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Ted Shackley and the Secret Team

John Simkin

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In the past I have argued that there are connections between the JFK assassination and Watergate. Recent research has suggested that there are a series of events that are linked together. The key figure in this seems to be Ted Shackley and what has been called his “Secret Team”.

The start of this story begins before JFK took power. On 11th December, 1959, Colonel J. C. King, chief of CIA's Western Hemisphere Division, sent a confidential memorandum to Allen W. Dulles, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. King argued that in Cuba there existed a "far-left dictatorship, which if allowed to remain will encourage similar actions against U.S. holdings in other Latin American countries."

As a result of this memorandum Dulles established Operation 40. It obtained this name because originally there were 40 agents involved in the operation. Later this was expanded to 70 agents. The group was presided over by Richard Nixon, the vice president at the time. Tracy Barnes became operating officer of what was also called the Cuban Task Force. The first meeting chaired by Barnes took place in his office on 18th January, 1960, and was attended by David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, Jack Esterline, and Frank Bender (Gerry Droller).

On 4th March, 1960, La Coubre, a ship flying a Belgian flag, exploded in Havana Bay. It was loaded with arms and ammunition that had been sent to help defend Cuba's revolution from its enemies. The explosion killed 75 people and over 200 were injured. Fabian Escalante, an officer of the Department of State Security (G-2), later claimed that this was the first successful act carried out by Operation 40.

Operation 40 was not only involved in sabotage operations. In fact, it evolved into a team of assassins. One member, Frank Sturgis, claimed: "this assassination group (Operation 40) would upon orders, naturally, assassinate either members of the military or the political parties of the foreign country that you were going to infiltrate, and if necessary some of your own members who were suspected of being foreign agents... We were concentrating strictly in Cuba at that particular time."

Over the next few years Operation 40 worked closely with several anti-Castro Cuban organizations including Alpha 66. CIA officials and freelance agents such as William Harvey, Porter Goss, Gerry Hemming, E. Howard Hunt, David Morales, Carl E. Jenkins, Thomas Clines, Bernard L. Barker, Barry Seal, Frank Sturgis, Tosh Plumlee, and William C. Bishop also joined the project.

Cuban figures used by Operation 40 included Antonio Veciana, Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch, Raphael Quintero, Roland Masferrer, Eladio del Valle, Guillermo Novo, Carlos Bringuier, Eugenio Martinez, Antonio Cuesta, Hermino Diaz Garcia, Barry Seal, Felix Ismael Rodriguez, Juan Manuel Salvat, Ricardo Morales Navarrete, Isidro Borjas, Virgilio Paz, Jose Dionisio Suarez, Felipe Rivero, Gaspar Jimenez Escobedo, Nazario Sargent, Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz, Jose Basulto, and Paulino Sierra.

After the Bay of Pigs disaster JFK created a committee (SGA) charged with overthrowing Castro's government. The SGA, chaired by Robert F. Kennedy (Attorney General), included John McCone (CIA Director), McGeorge Bundy (National Security Adviser), Alexis Johnson (State Department), Roswell Gilpatric (Defence Department), General Lyman Lemnitzer (Joint Chiefs of Staff) and General Maxwell Taylor. Although not officially members, Dean Rusk (Secretary of State) and Robert S. McNamara (Secretary of Defence) also attended meetings.

At a meeting of this committee at the White House on 4th November, 1961, it was decided to call this covert action program for sabotage and subversion against Cuba, Operation Mongoose. Robert F. Kennedy also decided that General Edward Lansdale (Staff Member of the President's Committee on Military Assistance) should be placed in charge of the operation.

The CIA JM/WAVE station in Miami served as operational headquarters for Operation Mongoose. One of Lansdale's first decisions was to appoint William Harvey as head of Task Force W. Harvey's brief was to organize a broad range of activities that would help to bring down Castro's government. This of course included the assassination of Castro and other leaders of his government.

In early 1962 Harvey brought Ted Shackley into the project as deputy chief of JM WAVE. In April, 1962, Shackley was involved in delivering supplies to Johnny Roselli as part of the plan to assassinate Fidel Castro. Later that year he became head of the station that served as operational headquarters for Operation Mongoose. In doing so, he gained control over Operation 40 or what some now called Shackley’s Secret Team.

In 1963 Shackley and Carl Jenkins were using members of Operation 40/Secret Team in attempts to kill Castro. According to the interview he gave in 2005 Gene Wheaton, it was Jenkins who redirected this team to kill JFK. However, it is unlikely that Shackley would have been unaware of this decision. In fact, when Wheaton and Jenkins were informing Daniel Sheehan about this in 1986 they were naming Shackley as the man in charge of the operation.

According to AMWORLD documents it would seem that Shackley and Jenkins continued to use the “Secret Team” against Castro. In his book, The Crimes of a President, Joel Bainerman argues that during this period “Theodore Shackley headed a program of raids and sabotage against Cuba. Working under Shackley was Thomas Clines, Rafael Quintero, Luis Posada Carriles, Rafael and Raul Villaverde, Frank Sturges, Felix Rodriguez and Edwin Wilson.” This operation was closed down in 1965 and several of its participants became involved with smuggling narcotics from Cuba into the United States (New York Times, 4th January, 1975).

In 1966 Shackley was placed in charge of CIA secret war in Laos. He appointed Thomas G. Clines as his deputy. He also took Carl Jenkins, David Morales, Rafael Quintero, Felix Rodriguez and Edwin Wilson with him to Laos. It was at this point that Shackley and his gang became involved in the drug trade. They did this via General Vang Pao, the leader of the anti-communist forces in Laos. Vang Pao was a major figure in the opium trade in Laos. To help him Shackley used his CIA officials and assets to sabotage the competitors.

Eventually Vang Pao had a monopoly over the heroin trade in Laos (Edith Holleman and Andrew Love, Inside the Shadow Government). In 1967 Shackley and Clines helped Vang Pao to obtain financial backing to form his own airline, Zieng Khouang Air Transport Company, to transport opium and heroin between Long Tieng and Vientiane. The following year Shackley and Clines arranged a meeting in Saigon between Santo Trafficante and Vang Pao to establish a heroin-smuggling operation from Southeast Asia to the United States (Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade).

Shackley also used Quintero and Rodriguez to train men to kill rival opium warloards and supporters of the Pathet Lao (Edith Holleman and Andrew Love, Inside the Shadow Government).

In 1969 Shackley and Clines were posted to Saigon. They took charge of Operation Phoenix, a program that was based on what Shackley had been doing in Laos. This involved the killing of non-combatant Vietnamese civilians suspected of collaborating with the National Liberation Front. In a two year period, Operation Phoenix murdered 28,978 civilians (Fred Banfman, South Vietnam’s Police and Prison System: The US Connection).

Shackley also brought others into his operation. This included Richard Armitage, a US Navy official based in Saigon's US office of Naval Operations by the name of Richard Armitage and Major General Richard Secord. According to Daniel Sheehan: “From late 1973 until April of 1975, Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Armitage disbursed, from the secret, Laotian-based, Vang Pao opium fund, vastly more money than was required to finance even the highly intensified Phoenix Project in Vietnam. The money in excess of that used in Vietnam was secretly smuggled out of Vietnam in large suitcases, by Richard Secord and Thomas Clines and carried into Australia, where it was deposited in a secret, personal bank account (privately accessible to Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Secord). During this same period of time between 1973 and 1975, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines caused thousands of tons of US weapons, ammunition, and explosives to be secretly taken from Vietnam and stored at a secret "cache" hidden inside Thailand. (Daniel P. Sheehan’s affidavit).

This money, with the help of Chi Chi Quintero, found its way into the Nugan Hand Bank in Sydney. The bank was founded by Michael Hand, a CIA operative in Laos and Frank Nugan an Australian businessman.

Saigon fell to the NLF in April, 1975. The Vietnam War was over. Richard Armitage was dispatched by Shackley and Clines, from Vietnam to Tehran, Iran. In Iran, Armitage, set up a secret "financial conduit" inside Iran, into which secret Vang Pao drug funds could be deposited from Southeast Asia. According to Sheehan: “The purpose of this conduit was to serve as the vehicle for secret funding by Shackley's "Secret Team," of a private, non-CIA authorized "Black" operations inside Iran, disposed to seek out, identify, and assassinate socialist and communist sympathizers, who were viewed by Shackley and his "Secret Team" members to be "potential terrorists" against the Shah of Iran`s government in Iran. In late 1975 and early 1976, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines retained Edwin Wilson to travel to Tehran, Iran to head up the "Secret Team" covert "anti-terrorist" assassination program in Iran.”

Richard Helms, as head of CIA covert operations, must have been aware of the activities of the “Secret Team”. However, during the Watergate Scandal, he came under considerable pressure from Richard Nixon to help with the cover-up. It is possible that Nixon knew about the activities of Shackley’s Secret Team. After all, he had chaired the early Operation 40 meetings. Going by the messages that Nixon sent to Helms via H. R. Haldeman suggested that he knew about the CIA involvement in the assassination of JFK.

Helms refused to help Nixon and was sacked in February, 1973. James Schlesinger now became the new director of the CIA. Schlesinger was heard to say: “The clandestine service was Helms’s Praetorian Guard. It had too much influence in the Agency and was too powerful within the government. I am going to cut it down to size.” This he did and over the next three months over 7 per cent of CIA officers lost their jobs.

On 9th May, 1973, James Schlesinger issued a directive to all CIA employees: “I have ordered all senior operating officials of this Agency to report to me immediately on any activities now going on, or might have gone on in the past, which might be considered to be outside the legislative charter of this Agency. I hereby direct every person presently employed by CIA to report to me on any such activities of which he has knowledge. I invite all ex-employees to do the same. Anyone who has such information should call my secretary and say that he wishes to talk to me about “activities outside the CIA’s charter”.

This posed a serious threat to all those involved in illegal activities. Nixon and Schlesinger had to be removed as quickly as possible. This was done via Deep Throat (Richard Ober/Robert Bennett) and CIA assets, Bob Woodward and Ben Bradlee. The new director of the CIA was William Colby. Once again the CIA had someone from covert operations as head of the service.

After Nixon resigned Gerald Ford brought in George H. W. Bush as Director of the CIA. This was followed by Shackley being appointed as Deputy Director of Operations. He therefore became second-in-command of all CIA covert activity.

Shackley was hoping to eventually replace Bush as director of the CIA. However, the election of Jimmy Carter was a severe blow to his chances. Carter appointed an outsider, Stansfield Turner, as head of the CIA. He immediately carried out an investigation of into CIA covert activities. Turner eventually found out about Shackley’s “Secret Team”. He was especially worried about the activities of Edwin Wilson and the Nugan Hand Bank. Shackley was called in to explain what was going on. His explanation was not satisfactory and it was made clear that his career at the CIA had come to an end (David Corn, Blond Ghost).

Shackley now left the CIA and joined other former mates in the arms trade. Thomas Clines, Raphael Quintero, and Ricardo Chavez (another former CIA operative) had established API Distributors. According to David Corn (Blond Ghost) Edwin Wilson provided Clines with "half a million dollars to get his business empire going". Shackley also freelanced with API but found it difficult taking orders from his former subordinate, Clines. Shackley also established his own company, Research Associates International, which specialized in providing intelligence to business (in other words he sold them classified information from CIA files). He also formed another company, TGS International.

According to Daniel Sheehan: “In 1976, Richard Secord moved to Tehran, Iran and became the Deputy Assistant Secretary of defense in Iran, in charge of the Middle Eastern Division of the Defense Security Assistance Administration. In this capacity, Secord functioned as the chief operations officer for the U.S. Defense Department in the Middle East in charge of foreign military sales of U.S. aircraft, weapons and military equipment to Middle Eastern nations allied to the U.S. Secord's immediate superior was Eric Van Marbad, the former 40 Committee liaison officer to Theodore Shackley's Phoenix program in Vietnam from 1973 to 1975.”

From 1977 until 1979, Richard Armitage operated a business named The Far East Trading Company. This company was, in fact, from 1977 to 1979, merely a "front" for Armitage's secret operations conducting Vang Pao opium money out of Southeast Asia to Tehran and the Nugen-Hand Bank in Australia to fund the ultra right-wing, private anti-communist "anti-terrorist" assassination program and "unconventional warfare" operation of Theodore Shackley's and Thomas Cline's "Secret Team". (Daniel P. Sheehan’s affidavit).

The Secret Team still used the Nugan Hand Bank to hide their illegal profits from drugs and arms. The President of the Nugan Hand Bank was Admiral Earl F. Yates, former Chief of Staff for Strategic Planning of US Forces in Asia. Other directors of the bank included Dale Holmgree (also worked for Civil Air Transport, a CIA proprietary company) and General Edwin F. Black, (commander of U.S. troops in Thailand during the Vietnam War). George Farris (a CIA operative in Vietnam) ran the Washington office of the Nugan Hand Bank and the bank’s legal counsel was William Colby (Joel Bainerman, The Crimes of a President).

The bank grew and had offices or affiliates in 13 countries. However, the bank did little banking. What it did do was to amass, move, collect and disburse great sums of money (Jonathan Kwitny, Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA, Crimes of Patriots).

However, in 1980 Frank Nugan was found dead in his car. His co-founder, Michael Hand had disappeared at the same time. The Australian authorities were forced to investigate the bank. They discovered that Ricardo Chavez, the former CIA operative who was co-owner of API Distributors with Thomas Clines and Raphael Quintero. The Corporate Affairs Commission of New South Wales came to the conclusion that Chavez was working on behalf of Clines, Quintero and Wilson. They blocked the move but they were unable or unwilling to explore the connections between the CIA and the Nugan Hand Bank.

The Secret Team (Shackley, Clines, Secord, Chavez, Quintero, Hakim, Wilson, and Armitage set up several corporations and subsidiaries around the world through which to conceal the operations of the "Secret Team". Many of these corporations were set up in Switzerland. Some of these were: (1) Lake Resources, Inc.; (2) The Stanford Technology Trading Group, Inc.; and (3) Companie de Services Fiduciaria. Other companies were set up in Central America, such as: (4) CSF Investments, Ltd. and (5) Udall research Corporation. Some were set up inside the United States by Edwin Wilson. Some of these were: (6) Orca Supply Company in Florida and (7) Consultants International in Washington, D.C. Through these corporations the "Secret Team" laundered hundreds of millions of dollars of secret Vang Pao opium money.

Shackley had still not given up hope that he would eventually be appointed director of the CIA. His best hope was in getting Jimmy Carter defeated in 1980. Shackley had several secret meetings with Bush as he campaigned for the Republican nomination (his wife, Hazel Shackley also worked for Bush). Ronald Reagan won the nomination but got the support of the CIA by selecting Bush as his vice president. According to Chi Chi Quintero, during the presidential campaign, Shackley met Bush every week (David Corn, Blond Ghost).

Shackley helped organize October Surprise which resulted in the American hostages in Iran being held until Reagan had defeated Jimmy Carter at the 1980 elections. Soon after Reagan was elected the hostages were released.

In October, 1985, Congress agreed to vote 27 million dollars in non-lethal aid for the Contras in Nicaragua. However, members of the Ronald Reagan administration decided to use this money to provide weapons to the Contras and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.

Gene Wheaton and Carl Jenkins were recruited to use National Air to transport these weapons. However, for some reason, this never happened. Wheaton and Jenkins now began to feed information about the Secret Team’s involvement in this illegal trade.

Wheaton also contacted Newt Royce and Mike Acoca, two journalists based in Washington. The first article on this scandal appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on 27th July, 1986. As a result of this story, Congressman Dante Facell wrote a letter to the Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, asking him if it "true that foreign money, kickback money on programs, was being used to fund foreign covert operations." Two months later, Weinberger denied that the government knew about this illegal operation.

On 5th October, 1986, a Sandinista patrol in Nicaragua shot down a C-123K cargo plane that was supplying the Contras. Eugene Hasenfus, an Air America veteran, survived the crash and told his captors that he thought the CIA was behind the operation. He also provided information on two Cuban-Americans running the operation in El Savador. This resulted in journalists being able to identify Raphael Quintero and Felix Rodriguez as the two Cuban-Americans mentioned by Hasenfus. It gradually emerged that Thomas Clines, Oliver North, Edwin Wilson and Richard Secord were also involved in this conspiracy to provide arms to the Contras.

It was eventually discovered that President Ronald Reagan had sold arms to Iran. The money gained from these sales was used to provide support for the Contras, a group of guerrillas engaged in an insurgency against the elected socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Both the sale of these weapons and the funding of the Contras violated administration policy as well as legislation passed by Congress.

However, except for Wilson and Clines, who were imprisoned for offences not directly connected to the Iran-Contra scandal, all the major figures involved escaped punishment. This included Shackley who remained free to sue Daniel Sheehan. The Secret Team, whose existence dated back to the assassination of JFK, remained undetected. It is therefore important to hold in mind this history when you consider Gene Wheaton’s testimony to the ARRB and in the filmed interview earlier this year.

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People were attracted to The Secret Team scenario because it wrapped a lot of our recent history into a nice neat package. The problem was that when this package was eventually opened, Steven Seagal jumped out! The popularity of Seagal's debut film, Above The Law, was due in large part to its supposedly accurate depiction of The Secret Team. Seagal, himself, appeared to have had some sort of mysterious background, which led many to believe the screenplay was based on real events. I think it was a con.

As with the movie JFK, the Secret Team scenario is an effective "counter-myth". The problem is that, as far as I can tell, very little of it has been documented. For instance, what evidence is there that Ted Shackley received one penny from Vang Pao, or any other opium lord? What evidence is there that Shackley led this "team" at all?

If one reads Shackley's memoirs, one might be surprised to find that Shackley comes across as quite credible. Not so for Sheehan, whose own clients have tried to have him disbarred.

Ultimately, I'm on the fence with this. What appears from a distance to be shady and malevolent could be business as usual within the CIA/international arms trade world. While it's absolutely clear the "Team's" activities were questionable, if not disreputable, I don't remember seeing any real evidence that they in fact were operating as a team, and were in fact the recipients of drug profits.

Hopefully, someone will follow up on this research and find more than Sheehan's speculation. I'll dig out my Christic Institute comic book and see if I can find anything to add to this thread.

Edited by Pat Speer
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Namebase entry for Ted Shackley:


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This image shows Shackley lurking in the background (center frame). Interesting to note, the man to his right (our left and partially obscured) is James Bill Lair. One of the Hmong pilots I was able to contact told me that Lair was indeed the man we have come to know as Pakse Base Man. We have debated this before and some feel this not to be the case.

I don't think we will ever settle that one but James Bill Lair is certainly a fascinating character. I know Lair was not happy with what Shackley brought to the table regarding how the war in Laos was to be run.



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Here's an assortment of interesting characters.



This has likely been asked in the past, and if you are not at liberty to answer, I unserstand. BUT how do you come up with these pictures? It's just amazing. John lists a group of names and witin 24 hours, like magic, you've posted their pic. On a regular basis!!!



VERY interesting post. Is Wheaton considered to be credible?

You write that he was interviewed by ARRB last (this?) year. I thought that the ARRB

concluded its work years ago.

If he can be believed Wheaton may hold a very valuable key to all of this.


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VERY interesting post. Is Wheaton considered to be credible?

You write that he was interviewed by ARRB last (this?) year. I thought that the ARRB concluded its work years ago.

If he can be believed Wheaton may hold a very valuable key to all of this.

The ARRB documents refer to the period 1995 to 1998. The William Law interview took place a couple of months ago. I believe Wheaton is telling the truth. So do most people who have seen the filmed interview. This was the view of Daniel Sheehan and Joel Bainerman who interviewed him in the 1980s. Even Chi Chi Quintero's CIA protector believes Wheaton is telling the truth. However, his view is that Jenkins and Quintero were joking when they told Wheaton this story. However, Jenkins and Quintero have never claimed that is the case. Nor did they act like it was a joke when Wheaton sought to get them immunity in return for a full confesson. I am convinced that Jenkins and Quintero were involved in the assassination. Wheaton's story of how and why this happened is also convincing. For the full story, see Larry Hancock's revised Someone Would Have Talked (April, 2006). In the meantime take a look at the following:




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Ultimately, I'm on the fence with this. What appears from a distance to be shady and malevolent could be business as usual within the CIA/international arms trade world. While it's absolutely clear the "Team's" activities were questionable, if not disreputable, I don't remember seeing any real evidence that they in fact were operating as a team, and were in fact the recipients of drug profits.

The best book on this is Alfred W. McCoy's The Politics of Heroin; CIA Complicity In The Global Drug Trade? Interestingly, it was this book that Cord Meyer (Operation Mockingbird) tried to stop being published in 1972. The publisher, who leaked the story, had been a former colleague of Meyer's when he was a liberal activist after the war.

See this interview with McCoy here:


McCoy, is professor of Southeast Asian History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I will try to get him to join the Forum in order to discuss this book.

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John-- Great work in summing up a lot of information about a key figure.

Like Pat I have some reservations about the way Sheehan frames the Shakley group as a"secret team," as

distinct from Langley an sich.

Joseph Trento's latest book suggests that in 1976 Shakley worked with the fired Helms in the Middle East

to create a kind of Langley in Exile based in Saudi Arabia, until they could shed Carter and Turner. He makes it seem as if this axis had the real power, and the agency as a whole was using this axis as an end-run around Turner.

I have serious doubts about Trento's reliance on Angleton in his Secret Hitory of the CIA. But his new book seemed on firmer ground.

Sheehan may have felt it was politically safer to attack a "secret team" rather than the CIA as a whole. Was it more accurate?

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This has likely been asked in the past, and if you are not at liberty to answer, I unserstand. BUT how do you come up with these pictures? It's just amazing. John lists a group of names and witin 24 hours, like magic, you've posted their pic. On a regular basis!!! (Dawn Meredith)

Hi Dawn,

It's no great mystery. I have been collecting images for a long time and it is amazing how quickly they accumulate. I have lots of sources, some who like to remain anonymous and some who were around at the time. Other photographs I have been able to sweet talk from private collectors.



Edited by James Richards
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John-- Great work in summing up a lot of information about a key figure.

Like Pat I have some reservations about the way Sheehan frames the Shakley group as a"secret team," as

distinct from Langley an sich.

Joseph Trento's latest book suggests that in 1976 Shakley worked with the fired Helms in the Middle East

to create a kind of Langley in Exile based in Saudi Arabia, until they could shed Carter and Turner. He makes it seem as if this axis had the real power, and the agency as a whole was using this axis as an end-run around Turner.

I have serious doubts about Trento's reliance on Angleton in his Secret Hitory of the CIA. But his new book seemed on firmer ground.

Sheehan may have felt it was politically safer to attack a "secret team" rather than the CIA as a whole. Was it more accurate?

On the thread about his "Secret History" I asked Trento if Air America really shipped drugs in Southeast Asia and he deferred to a book that said they certainly did. I don't believe he believed in a "Secret Team" as interpreted by Sheehan, though. Maybe John can ask him and he can chime in on this.

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In his autobiography, Spymaster: My Life in the CIA, Ted Shackley provides information on what the CIA was up to in 1963:

With the easing of tension when it became apparent the Soviet withdrawal was real, policy makers started paying attention to cleaning up the battlefield. Robert Kennedy was the attack dog on this issue. He asked in November 1962 that Harvey be relieved from his Task Force W position.

I acknowledge that I am not an unbiased observer of this event as I have always regarded Harvey as a mentor and friend. Furthermore, my first-hand knowledge of it is limited. Harvey told me it was the result of a major confrontation with Bobby. The end result, Harvey said, was that he called Bobby a xxxx. Obviously, this did not go down well with Bobby, and Harvey had to walk the plank. The issue in dispute revolved around the question of whether Harvey had been acting as a loose cannon by having agent assets, including commando teams, on the water and headed for Cuba in the period between October 14 and 28. Harvey told me this was not a unilateral Task Force W effort but one coordinated with other agencies. Bobby disagreed, tempers flared, Harvey was injudicious in bringing the affair to a close, and his days as Task Force W chief became numbered. That is all I got out of Harvey.

I have been told since by Sam Halpern that Harvey, in response to the needs of the joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Planning Staff for current tactical intelligence on the missile sites, had been planning to use a submarine to put ten Cuban five-man teams on the island to try to cover the newly discovered SAM and related missile sites. Lansdale was also involved in this effort. This was also known to Helms, deputy director of the CIA (DDCI) Marshall S. Carter, and probably DCI McCone. Also, Bobby must have known that the CIA had no submarines, so how could Harvey have been acting on this project on his so-called own authority?

One and all at the CIA's policy levels agreed it was wrong for Bobby to level the charge against Harvey that he had gone "off the reservation" and acted on his own at a critical time. Yet, when Bobby followed up on this false charge and asked that Harvey be removed from his position as chief of Task Force W, there was nothing anyone could or would do to reverse this request. Harvey was screwed. Thus, in January 1963, he was out the door, headed in due course for the station chief's job in Rome. This dismissal was a fatal blow to Harvey's psyche. In my view, he never recovered from it. In effect, this incident ended the brilliant career of an old curmudgeon. The media got wind of Bobby's charges and Harvey's departure. As a result, the open-source literature on the Cuban missile crisis contains totally inaccurate stories about this matter. Once tarred with such material, Harvey found it impossible to shake it off, particularly since he was not an adept practitioner of the fine art of Washington public relations.

In January 1963 we were visited by Harvey's replacement, Desmond FitzGerald. "Des" made it plain that regime change in Havana was still at the top of Washington's agenda and that the preferred means to this end was a military coup. Haranguing the troops, he told us to recruit more sources in the Cuban Army and militia, giving preference to people high enough in the hierarchy to be able to comment on the leaders' political views.

We accordingly reviewed our military assets and found them inadequate to the new task at hand. We had sources that were geared to monitoring Soviet troop movements. Our assets were NCOs, logisticians, and food handlers, useful in the past but hardly what we would need for a coup. We would have to see if these existing sources could put us in touch with tankers and combat infantry units, the elements that would be required by any possible coup plotter.

As we started, we got one small break. We learned that Jose Richard Rabel Nunez, a defector from the Agrarian Reform Institute who had flown a small airplane at wave-top level into Key West, Florida, in November 1962, knew a lot of senior army personnel from his own days in the Cuban Air Force, as well as from his close friendship with Fidel with whom he had done a lot of spear fishing in 1960-1962. Consequently, we put Rabel on a special project to build files on the military commanders he knew.

This worked quite well in terms of data collection. The downside was that with each passing month, Rabel became increasingly impatient with our unwillingness to run a high-risk operation to exfiltrate his wife and three children from Havana. We explained to Rabel that his family was under constant DGI surveillance; as we could not get a communications or exfiltration plan to the wife securely, there could be no rescue operation. Rabel tired of this explanation and in August 1965 went back to Cuba in a small boat to get his family. The foolhardy effort failed, Rabel was arrested on September 4, and the work he had done in Miami on military personalities became known to the DGL That in turn permitted the DGI to conclude that the CIA was looking seriously at the coup option.

The net result was that while we upgraded the quality of our military personalities portfolio, we had no prospects of putting a coup team together. We simply lacked secure access to dissidents and so could not reach an understanding with a potential coup central command. What we were looking for in 1963 did not materialize until mid-1989 when Arnaldo Ochoa Sanchez blossomed into a fullblown military threat to Castro as a result of his exploits in Angola.

When I outlined my conclusion privately to Des in about March 1963, his reaction was to say that my judgment was undoubtedly correct. Yet, given the mandate that had been imposed on the CIA by Bobby, we had to keep hacking away at the problem.

Des then lofted the idea of working at arm's length with one or two Cuban exile groups-led respectively by Manuel Artime and Manolo Ray, also known as Manuel Ray Rivero - to see if they could engage in a dialog with a coup group. This effort, if it moved forward, would be run out of Washington. It would require operational support from Miami in the form of caches put into Cuba, perhaps tutorial training of Artime and Ray on how to run operations, and some guidance on how to maintain a fleet of small boats. I told Des all of this was possible, but working with Ray seemed to be a marginal venture at best. He brushed this cautionary note aside with a wave of his hand and countered by saying he would have Alfonso Rodriguez spend a day or two with me in Miami looking at Ray's potential. If this project got off the ground, he said, Rodriguez would be its case officer.

I explained to "Rod" that Ray was not rooted in Miami but in Puerto Rico where he worked in some housing agency and was allegedly close to Luis Munoz Marfn, the governor of Puerto Rico. Rumor had it that pressure from Munoz Mann had moved Bobby to get Ray involved in a new effort to overthrow Castro. There were elements in Miami of Ray's organization, the Revolutionary Movement of the People (MRP). Rod could get a rundown on the group from Dave Morales, Tom Clines, and Bob Wall of the PM branch. I concluded by describing Ray as a far-left ideologue and as much a political and economic threat to American interests in the Caribbean as was Castro. I had no interest, I said, in meeting him.

If I remember correctly, Miami eventually put several caches into Cuba for Ray, which he and his organization never recovered. On the one occasion when Miami was scheduled to have a sea rendezvous with a boatload of Ray's people in order to guide them into a secure Cuban landing site, they did not show up. The explanation they subsequently provided was they had run out of fuel. Talk about the gang that couldn't shoot straight!

Artime was different. He had solid anti-Batista credentials stemming from his early days as a captain in the Rebel Army. He was an early participant in the Movement for Revolutionary Recovery (MRR) and had helped to build the party, although his ambition had then made him a divisive force in the movement. He had prestige in the exile community as a result of having been commander of Brigade 2506 at the Bay of Pigs and as a member of the leadership of the Democratic Revolutionary Front.

So, Des's intention was to subsidize Artime to the tune of $50,000 to $100,000 per month to work from Nicaragua sowing disquiet among the Cuban military as a prelude to an anti-Castro coup; Henry Hecksher would be the case officer for the project. I told Henry that the big unknowns were what the MRR represented in Cuba and what Artime's standing was within the Cuban body politic. Our intelligence suggested that the MRR was not a serious clandestine entity in Cuba, and we had no information indicating that Artime was a popular figure in Cuba around whom a revolutionary movement would rally.

Henry refused to be drawn into this polemic. He said the Kennedys wanted the Artime project to go forward, and go forward it would. We agreed, therefore, that JMWAVE would support the project by helping to equip Artime's troops in Nicaragua, providing operational intelligence on possible boom-and-bang targets in Cuba, tutoring Artime on the management of PM programs, and placing caches in Cuba for recovery by Artime's people.

At some point over the next year, JMWAVE provided Artime's group with all of the above services. This turned out to be a labor of love that produced no tangible results. Artime tried hard to become a player in fomenting a popular uprising in Cuba, but he came to the game too late and without the requisite skills. As a result he was not a success. Thus, after President Kennedy's assassination, the Artime program was phased out.

The third wild card being played in this high-stakes international poker game was Rolando Cubela. We at JMWAVE knew little about him except that he had a drinking problem and wanted desperately to get rid of Castro. This operation was run out of Washington. Nestor Sanchez, an excellent case officer fluent in Spanish, was Cubela's case officer. JMWAVE put some caches into Cuba for Cubela's use. His associates recovered some of these; others they apparently made no attempt to get. In essence this operation was closed down after Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963. The CIA formally cut all ties to Cubela in June 1965. While it lasted, however, the operation generated more questions than it answered and produced zero results.

Meanwhile, Bobby Kennedy was still demanding boom-andbang operations. Dave Morales and I spent many a Miami evening by my swimming pool discussing the problem. It was clear that our paramilitary teams were having no trouble reaching the beach. They could take people in and out of Cuba and make caches, but once they tried to go inland, even a quarter of a mile, the trouble would start. We therefore began looking for ways to enable our teams to hit things that were closer to the water, the theory being that if we could succeed near the beaches, perhaps people inland would burn and destroy what they could to keep the resistance alive and expanding. As a result we started hitting softer targets near the shoreline, targets like small highway bridges, culverts in drainage areas, and so forth.

It also seemed that something always went wrong during these sabotage operations. Was there something in our methodology, we wondered, that was tipping our hand to the enemy? Or, despite the high standards of security at our paramilitary training sites and launch facilities, was our mechanism penetrated somewhere along the line?

Dave and I decided one Saturday afternoon we wanted to create a new, compartmented operational cell that would be kept totally apart from everything else we were doing in the paramilitary field. We felt that with new training facilities, new safe houses, new personnel, and new trainers, we would be in a better position to discover whether something was wrong with our previous methods.

Paramilitary at that time included a former naval officer named Bob Simons. Before joining the CIA, he had reached the rank of lieutenant and then resigned to do other things. Simons had been urging Dave and me for some time to look into underwater demolitions (UDT), a technique in which he had had a lot of experience. This was a high-risk venture, but Dave and I decided to go with UDT, so we put Bob in charge of all aspects of the operation, beginning with selection of personnel. He picked a really good bunch of men, all of them excellent swimmers, of course, and highly intelligent. Some even had engineering degrees. Bob also set up the training program, swam with his men, and taught them all he knew about UDT. When we reached the stage of choosing targets, he played a role in drawing up operational plans.

Assuming these operations were going to be successful, we knew we would have to attribute them to someone, and for that we needed a name different from anything that already existed in the Cuban exile milieu. Next, we needed someone who could front for the group, a man with managerial talent, perhaps with money, and unassociated with any Cuban exile organization.

Dave produced a candidate whom he had known in Havana. Rafael M., a man who had become a multimillionaire in business in Cuba, who had seen all his properties confiscated by Castro, and who was now traveling extensively throughout Central America as a representative of various American companies, including Uncle Ben's Rice.

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The connection between Ted Shackley and the Iran-Contra scandal began in 1979. Shackley had expected to become director of the CIA. However, Jimmy Carter’s appointment of Stansfield Turner, had blocked his advance up the ladder. The same was true of all those involved in the illegal covert operations in the 1960s and 70s. The only way back for Shackley (he resigned from the CIA in 1979) was for the removal of Carter. In 1980 he had regular meetings with George Bush where he advised him of his election strategy. Bush did not get the nomination but when he became Reagan’s vice presidential candidate, Shackley continued to advise him.

Shackley told Bush that Carter was attempting to negotiate a deal with Iran to get the American hostages released. This was disastrous news for the Reagan/Bush campaign. If Carter got the hostages out before the election, the public perception of the man might change and he might be elected for a second-term.

According to Barbara Honegger, a researcher and policy analyst with the 1980 Reagan/Bush campaign, William Casey and other representatives of the Reagan presidential campaign made a deal at two sets of meetings in July and August at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid with Iranians to delay the release of Americans held hostage in Iran until after the November 1980 presidential elections.

Reagan’s aides promised that they would get a better deal if they waited until Carter was defeated.

On 22nd September, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran. The Iranian government was now in desperate need of spare parts and equipment for its armed forces. Carter now proposed that the US would be willing to hand over supplies in return for the hostages.

Once again, the CIA leaked this information to Reagan/Bush. Shackley now suggested a strategy that would make it impossible to do a deal. One way was to leak the story to the press. On 17th October, The Washington Post reported rumours of a “secret deal that would see the hostages released in exchange for the American made military spare parts Iran needs to continue its fight against Iraq”.

These stories continued to be published throughout the rest of the campaign. One Washington Post report quoted French officials as being shocked by news that Carter was willing to be blackmailed by the Iranians into “providing spare parts for American weapons”. A couple of days before the election Barry Goldwater was reported as saying that he had information that “two air force C-5 transports were being loaded with spare parts for Iran”.

This of course was not true. This publicity had made it impossible for Carter to do a deal. Reagan on the other hand, had promised the Iranian government that he would arrange for them to get all the arms they needed in exchange for the hostages. According to Mansur Rafizadeh, the former U.S. station chief of SAVAK, the Iranian secret police, CIA agents had persuaded Khomeini not to release the American hostages until Reagan was sworn in. In fact, they were released twenty minutes after his inaugural address.

The actions of Reagan and the CIA spent at least an extra 76 days of imprisonment. One of these hostages, Cynthia Dwyer, was kept back until the Iranian negotiators got further assurances on the deal. The arms the Iranians had demanded were delivered via Israel. By the end of 1982 all Regan’s promises to Iran had been made. With the deal completed, Iran was free to resort to acts of terrorism against the United States. In 1983, Iranian-backed terrorists blew up 241 marines in the CIA Middle-East headquarters.

The Iranians also once again began taking American hostages in exchange for arms. On 16th March, 1984, William Francis Buckley, a diplomat attached to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was kidnapped by the Hezbollah, a fundamentalist Shiite group with strong links to the Khomeini regime. Buckley was tortured and it was soon discovered that he was the CIA station chief in Beirut.

Shackley was horrified when he discovered that Buckley had been captured. Buckley was a member of Shackley’s Secret Team that had been involved with Edwin Wilson, Thomas Clines, Carl E. Jenkins, Raphael Quintero, Felix Rodriguez and Luis Posada, in the secret “assassination” program.

Buckley had also worked closely with William Casey (now the director of the CIA) in the secret negotiations with the Iranians in 1980. Buckley had a lot to tell the Iranians. He eventually signed a 400 page statement detailing his activities in the CIA. He was also videotaped making this confession.

Casey asked Shackley for help in obtaining Buckley’s freedom. Shackley had good reason to want to get Buckley out of Iranian hands. However, he was unhappy about not being rewarded for his help getting Reagan elected in 1980. He had expected to be appointed director of the CIA. That job instead went to Casey, the key figure in the “arms for hostages” negotiations. How was Shackley to be rewarded?

What we know is that just three weeks after Buckley’s disappearance, President Reagan signed the National Security Decision Directive 138. This directive was drafted by Oliver North and outlined plans on how to get the American hostages released from Iran and to “neutralize” terrorist threats from countries such as Nicaragua. This new secret counterterrorist task force was to be headed by Shackley’s old friend, General Richard Secord.

This was the basis of the Iran-Contra deal. Reagan could not afford to replace Casey with Shackley as director of the CIA. However, there were other ways of rewarding Shackley for his covert actions on behalf of Reagan in Iran.

Talks had already started about exchanging American hostages for arms. On 30th August, 1985, Israel shipped 100 TOW missiles to Iran. On 14th September they received another 408 missiles from Israel. The Israelis made a profit of $3 million on the deal. Why should this money go to the Israelis? It would be a better idea to give this business to Shackley and his mates.

In October, 1985, Congress agreed to vote 27 million dollars in non-lethal aid for the Contras in Nicaragua. It had already been decided to use this money to finance the selling of arms to Iran. Some of the profits could then be used to provide money and arms to the Contras and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.

The following month, Shackley traveled to Hamburg where he met General Manucher Hashemi, the former head of SAVAK’s counterintelligence division at the Atlantic Hotel. Also at the meeting on 22nd November was Manuchehr Ghorbanifar. According to the report of this meeting that Shackley sent to the CIA, Ghorbanifar had “fantastic” contacts with Iran.

At the meeting Shackley told Hashemi and Ghorbanifar that the United States was willing to discuss arms shipments in exchange for the four Americans kidnapped in Lebanon. What Shackley did not put in his CIA report was that there were two other men at this meeting at the Atlantic Hotel. They were Oliver North and Leslie Aspin, a British arms dealer.

The problem with the proposed deal was that William Buckley was already dead (he had died of a heart-attack while being tortured). The date is not known but it was sometime between June and October 1985.

The Aspin arms deal with Iran never took place. Instead, Shackley and Secord began organizing these arms deals. Shackley recruited some of the former members of his CIA Secret Team to help him with these arm deals. This included Thomas G. Clines, Raphael Quintero, Ricardo Chavez and Edwin Wilson of API Distributors. Also involved was Carl Jenkins and Gene Wheaton of National Air. The plan was to use National Air to transport these weapons. For some reason, Wheaton and Jenkins fell out with Shackley. In May 1986 Wheaton told William Casey, about what he knew about this illegal operation. Of course Casey already knew what was going on and refused to take any action.

Wheaton now took his story to Daniel Sheehan. He also contacted Newt Royce and Mike Acoca, two journalists based in Washington. The first article on this scandal appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on 27th July, 1986. The Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, was now asked about if it is "true that foreign money, kickback money on programs, was being used to fund foreign covert operations." Weinberger denied all knowledge of the matter.

On 5th October, 1986, a Sandinista patrol in Nicaragua shot down a C-123K cargo plane that was supplying the Contras. Eugene Hasenfus, the only one wearing a parachute, survived the crash (two other Americans, Buz Sawyer and William Cooper died when the plane hit the ground). Hasenfus told his captors that the CIA was behind the operation. He also provided information on two Cuban-Americans running the operation in El Savador. This resulted in journalists being able to identify Raphael Quintero and Felix Rodriguez as the two Cuban-Americans mentioned by Hasenfus.

Shackley was able to keep his name out of the scandal and actually won damages from Daniel Sheehan.

However, there were others who knew the truth about what had been going on. This included William Casey who conveniently died on 6th May, 1986.

Another person who knew the truth was John Tower and John Heinz. In November 1986, Reagan persuaded Tower to chair the President's Special Review Board to study the actions of the National Security Council and its staff during the Iran-Contra affair. Heinz had chaired a three-man presidential review board that probed the Iran-Contra affair. Coincidentally, both John Heinz and John Tower died in plane wrecks on successive days in 1991 – Tower in Georgia, and Heinz in Montgomery County.

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Guess who was the highest ranking Democrat in the House investigations of The October Surprise and Iran-Contra, and also the leading democrat on the 9-11 commision. Lee Hamilton. With such an exhonerating track record he is up there with Prescot Bush c. 1955 in the running for the Mr. Vigilance award for congressional oversight of the CIA. It also goes to show the importance of politicians with small "d"s next to their name in addition to politicans with small "r"s next to their name as far as legislative vigilance, which, if I remember from somewhere, is the eternal cost of libraries.

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