Joel Bainerman was born in Toronto in 1957. When he was twenty-four he emigrated to Israel. Bainerman worked as a journalist at The Israel Economist and The Jerusalem Post. He also established two monthly newsletters, Israel Technology and Inside Israel.
In 1989 Bainerman published The Crimes of a President, a book about George H. W. Bush and his relationship with Ted Shackley, Donald P. Gregg, Felix Rodriguez, Richard Secord, William Casey, Thomas G. Clines, Rafael Quintero, Luis Posada, Richard L. Armitage, Menachem Meron, Albert Hakim, Oliver North and Edwin Wilson.
Joel Bainerman has also written for The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Baltimore Sun, The Toronto Globe, The Christian Science Monitor and Forbes Magazine. He is also the author of Why the Middle East Conflict Continues to Exist.
In 2001, he published the first-ever in-depth study of the current status of Israel’s high technology industries entitled: Broken Promises: The Rise and Fall of Israel’s Technology-Based Industries, which documented how Israel’s technology industries had been re-directed away from its initial purpose to serve the interests of Israel’s national economy and towards that of serving the needs of foreign investors.
Covert operations, like any other type of operation, need financing and the use of financial instruments. Just as BCCI served a useful purpose for many countries' and dictators' illicit activities, back in the mid-1970s the Secret Team decided it needed to control its own bank for covert operations.
Daniel Sheehan gathered information which suggests Clines, Secord, Shackley, and Quintero siphoned off a percentage of the funds derived from the opium profits of Vang Pao to a secret bank account at the Nugan Hand Bank in Sydney, Australia.
The Nugan Bank was founded in 1976 by Francis John Nugan and Michael Jon Hand. Hand was a member of the U.S. Special Forces in Laos, a former Green Beret and a CIA agent. Shortly after its establishment the bank boasted deposits of $25 million. Its board of directors was impressive.
The President of the Nugan Hand Bank was Admiral Earl F. Yates, former Chief of Staff for Strategic Planning of U.S. Forces in Asia and the Pacific. The President of Nugan Hand Bank Hawaii was General Edwin F. Black, commander of U.S. troops in Thailand during the Vietnam War and then Assistant Army Chief of Staff for the Pacific. Nugan Hand's representative in Saudi Arabia was Bernie Houghton, a U.S. Naval Intelligence agent.
Another director of Nugan Hand Bank was Dale Holmgree, a former employee of Civil Air Transport, which later became the CIA's proprietary company, Air America (the airline run by the CIA that transported opium out of the Golden Triangle to Saigon, Hong Kong, and Bangkok). George Farris, a Green Beret and CIA operative in Vietnam, ran the Washington, D.C., office of Nugan Hand Bank. General LeRoy J. Manor, former Chief of Staff for the U.S. Pacific Command, was Nugan Hand's man in Manila. The bank's legal counsel was William Colby, a former director of the CIA.
The Board of Directors for the parent company that preceded the establishment of the Nugan Hand Bank, were Grant Walters, Robert Peterson, David M. Houton, and Spencer Smith, all of whom listed their address as GO Air America, Army Post Office, San Francisco, California (Canadian Dimension, September 1987).
Despite having established branches throughout the world, the Nugan Hand Bank rarely conducted any banking activities. In fact, the bank was a mini-BCCI, its reach spanning six continents, and was involved in drug operations, laundering money, tax evasion, and investor fraud operations. Not only did it serve as a transaction center for the profits the CIA earned from the Southeast Asian drug trade, but it also funneled money to South African-backed forces fighting in Angola.
The bank made the headlines of Australia in 1980 when Frank Nugan was found dead from a gunshot wound in his Mercedes-Benz on January 27th of that year. In his trousers police found the business card of Nugan Hand's lawyer, William Colby, with the details of Colby's upcoming trip to the Far East. Inside his briefcase were the names of prominent Australian politicians and business personalities with dollar amounts handwritten in the five and six figures (Mother Jones, August/September 1987).
The circumstances behind how Hand met Frank Nugan, a local lawyer and heir to a food-processing fortune, have never been properly clarified. Under oath, at the inquest, Hand claimed he couldn't remember.
The bank grew and had offices or affiliates in 13 countries. According to Jonathan Kwitny, whose book Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA: Crimes of Patriots (1987) documented the scandal, the bank did little banking. However, over its seven-year existence it amassed large sums moving, collecting, and disbursing money. As soon as investigators began looking into the affairs of the bank in 1980, it was declared insolvent. Kwitny discovered that in the immediate days after his death, Nugan's house was taken over by Hand, Yates and Houghton, as company files were packed in "cartons, sorted, or fed to a shredder" (Mother Jones, August/September 1987). Its branch in Chiang Mai, Thailand, writes Kwitny, was the most mysterious of all of Nugan Hand's activities. Why was a supposedly legitimate bank opening an office in Chiang Mai, a region awash in the opium-growing trade?
After much investigative work, Kwitny discovered that the Chiang Mai branch of the Nugan Hand Bank was on the same floor in what he believed to be the same suite as the United States Drug Enforcement Agency office. When asked, the DEA wouldn't offer an explanation. Kwitny found that every which way he turned he was stonewalled.
He finally hit pay dirt when he tracked down Neil Evans, an Australian who was selected by Hand to run the Thailand branch. Evans reported to Kwitny that during his seven-month stint, Hand told him to deposit $2.6 million from six major drug dealers. Another employee at the Bangkok office said, "There was nothing there but drug money." (Before releasing it to the public, the Joint Task Force on Drug Trafficking, an investigation commissioned by the Australian government, deleted ten pages on Nugan Hand's Thailand activities from its report.)
The bank collapsed, owing some $50 million. None of the deposits were secured because they were used for illegal activities. These included defrauding American military personnel in Saudi Arabia out of nearly $10 million. The bank sent out "investment counselors" to installations where Americans were working in Saudi Arabia and told them to invest their salaries in Nugan Hand's Hong Kong branch in secured government bonds.
The Australian government eventually investigated the collapse of the bank and found that millions of dollars were missing and unaccounted for. It discovered that the main depositors of the bank were connected with the narcotics trade in the Middle East and Asia, and that the CIA was using Nugan Hand to finance a variety of covert operations. Government investigations revealed ties between Nugan Hand and the world's largest heroin syndicates. The reports said that the Bank was linked to at least 26 separate individuals or groups known to be associated with drug trafficking."
In 1983 the Australian Joint Task Force on Drug Trafficking released a report on Nugan Hand's activities to Parliament which said Shackley, Secord, Clines, Quintero, and Wilson were people whose background "is relevant to a proper understanding of the activities of the Nugan Hand group and the people associated with that group."
When interviewed on the CBS news program 60 minutes in March 1987, the Vice President replied that these statements had "stood the test of time." Asked about media reports of his involvement to supply the Contras, Bush countered: "There is this insidious suggestion that I was conducting an operation. It's untrue, unfair, and totally wrong. I met with Max Gomez [Rodriguez's alias] three times and never discussed Nicaragua with him.... There was no linkage to any operation, yet it keeps coming up. There are all kinds of weirdos coming out of the woodwork on this thing." Bush was asked whether or not Donald Gregg "lied" when he denied discussing the Contras with Rodriguez. Bush said no, and that Gregg merely "forgot." "He's not a liar. If I thought he was a liar, he wouldn't be working for me," the then Vice President added.
When asked if "in retrospect, do you wish Mr. Gregg had told you about it (North's role in the resupply effort) in August 1986," Bush remarked: "Yes, particularly knowing what I know now."
Which means Gregg must be a liar because he didn't tell the Vice President everything in August 1986, or in April 1986 when Rodriguez complained to him about the profits being skimmed, Yet Bush wasn't at all angry at his chief aide for hiding important information from him, and instead of punishing him, appointed him ambassador to South Korea.
In his autobiography, Looking Forward (1987), Bush denies knowing about North's "secret operations" before November 1986.
In a 1988 interview with Newsweek, when Bush was asked, "When did you first learn of North's role in the Contra operation?" he answered, "What I know of Mr. North's role in the Contra-resupply effort has come from the information made public during the investigations."
Bush is asking us to believe that he chaired the Task Force on Combating Terrorism which served as a springboard for North's activities, and the Committee on Crisis Pre-Planning find the National Security Planning Group, but knew nothing of North's activities. He is asking us to believe that Oliver North ran the entire resupply operation on his own, without the knowledge of any of his superiors, as a rogue operation, and then when brought to trial tried to drag these other men's names and reputations through the mud. That he only learned of Oliver North's role in the entire Contra-resupply effort from information made public during the investigations. In other words, the Vice President of the United States had no more knowledge or intelligence about Oliver North's secret agendas and covert operations than any average American receiving his news from ABC and Time magazine and NBC?
In what must be the ultimate in hypocrisy, during the election campaign of 1988 Bush said that the whole issue of Iran-Contra was "old news." "You get sick and tired of saying, I've told the truth."
What became of the Contra connection after Iran-Contra became public? One covert operation which the Bush White House was likely behind is the secret effort to fund the 1990 campaign of Violeta Chamorro and the National Opposition Union (UNO), the main opposition to the Sandinista candidate, President Daniel Ortega.
In the eight months before the February 25th, 1990, vote, the CIA managed a covert operation which sent more than $600,000 to more than a 100 Miami-based Contra leaders so they could return to Nicaragua (Newsweek, October 21st, 1991). Although Congress approved $9 million to be spent on the Nicaraguan election, it banned covert CIA financial support for the UNO.
When asked about the payments, Administration officials claimed the payments were simply expenses for helping 100 or so Contra leaders return home. However, one White House official acknowledged, "We were spending this money for them to go back and work in the Chamorro campaign. They knew what they were supposed to do" (Newsweek, October 21st, 1991).
George Bush would have preferred that all of the policies and covert operations he initiated remain secret. When they didn't, he and his staff simply denied their existence, or their involvement in them. To set the historical record straight, it's important to look at George Bush's entire repertoire of official responses to all of the scandals which came under the umbrella of what became commonly known as the"Iran Contra Affair."
Bush insisted that he was "out of the loop" on all matters relating to Iran-Contra. He came to understand the "hidden dimensions" of the scandal only in December 1986 after his National Security Advisor, Donald Gregg, briefed him. This was nearly a month after Attorney General Edwin Meese disclosed the diversion of arms sales profits to the Contras. "Not until that briefing," Bush says, "did I fully appreciate how the initiative was actually implemented."
What is Bush trying to tell us? That secret, covert operations are going on and the highest elected officials in the country are not informed of them? That's either a silent coup, or an extremely poor grasp on national affairs by the President and Vice President.
Logic would dictate that Bush would have had to know what was going on. He admitted he attended a meeting on August 6th, 1985, when former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane outlined the deal to trade U.S. arms for American hostages held by the Iranians. On January 6th, 1986, President Reagan authorized the sale of TOW missiles to win the release of the American hostages. The next morning all of the President's advisors gathered in the Oval Office as Secretary of State George Shultz and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger expressed their opposition. Shultz told the Tower Commission that by the end of the meeting it was clear that the President and the Vice President disagreed with him (Schultz). A few weeks later, National Security Advisor John Poindexter sent a computer message to North which acknowledged high-level opposition to his policies, but concluded: "President and V.P. are solid in taking the position that we have to try."
What was Bush's response to this meeting? "I may have been out of the room at the time and didn't recall the two Secretaries' strenuous opposition." Bush claims that if he had heard them he would have "moved to reconsider the whole project."
By his own response, at the very least Bush knew there was a "project." He would like the American people to believe that while one of the most controversial issues of the Reagan White House's foreign policy agenda was being discussed and analyzed by the President's top advisors, George was out making a wee-wee.
Amiram Nir, Israel's advisor on terrorism to former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, met Bush in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on July 29th, 1986. According to notes taken by Craig Fuller, Bush's aide, Nir outlined for Bush efforts taken throughout the past year "to gain the release of the hostages, and that a decision still had to be made whether the arms desired by the Iranians would be delivered in separate shipments or for each hostage as they are released." "We are dealing with the most radical elements," Nir told Bush, according to the memorandum which was published in the Tower Commission Report, despite Reagan administration officials efforts to quash it.
President Bush said that "he couldn't remember much - about the briefing, nor did he fully understand what Nir was saying at the time." (Was Nir speaking in Hebrew?) He said, "I didn't know what he was referring to when he was talking about radicals, nor did I ask."
Why then didn't the VP say to himself, "Hey, if these activities are being carried out by a foreign government and involve the sale of American-made weapons to secure the release of U.S. citizens, I need to know all the details," and then ask Nir for a full explanation of the events?" If he didn't like what he was hearing, why didn't he demand the entire operation be halted? If Bush had no idea what Nir was talking about, why was he meeting him? What did his advisors who arranged the meeting with Nir brief Bush on, that was going to be discussed, if not arms for hostages?
In another comment Bush responded, "I listened to him (Nir) and there was not a big exchange in all of this. I did hot know all the details. I didn't know what he was referring to when he was talking about "radicals." Asked why he didn't raise questions on the initiative, Bush responded by saying he felt "uncomfortable" at the meeting and thought it was a "listening session" (Washington Post, October 21st, 1988).
What does that mean? That Bush felt "uncomfortable" speaking to Nir about a secret effort to release U.S. hostages, or about selling American weapons to a country that supposedly America hates and considers a terrorist threat. What does he mean by a "listening session"? Listening to what? Nir's views on Third World economic development? When did Bush believe it was going to become a "doing session"?
On the campaign trail in July 1988, Bush said, "Nir presented him with only a tiny piece of a very complicated puzzle." Does that mean Nir told gave him details of the arms for hostages deal but George couldn't complete the "puzzle"?
Bush is asking the American people to believe that the Vice President of the United States takes time out of a busy two-day state visit to meet with Israel's official counter terrorism expert, a subject which Bush heads a high level inter-agency group on in the White House. But when they speak, he has no interest in what Nir is saying. He doesn't bother to ask Nir to clarify his words or thoughts, instead just sits and listens, but hasn't a clue to what Nir is talking about because Bush knows nothing of any efforts to free any hostages. Bush then stands up, shakes his head because he hasn't understood a word this person has told him, announces that he doesn't want to hear any more, and walks out of the room.
In Cuba, Sheehan's account of the Secret Team's activities begins in the late 1950s and early 1960s with a plan to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, which violated the United States' Neutrality Act. Expatriate Cubans were recruited and sent to one of two secret military training bases established for this purpose - one in the south of Miami, Florida, and the other, named Camp Trax, in Retalhuleu, Guatemala.
The force later became known as the 2506 Brigade. The purpose of their missions was to allow the expatriate Cubans to re-enter Cuba covertly and establish a center of guerrilla resistance to the Cuban government and to disrupt the new economy. A later plan included the assassination of Fidel Castro (Report of the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders, 94th Congress, 1975). This would have paved the way for former President Fulgencio Batista's return to power as well as the narcotics and gambling activities run by such underworld figures as Meyer Lansky and Santo Trafficante, Jr.
The low-profile, guerrilla-infiltration assassination strategy, code-named Operation 40, was replaced with a plan for a full-scale military invasion of Cuba, to be staged at the Bay of Pigs in April 1962. After that invasion failed, from 1962 to 1965 Theodore Shackley headed a program of raids and sabotage against Cuba. Working under Shackley was Thomas Clines, Rafael Quintero, Luis Posada Carriles, Rafael and Raill Villaverde, Frank Sturgis (who would later be one of the famous Watergate burglars), Felix Rodriguez and Edwin Wilson. This operation, called JM/WAVE, was eventually closed down in 1965, when several of its participants became involved with smuggling narcotics from Cuba into the United States (New York Times, January 4th, 1975).
When the JM/WAVE project ended, Shackley and Clines, Rodriguez, Wilson, and Quintero left for Laos in Southeast Asia. Shackley was chief of the CIA's station in Vientiane until 1969, while Clines was under Shackley's direction as the base chief in Long Tieng.
For more than 75 years, western diplomats have been coming up with “peace initiatives” to solve the Arab – Israeli conflict. Yet they always fail. Why?
What keeps the Middle East conflict going? If we are going to devise a solution, we must first understand why the conflict continues to exist. To do this, we have to view the situation from the top down, rather than from the bottom up.
This is completely opposite to the way most Jews and Arabs have been conditioned to look at “the situation.”Jews focus on the damage Arab/Palestinians cause, and believe that damage to be the cause of the conflict, when it is really only a result of it. They view the conflict and its origins from the bottom up. Arabs/Palestinians concentrate on the damage Israel causes and believe this to be the cause of the conflict, when it is really only a result of it. They too relate to the situation from the bottom up.
To understand what really causes the Middle East conflict to continue, one must look at the issue from the top down.
To get a more accurate picture of what lies behind the continued existence of the conflict, let’s acknowledge these five factors which serve to perpetuate – rather than solve – the problem:
1) The vested interests of the Foreign Elite (FE): There is a “third entity” in the conflict in addition to the Israelis and the Arabs: the foreigners (in order of importance, the US, Britain, China, France, Germany). Without them, there would be no Middle East conflict because it is the foreign influence that keeps the “situation” from being resolved. Unfortunately, both Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews believe they are each other’s worst enemy – without considering the third element – the foreigners – that is the enemy of both. The thing that Arabs and Jews have most in common is this common enemy, yet the leaders on both sides (not being legitimate or independent) tell their people that the other side is their number one enemy. Hence the conflict continues.
2) Control of Middle East oil: The foreigners interfere in the Arab-Israeli conflict in order to exploit and control the vast petroleum resources in the region. If there were no oil, there would be no petrodollars to recycle; the foreigners would have no reason to dominate the region.
3) Weapons sales: If there was a worldwide ban on arms sales to the Middle East, there would be no more “radical Arab dictators” with modern arms. If the foreigners stopped selling advanced weaponry to nations of the Middle East, the conflict would end.
4)The mainstream media: If the mainstream media in the West stopped reporting on the “search for peace in the Middle East,” peace would soon be found. By keeping the region’s“unstable” image alive, the media, as the sole source of information by which people can formulate their perceptions, provide an excuse for the foreigners to interfere, and at the same time serve to convince everyone that these western nations want peace, despite the fact that they have been “seeking” it for over 50 years, in vain. The media never question the intentions or agendas of the FE. The media thus provide the glue which keeps the conflict going. Without the mainstream media constantly reporting on the conflict, there would be peace, as everyone would forget that the Middle East is “unstable” and thus in need of “stabilizing” via new “peace initiatives.”
5) Corrupt national leadership of both sides:It isn’t peace between Arabs and Jews that interests the FE, but rather the continuation of the conflict. The way they do that is by corrupting/controlling the national leaders of both sides. The reason why legitimate, popular leaders are not at the helms of countries in the Middle East is because the FE will topple any leader who doesn’t cater to their desires before the needs of their own people. If Middle East leaders are selected and deemed popular by their own people, the FE will demonize them as “radicals/extremists,” “terrorist leaders” or “enemies of peace,” and thus de-legitimize them in the world arena. How can genuine co-existence take hold if the leaders of both sides are more interested in pleasing their foreign masters than their own peoples?
Unless these five basic factors are understood, the true causes that extend the conflict will never be understood. Instead, each side will go on blaming the other – seeking to take the high moral ground and convince their own people and those from abroad that they are right, and the other side is wrong.This will lead only to more death and destruction.
The technique is called “divide and rule,” and it has been a favorite of the FE for decades.