By Trowbridge H. Ford
How and Why Woolsey and Clinton Saved the CIA – Part 221 04 2012
Little wonder that after the special CIA briefings – during which the Agency must have mentioned agent losses due to Soviet spying because DCI Robert Gates had been briefed on them by chief mole hunter Jeanne Vertefeuille on July 1, 1988 (David Wise, Nightmover, 204) - President Clinton then changed his mind about trying to appoint some liberal like Tony Lake the new DCI – what was bound to set off a jarring confirmation process in the conservative Senate, and alarm bells ringing at Langley. Committed to replacing Gates, though, Clinton chose the nearest possible replacement – R. James Woolsey.
Despite popular impressions, Woolsey was a long-time Washington insider. Like Clinton, both a Rhodes scholar and a graduate of Yale Law School - though they did not know one another before 1991 - conservative Democrat Woolsey worked for Paul Nitze on the SALT I agreement, served on Henry Kissinger’s National Security Council, and was general counsel for the Senate Armed Services Committee when Senator John Stennis of Mississippi was its Chairman. Woolsey then branched out into Non-Governmental Organizations, joining the Shea & Gardner law firm which currently represents Ahmed Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress.
During the Carter administration, he served as Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy when it was experiencing its worst period of neglect. Woolsey was present at the meeting behind the President’s back where the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Tom Hayward outlined the Sea Strike strategy in the Pacific which would take the fight to the Soviets in any showdown with Moscow in Europe – what Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy John Lehman would use to justify his massive navy build-up. (For details, see Gregory L. Vistica, Fall from Glory, p. 30ff.) While Lehman was doing this, Woolsey became the Republicans’ favorite Democrat while working with Scowcroft as a delegate to the crucial Geneva strategic-arms talks. “In 1991,” David Wise added, “Bush named Woolsey as ambassador to the talks on conventional forces in Europe.” (p. 301)
Woolsey assured his selection by Clinton by joining a conservative think-tank which endorsed him for President. The President-elect knew that he needed someone like Woolsey - someone who would take risks, cut losses by drastic means, and stand up to pushy opponents in order to achieve important goals - if he hoped to avoid the long-term problems which ultimately brought down Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and grievously injured Ronald Reagan’s Presidency. They, though willing to take risks to bring down the Soviets and Saddam, went “wobbly”, to use the ‘Iron Lady’s famous adverb, when it came time to get rid of internal trouble, as Iran-Contra for Reagan, and her failure to retain the Conservative Party leadership in 1990 demonstrated.
Woolsey showed the focus of his tenure by appointing another Admiral, William O. Studeman, Deputy Director. He was not pining to get back to sea, though, but as the former director of the Office of Naval Intelligence, he was determined to contain the fallout from the 1986 non-nuclear showdown with the Soviets after Palme’s assassination, whether it was a question of protecting secrets, or punishing those who would divulge them. Studeman testified in the trial of the John Walker spy ring that the spying at the time had “powerful war-winning implications for the Soviet side.” (Quoted from Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, Blind Man’s Bluff, p. 353.)
With this background, it was hardly surprising that Woolsey completely reversed the focus of the Clinton agenda regarding the intelligence community, once his confirmation process commenced. A few days later, Mir Amal Kansi conveniently assisted the change by murdering two Agency employees, and wounding three others as they drove in the front gate at Langley on their way to work, and then safely escaped to Pakistan. At the end of February, other terrorists associated with the murder of Jewish activist Meir Kahane, and with CIA agent Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman - who an Agency agent in Khartoum had given a visa to, and had not informed that Bureau that he was coming to the States - blew up the World Trade Center in New York.
While Woolsey was struggling to regain the initiative for secret government, Clinton was confronted by the personal problems he had brought to the White House from Little Rock, and their sources he still had back in Arkansas, especially because of the difficulty he was having in gaining confirmation of his appointees, particularly in law enforcement. In picking Zoe Baird, and then Kimba Wood to be the new Attorney General, Clinton was so eager to have someone who could fix his legal problems, especially with the Justice Department, that his staff overlooked theirs in suggesting the nominations. Clinton became almost paranoid that he was developing a legal ”perception” problem, as James B. Stewart wrote in Blood Sport – he was only interested in appointees with them. Finally, Janet Reno was confirmed as Attorney General, and Clinton crony Webster Hubbell as Associate Attorney General.
Then Woolsey and Clinton were hit by a series of more damaging disclosures which caused widespread panic. The FBI finally learned that Rick Ames had clearly failed his 1991 polygraph test, but the Agency had failed to inform the Bureau contrary to the Directors’ Memo of Understanding. While Woolsey tried to assure Judge Sessions that there was nothing untoward in the delay, Sessions’ deputies were not convinced, opening a criminal investigation of Ames on May 12, 1993. The same day that Ames had failed the test, the Bureau learned that the Agency’s Office of Security had issued a report which narrated his reckless conduct with money and drink while at the Counter Intelligence Center, and later at Rome while dealing with Soviet and Eastern-bloc assets. Then Agency mole hunter Dan Payne’s 1990 memo about Ames’s unexplained wealth was finally completed, thanks to the prodding by the Counter-Intelligence Center’s deputy chief Paul Redmond, with devastating results.
Things were not going any better at the White House either. The travel office scandal was followed by Filegate, and Vince Foster’s suicide. To justify getting rid of Billy Dale’s travel company aka Travelgate, the Bureau was called in, and its presence was expanded by having it perform security checks on everyone who visited the White House, even leading Republicans. While media allegations of improper use of the FBI for the Clintons’ purposes was used to help get rid of Director Sessions, the furore drove private counsel Vince Foster off the rails, causing him to commit suicide the day after Sessions was forced to resign. While the President attributed the Director’s fall to the Bureau’s massacre of the Branch Davidians at Waco, Texas, and to CI failures, especially in the Felix Bloch case – what would have prevented the Ames case being postponed until his watch – Sessions’ son, Lewis, put it another way – probing the Agency’s involvement in Iraq-Gate.
While the new Director, Louis Freeh, was immediately using the Bureau’s counterterrorist powers in an even more aggressive fashion, especially in overseas cases, the CIA and Clinton took the opportunity to get rid of their most serious threats and opponents at home – what their critics have had a field day with, making rash claims reminiscent of what Mark Lane said about anyone who witnessed the JFK assassination, and what Gordon Thomas and others said about researchers working on microbes and the like when Dr. David Kelly was murdered. To hide their efforts, the Agency gave the Bureau agents looking for the mole unprecedented access to the contents of Ames’s safe at the Langley headquarters while he was away, and let them bug his Jaguar while he visited the Bureau’s headquarters with an associate in the hope of catching him servicing a dead letter drop with the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).
On June 22nd, Washington whistleblower Paul Wilcher, who was trying to tie the President to the 1980 “October Surprise”, and Contra drug-running, was found dead in his Washington apartment, sitting on the toilet – a telltale sign of ricin poisoning, if my similar experience is anything to go by. (See my confession columns about being an exile, and more about America’s plot to kill me.) During my seizures, the most frightening moment was when I was incurring the most violent vomiting and diarrhea. My attacks started occurring soon after I wrote a most angery letter to Clinton, complaining of his praise and treatment of Nixon upon his demise. The cause of Wilcher’s death was never established.
When Luther ‘Jerry’ Parks, Clinton’s former security chief while governor, heard about Foster’s apparent suicide on TV, he immediately exclaimed to his son, Gary: “I’m a dead man.” Parks was communicating regularly with Foster about his threats against Clinton while governor, especially his secret trips while womanizing. Two months later, his prediction about Clinton “cleaning house” became true despite most elaborate counter measures, as two burly men, with beer bellies, and in their late 40s, gunned him down in a hail of bullets as he was returning home by car from a meal in a Little Rock Mexican restaurant. The police in Little Rock, where Clinton was king, never made a serious effort to solve the case, while urging his distraught wife to withhold her suspicions until it was completed.
As soon as the FBI started its surveillance of Ames, Woolsey told NSA Tony Lake about the Agency’s penetration, and once a month Lake briefed the President, who “was interested and concerned” (Wise, p. 231) about the state of the mole hunt. This way Clinton could be kept informed without the DCI ever having the need to do so himself. Current scuttlebutt conveniently claimed that the President was refusing to see Woolsey, some critics even joking that it was the DCI who was piloting the light plane which crashed on the White House lawn in the hope of gaining access to the Oval Office.
To simplify real concerns, the CIA sent Freddie Woodruff, who had rented Ames’s house in Reston while he went to New York to handle the growing number of double agent cases in Operation Courtship in the early ’80′s, and whose wife’s sister was a good friend of the Ameses, was sent to Georgia in the ex-USSR in August to determine if he was the mole. Of course, if something happened to Woodruff, the Agency would still have the problem of determining whether he was eliminated to protect the real mole, or to secure the silence of the real one.
Woodruff had been station chief in Leningrad when Palme was assassinated, and it was hoped that he would oversee connecting the killing to the Soviets. Ideally, it was hoped that Soviet spy Stig Bergling would take the bait while on compassionate leave from prison in order to get married, and flee to the USSR - what would make him seem the ‘party policeman’ who had gotten rid of the now useless statsminister. At the very least, it was thought that double agent Boris Yuzhin might personally inform Woodruff by a surprise dead letter drop that the Stockholm shooting had caught the Red Banner fleet completely off guard or that Sergei Motorin, another double agent, would call his girl friend back in the States - what he did regularly, and was being monitored by the Bureau – to inform Washington that Moscow had been taken completely by surprise in other ways. Thanks to unknown spying for the Soviets, though, these developments never materialized.
As it turned out, Woodruff was apparently not the mole, as he was assassinated by the Russians, it seems, while working with Georgia’s intelligence service to help shore up Edvard Shevardnadze’s regime against Moscow’s threats. Woodruff was shot through the head by one bullet as he was visiting the sites around Mount Kazbek with director Eldar Guguladze of its intelligence service, and two unidentified women. While the assassin, Anzor Sharmaidze, was conveniently convicted of a random act of violence when Woodruff’s car allegedly failed to heed his flagging it down, DCI Woolsey just happened to be in Moscow at the time, and he escorted Woodruff’s body back to the States. In the hope of making sure that Ames was the spy, the Agency sent him there a month later, but the SVR did not shoot him - showing apparently that he was the spy.
To make sure that there were no more spies, and to help clear up the yet unsolved Stockholm assassination, the Agency started setting up Viktor Gunnarsson, the still leading suspect, for his own elimination. Gunnarsson could have spoiled the Stockhom shooting by somehow tipping off the Soviets – resulting in their closing the KGB residency in the embassy on the night so that no one could call to implicate them – or Bergling that he was being set up.
Gunnarsson had been running around the Swedish capital as a decoy in the days leading up to the statsminister’s assassination, and when the killing did not work out as planned – blaming it on Moscow and Bergling - the prosecutor, Hans Holmér, tried to make out that he was the killer, a process doomed to fail for lack of evidence. (See my earlier article about Gunnarsson.) After two failed attempts to indict him, he was duly compensated for any embarrassment caused, and wrote a book about his ordeal – Jag Och Palme Mordet. In its opening chapter, entitled “Scapegoat”, Gunnarsson explained that he only expressed his spirited opposition to communism and the Social Democratic leader, and that he was in no way involved in the murder. (p. 7)
Of course, Gunnarsson’s denials satisfied few others, especially those who still wanted to scapegoat him for the killing. Chris Mosey, a reporter for The Observer in Stockholm when the shooting occurred, took the lead in refocusing suspicion on Gunnarsson. At first, he gave substance to Soviet involvement, and when this proved inconvenient, he concentrated upon their surrogates, especially the PKK (the Kurdish Workers Party), relying heavily upon the Richard Reeves’ article, “The Palme Obsession,” in the March 1, 1987 issue of The New York Times Magazine. Ultimately, Mosey wrote the Cruel Awakening in which he blamed the assassination upon the repressive character of Swedish society, a claim prosecutor Holmér refused to entertain: “From the start, as a firm believer in Palme himself, he found it hard to believe that a Swede had killed the prime minister.” (p. 173)
Gunnarsson, being the leading Swedish suspect, reacted to the charge, as he had before, by writing a 250-page, hand-written manuscript, denying it in greater detail, and submitting it to the leading Swedish publisher, Bonniers, for possible publication. Once it was rejected - undoubtedly not having anything really new in it, and certainly not a confession of the murder, or Bonniers would have jumped at the chance to solve the national obsession – Börje Wingren, after spending more than 30 hours interviewing Gunnarsson, wrote Han sköt Olof Palme (He Shot Olof Palme), contending that Gunnarsson had, indeed, confessed to the crime.
Wingren was a former police inspector who apparently was involved in the first attempts to convict Gunnarsson of the murder. Unfortunately, they were ruined by showing Gunnarsson’s photograph to a taxi driver who apparently saw the assassin in the hope that he would identify Gunnarsson as the person out of a police lineup. The only trouble with Wingren’s latest claim was that it was based on new witnesses, and information, not Gunnarsson’s confession, as the book’s title indicated. It would have been better, entitled I Shot Olof Palme.
To me, the book recalls efforts by Clinton, Ambassador Elizabeth Frawley Bagley to Portugal, and the CIA two years later to put false words in my mouth about Nixon’s involvement in the JFK assassination – what Jim Marrs, author of Crossfire, attempted with Jim DiEugenio in the January 1996 issue of Probe magazine – so that someone would dispose of me too. The only difference was that my murder had to look like an accident.
Once Gunnarsson had been set up, his murder could not be like ‘Jerry’ Parks’s one, unsolved, as that would represent no convincing conclusion to Palme’s - a long-unsolved murder could not be settled by yet another unsolved murder. Gunnarsson’s killing too had to be made to look like the handiwork of someone else, certainly not American covert government. It had to be made to look like the result of a lovers’ quarrel. The only person that the CIA had to work with in this regard was Mrs. Kay Weden, a one-time Pentagon employee who was most anxious to meet new men after the breakup of her engagement to former policeman L. C. Underwood in Salisbury, N.C., where Gunnarsson was now living.
Mrs. Weden learned of unemployed David Hall Sumner’s interest in having some kind of relationship through a Metro-Lines singles advertisement, and they became acquainted at the Cracker Barret Restaurant in Charlotte shortly thereafter. Then they had their first date on November 13th in Salisbury, starting with dinner at Bogart’s Restaurant at 8 p.m. While they were eating, Underwood, accompanied by Danny Hillard, accosted the couple, demanding that Weden pay him the $2,000 she owed him. After a heated argument, Underwood left the table, knocking over a glass of tea, apparently on purpose, into Weden’s lap. (Special Bureau of Investigation File: 592-H-20, February 16, 1994)
After Weden took a call from an unknown party, the couple left the restaurant when the police arrived in the parking lot, telling them what had happened. Once Sumner learned that Underwood used to work for the police, “he was afraid the white male would have a gun” despite the fact that Weden assured him Underwood was harmless. (p. 2) While Weden laughed about the incident as they were returning to her apartment, Sumner was highly upset by the whole affair. He checked to see if Underwood was following them – which he wasn’t - and then checked to see if he had vandalized his pickup truck – which he hadn’t. Sumner only reluctantly agreed to accompany Weden inside her apartment, and soon wished he hadn’t after he met her son, Jason, and his friends who were drinking beer and smoking marijuana. “He then left and went home and has not talked to Weden since, nor does he care to.”
On December 3rd, Weden. accompanied by her mother Catherine Miller, had a similar date with Gunnarsson, who had been asked to come along, at the Blue Bay Restaurant, and later that night he disappeared, only to be found five weeks later, 110 miles away in a ravine - shot through the tempel and neck at close range, and only wearing his gold watch and ring. A few days later in December, Ms. Miller was discovered in her residence, shot similarly through the head by a larger caliber weapon, and at close range.