Meteor over San Fransico (NBC) – Part of Reagan’s STAR WARS??

16 02 2013

ENE-News –  NBC: Meteor fireball reported over San Francisco Bay Area — Clearly visible on Doppler radar (VIDEO & PHOTOS)

Recall US president Ronald Reagan extolled (illegal) space war technology in his famous Star Wars speech.

At the time the US has an enormous surplus under the Clinton administration. Then it looks like all the surplus went down a rabbit hole. Did it go into black ops, NRO space war projects and the propaganda programs to promote them? =POOF!= Surplus gone.

Think of the flu warnings/scare put forward  by big pharma investors and x-presidents. They tout worldwide ‘flu vulnerability’ and along comes bird ‘flu’ then H1N1 (that first appeared at a Latin American conference Obama and Chavez attended) and other mega-flus a year or two after that. And a pre-packaged “solution” is offered that happens to greatly enrich those calling the alarm 1-2 years in advance.

This is playing out in the same way with meteor  ‘invasion’.

A year or two ahead some big think tank and war-profiteer science geeks claim the world is suddenly at risk from in-coming meteors or asteroids. They do not disclose for decades the US has secretly launched innumerable (illegal) space weapons to orbit Earth or go into deep space.  They have an unlimited black budget to do what they want.

Oh, wow — suddenly — a very unlikely, space attack. Meteors! Asteroids! Gee … we need to SPEND MORE MONEY ON SPACE to fix it!

See - Glimpses of America’s Man-Made Disasters for details.

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USA, Britain and France Will Stop At Nothing To Keep Russian Aviation Down

17 08 2012
 By Trowbridge H. Ford
 
When the Cold War ended, and the Soviet Union went belly up, Russia’s industries had the greatest difficulties staying afloat. While it had many important ones in the defense field, the end of the East-West conflict while the Warsaw Treaty Organization was collapsing meant that they no longer had a captive market for their weapons, and, consequently, saw a serious decline in the size and scope of their sales. The best products were in military aircraft, and submarines capable of carrying nuclear weapons which could interest hardly any civilian customers because they did not have the distances, needs and clientele of the former Soviet Union. They had little need for long-range military transports, and giant, allegedly unsinkable nuclear submarines like the Kursk as they had neither the territory nor the coastline for any such purchases. The Russian defense establishment could only hope for upgrading military hardware, especially jet fighters that countries had already bought, and repairing what little material remained.
 
Russian military equipment was the consequence of how it had developed into a world power. When the Bolsheviks look over from the Tsar, the country was a loosely-tied federation of states of essentially an agrarian nature which had a well-educated elite, and incredible potential which was hardly developed. Stalin certainly recognized the basic problems when he gained power, and he soon took the most drastic steps to reduce its risks of being eliminated by anti-Soviet interests. In the process, an aeronautical interest, led by the promising designer Andrei Tupolev, was essentially reduced to the state’s miliary requirements. By most draconian measures, Stalin tried to bridge the military gap between the USSR, and the West – what he had little resources for accomplishing except brute force.  The rural population was made to pay at barely subsistence wages for the development of the country’s infrastructure, and the build up its military capability to defend itself from attack on a shoe-string basis.
 
The best evidence of this was shown in the nature of Soviet aviation. Moscow never really thought of developing a long-range bomber – the Spanish Civil War teaching it all the wrong lessons about modern warfare – and civil aviation suffered because of it since all the USSR’s immediate enemies, the Poles, Germans, Baltics, and Scandinavians were close at hand. Even Soviet intelligence was much more interested in recruiting like-minded foreigners, and what their governments were planning on doing rather than how they planned to do it in terms of men and equipment. Stalin concentrated upon the Soviets obtaining Western aviation technology openly rather than developing their own as he did not have that much trust in his scientists. As a result, Moscow was still well behind when the Germans finally attacked in 1941 – its fighters, dive and medium-range bombers, though incredibly great in number, were hardly a match for the Luftwaffe’s latest creations.
 
The Soviets had not benefitted either by the alleged treason of Red Army’s Chief of Armament’s Marshal M. N. Tukhachevskii with the Nazis.Their joint testing of weapons contrary to the terms of the Versailles Treaty had given Moscow all the wrong ideas about what Berlin was planning. While Tukhachevskii was a big advocate of developing rockets, his followers – i. e.,  Tupolev, Sergei Korolev, and Valentin Glushko – were the core of designers for Soviet aviation, and paid accordingly for their alleged disaffection.  (David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb, p. 146) Korolev worked for Tupolev’s design section of prisoner scientists after a spell in the Kolyma gulag. Tupolev was still in the doghouse for having pushed the development of the TB-3 strategic bomber which had set some distance records but had proven of little value in Spain.
 
Little wonder that after the war, the Soviets were still playing catch-up, especially thanks to Western help of an official or covert nature, when it came to aviation. Again Moscow imitated Western technology with mixed results. For example, Stalin rejected People’s Commissar A. I. Sakhurin’s proposal that Soviet scientists should develop their own jets.  “On April 24, 1946 the Lak (Lavochin) -15  and the MiG-9 fighters, using German JUMO-004 and BMW-003 jet engines,” Holloway wrote, “made their first flight.  Shakhurin was soon replaced and sent to prison.” (p. 147)     
 
The Mikoyan MiG-15 and the Yakolev-15 were even powered by Soviet modified Rolls-Royce Derwent and Nene engines – what allegedly produced this surprised response from the Soviet leader. – “What kind of fool would be willing to sell his secrets.” (Quoted from p. 235.)
 
It was only during the ‘fifties – while Stalin was disappearing from the scene – that Soviet aeronautical engineers were able to design and build the latest jet interceptors, the MiG-19 and the Yak-25.
 
The same problem plagued the design of a long-range bomber – the prerequisite for a viable international commercial aviation – as Stalin was always sticking his nose in it. The best one it had was the Tupolev Tu-4 – named in honor of the rehabilitated Tupolev – based upon captured American B-29s, and really obsolete by the time it appeared in any numbers. It had taken too long a time for Tupolev to find the right engine for it, the Mikulin AM-03. Piston engines, though, could just not produce enough speed to outrun enemy interceptors.
 
What was required was similar jet engines for the bombers, but Stalin was hooked on the idea of turbo jets which Tupolev would not accept, though the Soviet leader ordered him to do so but this time without any backing down. A four-engine turbojet bomber required too much fuel to be an effective long-range one. Stalin still got his way with V. M. Miasishchev building the plane (aka the “Bison” by NATO), but it never overcome its refueling problems. Ultimately, Tupolev too built his four-engine, turbopropeller bomber, the Tu-95 aka the “Bear” by NATO.
 
The biggest trouble with these planes was that neither had a prospect of becoming a viable commercial airliner for the isolated USSR.  The “Bear” could fly at the speed of sound, and had a range of over 12,000 kilometers, but it only had a payload of 11 metric tons – hardly the making of a commercial airliner,.  The “Bison” was even faster, but it had a much shorter range, and could carry hardly more when it come to payload. It was only because nuclear devices became much lighter and versatile that the planes had even any military value.
 
It was about this time that the Soviet rocket scientists took over the main strategic needs of the country, and aviation, except for the building of better interceptors and cargo planes, became a backwater in the field.  The most amusing illustration of this occurred when Miasishchev claimed that his 201M bomber was really an intercontinental one since the refueling problem could be solved by having it land in Mexico after dropping its nukes rather than returning to the USSR. Khrushchev snapped back: “What do you think Mexico is – our mother-in-law? You think we can simply go calling any time we want? The Mexicans would never let us have the plane back.” (Quoted from Khrushchev Remembers, p. 71.)
 
What little prospect large Soviet planes had for either military or civilian purposes dried up essentially with détente – Moscow agreeing to the ABM Treaty and the Strategic Limitation Arms Treaties (SALT-1 and II)). By setting the number of strategic missiles a country could have, the number of strategic bombers it had too became essentially an unimportant issue.
 
While Bears and Bison took part in Moscow’s traditional May Day parades – showing their ability to deliver the bombs along with the massive missiles on display – they were considered irrelevant by the Reagan administration when it and Thatcher’s government decided to end the Cold War with Moscow at Olof Palme’s expense on February 28, 1986.  While the plan was to be kicked off by US and Nato submarines sinking Soviet boomers as they hurriedly went on station in reaction to the surprise, the National  Reconnaissance Office’s Keyhole radar satellite was to prevent any Soviet ICBMs from becoming airborne by destroying them while they were still on the ground being fueled. As for Soviet strategic bombers, they were to be deposed of, like the Wehrmacht accomplished in the opening days of Operation Barbarossa, while still on the ground when Nato’s Anchor Express Exercise was mopping up on the Kola peninsula what was left of Soviet resistance.  Fortunately, Soviet counterintelligence and countermeasures, the failure of the Space Shuttle Challenger to put the satellite into space, mutinies by the crucial Atlantic Fleet Commander Admiral Carl Trost, and avalanches in Norway’s’ Vassdalen which killed many of its engineers prevented this all from happening. 
For more, see this link:  http://codshit.blogspot.se/2004/06/olof-palmes-assassination-operation.html 
 
Tupolev’s son Alexei tried to bridge the gaps between Soviet aviation and the West by designing and building the Tu-144, a competitor of the British-French built Concorde, but it was sabotaged at the 1973 Le Bourget Air Show when it was taking off by an unannounced small plane, allegedly involved in photographing it, getting in its way. It forced the Tu-144 into a drastic maneuver to avoid a mid-air collision, but in swerving out of the way, it engaged in maneuvers which the plane could not withstand, breaking up and then exploding when it hit the ground, killing the crew, and several people on the ground. Instead of becoming the Concorde’s real competitor, it was soon cast aside by anyone interested.
For more, see this link:  http://indrus.in/articles/2012/05/12/did_sabotage_crash_the_sukhoi_superjet_15732.html
 
The sad state of Soviet aviation and international transport, especially of a long-range nature, was well on display when the Berlin Wall came down and USSR finally collapsed. The only international carrier was Aeroflot, and its fleet was almost totally made up of Boeing and Airbus planes, thanks considerably to the sabotaging of the Tupolev Tu-144.  As Roderic Braithwaite noted in Across The Moscow River  when he returned to Russia as Britain’s Ambassador:  “Moscow was a patently run-down city.  Apart from one huge placard high on the Moscow skyline which exhorted the citizens to ‘FLY AEROFLOT’ (an unnecessay injunction in a country with huge distances and only one airline)…” (p. 46) Of course, all the old designers of planes  for limited travel were still around – e. g., Ilyushin, Irkut, and Sukhoi – but they did not have the resources and clientele to produce anything much better.
 
Moreover, conditions only became worse during the Boris Yeltsin years. The worst thing that happened was the 5th Congress of People’s Deputies giving Yeltsin the power to rule by decree and to implement economic reform in the fall of 1991 before a constitution had been adopted, and the state rebuilt. “It was Yeltsin,” Lilia Shevtsova wrote in Russia: Lost in Translation, “who could not stop infighting among the elite, and handed power to his favorites, enabled cliques to help themselves to state property, and allowed Russia to drift back toward authoritarianism.” (p. 32) The stealing was the price that Yeltsin had to pay to get re-elected as President. and once the oligarchs were in power, their “natural monopolies” were assisted in impoverishing Russia by outside developers, IMF and World Bank credits, and NATO’s enragement.
 
LIttle wonder that the new President, Vladimir Putin, tried to regain control of its assets, organizations and potential.  While oligarchs like Boris Berezovski. Roman Abramovich, and  Vladimir Potamin were being pushed aside, Putin appointed a new set of oligarchs to take back what was in Russia’s national interest. “The creation of national champion companies is proceeding apace,” Shevtsova wrote, “with Gazprom and Rosneft swallowing smaller companies, Aeroflot buying up regional airlines, and companies that design and construct aircraft (Sukhoy, Mig, Irkut, Tupolev, and IIlyushin) merging.” (p. 123) To stop the continuing purchasing of Airbus and Boeing planes – what Aeroflot was still buying in quantity as late as the spring of 2007 – Sukhoi built and perfected Super Jet 100 in the hope of finally breaking the habit.
For more about the plane, see this link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukhoi_Superjet_100
 
The possibilities of the Sukhoi plane at Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport were obvious.  The airport, built by Boeing’s holding company back in 1928, and maintained by Lockheed-Martin recently, needed an addition like the Super Jet 100 to its fleet of planes which used its runways often but with some risk because they were quite short, and had been the scene of too many accidents.  Also, the airport is having trouble expanding because of opposition by residents, and their complaints about its noise and emissions.  The performance of the Sukhoi plane seemed an ideal solution, if purchased by its ten or so carriers, to the complaints, and some of them were investigating possible purchases, once it was fully approved by the authorities on February 3, 2012.
 
What was developing could not have missed the attention of the resident FBI agent Steven Ivens who had worked for the Los Angeles Police Department in counterterrorism for many years before joining the Bureau three years ago in Burbank, especially since the airport had its own police force which needed to be informed about what was afoot, and what its feedback was.  Seems Ivens was well informed about the airport’s problems, and the potential that Sukhoi sales had in solving them. Ivens may have even heard about this from licensed pilot, and sales consultant Peter Adler who, though he lived in central California’s Oakley, was often on the scene for flights and possible purchases. Adler was a most affable fellow who made friends most easily, and would talk their ears off about what he was doing. 
 
Of course, Boeing was quite aware of what was going on, and took steps to stop it.  As Britain and France had helped it and themselves in the crash of the Tupolev Tu-144, it was now Washington’s turn to put Russian aviation back in its place. Seems that the plane’s air conditioning system was sabotaged, either to break down while in flight or start emitting smoke which would understandably alarm any potential buyers on a demonstration flight – what Adler was scheduled to do on May 9th for Indonesian Sriwinjaya Airlines as a pilot and consultant.
 
As with most plots though, things did not happen just as planned.  When the cabin started smoking up, the pilot asked immediately the air traffic controllers to descend from 10,000 feet to 6,000 feet, and they simply left the decision up to him.  He continued the flight plan at that attitude until the plane crashed into the volcano, Mount Salak – a notorious danger, and in an almost impenetrable environment – killing all 45 passengers on board.
 
When the full passenger manifest was released the next day, Agent Ivens, who had been becoming increasingly depressed about what might occur, was shocked to see that Adler was one of the victims.The news made Ivens recall some of the rumors that had been flying around about the demonstrations, and since Adler was an innocent American, Ivens decided to contact former Bureau agent Donald Sachtleben about what he thought about the alleged accident.  Sachtleben had a long history of investigating such incidents, going all the way back to the Unibomber’s smoke bomb attacks on American carriers, and culminating with the 9/11 attacks in which thousands of Americans were needlessly killed.  They arranged to meet on the morning of May 11th to discuss the matter further.
 
The only trouble was that the National Security Agency (NSA) picked up the conversation, and its Special Collection Services (SPS) apparently arranged the fixing of the problem.  It is the continuing service that William King Harvey started for the CIA’s Division D  to carry out assassinations, and the only real change is that it has much more sophisticated electronic equipment for locating targets. In this case, SPS agents seem to have kidnapped Ivens while on his way to meet Sachtleben, and then took him to the mountains nearby where he was kept until he could be killed, and his body placed where it could finally be found – what occurred about three weeks ago.  Sachtleben, not knowing what had happened to Ivens, finally made his way back to Indianapolis where he was arrested by police when he returned home for possessing child pornography on his computers – what NSA had also located.
 
To put the icing on the cake, The Bureau and agents of the Diplomatic Service played a charade where stand-ins for Ivens and Sachtleben acted out a little scene for the benefit of the Russians’  Chief Consul in San Francisco Vladimir Vinokuro while he was staying in an L.A. hotel.  The stand-ins acted as if they were reporting a domestic act of terrorism in which the perpetrators were “all insane”, and then the alleged Ivens ran off to the hills where the authorities were warning the public that he is armed, and possibly dangerous. 
 
The stand-in for Sachtleben simply disappeared, along with all the evidence about what really happened to the Sukhoi Super Jet 100.       
For more about the incident, see this link but be careful about selecting fact for fancy: http://www.fireflyfans.net/mthread.aspx?bid=18&tid=52190
 






Cold War Enemies of US Get the SHAKES!

12 08 2012

The Flying Cuttlefish Picayune crack research team has been paying particular interest to Trowbridge H. Ford’s exposé on the NSA (National Security Agency) and its bastard child, the NRO (National Reconnaisance Office) and their utilization of earthquake making weapons.

From his series “Glimpses of America’s Man-Made Disasters”, Part One:

 And by this time, Admiral Studeman had managed to become NSA’s director, and was interested in what KH-12 satellites could really do rather than make them simply survivable in the event of a Soviet attack – what the previous director General William Odom was obsessed with. Studeman was able to work easily behind the back of his nominal superior, DCI Judge William Webster, who had been selected to clean up the Agency’s image after the Iran-Contra scandal.

While the world was occupied with the West’s growing confrontation with Saddam Hussein, Washington apparently pulled a surprise on the troublesome Iranians, causing an earthquake in its northwest along the Iraqi border around the towns of Rudbar and Manjil on June 20, 1990 – reminiscent to what the Russians had done 14 years earlier in North China. The 7.7 quake on the Richter scale killed or injured 370,000 people, and forced Tehran to concentrate on helping its beleaguered citizens rather than offering any possible assistance to the cornered Iraqi leader. The mullahs had been looking for settling scores with Washington ever since one of its ships shot down an Iranian airliner in 1988.

The satellite’s laser had taken advantage of the sandy terrain, and the shoddy construction of the area’s buildings, causing a series of rapid earthquakes to occur in the middle of the night – when the most devastation would happen – along the line where the Arabian and Eurasian plates collided. It was the largest eathquake in that part of the Caspain region in 1,200 years. Given the presence of extensive qanat systems in the area for the collection of water, it was easy to heat up from overhead the passageways to underground collection chambers until the sand collapsed, causing the resulting goo to shift, and everything based upon it too.

And from Part Two:

 The NRO’s covert surprise had been the sinking of the area around Izmit, Turkey with a deadly earthquake early on the morning of August 17, 1999. It was Washington’s punishment of the extremely nationalistic government of Mustafa Ecevit for assisting Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosovic during NATO’s bombardment of Serbia because of its military occupation of Kosovo.. . .
AND
. . . . Washington demonstrated what it had in mind for enemies who questioned its military unilateralism when Iran’s mullahs were suspected of stoking up the chaos in Iraq, and hoping to take strategic advantage of it – what threatened to become an utter fiasco if its Shias joined a nuclear-armed Iran. The interim Prime Minister was Ibrahim al-Jafari, a Shiite who suited Bremer’s plans to exclude the defeated Sunnis as much as possible from power. “The outcome,” Noam Chomsky wrote in Failed States, “could be a loose Shiite-dominated alliance comprising Iraq, Iran, and the oil regions of Saudi Arabia, independent of Washington and controlling the bulk of the world’s energy resources.” (p. 145)

With the NRO apparently in the official doghouse – Director Teets eager to take advantage of its arms in space – it was easy to cause a devastating 6.3 earthquake in Bam, Iran at 5.26 a.m. local time on December 26, 2003 after its latest Misty satellite had heated up the city’s ancient qanat system every 90 minutes its passed over. Bam had a vast underground collection system of water, including many deep wells, and 341 qanats to irrigate its fields of date palms, and supply water to its 100,000 residents. About 40,000 of them were killed in the airborne-caused earthquake, and another 30,000 injured. Its ancient citadel, its source of tourism, and a UNESCO treasure, was totally destroyed in the disasster.

In light of recent news we are putting up some links below.

Item: Today: Very strong and shallow earthquake M6.3 hit mountain region of Xinjiang, China
Item:  Today: 6.3 Quake in North China

Item:  Today: A Summer Storm Spins Over Arctic and (Voila!) The Northwest Passage is free
   

Item: Yesterday - Two extremely dangerous earthquakes M6.4 and M6.3 struck northwestern Iran
 

Item:  Yesterday - It’s Not HAARP! It’s Not HAARP!  Unusual cloud pattern over Brisbane
 

Item: Aug. 2nd, Enroute to China Typhoon dumps 5 feet[!] of rain on Taiwan
 
Item: July 22nd, Massive rainfall kills 10 in Beijing
 

Item: July 8th, [BEFORE the recent deluges] China’s Three Gorges Dam at full capacity
 

Item: June 24th, Shallow and deadly earthquake M5.7 hit Sichuan-Yunnan border region, China
 

Item: Way back in 2002, China weather patterns out of sorts

But something different was happening: The places being flooded were part of China’s arid belt — regions unaccustomed to dealing with so much water at once. Residents, many of them deeply poor, were blindsided.

“Physically, the people were not prepared — and definitely, psychologically, they were unprepared,”

ALSO –  

Map of rainfall anamolies in China 

 CloudSat picture of Severe Tropical Storm Kammuri
 Today, From Iran – Preliminary Earthquake Report on Ahar-Varzaghan Earthquakes
Glimpses of America’s Man-Made Disasters

SMOKING GUN! US Advanced Weapons Used to Create Haiti Quake & Japan Quake/Tsunami
Pure Evil Tasks Performed by Sub Named After Jimmy Carter

  



 





A History of the National Reconnaissance Office – part 6

28 06 2012

By Trowbridge H. Ford

 

While the Plumbers’ attempted assassination on May 15, 1972 of former Alabama Governor George Wallace assured President Nixon’s re-election in the November poll, it just increased the danger of their conspiracies being discovered during the trial of suspected assassin Arthur Bremer, some conspirator or person in the know turning whistleblower, or the deceased FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover – who they had apparently dispatched earlier to clear the way for the killing of the potentially most dangerous third-party candidate – having made some arrangement for their exposure if something like this happened, especially irrefutable evidence from the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) that it had been recording LBJ’s telephone messages at his Texas ranch about ending the war in Vietnam at the height of the 1968 presidential campaign.  The White House and the Plumbers from the NRO, in sum, had to do everything they could to eliminate all suspicion that they had the motive, capability, and opportunity to kill the troublesome Southerner.
 
 The NRO was still officially an even more evanescent agency than its parent, the National Security Agency (NSA) aka No Such Agency.  It was only during Robert McNamara’s tenure at the Pentagon that it even got a toe-hold on what it designed, produced, and used for gathering signal intelligence, thanks to the SoD getting a director, like Alexander Flax, he could work with. Until then, as his successor John McLucas told the Defense Acquisition History Project on June 5, 2001, and shortly before he died, there had been such competition between it and the Air Force about how to produce planes and satellites, and such a circulation of leadership between government employment and the military-industrial complex because of congressional limitations on conflict of interest that the NRO was directed operationally by little more than uniformed personnel among its ranks who could order missions that NSA approved of.
 
 The best example of this was when Brigadier Jack Ledford apparently wanted a U-2 surveillance flight over Cuba to see if Castro was establishing a Soviet military presence on the island. .When the new NSA Director, Vice Admiral Lawrence Hugh (Jack) Frost, heard about it, he gave Ledford and other covert operators a dressing down in typical inter-service rivalry fashion which no one else appreciated, as James Bamford has quoted in Body of Secrets: ” ‘I saw him chew out Frank Raven, Bill Ray (senior NSA officials), and some Air Force brigadier general in a briefing,’ said Robert D. Farley, a former NSA historian. ‘Just the finger-on-the-chest bit.’ ” (.p. 96) Frost’s replacement, Air Force Lieutenant General Gordon Blake, learned the lesson all too well, though, when it came for aerial reconnaissance over the island during the Missile Crisis itself and its settlement, as the fate of downed U-2 pilots Major Rudolf Anderson and Captain Joe Glenn Hyde, Jr. indicated.
 
 Little wonder that McNamara replaced Blake at NSA after he had organized a united service effort to take the fight to the North Vietnamese to insure LBJ’s election with Army General Marshall Carter taking his place, and Dr. McLucas becoming the Air Force undersecretary to manage the NRO’s procurement of weapons, and operations..He got the agency to move beyond the cost-plus and fixed contract way of getting them, with suppliers having to pay back whatever they had received if the weapon did not prove capable, and reliable as they had claimed. Then the NRO returned to first building prototypes for the components of the Rhyoline satellites which the aerospace firm TRW was producing for it rather than just dream up something, like the Air Force was doing with a trial-and-error approach, in the hope that they worked. The pains-taking process of building complicated satellites was carried out at its M-4 facility in Redondo Beach, California, and the first one was put in geosynchronous orbit above Borneo, and its take was downloaded to a facility at Australia’s Pine Bluff in 1970. (For more, see  Bamford, p. 367ff.)
 
 The process became even smoother when former Congressman Melvin Laird became SoD, and David Packard, CEO of the giant electronics firm, joined him as deputy. For more, see this link:  http://www.history.army.mil/acquisition/research/int_mclucus.html
 
 To persuade Wallace that the White House had had nothing to do with the eavesdropping which almost cost him his life, Nixon arranged for political affairs assistant Harry Dent to visit Wallace in the hospital in Maryland, and Nixon’s personal physician William Lukash to check on his current condition.  To make sure that such concern was not considered politically intrusive, Senator Strom Thurmond was contacted to make sure that it was approved, and Nixon Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman was instructed to see what Wallace wanted, to “see if we can make a deal with him.”  (The Haldeman Diaries, June 12, 1972, p. 470)  Nixon worked on Reverend Billy Graham to make sure that the wounded Wallace stayed within the Democratic Party after its convention, making sure that he did not play the spoiler, and elect Senator McGovern even if it required a $750,000 payoff for his staff.
 
 To seal Wallace’s assurance that he would not run, former Texas Governor and Treasury Secretary John B. Connally paid Wallace a visit still in hospital.  Of course, Connally was an ideal choice, having himself been injured as presidential timber when he was almost assassinated when JFK was gunned down in Dallas.  To pressure Wallace still further, he contended that he was thinking of mounting a presidential campaign himself, and was desirous of hiring some of Wallace’s staff if he wasn’t. Wallace said to wait until the American Party convention occurred, as some kind of miracle might occur to make him change his mind.  “John was convinced that this is the most significant day in the campaign,” Haldeman concluded, “because Wallace is not going to run.” (Ibid., July 25, 1972, p. 486) 
 
 Bremer’s trial was expedited because the White House took over the investigation of the crime from Maryland officials, and saw to his prosecution as quickly as possible – before even Wallace’s ultimate state of health was determined.  Hours after the attempted assassination, Nixon took the unprecedented step of calling Assistant FBI Director Mark Felt for apparently the only time, softening him up to work the White House’s will by expressing the hope that Bremer had been “worked over pretty good” when he had been apprehended. Then the President told Felt that he didn’t want the murder inquiry extended by any slip-ups, as had occurred in the JFK assassination, and had caused them to become a national preoccupation.  “We’ll take care of that,” Felt reassured Nixon, as was reported by the AP in 2005 year, and puts to rest the claim that he was the whistle-blowing “Deep Throat”.  (For more on the real “Deep Throat”, see my two articles about Al Haig in my archive.)
 
 And Bremer’s court-appointed counsel, Benjamin Lipsitz, completely compromised his defense by introducing his alleged 137-page diary to help establish his irresponsible “schizophrenic” character, what began with him writing that he was setting out to assassinate either Nixon or Wallace – what rendered the President innocent of anything.  With the President off the hook as being behind the attempted murder, the court made short work of the defense, especially since the expert witnesses were evenly divided over Bremer’s mental state, resulting in his being given a 63-year sentence.  While it was reduced ten years in an unsuccessful appeal of the verdict, the Bureau belatedly investigated the crime for another eight years – resulting in the 26-volume WalShot file which only added suspicions of a White House conspiracy, and the dying Wallace in 1996 endorsed.
 
 While all this prevented any dangerous blowback from Wallace’s shooting, it did nothing to solve the question of what the Bureau’s deceased Director knew about Plumber operations – what had apparently led to his murder – and what measures he might have taken to guarantee their disclosure in case anything happened to him.  After all, most people have a lawyer, even if one is only to make up the terms of a will, and see to its execution after death, and Hoover, being such an important, controversial figure for so long, undoubtedly had one. 
 
 Yet, in reading biographies of him, one cannot find the name of any lawyer he could have trusted enough to have made him his own counsel – only the names of ones he hated, and tried to discredit with the help of other lawyers.  For example, Hoover used good friend and New York attorney Morris L. Ernst in this capacity to protect his and the Bureau’s reputation against Max Lowenthal’s proposed exposé of the FBI, but he, as Curt Gentry wrote in a footnote in J. Edgar Hoover, “objected, more than once, to Ernst characterizing himself as his ‘personal attorney’.” (p. 233) 
 
 Hoover’s personal attorney when he died was apparently Lawrence O’Brien, an employee of the Hughes Tool Company, and now the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) whose offices were in the Watergate.  Of course, both Nixon and Hoover had various relationships with the reclusive airplane, and film maker. The President and Felt had to worry that the former Director knew more than just brother Donald Nixon’s dealings with Hughes regarding financial and sexual irregularities, and that Hoover had passed the information to White House “enemies”  – what the Assistant Director had superficially covered up.  Now the fear allegedly was that the Cuban security service was passing information to the DNC about  Nixon’s attempts, with Hughes’s help, to assassinate the Cuban leader – the blowback from which resulted in JFK’s murder, and which LBJ would be in an ideal position to exploit.   
 
 Besides, O’Brien, as LBJ’s Postmaster General, had crossed the Director right after the Dallas assassination, as no one else had, in his dealing with former agent and now Connecticut Senator Thomas Dodd, exposing the Bureau’s interception of a letter that a disgruntled staff assistant had sent to muckraker Jack Anderson, only for Hoover to find out that Dodd was hoping to replace him at the Bureau. Until then, Hoover had been making sure that the Bureau did nothing to uncover Dodd’s criminal ways.   “It was the unpardonable sin,” Gentry concluded. (p. 592)  O’Brien, on the other hand, gained the Director’s good graces.
 
 O’Brien had the closest relation possible with the eccentric billionaire and his company. In 1953, Hughes had turned over all his stock in the company to the Hughes Medical Company, a tax-exempt charity registered in Delaware which carried on medical research.  In 1968, when Congress was considering ending such exemptions, Hughes political operator Robert Maheu, who knew all about William King Harvey’s assassination plots against Castro and others, hired O’Brien to make sure that this didn’t happen, and O’Brien secured its continued exemption. This was when the Hughes empire was deeply involved in secret programs for the government, especially Senior Vice President at the Aircraft Company Tony Iorillo’s plan to design and build a gyrostat satellite for the NRO (Explorer 50) – lifting their size limitation, complexity and capabilities. (For details, see Bamford, pp. 343-6.)
 
 As Bamford described, despite the satellite’s capability, its messages just at this time from Firebase Sarge in Vietnam were completely ignored by NSA when the North Vietnamese build-up, north of the DMZ, occurred during January and February, 1972. NSA was too busy extending the satellite network that the NRO was constructing over the globe to read what was its take.On March 30th,  the North Vietnamese attacked, and staged the biggest victory over American and South Vietnamese forces since the Tet-offensive back in 1968.  This Easter offensive left no trace of either the Explorer system, or the defeat on the battlefield with the American public. “The war was over,” Bamford concluded, “and the United States had lost.” (p. 346)
 
 John Mitchell, now chairman of the Campaign to Re-Elect the President, and his chief adviser, Frederick LaRue, were so afraid of O’Brien’s potential to cause trouble in this environment that they ordered a break-in, and bugging of the DNC at the Watergate on March 20, 1972 – what had to be postponed until both Hoover and Wallace were put out of the way, as I have already explained.  They were particularly interested in finding out if O’Brien had somehow gotten vital information from Hoover, especially NRO documents about Nixon’s “November Surprise” in the 1968 election, the Plumbers’ composition and operations, the destruction of the Explorer system monitoring the DMZ in Vietnam, and the unexpected presence of the Secret Service agents in Bremer’s apartment when Bureau agents, thanks to Felt’s direction, arrived.  It was suspected that O’Brien was still receiving similar information – what could constitute a Democratic “November Surprise” in the upcoming presidential election, resulting in an instruction also to tap his telephone and to bug his office.
 
 The results were two break-ins of the DNC, the first one on Sunday, May 28th, and the second on June 17th, after several, it seems, false starts – what might well have been invented after the burglars were arrested to give the false impression of how unprofessional the operation had been from the outset. (For more on this, see Fred Emery, Watergate, p. 118ff.)  The trouble with the first break-in was that its one successful tap was not on a phone being used by O’Brien. Furthermore, the CRP was no longer interested in current party activities but what the DNC, as J. Gordon Liddy later explained, “…had of a derogatory nature about us, not for us to get something on him. (Quoted from Emery, p. 125.  Italics Liddy’s) 
 
 Of course, the best source of such information would be Hoover’s own files or copies of them – what the Plumbers went back in the hope of photographing three weeks later. “They want everything in the files,” former CIA security agent James McCord explained to an incredulous Howard Hunt, the mission’s operational chief who had put together the forged documents (code name GEMSTONE), implicating JFK in the assassination of South Vietnamese President Diem. 
 
 While the new mission planned to take pictures of 1,800 documents in files in the office on 50 rolls of film – what required having a key somehow to Secretary to the Director of the State Chairman Ida “Maxie” Wells’ desk where all the necessary file cabinet keys were kept. They were to photograph incriminating evidence the DNC had regarding Nixon – e.g., the Director’s file of infra-red photos that the CIA had engaged MI6 to take in Hong Kong when alleged Red Chinese spy Marianna Liu visited Nixon’s bedroom, the recorded messages of South Vietnam’s “November Surprise” which torpedoed Humphrey’s election, the defeat there which NRO’s Explorer system had recorded, etc.  
 
 The Plumber mission was deliberately sabotaged by McCord failing to remove the tapes from doors down to the garage-level entrance he used to re-enter the complex, fearing apparently that a successful operation would so reveal misdoings by the Agency that the White House would be bound to take drastic action against it. Of course, this reason had to be covered up in all accounts by all kinds of bogus claims – Hoover was just protecting disclosure of his homosexuality rather than that at the White House, the Agency was protecting itself for having arranged on its own for Hughes to build the Glomar Explorer to raise a sunken Soviet nuclear submarine (Project Jennifer), the DNC was protecting itself against disclosure of a sex ring John W. Dean’s bride-to-be was helping run from it to blackmail politicians, especially Republicans, etc. 
 
 The arrest of the five burglars – followed shortly thereafter by those of Hunt, Liddy and lookout Alfred Baldwin – made what they were trying to photograph hardly a concern at all.  The White House was most eager just to dismiss it as an ill-conceived rogue operation, and when it couldn’t, it tried to get the Bureau to just stick to the suspects, and the Agency to provide a national security cover against it being exposed while behind the scenes it attempted to secure the silence in various ways of those accused, and others involved, particularly Plumber secretary Kathleen Chenow.  If she started talking to the Bureau, all the White House plots risked being exposed. 
 
 Dean, the President’s counsel, was responsible for keeping the cover up under control, especially her. (See Emery, p. 201)  The basic details of the cover-ups were contained in the June 20th tape of the conversation between Nixon and Haldeman in the EOB – what became known ultimately as the “181/2 minute gap” and “the smoking gun” when, in fact, the whole discussion had been erased. “The conclusion was,” Nixon’s Chief of Staff wrote in his diaries, “that we’ve got to hope that the FBI doesn’t go beyond what’s necessary in developing evidence and that we can keep a lid on that, as well as keeping all the characters involved from getting carried away with unnecessary testimony.” (p. 473)
 
 For the Oval Office, the immediate problems were to get John Mitchell to give up being CRP Chairman, O’Brien to give up any thoughts of helping torpedo somehow Nixon’s re-election, and Vice President Spiro Agnew to step aside so that former Treasury Secretary John B. Connally could take his place on the Republican ticket – what would render any SIGINT intelligence about them or had by them as benign as possible. Lookout Baldwin had indicated to his lawyers that he was willing to go after Mitchell, and while he didn’t have the evidence to prove his case, it was feared that O’Brien did, especially since he issued a statement stating that the break-in “raised the ugliest question about the integrity of the political process that I have encountered in a quarter century of political activity.”  (Quoted from Emery, p. 159.)
 
 To force Mitchell’s resignation, his wife Martha, who was campaigning for the President’s re-election, started speaking out wildly about her husband, claiming Nixon’s henchmen Erlichman and Haldeman had called her husband at the crack of dawn in California to inform him of the arrests. Then she made hysterical calls to the famous UP White House reporter, Helen Thomas, claiming that her husband was involved in Watergate, and that she was going to kick him out of the house “…if John didn’t get out of politics…” – a conversation she terminated by pulling the phone line out of the wall.  Bob Woodward paid a visit to her Essex House apartment in NYC to get an exclusive interview in which she stated she was writing a book about the “dirty politics” which were required to get statesmen like Nixon elected.  Because of Martha’s erratic behavior – conveniently assumed to be the result of her growing alcoholism – Mitchell resigned at the end of June.
 
 O’Brien, instead of getting the inquiry he demanded about the break-in, was subjected to a wide-ranging criminal investigation, and political attacks while the White House continued to manage its cover-up of Plumber operations.The Justice Department and the IRS started a criminal inquiry into his possible tax evasion on the Howard Hughes yearly retainer – what was serious enough to scare him off from being Senator George McGovern’s Vice Presidential candidate. 
 
 Besides, LBJ was unwilling to endorse McGovern because he thought he was all wrong about Vietnam, promising to work behind the scenes to help Nixon’s re-election.  Ultimately, the pursuit of O’Brien on unpaid taxes for $190,000 from Hughes would turn out to be a “dry hole”, as Erlichman reported in September – as he was cleared in an IRS audit – but the threat had been good enough to move him out of the picture, as he obviously did not want a detailed scrutiny of his finances.
 
 Getting rid of Agnew was a more difficult matter, as he was Vice President, and the only real successor to Nixon was Connally, though he did not think that he could follow the President by becoming Spiro’s successor. Besides, Agnew was the vital connection to the Mafia, and able to mobilize Democrats for Nixon by his bitter attacks on McGovern, though bringing his own psychological soundness into question in the process.  Frank Sinatra, leader of Hollywood’s Rat Pack who had just arranged Mafioso Angelo DeCarlo’s early release from prison and pardon through Agnew by giving John Dean $100,000 in cash as an “unrecorded contribution”, and another $50,000 to the CRP, was most unhappy with having to deal with Connally now in such matters – what was resolved by having the singer lead a celebrity reception at the Residence.
 
 More important, Agnew had been responsible for the appointment of Chalres C. Richey, a Democrat, as a federal judge whose ex-parte statements about the $1,000,000 civil-damage action the DNC had initiated against the CRP’s Maurice Stans for the break-in, and whose pushing for a plea-bargain settlement of a Mann Act prosecution of Phillip Bailley proved most beneficial to the White House. Richey”…told Roemer,” counsel for the RNC, Dean told Nixon,”he thought Maury (Stans) ought to file a counter libel action.” (Quoted from Silent Coup, 226.)  The criminal prosecution of Bailley similarly got nowhere when the judge said to the parties that it was in the interest of all to settle the action without further inquiry. The only party whose interest was served by the settlement was John Dean’s as Bailley, as his address book showed, was helping run a prostitution ring out of the DNC to get dirt on its politicians with the help of Dean’s wife-to-be, Maureen Biner.
 
 In sum, nothing was done to get rid of Agnew until the prosecution of the Plumbers, and Nixon’s re-election was successfully negotiated.  Of course, the coup de grace to the Democrats had been National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger’s apparently arranging a successful conclusion to the Vietnam War. The settlement was essentially what LBJ had negotiated back in 1968, though this time there was no trouble, it seemed, from President Thieu after Kissinger went to Saigon to get him to go along.  “We’d have everything done by the end of the year,” Kissinger told Nixon, DNSA Haig, and Haldeman on October 12th. 
 
 Unfortunately, the NSA did not even reach a settlement, much less its implementation by year’s end – as Thieu was increasingly objecting to what was being proposed – inducing Nixon to appoint Agnew to force him to agree: “He is to convince Thieu as leader of the hawks,” Haldeman wrote in his diaries, “that there will be no support for him unless he goes along.” (p. 553)  
 
 To soften up the North Vietnamese to accept the plan too, Nixon authorized B-52 raids on the North, and the reseeding of Haiphong Harbor with mines. After four weeks of devastating raids, reminiscent of Operation Arc Light carried out after the Tonkin Gulf incidents, the North Vietnamese and South Vietnam’s President were forced to settle.  Of course, the bombing campaign put the NRO under the greatest strain to gather satellite intelligence of targets through its station at Pine Gap – what risked causing a political rupture with Australia’s government if exposed.
  
 Haldeman put the result of  Vice President’s mission this way in the January 23rd entry: “Thieu had finally capitulated a few days before.”  Agnew was so pleased with his negotiating skills that he requested a meeting with the wary Nixon during which he proposed to …”take a trip to Egypt to visit Sadat, and see if he could try and untangle something on the Middle East.” The incredulous President explained it all to Agnew wanting to rebuild his image.
 
 Agnew had given Thieu the same aim when he strong-armed him into accepting the terms of the proposed settlement, as he apparently did try to improve his image in America in a way the White House least expected – telling LBJ how he had been persuaded by the current Vice President not to take the terms Johnson was proposing four years earlier.  Dean had already called for hard evidence to prove that LBJ had ordered the FBI to bug Nixon’s plane during the 1968 campaign to counter the fallout from the Watergate convictions, and when the former President heard that the Bureau’s former executive Cartha ‘Deke’ De Loach was looking into the matter, “…LBJ got very hot, and called Deke, and said to him that if the Nixon people are going to play with this, that he would release (deleted material – national security), saying that our side was asking that certain things be done.” (Haldeman, January 12, 1973, p. 567)  De Loach, Haldeman added, took this as a direct threat.
 
 While De Loach indicated that LBJ had called for bugging Nixon’s plane – a request he claimed the Bureau declined – and a check of Mrs. Anna Chennault phone calls, and a tap put on her phone, LBJ obviously had other ideas, and planned to come to Washington to make his case among disgruntled Democrats. “Mitchell,” Haldeman added, “also said he was meeting with O’Brien today, and will make reference to this whole thing in that meeting and see what he can smoke out.”
 
 Undoubtedly, the former Attorney General was looking for confirmation that LBJ had the NRO’s goods on Nixon’s meddling – his “November Surprise” back in 1968 – and had confided documents and Thieu’s testimony in the DNC Chairman about it all. It was all shaping as a most unprecedented inaugural for Nixon.  (For more on this, see the January 11, 1973 tape of the conversation in the Oval Office between Nixon and Haldeman in Stanley I. Kutler, ed. Abuse of Power, pp. 202-4 – noting in passing that it is not followed by another taped recording for three weeks, the biggest gap of all.)
 
 Former President Johnson died on the plane while making his way back from Washington on January 22nd, apparently victim of a heart attack, reminiscent of how Hoover had died.  Of course, he could have died from the angina he was suffering from, popping nitroglycerin pills often to keep the pain manageable, though the trip itself – what he felt impelled to make to rebuild his reputation – killed him. The actual cause of death we will never know, as there was no autopsy, as in Hoover’s case.
 
 There is still alarming evidence that he did not die a natural death.  Johnson’s trip back to Texas had been supervised by White House Dr. Walter Tkasch, a physician noted for giving the patient what he wanted, and a good friend of the Agency’s Dr. Sidney Gottlieb who was currently running its ORD program, the successor to MK-ULTRA. (For more on this, see the article about DCI Richard Helms.) In 1968, ORD people set up a joint program with the Army Chemical Corps (Project OFTEN) to study the effects of various drugs on living creatures.It hoped to discover, John Marks quoted a researcher saying in The Search for the ‘Manchurian Candidate’, “a compound that could simulate a heart attack or a stroke in the targeted individual.” (p. 227)
 
 Was LBJ that targeted individual?  Marks certainly made it sound so when he added this about the just sacked DCI because of his failure to provide Agency cover for the Watergate:  “In January 1973, just as Richard Helms was leaving the Agency and James Schlesinger was coming in, Project OFTEN was abruptly canceled.”
 
 Some other unlikely changes, or just coincidences, included Laird – the elected official best known for stating the politicians have to live longer with their consciences than with their constituents – resigned hurriedly just a week about LBJ died. Laird had joined Nixon in getting Thieu to reject his intended surprise to help Humphrey win the November 1968 presidential election, and he knew that Johnson’s survivors had the goods on his dirty work, so his sudden departure from the Washington scene reduced the need of exposing it.
 
 To replace him, Nixon quickly got Elliot Richardson – the Secretary of Health, Education, and Environment, and who went on to become Attorney General just four months later when the Watergate scandal was really heating up – in the Pentagon office, and the move seemed like another convenient means of a cover up.  Richardson, as we shall see, was involved in seeing if dilantin, a pill that Nixon was taking for his depression, could be approved for general public consumption for almost anything by the department.
 
 Then when Schlesinger moved from the Agency to the  Pentagon for more house cleaning, he made McLucus Secretary of the Air Force, the first undersecretary to be so advanced, so that he could explain whatever the NRO had been doing which required some public explaining.
 
 Of course, the first thing that comes to mind are the tapes it had amassed about the details of the former President’s sudden death when he was taken back to his Texas ranch on Air Force One, and arranging a cover up there with Lady Bird about what had happened – one so successful that the public still believes that he died while having a long sojourn there! 
  
 
 
 
 




A History of America’s National Reconnaissance Office – part 5

25 06 2012

By Trowbridge H. Ford

 
Never was there a stranger presidential year than 1972 – when President Richard Nixon was apparently poised for successful re-election while his “tricky” bits along the way were threatening to surface in a devastating fashion. After three hard years of effort, the Vietnamese war finally seemed on the verge of ending despite the secret campaign the White House had been conducting at home and abroad while trying to decouple the communist powers from the process by opening the door to Red China’s recognition, and seeking a Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty with the Soviets. Nonetheless, the Oval Office was most worried of the public learning of the conniving its occupant had used in getting there, the most conspiratorial way it operated once there, and its reckless gambling with the future in order to remain.

Efforts to stop knowledgeable whistleblowers, especially former agent to CIA’s top officials Victor Marchetti, from publishing works on Agency deceptions was just a stop-gap effort as others were bound to come along. While prepublication review by the CIA of proposed work, and secrecy contracts for all employees of covert government – something difficult to arrange with those already hired – promised to stem the tide of revelations of shoddy, if not illegal, work, there was still the problem of the secret documents themselves, especially signal intelligence aka SIGINT, especially from NSA’s National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), surfacing – exposure of which would blow Nixon’s ship of state right out of the water.

1972 was most concerning from the outset in this regard, as Nixon was facing re-election – what he hoped to showcase with a successful conclusion to the war in Southeast Asia. In the year’s State of the Union Address, the President announced a further 70,000-man reduction of American forces in South Vietnam – one indicating that full Vietnamization of the struggle was just a short matter of time – while mentioning National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger’s secret negotiations with the North Vietnamese for a settlement: an American withdrawal in exchange for the return of those Americans missing in action, a cease-fire, and new elections in South Vietnam – what was intended to break the deadlock in discussions.

The prospect raised the ugly issue of what would happen to South Vietnam’s current President, Nguyen Van Thieu, if peace was agreed to but if he refused again to go along – what he had done during the last days of the 1968 election campaign in America. On October 31, 1968, LBJ announced a bombing halt in Vietnam, and the assembling of the parties in Paris in the hope that the war could be settled. Two days later, though, Thieu refused to attend the negotiations, and the effort failed. Thieu’s refusal was apparently crucial in preventing Democratic Party candidate Hubert Humphrey from snatching victory from the jaws of defeat – what JFK had allegedly done eight years earlier by taking advantage of the secret plans to invade Cuba at the former Republican Vice President’s expense. Thanks to Thieu’s refusal, LBJ’s ploy fell short, and Nixon narrowly won the election.

Of course, Johnson suspected a plot – what was soon established, but he declined to make public, even in his memoirs, The Vantage Point, his highly secretive sources: the Bureau’s bugs and surveillance of South Vietnamese Ambassador Bui Diem and Anna Chennault – wife of the celebrated chief of the Flying Tigers in China during WWII, General Claire Chennault – the Agency’s bugs on President Thieu’s office in Saigon; and the NRO’s regularly encrypted diplomatic traffic between the South Vietnamese Capital and its embassy in Washington. “There is little doubt that during the final stages of the campaign,” Christopher Andrew wrote in For the President’s Eyes Only, “Anna Chennault passed on a ‘very important’ message from the Nixon camp that was intended to dissuade Thieu from agreeing to attend the Paris peace talks until after the election.” (p. 349)

Johnson was apparently persuaded that he had “no reason to think” that Nixon “was himself involved in this maneuvering, but a few individuals in his campaign were.” (Jon Weiner, “Another ‘October Surprise’,” The Nation, November 6, 2000)

Of course, Nixon knew better, and he was already deeply involved in trying to solve the problem – get rid of the members of his campaign who were, destroy the evidence of this “October Surprise”, and make sure that Thieu could not kibosh any peace settlement now. While many critics have pooh-poohed Anthony Summers, The Arrogance of Power – like his previous exposés of the JFK assassination, and FBI Directory Hoover because of minor errors, and unsubstantiated speculation – it nailed down who were the culprits in Nixon’s campaign staff, New York attorney John Mitchell, and Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Spiro Agnew, who were dealing with the famous Chinese lady. “In interviews with Summers,” Wiener wrote,”she said he met with Nixon and his campaign manager (and future Attorney General), John Mitchell, who told her to inform Saigon that if Nixon won the election, South Vietnam would get ‘a better deal’.” Furthermore, Summers established that the ‘Boss’ who told her to pass along the message to Thieu, “Hold on, we are gonna win,” was Agnew – while on flight stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico on November 2, 1968.

Nixon was trying to solve the problem by getting rid of Director Hoover – what would end his threats to leading Republican leaders – but without any success because of all the files he had on “Tricky Dick” and others. In October 1971, Nixon vowed to get rid of Hoover, but the President got cold feet during the showdown. Then in December, at Nixon’s home in Key Biscayne, he apparently tried to persuade the Director to retire, but failed. Nixon even invited Hoover to accompany him back to Washington on Air Force One – even presenting him with a cake for his seventy-seventh birthday – in the hope that this sign of favor would soften him up to retire.

All the while, Nixon officials in the Justice Department were desperately trying to locate the Director’s most sensitive files, some of which involved the NRO – ones about his affair, starting in 1958 in Hong Kong, and still continuing until Nixon was inaugurated, with Marianna Liu, suspected of being a Red Chinese agent; his working with the Bureau which apparently doctored Alger Hiss’s typewriter to secure his 1948 conviction of perjury; his helping Nixon become Eisenhower’s running mate, and the Republican candidate for President in 1960; looking for more dirt on Edward Kennedy after Chappaquiddick; falsely telling Nixon after he was elected President that LBJ had been bugging his airplane during the final two weeks of the campaign, etc. – and to destroy them, a process which only started in earnest after the Director died.

Actually, the Director went out of his way to frighten Nixon because of his pressuring him to retire – what may well have led to Hoover’s convenient death. Columnist Jack Anderson, a growing thorn in the White House’s side, somehow obtained in early March a copy of lobbyist Dita Beard’s memo, claiming that International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (ITT) had obtained a favorable Justice Department ruling in an anti-trust suit in 1971 in return for contributing secretly $400,000 and services to the Republican National Convention in San Diego – a quid pro quo which would allow the White House direct access to secret transmissions it was interested in, especially the coded messages between the government in South Vietnam and its embassy in Washington while getting President Thieu on board for a settlement.

The disclosure could not have been a worse one, and could not have occurred at a worse time. The memo completely disrupted what had been agreed to at Camp David on January 28th – the announcement of Mitchell’s resignation on February 15th, and his replacement by Richard Kleindienst, his deputy. Mitchell would return to his law firm which had represented ITT in its disputes with the government, and run the campaign to re-elect Nixon. Also, the White House was planning to get rid of the troublemaking Vice President, Spiro Agnew, especially over Vietnam – what would remove from the scene the two most vulnerable of Nixon’s associates involved in making the “November Surprise” which sank Humphrey’s presidential ambitions.

The disclosure forced Kleindienst, who was being questioned now by the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation as Attorney General, to ultimately withdraw his nomination, and Agnew was recruited by Mitchell into the White House task force to prevent dangerous blowback about ITT which threatened even Nixon himself. This clearly involved not only insider-trading with its stock but also the White House using ITT as its own SIGINT service, as Robert Haldeman dutifully recorded on March 5th in his diaries: “P(resident) was concerned about what’s at the root of all this, where did his story start, who leaked the memo, who was it written to, and so forth. We don’t seem to have the answers on any of that.” (pp. 425-26) While the White House was being obliged to stick with Spiro, Nixon was most concerned that Colson, his special counsel, and handler of The Plumbers aka the Special Investigations Unit, kept a low profile during the whole affair.

Nixon had good reason for Colson to play it cool, as he had recommended the burning down of a famous Washington research institution when The Plumbers started looking for documents regarding important leaks and leakers, as Woodward and Bernstein recorded in All the President’s Men – what even his naive superior, John Dean, had enough sense to call off: “Morton Halperin, Daniel Ellsberg’s friend whose telephone was among the ‘Kissinger taps,’ was believed to have kept some classified documents when he left Kissinger’s staff to become a fellow at the Brookings Institution (a center for the study of public policy questions).” (p. 324) It was the beginning of the Plumber project of dirty tricks, code-named “Gemstone”. Of course, the White House wanted the papers back but not yet at this expense. Moreover, it wanted to minimize the possibilities of such blunders by recruiting ITT as its own SIGINT service – what would cut the NRO and NSA out of the process.

The Nixon White House had something really big planned with ITT, as was demonstrated by the lengths it went to in order to get Ms. Beard to repudiate the memo, and to cover up what was really planned with the communications giant. Plumber Hunt, using a CIA-supplied red wig, went to see her in a Denver hospital to get her to deny the memo’s authenticity. Then the White House tried to make out that ITT was the initiator of all the deals involving it, especially the prevention of socialist Salvatore Allende becoming President of Chile, and that they simply concerned money – what was patently untrue.

John McCone, former DCI, and now ITT’s director, offered the Agency in 1970 $1,000,000 to stop Allende’s election – what DCI Helms made sure looked like the CIA had sought, and when it came time to censor Marchetti’s manuscript. Shortly thereafter, Anthony Sampson’s exposé of the international conglomerate, The Sovereign State of ITT, appeared, but it was so involved in talking about its past international meddling, especially on both sides during WWII, that it never got round to the present.

To stop the rot, Nixon had John Dean visit Hoover in the hope of getting the Director to declare the memo a fake. The encounter was a bruising one for the President’s young counsel. After Dean had hesitantly explained to J. Edgar what the White House wanted, he said – after telling a tale about how Anderson was even willing to go through his trash and its dog shit for a story – that he would be pleased to test its authenticity. As Hoover was ushering Dean out, he even volunteered material from his famous files, as Curt Gentry wrote in J. Edgar Hoover, on the troublesome reporter.

Given the fact that ITT had already tested the memo’s authenticity, and the expert, Pearl Tytell, had staked her reputation on its being a recent forgery, Nixon was ecstatic over the probable result – comparing it to how the testing of Alger Hiss’s typewriter had led to his undoing: “The typewriters are always the key.” (Quoted from Gentry, p. 716.)

The President was totally unprepared for the result. Ivan Conrad, head of the Bureau’s Laboratory, found that the memo was apparently typed around the date indicated on it, and that it was probably genuine. Of course, Nixon was beside himself over the result, uttering that it was Hoover who hated Anderson. To change the outcome so that it did not contradict what the ITT expert had found, White House officials pressured the Director, and Nixon even wrote a personal note to Hoover, asking him to “cooperate”. Of course, if he had, not only would his continuance at the Bureau been assured but also the cosy relationship the White House had with the SIGINT giant. Ms. Beard’s lawyers even released her sworn affidavit, denying her early claims to Anderson. Still, Hoover would not budge, and on March 23rd, the Senate received Hoover’s verdict – what ended any hope of Kliendienst becoming Attorney General.

Hoover appeared to be in the driver’s seat, given his “back channel” to all kinds of secrets, mostly SIGINT in nature, which threatened disastrous consequences if Nixon fired him. The most talked about source was the taping system that the Director had secretly installed in the Oval Office, but there were many more sources than that. Their scope indicated that Hoover had something even more comprehensive than ITT, most likely the NRO itself. Remember the Director had cut all Bureau liaison with the CIA, DIA, NSA, Secret Service, IRS, etc., but it needed SIGINT in order to prevent some terrible disaster, like another assassination, so there had to be a back channel with the NRO.

It would not have required much from the Director to expand what it was already providing the Bureau in the name of law-enforcement, and nation security. All Hoover would have needed to justify wider coverage was to say that the Bureau was looking into the possibility of some presidential candidate trying to pull off another “November surprise” about the Vietnam war in the hope of stealing the election.

And if not the NRO, perhaps the Institute of Defense Analyses (IDA), now headed by the disgruntled, former head of NRO, Dr. Alexander Flax, who had resigned because of the White House’s resumption of efforts to win the war three years earlier. Given what McCone was doing for the White House at ITT, it seems likely that Flax would reciprocate in kind for the whistle-blowing Hoover. The IDA had authority to investigate any national security issue for government departments which was science-related, and it could call upon the Pentagon to provide any information which would be used to help test improvements in law-enforcement, technical equipment, communication security, etc.

The crucial importance of Hoover now was demonstrated in what the Plumbers were doing. Since their pursuit of leakers, especially Daniel Ellsberg, had led nowhere despite their break-in, with CIA assistance, of his psychiatrist’s office in California, they had then been looking into getting rid of Anderson – a possible operation in the Gemstone plan. In late March, G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt met with the Agency’s Dr. Edward Gunn, an expert on poisons, and neutralizing drugs, and discussed with him how they might incapacitate someone of Scandinavian descent. With the Director proving to be the real danger, though, the focus of the covert operations turned to knocking Alabama Governor George C. Wallace out of the presidential campaign.

Nixon had originally urged the Southerner to compete in the Democratic primaries to help divide its supporters, especially to protect against Teddy Kennedy suddenly attempting to grab the nomination, but Wallace was increasingly proving to be a threat to Nixon’s re-election, particularly when Senator George McGovern proved to be a candidate in his own right and not just a stalking horse for the Massachusetts Senator. The turning point had been the Florida primary which Nixon had urged Wallace to enter, via Bob Haldeman and crony Bebe Rebozo, and he had proven that he was not just a red-neck from south of the Mason-Dixon Line by knocking out Senator Muskie, the Democratic front-runner, for all intents and purposes.

While the Plumbers had an ideal candidate, a Manchurian one, for knocking out Wallace, if circumstances so required, they had to be worried about any replay of the MLK and RFK assassinations at the expense of a real conservative. In 1968, Hoover, as Anthony Summers wrote in Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, laughed off a bid to join Wallace’s ticket as Vice Presidential candidate in order to secure his stay as Director. (p. 369)

The Plumbers, thanks to the efforts by Executive-action specialist William King Harvey, had recruited an ideal assassin, young Arthur Bremer from Milwaukee, for any assassination. Harvey was now a particular red-flag for the Director because he reminded him of the treachery that trusted aide William Sullivan, another strong advocate of covert action, had just engaged in with the White House to get him retired, and to replace him. Sullivan had been forced to resign the previous August.

Hoover was surprisingly candid when he spoke about the Nixon’s relationship with the Plumbers, particularly Harvey, as Summers has reported: “The President is a good man. He’s a patriot. But he listens to some wrong people. By God, he’s got some former CIA men working for him that I’d kick out of my office. Someday that bunch will serve him up a fine mess.” (Quoted from p. 409.) Since Hoover had kicked Harvey out of his office back in the summer of 1947, there is little doubt that he had especially had him in mind.

Moreover, the total composition of the Plumbers has always been deliberately a bit vague to hide the membership of some notorious characters, as their secretary, Kathleen Chenow, explained to reporters Woodward and Bernstein when the Assistant Attorney General was apparently attempting to get Hoover’s files for the White House: “There was another occasion when Mr. Maridan was at a big meeting in Mr. Krogh’s office with Liddy, Hunt and three or four people I didn’t recognize.” (Quoted from All the President’s Men, p. 216)

No one has ever seen fit to determine who they might be, and she certainly knew the personnel who regularly worked out of room 16 on the ground floor in the Old Executive Office Building. Along with Harvey, the men seem to have been Felipe Vidal aka Felipe DeDiego and Charles Morgan, Humberto Lopez, and Jaime Ferrer – an anti-Castro group to carry out assassinations since the Bay of Pigs Operation.

Since Hoover was now playing hard ball with the White House – amassing files on all its buggings, intercepts, and break-ins – nothing rash could be attempted until the Director was clearly out of the way. After all, Hoover had recently explained to journalist Andrew Tully that the Plumbers “…think they can get away with murder.” (Quote from Official and Confidential, p. 409.) According to an article Mark Frazier published in The Harvard Crimson, this group placed a thiophosphate type poison in Hoover’s toilet articles after a previous break-in of his home had failed to find the documents Hoover was holding over the President’s head. “Ingestion,” Summers explained, “can result in a fatal heart seizure and can be detected only if an autopsy is performed within hours of death.” (p. 415)

On May 2, 1972, the Director seems to have suffered such a heart seizure after Nixon had called him shortly before midnight, and told him that he must retire. Hoover’s blood-pressure obviously soared after hearing of the fatal, final showdown with the President, and he must have gone to the medicine chest for medication required, only to ingest the thiophosphate which left him dead on the floor of his bedroom in a couple of hours.

The next morning, while Nixon cronies L. Patrick Gray and Deputy Associate Director Mark Felt, now falsely aka “Deep Throat”, were stripping Hoover’s home of all its documents and seeing that they were shredded, the medical examiners, after contacting NYC’s Medical Examiner Dr. Milton Helpern, decided that the Director had died of natural causes, requiring no autopsy. Later, Felt explained: “For me, it was no personal loss. I never did feel emotional about it. My main thought that day was about the problems created by his death.” (Quoted from Summers, p. 428.)

With Hoover out of the way, Harvey’s men moved quickly to finish off Wallace. Bremer, like Travis Bickle in the movie Taxi Driver, was already well prepared for the job, having been subjected to “psychic-driving” reminiscent of how James Earl Ray had been programmed to kill Dr. King – what would be repeated when it came time for Mark David Chapman to kill Beatle John Lennon. Law enforcement officers were already on the lookout for Bremer after he was arrested on November 18, 1971 for carrying a concealed weapon! For good measure, Bremer bought a Charter Arms .38 caliber revolver at Milwaukee’s Casanova Guns, Inc. on January 13 – the same day that he broke up his relationship with teenager Joan Pemrich, and Wallace announced his third run for the Presidency. Bremer purchased a 9mm Browning pistol on February lst.

By the end of March, the Plumber operation was transferred to Milwaukee. Of course, this led to secretary Chenow’s office being the center of all kinds of communications which Hoover was undoubtedly receiving copies of. The most likely hypnotist to have programmed Bremer was Dr. William Joseph Bryan, who had helped solve the Boston Strangler murder case by hypnotizing suspect, Albert DiSalvo – a name that Sirhan Sirhan had mysteriously written in his notebook before he shot at RFK. Bryan, during the last two years of his life, boasted to two call girls who “serviced” him regularly before he died in 1977, William Turner and Jonn Christian reported in The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy: The Conspiracy and Coverup, not only “about hypnotizing Sirhan, but also about working for the CIA on ‘top secret projects’.” (Jonathan Vankin & John Whalen, The 60 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time, p. 371)

During April, Bremer stalked both Wallace and Nixon in a way which would be repeated eight years later when John Hinckley, Jr. pursued President Carter and Ronald Reagan. Of course, it was much easier for Bremer to gain access to Wallace than to Nixon, even when the President visited Ottawa in Canada, but the programmed assassin explained his aims in ways reminiscent of Hinckley. “Now I start my diary of my personal plot to kill by pistol either Richard Nixon or George Wallace,” as Dan T. Carter quoted in The Politics of Rage. “I intend to shoot one or the other while he attends a champange (sic) rally for the Wisconsin Presidential Preference Primary.” (p. 419) Nixon, though, never campaigned in Wisconsin, so Bremer was just screwing himself up for some wild aggression against the Alabama Governor when the time came.

Bremer – whose income for 1971 was a measly $1,611 – went on a wild spree in NYC, staying at the Waldorf-Astoria, renting a Lincoln Continental, and seeking sexual pleasure with prostitutes but without any success. Then, reminiscent of how Ray drove around the South, looking for Dr. King, Bremer flew back to Milwaukee, packed his Rambler with his guns, and went to Ottawa again, and to Washington to shoot Nixon, only to report bitterly in his diary: “ALL MY EFFORTS & NOTHING CHANGED. Just another god Damn failure.” With Wallace poised to win the Democratic Primary in Michigan, clinching his hold on the Midwest Rust Belt, Nixon was suddenly confronted by a probable third-party candidate who could spoil his re-election.

During the two weeks after Hoover’s death, Bremer’s wild behavior alerted police and the Secret Service that he was a threat, but the questions were to whom and where. As Wallace was winning the South, Bremer was reading Robert Kaiser’s R.F.K. Must Die, and attended Stanley Kubrick’s film “A Clockwork Orange” at Milwaukee’s Mayfair Shopping Center Cinema, imagining that he was actor Alek in the film, and he was getting the Governor. On May 9th, Bremer claimed that only two girls prevented him from shooting Wallace when he attended a rally in Dearborn. Four days later, he arrived five hours before Wallace’s scheduled appearance at Kalamazoo’s National Guard Armory, and when questioned by police about his unusual behavior, he just said he wanted to make sure he got a good seat.

Two days later, Bremer gunned down Wallace, and three others, including SS agent Nick Zarvos, when he attended the Laurel shopping center in Maryland. No one was killed, but the Governor was severely wounded, resulting in paralysis from the waist down, and essentially settling the election. (For more on the assassination, see my “Manchurian Candidates:Mind-Control Experiments and The Deadliest Secrets of the Cold War,” Eye Spy magazine, Issue Eight 2002, p. 50ff.) “Nixon now knew for certain,” Fred Emery wrote in Watergate, “he would not be threatened by a Wallace third-party candidacy as in 1968.” (p. 115) Of course, officially Nixon acted as if it were just an unexpected occurrence, and did what he could to ease the pain of the Wallaces by getting former Treasury Secretary John Connally to do whatever was necessary to get them to retire quietly from the political scene.

Behind the scenes, though, the President and his covert operators worked frantically to make sure that there was no incriminating evidence back in Bremer’s apartment. The FBI, under Mark Felt’s leadership, proving that he was no “Deep Throat”, made no immediate attempt to seal it, and, as a consequence, it was stripped of anything of interest by curious reporters and other unknown parties, the leading member of which must have been Harvey. Felt even knew of Bremer’s identity and residence while claiming to Colson that the Bureau knew nothing about the shooting.

“Hunt’s story,” Emery added, “was that Colson first asked him to break into Bremer’s rented rooms in Milwaukee in search of incriminating materials, then called it off. (pp. 115-6) Harvey’s people had apparently made Hunt’s trip unnecessary. When the Bureau agents arrived at the apartment, they got into a dispute with the SS about who should have control of it. Colson then tried to convince Felt that Bremer had ties with the Kennedy and McGovern camps.

In sum, the killing of Hoover allowed Nixon to insure his re-election by having the Plumbers dispose of Wallace with little difficulty because of Felt’s considerable assistance at the Bureau. And it was all deemed necessary because of the SIGINT that the Director had garnered, especially from the NRO.


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A History of America’s National Reconnaissance Office – part 4

11 06 2012

By Trowbridge H. Ford

Whenever a new administration takes over in Washington, especially that of the other party, there is a vast change in the Executive Branch because of policy needs, the demands of favor, and the needs of individuals.The new President will need a group of like-minded specialists to satisfy the demands of current administration and future policy changes, the needs and expectations of party enthusiasts and special interests who have invested so much of their time and resources in his election, and those who burned themselves out at various posts while trying to keep his predecessor in office.  The shakeup in the White House is so chaotic that it is almost impossible to satisfy basic security concerns while the transformation is taking place.
 
Given this situation, the replacements of administrative personnel are usually seen as normal and most predictable.  Consequently, when Dr. Alexander H. Flax resigned as director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in March 1969, it was hardly even mentioned, much less raising any eyebrows.  Flax had been director for 3 ½ years demanding years – ones in which the NRO finally completed the objective of the Apollo program of sending men to the moon, and safely returning them to earth just before Christmas 1968 – just when the new Nixon administration has organizing itself to take power the next month. The public would hardly have been surprised if Flax took advantage of the Pentagon’s revolving door relationship with its industrial complex, and opted for a cushy position in the private sector.  
 
From the very outset when Richard Nixon was elected President in November 1968, though, his administration was ideally suited to take advantage of all the capabilities of the NRO. ‘Tricky Dick’ seemed just the man to want the services of an agency officially unknown, and whose abilities were only really known by a most small circle. It was not until five years later – in the middle of the Watergate scandal – that the media finally discovered its very existence, and it took another generation before officialdom – when it wanted to clean up its image – formally acknowledged its existence. The Nixon administration appeared to offer opportunities that Flax could hardly afford to turn down despite its stated intentions of ending America’s war in Vietnam.
 
And Flax did not offer his resignation, only to learn almost immediately that it was dejá vue all over again. Instead of using the NRO to help achieve peace – what the voters expected from Nixon since the Democratic candidate, Hubert Humphrey, had promised to continue LBJ’s campaign there to a successful conclusion – the Republican administration, thanks to input by the new National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, and his military assistant, Colonel Alexander Haig, opted to snatch victory from defeat by launching a massive aerial bombardment of the whole area to destroy the ability of the North Vietnamese and their alleged surrogates, the Viet-Cong, to continue fighting.
 
Of course, they have maintained most false claims about what was afoot, once the gambit ended in total failure.  Kissinger wrote in 1979: “The Nixon Administration entered office determined to end our involvement in Vietnam.” (Quoted from Robert J. McMahon, ed., Major Problems in the History of the Vietnam War, p. 425.)  According to Kissinger, the reason why it didn’t do so successfully was because the American public and Washington’s commitments further afield did not permit the time and effort that General de Gaulle had been allowed to withdraw from Algeria. Haig, in Inner Circles, played dumb about the whole matter, acting as if he were merely a White House errand boy who prepared the President’s daily intelligence briefing, merely alluding to a paper he prepared for the President which Kissinger was enthusiastic about, and Nixon “…ordered us to put it into effect.” (p. 196)
 
Nixon’s first chief of staff, in his amended, published The Haldeman Diaries, described a most secret meeting held in Brussels during Nixon’s first visit to Europe on February 24, 1969:  “At the meeting K, his deputy, Al Haig, and a Pentagon planning officer worked out guidelines for a proposed plan for bombing North Vietnamese sanctuaries in Cambodia.  P had decided on the plane to Belgium to order the bombing as a response to the North Vietnamese countrywide offensive that they launched the day before we left.” (p. 33)  The plan included the items that Haig and Lt. Col. Dewitt Smith had recommended to Army Chief of Staff General Harold K. Johnson five years earlier, but had been rejected at the time because they were too risky. (See Haig, pp. 137-9.)
 
While implementing the plan was postponed for three weeks in order to override State Department opposition, Operation Breakfast – the codename apparently befitting Haig’s morning intelligence duties – was kicked off on March 16th, a Sunday, after a dutiful church service.  Two days later, Haldeman reported, “K’s ‘Operation Breakfast’ a great success.  He came beaming in with a report, very productive.  A lot more secondaries than had been expected.  Confirmed early intelligence.  Probably no reaction for a few days, if ever.” (p. 41)  The next phase of the secret war, Operation Lunch, the military incursion into Cambodia, followed in due course, but one would never know from reading Haig’s account.
 
Of course, Haldeman was referring to a North Vietnamese reaction, but there had already been a response.  Flax tendered his resignation just then, knowing that the Nixon administration had the tiger again by the tail, and he wanted no longer to be a part of it.  Haldeman, along with other administration leaders, also did not anticipate the increasingly hostile press coverage of the accelerating operation, thanks to leaks to the media about it.  Soon the Washington Post and New York Times reporters, especially William Beecher, were barred from the White House, and Haig, who was now regularly consulting with Nixon in the Old Executive Office Building where they both had offices, was busily involved in determining their source.
 
To implement the secret Kissinger-Haig plan, the White House created a “backchannel” with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thereby circumventing not only SOD Melvin Laird, Secretary of State William Rogers, and the Cabinet but also NSA and the CIA.  “Using special codes, teletypes, and secure terminals located at the Pentagon and in the White House Situation Room,”  Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin wrote in Silent Coup: The Removal of a President, “the president and his national security adviser could send and receive messages to selected American officials and members of foreign governments around the world without alerting the rest of the United States government.” (p. 8)
 
Of course, the secret war needed the NRO to collect the aerial intelligence, and to provide the necessary communications for the successful completion of what the agenda called for – disrupting the transmission of men and materiel along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the ousting of the North Vietnamese from their Cambodian sanctuary, pursuing those who fled into Laos, the mining of Haiphong Harbor, etc. – and a second set of false reports about results in order to keep others in the dark about what was going on.  Haig, in characteristic style, explained the campaign as the result of the North Koreans shooting down a US Navy EC-121 reconnaissance plane on April 14th (p. 204ff.), a month after the bombing of Cambodia had started.   
 
For all intents and purposes, Rear Admiral Rembrandt C. Robinson – the top assistant to Admiral Thomas H. Moorer – the CNO who would soon become the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs – was the NRO’s deputy director under the new arrangements.  While Robinson was said to be running, later along with Yeoman Chuck Radford, a liaison office, connecting the JCS with the NSC – he was actually seeing to the implementation of what had been agreed to by Kissinger and Haig regarding the secret war.  Robinson may well have been the Pentagon planner present at Brussels at its inception.  The Admiral was a go-for-broke type who would stop at nothing to win the war in Vietnam      
 
As Admiral Robert O.Welander – Robinson’s replacement to the White House when the operation had to be closed down – explained to John D. Ehrlichman, the President’s Assistant on Domestic Affairs, and David R. Young, an aide to Kissinger, on December 23, 1971, his joint-position had existed for about ten years, and he took over from Admiral Robert Ginsburg who had held the position in the LBJ administration:  “I’m a two-way avenue of communications. I try and explain things to the (NSC) staff.  I mean some of the formal military positions, things of that sort.  I’m an in-house military expert; if they need some things done quickly.  I can go ahead and punch into the organization over there much more quickly and hopefully effectively, than if we go down through the formal mechanism.”
 (Quoted from Colodny and Gettlin, p. 447.) 
  
While Robinson was responding to NSC commands with NRO missions, Haig was increasingly trying to determine the source of the growing number of leaks, especially because his former boss, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, had commissioned a study of why policy-making had gone so badly in Vietnam – a work Haig had been asked to join but had declined, unlike many former colleagues in the process, especially Daniel Ellsberg.  When the FBI finally declined to investigate more suspected leakers after having bugged 17 persons, most of them members of the NSC, over an 18-month period without any positive results, Haig saw to the hiring of The Plumbers aka Special Investigations Unit, and their installation in the Executive Office Building to continue the work
 
The Plumbers’ background has never been adequately examined, and the reason seems to be Harvey’s leadership of it. It was the descendant of his old ZR/RIFLE group in the Agency’s Division D which had expanded its “black bag” experts to plant bugs and photograph documents in foreign embassies into official assassination efforts (James Bamford, Body of Secrets, p. 479) – the authority that Harvey, now aka Harvey Lowmeyer, had used is getting rid of MLK and RFK.  Fred Emery, in Watergate, made no attempt to explain the group’s origin, just the decision by the Nixon White House to hire it to do its “black bag” operation. (p. 53ff.)  The CIA’s approval of the switch seems to have been made by DCI Richard Helms who was trying to separate Nixon’s covert operations from the Agency’s one, and slimming down its ranks to get rid of its most dangerous operators, especially Harvey, E. Howard Hunt, G, Gordon Liddy, and James McCord.
 
The troubles with the Kissinger-Haig-NRO secret war were manifold.  The North Vietnamese and the Viet-Cong were unwilling to negotiate anything more than the cessation of hostilities, and the withdrawal of American forces, as their unwillingness to let the Soviets negotiate some kind of lesser settlement indicated. Washington only added to these problems by opening the door to Red China, and talking to Moscow about a treaty to limit nuclear weapons, thinking falsely that these efforts would undermine their assistance of the Vietnamese.  And American losses continued to mount, as the media indicated – the NYT even publishing the photographs of service men killed since the Nixon administration had taken office.  Then NSA Kissinger was growing increasingly pessimistic about what the secret war was achieving.
 
These developments, especially the negotiations with the communist powers, drove the JCS to start using the “backchannel” to spy on what Kissinger and Haig were up to, especially as the secret war wound down. Admiral Welander and Yeoman Radford instead of being conduits to the NRO became spies for Admiral Moorer, chairman of the JCS.  “Military officers sensed that they were merely being used as instruments,” Colodny and Gettlin wrote, “to further Nixon’s own ends; their belief that this was the case was furthered by the events of ensuing months, during which they saw themselves being ignored, cut out, and circumvented on all the important issues – the conduct of the war, troop withdrawals, the peace negotiation, and SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty), just to name the most important ones.” (p. 10)
 
This spying – which started for real in October 1970 –  was discussed by Nixon, Attorney General John Mitchell, Haldeman and Ehrlichman at a meeting at the White House on December 21, 1971 where they interviewed Welander’s assistant, as James Rosen recounted in “Nixon and the Chiefs,” on KeepMedia on April 1, 2002:  ” ‘Under the implied approval of his supervisor,’ Ehrlichman said at another point in the conversation, Radford ‘has systematically stolen documents out of Henry’s briefcase, Haig’s briefcase, people’s desks – anyplace and every place in the NSC apparatus, that he could get his hands on – and then duplicated them and turned them over to the Joint Chiefs, through his boss’.”  While the President was interested in seeking a prosecution of those thought responsible, especially Haig, the Attorney General talked him out of doing so for fear of disastrous blowback.
 
Instead, the liaison office was immediately closed, and the files Welander had were handed over to Haig who understandably handed those relating to the spying to Ehrlichman while keeping the rest himself. Welander was transferred to a sea command as far away from Washington as could be found, and Radford was reassigned to Oregon’s Naval Reserve Training Center.  Admiral Robinson, while revealing nothing about his being a NRO conduit during the secret war when he was interviewed, was conveniently killed in a helicopter crash in the Tonkin Gulf in May 1972, leaving Haig in the confident position of denying in an uncharacteristic footnote Silent Coup‘s claims only about him:  “…I do so now by stating categorically that any suggestion that this officer committed any act of disloyalty whatsoever to the United States or his Commander-in-Chief while serving in the White House is totally false.” (p. 245)
 
Officially, during this time, the NRO was busily occupied positioning its new generation of satellites, Rhyolites, constructed in TRW’s M-4 facility in Redondo Beach, California, and making arrangements around the globe for the secure retrieval of their take.  The satellites – the size of a minibus, and equipped with a solar-powered, dish-shaped antenna aimed towards the earth – were designed to pick up microwave and satellite communications on a continual basis - what the Soviets were increasingly relying upon in communicating across their vast country – and down-loading what they recorded without any encryption to avoid any additional weight in securing their positioning in space. In order for the satellites to work continuously, they had to be placed in geosynchronous orbit – 22,380 miles above the equator, and at a longitude where a secure place existed below.
 
Flax’s replacement, Dr. John L. McLucas, was the ideal director for the job, as he had spent his previous, relevant career in the private sector, and, cconsequently, knew nothing about the NRO’s ongoing operations, especially its secret war in Southeast Asia.  McLucas, the former CEO and President of MITRE Corp., had been involved in developing communication systems for national air security, and McLucas, in becoming Air Force undersecretary too, just thought
his function was to smooth relations between the public and private providers of satellites, as he explained to researchers for the Defense Acquisition History Project shortly before he died:  “So I saw it as mainly dealing with hardware and with the people who were necessary to procure and upgrade the hardware.”
 
McLucas left the positioning of the new satellites to subordinates, and their real challenge was to find a place where they could conveniently and securely download their take in the far Pacific. Australia offered the best sites possible, and as long as it was governed by politicians friendly to America’s venture in Vietnam, it was no problem. The site selected was at Pine Gap, near Ayers Rock, smack-dab in the middle of the continent.  “Like a vacuum cleaner,” Helen Caldicott wrote in Missile Envy, “they suck up a wide spectrum of Soviet and Chinese military communications and radar emissions and beam them back to Pine Gap.” (p. 127)  Pine Gap also received photographs and electronic transmissions from the latest satellites in the KH series, KH-8, and 9 (BIG BIRD).
 
For the purposes of this article, though, the most relevant program at Pine Gap was the CIA’s Pyramider project, about which Dr. Caldicott wrote:  “It communicated with foreign agents using sensing mechanisms placed in strategic locations around the world, and backup communications for overseas systems.  The Pyramider program was supposed to ensure ‘maximum undetectability’.” (ibid. Pyramider was part of the program that DCI Helms was using to ferret out alleged spies among the anti-war ranks worldwide, and to pave the way for the secret operations by rogue agent William King Harvey et al. Of course, no system ensures undetectability, especially if someone in it decides to talk. What, for example, would have been the protection against Dr. Flax himself telling tales – and well he might, given his unexpected, abrupt resignation – and who really were the leakers that Colonel Haig was now so worried about?
 
To complement what was going on at Pine Gap, DCI Helms created the National Underwater Reconnaissance Office (NURO).  The joint CIA-Navy project was organized much like the NRO, with the Navy taking the place of the Air Force, and its management being directed in the Agency’s direction.  The impetus behind the NURO’s creation was the Navy’s attack sub Halibut finding a stricken Soviet Golf attack submarine on the Pacific Ocean floor – loaded with nuclear weapons, “crypto-codes”, and its communication systems – and the CIA was going all-out to build a vessel to retrieve it. 
 
In 1970, the Halibut was given the assignment to tap the Soviet cable in the Sea of Okhotsk to its port on the Kamchatka Peninsula, Petropavlovsk.  To facilitate such operations, the Navy built three stations to transmit very-low-frequency (VLF) messages to the probing subs: the biggest one on the Northwest Cape of Western Australia, a second one at Jim Creek, Washington, and a third at Cutler, Maine. 
 
To insure the security of the new NURO’s operations, its CIA-led leadership carried out Operation Kittyhawk – a disinformation one to persuade Moscow falsely that it had SIGINT operations by the Americans under control.  In June 1966, KGB agent Igor Kochnov made himself available to the Agency as a continuing agent in place by offering his services to CI chief James Angleton over the phone.  To help settle disputes, and coordinate operations between the Bureau and the Agency, he was recruited, and allowed to handle a Soviet defector, former Red Banner fleet officer Nicholas Shadrin aka Nikolai Artamonov codenamed LARK, who was working for the Office of Naval Intelligence. 
 
While Shadrin helped settle their disputes over another defector, Yuri Nosenko, Mark Riebling wrote in Wedge, “Shadrin also began to pass doctored naval secrets to the Soviets.” (p. 232)  The kind of doctored information he was supplying was the difficulty the Halibut was having in finding the cable in the Sea of Okhotsk, the worries the Americans had about her being discovered in Soviet waters, the infrared guidance system that Soviet cruise missiles had which were so threatening to American carriers, etc.   (For just how hopeless The Sword and The Shield:  The Mitrokhin Archive and the Secret History of the KGB is as a source, note that Mitrokhim has no information about Kochnov, and Shadrin ‘s contribution is limited to his false claim that he could discover Nosenko’s whereabouts! (p. 387)
 
As with the NRO’s secrets about SIGINT operations during the Vietnam war, NURO’s secret operations against Soviet SIGINT were betrayed in late 1967 by Chief Warrant Officer John Walker, a communications watch officer on the staff of the commander of the Atlantic Fleet’s submarines who walked into the Soviet Embassy in Washington to offer his services shortly after fellow spy Robert Lipka had left NSA.  “He had access to reports on submarine operations, technical manuals, and daily key lists,” Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew wrote in Blind Man’s Bluff, “that were used to unscramble all the messages sent through  the military’s most widely used coding machines.” (p. 351)  As expected, the Mitrokin Archive has nothing to say about what the eighteen years of spying by him, his recruit Jerry Whitworth, and three members of his family contributed to Soviet security.
 
The success of the Walker spy ring was well demonstrated when the Halibut finally went on its first NURO mission to tap the cable in the Sea of Okhotsk in October 1971 just when the SALT talks with Moscow were entering their most difficult stages. The Soviets knew that the submarine would be looking for a sign along the coast somewhere, warning mariners not to anchor because a cable lay underneath – what  Captain James Bradley, the Navy’s top underwater spy, was convinced existed because of his experience on ships as a youth on the Mississippi. 
 
After more than a week’s search, lo and behold, the Halibut discovered a sign, stating in Russian:  “Do Not Anchor. Cable Here.”  In placing the tap on the cable – what enabled Washington periodically to read the routine communications between Moscow and its submarines in the Pacific – submariners discovered a mass of destroyed cruise missiles, small pieces of which they carefully recovered in the hope of coming up with a complete homing device of the cruise missiles.  While the Navy’s Department of Energy lab reconstructed a missile, its engineers were never able to put together the homing device.  In sum, despite the NURO’s massive efforts, it really never came up with anything important because of the spying by the Walkers.  
  
When Nixon was nearing the end of his life, former DCI Helms told Cambridge history Christopher Andrew in an interview in April 1992 his side of the story in dealing with the former President’s White House.  (See his For the President’s Eyes Only, p. 350ff., and notes.)  Of course, Helms wanted readers to believe that Nixon was the guiding hand behind Operation Chaos, claiming that the only way the Agency could prove to the President that domestic dissent was not inspired by foreign communist powers was by investigating all anti-war persons, and all contacts they had had with any foreign person.  In putting all the onus of the program on the President, though, Helms never expressed any real opposition to it nor threatened to resign because it was completely swamping his agency.
 
Then Helms was worried about the legacy Harvey had left in immobilizing other agencies while he had carried out the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy.  Agents of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) had repeatedly had their drug-trafficking investigations, particularly those of James Earl Ray and his courier Charlie Stein, stopped because of NRO wiretapping which showed that CIA agents were involved.  These concerns became a crisis when Nixon ordered on June 5, 1970 Vice Admiral Noel Gayler, NSA’s director, “…to program for coverage the communications of U. S. citizens using international facilities.”  (“James Bamford Statement on NSA Surveillance,” February 3, 2006, cryptome.org)  Same as now, NSA needed neither a warrant nor probably cause for the wire-tapping in Operation Minaret.
 
This presidential directive set off alarm bells at CIA, and it moved immediately to limit any damage from new wire-tapping, especially those of sources working with the BNDD. Of course, the Agency and Bureau both had been supportive of the program when it was started back in 1967 – only to be closed down a month later when the FBI was unable to find any connection between the Vietnam Veterans against the War and the Communist Party – only to be resumed in 1968 after MLK and RFK had conveniently departed the political scene.  The CIA was worried about investigators learning about the hiatus and wondering why, especially since February 1970 when Director Hoover broke off all contact with Langley – what would show that the Agency was using the BNDD as a cover for Harvey activities, and a firewall against dangerous blowback.
 
Two weeks after Nixon had ordered warrantless eavesdropping on foreign communications of Americans by NSA, BNDD agents carried out the biggest drug-bust in history – Operation Eagle during which 150 suspects were rounded up from cities around the country.  “As many as 70 percent of those arrested had once belonged to the Bay of Pigs invasion force,” Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall wrote in Cocaine Politics, “unleashed by the CIA against Cuba in April 1961.” (p. 26)  The others were connected to the Mafia, especially the crime families of Santos Trafficante, Carlos Marcello, and Sam ‘Momo’ Giancana.  Of course, their arrests, prosecutions and imprisonment not only took them out of circulation but also rendered their terrorist activities for the Agency a dead letter.  
 
Of particular concern to Langley was the activities of the Florida-based financial conglomerate, the World Finance Corporation (WFC).  Headed by Guillermo Hernández Cartaya, a member of the Operation 40 group which planned to take over Cuba in the wake of Castro’s demise, the WFC was riddled with CIA agents, noticeably Juan Restoy, Ricardo Morales, and Mario Escandar, and Agency fronts.  The arrests and indictments were an effective diversion from what were their primary responsibilities – murders, decoy operations, terrorist bombings and underworld enforcement – and after the crisis had passed, they largely escaped prison on legal technicalities. Of course, the CIA leader of all these anti-Castro Cubans was E. Howard Hunt, the eccentric writer who was now an employee of the Mullen Company, and back then thought that domestic dissent in Cuba, triggered into action by a small invasion force, could easily lead to his ouster. 
 
The arrest of some Agency assets and the transfer of others had been just in time as the disarray of Washington’s intelligence services had reached a new low in cooperation.  At the same time that Nixon ordered the warrantless eavesdropping by the NSA, it seemed that the FBI, CIA, NSA, and DIA had agreed to a new level of cooperation in meeting the unprecedented domestic unrest by agreeing to the Huston Plan – what the President’s liaison with the agencies Tom Charles Huston had proposed – but Director Hoover refused to go along with the program which would leave him responsible for any illegal activities, and broke off not only all liaison with them but also with the Secret Service, the IRS, and the individual armed services intelligence services.  “By cutting off liaison,” Curt Gentry wrote in J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets, “Hoover hoped to distance the FBI, and his own reputation, from the inevitable holocaust.” (p. 655)
 
Hardly a week later, the fat was in the fire when the New York Times announced that the Pentagon study of the conduct of the Vietnam war had been leaked to the press. While Nixon first thought that it would be a boon to his re-election since it showed the double-dealing of JFK and LBJ, he soon changed his mind when State Department memoranda showed the deep involvement of Henry Cabot Lodge and the Agency’s Lt. Col. Lucien Conein in Diem’s overthrow.  Then the effort to get leaker Daniel Ellsberg by criminal due process was completely frustrated by the FBI taps that had been ordered to discover the leaker of the Nixon-Kissinger-Haig secret war –  the DOJ could not use them without showing that they had earlier been trying to get his friends, especially Morton Halperin.
 
Charles Colson, Nixon’s special counsel, was ultimately obliged to have the Plumbers break into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, Dr. Lewis Fielding who had refused to tell the Bureau the findings of his examination of his patient, hoping to find the information themselves – setting off a process which dragged into White House operations just those people the Agency was trying to distance itself from.  Hunt.- thought to have been the “mastermind” of the Bay of Pigs Operation – turned out to be the leader of Cartaya’s group, the people who had just been arrested by the BNDD.  More important, Hunt promised to provide “the right resources”, as Fred Emery explained in Watergate, to turn Ellsberg’s betrayal into a political triumph.  Then Hunt was consulting with Conein, another operative involved, along with Ted Shackley, and was working for Harvey on how to make it look as if JFK had been more involved in Diem’s overthrow that thought.
 
From the NRO’s point of view, the most damaging aspect of the Plumbers’ work was Hunt’s forging cables to prove the Kennedys had personally conspired in the assassination of South Vietnam’s President Diem – what President Nixon not only demanded, but deliberately referred to in his September 16th news conference, taking the initiative way from opponents using the release of The Pentagon Papers against the administration
 
Thanks to input from Conein, and help from Plumber secretary Kathleen Chenow, Hunt was able to put together forged cables – the Gemstone Papers – which falsely claimed that the US Embassy had asked for instructions about possible asylum for Diem and his brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu, if they were overthrown.  More important, as Fred Emery wrote in Watergate, a forged cable back to Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge in Saigon declared:  “At highest level meeting today decision reluctantly made that neither you nor General Harkins should intervene in behalf of Diem or Nhu in event they seek asylum.” (Quoted from p. 72.)
 
While Hunt was unable to publish an article, based upon his forgeries, in the last issue of Life magazine, Conein took advantage of them when he appeared in December on the NBC-TV program “White Paper: Vietnam HIndsight” – what led NYT reporter Neil Sheehan, who had leaked The Pentagon Papers, to connect Daniel Ellsberg to the break-in, and to conclude that Conein’s statements left no doubt about the extent of the Kennedy administration’s involvement in the assassination of the South Vietnamese leaders.  And there was no denial from any former JFK officials or former Ambassador Lodge about having either said or seen any of the material claimed, and neither the NSA nor the NRO have raised any questions or complaints since about their alleged existence.
 
Little wonder that when the Agency learned early in 1972 that disgruntled agent Victor Marchetti, a former assistant to the DDCI who regularly attended planning and intelligence meetings attended by DCI Helms, was writing an article and a book about the Agency’s corruption, independence and incompetence in conducting foreign operations, its leadership pushed the panic button to stop them.  After having stolen the material from the office of a New York publisher, and placed Marchetti under surveillance, the Agency went successfully to court to get an injunction against the book’s publication, claiming that he was bound to secrecy, and obliging him to permit prepublication censorship before it appeared. 
 
After a series of court hearings about what had to be removed, and two years later, the book, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, finally appeared, with only the Agency’s claim to secrecy for 27 items regarding SIGINT satellite intelligence, as Angus Mackenzie concluded in Secrets: The CIA’s War at Home, standing up in court.  The NRO’s work was still the Republic’s deepest secrets.          
 
 

 
 




A History of America’s National Reconnaissance Office – part 3

4 06 2012

By Trowbridge H. Ford

The trouble with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) taking on heavy responsibilities in the covert war in Vietnam, and trying to shore up support domestically for its continuance is that it had the most shadowy existence and legitimacy which were highly likely to be exposed as the operations involved so many personnel, and caused so much damage, both physically and psychologically.  Operation Phoenix was an intense effort to break the political will of the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese – what had started with Operation Plan 34A in February 1964 in the North – throughout the area by targeting their leadership, while NRO intercepts of communications with Cuba were intended to reveal how  Americans were using enemy funds, especially from Hanoi, to undermine the nation’s will in the war.
 
The shaky basis upon which the NRO was operating on was well demonstrated when the Pentagon finally released the Department of Defense Directive upon which it was based – a mere updating of a most short 1962 one on March 17, 1964 – what was a consequence of National Security Action Memorandum 288, issued the same day, and was intended to carry out the recommendations of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, who had just come back from Vietnam, a day earlier.  They were all seen as necessary steps of a last-ditch effort to prevent all of Southeast Asia from falling to the communists.
 
It was McNamara who recommended retaliatory actions against North Vietnam – overt high and/or low-level reconnaissance flights to locate the Viet Cong’s sources of supply, the bombing of strategic targets, commando raids on installations of tactical importance, and the mining of North Vietnamese ports – in order to insure South Vietnam’s independence.  “That objective, while being cast in terms of eliminating North Vietnamese control and direction of the insurgency, would in practical terms be directed toward collapsing the morale and self-assurance of the Viet Cong cadres now operating in South Vietnam and bolstering the morale of the Khanh regime.”  (Quoted from The Pentagon Papers, paperback ed., p. 280.)  
 
To facilitate the implementation of these recommendations, the NSAM 288 was agreed to, and the DoD Directive issued. The Directive’s legality was based upon provisions regarding maintaining the security of the CIA in the 1947 National Security Act, and as amended by the Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1958.  The Top Secret document did little more than recognize the NRO’s existence, and the duty of its director to coordinate and consolidate all the government’s satellite operations into one program, and to perform some other function whose nature was blackened out by the censor’s pen when it was declassified but whose content must have been about aerial reconnaissance necessary for McNamara’s plans. 
 
This assumption is furthered by the fact that the agencies the NRO was to work with – apparently NSA, the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, especially the Office of the Special Assistant for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities headed by Major General Rollen Anthis, the Military Assistance Command in Saigon, the State Department, and other intelligence agencies – were somehow missing when the document was released. The administration firmly believed that the Viet Cong was controlled and directed from Hanoi, and once its infrastructure and will was broken, the insurgency in the South would collapse.
 
Three years of Rolling Thunder air attacks in the North while increasing American ground troops in the South to protect the most fragile government in Saigon proved these assumptions unfounded – as the Tet offensive of February 1968 proved – and leading hawks in Washington, starting with SOD McNamara, began reassessing their positions, and leaving the government when their revised views went unheeded.  The still committed hawks would not tolerate any idea of settling for anything but victory, and they secretly worked behind the scenes to extend covert operations throughout the whole area because of the shortage of troops to launch a conventional offensive in the hope of breaking the infrastructure and will of the Viet Cong itself – Operation Phoenix.
 
The Operation has often been confused with other kinds of military actions – SWIFT boat patrols which encountered resistance, the results of ‘search and destroy’ campaigns by organized military forces, patrols which ended in wild firefights, and the like. The confusion regarding naval patrols was well demonstrated when former SWIFT boat sailors challenged Senator John F. Kerry when he charged during the 2004 presidential campaign that they had engaged in war crimes – what Kerry could not substantiate.  The same confusion surrounds the My Lai massacre in 1968 when Lt. William Calley’s platoon was caught shooting up a village while in pursuit of a Viet Cong force – what helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, who died during the campaign too, stopped at gun point, and ferried the survivors to safety.
 
Operation Phoenix is usually sanitized into merely an overly aggressive search for intelligence about insurgents where torture was even resorted to.  William Blum, citing David Wise’s article “Colby of the CIA – CIA of Colby” in a 1973 issue of The New York Times Magazine, wrote this in Rogue State:  “The notorious Operation Phoenix, set up by the CIA to wipe out the Viet Cong infrastructure, subjected suspects to torture such as electric shock to the genitals of both men and women, and the insertion into the ear of a six-inch dowel, which was tapped through the brain until the victim died; suspects were also thrown out of airborne helicopters to persuade the more important suspects to talk, although this should probably be categorized as murder of the ones thrown out, and a form of torture for those not.” (p. 52)
 
Actually, Operation Phoenix was a most sophisticated system of terror where violations of  international law often took place: aassaults, ambushes and assassinations, generally at night, regularly occurred; renditions of those surviving routinely followed to places where comprehensive torture was carried out until the suspects were considered spent; and then they were simply executed.  Aerial intelligence by the NRO was absolutely essential in all its operations as it was only after it had been taken, collected and analyzed could covert operators decide what targets to assault, and how. The instrument used was increasingly satellites as their passage overhead of any possible target would not tip-off the inhabitants of what was possibly afoot.  Operation Phoenix, in short, was the ultimate when it came to death squads.
 
If anyone is still in any doubt about the brutality of Operation Phoenix, he should consider the people who really ran it, and the evaluations by competent judges of its character.  British covert operators, especially those in the dreaded SAS, considered American special forces, especially the Green Berets and Navy Seals, unnecessarily vicious in carrying out their missions. For example, Ken Connor, in Ghost Force: The Secret History of the SAS, noted that they did not live and learn from the people they were trying to pacify, preferring to “get them by the balls”  when it came to winning their hearts and minds.  “The American inability – or refusal – to distinguish between combatants and civilians led,” he concluded, “to the brutal treatment of whole sectors of the population…” (p. 145)
 
This result was hardly unexpected since the CIA operative conducting Phoenix was Ted  ‘Blond Ghost’ Shackley who had been William King Harvey’s boss in Berlin during the tunnel operation in the 1950s, and in Miami during the Missile Crisis before he became station chief in Vientiane, Laos. It was while leading a guerrilla force of 20,000 Hmong tribesmen against the Pathet Lao, allies of the North Vietnamese, that he built up the skills considered necessary for running the operation, and he spared no option in terror when making up for not having stopped communism during the Missile Crisis.  Shackley was successful enough in his efforts to become Saigon station chief after the containment of the Tet offensive in 1968.
 
The only trouble in using such an operation in saving the war in Vietnam was that it might be completely upset in Washington by the election of a peace platform, headed by a different President. In that case, everything would be for naught, so Phoenix’s domestic side, headed by Harvey in New Orleans, prepared for the worst. He aka William Wood and Bill Boxley had been in a tailspin ever since the Dallas cock-up, and had been activated by DDCI Helms to make sure that Jim Garrison’s hunt for JFK’s killers did not get anywhere.  Of course, Harvey, the massive, pistol-packing operator, had all the right connections with the Agency’s Science and Technology Division, the Mafia, especially Sam Giancana’s and Carlos Marcello’s people, and hardliners in Hoover’s FBI. 
 
Hardly had Senator Robert Kennedy declared that the war was unwinnable, and Martin Luther King organized his Poor People’s Campaign, highlighted by a march on Washington to protest LBJ’s failure to follow through on his 1964 Great Society promises – what helped lead the beleaguered President to announce a bombing halt in Vietnam, and that he would not seek re-election – than Harvey maneuvered a programmed James Earl Ray into position in Memphis to assassinate him. Then when Kennedy picked up the peace mantle, and as President would appoint an independent commission to investigate the plot which assassinated his brother, Harvey had Sirhan Sirhan programmed as a decoy in his murder while security guard Thane Cesar killed him after his crucial victory in the California primary. (For more on this, see my article in Issue Eight of Eye Spy magazine, “Manchurian Candidates: Mind-Control Experiments and The Deadliest Secrets of the Cold War,” pp. 50-55, and my articles* about Harvey, Helms, and Peter Wright in codshit.com’sTrowbridge Archive.)
 
Of course, Harvey’s tasks were to recruit people like Ray and Sirhan – persons with disassociated personalities which could be manipulated unconsciously by drugs and hypnosis – in ways which would involve no suspicions that the CIA was involved, to see that they were programmed to do what was required without any recall, and leave no tracks which could be retraced back to him and the Agency if the assassinations resulted in anything more than usual murder investigations. The essential responsibility was to get other agencies, especially the Secret Service, the FBI and other agencies – with input from the NRO – involved in ways which would keep Harvey and his colleagues informed of how affairs were developing, and at the same time providing a firewall against any blowback if plans went awry again, or serious concerns were raised about these assassinations. 
 
Given MLK’s campaign against Giancana’s exploitation of blacks in Chicago, it was easy for Momo’s lieutenant Johnny Rosselli to recruit Ray after he escaped from the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, and made his way slowly with Raoul apparently aka Jules Ricco Kimble to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico as a Momo bagman.  In doing so, he alerted Mexican federal police that he might be involved in drug-trafficking, but they made no attempt to arrest the fugitive – indicating that he was under surveillance in a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) sting. In the resort, Ray was re-directed back to LA by Giancana’s people where he was checked out by Agency consultant Dr. Mark O. Freeman as to his suitability in being made a programmed assassin.
 
Then Ray was taken by Charles Stein, a criminal well-connected to Marcello, and a former resident of New Orleans, where he was checked out by Harvey for the MLK job after the operator had provided a complete cover up of the meeting as David E. Scheim indicated in Contract America:  “According to the House Assassinations Committee, Ray took the ‘possibly sinister’ trip with a specific important objective, accomplished it rapidly, met with someone in New Orleans and received money on the trip.” (p. 317) 
 
While the HAC would have us believe that Ray met some subordinates of Marcello in the Provincial Hotel to arrange MLK’s killing – what it was unable to find any evidence of – he actually met Harvey in his safe house where he was okayed for the operation.  This was proven when he got back to LA, and Rev. Xavier von Koss hypnotized him to kill King under certain specific circumstances, and subjected him to a program of psychic driving to help induce it. (For a completely false explanation of the meeting – one which provides all kinds of evidence to refute its own conclusion, see Gerald Posner, Killing the Dream: James Earl Ray and the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., p. 208ff.)
 
While this article is not a detailed explanation of either the MLK or the RFK assassination, I think that what I have written so far indicates why the FBI, BNDD, and Secret Service – and ultimately the NRO – got involved in monitoring the activities of both Ray and Sirhan. He had similar connections with the Mafia, problems with the authorities in New York and Miami because of the criminal activities by his boss Frank Donneroummas aka Henry Ramistella, and experience with drugs and hypnotists in LA too – what is grounds for thinking Harvey made him into a Manchurian candidate because of his hatred of RFK, and what he apparently did to MLK. 
 
Stein’s driving Ray to New Orelans would obviously get the BNDD involved, as he was reputedly selling narcotics in the city at the time.  Ray’s own escape from the American and Mexican authorities while on the run indicates quite clearly that they were hunting bigger game, especially Marcello.  And the Secret Service, after the fiasco in Dallas, was almost paranoid about the same thing happening to LBJ – what would make it most concerned about how the activities of Cubans, pro and con Fidel, fitted into all this.
 
And Sirhan was programmed behind a similar smokescreen.  Instead of a Mafioso like Marcello seeing, it seems, to his hiring, it was a Southern California rancher who put out a contract on Kennedy because of his support of Cesar Chavez’s farm workers, and someone overheard a subordinate of Jimmy Hoffa’s, apparently Carmine Galente, in the Lewisburg (Pa.) federal penitentiary discussing his execution in a way reminiscent to how Ray was hired and sprung by Giancana’s people to get MLK while in the Missouri one. 
 
RFK, considered America’s worst turncoat by its covert leadership, suspected that Hoffa was behind his brother’s assassination, and had had an aide recklessly inform Jim Garrison of his suspicions!  This obviously became most dangerous to RFK, increasingly seen as the next President, when Harvey infiltrated the investigation, and kept the Agency informed about developments in New Orleans, as Vincent Salandria, one of the few respectable critics of the Warren Report who claimed that the JFK assassination was the result of a government conspiracy, belatedly informed the District Attorney:  “Jim, I’m afraid your friend, Bill Boxley, works for the federal government.”  (Quoted from Jim Garrison, On the Trail of the Assassins, p. 221.)
 
Sirhan suffered from compulsive gambling, constantly involved in shady deals to pay off the consequent debts. More important, Sirhan, being a Christian refugee from Palestine who could barely speak Arabic, emigrated to the States in 1956 after a terrifying childhood, and was often complaining about their plight to the folks back home, especially to his father who had returned causing security officials concerned about where his pan-Arabism may lead, especially after Nasser’s forces had been humiliated in the 1967 Six Day War. While he was compulsively writing and saying threats about RKF – part of his programming – officialdom apparently only thought that they pertained to LBJ since the President was responsible for the help to Israel that so angered Sirhan.
 
The growing connection between what was going on in Vietnam with developments back home was enhanced by things which had nothing to do with the assassinations of MLK and RFK – just information leaking out which could cause people to make the association.  In the June 1966 issue of Ramparts magazine, Stanley Sheinbaum, who had been the coordinator of a Michigan State University project to assist the economic development of South Vietnam, provided an exposé of how the CIA had manipulated the program to serve its covert agenda, and threatened to expose more Agency interference in domestic organizations.
 
In investigating the magazine, hoping to find communist infiltration of the organization, the CIA discovered that its most outspoken author was former Green Beret Donald Duncan – whose book The New Legions, condemning the training and operations of his former colleagues, caused some of them and many citizens to gain a new political consciousness – who only promised more.  “We will continue to be in danger,” he wrote to DCI Helms, “as long as the CIA is deciding policy and manipulating nations.” (Quoted from Angus MacKenzie, Secrets, p. 17.)
 
It was Ramparts which even got Dr. King concerned about the plight of the Vietnamese, his close associate, and later public defender William F. Pepper writing an article, entitled “The Children of Vietnam,” in the January 1967 issue about the US Army’s brutal treatment of their offspring.  As Pepper wrote recently in An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King, it was his files that induced King “…not only to formally announce his opposition to that war but to actively work and organize against it in every corner of America he visited.” (p. 5)
 
It was in this context that the NRO was brought into the hunt for the communists, traitors, and drug lords by the BNDD, the Secret Service, and the FBI who were thought to be undermining the national will in Vietnam.  As NSA director Lt. Gen. Lew Allen testified in 1975 before the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities aka Church Committee, in 1967 the United States Intelligence Board tasked it to intercept all communications that Americans had overseas regarding drug trafficking, Executive protection, and foreign influence over US groups.  In the six-year period the program was working, the NRO supplied 2,000 reports regarding drug trafficking, and 1,900 ones regarding possible terrorism and foreign manipulation of domestic political activity.
 
While James Bamford has portrayed the program in Body of Secrets: How America’s NSA and Britain’s GCHQ Eavesdrop on the World as a rogue one, conceived by its paranoid deputy director Louis Tordella, which was essentially concerned with making watch lists of subversives (p. 428ff), it was authorized by the White House, and it concerned primarily what people were saying and doing about all these things. While Bamford was most concerned with what the CIA, Bureau, and the DIA were doing about the reported activities of people like MLK, Dr. Benjamin Spock, actress Jane Fonda, and singer Joan Baez, he made no mention of the BNDD, and what its requested intercepts involved – what led to all kinds disinformation which Harvey and his agents took cruel advantage of in the assassinations of MLK and RFK.
 
Of course, by the time that Watergate occurred, and covert activities by the Nixon White House started leaking out, what the NRO had supplied to the process was ancient history, and by the time the NSA was obliged to testify about its role, what its reconnaissance agency had done seemed of little consequence.  When General Allen was obliged to testify before the Church Committee, he mentioned this without the slightest response from committee members.  “NSA did not retain any of the BNDD watch lists or product.  It was destroyed in the fall of 1973, since there seemed no purpose or requirement to retain it.” (For more, see Bamford, p. 428ff.)  Independent investigators might have had different ideas, once they saw how deeply involved the BNDD was in following all the activities of the leading Mafiosos, and anti-Castro Cubans – what had cleared the way for Harvey.
 
By then, NRO director Dr. Alexander Flax, its public face, had long departed the scene.  He retired with the arrival of the new Nixon administration back in March 1969.  Apollo 8, the Lunar Orbit and Return, had safely been completed just before Christmas, and with the election of a candidate allegedly committed to achieving peace in Vietnam, it was an ideal time to go.
 
 

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