Former Salisbury police officer L. C. Underwood's indictment by the State of North Carolina for the murder of Viktor Gunnarsson, the leading suspect in the shooting of statsminister Olof Palme a decade earlier, in October 1995, and my indictment of the CIA in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy at the same time, though entirely of different natures, directions, and importance, strangely put us in similar situations when it came to America's covert government, especially the Agency. While Underwood was being set up to be imprisoned for the murders of Gunnarsson, and the mother of a former girl friend, Mrs. Catherine Miller - I was being increasingly poisoned by tiny quantities of ricin in food I ate regularly at the Thai restaurant in Caldas da Rainha, Portugal. Neither of us suspected that friends, acquaintances, and professional people we knew were actively involved in helping the federal government use us in deadly ways which only suited its interests.
Of course, by this time, Woolsey was no longer DCI, his having voluntarily resigned after he superficially covered up the spying by Aldrich 'Rick' Ames for the Soviets the previous December. To keep the process going - since the Republicans had captured control of the House in the November elections, and the DCI was already having trouble with the Democrats in the Senate, especially Senator Dennis DeConcini, Woolsey, a Democrat, decided that it was best for the Agency if he left. His shrill efforts to sell the Agency to potential Senate supporters, Rhodri Jeffrey-Jones has written in Cloak and Dollar: A History of American Secret Intelligence, were already backfiring. (p. 262)
Woolsey was ultimately replaced by a hand-picked clone in the federal government, Deputy Secretary of Defense John M. Deutch. President Clinton had wanted Deutch all along because he had image of an outsider, hell-bent on radical reform of the Agency - another James R. Schlesinger who had radically downsized the Operations Directorate in the wake of Watergate - but Deutch just wanted more covert experience added to his academic CV rather than serious reform. While Deutch was added to the President's Cabinet - recognition which had only been granted to 'Wild Bill' Casey during the Reagan administration - it was a totally symbolic reward as Clinton always conducted serious business in the Oval Office with his cronies.
To head off any serious change at Langley, Clinton appointed the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community, headed by just retired SOD Les Aspin, and when he died suddenly three months later, he was followed by former SOD under Carter, Harold Brown. While the commission made its inquiries, and wrote up its ambitious report, DCI Deutch volunteered to the press that the Agency was expanding its role in countering terrorism by conducting covert operations wherever they were required, and against anyone from practitioners of genocide to drug traffickers. At the same time, Deutch promised a more transparent Agency which would be much more forthcoming with information about its operation than ever before - what turned out to be just another "snow job", according to distinguished historian of the Vietnam War, George C. Herring.
Behind the scenes, the Agency continued to engage in damage-control caused by the Ames spying scandal, though the reprimanded officers of the Operations Directorate who had stayed at their posts, DDO Hugh E. 'Ted' Price and his assistant, Thomas Tweeten, had by then even retired. The new DDO, of all people, was Jack Devine, a deputy chief of station in Rome, when Ames's spying became most apparent. Devine had been more interested in fighting his chiefs, Alan D. Wolfe and John 'Jack' Gower, rather than getting to the bottom of Ames's bad job performance, and extravagant expenditures, though a female ops officer colleague of his had constantly complained of his drunkenness on duty. Devine brushed off her complaints (David Wise, Nightmover, p. 309), and supported Ames's claim that he had made huge sums on the market through his broker to afford purchasing things like a Jaguar when another colleague complained. (p. 158)
Devine was fortunate not be be reprimanded when both Wolfe and Gower were, as Wise explained: "Clearly, the Rome station was not interested in disciplining Aldrich Ames. So Woolsey reprimanded Gower, since he had been the number two man in the station. But the chief of station, Alan Wolfe, had retired. Woolsey could have fired Gower for failing to crack down on Ames, but Wolfe, Gower's boss, was beyond reach. Woolsey contented himself with sending both Gower and Wolfe letters of reprimand." (p. 309) How Devine, who held Gower's post when Ames's performance was at its worst, escaped at least a reprimand in all this is mistifying. How he went on to become DDO can only be explained in terms of the old-boys' network rewarding their own.
By the time Deutch was confirmed in July, the new DCI, thanks to imput from his new DD George Tenet, would have none of this getting back at his old friend, Woolsey. Tenet, who had served as Staff Director of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and then as Clinton's intelligence adviser, knew that there were far more pressing domestic matters which had to be fixed, starting with solving the Gunnarsson murder. Tenet was a clone of former DCI Robert Gates, and a protégé of former DCI Richard Helms. Tenet's colleague on the NSC was Jennone Walker, the CIA station chief in Stockholm when Gunnarsson, among others, was set up as a fall guy for statsminister Olof Palme's assassination. Deutch made sure about getting out the message by making Jeffrey H. Smith, who was Tenet's successor at the Senate Intelligence Committee, and who Woolsey appointed to head a panel of the Joint Security Commission to fix the Agency's problems in the wake of the Ames scandal, as his general counsel.
Deutch immediately replaced Devine by David Cohen as DDO. Cohen was a gung-ho domestic operative who so wanted to take advantage of the assests he had that he combined the domestic and foreign assets divisions into a National Resources Division. This division, which had a number of field stations around the country, could take advantage of the law enforcement hiatus with existed between the Agency and the Bureau in cases which concerned foreign nationals - defectors, foreigners suspected of engaging in criminal activity, and foreign embassy people thought to be engaged in spying. The division was only prevented from spying on American citizens and corporations because of the Agency's excesses in the events leading up to Watergate.
Still, the domestic asset division got Jim Marrs to fabricate evidence for his book Crossfire that I, an American citizen, was still trying to discredit former President Richard Nixon - Marrs claiming that he had had phone conversations with me during the early 1980s in which I confessed that I was maintaining the credibility of a forged FBI memo on the matter which I knew to be untrue. (For more on this, see "Confessions of an American Exile" in the Trowbridge Archive.) Marrs waited to publish the book until the end of the decade in the hope that in my taking leave of the country, I would miss its setting me up for murder.
Then, the foreign asset division pursued me in Portugal through the activities of Georgia high school teacher Randall Lynn attempting to find out the state of my research into the JFK assassination, especially my ideas about Jim Garrison's investigation of it - a matter so dangerous that when I pursued the American Embassy about the Agency's illegal activites against me, Vice Consul (a position traditionally held by a CIA agent) Michael D. Thomas felt obliged in a March 24, 1995 letter to write that ..."there is no agency of the United States Government government engaged in illegal activities against you." Of course, by this time, the Portuguese Intelligence Service was handling the dirty work - seeing that I was being poisoned as an American renegade, seeking to assist any enemy of Washington's.
Underwood in North Carolina had similar experiences with the domestic and foreign asset divisions, though he, like me, had no idea about what was happening. His indictment in October 1995 for Gunnarsson's murder came as a bolt out of the blue as Keller had assured him that he had nothing to fear from the Swede's shooting, and was claiming now to police about Underwood's alleged activities which related more to the killing of Mrs. Miller, the mother of his former girl friend, Kay Weden - what Keller's former girl friend, Cherlyn Lasham Mack, destroyed in a statement to police on October 24, 1995.
Right after Underwood's arrest, Keller testified that the former Salisbury police officer, in a most agitated state, demanded the return of his .38 caliber revolver in Mack's presence - what she had witnessed him receiving earlier - and in return Underwood paid him $500. It was shortly after this that Mrs. Miller was murdered by a weapon of this description. Ms. Mack testified that she never witnessed any such exchanges of a weapon, and that the money was a loan Keller requested in order to buy Christmas presents. (10/24/1995 statement, p. 1, paragraph 3)
As the Agency's foreign asset division was now concentrating on getting me, its domestic asset division was now seeking Underwood's conviction for the murder of Gunnarsson, relying upon the state's judicial precedent that a murder committed in the same time frame, by a similar weapon, and by the same apparent suspect would be admissible - would have probative value - in the trial of another killing. In short, the state was working on the assumption that if it could show that Underwood might well have murdered Mrs. Miller, he could also have killed Gunnarsson shortly before. How this could establish guilt in either case beyond a reasonable doubt still remained to be established.
The team that Cohen put together at the Operations Division indicated quite clearly that it was to continue the agenda that the domestic assets division had been pursuing up until then - the elimination of the Gunnarsson problem. The Swede had provided all the necessary conditions for it to get involved in his activities, murder, and the set up of Underwood for the killing. Gunnarson was a foreigner who could be considered a defector, a foreign terrorist taking advantage of American security, or an alien engaging in drug trafficking. After all, he had been identified in Börje Wingren's Han Sköt Olof Palme as the statsminister's assassin - what apparently the domestic services division had used to have Rex Allen Keller, Jr. kill him on December 3, 1993. Keller's drug dealing from his store - what Underwood tried unsuccessfully to catch him engaged in (Ltr. to author, dated November 22, 2004) - would undoubtedly put him in contact with the high-flying, drug-pusher Gunnarsson.
Cohen put together a team at the Operations Division which showed that it was to put a lid on the Ames scandal at Underwood's expense. New new ADDO was General David Barrato who was formerly the operations director of the domestic services division - what Keller was alluding to in his letter to Underwood about who killed Gunnarsson and why just before his release from the federal pentitentiary. The new ADDO for intelligence operations was David Edger, the former deputy director of the Counternarcotics Center who was so involved in determining whether his subordinate Ames or the Leningrad station chief when Palme was assassinated Freddie Woodruff was the Agency's Soviet mole. (David Wise, Nightmover, p.232ff.) The DO's new counterintelligence chief was Paul Redmond, Jr., the former head of the molehunt, who was to keep the lid on covert operations justified by such analysis.
The shakeup at the DO was so drastic that Jack Downing, the veteran operator in Moscow, and Beijing, resigned in protest, only to be returned as DDO by then DCI Tenet in July 1997 after Cohen had moved on after the Gunnarsson problem had been solved. Downing was also upset by Nora Slatkin, a former congressional intelligence committee staffer, and an assistant of Deutch's while at the Pentagon, becoming the new Executive Director. She had the responsibility of actually disciplining the agents Woolsey had reprimanded for failing to catch Ames's spying earlier, and refused to authorize almost all the covert operations that operators requested
Devine was then sent to London to coordinate the Anglo-Anerican response to the appearance of Christopher Andrew's For the President's Eyes Only: Secret Intelligence and the American Presidency from Washington to Bush which had just been published. Andrew was particularly concerned about how his use of intelligence sources in Washington and London to explain the most controversial actions by the Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan administrations would be viewed by the public.
The first directive Deutch and Slatkin issued prohibited case officers from using pnentration agents who were not good people - individuals who did not have clean human rights records. In light of the CIA's recent intelligence failures - the suicide attack of the USS Cole in Aden, the bombings of the Embassies in East Africa, and, of course, 9/11 - critics have been quick to blame this directive for them. The complaint being that only penetration agents with bad human rights records are likely to infiltrate Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
The directive, though, was not intended for dealing with the future but cleaning up the past, and preventing a recurrence of the Palme problem. Like Reagan's May 12, 1986 executive order rescinding the 1985 "license to kill" after the assassination in Stockholm, a public relations effort, as William Blum has shown in Rogue State, which didn't change policy (p. 41), the directive was making it seem that the Agency was no longer to use agents like Felipe Vidal Santiago aka Charles Morgan, the notorious drug trafficker and hit man, who had tried to recruit Gunnarsson and Jovan on Birchan to kill the statsminister. "A public advocate of international terrorism against pro-Castro targets," Peter Dale Scott and Jonathan Marshall have written in Cocaine Politics, "Vidal has reportedly been arrested at least seven times in Miami on narcotics and weapons charges." (p. 17) Vidal was the leading suspect in more murders, and attempted murders surrounding the Iran-Contra scandal than anyone else.
My indictment of the Agency for carrying out many illegal domestic operations, headed by the plot to asssassinate President Kennedy, coincided precisely with the Operations Directorate's policy of expanding covert operations, especially against domestic opponents. The same day - September 12, 1995 - I sent my letter to an acquaintance well-connected in Caldas da Rainha, Portugal to the CIA, bitterly complaining of secret government's growing attempts to end speculation about its murderous plotting, DCI Deutch was outlining DDO Cohen's program at a Washington press conference. It was a call to battle stations against anyone who would leak its worst secrets.
I naively fell again within its sights by writing a scathing critique of Ernest May's review in The Times Literary Supplement of Andrew's history of the CIA - what I also noted as an example of a close colleague assessing the work of another, a practice the same issue only noted was condemned in principle by the Director of the Institute of Historical Research. Andrew's book, I claimed, was essentially an official history of the Agency, especially thanks to help supplied by former DCI Helms, which tarred former Presidents, particularly JFK and Nixon, to its benefit. May is a Harvard professor who helped provide Andrew with a visiting professorship in the spring of 1992 during which he wrote the outline for the book.
Normally, since my critique was not published, it would not be worthy of mention, especially in an article of this nature, if I had not sent a copy of it to Andrew at his Cambridge University address. While he, of course, made no acknowledgement of even having received it, I then sent the outline of the book I proposed to write to the publisher Frank Cass, hoping that an article that I had given at a legal history conference, and was printed in a volume it published might interest it in my proposal. After an inordinate length of time considering it, the publisher declined. It was only later that I learned that Andrew was the editor of its magazine on intelligence, and that he had undoubtedly been responsible for rejecting it.
Then I wrote a critical response to an article that Max Holland wrote for the November 1995 issue of American Heritage, "The Key to the Warren Report," little realizing that it too would be of interest to Cohen's Operations Directorate. Holland's piece was a most silly one, claiming that the failure of the public to believe the Report was because of little white-lies that the intelligence services had engaged in to protect alleged national security interests during Kennedy's killing - like how those about the high-tech balloons found 40 years before in Roswell, New Mexico had spawned all kinds of conspiracy theories about a secret but most straightforward matter. I suggested a dozen leads about the Dallas assassination which, if investigated seriously, could lead to solving the conspiracy in a similar length of time.
I then send my critique, along with the following letter, to the Senate Select Committte on Inteligence whose head was Oklahoma Senator David Boren, close friend and mentor of DD George Tenet:
Congressional hand-wringing over the performance of the Central Intelligence Agency in the Rick Ames affair is the hight of hypocrisy, and you know it. Since its inception, you have given it unlimited resources to do what it wants, and it has done so. Passage of its demands for funds has been a foregone conclusion. Consequently, it has become a state within a state, and the few times the Congress has had to review some of its most terrible acts, it has struck its head in the sand, and gone along.
The events which most readily come to mind are those surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Instead of investigating the government-led conspiracy which did it, and covered it up, you just looked the other way. When it came time for the leading conspirator, Richard Helms, to be rewarded by being promoted DCI, you eagerly went along. When the House finally got a chance to review the findings of the Warren Coomission that Lee Harvey Oswald alone did it, all it could add was that he might have had the help of the Mafia. This performance by a legislature is on the par of a communist-dominated one where an executive simply dictates what is done, and how it is explained to be people.
If you have any integrity left, you will review its whole history, an inquiry which, I believe, must result in a vast change in its organization, functioning, control, and accountability. Your inquiry should center on how Peter Wright, "The Fifth Man in MI5," took over American intelligence, first the FBI with things like the Venona program, and then the CIA with assassination plots and counter-insurgency plans, what he had tried to carry out for Soviet benefit in Egypt and Cyprus. Wright was "Elli", the leading spy who informed the Soviets of the atomic bomb program and persuaded Stalin to undertake a crash program to develop his own. At CIA, Wright competely took over people like Helms, Bissell, Harvey, and Angleton, making the Agency the laughing-stock of the KGB.
To determine this, one does not need to go through Soviet files. One only has to read Spycatcher. Here, we see Wright not only making monkeys of the people at Langley, but also British intelligence. The betrayal of Goleniewski and the unnecessary destruction of Gordon Lonsdale, while Wright was charging that everyone else possible was the mole, leave no doubt about his identity at MI5. At CIA, Wright completely took over, thanks to Helms and Bissell (See p. 146ff., especially p. 154.), and the results were the assassination plots, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and the President's murder. And Oswald was the first recruit, as one would expect from a committed anti-communist working in the U-2 program in the Far East. He went to the Soviet Union, with all the help the Agency could amass, to assassinate Soviet leaders, and when this failed, he returned to the States to join Operation Little Egypt, the assassination program against Castro, named, in honor of Wright, for the British plan to assassinate Nasser. This is a rogue CIA which Helms in constantly lying about, claiming that the Kennedys authorized, and making Oswald the scapegoat of when things went so terribly wrong in Dallas.- Operation Cleopatra. (Operation Twist Board was the one to make it look as if Oswald, Lopez, and the people Garrison talks about were working for Castro.)
To give you a better idea of what I mean, I am enclosing a slightly-changed letter I just wrote to American Heritage about the latest article to cover-up the tragedy. If you want more information, I am happy to oblige.
Trowbridge H. Ford
Of course, I never heard from the committee in any way, but the Operations Division started gearing up in a more serious way to stop my whistle-blowing on the Agency, especially Helms. To make my sudden death seem either an accident, or the result of some embittered supporter of the CIA and Nixon if it looked suspicious, Jim DiEugenio put together a free, extra issue of Probe magazine for the holidays in which I was singled out as the disgruntled intelligence agent who tried, most falsely to destroy the former President. (For more on this, see "Confessions of an American Exile" in the Trowbridge Archive.) To back up DiEugenio's Chairman's Letter to the deceased President for my behavior, Lisa Pease provided the shortest articles to prove that the WP's Bob Woodward was apparently covering-up for me with his fraudulent claims about his reporting the scandal, his meetings with "Deep Throat", and the like.
It was in February 1996 that I experienced the near-fatal attack of ricin poisoning while driving to Spain in the mountains of Central Portugal. If I had not had the cardiovascular system of a kid, as my doctor in Sweden explained after the attacks had finally stopped, I believe I would have died then, and there.
While I was experiencing these increasing physical attacks, Underwood was being subjected to all kinds of criminal claims from mainly unknown sources which forced him to become a private detective if he hoped to escape being put away for life in a different way.