Theodore (Ted) Shackley was born in 1927. His mother was a Polish immigrant and he spent much of his childhood living with his grandmother. Shackley was raised in West Palm Beach, Florida and in October, 1945, joined the United States Army. After basic training he was sent to Germany where he was part of the Allied occupation force. As a result of his knowledge of the Polish language he was recruited into the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corp. In 1947 he was sent to study at the University of Maryland.
Shackley returned to Germany in 1951 as a 2nd Lieutenant. As a member of Army Counter Intelligence Corp he was involved in recruiting Polish agents. He was also recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency. By 1953 he was working for William Harvey at the CIA Berlin Station.
Shackley, whose nickname was the "Blond Ghost" (because he hated to be photographed) became involved in CIA's Black Operations. This involved a policy that was later to become known as Executive Action (a plan to remove unfriendly foreign leaders from power). This included a coup d'état that overthrew the Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 after he introduced land reforms and nationalized the United Fruit Company.
After the Bay of Pigs disaster President John F. Kennedy created a committee (SGA) charged with overthrowing Castro's government. The SGA, chaired by Robert F. Kennedy (Attorney General), included John McCone (CIA Director), McGeorge Bundy (National Security Adviser), Alexis Johnson (State Department), Roswell Gilpatric (Defence Department), General Lyman Lemnitzer (Joint Chiefs of Staff) and General Maxwell Taylor. Although not officially members, Dean Rusk (Secretary of State) and Robert S. McNamara (Secretary of Defence) also attended meetings.
At a meeting of this committee at the White House on 4th November, 1961, it was decided to call this covert action program for sabotage and subversion against Cuba, Operation Mongoose. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy also decided that General Edward Lansdale (Staff Member of the President's Committee on Military Assistance) should be placed in charge of the operation. One of Lansdale's first decisions was to appoint William Harvey as head of Task Force W. Harvey's brief was to organize a broad range of activities that would help to bring down Castro's government.
In early 1962 Harvey brought Ted Shackley into the project as deputy chief of JM/WAVE. In April, 1962, Shackley was involved in delivering supplies to Johnny Roselli as part of the plan to assassinate Fidel Castro. Later that year he became head of the station. In doing so, he gained control over Operation 40 or what some now called Shackley’s Secret Team. Shackley was also responsible for gathering intelligence and recruiting spies in Cuba. Most of the anti-Castro Cubans that the CIA managed to infiltrate into Cuba were captured and either imprisoned or executed.
In the winter of 1962 Eddie Bayo claimed that two officers in the Red Army based in Cuba wanted to defect to the United States. Bayo added that these men wanted to pass on details about atomic warheads and missiles that were still in Cuba despite the agreement that followed the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Bayo's story was eventually taken up by several members of the anti-Castro community including William Pawley, Gerry P. Hemming, John Martino, Felipe Vidal Santiago and Frank Sturgis. Pawley became convinced that it was vitally important to help get these Soviet officers out of Cuba.
William Pawley contacted Shackley at JM WAVE. Shackley decided to help Pawley organize what became known as Operation Tilt. He also assigned Rip Robertson, a fellow member of the CIA in Miami, to help with the operation. David Morales, another CIA agent, also became involved in this attempt to bring out these two Soviet officers.
In June, 1963, a small group, including William Pawley, Eddie Bayo, Rip Robertson, John Martino, and Richard Billings, a journalist working for Life Magazine, secretly arrived in Cuba. They were unsuccessful in their attempts to find these Soviet officers and they were forced to return to Miami. Bayo remained behind and it was rumoured that he had been captured and executed.
In the autumn of 1963 Ted Shackley and Carl E. Jenkins were using members of Operation 40 in their attempts to try and kill Fidel Castro. According to the interview he gave in 2005, Gene Wheaton claims it was Jenkins who redirected this team to kill John F. Kennedy.
According to recently released AMWORLD documents it would seem that Shackley and Jenkins continued to use Operation 40 against Castro. In his book, The Crimes of a President, Joel Bainerman argues that during this period “Theodore Shackley headed a program of raids and sabotage against Cuba. Working under Shackley was Thomas Clines, Rafael Quintero, Luis Posada Carriles, Rafael and Raul Villaverde, Frank Sturges, Felix Rodriguez and Edwin Wilson.”
In 1966 Shackley was placed in charge of the CIA secret war in Laos. He appointed Thomas G. Clines as his deputy. He also took Carl E. Jenkins, David Morales, Raphael Quintero, Felix Rodriguez and Edwin Wilson with him to Laos. According to Joel Bainerman it was at this point that Shackley and his "Secret Team" became involved in the drug trade. They did this via General Vang Pao, the leader of the anti-communist forces in Laos. Vang Pao was a major figure in the opium trade in Laos. To help him Shackley used his CIA officials and assets to sabotage the competitors. Eventually Vang Pao had a monopoly over the heroin trade in Laos. In 1967 Shackley and Clines helped Vang Pao to obtain financial backing to form his own airline, Zieng Khouang Air Transport Company, to transport opium and heroin between Long Tieng and Vientiane.
According to Alfred W. McCoy (The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade) Shackley and Clines arranged a meeting in Saigon in 1968 between Santo Trafficante and Vang Pao to establish a heroin-smuggling operation from Southeast Asia to the United States.
Shackley employed David Morales to take charge at Pakse, a black operations base focused on political paramilitary action within Laos. Pakse was used to launch military operations against the Ho Chi Minh Trial. In 1969 Shackley became Chief of Station in Vietnam and headed the Phoenix Program. This involved the killing of non-combatant Vietnamese civilians suspected of collaborating with the National Liberation Front. In a two year period, Operation Phoenix murdered 28,978 civilians.
Shackley also brought others into his drug operation. This included Richard L. Armitage, a US Navy official based in Saigon's US office of Naval Operations, and Major General Richard Secord. According to Daniel Sheehan: “From late 1973 until April of 1975, Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Armitage disbursed, from the secret, Laotian-based, Vang Pao opium fund, vastly more money than was required to finance even the highly intensified Phoenix Project in Vietnam. The money in excess of that used in Vietnam was secretly smuggled out of Vietnam in large suitcases, by Richard Secord and Thomas Clines and carried into Australia, where it was deposited in a secret, personal bank account (privately accessible to Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Secord). During this same period of time between 1973 and 1975, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines caused thousands of tons of US weapons, ammunition, and explosives to be secretly taken from Vietnam and stored at a secret "cache" hidden inside Thailand." This money, with the help of Raphael Quintero, found its way into the Nugan Hand Bank in Sydney. The bank was founded by Michael Hand, a CIA operative in Laos and Frank Nugan an Australian businessman.
Saigon fell to the NLF in April, 1975. The Vietnam War was over. Richard Armitage was dispatched by Shackley, from Vietnam to Tehran. In Iran, Armitage, set up a secret "financial conduit" inside Iran, into which secret Vang Pao drug funds could be deposited from Southeast Asia. According to Daniel Sheehan: “The purpose of this conduit was to serve as the vehicle for secret funding by Shackley's "Secret Team," of a private, non-CIA authorized "Black" operations inside Iran, disposed to seek out, identify, and assassinate socialist and communist sympathizers, who were viewed by Shackley and his "Secret Team" members to be "potential terrorists" against the Shah of Iran's government in Iran. In late 1975 and early 1976, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines retained Edwin Wilson to travel to Tehran, Iran to head up the "Secret Team" covert "anti-terrorist" assassination program in Iran.”
When Shackley was recalled in February, 1972, he was put in charge of the CIA's Western Hemisphere Division. One of his major tasks was to undermine Philip Agee, an ex-CIA officer who was writing a book on the CIA. The book was eventually published as Inside the Company: CIA Diary, but did not include the information that would have permanently damaged the reputation of the CIA.
Shackley also played an important role in the overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile. As his biographer, David Corn points out: "Salvador Allende died during the coup. When the smoke cleared, General Augusto Pinochet, the head of a military junta, was in dictatorial control... Elections were suspended. The press was censored. Allende supporters and opponents of the junta were jailed. Torture centers were established. Executions replaced soccer matches in Santiago's stadiums. Bodies floated down the Mapocho river. Due in part to the hard work of Shackley and dozens of other Agency bureaucrats and operatives, Chile was free of the socialists."
After Richard Nixon resigned, Gerald Ford brought in George H. W. Bush as Director of the CIA. This was followed by Shackley being appointed as Deputy Director of Operations. He therefore became second-in-command of all CIA covert activity.
Donald Freed (Death in Washington: The Murder of Orlando Letelier) claims that on 29th June, 1976, Townley had a meeting with Bernardo De Torres, Armando Lopez Estrada, Hector Duran and General Juan Manuel Contreras Sepulveda. The following month Frank Castro, Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch and Guillermo Novo established Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU). CORU was partly financed by Guillermo Hernández Cartaya, another Bay of Pigs veteran closely linked to the CIA. He was later charged with money laundering, drugs & arms trafficking and embezzlement. The federal prosecutor told Pete Brewton that he had been approached by a CIA officer who explained that "Cartaya had done a bunch of things that the government was indebted to him for, and he asked me to drop the charges against him."
One Miami police veteran told the authors of Assassination on Embassy Row (1980): "The Cubans held the CORU meeting at the request of the CIA. The Cuban groups... were running amok in the mid-1970s, and the United States had lost control of them. So the United States backed the meeting to get them all going in the same direction again, under United States control." It has been pointed out that George H. W. Bush was director of the CIA when this meeting took place.
Shackley was hoping to eventually replace Bush as director of the CIA. However, the election of Jimmy Carter was a severe blow to his chances. Carter appointed an outsider, Stansfield Turner, as head of the CIA. He immediately carried out an investigation of into CIA covert activities. Turner eventually found out about Shackley’s “Secret Team”. He was especially worried about the activities of Edwin Wilson and the Nugan Hand Bank.
One of the men Wilson employed was former CIA officer Kevin P. Mulcahy. He became concerned about Wilson's illegal activities and sent a message about them to the agency. Shackley was initially able to block any internal investigation of Wilson. However, in April, 1977, the Washington Post, published an article on Wilson's activities stating that he may be getting support from "current CIA employees". Stansfield Turner ordered an investigation and discovered that both Shackley and Thomas G. Clines had close relationships with Wilson. Shackley was called in to explain what was going on. His explanation was not satisfactory and it was made clear that his career at the CIA had come to an end. Richard Helms, reportedly said: "Ted (Shackley) is what we call in the spook business a quadruple threat - Drugs, Arms, Money and Murder."
After leaving the CIA in September, 1979, Shackley formed his own company, Research Associates International, which specialized in providing intelligence to business. He also joined with Thomas G. Clines, Raphael Quintero, and Ricardo Chavez (another former CIA operative) in another company called API Distributors. According to David Corn (Blond Ghost) Edwin Wilson provided Clines with "half a million dollars to get his business empire going". Shackley also freelanced with API but found it difficult taking orders from his former subordinate, Clines. Shackley also established his own company, Research Associates International, which specialized in providing intelligence to business (in other words he sold them classified information from CIA files).
According to Daniel Sheehan: “In 1976, Richard Secord moved to Tehran, Iran and became the Deputy Assistant Secretary of defense in Iran, in charge of the Middle Eastern Division of the Defense Security Assistance Administration. In this capacity, Secord functioned as the chief operations officer for the U.S. Defense Department in the Middle East in charge of foreign military sales of U.S. aircraft, weapons and military equipment to Middle Eastern nations allied to the U.S. Secord's immediate superior was Eric Van Marbad, the former 40 Committee liaison officer to Theodore Shackley's Phoenix program in Vietnam from 1973 to 1975.”
From 1977 until 1979, Richard Armitage operated a business named The Far East Trading Company. This company was in fact merely a "front" for Armitage's secret operations conducting Vang Pao opium money out of Southeast Asia to Tehran and the Nugan Hand Bank in Australia to fund the ultra right-wing, private anti-communist "anti-terrorist" assassination program and "unconventional warfare" operation of Theodore Shackley's and Thomas Cline's "Secret Team". (Daniel P. Sheehan’s affidavit).
In his book, The Crimes of a President, Joel Bainerman argues that the "Secret Team" still used the Nugan Hand Bank to hide their illegal profits from drugs and arms. The President of the Nugan Hand Bank was Admiral Earl P. Yates, former Chief of Staff for Strategic Planning of US Forces in Asia. Other directors of the bank included Dale Holmgree (also worked for Civil Air Transport, a CIA proprietary company) and General Edwin F. Black, (commander of U.S. troops in Thailand during the Vietnam War). George Farris (a CIA operative in Vietnam) ran the Washington office of the Nugan Hand Bank and the bank’s legal counsel was William Colby.
The bank grew and had offices or affiliates in 13 countries. According to Jonathan Kwitny, Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA, Crimes of Patriots), the bank did little banking. What it did do was to amass, move, collect and disburse great sums of money.
In 1980 Frank Nugan was found dead in his car. His co-founder, Michael Hand had disappeared at the same time. The Australian authorities were forced to investigate the bank. They discovered that Ricardo Chavez, the former CIA operative who was co-owner of API Distributors with Thomas G. Clines and Rafael Quintero, was attempting to take control of the bank. The Corporate Affairs Commission of New South Wales came to the conclusion that Chavez was working on behalf of Clines, Quintero and Wilson. They blocked the move but they were unable or unwilling to explore the connections between the CIA and the Nugan Hand Bank.
The Secret Team (Shackley, Thomas G. Clines, Richard Secord, Ricardo Chavez, Rafael Quintero, Albert Hakim, Edwin Wilson, and Richard L. Armitage set up several corporations and subsidiaries around the world through which to conceal the operations of the "Secret Team". Many of these corporations were set up in Switzerland. Some of these were: (1) Lake Resources, Inc.; (2) The Stanford Technology Trading Group, Inc.; and (3) Companie de Services Fiduciaria. Other companies were set up in Central America, such as: (4) CSF Investments, Ltd. and (5) Udall research Corporation. Some were set up inside the United States by Edwin Wilson. Some of these were: (6) Orca Supply Company in Florida and (7) Consultants International in Washington, D.C. Through these corporations the "Secret Team" laundered hundreds of millions of dollars of secret Vang Pao opium money.
Shackley had still not given up hope that he would eventually be appointed director of the CIA. His best hope was in getting Jimmy Carter defeated in 1980. Shackley had several secret meetings with George H. W. Bush as he campaigned for the Republican nomination (his wife, Hazel Shackley also worked for Bush). Ronald Reagan won the nomination but got the support of the CIA by selecting Bush as his vice president. According to Rafael Quintero, during the presidential campaign, Shackley met Bush almost every week.
It is believed that Shackley used his contacts in the CIA to provide information to Reagan and Bush. This included information that Carter was attempting to negotiate a deal with Iran to get the American hostages released. This was disastrous news for the Reagan/Bush campaign. If Carter got the hostages out before the election, the public perception of the man might change and he might be elected for a second-term.
According to Barbara Honegger, a researcher and policy analyst with the 1980 Reagan/Bush campaign, William Casey and other representatives of the Reagan presidential campaign made a deal at two sets of meetings in July and August at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid with Iranians to delay the release of Americans held hostage in Iran until after the November 1980 presidential elections. Reagan’s aides promised that they would get a better deal if they waited until Carter was defeated.
On 22nd September, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran. The Iranian government was now in desperate need of spare parts and equipment for its armed forces. Carter now proposed that the US would be willing to hand over supplies in return for the hostages.
Once again, the CIA leaked this information to Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. This attempted deal was also passed to the media. On 11th October, the Washington Post reported rumours of a “secret deal that would see the hostages released in exchange for the American made military spare parts Iran needs to continue its fight against Iraq”.
In October, 1980, Shackley joined the company owned by Albert Hakim (he was paid $5,000 a month as a part-time “risk analyst”). Hakim was keen to use Shackley’s contacts to make money out of the Iran-Iraq War that had started the previous month.
A couple of days before the election Barry Goldwater was reported as saying that he had information that “two air force C-5 transports were being loaded with spare parts for Iran”. This was not true. However, this publicity had made it impossible for Jimmy Carter to do a deal. Ronald Reagan on the other hand, had promised the Iranian government that he would arrange for them to get all the arms they needed in exchange for the hostages. According to Mansur Rafizadeh, the former U.S. station chief of SAVAK, the Iranian secret police, CIA agents had persuaded Khomeini not to release the American hostages until Reagan was sworn in. In fact, they were released twenty minutes after his inaugural address (October Surprise).
The arms the Iranians had demanded were delivered via Israel. By the end of 1982 all Regan’s promises to Iran had been made. With the deal completed, Iran was free to resort to acts of terrorism against the United States. In 1983, Iranian-backed terrorists blew up 241 marines in the CIA Middle-East headquarters.
The Iranians once again began taking American hostages in exchange for arms shipments. On 16th March, 1984, William Francis Buckley, a diplomat attached to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was kidnapped by the Hezbollah, a fundamentalist Shiite group with strong links to the Khomeini regime. Buckley was tortured and it was soon discovered that he was the CIA station chief in Beirut.
Shackley was horrified when he discovered that Buckley had been captured. Buckley was a member of Shackley’s Secret Team that had been involved with Edwin Wilson, Thomas Clines, Carl E. Jenkins, Raphael Quintero, Felix Rodriguez and Luis Posada, in the CIA “assassination” program.
Buckley had also worked closely with William Casey (now the director of the CIA) in the secret negotiations with the Iranians in 1980. Buckley had a lot to tell the Iranians. He eventually signed a 400 page statement detailing his activities in the CIA. He was also videotaped making this confession. Casey asked Shackley for help in obtaining Buckley’s freedom.
Three weeks after Buckley’s disappearance, President Ronald Reagan signed the National Security Decision Directive 138. This directive was drafted by Oliver North and outlined plans on how to get the American hostages released from Iran and to “neutralize” terrorist threats from countries such as Nicaragua. This new secret counterterrorist task force was to be headed by Shackley’s old friend, General Richard Secord. This was the beginning of the Iran-Contra deal.
Talks had already started about exchanging American hostages for arms. On 30th August, 1985, Israel shipped 100 TOW missiles to Iran. On 14th September they received another 408 missiles from Israel. The Israelis made a profit of $3 million on the deal.
In October, 1985, Congress agreed to vote 27 million dollars in non-lethal aid for the Contras in Nicaragua. However, members of the Ronald Reagan administration decided to use this money to provide weapons to the Contras and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
The following month, Shackley traveled to Hamburg where he met General Manucher Hashemi, the former head of SAVAK’s counterintelligence division at the Atlantic Hotel. Also at the meeting on 22nd November was Manuchehr Ghorbanifar. According to the report of this meeting that Shackley sent to the CIA, Ghorbanifar had “fantastic” contacts with Iran.
At the meeting Shackley told Hashemi and Ghorbanifar that the United States was willing to discuss arms shipments in exchange for the four Americans kidnapped in Lebanon. The problem with the proposed deal was that William Francis Buckley was already dead (he had died of a heart-attack while being tortured).
Shackley recruited some of the former members of his CIA Secret Team to help him with these arm deals. This included Thomas Clines, Rafael Quintero, Ricardo Chavez and Edwin Wilson of API Distributors. Also involved was Carl E. Jenkins and Gene Wheaton of National Air. The plan was to use National Air to transport these weapons.
In May 1986 Wheaton told William Casey, director of the CIA, about what he knew about this illegal operation. Casey refused to take any action, claiming that the agency or the government were not involved in what later became known as Irangate.
Wheaton now took his story to Daniel Sheehan, a left-wing lawyer. Wheaton told him that Tom Clines and Ted Shackley had been running a top-secret assassination unit since the early 1960s. According to Wheaton, it had begun with an assassination training program for Cuban exiles and the original target had been Fidel Castro.
Gene Wheaton also contacted Newt Royce and Mike Acoca, two journalists based in Washington. The first article on this scandal appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on 27th July, 1986. As a result of this story, Congressman Dante Facell wrote a letter to the Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, asking him if it "true that foreign money, kickback money on programs, was being used to fund foreign covert operations." Two months later, Weinberger denied that the government knew about this illegal operation.
On 5th October, 1986, a Sandinista patrol in Nicaragua shot down a C-123K cargo plane that was supplying the Contras. Eugene Hasenfus, an Air America veteran, survived the crash and told his captors that he thought the CIA was behind the operation. He also provided information on two Cuban-Americans running the operation in El Savador. This resulted in journalists being able to identify Rafael Quintero and Felix Rodriguez as the two Cuban-Americans mentioned by Hasenfus. It gradually emerged that Thomas Clines, Oliver North, Edwin Wilson and Richard Secord were also involved in this conspiracy to provide arms to the Contras.
On 12th December, 1986, Daniel Sheehan submitted to the court an affidavit detailing the Irangate scandal. He also claimed that Shackley and Thomas Clines were running a private assassination program that had evolved from projects they ran while working for the CIA. Others named as being part of this assassination team included Rafael Quintero, Richard Secord, Felix Rodriguez and Albert Hakim. It later emerged that Gene Wheaton and Carl E. Jenkins were the two main sources for this affidavit.
It was eventually discovered that President Ronald Reagan had sold arms to Iran. The money gained from these sales was used to provide support for the Contras, a group of guerrillas engaged in an insurgency against the elected socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Both the sale of these weapons and the funding of the Contras violated administration policy as well as legislation passed by Congress.
On 23rd June, 1988, Judge James L. King ruled that Sheehan's allegations were "based on unsubstantiated rumor and speculation from unidentified sources with no firsthand knowledge". In February, 1989, Judge King ruled that Sheenan had brought a frivolous lawsuit and ordered his Christic Institute to pay the defendants $955,000. This was one of the highest sanction orders in history and represented four times the total assets of the Christic Institute.
Ted Shackley died in Bethesda, Maryland, in December 2002. His autobiography, Spymaster: My Life in the CIA, was published in April, 2005.
Shackley kept a tight rein on the PM squad. He demanded to be informed of all the details of a mission. He ordered the station's cowboys to submit detailed operational plans. Case officers dreaded the time when they had to brief Shackley on a proposed action. Rocky Farnsworth, chief of covert operations, resented the intrusions of Shackley, who had no experience in this field. After a short time of wrangling with Shackley over specifics of various missions, Farnsworth dropped an ultimatum: if you don't quit interfering, I'm out of here. Shackley responded, you're out now. He replaced Farnsworth with Dave Morales, a large, mean-talking veteran of the CIA's coup in Guatemala. Morales was devoutly loyal to Shackley. "He would do anything, even work with the Mafia," Tom Clines recalled. Morales hated communists, and years later bragged to an Agency colleague how he had once in South America parachuted out of an airplane with men he suspected of being communists. Before they all leaped, the story went, Morales sabotaged the parachute packs of the Reds. He had the pleasure of waving good-bye to them, as they plummeted to death.
A nearly impossible job for Shackley was counterintelligence (CI). There were hundreds of Castro agents milling about Miami. "The exile community was penetrated to the fullest degree," said Al Tarabochia, an officer in the Dade County sheriffs intelligence unit. Shackley was desperate to improve CI. He introduced tougher psychological and polygraph tests for potential agents. He demanded that the reports of agents be double-checked. If an agent said he visited a certain town during an infiltration, Shackley wanted someone to be able to tell him that the agent showed up there. No longer were weapons and supplies personally delivered to a resistance group on the island. If JMWAVE had to ferry arms to Cuba, one of Grayston Lynch's team went in, cached the munitions and left. Then the station notified the recipients where they could find the materiel. This lessened the threat of ambush. Shackley ordered station case officers not to use assets affiliated with the exile groups. As much as possible, he wanted unilateral agents, people who answered only to the Agency. Despite all these efforts, Havana remained well aware of JMWAVE and its activities. "Always be forward-leaning" - that was a Shackley pet phrase.
Blond Ghost is a biography of Ted Shackley, who in his twenty eight year career with the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be the Associate Deputy Director for Operations, one of the top positions at the CIA. Shackley was involved in many of the central events of the cold war and its aftermath. His intelligence career started in Berlin, at the beginning of the cold war, before the Berlin wall went up. Shackley later served as CIA station chief in Miami, Laos and Saigon. In the 1970s he was the head of the CIA's Western Hemisphere Division during the CIA's campaign to over throw Allende in Argentina. After Shackley left the CIA in 1979, he became associated with the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s. Shackley's connection to so many important events in the history of the CIA and the United States makes him an interesting figure. His career also reflects, to a remarkable degree, the fortunes and nature of the CIA itself.
I read Blond Ghost because Ted Shackley was the CIA station chief in Laos during a critical period, when the secret war (secret from the American people, that is) was escalated. After reading David Warner's book Back Fire, I became curious about the accuracy of his reporting. Warner believes that the CIA men were "honorable men", fighting the good fight, but somehow it went horribly wrong. Given Warner's amazingly brief biography on the book jacket, and his views on the virtues of the CIA's employees, I came to wonder if Warner himself actually had CIA connections. David Corn, the author of Blond Ghost, is the Washington editor of The Nation, which is famous for its leftist views. I thought that Blond Ghost might provide another perspective on the events in Laos. In Blond Ghost, David Corn has written an extremely well researched and balanced account of Ted Shackley's career and the history of the CIA (much more balanced than many articles I have read in The Nation).
In the epilogue of Blonde Ghost, David Corn quotes a CIA officer who was responsible for one of the provincial regions in Vietnam and who was later operations chief of the CIA's Western Hemisphere Division. "It's hard for people to understand who have not been there. Its easy for people - especially people of another generation - to view what we did with their own perspective. I fought the communists for twenty-eight years. I did a lot of bad things for my country. But I loved my country and did what I thought best."
The world of this cold warrior is indeed gone. The cold war was born out of the rubble of the Second World War, when the United States was the only industrial economy that had not been ravaged by war. As soon as the war in Europe ended, the cold war against the Soviet Union began. Having defeated the fascists in Europe and Asia, the US was confident in its self appointed role as the leader of the free world...
The Miami station under Shackley had no more success gathering intelligence and running spies, than it did in its paramilitary campaign. Despite later claims to the contrary, the Miami station did not warn Washington about the missiles that the Russians were basing in Cuba (this intelligence was gathered by U2 spy planes) and they had few recruits who provided useful information about the Cuban communist party. This might suggest that Shackley was an incompetent station chief. In fact, this was not true. The demands made on him were impossible to fulfill. The Kennedy administration wanted to overthrow Castro without having any publicly traceable trail leading back to the United States. They wanted high level spies, and they wanted them fast. But developing spies is something that happens over many years and in many cases is a matter of luck. No matter how "can do" a spy master is, the process cannot be hurried. Given the impatience of US politicians and the inability of the CIA to undertake long term intelligence campaigns (except, perhaps, against the Soviet Union), it is not surprising that US intelligence has come to rely heavily on intelligence gathering by "technical" means (satellites and communications interception). The CIA is also hobbled by the fact that it is a bureaucratic organization, viewing the world through its own political biases. The CIA rarely reports information that reflects badly on itself, its mission or on the views of the politician it serves. For example, CIA did not predict the collapse of the Soviet Union and as an organization would be unlikely to do so, since this would conflict with its mission of opposing the Soviets. The CIA has been equally poor at reporting other political developments, like the overthrow of the Shah of Iran and the invasion of Kuwait.
Salvador Allende died during the coup. When the smoke cleared, General Augusto Pinochet, the head of a military junta, was in dictatorial control... Elections were suspended. The press was censored. Allende supporters and opponents of the junta were jailed. Torture centers were established. Executions replaced soccer matches in Santiago's stadiums. Bodies floated down the Mapocho river. Due in part to the hard work of Shackley and dozens of other Agency bureaucrats and operatives, Chile was free of the socialists.
1. I am a duly licensed attorney at law, admitted to practice before the State and Federal Courts of the State of New York in both the Northern and Southern Districts of New York.
2. I am duly licensed and have been admitted to practice before the Courts of the District of Columbia, both local and Federal and I am in good standing before both the Bar of New York and the Bar of the District of Columbia.
3. I have practiced law before the courts of New York and numerous other states in our nation since 1970, having served as counsel in some 60 separate pieces of litigation in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio, Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming and Mississippi.
4. I graduated from Harvard college in 1967 as an Honors Graduate in American Government, writing my Honors Thesis in the field of Constitutional Law, and was the Harvard University nominee for the Rhodes Scholarship from New York in 1967. I graduated from Harvard School of Law in 1970, having served as an Editor of the Harvard Civil Rights) Civil Liberties Law Review and as the Research Associate of Professor Jerome Cohen, the Chair of the International Law Department of Harvard.
5. While at Harvard School of Law, I served as a summer associate at the State Street law firm of Goodwin, Proctor and Hoar under the supervision of Senior Partner, Donald J. Hurley, the President of the Boston Chamber of Commerce and Massachusetts Senatorial Campaign Chairman for John F. Kennedy. At this firm I participated in the case of BAIRD v EISENSTAT, under Roger Stockey, General Counsel for the Massachusetts Planned Parenthood League (establishing the unconstitutionality of the Massachusetts anti-birth control law) and in the Nevada case, under Charles Goodhue, III (establishing the constitutional right to bail in criminal extradition cases, including capital cases). While at Harvard School of Law, I authored "The Pedestrian Sources of Civil Liberties" in the Harvard Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review and I served under Professor Milton Katz, the President of the International Law Association, as the Chairman of the Nigerian Biafran Relief Commission responsible for successfully negotiating the admission of mercy flights of food into Biafra in 1968.
6. While serving as a legal Associate at the Wall Street law firm of Cahill, Gordon, Sonnett, Rheindle and Ohio under partner Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines directed the Phoenix Project in Vietnam, in 1974 and 1975, which carried out the secret mission of assassinating members of the economic and political bureaucracy inside Vietnam to cripple the ability of that nation to function after the total US withdrawal from Vietnam. This Phoenix Project, during its history, carried out the political assassination, in Vietnam, of some 60,000 village mayors, treasurers, school teachers and other non) Viet Cong administrators. Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines financed a highly intensified phase of the Phoenix project, in 1974 and 1975, by causing an intense flow of Vang Pao opium money to be secretly brought into Vietnam for this purpose. This Vang Pao opium money was administered for Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines by a US Navy official based in Saigon's US office of Naval Operations by the name of Richard Armitage. However, because Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Armitage knew that their secret anti-communist extermination program was going to be shut down in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand in the very near future, they, in 1973, began a highly secret non-CIA authorized program. Thus, from late 1973 until April of 1975, Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Armitage disbursed, from the secret, Laotian-based, Vang Pao opium fund, vastly more money than was required to finance even the highly intensified Phoenix Project in Vietnam. The money in excess of that used in Vietnam was secretly smuggled out of Vietnam in large suitcases, by Richard Secord and Thomas Clines and carried into Australia, where it was deposited in a secret, personal bank account (privately accessible to Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Secord). During this same period of time between 1973 and 1975, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines caused thousands of tons of US weapons, ammunition, and explosives to be secretly taken from Vietnam and stored at a secret "cache" hidden inside Thailand.
The "liaison officer" to Shackley and Clines and the Phoenix Project in Vietnam, during this 1973 to 1975 period, from the "40 Committee" in the Nixon White House was one Eric Von Arbod, an Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs. Von Arbod shared his information about the Phoenix Project directly with his supervisor Henry Kissinger.
Saigon fell to the Vietnamese in April of 1975. The Vietnam War was over. Immediately upon the conclusion of the evacuation of U.S. personnel from Vietnam, Richard Armitage was dispatched, by Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines, from Vietnam to Tehran, Iran. In Iran, Armitage, the "bursar" for the Vang Pao opium money for Shackley and Clines' planned "Secret Team" covert operations program, between May and August of 1975, set up a secret "financial conduit" inside Iran, into which secret Vang Pao drug funds could be deposited from Southeast Asia. The purpose of this conduit was to serve as the vehicle for secret funding by Shackley's "Secret Team," of a private, non-CIA authorized "Black" operations inside Iran, disposed to seek out, identify, and assassinate socialist and communist sympathizers, who were viewed by Shackley and his "Secret Team" members to be "potential terrorists" against the Shah of Iran`s government in Iran. In late 1975 and early 1976, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines retained Edwin Wilson to travel to Tehran, Iran to head up the "Secret Team" covert "anti terrorist" assassination program in Iran. This was not a U.S. government authorized operation. This was a private operations supervised, directed and participated in by Shackley, Clines, Secord and Armitage in their purely private capacities.
At the end of 1975, Richard Armitage took the post of a "Special Consultant" to the U.S. Department of Defense regarding American military personnel Missing In Action (MIAs) in Southeast Asia. In this capacity, Armitage was posted in the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. There Armitage had top responsibility for locating and retrieving American MIA's in Southeast Asia. He worked at the Embassy with an associate, one Jerry O. Daniels. From 1975 to 1977, Armitage held this post in Thailand. However, he did not perform the duties of this office. Instead, Armitage continued to function as the "bursar" for Theodore Shackley's "Secret Team," seeing to it that secret Vang Pao opium funds were conducted from Laos, through Armitage in Thailand to both Tehran and the secret Shackley bank account in Australia at the Nugen-Hand Bank. The monies conducted by Armitage to Tehran were to fund Edwin Wilson's secret anti-terrorist "seek and destroy" operation on behalf of Theodore Shackely. Armitage also devoted a portion of his time between 1975 and 1977, in Bangkok, facilitating the escape from Laos, Cambodia and Thailand and the relocation elsewhere in the world, of numbers of the secret Meo tribesmen group which had carried out the covert political assassination program for Theodore Shackley in Southeast Asia between 1966 and 1975. Assisting Richard Armitage in this operation was Jerry O. Daniels. Indeed, Jerry O. Daniels was a "bag-man" for Richard Armitage, assisting Armitage by physically transporting out of Thailand millions of dollars of Vang Pao's secret opium money to finance the relocation of Theodore Shackley's Meo tribesmen and to supply funds to Theodore Shackley's "Secret Team" operations. At the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Richard Armitage also supervised the removal of arms, ammunition and explosives from the secret Shackley/Clines cache of munitions hidden inside Thailand between 1973 and 1975, for use by Shackley's "Secret Team". Assisting Armitage in this latter operations was one Daniel Arnold, the CIA Chief of Station in Thailand, who joined Shackley's "Secret Team" in his purely private capacity.
One of the officers in the U.S. Embassy in Thailand, one Abranowitz came to know of Armitage's involvement in the secret handling of Vang Pao opium funds and caused to be initiated an internal State Department heroin smuggling investigations directed against Richard Armitage. Armitage was the target of Embassy personnel complaints to the effect that he was utterly failing to perform his duties on behalf of American MIAs, and he reluctantly resigned as the D.O.D. Special Consultant on MIA's at the end of 1977.
From 1977 until 1979, Armitage remained in Bangkok opening and operating a business named The Far East Trading Company. This company had offices only in Bangkok and in Washington, D.C. This company was, in fact, from 1977 to 1979, merely a "front" for Armitage's secret operations conducting Vang Pao opium money out of Southeast Asia to Tehran and the Nugen-Hand Bank in Australia to fund the ultra right-wing, private anti-communist "anti-terrorist" assassination program and "unconventional warfare" operation of Theodore Shackley's and Thomas Cline's "Secret Team". During this period, between 1975 and 1979, in Bangkok, Richard Armitage lived in the home of Hynnie Aderholdt, the former Air Wing Commander of Shackley`s "Special Operations Group" in Laos, who, between 1966 and 1968, had served as the immediate superior to Richard Secord, the Deputy Air Wing Commander of MAG SOG. Secord, in 1975, was transferred from Vietnam to Tehran, Iran.
In 1976, Richard Secord moved to Tehran, Iran and became the Deputy Assistant Secretary of defense in Iran, in charge of the Middle Eastern Division of the Defense Security Assistance Administration. In this capacity, Secord functioned as the chief operations officer for the U.S. Defense Department in the Middle East in charge of foreign military sales of U.S. aircraft, weapons and military equipment to Middle Eastern nations allied to the U.S. Secord's immediate superior was Eric Van Marbad, the former 40 Committee liaison officer to Theodore Shackley's Phoenix program in Vietnam from 1973 to 1975.
From 1976 to 1979, in Iran, Richard Secord supervised the sale of U.S. military aircraft and weapons to Middle Eastern nations. However, Richard Secord did not authorize direct nation-to-nation sales of such equipment directly from the U.S. government to said Middle Eastern governments. Instead, Richard Secord conducted such sales through a "middle-man", one Albert Hakim. By the use of middle-man Albert Hakim, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Secord purchased U.S. military aircraft and weapons from the U.S. governament at the low "manufacturer's cost" but sold these U.S. aircraft and weapons to the client Middle Eastern nations at the much higher "replacement cost". Secord then caused to be paid to the U.S. government, out of the actual sale price obtained, only the lower amount equal to the lower manufacturer's cost. The difference, was secreted from the U.S. government and Secord and Albert Hakim secretly transferred these millions of dollars into Shackley's "Secret Team" operations inside Iran and into Shackley's secret Nugen-Hand bank account in Australia. Thus, by 1976, Defendant Albert Hakim had become a partner with Thomas Clines, Richard Secord and Richard Armitage in Theodore Shackley's "Secret Team".
Between 1976 and 1979, Shackley, Clines, Secord, Hakim, Wilson, and Armitage set up several corporations and subsidiaries around the world through which to conceal the operations of the "Secret Team". Many of these corporations were set up in Switzerland. Some of these were: (1) Lake Resources, Inc.; (2) The Stanford Technology Trading Group, Inc.; and (3) Companie de Services Fiduciaria. Other companies were set up in Central America, such as: (4) CSF Investments, Ltd. and (5) Udall research Corporation. Some were set up inside the United States by Edwin Wilson. Some of these were: (6) Orca Supply Company in Florida and (7) Consultants International in Washington, D.C. Through these corporations, members of Theodore Shackley's "Secret Team" laundered hundreds of millions of dollars of secret Vang Pao opium money, pilfered Foreign Military Sales proceeds between 1976 and 1979. Named in this federal civil suit to be placed under oath and asked about their participation in the criminal "enterprise" alleged in this Complaint is probative of the criminal guilt of the Defendants of some of the crimes charged in this Complaint.
Plaintiffs and Plaintiffs' Counsel, The Christic Institute, possess evidence constituting "probable cause" that each of the Defendants named in this Complaint are guilty of the conduct charged.
If further detailed evidence is required by the Court to allow the Plaintiffs to begin the standard process of discovery in this case, the failure to place it in this Affidavit is the function of the short time allowed by the Court for the preparation of this filing, it is not because the Plaintiffs lack such evidence.
After stints in Europe and elsewhere, Ted spent several years in the 60's running Operation Mongoose with Ed Lansdale. His role was to direct sabotage against Cuba and kill its leadership. Ted oversaw bombings, biological and chemical WMD attacks, destruction of crops and other wholesale murder and mayhem visited upon the Cuban people.
Then Ted ran the secret war in Laos for us. There he cultivated the friendship of Golden Triangle drug lord, Vang Pao increasing exponentially what's known around the top floor as 'the black hole budget'.
Ted's remarkable record in illegal pharmaceuticals landed him the top job at Vietnam's Phoenix program where his talent for drug smuggling could be optimally utilized. He also proved to be adept at wholesale slaughter as the Phoenix program claimed tens of thousands of lives of innocent Vietnamese.
Ted was also good with special projects. He helped in the organization of and embezzlement from the Nugen/Hand Bank. From a super-secret location, former Nugen/Hand cochairman, Michael Hand had this to say to the Assassinated Press on hearing of Shackley's death: "I worked under the Blond Ghost cutting throats and threading ears in Phoenix with all the guys. The one's who show up again in Iran contra - Secord, North. You know who I mean. And then I was told to form Nugen/Hand bank for the Agency. We proceeded to run arms and drugs through Australia and rip off American service men who were told to put their money in Nugen/Hand by their superior officers who we had either been bribed or flat-out given a piece of the action. Then somebody blew off Frank Nugen's head and it all just went to shit."
Ted then moved to the top CIA job in Latin America where he, along with Henry Kissinger at NSC/State, oversaw the CIA's role in the murder of Salvador Allende and Rene Schneider. He and Kissinger were known to kibbitz over who could create the most bloodthirsty pronouncements. It's at this time that Kissinger uttered his now famous call to slaughter, "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people."
When a Richard Helms or a Ted Shackley dies the world is poorer for it, because what role they had in the Kennedy assassination, or the mysterious drowning of Bill Colby - the Phoenix snitch, or the convenient demise of Bill Casey, or the untimely exit of the drunk and unreliable John Tower, or, ad nauseam, -.goes with them. But the beat goes on ala Carnahan and Wellstone and a few postal workers who get caught in the crossfire.
Theodore ''Ted'' Shackley, a legendary spy master and Cold War figure who ran the CIA's huge Miami operation during the height of US tensions with Cuba during the 1960s, has died of cancer in Maryland. He was 75.
Nicknamed ''The Blond Ghost'' because he hated to be photographed, Shackley was an exacting, intense, elusive covert operator. As Miami station chief during Operation Mongoose, an interagency US effort to topple Fidel Castro, he ran about 400 agents and operatives during a period that included the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.
The Miami assignment was only one of the many powerful posts he held during a 28-year counterinsurgency career that spanned the globe.
The places where he worked as a senior CIA officer - Berlin, Saigon, Laos - served as signposts in the global struggle between the United States and Soviet-backed communism.
In Miami, he directed an ambitious anti-Castro propaganda and paramilitary campaign, and as a sign of its significance, Shackley would later say that he commanded the third-largest navy in the Caribbean -- only the United States and Cuba had more vessels than the CIA station chief's flotilla.
Thirty-year friend Tom Spencer, a Miami attorney, described Shackley Thursday as "the master spy chief, a strategist, tactician, a brilliant man, a chess player - a person who could read tea leaves and watch things which ordinary people could not see or pick up.''
Added fellow CIA retiree E. Peter Earnest, now director of Washington, D.C.'s International Spy Museum: "He had a keen sense of discipline, and was very goal-oriented. He found himself periodically in situations where there was chaos, and he could pull some order out of that.''
Shackley retired from the Central Intelligence Agency in 1979 and set up a D.C. area consulting firm that offered security strategy to corporate executives.
But for nearly three decades before that, including 17 years overseas, he served as a CIA officer who recruited and handled agents, hatched plots and gathered intelligence in Cold War settings.
From May 1976 to December 1977, he served as associate deputy director of operations, the No. 2 position in the clandestine operations branch. He held the job first under CIA Director George H. W. Bush, then under Admiral Stansfield Turner, who relieved him of his title in a late 1977 shake-up.
At issue: a Carter administration decision to fire thousands of secret agents and informants, notably in the Middle East, and dismantle Cold War spy networks.
Shackley, said Spencer, soon ''left in disgust,'' retiring from the agency he had joined straight from Army duty in 1945 in Europe. Besides consulting, he also wrote a primer on counterinsurgency in 1981 called The Third Option.
Shackley was Miami station chief from 1962 to 1965, running his vast spy network out of the University of Miami South Campus, now the Metrozoo. It was the largest CIA hub outside of headquarters in Langley, Va.
''When I got there, the mission was to implement an intelligence collection program and clean up the residuals of the Bay of Pigs,'' he told retired Herald journalist Don Bohning in April 1998 in Washington. ``As we got into the intelligence program and restructuring, we started detecting Soviet buildup in the context of all that, how to bring about change in Cuba.''
Some of his Miami activities, he told Bohning, included ''psychological warfare pressure on Cuba,'' including infiltrations, radio propaganda and ties with a paramilitary, anti-Castro movement.
The only full-fledged CIA station in the continental United States, its code name was JM-Wave.
After Miami, he moved on to another Cold War hot zone, Southeast Asia, where he was a top CIA officer in Laos and Saigon in the late 1960s and early '70s.
''In Laos, Shackley helped run a secret war using local tribes people, and at the end of that campaign the tribe was decimated,'' said David Corn, author of the 1994 book, Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusade.
''Shackley was in some ways the archetype of the Cold War covert bureaucrat. He took orders from above... running secret wars, undermining democratically elected governments, compromising journalists and political opponents overseas... and made them a reality,'' Corn said.
Shackley also ran Latin American operations out of CIA headquarters in 1973 when Gen. Augusto Pincohet led a coup in Chile that toppled the elected government of President Salvador Allende.
''He was not the mastermind of the clandestine operations of presidents and CIA directors. He was the implementer,'' Corn said. 'And in doing so, he avoided the moral questions that accompanied such actions and embodied the `ends justify the means' mentality of America's national security establishment.''
Fellow former CIA agent Mo Sovern, who said they were colleagues for 45 years, summed up Shackley's management philosophy this way: "Screw up and you'd hear about it. Screw up twice for the same problem, and you're gone.''
He could be a controversial figure, said Sovern, chairman of the Central Intelligence Retirees Association. "A lot of people absolutely hated him. A lot of people thought he was marvelous. But he got the work done.''
Sanjay S. Rajput: The CIA knew that you intended to expose their operations in South America when you left the agency. Is their a reason they didn't kill you prior to publishing your book?
Philip Agee: There is no black and white answer to that question. My belief is that they had a plan to lure me to Spain through 2 young Americans who befriended me in Paris in the early 1970's and who did in fact do everything they could to lure me to Spain. They offered financial inducements and other things. But I knew that the CIA was thick as thieves with the Franco fascist security services. This was still the Franco time in Spain. I have documentation, which I received under the Freedom of Information Act, these are not CIA documents they are criminal division documents from the Justice Department which show there was a criminal conspiracy. I currently have a $7 million lawsuit against the government under the federal court claims act for this conspiracy for damages and we will see whether the lawsuit prospers and whether I do get access to the documentation which we know exists. In fact this documentation was judged by the justice department to be described as illegal actions be taken against me in the 1970's. Because of these documents, which I would have had access to had the government prosecuted me at any particular point through criminal discovery procedure, the CIA could not prosecute me. They tried in 1975 when my first book came out and during the 1970's, from 1975 to 1980. All together they tried 5 times to get a criminal indictment against me and each time they had to back down because they could not let me have these documents which showed the criminal activity which they conspiring to carry out against me. They effectively, by their own actions, precluded prosecution. Not to atypical for them.
Sanjay S. Rajput: Looking back at all of the harassment you faced when you exposed the covert operations, do you think you would do it all over again?
Philip Agee: I wouldn't think twice about doing it over again. Of course I would. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself. I went into the CIA right out of college as a product of the 1950's. Which means the McCarthy period and the anti-communist hysteria of that time. It also meant that I had no political education. I simple accepted the traditional assumptions that the soviet union was out to conquer the world and I was going to play a patriotic role in stopping that. By age 25 I was down in South America doing the work. My eyes began to open little by little down there as I began to realize more and more that all of the things that I, and my colleagues were doing in the CIA had one goal that was that we were supporting the traditional power structures in Latin America. These power structures had been in place for centuries. Where in a relative few families where able to control the wealth and income and power of the state and the economy. To the exclusion of the majority of the population in many countries. The only glue that kept this system together was political repression. I was involved in this. Eventually I decided I didn't want anything more to do with that. I left the CIA to start a new life in 1969 I went back to the university. I enrolled in the National University of Mexico in Mexico City, where I remained living after resigning from the CIA. As I carried out the studies, doing the reading and the research and writing papers and such, I began to realize more and more that what I and my colleagues had been doing in the 60's and 50's was nothing more than a continuation of early 500 years of genocide of the worst imaginable political repression that anyone can come up with. The figures are mind blowing in terms of the numbers of Native Americans who were killed or put to work in South America in what is now Bolivia and Brazil. Where their life expectancy was measured in weeks and months once they went to work in these places. Or in North America as well. So I then began to think at that time about something that was unthinkable: a book about how it all worked. No one had ever written such a book and I had a pretty wide experience in CIA operations in Latin America and I knew many operations that existed around the world as well. So I decided to write a book about it.. I had to make a decision whether to continue these studies or to write this book and I couldn't find the research material for this book in Mexico City. I wanted to reconstruct events to show our hand in the events. So I had to choose between the 2 and I chose to write the book. Not knowing whether it would ever get written or where it would take me.
As to whether I would do it over again. I wouldn't change a thing. I might be a little more discreet and careful here and there. Not quite so flamboyant in some places. I would certainly not change anything. I would encourage people also to look at their own lives and determine what role they or going to play. Whether they are going to go with the flow. Whether they are going to adopt the proposition that you have to go along to get along. Or whether they want to stand back and take a look and join this long and honorable tradition of dissidence in the United States. This goes back to the early opposition to the Constitution, the abolitionist movement of the 1840's and 50's. Which goes back to the opposition of wars: the Spanish- American War in 1898, to world war 1 and 2, to the Vietnam war and the Korean war. There is a long and respectable tradition in the United States of seeking change and social justice. I can assure anyone that reads this interview that they will never be disappointed if they try to help in this respect. If they decide to, besides profession and family, that they will work politically for change. That they will have great self esteem and satisfaction from knowing that they are doing the right thing and that they are not selling out.
In retaliation for my year in Chilean operations, I have had to put up with suggestions that I was somehow involved in the assassination of Salvador Allende. There are three ways to refute such charges. One is to point out, as Dave Phillips (my successor as chief of W H Division) and others have done, that when Allende died I had already been out of W H Division for four months and that the life expectancy of the average Latin American coup plot is considerably shorter than that. A second way is to impugn the integrity of the source: Most of the slander on this topic seems to have been inspired by the Christic Institute, whose integrity has already been sufficiently impugned by the U.S. federal court system.
By 1966 the dimensions of the opium problem in Southeast Asia were widely known. The files that I read before going to Vientiane, my discussions with officers who had served there, and a review of the open-source literature all brought the issue home to me. In brief, Laos was not going to be at all like Florida. In Miami the dragon was outside the wall, and my task had been to keep him there. In Laos, on the other hand, he was already inside the perimeter, and I was going to have coexist with him without being seared by his breath.
I can already hear the howls of outrage: "Coexist with narcotics traffickers! Just as we always thought! He should have been wiping them out."
Well, only rogue elephants charge at everything in their path, and the CIA was never such an animal. The critics' point of view is a respectable one, perhaps even reasonable, if you leave out of consideration the fact that the CIA takes its orders from higher authority and that nowhere in these orders at the time under discussionnow a generation ago-was there any mention of narcotics. The mission that had been handed me was to fight a war in northern Laos against the Pathet Lao and the NVA and to interdict, along the Laotian part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the flow of military manpower and materiel from North Vietnam to the battlefields of South Vietnam. My plate was full.
In addition to this, the cultivation of poppy and the medicinal use of opium formed part of the economic and social fabric of the area I would be working in. The CIA inspector general, reporting in September 1972 on the drug situation in Southeast Asia, said that when the United States arrived in the region, "Opium was as much a part of the agricultural infrastructure of this area as was rice, one suitable for the hills, the other for the valleys."'
This generalization was as true for Laos as it was for the rest of Southeast Asia, but it tends to obscure the fact that this common agricultural infrastructure supported and was supported by a multiethnic society. Among the Laotian hill tribes alone there were the Hmong, the Yao, the Lao Thung, and the Lu, just to identify a few, and the Hmong were further subdivided into the Red Hmong, the Striped Hmong, and the Black Hmong. These tribes and subtribes all shared a common culture in which the cultivation and use of opium played a part, but each had put its own individual twist on it. Subjecting all these groupings to a standard set of mores is a job I would not wish on any social engineer.
I did have to ensure that the guerrilla units we were supporting were not trading or using opium and to minimize the prospects that Air America or Continental Air Services aircraft were being used for opium-smuggling tasks while under contract to us...
The fantasy that the CIA was smuggling opium for its own profit has been examined and dismissed as the nonsense it is by a select committee of the United States Senate.
With the easing of tension when it became apparent the Soviet withdrawal was real, policy makers started paying attention to cleaning up the battlefield. Robert Kennedy was the attack dog on this issue. He asked in November 1962 that Harvey be relieved from his Task Force W position.
I acknowledge that I am not an unbiased observer of this event as I have always regarded Harvey as a mentor and friend. Furthermore, my first-hand knowledge of it is limited. Harvey told me it was the result of a major confrontation with Bobby. The end result, Harvey said, was that he called Bobby a liar. Obviously, this did not go down well with Bobby, and Harvey had to walk the plank. The issue in dispute revolved around the question of whether Harvey had been acting as a loose cannon by having agent assets, including commando teams, on the water and headed for Cuba in the period between October 14 and 28. Harvey told me this was not a unilateral Task Force W effort but one coordinated with other agencies. Bobby disagreed, tempers flared, Harvey was injudicious in bringing the affair to a close, and his days as Task Force W chief became numbered. That is all I got out of Harvey.
I have been told since by Sam Halpern that Harvey, in response to the needs of the joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Planning Staff for current tactical intelligence on the missile sites, had been planning to use a submarine to put ten Cuban five-man teams on the island to try to cover the newly discovered SAM and related missile sites. Lansdale was also involved in this effort. This was also known to Helms, deputy director of the CIA (DDCI) Marshall S. Carter, and probably DCI McCone. Also, Bobby must have known that the CIA had no submarines, so how could Harvey have been acting on this project on his so-called own authority?
One and all at the CIA's policy levels agreed it was wrong for Bobby to level the charge against Harvey that he had gone "off the reservation" and acted on his own at a critical time. Yet, when Bobby followed up on this false charge and asked that Harvey be removed from his position as chief of Task Force W, there was nothing anyone could or would do to reverse this request. Harvey was screwed. Thus, in January 1963, he was out the door, headed in due course for the station chief's job in Rome. This dismissal was a fatal blow to Harvey's psyche. In my view, he never recovered from it. In effect, this incident ended the brilliant career of an old curmudgeon. The media got wind of Bobby's charges and Harvey's departure. As a result, the open-source literature on the Cuban missile crisis contains totally inaccurate stories about this matter. Once tarred with such material, Harvey found it impossible to shake it off, particularly since he was not an adept practitioner of the fine art of Washington public relations.
In January 1963 we were visited by Harvey's replacement, Desmond FitzGerald. "Des" made it plain that regime change in Havana was still at the top of Washington's agenda and that the preferred means to this end was a military coup. Haranguing the troops, he told us to recruit more sources in the Cuban Army and militia, giving preference to people high enough in the hierarchy to be able to comment on the leaders' political views.
We accordingly reviewed our military assets and found them inadequate to the new task at hand. We had sources that were geared to monitoring Soviet troop movements. Our assets were NCOs, logisticians, and food handlers, useful in the past but hardly what we would need for a coup. We would have to see if these existing sources could put us in touch with tankers and combat infantry units, the elements that would be required by any possible coup plotter.
As we started, we got one small break. We learned that Jose Richard Rabel Nunez, a defector from the Agrarian Reform Institute who had flown a small airplane at wave-top level into Key West, Florida, in November 1962, knew a lot of senior army personnel from his own days in the Cuban Air Force, as well as from his close friendship with Fidel with whom he had done a lot of spear fishing in 1960-1962. Consequently, we put Rabel on a special project to build files on the military commanders he knew.
This worked quite well in terms of data collection. The downside was that with each passing month, Rabel became increasingly impatient with our unwillingness to run a high-risk operation to exfiltrate his wife and three children from Havana. We explained to Rabel that his family was under constant DGI surveillance; as we could not get a communications or exfiltration plan to the wife securely, there could be no rescue operation. Rabel tired of this explanation and in August 1965 went back to Cuba in a small boat to get his family. The foolhardy effort failed, Rabel was arrested on September 4, and the work he had done in Miami on military personalities became known to the DGL That in turn permitted the DGI to conclude that the CIA was looking seriously at the coup option.
The net result was that while we upgraded the quality of our military personalities portfolio, we had no prospects of putting a coup team together. We simply lacked secure access to dissidents and so could not reach an understanding with a potential coup central command. What we were looking for in 1963 did not materialize until mid-1989 when Arnaldo Ochoa Sanchez blossomed into a fullblown military threat to Castro as a result of his exploits in Angola.
When I outlined my conclusion privately to Des in about March 1963, his reaction was to say that my judgment was undoubtedly correct. Yet, given the mandate that had been imposed on the CIA by Bobby, we had to keep hacking away at the problem.
Des then lofted the idea of working at arm's length with one or two Cuban exile groups-led respectively by Manuel Artime and Manolo Ray, also known as Manuel Ray Rivero - to see if they could engage in a dialog with a coup group. This effort, if it moved forward, would be run out of Washington. It would require operational support from Miami in the form of caches put into Cuba, perhaps tutorial training of Artime and Ray on how to run operations, and some guidance on how to maintain a fleet of small boats. I told Des all of this was possible, but working with Ray seemed to be a marginal venture at best. He brushed this cautionary note aside with a wave of his hand and countered by saying he would have Alfonso Rodriguez spend a day or two with me in Miami looking at Ray's potential. If this project got off the ground, he said, Rodriguez would be its case officer.
I explained to "Rod" that Ray was not rooted in Miami but in Puerto Rico where he worked in some housing agency and was allegedly close to Luis Munoz Marfn, the governor of Puerto Rico. Rumor had it that pressure from Munoz Mann had moved Bobby to get Ray involved in a new effort to overthrow Castro. There were elements in Miami of Ray's organization, the Revolutionary Movement of the People (MRP). Rod could get a rundown on the group from Dave Morales, Tom Clines, and Bob Wall of the PM branch. I concluded by describing Ray as a far-left ideologue and as much a political and economic threat to American interests in the Caribbean as was Castro. I had no interest, I said, in meeting him.
If I remember correctly, Miami eventually put several caches into Cuba for Ray, which he and his organization never recovered. On the one occasion when Miami was scheduled to have a sea rendezvous with a boatload of Ray's people in order to guide them into a secure Cuban landing site, they did not show up. The explanation they subsequently provided was they had run out of fuel. Talk about the gang that couldn't shoot straight!
Artime was different. He had solid anti-Batista credentials stemming from his early days as a captain in the Rebel Army. He was an early participant in the Movement for Revolutionary Recovery (MRR) and had helped to build the party, although his ambition had then made him a divisive force in the movement. He had prestige in the exile community as a result of having been commander of Brigade 2506 at the Bay of Pigs and as a member of the leadership of the Democratic Revolutionary Front.
So, Des's intention was to subsidize Artime to the tune of $50,000 to $100,000 per month to work from Nicaragua sowing disquiet among the Cuban military as a prelude to an anti-Castro coup; Henry Hecksher would be the case officer for the project. I told Henry that the big unknowns were what the MRR represented in Cuba and what Artime's standing was within the Cuban body politic. Our intelligence suggested that the MRR was not a serious clandestine entity in Cuba, and we had no information indicating that Artime was a popular figure in Cuba around whom a revolutionary movement would rally.
Henry refused to be drawn into this polemic. He said the Kennedys wanted the Artime project to go forward, and go forward it would. We agreed, therefore, that JMWAVE would support the project by helping to equip Artime's troops in Nicaragua, providing operational intelligence on possible boom-and-bang targets in Cuba, tutoring Artime on the management of PM programs, and placing caches in Cuba for recovery by Artime's people.
At some point over the next year, JMWAVE provided Artime's group with all of the above services. This turned out to be a labor of love that produced no tangible results. Artime tried hard to become a player in fomenting a popular uprising in Cuba, but he came to the game too late and without the requisite skills. As a result he was not a success. Thus, after President Kennedy's assassination, the Artime program was phased out.
The third wild card being played in this high-stakes international poker game was Rolando Cubela. We at JMWAVE knew little about him except that he had a drinking problem and wanted desperately to get rid of Castro. This operation was run out of Washington. Nestor Sanchez, an excellent case officer fluent in Spanish, was Cubela's case officer. JMWAVE put some caches into Cuba for Cubela's use. His associates recovered some of these; others they apparently made no attempt to get. In essence this operation was closed down after Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963. The CIA formally cut all ties to Cubela in June 1965. While it lasted, however, the operation generated more questions than it answered and produced zero results.
Meanwhile, Bobby Kennedy was still demanding boom-andbang operations. Dave Morales and I spent many a Miami evening by my swimming pool discussing the problem. It was clear that our paramilitary teams were having no trouble reaching the beach. They could take people in and out of Cuba and make caches, but once they tried to go inland, even a quarter of a mile, the trouble would start. We therefore began looking for ways to enable our teams to hit things that were closer to the water, the theory being that if we could succeed near the beaches, perhaps people inland would burn and destroy what they could to keep the resistance alive and expanding. As a result we started hitting softer targets near the shoreline, targets like small highway bridges, culverts in drainage areas, and so forth.
It also seemed that something always went wrong during these sabotage operations. Was there something in our methodology, we wondered, that was tipping our hand to the enemy? Or, despite the high standards of security at our paramilitary training sites and launch facilities, was our mechanism penetrated somewhere along the line?
Dave and I decided one Saturday afternoon we wanted to create a new, compartmented operational cell that would be kept totally apart from everything else we were doing in the paramilitary field. We felt that with new training facilities, new safe houses, new personnel, and new trainers, we would be in a better position to discover whether something was wrong with our previous methods.
Paramilitary at that time included a former naval officer named Bob Simons. Before joining the CIA, he had reached the rank of lieutenant and then resigned to do other things. Simons had been urging Dave and me for some time to look into underwater demolitions (UDT), a technique in which he had had a lot of experience. This was a high-risk venture, but Dave and I decided to go with UDT, so we put Bob in charge of all aspects of the operation, beginning with selection of personnel. He picked a really good bunch of men, all of them excellent swimmers, of course, and highly intelligent. Some even had engineering degrees. Bob also set up the training program, swam with his men, and taught them all he knew about UDT. When we reached the stage of choosing targets, he played a role in drawing up operational plans.
Assuming these operations were going to be successful, we knew we would have to attribute them to someone, and for that we needed a name different from anything that already existed in the Cuban exile milieu. Next, we needed someone who could front for the group, a man with managerial talent, perhaps with money, and unassociated with any Cuban exile organization.
Dave produced a candidate whom he had known in Havana. Rafael M., a man who had become a multimillionaire in business in Cuba, who had seen all his properties confiscated by Castro, and who was now traveling extensively throughout Central America as a representative of various American companies, including Uncle Ben's Rice.