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George H. W. Bush and Ted Shackley

John Simkin

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When information about the Iran-Contra scandal first emerged in 1986, George H. W. Bush was in serious trouble. The fact that it happened could not be denied. The issue then became very similar to Watergate: “What did he know, and when did he know it.” Reagan’s story was that he was kept in the dark about the whole event. The American public went along with this story. Some commentators believe this was psychological. Democracy would have been completely undermined if it had been confirmed that two presidents in a short period of time had been involved in illegal activities and had lied about it.

Bush was another matter. He was only the vice president and it would not be traumatic for the country to see him impeached. For example, remember the response when Spiro Agnew was forced to resign? Bush was also more likely candidate than Regan to have come up with this idea. Bush had been a former director of the CIA, an organization that had been heavily involved in the scandal. Questions were asked about whether Bush was the man who had organized the Iran-Contra deal. If so, he would have had to have worked very closely with the CIA. Journalists therefore investigated Bush’s relationship with the CIA. They discovered that throughout 1980 he had been having regular meetings with Ted Shackley.

A former senior CIA officer, John Murray, suggested that Shackley had some sort of control over Bush. He suspected it was something to do with illegal covert activities that had been carried out when Bush was director of the CIA. (pages 317-318, David Corn, Blind Ghost)

Shackley also had a deep hatred for Jimmy Carter. He told friends that if Ford defeated Carter in 1976, he would be appointed as director of the CIA. Instead of that, Carter won and blocked him from further promotion and he was forced to retire from the service in 1979.

Journalist discovered that Shackley and Bush continued to have a close relationship after he left the agency in 1979. They met on a regular basis during Bush’s attempts to become the Republican presidential candidate. (His wife, Hazel Shackley, even worked for Bush during this period).

In March, 1980, a CIA asset, Michael Ledeen, wrote an article suggesting that Stansfield Turner had been mismanaging the CIA and that if Bush won in November, Shackley would become the new head of the agency (New York Magazine, 3rd March, 1980).

In August, 1980, Reagan selected Bush as his running-mate. Shackley’s meetings with Bush now became more frequent. In an interview with David Corn, Chi Chi Quintero told him that during the campaign, Bush was meeting Shackley “every week” (page 358, David Corn, Blind Ghost).

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 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.

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 shipments. 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.

In October, 1980, Shackley joined the company owned by Albert Hakim (he was paid $5,000 a month as a part-time “risk analyst”). It seems that Hakim was keen to use Shackley’s contacts to make money out of the Iran-Iraq War that had started the previous month. This just happens to be the same time that William Casey and other representatives of the Reagan presidential campaign are having meetings with the Iranians in order to delay the release of Americans held hostage in Iran until after the November 1980 presidential elections.

Is it also a coincidence that later Hakim joined forces with Richard Secord and Thomas Clines (Shackley’s former deputy in the CIA) to provide Iran with the weapons as a result of Reagan winning the 1980 presidential election?

Just before the election Michael Ledeen wrote an article claiming that Billy Carter, the President’s brother, had visited Libya in 1979 and accepted from the Qaddafi government a $50,000 payment and a $220,000 loan related to an oil deal (New Republic, 1st November, 1980). It was later revealed that at this time Shackley and Ledeen had become business partners. The story also appears to have come from one of Shackley’s old contacts, Giuseppe Santovito, head of SISMI, the military intelligence service of Italy. It is also at this time that Ledeen arranges for $20,000 to be placed in Shackley’s bank account in Bermuda (page 359, David Corn, Blind Ghost)

It was clear that if Bush was going to survive he had to try to disguise his relationship with Shackley. In fact, to really protect himself, he had to make sure that Shackley was not identified as one of the main organizers of the Iran-Contra deal.

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 “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 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 Bush 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. (Leslie Cockburn, Out of Control, 214-223).

Shackley was able to keep his name out of the scandal and actually won damages from Daniel Sheehan. (See David Corn, Blond Ghost, pages 380-401, for a full account of this story).

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. As did Frank Nurgan in Australia and Steven Carr in California. And would this story have ever have come out if it was not for Eugene Hasenfus insisting that he wore a parachute?

Both the House and Senate set up select committees to investigate the Iran-Contra affair. At first Shackley was seen as a prime suspect. He was a colleague and business partner to the main operators. He had been closely linked to Edwin Wilson (the main reason why Stansfield Turner had brought his career in the CIA to an end). Also, along with Secord, Clines and Quintero, Shackley had been involved in the Nugan Hand Bank scandal (Alfred McCord, The Politics of Heroin: pages 461-478 and Leslie Cockburn, Out of Control, pages 103-104).

Bush was also identified as someone who must have known about the Iran-Contra deal. There was documentary evidence that Bush attended the meeting on 6th August, 1985, when National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane outlined the deal to trade U.S. arms for American hostages held by the Iranians.

Bush also attended the meeting on 7th January, 1986, where George Shultz and Casper Weinberger expressed their opposition to the deal signed the previous day by Reagan to sell TOW missiles in order to win the release of the American hostages.

When asked how he did not know about the Iran deal, Bush claimed: “I may have been out of the room at the time” (page 14, Joel Bainerman, The Crimes of a President).

There was also documentary evidence that Bush attended a meeting with Amiram Nir, Israel’s advisor on terrorism at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on 29th July, 1986. Also at the meeting was Bush’s aide, Craig Fuller. He kept notes of the meeting. He reported that Nir told Bush that he had been active throughout the past year “to gain the release of the hostages, and that a decision still had to be made whether the arms desired by the Iranians would be delivered in separate shipments or for each hostage as they are released.” Bush and Reagan did what they could to stop this document being sent to the John Tower investigation. Bush’s first defence was that he could not remember the meeting at King David Hotel. Later, he admitted he did remember it but did not understand what Nir was saying. Amazingly, the Tower Commission believed him.

In a PBS Frontline documentary, Ramon Milian Rodriguez, a convicted financier for the Meddellin drug cartel, talked about Felix Rodriguez’s role in the CIA involvement in the drug trade: “If Felix had come to me and said I’m reporting to… Oliver North, I might have been more sceptical. I didn’t know who Oliver North was and I didn’t know his background. But if you have a CIA, or what you consider to be a CIA-man, coming to you saying, ‘I want to fight the war, we’re out of funds, can you help us out? I’m reporting directly to Bush on it,’ I mean it’s very real, very believable, have you have a CIA guy reporting to his old boss.”

According to one report, the first telephone call that Eugene Hasenfus made after his plane was shot down was to Bush’s staff (The Progressive, May, 1987).

Then there was the handwritten note from November from George Bush to Oliver North that thanked him for his “dedication and tireless work with the hostage thing with Central America”. When asked about this note, Bush said “he didn’t recall why he sent it”. As Joel Bainerman pointed: “Why can a doctor be sued for malpractice of his profession but a national leader can just say he forgot, and no further investigation is required” (page 22, The Crimes of a President).

One person whose name appeared on several documents concerning the Iran-Contra affair was Donald Gregg, Bush’s National Security Adviser. Gregg had also been the CIA liaison to the Otis Pike committee. He was a man who Bush believed could keep secrets.

In 1985, Gregg sent Felix Rodriguez (a member of Shackley’s Secret Team) to El Salvador to aid the Contra re-supply effort. General Paul Gorman, the head of U.S. military forces in Central America, wrote a memo to the U.S. ambassador in El Salvador. In it he said: “”Rodriquez is operating as a private citizen but his acquaintanceship to the VP (Bush) is real enough, going back to the latter days of DCI (Director of the CIA)” (The Progressive, March, 1989).

The problem for Bush is that too many people knew about his relationship with Felix Rodriquez (Leslie Cockburn, Out of Control, page 224). Bush was eventually forced to admit that along with Gregg he had met with Felix Rodriguez three times. However, he argued that he had not discussed Nicaragua with him (CBS 60 Minutes, March, 1987). He also defended Gregg’s decision to deny these meetings with Rodriguez. According to Bush, Gregg had not lied, he merely “forgot” about these meetings.

At the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Narcotics, Terrorism and International Operations, headed by John Kerry, Richard Brenneke, a CIA operative, claimed that Donald Gregg was the Washington contact for a complicated arms/drugs deal that was part of the Iran-Contra operation. This story was leaked to Newsweek magazine. Bush responded to the story by claiming that it was Kerry who had leaked these “slanderous allegations” to the magazine. Bush added that “this guy whom they are quoting is the guy who is trying to save his own neck” (The Washington Post, 17th May, 1988). This is indeed ridiculous because Brenneke had not been charged with any offence.

Bush’s story eventually became that Gregg was working on his own initiative and that he was unaware of his role in the Iran-Contra affair.

The links between Bush and Shackley failed to go away. The role of Felix Rodriguez was particularly embarrassing as it provided another association with Shackley. The same was true of Chi Chi Quintero, Thomas Clines and Luis Posada. All four men had worked for Shackley since the early 1960s. They had also been active covert operators when Shackley was taking orders from George Bush during the period when he had been director of the CIA. (Leslie Cockburn, Out of Control, pages 121-122, 181-83)

It was reported in the Miami Herald that two men, one an arms dealer and the other a security consultant, had been working for Dr. Mario Castejon, a politician from Guatemala. They told the reporters that Shackley was used as a channel to the Agency regarding the Contra-Iran deals (The Miami Herald, 26th March, 1987).

Shackley denied the story. Congressional investigators did not believe him and sent him a subpoena requesting all documents he had related to various companies and individuals. It was during this period that evidence emerged that Shackley had met General Manucher Hashemi, the former head of SAVAK’s counterintelligence division, and Manuchehr Ghorbanifar, at the Atlantic Hotel in Hamburg, on 22nd November, 1985. Shackley had no option to admit to this meeting.

Cameron Holmes, the lead investigator, was convinced that Shackley was deeply involved in the Iran-Contra scandal. As he explained when he was interviewed by David Corn: “How could Shackley be the one person in this mob unaware of what was going on? Why was he so insistent he had not picked up a single whiff of the Contra operation or the Iran initiative? There was no crime in knowing. Shackley proclaimed his ignorance too much.” (page 390, David Corn, Blind Ghost).

Holmes was shocked when special counsel Lawrence Walsh decided not to pursue Shackley. He was not even called as a witness. Walsh did not even take Shackley’s deposition until after Congress had finished its hearings on the affair.

However, Thomas Clines told David Corn in 1992 that in 1985 he was purchasing arms for the Contras in Lisbon when he had a call from Richard Secord. He told him that Shackley had suggested that he knew a better arms dealer in Lisbon than the one Clines was using (page 391, David Corn, Blind Ghost). This confirms that Shackley played a role in the Iran-Contra affair. As did Bush. I suspect that it was a leading role but they knew that as long as they stuck together, they would survive. The only possible problem was that their underlings would give evidence against them if they were brought to trial. Thanks to Lawrence Walsh and the George Bush pardons, this never happened.

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Very impressive. It brings back bad memories of when all this crap was happening: Bush being "out of the loop," the Gipper telling Ollie "I didn't know (understand?)," Caspar getting pardoned (for whatever he did), McFarlane trying to OD on valium, etc. My favorite event was the cake that Reagan sent to the Ayatollah via North, that got eaten at the Tehran airport.


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If Ted Shackley was so good at covert funding, would it be safe to assume that he was directing the Nugan Hand machinations?

Fianally, I was wondering if there are any connections with Nugan Hand and later financing adventures such as Iran Contra, and especially BCCI. I mean connections beyond Shackley and Clines involvement in both.

Are there any other lines of continuity?

The Nugan Hand Bank started carrying out its CIA work in 1976. Shackley was Deputy Director of Operations at the time. He therefore was second-in-command of all CIA covert activity. Given his close association with people like Michael Hand, Bernie Houghton and Edwin Wilson, Shackley is the prime suspect. Thomas Clines was probably the field officer (he seems to have played a major role in the clean-up operation). However, it is unlikely that Shackley would have used Nugan Hand as the CIA banker without the approval of the director of the CIA. Who was the director of the CIA in 1976? George Herbert Walker Bush.



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It might now be worth taking a second look at Gene Wheaton's interview by Matt Ehling on Declassified Radio (4th January, 2002):

Carl Jenkins took me to the, what they called the Humanitarian Aid Office for the State Department in Roslyn, Virginia, and I met with Chris Arcos who was the deputy for that program to a guy, an Ambassador Dumeling. We were trying to get some of the 27 million dollars of cargo to haul to Honduras for the Contras that Congress had approved, and we were told several times in no uncertain terms that the only way we could do it was to work through Dick Secord and that aviation supply route, and I refused to do that because I knew that Secord had an unsavory reputation; he been forced into retirement out of the Air Force as a major general in ’83 over the Ed Wilson scandal in Libya. So I was advising the people around Ollie North, the liaison people between me and him, that they were dealing with a bunch of unsavory characters that had a reputation, an official public reputation, of causing extreme embarrassment to the government. At that time I didn’t... I thought the contractors - Secord and that group - I thought they had a legitimate covert contract with the government, but they were also diverting aircraft and hauling illegal cargo on the side, and I was receiving direct information about their movement.

Well, in May of ’86, I personally briefed CIA director Bill Casey, and of course he looked startled. I had no idea at the time that he was one of the masterminds behind all this illegal stuff, but he said he’d look into it and get back to me. And he said he had to leave the country the next day, and would be back in touch with me in two or three weeks. It was exactly the same weekend, or the week, I think the 30th of May, when I met with him, or the 31st, when Ollie North was on that secret trip with Bud McFarland to Tehran. So I suppose Casey was going over to Israel to brief them about it. I didn’t know that at the time. Casey sent a message to me after he got back saying that the agency wasn’t involved in any of this stuff, and that the government wasn’t involved in this illegal diversion, and "If you think you can do anything about it, let the chips fall where they may," as a bluff. I’m just a raggedy little old Oklahoma country boy, retired chief warrant officer, and I guess he figured I couldn’t do it.

Anyway, as result of those briefings in the summer of ‘86, and I was kind of - this struck me as being treason and grand larceny on a major scale, stealing from the taxpayers’ money, - and having been a cop all my life, I thought it was kind of wrong. So I got with a couple of Washington D.C. journalists that I knew. And one of them was a two-time Pulitzer prize winning journalist by the name of Newt Royce. And Newt Royce and Mike Icoca, who was a free-lancer who was writing with him - Newt at that time was with the Hearst newspaper chain in Washington D. C., with their bureau. I had information - direct knowledge from the Saudi royal family - that kickbacks were being, from the Saudi AWACS program, were being used to help fund the Contras, to buy weapons from different countries around the world. And I furnished Newt with the names of other people that could back up what I was saying, and that this was a scam because Secord, who was on active duty after the Iranian revolution, was the chief architect of the Saudi AWACS program. The Saudi AWACS program was identical to our Iran IBEX program that we had to close down in Iran. They just moved it across the Persian Gulf to Saudi Arabia and renamed it. It was an 8 billion dollar program, and those guys were talking about 10 % or 15%, so you’re talking about an 800 million dollars minimum, estimate, that that these guys could get whenever they wanted it, out of the bag.

And Newt and Mike Icoca wrote it up on the wire service for Hearst newspaper chain, and it went out on the wires and was made a front page headline of the San Francisco Examiner on the 27th of July of 1986. As a result of that article in August of ‘86, Congressman Dante Facell wrote a letter to then secretary of defense Casper Weinberger asking him if it was true that foreign money, kickback money on programs, was being used to fund foreign covert operations. And in September of ‘86 Cap Weinberger wrote a letter back to Facell denying that it was being done by the U.S. government, with any knowledge of it being kickback money. That eventually, one of George Bush’s last acts - and Larry Walsh, the special prosecutor, indicted Weinberger as a result of that correspondence - and Bush pardoned him as one of his last acts. And that’s how this whole mess got started.

This stuff goes back to the scandals of the 70s... of Watergate and Richard Helms, the CIA director, being convicted by Congress of lying to Congress, of Ted Shackley and Tom Clines and Dick Secord and a group of them being forced into retirement as a result of the scandal over Edmond P. Wilson’s training of Libyan terrorists in conjunction with these guys, and moving C-4 explosives to Libya. They decided way back when, ‘75-’76, during the Pike and Church Committee hearings, that the Congress was their enemy. They felt that the government had betrayed them and that they were the real heroes in this country and that the government became their enemy. In the late 70s, in fact, after Gerry Ford lost the election in ’76 to Jimmy Carter, and then these guys became exposed by Stansfield Turner and crowd for whatever reason... there were different factions involved in all this stuff, and power plays... Ted Shackley and Vernon Walters and Frank Carlucci and Ving West and a group of these guys used to have park-bench meetings in the late 70s in McClean, Virginia so nobody could overhear they conversations. They basically said, "With our expertise at placing dictators in power," I’m almost quoting verbatim one of their comments, "why don’t we treat the United States like the world’s biggest banana republic and take it over?" And the first thing they had to do was to get their man in the White House, and that was George Bush."

Reagan never really was the president. He was the front man. They selected a guy that had charisma, who was popular, and just a good old boy, but they got George Bush in there to actually run the White House. They’d let Ronald Reagan and Nancy out of the closet and let them make a speech and run them up the flagpole and salute them and put them back in the closet while these spooks ran the White House. They made sure that George Bush was the chairman of each of the critical committees involving these covert operations things. One of them was the Vice President’s Task Force On Combating Terrorism. They got Bush in as the head of the vice president’s task force on narcotics, the South Florida Task Force, so that they could place people in DEA and in the Pentagon and in customs to run interference for them in these large-scale international narcotics and movement of narcotics money cases. They got Bush in as the chairman of the committee to deregulate the Savings and Loans in ’83 so they could deregulate the Savings and Loans, so that they would be so loosely structured that they could steal 400, 500 billion dollars of what amounted to the taxpayers’ money out of these Savings and Loans and then bail them out. They got hit twice: they stole the money out of the Savings and Loans, and then they sold the Savings and Loans right back to the same guys, and then the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation - the taxpayers money - paid for bailing out the Savings and Loans that they stole the money from.. and they ran the whole operation, and Bush was the de facto president even before the ‘88 election when he became president.

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As I understand it, Shackley's specialty was covert funding (Trento and Cockburn both describe Laos in 1966 as the first CIA opperation entirely funded covertly). If covert funding was the specialty of Shackley, I am wondering if there are any documented connections that we know about between Bush and Shackley during the Zapata Oil Period of roughly 1958-65.

Trento mentions that Bush's Zapata oil was one of the forerunners of off-shore drilling. These riggs (oil riggs that is) were usefull for anti-castro opperations from 1960 on, according to Trento. Given Shackleys Miami postition at this time, and his covert funding, shell company specialty, a close relationship between these two seems quite possible.

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John, can you help us spell out connections between GHWB, Nugan Hand Bank, Zapata Oil, Castle Bank and Trust Ltd., and Paul Helliwell ? I think the connections, then, between Shackley, Nugan Hand, BOP, and GHWB and how they connect [either tangentially or otherwise] to the JFK assassination might become a bit more clear.

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John, can you help us spell out connections between GHWB, Nugan Hand Bank, Zapata Oil, Castle Bank and Trust Ltd., and Paul Helliwell ? I think the connections, then, between Shackley, Nugan Hand, BOP, and GHWB and how they connect [either tangentially or otherwise] to the JFK assassination might become a bit more clear.

In Prelude to Terror, Joe Trento argues that Ted Shackley’s “Secret Team” began during the Carter presidency. During his campaign Carter claimed he was going to sort out this “rogue CIA”. When he took office he sacked George Bush as director of the CIA. He initially selected Ted Sorenson to become the new head of the CIA (that would have been interesting as he was one of JFK’s aides who had doubts about the Warren Commission). However, Sorenson was blocked by the Senate and therefore Carter appointed Stansfield Turner, who was ordered to clean-up covert operations. In August, 1977, Turner ordered that the CIA reduce the Directorate of Operations by 823 positions. People like Shackley and Clines were told their careers were finished. Trento argues that it was at this point that Shackley decided to privatise some of CIA’s covert operations. The money for these activities came what was called the Safari Club. This was established when George Bush was director of the CIA. This was admitted by a speech made by Prince Turki (February 2002). He claimed:

“In 1976, after the Watergate matters took place here (in the US), your intelligence community was literally tied up by Congress. It could not do anything… In order to compensate for that, a group of countries got together in the hope of fighting Communism and established what was called the Safari Club. The Safari Club included France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran. The principal aim of this club was that we would share information with each other and help each other in countering Soviet influence worldwide, and especially in Africa.”

Turki admitted that Saudi Arabia had taken over financing some covert operations. The Safari Club needed a network of banks to finance its intelligence operations. According to Joe Trento: “with the official blessing of George Bush, Sheikh Kamal Adham transformed a small Pakistani merchant bank, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), into a worldwide money-laundering machine” (page 104).

Shackley used some of this money to run some covert operations that could not be traced back to the CIA. He also used Edwin Wilson's companies to raise money for other operations. This included arms dealing and drug running. Trento argues that it was this decision that compromised US intelligence and led to 9/11 (it also helps to explain Bush’s relationship with Saudi Arabia and his decision to blame countries like Iraq and Syria for this terrorist attack).

I go along with most of Trento analysis of this situation. However, there is considerable evidence that this privatisation of some covert operations began as early as 1962. Some of this evidence appears in Trento’s book, but it is not accepted by him because it conflicts with the theory that the CIA was behind the assassination of JFK. In his book Secret History of the CIA, Trento argues that Fidel Castro was behind the assassination. This was based on information supplied by James Jesus Angleton.

My theory is that the Secret Team began in 1962. The key figure in the operation was Paul Helliwell. He was transferred to Miami in 1960 to provide business cover for the CIA’s Cuban operations. This is where he meets Ted Shackley and Tom Clines. After the Bay of Pigs he becomes CIA paymaster for JM/WAVE (page 29, The Prelude to Terror). Helliwell got some of this money from arms and drug dealing. In this way, Shackley is able to finance unofficial CIA operations. I believe one of these operations was the assassination of JFK. This was the beginning of Shackley’s use of anti-Castro Cubans assassination teams. Shackley later used these same people (most of them had been members of Operation 40) to murder people in Laos, Vietnam, Chile, etc. This nearly came unstuck with the killing of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Kapen Moffitt in Washington on 21st September, 1976. Two of Shackley’s Cubans, Virgilio Pablo Paz and Dionisio Suarez carried out the assassination. George Bush was able to block the internal investigation that suggested that Shackley was responsible.

These illegal Shackley operations were financed by Paul Helliwell. He did this via CIA fronted companies such as the Sea Supply Corporation in Bangkok and the Castle Bank and Trust in Nassau. As a result of an IRS investigation, Shackley needed another way of paying for his operations. In 1976 he arranged for two of his former CIA operatives in Laos and Vietnam, Michael Hand and Bernie Houghton, to establish the Nugan-Hand Bank in Australia. He also used Edwin Wilson as his “cut-out” to organize these illegal drug and arms deals that went through Nugan Hand. It was also used to pay for assassinations of people who posed a danger to Shackley’s clients.

However, the Nugan Hand bank collapsed in 1980. Both Frank Nugan and Michael Hand were eliminated. According to Trento, Edwin Wilson was sacrificed to the authorities in order to distance the CIA from these activities.

With the demise of Nugan Hand Bank, the CIA had to rely on the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) to fund its activities. The money for these operations came from Saudi Arabia and this again provides a link to 9/11 and helps to explain the theme for Trento’s book.

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