lived only a block away from Hoover, in which he describes frequent visits to Hoover and Tolson).'
Davidson represented Carlos Marcello in Washington and was running information between Murchison and Marcello in 1963: it was a government sting of a Murchison/Marcello project that resulted in Marcello's arrest. Reportedly Davidson had also been in contact with Marcello after his forced deportation by Robert Kennedy, helping him to covertly return to the United States. In Interference, Dan Moldea writes that Murchison had gotten Teamster investments for California land development and that there were many connections between Murchison and Marcello, including their joint use of Davidson. Moldea also describes Robert Kennedy's major 1963 Justice Department initiative against sports gambling and its potential impact on both Marcello and Murchison, both heavily involved with professional sports gambling.'
Davidson also had a history as an intermediary in arms transactions, as a collaborator with Cuban exile activities, and as an informant (apparently a protected informant) to both the FBI and CIA. One 1959 FBI memorandum concerns a report by Davidson about a purchase of military weapons. Howard Davis was seeking Davidson's assistance in obtaining quantity of 50 caliber machine guns to be used by Cuban counter revolutionaries. A 1959 CIA report describes Davidson being involved with Cuban exiles interested in forming a government in exile, shows Davidson making introductions for them in Washington.' Other memos show Davidson under FBI electronic (ELSUR) surveillance. And in November - December 1963, Davidson was the subject of NSA monitoring, apparently at the request of the FBI. The NSA made reports to the FBI on November 17, 19, and 27, 1963.
Also, as previously noted, Davidson was Jack Anderson's office mate and may have helped focus Anderson's attention on the bombshell lead from John Roselli that JFK had been killed by a team originally formed and trained to kill Castro. Anderson's "scoop" helped undercut Jim Garrison's early focus on CIA officers and anti-Castro exiles as the main actors in the conspiracy.
Carl Jerkins was a senior CIA officer with exactly the background described by Wheaton to the ARRB. Rafael Quintero was a well respected, covert operations activist associated with anti-Castro and anti-Communist activities over several decades. He was taken seriously at the highest levels of the Kennedy administration. Indeed, DDP Richard Helms himself once commented on an Operational Plan drafted by Quintero to Thomas Parrott, Executive Assistant to the Military Representative of the President in June of 1962."
Quintero had presented the plan to Attorney General Robert Kennedy and General Maxwell Taylor. Beyond that, Quintero was one of only a handful of exiles to be brought into both the AM/ WORLD and AM/LASH (Cubela) projects, initiated by Fitzgerald and eventually turned over the Artime autonomous group project. Quintero was well enough respected to be brought into the secret "extra-governmental" Contra effort, and was eventually solicited by Edward Wilson for an assassination project. In both cases Quintero eventually determined that improper activities were going on and informed on them, in the case of Wilson through his old friend Carl Jenkins.
Gene Wheaton claims that he heard discussions of the conspiracy that killed John Kennedy in Dallas during the time when he was in close personal touch with both Jenkins and Quintero. He never raised this issue when he himself attempted to blow the whistle on various aspects of the Contra supply project. He only raised it confidentially to the ARRB-and was quite surprised to find that his correspondence had been released to public view.
However when interviewed in 2005, he continued to stand by his story that he heard from people involved in the "secret war," who knew that Cuban exiles were incited to execute President Kennedy. These individuals had their own agendas. The exile shooters considered themselves above all as patriots. They had been trained to assassinate Fidel Castro, but in the end they turned their guns on John Kennedy.
Rafael Quintero died October 1, 2006, in Baltimore at the age of 66. A New York Times obituary by Tim Weiner notes that his fellow veteran, Felix Rodriquez, attended the memorial service. The obituary describes Quintero's insertion into Cuba prior to the Bay of Pigs and his escape afterwards. It also states that after his escape from Cuba, Quintero continued working on operations against Fidel Castro, including assassination plots and eventually was paid $4,000 a month to support clandestine arms shipments to the Contras in Nicaragua (despite the Congressional ban on direct U.S. support).
Gene Wheaton's name is not unknown to writers and readers of more recent conspiracy material. As Nick Schou related in an 1997 Orange County Weekly newspaper article, "although he said he was never a CIA employee, Gene Wheaton s experience has brought him into the murky world of agency-connected public-private partnerships."
After a long career with the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigations Division, including several years in Vietnam and Iran, Wheaton went to work for the Anaheim-based autonetics division of Rockwell International in 1976 (the company is now based in Costa Mesa). Three company executives had just been murdered in Tehran, Iran, and Rockwell needed Wheaton to direct its security operations for Project IBEX, a top-secret airborne electronic-surveillance system the company was building for the CIA in Iran.
At Wheaton's disposal were several other Rockwell officials with either CIA or NSA clearances and an elaborate encoding system provided by the CIA." Schou concluded that whatever else may have been written about Wheaton, his "credentials as a onetime covert operative are impossible to deny.""
The reason that Wheaton's name has appeared in print began with his and Carl Jenkins conversations with Paul Hoven in 1985. Hoven worked with a non-profit group devoted to exposing waste in government and the two had some interesting remarks to him about illegal arms shipments and government money being spent for things definitely not approved by Congress. As other leaks eventually began to occur over the North arms deals in the Middle East and Latin America, Hoven introduced Wheaton and Jenkins to Daniel Sheehan. Sheehan was engaged in an attempt to expose a variety of such activities and was happy to receive new sources."
David Corn writes that Wheaton s bottom line for Sheehan was that a "rogue element of the U.S. government was engaged in a host of nefarious activities including assassinations." Corn also describes the names that Wheaton offered to Sheehan. These included: Wilson, Secord, Clines, Hakim, Singlaub, Shackley and Bush.
Sheehan would include Wheaton's (and reportedly Jenkins') information about illegal arms deals and the names of those involved in his crusade and later legal actions.
In 1988 Wheaton offered an affidavit in support of Sheehan s legal action; Jenkins, another source for Sheehan, refused to give a similar affidavit and when questioned asserted that Sheehan must have totally misunderstood any conversations they might have had.
In a 2005 interview with William Law, Wheaton related the following: At some time in 1985/1986 (while he and Jenkins were beginning to talk to parties about illegal arms deals) Wheaton brought up the earlier discussions he had heard in regard to the JFK conspiracy and broached the subject of disclosure of that as well. He states that after a short time the pair declined and told him that if he ever raised the issue they would make him look totally unreliable and ruin his career as a security consultant. It is this author's speculation that once Wheaton was known to his friends as a "whistle blower", they may immediately have begun providing dis-information which would damage his credibility and undermine any remarks he might make in regard to their earlier conversations about the JFK assassination.
Eventually the Contra portions of Wheaton's assertions seem to have been substantially verified. North's own notebook confirms all the names except Shackley. Shirley Brill, a former CIA official, submitted an affidavit with the same names and claimed she heard Clines, Secord, Quintaro and Shackley plotting to frame Wilson.
Cameron Holmes, a Congressional investigating committee lead investigator, was convinced that Shackley was deeply involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. As he explained when he was interviewed by David Corn: "How could Shackley be the one person in this mob unaware of what was going on? Why was he so insistent he had not picked up a single whiff of the Contra operation or the Iran initiative? There was no crime in knowing. Shackley proclaimed his ignorance too much." Holmes was shocked when special counsel Lawrence Walsh decided not to pursue Shackley. He was not even called as a witness. Walsh did not even take Shackley's deposition until after Congress had finished its hearings on the affair.
However, many of Sheehan's assertions became highly controversial. In particular these seem to relate to a grand elaboration of the "secret team" assertions involving Shackley as the leader of a secret COA "wet ops" unit which had been created as far back as 1976. Sheehan also introduced another crime, the La Penaca, bombing and made it part of his overall case and cause. Clearly Wilson's information and the La Penaca bombing helped raise Sheehan's claims to that of extreme, global conspiracy and had a good deal to do with his losing his legal action. It is also clear that Wheaton's basic information about illegal arms sales, extra-legal "secret teams" and even about sanctioned assassinations dating back to the Cuban secret war have been validated as of 2005.
By virtue of his visibility in Iran-Contra and as virtually the only experienced security person to ever serve as a "whistle blower", Wheaton become sought after for comment in virtually every case to follow where it appeared that the Government might be covering up covert activities. As an example, families from the 1985 Gander crash hired Wheaton to investigate rumors that the government was not telling the full truth about the crash. He concluded the plane was operated by Arrow Airlines which had served as a CIA front company and that the airlines had transported arms from Israel to Iran as part of North's Contra project. Wheaton posited that the bombing of the plane was a form of retaliation by the Iranians for North's arms sale scam.
Eventually mainstream media sources, including Time magazine, reached the same general conclusion that the crash was extremely questionable and that Middle Eastern interests of some sort were behind it. Wheaton is even quoted in one Time article on Gander."
Wheaton's views, his goal of exposing secret agendas and secret teams plus his willingness to comment result in reporters and writers calls (and citations) whenever anything possibly terrorist associated happens-such as the OKC bombing. For the mainstream press and for some researchers, the fact that Wheaton has become a "lightning rod" for conspiracy commentary and speculation certainly affects his perception as a source. Interestingly there is only one subject he has never addressed in his public remarks, that of the Kennedy assassination. That he saved only for confidential disclosure to the ARRB.
At present, Wheaton's reports of the individuals and conversations he heard discussing the attack on JFK (heard prior to his and Jenkins involvement with people investigating Iran-Contra) appear consistent and credible. However it is reasonable to speculate that virtually anything shared with him following his proposal that Jenkins and Quintaro go on the record about the Kennedy matter may have been "contaminated".
Wheaton himself may have become a target for disinformation at that point, cultivated to ensure that he would be greeted with skepticism if he ever chose to disclose the conversations he had heard.
The Non-profit project that I worked for was formed under the Stewart Motts foundation. Danny Sheehan was on the board of that organization. I knew Danny from January 1981. Went to Christic Institute book parties there. I knew the Jesuit priest Father Bill Davis at the institute. He was the priest sent down to investigate the death of the American filmmaker during the military coup in Chile. The wife of the dead filmmaker was a girl from my home town that I had dated a couple of times in High School (some coincidences are real). The long and the short of it is that I knew Danny Sheehan for years before Gene Wheaton or Carl Jenkins ever heard of him. Danny was on my board of directors and was very supportive of what we were doing at the project. I thought what he and the Christic Institute did in the Karen Silkwood case was commendable.
Like wise I had met Carl and Elisabeth some time before I was introduced to Gene. One of the reasons that I listened to Gene was because I had a friendship with Carl. The night of the party where Gene was introduced to me, Carl Jenkins along with (IW) John Harper introduced me to Gene there was no talk about illegal arms or federal contracts. Carl was the sole speaker with IW and Gene nodding in agreement. What he said was that we had to stop George Bush from becoming President and that the wrong people in Afghanistan where getting our aid.
I knew the people that where the principles in Congress that allocating the money for our support of the Afghans that where fighting the Soviets. Carl said that Gene knew that area of the world and that he could help these people. I don’t recall that the Contra’s where brought at all that evening. I supported aid to the contras so it would never haven discussed as a problem. The Lt.Col. Carl Bernard that I mentioned earlier had a civilian brother in the Pentagon who was running the program that developed weapons for the Afghan fighters. Afghanistan was the only shooting war at the time and so it was the topic of conversation with just about everyone I knew including Carl Jenkins. There were two Congressmen who where the main funders of the Afghans in Congress. Cong. McCullam R Florida and Cong. Wilson D Texas. Von Forest was the main staffer for the Florida congressman and I knew him well. They were also big Israel supporters and had an Israeli citizen on staff ( Steffe Bodansky) as a military expert.
I set up a meeting with a senate staffer that I knew to start to introduce Gene to the network of staffers in congress who where the players in support of the Afghans. It is at this meeting that Gene dropped the bomb shell and after a very short time talking about Afghanistan started taking about the assignation of Americans by Americans. There where 10 examples of assassinations but the one that he spent the more than 50% of time talking about was the Ibex killing in Iran. This proved to be an interesting emphasis because of the ten so called assassinations the Ibex killings was the only where I had access to someone who was there at the time it took place. Remember that up to this point my background and job was dealing with military hardware testing and procurement and the waste in the Defense Budget. My interest in the wars in Afghanistan was in the weapons that where being supplied to the Afghans that would be effective but not giving away technology to the Soviets. The covert nature and the spying component held little interest to me then.
A very close friend of mine’s father was in State Department Counter Intelligence in Tehran when the Ibex killing took place. And was investigating the case. I talked to him about what I had heard and he confirmed that it was a strange case. The man killed was coming back from the USA after a going home to report massive diversion of funds (stolen) to American Generals that where overseeing the program that had been sold to the Iranian Government. It was a program that the Pentagon had passed on but was then successfully sold to the Iranians. The man was killed immediately after arriving in Tehran. This was not the pattern of either the Moslem or Communist groups trying to topple the Shah’s government. They would stalk for at least two weeks before pulling off an assassination. The actual assassination used a VW bug as a blocking car against the victims Mercedes Benz sedan with a driver and if memory is right the driver was not killed. The big sedan could have easily driven through the VW bug blocking car. The telling information supplied by my friends father was that the Shah’s secret police who where fearless where afraid of this case and kept saying white man in Parse. At this stage I was convinced that Wheaton was telling me the truth. I assumed that the 9 other cases Gene had talked about involved American assassins as well. The senate staffer was scared to death as this was way out of his league and wanted nothing to do with Wheaton after that. This was not my area either but I could not let it go.
Knut Royce was a personal friend of mine. He was one of five of us who used to meet once a week at a bar in downtown DC. He then brought in his friend Mike Accoca to help on the story. [I was working on a story about the invasion of Panama as consultant to 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace when Wallace the producer Charlie Thompson and Myself all got violently sick and almost died and Mike Accoca did die.]
Knut took the story to Senator John Kerry D Massachusetts. The names that Wheaton mentioned had nothing to do with the Contras based on what Wheaton told me . They where the people that where involved in the assassinations. When Iran Contra became public that October I was shocked because the people mentioned where the same people that Wheaton told me where involved in the ten assassinations of Americans. When I introduced Wheaton to Danny Sheehan the reason was assassinations for my part it had nothing to do with illegal arms shipments to anyone. At that time Danny was looking in to assassinations relative to the Contras and that is why I had the meeting and introduced Wheaton to Sheehan. As I said before I was not opposed to aid to the Contras and would not have had the meeting between the two of them if that was the subject. At some point in those first few months after meeting Wheaton I had a meeting set up with the man who I had originally talked to about Wheaton and the Ibex assassination. After the meeting with the State Department Counter Intelligence Officer (he also held a Lt. Col. Rank in the Army) he advised his son ( a Republican Senate staffer) and myself to not deal with Wheaton anymore. He said that he did not believe Wheaton was on the level.
Jenkins never once mentioned contracts with me and he never indicated that he was involved in the JFK assassination. Remember his wife was on active duty at CIA. Both he and his wife were very bright people and Carl was a professional case officer with decades of service. And Carl was smarter than Wheaton in my estimation. In a million years I can not see him admitting to any part in the assassination of JFK to an outsider if he had played a role. Especially to an outsider like Wheaton. Gene like myself was an outsider. He had non agency bon fides for his work in the Army and I believe that he may have played a role in IW Harpers escape from Libya after IW attempted to assassinate Kaddafi. (Blew up a plane Kaddafi was to board but Kaddafi changed his mind at the last minute. A bunch of his East German bodyguards where killed, however.) I was accepted because I had served in Viet Nam as an Army Helicopter Pilot. And I had been recruited to fly for Air America, I turned them down because I thought I had used up all my luck. But in certain areas you where still considered an outsider.
If Jenkins wanted it known to the world that he planned, trained, etc. the people that killed JFK why not tell me rather than Wheaton. I was dealing on a day to day basis with over 300 plus journalists and in the beginning Wheaton with none. More important I had credibility with them all where Wheaton was a total unknown to them.
I was not happy with Sheehan’s final document. I had no first hand information about the actions that where in the document. And I was never told that I would be listed as a source. Plus his description of me did nothing to protect me. I was listed as a Army Helicopter Pilot in Viet Nam and a Military Reformer, that described a universe of exactly one person in DC at that time. Two days after it was out I was having lunch with a reporter that I had never dealt with before and after introductions she said, “oh you must be the number 48 (I believe that was the number source in Sheehan’s suit). The pay off came a week later when Ted Shackley showed up on my doorstep with a shaved headed gorilla about six foot four that looked like someone out of a terminator movies and wanted to talk about Sheehan’s suit.