Sub Wars and Cover Stories – ie Ballard’s Titanic Fantasy Spun Worldwide this Week

18 06 2018

BBC – Titanic search was US ‘front for Cold War mission’

On a comment here, contributor, Trowbridge H. Ford said, “let the people know that the sinkings of the US submarines Puffer and Batfish with around 200 sailors on board in a confrontation with Olof Palme’s Sweden during 1982-3 is now being covered up by the Pentagon claiming that the sinkings Reagan ordered to be found were those of the USS Thresher and Scorpion in the ruse of finding the Titanic.

As Sontag and Drew explain in great detail in Blind Man’s Bluff, the Scorpion was found 9 months after it went missing, and the Thresher was also found in the Pacific by a submersible at a great depth.”

He details the episode here –

Deserter David Hemler Helped ‘False Flag’ Plot To Sink Soviets At Sweden’s Expense

by Trowbridge H. Ford

When Social Democrat leader Olof Palme surprisingly regained power in the 1982 fall parliamentary elections, the Reagan administration in Washington immediately tested his anti-communist feeling by having US and NATO submarines flood Swedish waters around its naval base at Muskö to see how it would react, a secret plan to check Swedish anti–submarine warfare capability (Operation NOTVART) which the new statsminister had not been informed of. He had been portrayed in Anatoliy Golitsyn’s New Lies for Old, a work by the famous double agent who the CIA and MI6 not only encouraged but also endorsed (See Editors’ Foreword) about the alleged agent of influence who had used his subversive intentions to gain power under false pretenses (p. 55ff, esp. p. 288), a suspicion which was long passed time to determine the truth of.  Palme was on the Reagan administration’s watch list because of his continuing support of national liberation movements in Central America and Africa, and because of his support of a Nordic Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. Despite the most serious concerns about Palme’s trustworthiness, the statsminister came through the naval ordeal in flying colors

Palme went along with the set-up, also known as the Hårsfjärden incident because of where it occurred, as if nothing was amiss. While it was still going on, Vice Admiral Per Rudberg, Chief of Sweden’s Navy, appointed a service committee to determine what had actually happened, and come up with measures to make sure it didn’t happen again. Two days later on October 15th, the Palme government appointed a Parliamentary Commission under the leadership of Minister of Defense and former Foreign Affairs Minister Sven Anderson, and including leading politicians across the political spectrum to investigate the incident. To assist its inquiry, Vice Admiral Bro Stefenson, the Navy’s Chief of Staff, and Sven Hellman of the Ministry of Defense were appointed as experts. General Lennat Ljung, the Swedish Commander-in-Chief, announced their creation in most alarming terms: “The investigation of the sea-floor continues. The barricades are still deployed. There has definitely been one submarine, possibly several. No indication of nationality. Large amount of force used, even mines, which has never happened. Tough methods. I don’t know any other country that has done this in peace-time.” (Quoted from May 1983 notes that Palme’s Secretary of State Ulf Larsson took at high-level meetings.)

In December 1982, the naval inquiry, headed by Swedish Rear Adminal Gunnar Grandin, reported to the Navy Chief. It concluded that the Soviet bloc seemed to be responsible for it, thanks apparently to NATO’s continuing checking of Sweden’s national security reliability in light of Moscow’s accidentally beaching one of its Whisky submarines on the rocks off the Swedish base at Karlskrona the year before Palme returned to office. (For more, see Chris Mosey, Cruel Awakening: Sweden and the Killing of Olof Palme, pp. 147-8.) The Grandin report put it this way: “When it comes to nationality of the submarines, we know that the submarine incident in Karlskrona was Soviet. A number of optical, hydrophonic and passive radar indications point, even in this case to submarines from the WTO ( Warsaw Treaty Organization). Some indications of received radar signals cannot exclude that submarines of other nationality (NATO) have been in the area outside where the incidents have occurred. The reason for this has probably been to follow the activity.” (CM/Grandin, appendix 2, ‘Händelseförloppet’ Bilaga 2 i ‘Granskning av ubåtsjaktverksamheten mot bakgrund av händelserna I Stockholms skärgård’ )

On April 26, 1983, the Parliamentary Commission reported, making a stronger case against the WTO, particularly the USSR. Six submarines had been involved, three of them midget ones, and given what had happened before, especially the 1981 incident, it concluded that they must be Soviet ones. “On this point the Commission confirms,” it admitted, “that neither the sea floor investigations nor any other investigation has yielded proof in the form of objects found or otherwise which could bind a certain state to the violations.” ( SOU (1983) 13,Att möta ubåtshotet – Ubåtskrängar och svensk säkerhetspolitik. Betäankande från ubåtsskyddscommissionen. Stockholm, 1983, p. 81) Without any smoking guns, the Commission still concluded its narrative of what seemed to have been going on by pointing to the Soviet bloc.

The Commission report was too wishy-washy for its Chairman, Defense Minister Sven Anderson, who added falsely in a press conference the same day that a midget sub that escaped to the Soviet bloc on October ll may have been damaged. To bolster any fingers pointed toward Moscow, the Palme government sent a protest to the USSR, stating that such intrusions were serious crimes against international law, adding that they were “…deliberate and illegal attempts to investigate Swedish territorial waters. These activities must be strongly condemned.” (Svenska Dagbladet, April 27, 1983) Palme made the protest public knowledge by talking about its content, and delivery at a press conference.

Stockholm recalled its ambassador to Moscow for consultation to underline its disapproval of what the Soviets were apparently doing.

To keep the pressure on Moscow, certain suspicious submarine events occurred – thought to be WTO ones at the time, but which turned out later to either NATO ones or simple inventions. A month before the Commission reported, there were alarms at both naval bases at Karlskrona and Muskö that unknown subs were in surrounding territorial waters, but the hunts from nothing. Then the day after it reported, there was a Norwegian hunt for an alleged submarine in Hardangerfjord where depth charges and anti-submariine rockets were used to sink it or force it to the surface, but none was discovered. Then there was a submarine scare off Sundsvall the next day. Two days later, an unknown sub was spotted in a fjord north of Göteborg on Sweden’s west coast. The next day one was sighted south of that city but when it was forced to surface, it turned out to be West German.

While no Soviet bloc subs were found, the alarms created increasing, unprecedented anti-Soviet sentiment among the population. It was still surprising, despire the politicised panic over the intrusions, that the government finally reacted to the clamor, and with more Defence Staff justification of it by sending another most caustic note, almost a provocation for war, to Moscow on October 10th. Acoustic evidence, visual observations, signal intelligence aka sigint, and physical examination of the sea floor where the submarine activity was most intense all pointed to vessels of the Warsaw Pact being responsible.

Claiming that it was just summarizing what the Parliamentary Commission had concluded, it filed in its blanks completely at Moscow’s expense. For example, regarding visual sightings, it declared: “All observations from the time of the Hårsfjården incident lead us to the conclusion that the submarines belong to the Warsaw Pact.” (SOU 1995.Ubåtsfrågan, 1981-1994, Stockholm, 1995, p. 137)

About two sonar findings, it added: “The conclusion is that in both these cases we are dealing with Warsaw Pact submarines. There it is possible to identify various sounds – i. e., identify the number of propellers.” (Ibid.)

“Particular ciecumstrances,” it explained about sigint, “make it possible to define even a single ship. By taking the bearing of the signal, one can determine the position of a sender. It is also possible to get important information by listening to radio traffic between different ships or between a ship and its base.” (Ibid., p. 138)

“The existence of the prints on the sea-floor,” it added, “shows that the intruding submarines belong to the Warsaw Pact.”

While Moscow had responded to the first note by declaring it an “unfriendly action”, It said nothing about the second one, though it can hardly be doubted that it considered it little short of a declaration of war.

The real trouble for Sweden was that it was essentially untrue, as later inquiries after the Cold War ended showed. More important, in 1988, Pär Kettis, Director General of Sweden’s National Defence Radio Establishment aka FRA reported that it had no signal information about the Hårsfjården incident, so where did the Defence Staff get its sigint claims from? Commander Björn Eklink, skipper of the spy ship Orion who was later removed from its command because of his gung-ho attitude about getting the Soviets, claimed that he was not surprised by the admission because he had never been informed that FRA had anything incriminating Moscow. In short, it seemed that the Palme government had just endorsed leader-of-the-opposition and Parliamentary Commission member Carl Bildt’s statement about the incidents:”I cannot think about anything in modern times that has been more serious.” he concluded: “There is no doubt, (but we) cannot reveal everything.” (“Rapport,” STV2. April 26, 1983)

The only reason why Sweden was not directly punished for its provocation is because the United States, in deep trouble of its own then, adopted Sweden’s cause as its own. The Reagan administration immediately had its foreign policy thrown into the greatest disarray by the revolution in Grenada which overthrew Maurice Bishop’s government, and then the killing of those 346 American servicemen, mostly Marines, in Lebanon four days later. Washington would have been in better shape if the Presndet had been able to reconstruct his government when National Secuirty Advisor William Clark was obliged to go. (For more, see Lou Cannon, President Reagan, p. 372ff.)

Instead of getting personnel changes which were in favor of better relations with Moscow, the President was stuck with one which wanted to stick it to the Soviets, explaining while the difficulties in Stockholm became opportunities for the new team. The opportunities that Sweden provided for getting rid of the USSR some way would not last long – as Washington, despite its efforts to maintain that Moscow was in an aggressive, war-starting mood – had to be concerned that the truth about Hårsfjärden would start to leak out, especially since the Social Democrats, especially Palme, had not been duly informed about what the Defence Staff was falsely claiming.

Not all journalists accepted the official line. Anders Hasselbohm was writing Ubåtshotet – En kritish gtanskning av Härsfjårds-incidenten och ubåtsskyddskommissionens rapport which would soon be published in Stockholm by Prisma. Hasselbohm was getting disclosures, especially Norwegian acoustic and other visual evidence, by NATO officers about individual submarines in the hunt which were known to be Western ones – what greatly undermined the Parliamentary Commission report, and completely gutted the note to Moscow.

The biggest problem for Washington with these claims was that the Norwegian Commander-in-Chief, General Sven Hauge who was in Stockholm at the time of the incident, and had lent Stockholm its most advanced hydrophone capability in the hope of catching the Soviets red-handed, making intrusions into Swedish waters three weeks before (Operation NOTVARP), completely changed his tune after he heard the tapes – what America’s National Secuirty Agency (NSA) got wind of. They confirmed what the leakers were claiming about NATO submarines – what the US Navy even confirmed after the Cold War was long over, and it was time to acknowledge the efforts of those involved. The giving of the Navy Unit Commendation (NUC) to the Cavalla, SSN-684, and the Meritorious Unit Commendation (MUC) to the Bergall, SSN-667, Guitarro, SSN- 665, Aspro, SSN-661, Groton, SSN-694, and Puffer-SSN-652, along with the midget submarine Turtle, DSV 3, showed that they were involved in some fashion in the incident. (Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew, Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage, Appendix C, pp. 424-5, and p. 433)

To defuse the Hauge-Hasselbohm ticking bomb – what would ruin new NSA Robert ‘Bud’ McFarlane’s ‘false flag’ operation to destroy the USSR in a non-nuclear war – Washington had to inform Stockholm that the Soviets were solely responsible for the Hårsfjäarden incident in a most convincing way. One would expect the National Underwater Reconnaissance Office (NURO) – the agency that DCI Richard Helms had created when Nixon became President to keep track of all the secrets that the Navy was collecting – but it had not been informed by Captain James Bradley’s Office of Undersea Warfare (OUW) of the intrusions of Swedish waters, so getting.the NURO involved would just cause more problems. The OUW, while well informed about such secrets, was too well organized, and widespread for any deceptive mission succeeding without some kind of damaging blow-back. (For more about it, see ibid., p. 117ff.) Besides, allegedly ratting on a mission that it was most involved in would be most suspect to start with.

So NSA decided to do it. Now its director was Air Force General Lincholn D. Faurer who had had a long career of carrying out its survellance missions. “During the 1970s,” James Bamford wrote in Body of Secrets, “Faurer served variously as director of intelligence for the Southern Command, Air Force deputy assistant Chief of Staff fror Intelligence, vice director for production at the Defense Intelligence Agency, director of intelligence at the U.S. European Command, and deputy chairman of the NATO MIlitary Committee.” (p. 387) Faurer was known for his can-do attitude, and his obsession about secrecy while the agency was undergoing its largest expansion in history. “Unlike Inman (his predecessor),” Bamford added, “Faurer was determined to keep out of the spotlight; he began rebuilding the agency’s wall of anonymity.”

To make up for the treachery that analyists William H. Martin and Bernon F.Mitchell committed by defecting to Moscow a quarter century before, Faurer apparently had David Helmer defect to Sweden on February 10, 1984, much like Lee Harvey Oswald had done when he went to the USSR, hunting for Soviet leaders. Hemler had volunteered for the Air Force, and had done well enough to become a member of its elite eavesdropping agency, the 6913 Electronic Secuirity Squadron, stationed in Augsburg, Germany. General Faurer had become most involved in the unit’s activity while serving in various Air Force intelligence capacities in Eiurope, and was looking for defectors to make up for NSA’s increasingly limited human spying. When Faurer was preparing to retire early, he complained about the need of still more agents, stating that the role of computers in its operations had almost doubled since those earlier defections. (Bamofrd, p. 388)

While Hembler recently explained that his alleged desertion was caused by West Gerrmany’s adoption of the installation of cruise missiles, the defection to Sweden was intended to prevent a nuclear conclusion to the Cold War, only a non-nuclear one which would lead to its capitulation was acceptable, as Joseph Nye had recommended in his Nuclear Ethics. Hemler’s disclosures convinced Palme that the Defence Stall’s claims about the 1982 incident were accurate, causing him to dismiss anything or anyone who claimed otherwise. When Foreign Ministerr Lennart Bodström claimed the following year at a dinner attended by journalists who had not taken Hasselbohm’s claims seriously that there had been apparently no intrusions, as its Navy claimed, of Swedish waters, he was saciked by the statsminister. (Mosey, p. 151)

The most disturbing event that occurred while Hemler was finding employment with the Swedish government, probably with either FRA or Säpo, was the murder of TV reporter for the Rapport program Maureen ‘Cats’ Falck and her associate Lena Gräns after they had dinner in a south Stockholm restaurant in Novmeber 1984, They were investigating the Iran-Contra shipment of arms and money to Tehran and central America, a process in which Swedish arms, especially from Bofors, were involved, and East Germany, particularly the port of Rostock, was the center of. It was the network that Ted ‘Blond Ghost’ Shackley had been assigned by Reagan to put together from Hamburg to help gain the release of American hostages held by Iran. The reporters were apparently poisoned at the dinner, and their bodies were in a car which was driven into Stockholm’s Hammer by Canal – which were discovered the following May.

While attempts to get to the bottom of her claim that they were on to ‘something big’ – what has proven fruitless despite attempts to prove that East Germany’s Stasi killed them, as most of their research has disappeared – little attempt has been made, as the Russ Limbaugh’s Executive Intelligence Review magazine noted in 1997, to determine what they meant when they claimed “…something which was going to happen in 1986.” While, in retrospect, people predictably sited the Palme assassination, and it was, but not in the way they thought. When they were murdered, the plan still just called for some ‘false flag’ incident, like what happened in October 1982, and its exploitation..The delay was needed to get all the men, particularly the double agents in Operation Courtship, and materiel, especially a Keyhole radar satellite, in place to pull it off. It seems that the reporters got wind of the mission somehow, and were asking around about it.

It is possible that they learned of it from Hemler, but it is just as likely that they learned of it from CIA agents like Rodney ‘Rod’ Carlson or even Rick Ames himself. They were in the process of putting together the agents who were to catch the Soviets flat-footed over some surprise. Just when Hemler was defecting to Sweden, Ames, whose career crashing, was given the top job in Carlson’s Counter Intelligence Group, head of its Soviet branch. (For more, see David Wise’s Nightmover, p. 94ff.) It was while Ames was investigating what the moles in Soviet intelligence were doing for Operation Courtship that he decided to become a spy for Moscow, and word of the ‘false flag’ operation leaked increasingly to treacherous members of Sweden’s military, thanks to the Agency’s newest claim that Palme was in the process of pulling off a coup himself.

The assassination of the statsminister was now the first ‘false flag’ operation, making it look like Soviet spy Stig Bergling had done it while on compassionate leave to get married, the second would be Navy Secretary John Lehman, Jr.’s attack submarines sinking all the Soviet boomers which went on station because of the surprise in Stockholm, and NATO’s Anchor Express Exercise being dragooned into taking out the Soviet forces around the bases and in the air over the Kola Peninsula.

Palme had become the target after he most belatedly learned of the plotting by the Anglo-Americans when they tried to slip those 80 HAWK missiles through Sweden on November 17, 1985 on their way to Iran, but stopping them just increased the risks of President Reagan being impeached and removed from office because of his illegal findings.

Palme even removed the gung-ho Björn Elkind from command of the most important spy ship Orion in the Baltic, as Britain’s HMS Challenger was not available, but plans had moved by then far beyond any simple change stopping the juggernaut.

Of course, Hemler survived the fiasco, as no one even wanted to acknowledge his existence, much less what he had helped happen. It was only now that it is starting to leak out, after 28 years, but it doesn’t seem that much more will be heard about the deserter/defector, much less why.

 

– – – Original: https://www.thelocal.se/discuss/index.php?showtopic=51911

Discussion on it here (with the usual trolls chiming in)





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.