Editor's Note: The following lengthy text is a transcript of a speech given in late 1986 by Daniel Sheehan, chief counsel for the Christic Institute, a public interest law and policy center in Washington D.C. Sheehan gained an impressive measure of notoriety in the late 1980s with his lawsuit against "The Secret Team," the group of former and current military men and intelligence agents who, Sheehan alleged, are responsible for a continuing pattern of corruption and violence that dates back at least to the JFK assasination, and further, to World War II--and in the '80s manifested itself in the Iran-Contra Affair. Sheehan's exploits and world view are chronicled in chapter 42 of 50 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time. For that matter, a number of the conspiracies -- verifiable and not-as-much-so--that he discusses in the following speech (the major assassinations, the CIA's importation of Nazis, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's plan to suspend the constitution etc.) are also covered in greater detail in the book.
This speech, typical of the talks Sheehan delivered as he traversed the country seeking funds for the always-ailing, nonprofit Christic Institute, gives a thorough overview of his "Secret Team" lawsuit and the facts and charges behind it.
We also know that, as a result of these scandals, the legislative branch of our government has established two select committees, one in the U.S. Senate and one in the House of Representatives, to investigate the need for additional legislation and supervisory structures over the executive branch of our government. We also know that within the executive department there has been appointed a special prosecutor, Mr. Walsh, to investigate potential criminal wrongdoing of those involved in this affair.
What is less known is that there is an investigation and prosecution going on in the judicial branch of our government since May of 1986. There has been on file a federal racketeering charge in the federal court of Miami. This is the case that you may have read about Friday morning [Jan. 30, 1987], where the U.S. District Court of Miami has thrown out all of the motions of the defendants to dismiss that case. As a consequence, we are authorized to proceed with federal subpoena power to investigate the criminal racketeering activity of these people.
Now, the questions that are floating around in our nation today have been highlighted in a Senate Intelligence Committee Preliminary Report, which was released on Thursday. This report left over one dozen major questions. Some of these are: Did President Reagan know of the diversion of funds to the contras arising from the sale of arms to Iran? Did President Reagan approve of the activities of Lt. Col. Oliver North: dealing with the Iranians, and dealing with the diversion of funds from the Iranian gun sale to the contras?
Who, indeed, are these shadowy arms merchants that we are beginning to hear about: Ghorbanifar, Hakim, Khashoggi? Who are these people? What role did the government play in the transfer of these arms to the Iranians? Who is this Theodore Shackley, who Khashoggi says, is the man who first suggested the idea of trading arms for hostage in the Middle East? What role is it that this Mr. Buckley plays inthe exchange of arms, this man who was the CIA station chief in Beirut and who was one of the hostages? And more generally, when, and where in the world will this end? Now, these are a few of the questions that we know the special prosecutor is looking into and the select committees of our Congress are looking into.
What we want to do today is to share with you the charges that have been placed against these people in the judicial branch of our government, so that you can have a road map. You can't tell the players without first looking at the program. This, indeed, is the program of the upcoming criminal indictments which we'll be hearing about over the course of the next year, which in our judgement will precede the impeachment of the President of the United States.
What we want to do first is review briefly the history of our common experience that sets the context for these extraordinary hearings and investigations.
We all recall the days which seem to be in the dark distant past, in January of 1979, when there was still a Democratic Senate and a Democratic House of Representatives, and President Carter was in the White House. We remember that Tom Harkin from Iowa and a number of his colleagues succeeded in passing the Harkin Amendment, which prohibited the distribution of military hardware and military assistance to any government that was systematically engaging in the violation of the human rights of their own citizens.
Under that resolution of Congress, signed into law by President Carter in early 1979, there was a resolution cutting off all military aid to the dictatorial government of Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua. This was taken up in accordance with the condemnation, which had spread across our world, of that regime -- even resulting in the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops formally condemning that government. The bishops declared that the Somoza regime had no legitimacy. Indeed, they came as close as we've ever seen to expressly authorizing the rising up of the people against this government on the grounds of justification.
After the passage of these resolutions cutting off all military aid to the Somoza government, a peculiar thing happened. Somehow, the flow of arms did not stop completely. It was discovered that there was some secret source of funding and supplying of arms to that dictatorship that was not stopped after the Congress condemned it, after the president of the United States prohibited it, and, indeed, even after Stansfield Turner, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), had forbidden it.
The flow of arms did not sustain that criminal government, however. In July of 1979, Anastasio Somoza was forced to flee his country and fled to the Bahamas. And very soon thereafter, we began to hear rumors of some group of former Somoza generals setting themselves up in Honduras and mounting a war against the new Sandinista government of Nicaragua, the government that was recognized across the world, indeed, even by the U.S. government, which had for so long supported the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza.
However, there were other things that were capturing the attention of the American public. There were the hostages who were being held in Iran. Indeed, these hostages became the Achilles' heel of the Carter administration. The weakness, the vacillation demonstrated by that administration in the face of this type of humiliation of our country, led to the rise and the challenge of Ronald Reagan.
Many of us said to each other, "Who would have ever believed that Ronald Reagan could have been considered a serious candidate for the presidency of this country?" But because of vacillation, the lack of effectiveness demonstrated by the Carter administration in the face of that humiliation, Ronald Reagan rose to the occasion and became the Republican nominee for president and was elected.
Now, we all recall that peculiar scene I think, back during the inauguration, watching Ronald Reagan being sworn in and Carter going out. And at the same time, we saw the bulletins flashing as the hostages in Iran were being released, being shipped out, being put on planes and sent back. This was a strange relationship between the outgoing administration and the incoming of another in that terrible hostage crisis.
But when the hostages had been returned and President Reagan had been sent to the White House, we immediately began to hear from the administration about this horrible Sandinista regime down in Central America, how they were a threat to our national security. The President came on and told us how this rising communist government in Central America was only a couple days' drive from Harlingen, Texas. And each time he came on to talk about this, the distance decreased. Soon it became a day's drive. Then it was just a couple hours away.
Indeed, when questions began to arise about this government down there, we began to hear about this so-called contra force, this force of former Somoza generals, the very men who had led the torturing and the mass slaughter of their own citizens, and who are now being talked about by the president of the United States as persons who were the moral equivalent of our founding fathers.
We recall together, I believe, the early protestations of President Reagan, that he had nothing to do with these contras. He was in no way participating in supporting them. But he wished them well. And, when the media and the American people failed to believe that, and began to turn up evidence that the Central Intelligence Agency had, since June of 1981, been providing military equipment, arms, explosives, and training to these contras, our President, who had been on television swearing that it wasn't true, then said, "Oh, you mean those contras. Yes, by the way, we have been giving them support. But let me give you my word once again that the only reason that we're supplying them is to interdict the flow of guns and arms from the terrible communist government of Nicaragua to the rebels in El Salvador."
When the American people failed to believe that, and the American journalist community failed to believe that, President Reagan assigned the Central Intelligence Agency to do an evaluation [of alleged Nicaraguan arms being sent to El Salvador]. Indeed, a man by the name of David McMichaels from the CIA was assigned to do the investigation. And when McMichaels concluded that there was no evidence of any sort of shipments of arms going from Nicaragua to El Salvador, he was terminated. And then the President gave us his word once again. He said, "Oh yes indeed they had been doing more than just trying to interdict the arms." In fact, he said that what he was trying to do was to apply pressure to the new Sandinista government, to force them by military pressure form the contras to live up to their promises made during the revolution against Somoza -- all of those promises, which, we were supposed to recall, President Reagan supported so much during his election.
The hypocrisy of it is astonishing. So astonishing, indeed, that the American people did seem to remember that President Reagan had totally opposed the Sandinistas. And now his protestation as trying to make them live up to their promises rang hollow once again to the American public.
Nothing demonstrated the falsehood of his accusations so much as the revelation that the Central Intelligence Agency in the end of 1983 had been caught mining the harbor of Corinto in Nicaragua, and, indeed, passing out manuals recommending that the contras undertake political assassinations of the mayors, town clerks, and other functionaries within the civilian government of the Sandinistas.
That was too much for the American public, and they began to demand that all support for the contras cease. That was the point at which President Reagan began to insist that it was essential to supply the contras and to adopt them as our allies in order to "stop the establishment of a Soviet military base in Central America."
Now, we then saw the growing of a full-scale war going on in Central America. You recall the extraordinary comments of our President saying -- in the midst of the thousands of people being slaughtered, the mass of civil wars going on in Central America -- that unless our Congress gave $100 million to these contras, there was going to be a major disruption in Central America. The extraordinariness of it all seems to leave the American people numb.
Then, in March of 1984, the U.S. Congress passed the Boland Amendment, explicitly forbidding the White House and any of the executive deparment agencies involved in intelligence activities from giving any aid whatsoever to the contras -- either direct or indirect. This is where we were in March of 1984, with some 73 percent of the American people totally refusing to give any aid to the contras.
Then we began to hear of the private group that was coming to the fore, the one led by Major General John K. Singlaub, then president of the World Anti-Communist League, to undertake a major private operation in support of the contras. The we saw the President of the United States on television stating, "I am a contra." This was the situation that we face in March of 1984.
I, and the rest of us at the Christic Institute, with the rest of our fellow Americans, simply watched in amazement as the events surrounded us. But then, in March of 1984, we had a phone call that began the long road that has led us here today. We were contacted at the Christic Institute by the Catholic Bishop of Brownsville, Texas. This is the Harlingen District of Texas, which, in fact, had been the base for the first stop on the underground railroad in the sanctuary movement. The Bishop of Southern Texas in Brownsville, John Fitzpatrick, contacted us and told us that some of the people at Casa Ramiro (the sanctuary home that he had established within his diocese) had been arrested by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The unfortunate fact was that they had been bringing two Central American refugees out of the Harlingen District in the Bishop's car. This immediately attracted the interest of the Bishop, and, indeed, of the U.S. attorney in Brownsville, who brough criminal indictments against Catholic Sister Diane Mullencamp.
Sister Mullencamp had been driving the care with the two refugees from El Salvador, a translator -- a woman by the name of Stacey Merkt -- and a young reporter from the Dallas Times Herald, Jack Bishop.
All of these people had been arrested and charged with unlawful transportation of undocumented aliens. The Christic Institute ws asked by the church to come to Texas to undertake the first of the criminal defenses for the people from the sanctuary movement.
When we arrived (myself and my chief investigator on that case, a Catholic priest named Father Wally Kosabowski, who had served in Nicaragua when the Sandinistas were still struggling there), we began to prepare for the preliminary hearing in that case. Then we were contacted by a Methodist minister who came to us in a very high state of anxiety. He said to us that he had been preparing to discuss in his church the establishment of a sanctuary when he was approached by a field agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This FBI agent had told this minister that he and he parishioners should have noting to do with the Catholic Church or the sanctuary movement, stating that he was in possession of information that the Catholic Church was, under the guise of the sanctuary movement, smuggling known communist terrorists into the United States. He went on to say that in the event that our President was forced to undertake direct military action in Central America (either in El Salvador or Nicaragua) that these known communist terrorists were going to be organizing themselves into military cadres and launch military strikes against U.S. military bases, communication centers, and water resource systems.
Now, this caused some distress to the Methodist minister, and after some consultation with the Bishop's staff in the Harlingen District, he came to me. And he said, "Look, I understand that you served as general counsel for the U.S. Jesuit Headquarters Social Ministry Office in Washington. I know that I can trust you and you'll tell me if there's anything going on." I had to become a bit serious, and I said to the minister, "Listen Reverend, if that were going on, at least the Jesuits would know about it. And as their lawyer in the Social Ministry Office, I would have been informed, and I had not been."
And I was positive that it was not true. I gave him our assurances that he could return to the discussions at his church without the anxieties with which he had come to us. Well, that was kind of humorous until, approximately a week later, Father Kosabowski and I were contacted by yet a second minister, who in another church had been approached by yet a different FBI agent, and had been told exactly the same thing. Well, now that was much more serious.
Now, we had a reason to investigate, to find out just where these stories were coming from. Because if the Justice Department, against whom we were defending in this case, really believed those stories, we were obviously going to be confronted with a much higher degree of militancy than we had any justifiable right to expect. And so after the preliminary hearing, we returned to Washington, D.C.
I established contact with some investigative reporters and some former federal agents, who are now private investigators, whom I had encountered in a number of my former incarnations as an attorney for the New York Times, NBC, and as an attorney in the offices of F. Lee Bailey. I had come to know a number of these people and knew they had very good sources. I asked them to investigate for us, as a favor to us, if they would. They did.
I learned in the second week of April 1984, that President Reagan, on April 6, 1984, had signed a highly classified National Security Decision Directive, initiating a highly secret readiness exercise in the United States. But this was a readiness exercise which was to be undertaken domestically to determine what types of steps had to be taken by various federal agencies here, stateside, in the event that the President was required to undertake direct military action in Central America.
The readiness exercise was going to be code-named "Rex 84." The operation in Central America -- the direct military operation in conjunction with which this readiness exercise was to be undertaken -- was to be code-named "Operation Night Train." As we began to investigate this, we discovered that the whole readiness exercise ws going to be undertaken and supervised by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). That came as somewhat of a surprise to us since the Federal Emergency Management Agency was supposed to be involved in hurricane relief, flood relief, and civil defense. These are the geniuses who brought you the post-nuclear war scenario: how they would re-establish the phone system after an all-out nuclear attack on the United States; how they would move the entire population of Los Angeles out to, I think, one of the small towns out here in the mountains in a couple days, which is what they figured it would take them.
VOICE: The Tahachapee.
SHEEHAN: The Tahachapee. That's right. If this was the group that was supervising this readiness exercise, then that did not instill a great deal of confidence in us that that readiness exercise was a serious operation. However, our further investigations revealed to us that the Reagan administration had brought to Washington to run the Federal Emergency Management Agency a man by the name of Louis Gifrada. Louis Gifrada has been the "comandante" [commander] of the California-organized Crime Training Institute, which had specialized in anti-terrorist training for police departments. And the comandante, as he liked to be called, had been made the general of the National Guard of California under Edwin Meese, the special assistant attorney general at that time. And they had undertaken here in your state a special secret program, which was code named "Operation Cable Splicer."
This secret program was one whereby the then-Governor Ronald Reagan, his assistant attorney general, and the comandante, the general of the National Guard in California, would undertake to establish a state of martial law in your state in the event that Black nationalists joined forces with the anti-Vietnam War community and tried to replace the established authority of the State of California.
Now, I pursued the investigation, seeing that his was a strange person who was heading up this operation. We learned through a source that we developed inside FEMA that there was a plan whereby FEMA would deputize members of the Department of Defense, and then the state National Guard group. They would then organize civilian groups called "State Defense Forces." Their job, under the readiness exercise (Rex 84), was going to be -- in event of direct military action in Central America by the President -- to round up 400,000 undocumented Central American aliens and place them in 10 military detention camps throughout the United States, all within a two-week period.
Now, any similarity that this program might have to the Japanese-American roundup after Pearl Harbor is not coincidental. The fact is, everyone in our generation has continued to be appalled by that mass internment of the Japanese-Americans, and yet the administration still dares to go forward with this. This contradiction is explained only by the legal brilliance of Ed Meese. For, you see, Ed Meese has made a distinction here, saying, "Well, these 400,000 people aren't even Americans. Therefore, since they're not even supposed to be here anyhow, it'll be perfectly legal for us to incarcerate them since they will be a threat to the national security during a direct military operation."
Well, given the fact that we were working with the sanctuary movement at the time, you can imagine the degree of distress that this caused. I communicated this information to the leadership of the sanctuary movement.
Then, continuing the investigation, we discovered that there was a second part to Rex 84. This is designated, originally enough, Rex 84 Bravo. This particular part of the operation had to do with moving large amounts of military equipment from the Department of Defense to the state National Guard unit, down to these State Defense Forces. And we learned that these State Defense Forces had recently been created by means of the passage of these very little-known statutes in three states: Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas. In these states, the only people who had heard about the setting up of these State Defense Forces were the men who participated in the weekend war games at "survivalist" training camps and in the "Soldier of Fortune" groups.
These were the men who were signing up to participate as members of these State Defense Forces. We discovered that there was a source that we had developed who was talking with a colonel in the National Guard, who said, "Yes, there was going to be this great readiness exercise coming up." Quantities of military equipment were coming down to the National Guard to go to these State Defense Forces, but very interestingly, when these millions of dollars of equipment were distributed during the readiness exercise, half of it would later disappear, and a neat bookkeeping trick would cover the tracks.
For example, say $25 million is the original cost to the United States of this military equipment. After the equipment is transferred to these State Defense Forces for the readiness exercise, about one-half of it is logged back into stores at the end of the exercise, but valued at its replacement cost. The replacement cost is typically twice the original cost because of the increased paperwork, handling, and manufacturing costs associated with small orders. So the books balance [with repect to dollars and cents], and yet half of the originally issued military equipment has "disappeared."
And then we discovered that it was to be smuggled to the contras in Central America.
So, by pure happenstance, we, who have been working with the churches, the synagogue groups in the Sanctuary Movement, had stumbled across a program whereby the administration was trying to smuggle embezzled military equipment to the contras, here in April and May of 1984. When we learned this, I re-established contact with a number of our investigators and journalists to ascertain if they had learned anything similar to this.
And at that point, I was contacted by a journalist, an old friend of mine, who brought the next piece of startling information to me. He told me that he had gone down to Florida over the holiday season [the Christmas holidays and the holiday season of 1983] and had discovered a contra military training base inside the United States, down in lower Florida (down below Miami). And he had gone there to interview these people in late 1983 and had come to know that there was an American group organizing itself here in the United States to provide military assistance and financial assistance to the contras.
They, indeed, were going to be holding a meeting down in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, in January of 1984. And so, this young reporter, being the enterprising soul that he was, went back to his newspaper and asked if he would be allowed to go and report that meeting. He was told no, that he could not go. Well then, he recommended that some other reporter, more experienced than he, go. And they said no.
So he took a leave of absence from the paper, and on his own nickle went down to Honduras and went to the hotel and went to the lobby of the hotel, bought a newspaper, put the newspaper up in front of him and sat around the lobby and watched all these guys coming and going in their Gucci camouflaged suits and trading their patches, comparing the length of their guns. They were engaged in this rather extraordinary convocation.
He simply sat there and watched all of these people. Finally, he started talking to a man sitting next to him, and said, "Look, I'm a writer. I'm really interested in what's going on down here." And this man said, "Hey, well look, I know all these guys, why don't I show you around? Why don't I introduce you to all these people?" And he did.
He took this young fellow under his arm and brought him around and introduced him to everyone. This man was Tom Posey, the founder of the Civilian Military Assistance Group for the United States (CMA). And, lo and behold, this young journalist was ushered into the inner sanctum of the Civilian Military Assistance Group.
Indeed he sat in on Executive Committee meetings of CMA and he didn't know what in the world he was supposed to do with what he was learning, because he was learning about the National Guard in Alabama, the 20th Special Forces declaring all kinds of arms surplus and giving them to the Civilian Military Assistance Group, who were then bringing them to Florida and flying them out to Ilopango Air Force Base in El Salvador.
When I began to discuss this with him, we discovered that the particular military equipment in Louisiana was supposed to be brought to a particular warehouse and flown out to Ilopango, where it, along with this stuff from Alabama, was all going to the farm of a millionaire rancher down in Costa Rica. This rancher is a man by the name of John Hull, who had become the major ally for the contras there. Well, we were quite distressed by this and felt that we should hurry up and find ourselves a client, since we are an organization that is tax-exempt, a public-interest organization like the American Civil Liberties Union or the NAACP. We're allowed to engage in fomenting litigation.
We began that quest there in the beginning of June of 1984. At that point, I had to go down to Texas to do the sanctuary trial. We did the trial. We won the thing on appeal -- had all the charges dismissed against the sanctuary workers -- and provided what we hoped was an important base of law. At the conclusion of that trial, I returned to Washington and was contacted immediately by this young journalist, and he said, "Dan, you've got to come meet me. Something very important has happened."
I went along with my investigator, Father William J. Davis, to meet him. We had a meeting out in a public park where he wanted to meet. He said, "Look, while you were gone, Tom Posey came to Washington. He met me and brought me to a public park and introduced me to a man by the name of Rob Owens. This man, Rob Owens, began to explain to me that he was going to be the private liaison with the National Security Council, working for a man by the name of Lieut. Oliver North, and that he, Rob Owens, was going to be the man who met with the contra leaders and took their orders for weapons, made sure they got their weapons, and maintained liaison with the White House in direct defiance of the Congressional ban against White House support for contras."
This young journalist wanted to know, asking my advice as a lawyer, whether that was as illegal as it appeared. I, indeed, explained to him at some length (this is now at the end of June 1984, sitting in his living room) that what we had here was a full-scale criminal conspiracy inside the White House to violate the United States' Neutrality Act, to violate the United States' Arms Export Control Act, to violate various banking laws for the transfer of these monies -- and that, in fact, what we were looking at is the impeachment of any U.S. government official who was participating in that program.
At that point, the young journalist brought his information to his board of editors, who looked at the information and told him that he would not be allowed to write any stories on that unless he could talk to someone who was directly involved and who made their statements under oath. Now, that's not something that a journalist usually encounters. You don't usually go to a guy and say, "Hello. I've brought with me here a stenographic reporter and a notary public to sign you up under oath. Let me interview you here."
So, he was quite distressed and thought that something had to be done. Given the resources that we had at the Christic Institute, the experience that we had in doing the Karen Silkwood case, prosecuting the Klan and doing the Three Mile Island case, and others, we decided to devote our resources, time, and energy to making this happen. We decided to work and find a client.
In the beginning of July 1984, I had to fly down to get the depositions of the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Party people down in Greensboro, N.C., in that police department, and in the Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Division. We went forward, prosecuted those people, won a half-million bucks, and kicked them around and won. We finished that case.
So, I was out of town some months at that point. And when I came back to town, we then began to have more meetings. We learned, that while we'd been engaged in these cases, an extraordinary event had taken place in Nicaragua. What had happened was that Eden Pastora, who was the famous Comandante Zero, the Sandinista hero who had led major military operations against the dictator Somoza, had become disenchanted with the Sandinista government.
The Sandinista government, in response to the attacks and harassments by the contras, had begun to take less and less popular positions on things, had shut down some of the media, had taken steps that made it very difficult for them to provide supplies to the stores for the people. It was becoming more and more difficult for them.
And this Comandante Zero, Eden Pastora, had become disenchanted and had decided that he was going to leave Nicaragua. Indeed, he was going to go south into Costa Rica. He was going to set up a new contra group (ARDE), an independent contra group. This was not a contra group working with the generals up in Honduras, who were working with the CIA under Bill Casey. They were going to set up an independent contra force. But while we were doing the St. Croix trial and the Greensboro trial, there had been pressure applied to this group, ARDE, (down in Costa Rica) and to Eden Pastora, to force them to come under the command of the Honduran military generals. These were the selfsame old Somoza generals.
In May of 1984, Eden Pastora called a public press conference and there he was going to denounce the FDN (the major contra movement, the one in Honduras) and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency for attempting to co-opt and subvert his nationalistic contra group. At that press conference held in a jungle camp of Eden Pastora on May 30, Memorial Day of 1984, you can see the videotape to this day as they came up the river into the jungle camp and the numerous journalists climbed out. You can see among them a Danish journalist with a large, aluminum camera case with a baseball cap on, walking with them, chatting merrily as he went into the building where the press conference was to be held. You see this man, Per Anker Hansen, move to the front of the room on the videotape and place his camera case next to the table where Eden Pastora would hold his press conference.
When Eden Pastora comes into the room and all of the journalists begin to surge to the front of the base camp room, and then, as the press conference starts, you see a young woman, Maria, bring a cup of coffee to Comandante Zero and accidentally kick over the camera case. It falls on its side, and no one pays much attention. She gives him the coffee and the press conference commences. What you then see is this alleged Danish journalist begin to skulk out of the room, moving across the side of the room on the video tape and out the door.
Immediately thereafter, a deathly roar engulfs the building, destroying everyone in sight, killing eight people immediately, killing three international journalists, including an American journalist (Linda Frazier), blowing off the arms and legs, blinding, tearing off the limbs of the journalists assembled. Twenty-four people were massively injuried and, indeed, everyone would have been slaughtered by the bomb had it not been for the fortuitous event of it having been turned over on its side.
Because, it turns out, the bomb had been made of deadly C-4 explosives. This type of explosive is second only to nuclear devices in its explosive capacity, a type which is very difficult to obtain unless you have contact with the Central Intelligence Agency or other intelligence groups. Because it had been turned on its side, it blew the entire roof off the building and blew the entire floor out instead, laying waste to everyone as it exploded laterally.
Now, when the bulletins went out across Costa Rica that this had happened, one of the people listening at home on the radio was a young reporter by the name of Martha Honey. She was an American reporter, but she reported for the Canadian Broadcast Corporation and for the London Sunday Times. Her husband, Tony Avirgan, had been at this press conference. Tony Avirgan was the ABC television cameraman who had been assigned to film the press conference. He had been devastated by the bomb. It tore out a portion of his side, had burnt one whole arm and his hand, and blown shrapnel into his face and chest. He was in critical condition and was flown out by helicopter to the hospital and later to the United States, where he underwent months of plastic surgery.
Martha Honey, being the person that she is, insisted upon going to the United States Newspaper Guild asking for a grant to look for who it was that had perpetrated this horrendous bombing, and asking to work with her fellow journalists to bring these people to justice. She began her investigation and then had an extraordinary event occur.
In early 1985, during her investigation, a young man by the name of Carlos Rojas Chinchilla, a young carpenter down in Costa Rica, was sitting at a restaurant and bar a couple of blocks from the U.S. Embassy when in came three men. One of them was left at the door, the other two left. And the man [David] who was left at the door looked around, and came over to Carlos, and sat down and told him that he wanted Carlos to help him, that he had to escape, that he was a participant in the terrorist bombing at La Penca, which had murdered the people at the press conference. He said he was part of a terrorist band of contras who were going to blow up the U.S. Embassy and who were going to assassinate the U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, Lewis Tambs.
He went on to say that these terrorists were based on the ranch of a millionaire American rancher by the name of John Hull; that these had been the people, indeed, who had carried out the assassination of the journalists and had planned to kill the U.S. ambassador. Such a major event, he continued, would provoke the United States, cause it to blame the bombing of their embassy on the Sandinista government and to result in a military strike against that government.
This man shared the information with Carlos, and Carlos in his utter amazement later learned that some people had been arrested (a few people from Hull's ranch) who fit the description of these people. And when he realized that what he had heard was true, he went to the only North American family he knew to have them go warn the Embassy. The daughter of that family happened to know Martha Honey, and went to Martha, and shared the information. They then went to talk to this man, David.
They began a series of interviews with David through Carlos -- in the public parks, on tape recorders, in churches, in hotel basements, all across the city -- gathering the information about this terrorist group. One day, Carlos and David were caught by John Hull's terrorists in a park and thrown in the back of a car, held at gunpoint, and brought to the ranch where they were held in a wooden shed.
David told them that they were going to be killed if they didn't get out of there. And so, the two of them, taking their lives in their hands, leaped on this guard and knocked him down and broke through a window and ran into the jungle in a fusilade of bullets, and escaped through the jungle. Eventually they made their way back to civilization, where they hitched a ride. They shared their story with the Costa Rican authorities and with the intelligence people there.
However, the [Luis Alberto] Monge government that was in power at the time, was sympathetic to the contras, and so, the journalists themselves had to continue the investigation alone. A week later they learned that David, who had run off to another place, had been recaptured by John Hull's men, had been brought to Hull's ranch, tortured to death, and buried there.
At that point, they had to take Carlos out of the country. Then, death threats began to come daily to the home telephone of Martha and Tony Avirgan, telling them that they had to stop this investigation, that they would be killed, that their children would be killed if they did not leave.
They then contacted their journalist acquaintances and asked for help from all across the nation. And they contacted us at the Christic Institute and asked us to help. That is what we do at the Christic Institute. That's why we come to people such as you to ask your help to get this information out across the country. And when we began to investigate, we began to confirm this story of this terrorist group and, of course, we had the additional information about the movement of guns and explosives and hardware from the United States down to this ranch.
At that point, Martha and Tony prepared a report which they published in Costa Rica, and John Hull sued them for libel. In Costa Rica, libel is a felony criminal charge of which you are presumed guilty unless you can prove that you are innocent. The Christic Institute went in and undertook the defense of Martha and Tony, helped them organize witnesses and bring them to the bar of justice, and brought them on to testify, and defeated John Hull.
And very, very prophetically, John Hull, in a major tantrum at the end of the trial, stormed out of the court room, turned and said, "This isn't over yet!" And little did we know how right he was. We had resolved at that point to undertake a thorough investigation and prosecution of these people. What we had learned from our investigation was that this terrorist band on John Hull's ranch had been doing yet more.
In addition to bringing in all the military equipment, and training and dispensing the terrorists in Nicaragua, they had been funding their operation by the smuggling of hundreds of tons of cocaine from Columbia. This was possible because they have virtual carte blanche to bring this military equipment from the United States down to the ranch, and to Ilopango. In fact, the U.S. government officials and the Reagan administration were turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to those shipments. They would move the planes down with the military equipment down to Ilopango in El Salvador, then to the Costa Rican ranch, load up with 600 pounds of cocaine, and fly back into the United States, coming back up the same channel that they had cleared through the radar when bringing these guns to those who are the moral equivalent of our founding fathers.
As we began to research the statutes that were available, we discovered, to our amazement, that there was this federal racketeering statute. There was, in fact, a federal criminal statute -- the same one they used to prosecute the eight mob leaders in New York. At the very bottom of this statute, it said: By the way, if you run a business and your business has been injured by the activities of such a criminal enterprise, you can sue that criminal enterprise and recover three times your actual damages.
We began to interview people and discovered that Tony Avirgan was a private businessman. In fact, he was a freelance cameraman hired by ABC to go to the La Penca press conference. The bombing had destroyed all his television equipment. His business had been injured. And, being the defenders of free enterprise that we are, we determined that we are going to vindicate the business community of America and close down this criminal enterprise.
Now, all of this was preliminary to finding out the really important information in this case. Once we had studied the appropriate federal statute, we learned that when you undertake to prosecute a particular overt act of a criminal enterprise under the Racketeering Influence and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), you also sue all of the members who are participants in the more general criminal enterprise of which that is just one overt act. And so, we turned our attention to the criminal enterprise itself which, of course, was the federal criminal conspiracy to violate the U.S. Neutrality Act, to mount a criminal war against the government of Nicaragua.
When we began to investigate who was participating in that enterprise, we had another fortuitous visit. This one was from a former military intelligence agent who came to us and said, "Don't you realize who the people are that you're dealing with?" We didn't know whether to pretend to be very knowledgeable and, therefore, stupid or to say like we always do: "No, we don't know much more than the American people know about what the facts are." And he said, "I will tell you who they are and when you undertake your investigation, you will discover what they are."
"The people you want," he said, "are Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines, Richard Secord, Albert Hakim, Rafael Chi Chi Quintero, and a man by the name of Eric Von Marbod."
"Okay," we said. And we went off to find out who these people were.
An extraordinary series of events began to unfold which resulted in the ruling that you heard about this past Friday. In this ruling the federal court in Miami said that what you have here is an ongoing criminal enterprise dating from 1960. Because what we had discovered is that the man who was directing the operations, supplying the guns and the military hardware to the contras in Central America was, indeed, a man by the name of Theodore Shackley.
Theodore Shackley had been the worldwide director of covert operations for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency in 1976 under George Bush, when he was the director of the CIA. Theodore Shackley had been the man in 1961 who had run the major contra operation against the Cuban socialist revolutionary government starting in 1961. But the U.S. CIA had run a secret covert war against Cuba about which the American public knew virtually nothing, both before and after the Bay of Pigs. And I will now tell you what it is we all need to know.
We discovered that back in late 1959, when Fidel Castro drove the dictator Batista from Cuba, he also drove out the organized crime syndicate from Cuba, the major criminal operation that was operating under the name of Resorts International. It was Meyer Lanskey's major criminal syndicate that ran the casinos and hotels and prostitution rings in Havana. They indeed were business partners with Batista, and they were all driven from Havana in 1959. They came to Southern Florida, and there they were contacted by Richard Nixon, then vice president in the Eisenhower administration.
Indeed, Richard Nixon was the point man responsible for establishing inside the National Security Council a secret committee that was to be responsible for mounting a contra- like war against Cuba. They had determined that they did not like the politics or the economics of the Cuban government, and therefore, they were going to secretly recruit the ultra right-wing supporters of the dictator Batista, train them at a military base in Southern Florida -- in the Cays -- and set up another military training base in Guatemala.
There they would train these people to constitute a "contra" guerrilla force, and they would undertake attacks into Cuba, riding on Swiss boats. They would blow up bridges, burn crops, poison materials to be exported from Cuba -- all to destroy their economic infrastructure. This operation began in late 1959 and it was code-named "Operation 40." But not satisfied with that, the then-vice president, Richard Nixon, received communications from a man by the name of Santos Trafficante.
Santos Trafficante had been the lieutenant for Meyer Lanskey, running the Havana operations for the New York mob. He had come to Florida and learned about this secret "Operation 40," since a large portion of the people who had been recruited by the CIA to work in it had been the criminal elements working for Batista and Santos Trafficante in Havana. After learning about it, he wanted to help. Being the red-blooded patriot that he was, and, of course, as the beneficiary of a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise that he had lost when he was driven out of Havana, he wished to re-establish it. And he reached out to two men.
One was a man by the name of John Roselli. The other man was a man by the name of Sam Giancana, the don of the mafia in Chicago. THese two men were designated by Santos Trafficanted to meet with representatives of Richard Nixon. Richard Nixon selected a man with whom he had maintained an extraordinary secret contact. This man was the head of the empire of Howard Hughes, a man by the name of Robert Maheu.
Because the secrecy of their ongoing relationship was long established, he was selected to undertake this super- secret communication. This meeting took place at the Fountainbleau Hotel in early 1960. And there, Richard Nixon, through his representatives, agreed to set up a sub- organization inside Operation 40 which was a professional assassination unit. This unit was given the responsibility for carrying out the political assassination of Fidel Castro, his brother Raul Castro, Che Guevara, and five other men in the leadership of the Cuban government. This group was recruited out of the Operation 40 people, known only to Richard Nixon and a limited number of people. They were trained in a secret base down in Mexico. This particular group had in it a number of very interesting people who you are coming to hear about every day that we live.
One of the men on this secret team -- this assassination unit -- was a man by the name of Felix Gomez. You know him as Felix Rodriguez and you know him as Max Gomez, the man who was named by [Eugene] Hasenfus as the man who directed the Ilopango airlifts into Nicaragua. Another man on this secret assassination team in early 1960 was a man using the name of Ramon Medina, whose real name is Jose Posada Carriles, who was the second man running the Ilopango airlift into Nicaragua. Another man in this group was a man by the name of Rafael "Chi Chi" Quintero. He was the man who supervised the construction of the secret air strip in Costa Rica that you've heard so much about of late.
Indeed, those who delivered the $2 million that was being given as a bribe to get Mr. Buckley away from the terrorists in Beirut, were Chi Chi Quintero and Tom Clines. The money was given by Mr. Ross Perot. The other people in this assassination team who you've probably heard about are a man by the name of Frank Stirgus, later caught in the Watergate Hotel in 1971, when Richard Nixon was President. With him in the Watergate Hotel was a man by the name of Eugenio Martinez, another man on the assassination team in 1960 run by Richard Nixon. Another man by the name of [Virgilio] Gonzalez was on that assassination team. He was also found in the Watergate Hotel. Two more men, Rafael Villaverde and Raul Villaverde, were on that "shooter team." Ricardo Chavez was also on that team.
One of the directors of that team was a man by the name of E. Howard Hunt. This particular group had the extraordinary authority given to them by this secret grouping inside the National Security Council, and headed by the vice president of the United States to carry out the slaughter, the murder of political leadership of the Cuban government. Now, that operation ran all the way to 1961. When President Kennedy came to office, all the indications are that he was never told about the assassination team. He was told about Operation 40, the contra operation, the contra operation against Cuba. His young industrious brother, Bob, decided that he would transmute Operation 40 into a full-scale invasion. This they tried, in April of 1961, with the disastrous Bay of Pigs resulting.
The invaders from Operation 40 were all killed or captured. By June of 1961, Bobby Kennedy had dropped back and re-established the Operation 40 program. Only they renamed it "Operation Mongoose." That particular program was put under the commanding control of a young 34-year-old CIA official by the name of Theodore Shackley. His director of training was a man by the name of Tom Clines. They ran the contra war, along with Ed Lansdale, against the Cuban government from 1961 to 1965.
And then a very strange series of events began to unfold. In 1965, the entire unit and team was transferred to Laos in Southern Asia. Theodore Shackley became chief of station under Gorden Jergenson. Shackley brought with him Tom Clines. They brought with them Rafael Chi Chi Quintero. They also brought with them Felix Rodriguez and Jose Posada Carriles -- assassins, professional assassins.
By 1966, Theodore Shackley and Tom Clines were, peculiarly enough, supplying air power to a man by the name of Vang Pao, a major opium trafficker in Laos. He was engaged in a three-way war with two other men for control of the opium trade in Laos. They actually figured out a way of dropping bombs on these drug dealers for Vang Pao. The man who ran the air operation for Vang Pao, under Tom Clines, was a young major in the Air Force by the name of Richard Secord.
By the end of 1966, both of the opponents of Vang Pao in this war for the opium market had been assassinated, and Van Pao was the undisputed controller of the opium trade in Laos. Very interestingly he then, out of the largess of his heart, decided that he would contribute an ongoing portion of the heroin income to finance the secret training of the Lao tribesmen, the Hmung down in Southern Laos. They were being trained by the same man who had been commander of the Guatemalan base for the Cuban contras. They were sent out to carry out the covert assassination of suspected Communist sympathizers throughout Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia.
By 1966, this program had been formalized into a group called the Special Operations Group, also known as the Joint Task Force on Unconventional Warfare, based in Vientiane. It was placed under the control fo the military even though it was in fact run by Theodore Shackley and Tom Clines of the CIA. The man who was chosen as the military commander for that unit (that supervised the Lao tribesmen in the assassination program) was Major General John K. Singlaub. The Deputy Air Wing Commander for the Special Operations Group became Richard Secord.
In the end of December of 1966, a young Marine, a recent graduate of the Naval Academy, joined the Special Operation Group in Vientiane, a man by the name of Oliver North. One of the commanders of the Army's Special Forces Unit in the Special Operations Group was a man by the name of Dewey Owens, the older brother Rob Owens. This group functioned to supervise the political assassinations of some 100,000 non- combatant civilians in Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand -- young mayors, bookkeepers, clerks, school teachers -- attempting to eliminate the infrastructure of that society for fear it would fall into the hands of the Communists.
In 1968, Theodore Shackley became the chief of station in Laos, and a man by the name of Santos Trafficantes, from Southern Florida, flew to Southeast Asia and met in a hotel in Saigon with Vang Pao. By the end of 1968, Santos Trafficantes had become the number one importer and trafficker in China-white heroin in the United States. The China-white heroin began to flow and the commensurate profits began to flow to Vang Pao. And the size of the Hmung tribesmen training group that was committing the assassinations began burgeoning accordingly.
In 1969, Theodore Shackley was transferred to become the CIA chief of station in Vietnam, and they established the now infamous Phoenix Program that carried out the political assassination of some 60,000 non-combatant civilians in the country. He remained in that position until 1972, when Theodore Shackley and Tom Clines were brought back to the United States and put in charge of Western Hemisphere operations of the CIA.
Now, since they don't do an awful lot in Canada, and less and less in the United States, that leaves you Central and South America. Tom Clines and Theodore Shackley ran their "Track Two" operation against Salvador Allende in Chile and supervised the political capture and assassination of Allende's Chief of Staff General Schneider, and, eventually, the assassination of Allende himself. When that had been accomplished in September of 1973, Theodore Shackley was transferred to become the head of Far East Operations for the CIA.
Now at this point, we reach an extraordinary important juncture in our story, because Theodore Shackley, Tom Clines, and cohorts had come to the conclusion that the waffling American democracy was not going to continue their efforts in Vietnam. They were not going to continue their effort against the Communists. And so, they began an extraordinary program by means of which they took more and more money from Vang Pao's heroin funds, had them transferred into Vietnam, with the cover of having to carry out a more and more massive Phoenix Program. But, in fact, they brought more money in there than was necessary and began to embezzle this money from Van Pao's heroin sales and transfer the money secretly to a bank in Australia -- the Nugen-Hand Bank.
Millions of dollars were transferred between '73 and '75 in an extraordinarily sophisticated program. What they did was have Tom Clines and Richard Secord load millions of dollars into suitcases, get on an airplane, and fly to Australia and unload the money and put it in the bank account. That went on from '73 to '75. They also began to pilfer thousands of tons of U.S. military equipment from Vietnam and transfer it to a secret camp in Thailand. When the war ended in 1975, all of these people simply transferred.
Where did they transfer to? Iran. Richard Secord was made the director of Foreign Military Sales for the U.S. Pentagon in the Middle East. And where did Theodore Shackley go? Theodore Shackley was promoted from director of Far East Operations for the CIA, to the assistant deputy director for the CIA. Now he was in charge of worldwide covert operations under George Bush. It was anticipated that Theodore Shackley would be director of the CIA if, in fact, Ford had won the presidency and the Republicans remained in office.
But when Carter won, and Stansfield Turner became head of the Central Intelligence Agency, these people continued their operation of pilfering funds and sending them to the secret fund. They established an unauthorized secret, illegal assassination program in Iran, working with the Shah and with the SAVAK [the Shah of Iran's much-hated equivalent of the CIA]. The man who was the director of their operations in Iran was a man by the name of Edwin P. Wilson. His assistant was Frank Turpel.
These people carried out the assassination of many opponents of the Shah of Iran from 1976 to 1978. Now, that operation generated a peculiar resistance on the part of the Central Intelligence Agency, which had not authorized it and was not supervising it. They began to dismiss people from the CIA who were in covert operations. You recall that history, with President Carter moving the people out of "covert ops" and the CIA. They began to put pressure on Theodore Shackley to get him to stop some of his operations. But the fact is they did not stop him.
Shackley formed a private company, in which he joined as partners with Edwin Wilson, Richard Secord, and Eric Von Marbod. They formed a company originally known as the International Research and Trade Corporation, which later became EATSCO (the Egyptian American Transport and Service Company). This company, through the good offices of Eric Von Marbod, who had been the Assistant Secretary of Defense, received all of the contracts to ship all of the weapons to Egypt consequent to the Camp David accord. And they began to make hundreds of millions of dollars in that company. When it was discovered that Edwin P. Wilson was selling C-4 explosives to Qaddafi, Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Barcella, insisted upon indicting him. Larry Barcella also began to investigate Shackley, Clines, Secord, and Von Marbod. But he was told to stop, and his indictments were restricted to simply Edwin Wilson and Frank Turpel.
That was a terrible mistake, as it turns out. What happens is that while they were thinking of indicting him, a decision was made to tell Shackley to resign -- he and Tom Clines -- from the CIA. Who was it that made that decision? The Deputy Director for Operations for the CIA at the time, Frank Carlucci.
By the beginning of 1979, the U.S. people, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. President, and the head of the Central Intelligence Agency had resolved to cut off all military supplies to Somoza. Ted Shackley and Tom Clines, at the end of February and early March in 1979, sent Edwin Wilson to visit Somoza. And they established a contract wherein they would be selling military hardware to the dictator in total opposition to the U.S. policy. But after all, these men were now our private citizens. They had not been indicted. They were running this company making billions of dollars. And they had access to all of the end-user certificates to get the military equipment. They had access to all of the contractors, and they continued to sell the equipment. Even when Somoza fled in July of 1979 and went to a place called North Cay in the Bahamas, Shackley and Clines sent their people to visit him again and to re-establish the contract -- but now to sell them the military hardware in their new incarnation as the contras.
This, indeed is the secret team that continued the flow of weapons. They continued the program of political assassinations. The contras would target the people who had to be assassinated. Then they would send the information to a man who was at the time based in Army intelligence -- a man by the name of Rafael Chi Chi Quintero -- who at the same time was the man visiting the contras, taking their orders for military equipment, and making sure that they were filled. Then, Quintero would pass the information as to who should be assassinated on to Tom Clines and Theodore Shackley, who would then pass the information to a man by the name of Buckley, who was head of the Central Intelligence Agency's Anti-Terrorist Program.
This operation continued all the way up until Reagan became President. When Reagan became President in January of 1981, a series of interesting conversations began to take place in the White House, chaired by Ed Meese, then chief of staff, along with Vice President Bush, President Reagan, CIA Director Bill Casey, and the first National Security Adviser Richard Allen. By June of 1981, they had resolved they would take over the secret team, and the supplying of the military hardware, the weapons and the training.
In a June 1981 National Security Decision Directive, they decided that they would assign a man by the name of Victor M. Canastrero from the CIA to head up that operation that had been run by Chi Chi Quintero. That operation ran, as we recalled at the beginning of our discussion, throughout that strange series of falsehoods from the White House about how they didn't know contras. This went on all the way to the end of 1983 when, in fact, they were caught mining the harbors and passing out the assassination manual. Then it became clear that Congress was going to pass the Boland Amendment to prohibit their activity.
So what did they do? They sent a young man who was by now a lieutenant colonel in the National Security Council, Oliver North, to a contact the secret team to say, "Why don't you do it some more? You did it from March of '79 until '81. Why don't you sell the weapons to the contras and give them what they need?"
They did. However, they needed a cover story. After all, everyone knew the Agency had been supplying the contras for years now. If they continued to receive the same amount of aid, people might suspect the Agency. So what they decided to do was to have a cover story. They sent Oliver North to Gray and Company, a public relations firm of spooks in Washington. A vice president of this company at that time, we understand, was a man by the name of John Tower. Further, they sought out a man by the name of Rob Owen from that company. And he, Rob Owen, set up a thing called "Idea, Incorporated."
Using this "private" company, he began to provide the inspiration around our country to help these poor contras. Rob Owen was sent to get a man to head up that operation, a man by the name of General John K. Singlaub. That operation raised probably $5 million total, most of which they spent on their little Lear jets flying around the world. Singlaub had to give a cover to the massive influx of weapons to the contras, all being run by this secret team.
When the administration decided that it had to undertake this famous deal with the Iranians, they figured: who better than the secret team? After all, "in for a penny, in for a pound." So these were the people who were sent -- Secord and the other men -- to Iran to deliver the cake and the Bible and the missiles. But earlier the administration was not so distressed by the holding of all the hostages. Why was it they became terribly distressed only in 1984 when Mr. Buckley was kidnapped? When Mr. Buckley was kidnapped and tortured, then they became intensely interested in getting him out. You recall we were told he was an independent businessman in Beirut. Then we were told he was the station chief of the CIA in Beirut. What we were not told is that he had been the director of the Anti-Terrorist Program for the CIA.
What was it hat he knew that made this man so terribly dangerous in Iranian hands? And why was it that we sent the Iranians 40 tractor-trailer loads of TOW missiles after we knew he was already dead? What do you think it was that he told them that was worth all that? And why was it that the Iranians sent a man by the name of Ghorbanifar to establish contact to see if they could exchange something to get the weapons? And who did Mr. Ghorbanifar go to? Oliver North? Poindexter? Bud McFarland? No. He went to Theodore Shackley.
Ghorbanifar, in November of 1984, met with Theodore Shackley in Hamburg, and it was decided that this was so serious, something had to be paid to these people. And who are the people? Were they the moderates in the Iranian government?
What will be discovered is that they were the very people who had tortured Mr. Buckley. These were the people to whom Mr. Buckley had been delivered from Beirut. He, in fact, had been taken from Beirut to Teheran, and was tortured to death in Teheran, all recorded on video tape. What was it that he told them that made it worth paying all that hush money? The fact of the matter is, that it was what Buckley had said about this secret team that had been functioning in the bowels of our government for 25 years.
The United States has not been humiliated. We have been blackmailed. And who is it that doesn't know what we have been doing? Is it the Russians? Do you think it's the Cubans? Is it the Nicaraguans? It is you. And it is me.
It is the American people who these people fear. They are afraid because of the program of assassinations, the horrible, dark secrets that they know. They are afraid because they know the source of their funding, from the largest shipments of heroin into our country for the past 20 years to the influx of over one ton of cocaine per week coming in through a shrimp company in Miami, owned by Francisco Paco Chavez, that has been financing these black, covert operations. They're afraid we'll find them out. So the questions that are floating are not, indeed, the right questions.
Should we be asking ourselves the question: Do we think that Donald Regan should resign? Do you think maybe Mr. Meese should quit? Do you think all of these lower guys will be cleaned up by Frank Carlucci? Do you think these were a group of subordinates acting without authority within the White House? Or is this, in fact, more like Watergate where the Congressional committees will go so far as to impeach Mr. Reagan, impeach Mr. Bush, impeach Mr. Meese, prosecute Messrs. North and Secord and Hakim?
Because let me say to you: if in fact that is all that happens, we will be dealing with a small cancerous nodule on the nose of the President. Rather as a fact, what we are dealing with is a cancer deep in the chest of our body politic.
And the intelligence community will tell us, along with the Republican Party, "Please, we can't operate. The body politic is not healthy enough and strong enough. Please, maybe we don't have cancer. Hope we don't have cancer. Maybe it will go away. You cannot do this." The Democrats are suggesting that the people's confidence in our governmental structures will be too shaken if this information is made available to our public.
The fact of the matter is this: These are the people who have never had confidence in the structures of our constitutional government, have never obeyed the American people, have never had confidence in the U.S. Congress. These are the people who have been dealing in the back alleys and underworld for 25 years.
Will we listen to those people when they say, "Please our body politic isn't strong enough to survive the operation"? No, we won't. The fact is that this operation will be undertaken, our body politic is healthy enough, and our body politic will rid itself of this cancer.
And the people who will make that so are you and me. And there are millions of people across our country who will not stand for this type of hypocrisy, who will not allow our country to take these positions, by means of which, we can be so clearly blackmailed. This will be put to a stop. It will be put to a stop now. We will not be allowed to face these minor questions.
We will do this work. The Christic Institute has the federal case that has now been endorsed by the federal court system. We now have federal subpoena power. We know that this group is not, in fact, the moral equivalent of our founding fathers. They are indeed the moral equivalent of the mafia. And they will be treated as such.
Question and Answer Session
QUESTION: There are two questions that occur to me right away. Some of this information must have come out in the Watergate investigation. Why wasn't it pursued at that time? Obviously, there must have been that information. The other one: You talk about a shadowy world. When did this shadowy world begin? When did the separation between the military and civilian clearly collapse, causing so many of our problems?
SHEEHAN: The first question: A number of these issues must have surface at least during the the Watergate investigation. And why were they not pursued? Well, let me give you one very special example of an issue that arose during the Watergate investigation. You will all remember that extraordinary conversation of March 21 , where President Nixon was discussing the Watergate investigation with John Dean. And Nixon said to John Dean, "John, I want you to go to the CIA and have them tell the FBI to get out of this investigation." And John Dean said to him: "Well, Mr. President, what am I going to tell them?" And he said, "Tell them all the Mexican stuff will come out."
John Dean didn't know what that meant and he later asked what that meant. They asked this question of a number of people during the Watergate hearings. One of the men they asked was Mr. Halderman. And they said, "Mr. Haldeman, what was it that President Nixon was talking about when he said 'All the Mexican stuff would come out'?" And Mr. Halderman said, "Oh, they were talking about the assassination of President John Kennedy." At which point, everyone looked at each other in the room and said, "What the hell was that?" And they went on to a new subject. It's a very strange issue one that has haunted us ever since 1963.
What we face in this case is the possibility of striking up that music, of getting back to some of those issues, of delving into those people. I'll just say this in closing on that topic. Richard Spraig was appointed to be the general counsel for the Select Committee on Assassination Investigation for the House of Representatives, and he was investigating the assassination of President John Kennedy. He was doing some investigation that led him to issue a subpoena to John Roselli.
John Roselli, you will remember, is one of the two men who met with Robert Maheu back in January or so of 1961 or 1960 to set up this assassination team. In the very week that he was subpoened, John Roselli was found wrapped in chain and sunk in a barrel in Biscayne Bay. Because of the fear that they had, Mr. Spraig sent three FBI agants to protect Sam Giancana, who had been the other man in the meeting, before he issued a subpoena to him.
Mr. Spraig did issues a subpoena to him. With three FBI agents in the house on Thursday morning before the Monday that Sam Giancana was to testify before the Select Committee on Assassination, one of the FBI agents left to go get a pack of Camels, one went to the bathroom, one was out getting some fruit for the cereal, and someone entered the house and killed Sam Giancana in his breakfast and left without a trace. And Richard Spraig was immediately fired as general counsel for the Select Committee on Assassinations. G. Robert Blakey was appointed. He said, "That's enough, no more investigations," and filed a final report which you can read, which says: "There appears to be some circumstantial evidence that President Kennedy may have been assassinated by a conspiracy group. And the main suspects are certain elements of organized crime and Cubans."
What he didn't say, which is the truth, is that the suspected elements of organized crime were Santos Trafficante, and that the Cubans were the Cubans who were inside the shooter team for Operation 40!
The second question was: When did all this shadowy world begin -- this peculiar blending between the civilians and the military? I would say that it actually began in 1947 with the passage of the National Security Act, the establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency, the establishment of this entire covert world. In the first meeting of the National Secutiry Agency, they passed a resolution, I think, called the 54/12 Resolution. It authorized the Central Intelligence Agency to gather intelligence data, to correlate intelligence data, and to preform other functions from time to time as were designated by the National Security Agency. That is the resolution pursuant to which the CIA has taken unto itself the belief that it has the authority to carry out covert operations, such as these assassinations.
The major fear now, amidst the Central Intelligence Agency officials, is that all covert action capacity will be taken away from the Central Intelligence Agency and assigned to a Special Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations. That is the way of a shakedown in Washington. All that that will do is get rid of this strange blending of the civilian and military and put it under the control of the military.
But in the final analysis, we at the Christic Institute do not personally believe that Oliver North was a bad soldier. Oliver North was a good soldier. Oliver North took his orders. He followed his orders. The question is: Who did he take the orders from? Why would he be taking the orders from a man by the name of Theodore Shackley or Tom Clines, who are no longer in the government? Because they used to run covert operations for the entire Central Intelligence Agency. This is a strange identity that they have: when they leave, they don't really leave and they continue covert operations. We have to undertake absolutely major surgery on the public policies relating to covert operations before this scandal is over.
QUESTION: Dan, as one lawyer to another, I want to compliment you for the skill and the finesse with which you carried on that campaign against the racketeers down there. I think we have a rather immediate problem before Dan can get all of his facts in deposition form and in documentary form, preparatory to courtroom use. That is: What can we do in this Congress about monies for the contras?
We need, it seems to me, to look at this in a number of ways, and I'd like to get Dan's reaction to this. One of them is this: What's going on down there is conducted by the U.S. President through his agents, the contras. It consists of acts of war against another nation. By international law, the use of force against another nation is an act of war. By the Constitution of the United States, nobody can wage war in the name of the United States without the declaration of war by the Congress. So, isn't it an important element in the months to come that we emphasize this unconstitutional conduct by our President as the basis for denying aid to the contras?
SHEEHAN: Absolutely. The fact of the matter is that here, in February , there's going to be a vote taken in the U.S. Congress. The vote has a lot of peculiar technicalities to it. It is a caveat on the resolution that was passed by the 99th Congress to authorize the expenditure of $100 million for the contras for military equipment. Only $60 million was given to them originally. There is a certification vote that has to be taken here in mid-February to determine whether or not Congress will affirmatively certify to allow the last $40 million given to the contras to be used for heavy military equipment.
Now, they did not want to allow the Congress to vote on whether they get the $40 million at all. So, some people, usually in the Democratic Party, are saying: "Let's really show them. Let's vote to let them get the $40 million only without using it for heavy equipment." There are others who argue, "Let's alter the resolution, after all, we are the government of the United States. We aren't helpless in the face of the executive branch. All we have to do is say that on the basis of newly discovered evidence, we're going to alter the vote here in February to eliminate the last $40 million and make them give back the original $60 million."
Now, at base, what we have here is a lack of resolution on the part of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party doesn't know whether it's going to have Governor Cuomo as its nominee, or Joe Biden as its nominee, or a number of other people as its nominee...Gary Hart. But the American people have to speak out, they have to be determined. In fact, the Republican Party has stood behind the funding of the contras, insisted upon the funding of the contras in a vote that went down on the last day of the 99th Congress to give money to the contras with a straight party vote. And the Democratic Party, now, wants to take advantage, to take the credit for all of this. Let them take it. But make them earn it. Insist that they cut off the remaining $40 million, have them stand up to this program and pass a resolution condemning the contras, cutting off all military equipment and stopping the war, stopping the invasion.
Now, the fact of the matter is that the Congress of the United States is capable of doing anything it wants to do. But it doesn't want to do this. And you have to insist that they do this, you and your friends, and your family, and your neighbors, all of the people you went to school with. We can't do it out of just an office at the Christic Institute with 15 people in Washington, D.C. It has to be magnified all across the country. We now have 35 national organizations that have joined with us -- church and synagogue groups, and labor groups and women's groups -- all across the country, to get this word out to their constituents to make Congress stand up and face this issue, cut off this money and once again, return our country to operating under democratic legal processes.
QUESTION: It was said that during the Karen Silkwood case, a few years ago, that your staff uncovered a private training academy in Florida that was involved in the killing of Karen Silkwood. Does this have any connection to this case?
SHEEHAN: That particular place was called the National Intelligence Academy, down in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. It is where, in fact, the people were trained and equipped who were behind Karen Silkwood that night on the road. We can tell you now, there was a man by the name of Harold Barron, a man by the name of Larry O'Brian, and a man by the name of David McBride. These were the people who were trained in a group called the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit, a private fraternity of law-enforcement officers who are secretly trained and equipped at the place called the National Intelligence Academy down in Fort Lauderdale.
This is the same place they trained the DINA (the secret political police from Chile), the same place where they trained the Bureau of Special Services from South Africa, the same place where they trained and equipped the SAVAK, the secret political police of the Shah of Iran. But this place has been engaged in this type of training for many years.
I will tell you this: The fact is that the equipment that was used to kill Chilean Ambassador Orlando Letelier on the streets of Washington, D.C., came from the National Intelligence Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., from Audio Intelligence Devices, which shares their building with them. They made the "hound dog" bumper beeper that was used to detonate the explosives in the car. When Jose Posada Carriles, back in 1973, blew up the Venezuelan airliner that killed 73 Cuban nationals, the equipment came from the National Intelligence Academy's Audio Intelligence Devices in Fort Lauderdale.
This place is a veritable ethical cesspool in or nation, and it has been funded with grants from the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, which have been used to purchase equipment there. It's funded by profits from GEICO, the Government Employee Insurance Company.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: My God! I'm insured by them!
SHEEHAN: That's right. And the man by the name of Leo Goodwin, Jr., is the man who runs it. He is the heir to the GEICO estate, which finances that place. There are so many things that are known that have never had anything done about them. One of the extraordinary things about this case is that it has them all up in front of us now. They're now in front of us, these people, and they can be brought to justice.
QUESTION: Now, this other question is: What is the connection between this secret group and the assassination of Martin Luther King?
SHEEHAN: I know of none. I simply know of no connection at all at this point in time.
QUESTION: What is the real reason the press has been protecting Ronald Reagan?
SHEEHAN: It's an extremely interesting question, actually, that has been discussed a lot of late. How could it be possible for him to have been so much like he is and for them not to be talking about it and writing about it all the time. Now, I knew it during the very first Super Bowl, when President Reagan was President and he came on at half time, I remember, and he was interviewed by the fellow from NBC. And he said, "Mr. President, you used to be an announcer, didn't you?" And he said, "Well, yes. Yes, I was."
"In fact," he continued, "When I had my audition, I had to sit there and recall a game and see how well I did. So, what I did," he said, "I went back to a game in which I had actually played. And I was given all the names of how we made these blocks and we ran for a touchdown and made it." He said, "Of course, in real life, we didn't run for a touchdown." The NBC man and everybody went: Ha, Ha, Ha. Isn't that strange that he would have told a story like that?
And Reagan followed it up with another story, saying he recalled one time that how he learned to do this audition was that he used to broadcast baseball games. He used to get the ticker tape, and he used to broadcast as though he was right there. And all they really had was that the ball went from Number One to Number Three to Number Four (or whatever it was, however they number the players). That's all he knew about the play. And he used to go, "Well, it's a hot grounder -- there it goes to the shortstop -- it goes to the second base -- it'll be a double play -- it goes to first base. You've go a double play!"
And he said, "One time, I was doing this and the ticker tape stopped. And so, I just went right along and kept on making up things and never missed a beat." At which point, the NBC man laughed and said, "Oh, good for you, Mr. President."
And now we're living with it, you see.
One of the major problems is that so much of the media is involved in what we call "infotainment" that it's not really the news anymore. It's all the news that's fit to print. And I discovered it the other day. I was riding along with a New York Times reporter and a man from the Washington Post and I was giving them a ride through the snow in Washington, and they were sort of comparing their sources. And one of them says: "My sources are better than your sources." As it turns out, the Washington Post has the very best inside-the-White-House sources. The New York Times has the very best inside-the-intelligence-community sources.
And the intelligence community tells the New York Times what they're doing. And the New York Times, therefore, can't burn their source and tell what they know or else they'll lose their access to the story. And the Washington Post can't burn their sources in the White House. So they can't tell the story. If that tells you anything, it's something that I couldn't understand because I kept thinking: I thought you were supposed to be telling the American people. And that isn't what really happens most of the time. But there is this interesting in-crowd community at the highest levels of the media. But now they're beginning to suspect the American people insist upon knowing and want to know. Therefore, they're caught in the situation of having to tell them. And the sources! you can smell them burning all over Washington. They're going to continue to burn until this story gets out.
QUESTION: I have a question: Dan, could you explain Israel's participation in the Iran affair?
SHEEHAN: As far as we can tell, at this stage, the Israeli government was merely doing what they were asked by an ally. The highest levels of the U.S. government, once they decided that they were going to undertake this exchange of arms with Iran, contacted Israel, discussed this with them and initially utilized a covert method of moving arms to Iran. What they would do is have the Israeli government move a bunch of the American arms that had been given to Israel up to Iran with the assurance that the United States would resupply Israel with an equal number of those arms. The U.S. government did that to conceal the direct participation of the United States in the activity.
You'll recall that embarrassing November press conference in which President Reagan had specifically stated that there were no other countries involved in this. This story held up for, I think, 20 minutes. At which point he had to send a little memo out to all the media people saying: "Excuse me, there was one country. It was Israel."
And then they tried as a trial ballon that, well, Israel did it -- and we didn't -- which lasted, I think, even less time because the Foreign Minister for Israel then decided to resign so that he could talk about it.
He got up before international cameras, told them what had been done, and said that the U.S. government had specifically asked them as an ally to do this. And they had done it. So far as we can tell, that's all that really was involved, they were doing something that an ally had asked them to do. And as far as they knew, there was nothing illegal about it for them to participate.
QUESTION: There are a couple of the questions that ask for sources. Could you please cite your sources to substantiate the Buckley angle as the key explanation of the Reagan-Iran initiative exchange.
SHEEHAN: The fact of the matter is that we are in the process right now of obtaining certain tapes and direct documentary proof of these details. We have talked to people who have listened to the tapes, have taken notes on the tapes, and have assured us that we can have them. I have discussed those with them. We, in fact, have shared this information with the special prosecutor's office and are awaiting those very specific pieces of information. Obviously, it would not be appropriate to tell you who the source was for fear I'd never see that person again. But, the minute we get those things, and have given them to the special prosecutor, you can rest assured we'll make them available to the public.
QUESTION: How about contributions to the Christic Institute?
SHEEHAN: The Christic Institute is in Washington, D.C. We are a public-interest law firm that can only survive with contributions. That's the only way our investigation can go forward. They are all tax-deductible. You can send them to the Christic Institute. The address is 1324 North Capitol Street in Washington, D.C. And the zip there is 20002. Now, if you don't get a chance to write that down, just ask information in Washington, D.C. for the Christic Institute, and give us a call. And we'll give you our address and everything then, and you can send any contribution you want.
"Christic" is a phrase that comes from Tahard Shardan, who was the Jesuit paleontologist who had discovered Peking Man. He was a theologian in the church, and this phrase has to do with the bonding force that bonds everything together in harmony in the universe. We took that name as a public- policy center. A number of our Jewish directors were concerned about it. We all had a long discussion about it and said, well, that it seemed to be a really good term. I mean, at least, that's what he meant it to be. And since he had been condemned by the Catholic Church and forbidden to publish at all, we thought that was a great name for our institute.
QUESTION: There was a number of questions that rather tie in together, Dan, can we expect a military invasion before the dry season is out in Nicaragua?
SHEEHAN: There is a great deal of concern about this issue. The moderate forces in Washington, D.C., seem to be sanguine about this. They don't really believe the administration could have the audacity to undertake such an invasion. They end their observations by saying, well, that would be an act of desperate men. At which point, I asked them if they've got an hour or two when I can explain to them exactly how desperate these people must be right now, in light of what we know.
So, we believe that based on direct information that we've got, there are plenty of special forces, men being trained right now for a jump into Nicaragua. They've been given Nicaraguan maps. They've been trained on Nicaraguan terrain. They're planning, specifically, to invade Nicaragua.
The real question is whether or not they dare to go through with it. The degree of courage that they have to do this is dependent soley upon how emphatically the people in the United States demand that they refrain from it. Because there is no doubt that they do not feel bound by the majority demands of the people. So, I would say that there is very detailed information indicating that they intend to undertake the invasion sometime by the end of March . We're talking about a very serious plan here. And you have to communicate with your Congresspeople and your senators and demand that they confront the administration, call them before Congress, and insist that they renounce any plans to undertake such an invasion.
The fact is that such an invasion would be preceeded by some major provocative action. So that is where we are focusing our intelligence data, to ascertain what type of provocation they would be trying to manufacture to get everybody cranked up to authorize an attack of that sort. So do write your Congresspeople, confront them, and insist this be prohibited.
QUESTION: There's a question here. Have you a body guard? I hope so.
SHEEHAN: Well, the closest thing I have to a bodyguard is Sarah Nelson, who is here, who has a limited vested interest in this since we get to see each other so infrequently now. But seriously, people have asked this question before and the fact of the matter is that professional bodyguards are very expensive. They charge $500 per day and have all kinds of strange equipment. I have been contacted by a number of friends who are in the security business who have made it very clear that we should have a bodyguard since the court has now entered the order giving us the authority of the federal subpoena to go after these people.
I think we have to bring on a security force. But they're going to be very unhappy if I tell them they can't bring their guns. Nevertheless, we will have some sort of security force but I think we're going to have to develop a kind of higher consciousness security forces that don't use guns. But we will have some sort of security force.
QUESTION: Can talking about all this jeopardize the lawsuit?
SHEEHAN: That is an interesting question. The fact is that the attorney for Adolfo Calero, who is one of our defendants, he head of the FDN (contras), has hired the former general counsel for the Central Intelligence Agency, a man by the name of Tony Lapham. The biggest gunrunner in the Western Hemisphere, who is also a defendant in our case, a man named Ronald Joseph Martin, has hired the former U.S. attorney from Miami for his lawyer.
The fact of the matter is that they filed a motion demanding that the judge put a gag order on us to prohibit us from communicating to the public any of the information that we obtained about their defendants, even from our private investigations. At which point, the court threatened to hold us in contempt if he, the judge, heard that we had discussed anything else -- i.e., discussed the case after the court's warning with a large public group. So I hope he's listening now.
The fact is that we have pointed out to the judge that his local court rule has been declared unconstitutional in the Eleventh Circuit, where he sits. So I know he's not happy. But he has a choice. He can either try to invoke the rule against us, only to lose the battle completely, when it's declared totally unconstitutional. Or he can leave us alone. And he has chosen the latter. So we're here today to speak with you and will continue to speak.
QUESTION: Dan, on ABC Nightline, Tony Avirgan brought up the drug connection with the Iran-Contra affair. Ted Koppel said that he didn't now anything about it. Has there been any serious interest in the drug connection by the three major networks?
SHEEHAN: Yes, as a matter of fact. In March, CBS -- what is their show? -- CBS's West 57th Street will be broadcasting some extraordinary footage closing the issue once and for all about the contra drug connection. We've been trying to get them to reveal it earlier, but they don't come back on the air until March. In fact, we've given ample information to the courts, to the Justice Department, to the Congress, about the drug connection.
Senator John Kerry of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has interviewed under oath numerous witnesses. Indeed, we have put before them aircraft pilots who have directly testified under oath about traveling down to John Hull's ranch and back, bringing down guns and bringing back cocaine. There is no way that they are going to be able to conceal this information. Now, I've had some conversations with people at ABC about this. I guess, all I would suggest is that the newspeople at ABC talk to the people at ABC Nightline and get the information from Ted Koppel.