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An interview with Daniel Hopsicker

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Daniel Hopsicker is a journalist, author and television producer. He is the author of Barry and the Boys: The CIA, the Mob and America's Secret History (2001) a book about the CIA asset, Barry Seal, and Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up in Florida (2006).

Hopsicker has also produced several videos including Secret Heartbeat of America - The CIA and Drugs, Masters of the Universe - The Secret Birth of the Federal Reserve, In Search of the American Drug Lords and The Big Fix - 2000.

(1) Could you explain the reasons why you decided to become an investigative journalist?

(2) Is there any real difference between the role of an investigative journalist and a historian?

(3) How do you decide about what to write about?

(4) You have written books and produced films on how government agencies have become involved in the drug industry. This appears to be a very dangerous activity. Have you come under any pressure to leave this subject alone?

(5) Did the publication of Barry and the Boys cause you any problems?

(6) The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported that the “committee believes, on the basis of the available evidence, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy”. However, very few historians have been willing to explore this area of American history. Lawrence E. Walsh’s Iran-Contra Report suggests that senior politicians were involved in and covered-up serious crimes. Yet very few historians have written about this case in any detail? Why do you think that historians and journalists appear to be so unwilling to investigate political conspiracies?

(7) What is your basic approach to writing about what I would call “secret history”? How do you decide what sources to believe? How do you manage to get hold of documents that prove that illegal behaviour has taken place?

(8) You quote Debbie Seal as saying: "Barry Seal flew a getaway plane out of Dallas after JFK was killed." Did she say who he was working for when he did this?

(9) In your book you provide evidence that raises doubts about the Medellin Cartel role in the killing of Barry Seal. Who do you think was behind this murder?

(10) In your book you show Barry Seal was linked to George H. W. Bush. Do you think it is possible that this relationship dates back to Operation 40 in the early 1960s? Are you aware that there have been claims that Bush was closely involved in the early days of Operation 40? For example, according to Fabian Escalante, a senior officer of the Cuban Department of State Security (G-2), in 1960 Richard Nixon recruited an "important group of businessmen headed by George Bush (Snr.) and Jack Crichton, both Texas oilmen, to gather the necessary funds for the operation". This suggests that Operation 40 agents were involved in freelance work. (CIA Covert Operations 1959-1962: The Cuba Project, 2004, pages 42 and 43)

In 1990 Common Cause magazine argued that: "The CIA put millionaire and agent George Bush in charge of recruiting exiled Cubans for the CIA’s invading army; Bush was working with another Texan oil magnate, Jack Crichton, who helped him in terms of the invasion." (4th March, 1990) This story was linked to the release of "a memorandum in that context addressed to FBI chief J. Edward Hoover and signed November 1963, which reads: Mr. George Bush of the CIA" (The Nation, 13th August, 1988)

Reinaldo Taladrid and Lazaro Baredo claim that in 1959 George Bush was asked “to cooperate in funding the nascent anti-Castro groups that the CIA decided to create”. The man “assigned to him for his new mission” was Felix Rodriguez. (Granma, 16th January, 2006)

Were you able to discover if Barry Seal was in contact with people such as Ted Shackley, Tom Clines, Felix Rodriguez, David Morales, Rafael ‘Chi Chi’ Quintero, Luis Posada, Orlando Bosch, Roland Masferrer, Eladio del Valle, Guillermo Novo, Ricardo Chavez, Pedro Luis Diaz Lanz, David Atlee Phillips, E. Howard Hunt, Rip Robertson and Henry Hecksher, between 1959 and 1963?

(11) In 1995 Gene Wheaton approached the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) with information on the death of Kennedy. Anne Buttimer, Chief Investigator of the ARRB, recorded that: "Wheaton told me that from 1984 to 1987 he spent a lot of time in the Washington DC area and that starting in 1985 he was "recruited into Ollie North's network" by the CIA officer he has information about. He got to know this man and his wife, a "'super grade high level CIA officer" and kept a bedroom in their Virginia home. His friend was a Marine Corps liaison in New Orleans and was the CIA contact with Carlos Marcello. He had been responsible for "running people into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs." His friend is now 68 or 69 years of age... Over the course of a year or a year and one-half his friend told him about his activities with training Cuban insurgency groups. Wheaton said he also got to know many of the Cubans who had been his friend's soldiers/operatives when the Cubans visited in Virginia from their homes in Miami. His friend and the Cubans confirmed to Wheaton they assassinated JFK. Wheaton's friend said he trained the Cubans who pulled the triggers. Wheaton said the street level Cubans felt JFK was a traitor after the Bay of Pigs and wanted to kill him. People "above the Cubans" wanted JFK killed for other reasons." (Anne Buttimer, Assassination Records Review Board Report, 12th July, 1995)

It was later revealed that Wheaton's friend was Carl E. Jenkins, A senior CIA officer, Jenkins had been appointed in 1960 as Chief of Base for Cuban Project. In 1963 Jenkins provided paramilitary training for Manuel Artime and Rafael ‘Chi Chi’ Quintero and other members of the Movement for the Recovery of the Revolution (MRR). In an interview with William Law and Mark Sobel in the summer of 2005, Gene Wheaton claimed that Jenkins and Quintero were both involved in the assassination of Kennedy.

Do you think Gene Wheaton is a reliable witness? Do you know anything about Carl E. Jenkins and Chi Chi Quintero?

(12) If you were publishing an updated edition of Barry and the Boys, what new material would you include?

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