This has been an exceptionally brutal week at for me as is normal for a private practice CPA in February. In my world Mardi Gras day is simply another workday and I’m lucky if I can make it to get some ashes the next day. As is often the case with some of the topics we cover on Slabbed our posts derive from what are seemingly unrelated subjects and indeed some of our best blogging IMHO has derived from such serendipitous events. So a late night glance at a recent WaPo story re-printed in the Nation and World section of the Sun Herald earlier this week which mentioned Ed Meese coupled with me researching a tip that Lewis Unglesby (of Slabbed butt call fame) was part of the legal team involved on the back end of the Sherry murders is the genesis of this post.
So what does Ed Meese have to do with Lewis Unglesby and conservative values? How about drug running for starters as we take a look back in time to the mid 1980s and examine the case of CIA operative Barry Seal, specifically his murder, which was pinned on the Columbian Drug cartels. The Washington Weekly told the story about a decade later in August 1997 and it is there we begin:
“The biggest drug smuggler in American History was a CIA Agent.”
That’s the mind-boggling conclusion of a 6-month investigation into the life and death of Barry Seal, a pivotal figure of the Iran/Contra ’80s. Seal’s C123 military cargo plane figured prominently in two of the biggest and least-understood events of the decade, the Sandinista ‘drug- sting’ operation, designed to be the ‘Gulf of Tonkin Incident’ in a US- Nicaragua war, and the downing, six months after Seal’s assassination, of his beloved Fat Lady cargo plane over Nicaragua, with Eugene Hasenfus onboard, precipitating what came to be known, mistakenly, as Iran/Contra.
We have learned that the official cover-up of Seal’s CIA affiliation began before his body was cold.
Until now, the ‘official version of events’ retailed the popular legend of Barry Seal’s assassination, with Seal being gunned down by Colombians on a Medellin cartel hit.
Three Colombians were convicted of his murder, and while their cartel connections have been revealed to the world, their connection to Oliver North’s Enterprise has not. The ‘shooter team’ was armed by somebody with long experience with shooter teams, Miami CIA asset Jose Coutin, whose Miami gun shop also supplied weapons to the Contras.
They are part of what we call the Secret History; that is, that history of our life and times in which lone gunmen do NOT play any significant role.
As an old Hancock County guy this sounded familiar to me as what is now known as Stennis Airport played a little known role in arming the contra rebels in Nicaragua and served as a nice spot to unload the back hauled marijuana. I’ll circle back to that in a bit after we finish with Barry Seal as we continue:
Speculation has long been that Seal was assassinated, not on cartel orders, but at the behest of the CIA. But unless the Medellin cartel was giving orders to the FBI, which confiscated and then withheld evidence in Seal’s capital murder investigation in Baton Rouge Louisiana of February 1986, the ‘conspiracy theorists’ among us may turn out to be right: the CIA ordered the hit on Seal.
The Medellin ‘hit’ story has always had one big flaw: who would dare to kill one of the CIA’s own? Recall, for example, what the KGB did in Lebanon in the 80’s when one of their agents was kidnapped in the Bekaa Valley: if you didn’t hear that grisly story of Russian-retaliation-via- human-dismemberment, you were fortunate.
So a cartel hit on a CIA Agent is a dubious proposition. But the Medellin Cartel fulfilling the contract has always made a certain sense, at least to those who understand that the most important doctrine of American Foreign Policy is not the Monroe Doctrine, but the Doctrine of Plausible Deniability.
Plausible deniability is a great concept and as we’ll see being on the ground has its disadvantages when it comes to that concept as we continue:
When, for example, the Gambino Family (to cite another organized crime syndicate) finds it necessary to enforce discipline by ‘splashing’ one of their own, they may contract it out to another ‘outfit.’ But woe betide the organization that takes it on itself to kill one of their own without permission.
Our investigation, with some of its evidence presented here for the first time, proves that the biggest cocaine smuggler in American History, Barry Seal, was a CIA Agent. So, would the Medellin Cartel risk the wrath of the CIA to kill Seal?
Other than those whose cars get waved through the checkpoints at Langley Virginia, there has been only one person until today in a position to find out. And he had his doubts about the cartel-hit cover story, as well.
His name is Sam Dalton, and he was the New Orleans attorney who represented the Colombian hit men who killed Seal in the penalty phase of their trial. Sam Dalton subpoenaed the CIA about what he suspected was its complicity in Seal’s assassination in a court of law.
The “conspiracy theorists” among us (you know who you are) were right.
“We were trying to subpoena the CIA because we felt like they had documents, exhibits, and evidence that would indicate complicity in Seal’s assassination,” Dalton says slowly.
Through discovery, his investigation gained access to something more valuable than gold, the contents of the trunk of Barry Seal’s Cadillac on the night he died, and discovered that a cover-up was underway before Seal’s body had grown cold in the Baton Rouge morgue.
“The FBI went into the Baton Rouge Police Department and literally and physically seized the contents of that trunk from the Baton Rouge Police. In fact, the Baton Rouge Police probably would have had to draw their guns to keep possession of that trunk,” Dalton says today, in an explosive interview on the just-released 2-hour TV special “The Secret Heartbeat of America.”
His voice slows further, his words growing more deliberate. “And, actually, by law, the Baton Rouge Police should have done that, but they didn’t.”
Why didn’t they? What was there about Barry Seal that led the FBI and the CIA to refuse to cooperate with state officials in the most publicized assassination in Louisiana history?
Dalton wanted to know. And so he began a legal battle to gain access to the evidence seized. Even he sounds surprised that he was, eventually, at least partly successful.
“They (the CIA and FBI) wouldn’t even honor the subpoena,” he states, about the demands of the trial judge for the return of the seized evidence.
But then a wild card entered the picture, as wild cards often do in America, even today, in the form of a courageous state judge. “It wasn’t until a state judge really backed them up, and threatened to hold them in contempt, that they partially complied.”
Again we see the difference a courageous judge can make. Our own Bam Bam Bigelow wrote last year of Federal Judge Rakoff who dares to hold Bank of America accountable for their actions as opposed to Magistrate Walker who literally gave away the Farm as we continue:
Dalton described the brinkmanship necessary to gain access to what the defense should have had as a matter of course during discovery.
“If it hadn’t been for a good state judge, with enough courage to back the federal government up,” Dalton stated, “we’d have never gotten inside that trunk. He (the judge) made them give us that trunk back.”
And when the FBI finally did turn over the contents of the trunk they had obviously ransacked it first, Dalton says. “Some of the things that had been in it we didn’t get back.”
Then Dalton’s voice turns positively gleeful. “But they had missed a few things that indicated just how valuable that trunk was. Because that’s where that phone number was. That’s where we found George Bush’s private phone number. ”
“They were regularly talking to each other very seriously over what was probably a secure phone,” he states.
“Barry Seal was in direct contact with George Bush.”
Barry Seal and George Bush? Could they have been, secretly, one of Washington’s Fun Couples of the ’80’s?
Lewis Unglesby is today one of the most powerful and well-known attorneys in Louisiana. But back in 1986, he was just a 36-year-old lawyer who represented Barry Seal, and who, Unglesby himself admits, was made by Seal to operate on a “need-to-know basis.”
“I sat him down one time,” recalls Unglesby, talking about his relationship with Seal, “and said: I cannot represent you effectively unless I know what is going on. Barry smiled, and gave me a number, and told me to call it, and identify myself as him (Seal.)
I dialed the number, a little dubiously, and a pleasant female voice answered: ‘Office of the Vice President.'”
“This is Barry Seal,” Unglesby said into the phone.
“Just a moment, sir,” the secretary replied. “Then a man’s voice came on the line, identifying himself as Admiral somebody, and said to me, ‘Barry, where have you been?'”
“Excuse me, Sir, “Unglesby replied, “but my name is Lewis Unglesby and I’m Barry Seal’s attorney.”
There was a click, Unglesby relates. The phone went dead. “Seal just smiled when I looked over at him in shock, and then went back to treating me on a need-to-know basis.”
(The Admiral in question might well have been Admiral Daniel Murphy, assigned to work in the Office of the Vice President, from which numerous reports state Contra operations were masterminded.)
But this is not just a case of (yet another) official cover-up of the murder of a quasi-public official, Barry Seal. There is strong evidence that the murder was not just covered-up, but orchestrated by the very same people who later trooped dutifully up Capital Hill to lie to the United Stages Congress about what became known as the Iran/Contra. Scandal.
Consider, for example, the simple mathematics of the hit team. Seven people were arrested in connection with Seal’s assassination. But only four men were charged with the crime, and only three were convicted. The fourth Colombian charged, although presumably guilty at the least of conspiracy to commit murder, was extradited to Columbia.
And what are we to make of the evidence of George Bush’s personal phone number in Seal’s possession at the time of his death? Is this some historical anomaly, upon which experts will eternally disagree? What was George Bush’s knowledge and involvement in cocaine smuggling under the pretext of national security carried out in Mena Arkansas?
The complete answer waits another day, but consider this: pretend that your unlisted phone number had been found with the body of the biggest drug smuggler in American History. What sort of questions might the police ask you?
The story of Barry Seal, drug smuggler, is well known today, at least in its outlines. What hasn’t been known before now is much about the story of Barry Seal, CIA Agent.
We spoke with one of the three government witnesses in the penalty phase of the Colombians’ trial whose testimony was so damning about Seal’s activities on behalf of the federal government that two jurors attempted to change their verdict to ‘not guilty.’
In our television special, Sam Dalton has this to say about this man: “If all our government people were as courageous as he was, we wouldn’t have the problems today in this country that we have.”
Ten years ago, this man knew as much about Barry Seal’s drug-smuggling activities as anyone alive. Today this man holds an important and sensitive government position requiring anonymity, and thus requested anonymity when we interviewed him.
Attorney Sam Dalton offers another bombshell. “Lieutenant ______ caught Seal smuggling drugs red-handed at the docks, and the DEA and the CIA showed up, and told the state police to butt out, and took over the operation.” Its not known if the DEA or CIA ever made efforts to charge Seal for this crime, but we wouldn’t bet on it.
“Barry’s involvement in Contra re-supply began way before the commonly accepted date of 1983,” this source told us in a matter-of-fact tone.
We asked him of his knowledge of Seal’s CIA connections. “Barry’s been a spook since 1971,” he stated calmly. “In fact, Barry goes all the way back to the Bay of Pigs.”
George Bush’s private line indeed which brings me to tiny Kiln Mississippi and Mississippi’s contra connection in Joe Haas. Joe was locally famous for hauling guns down to the contra rebels and backhauling marijuana for sale on the streets of Los Angeles via the crip and blood gangs. It was an open secret locally as Joe was one of the largest employers in Hancock County in his operation’s heyday in the middle 1980’s. This is all documented of course, so our next stop is volume II of the IG report prepared for the Congress and the section titled, Pilots, Companies, and Other Individuals Working for Companies Used to Support the Contra Program and it is in subsection 987 of that report that we stop next:
987.Vortex/Universal employees. The seven individuals identified through DEA and Customs trace responses as suspected drug traffickers who were employed by Vortex/Universal were:
•Martin H. Gomez
•Martin Alberto Gomez
988. According to information DEA provided to CIA on April 28, 1987, Haas, Frixone, Silva, and Stephen Herreros had been implicated with Michael Palmer in a September 1986 drug smuggling incident in northern Mexico involving 19,000 pounds of marijuana destined for the United States. The DEA response also reported that Haas, Frixone and Martin Alberto Gomez had been crew members on the DC-6 that was involved in the March 1987 incident at Miami International Airport.
989.Joseph Haas. Haas was reportedly a long-time informant for a U.S. law enforcement agency.
He was an informant for law enforcement, specifically the DEA. According to surviving family members the get out of jail free card Mr Haas used at extract himself from that “March 1987 incident at Miami International Airport” was Ed Meese’s direct telephone number. Considering everything else I was told by them that was directly accounted for in the CIA post-mortem linked above I believe that 100%. There is more on the late Joe Haas in sections 990 on in the above linked report. Joe Haas is the late Joe Haas because he died of a brain aneurysm shortly after being served with an invitation to visit with congress on his Central American activities. As was implied in the case of Barry Seal, Mr Haas’ family believes he was killed by the CIA.
I’ll shortcut the rest as From the Wilderness compiled a list of names contained in Volume II of the report I linked above and there is plenty of fodder for you political partisan freaks to digest from Bill and Hillary Clinton and some of their folks to the topic of this post, Mr Conservative values himself former Attorney General Edwin Meese (along with a gaggle of Reagan adminsitration officials):
Reagan’s second Attorney general who handled the Iran-Contra affair. Covered up evidence of CIA drug trafficking and other crimes.
Last time I wrote there was not a nickle’s worth of difference between the political parties I was accused of being on the “irrational edge”. Leaving aside the fact that we’re all irrational at times, I’ll take my life experiences against those who let folks like Rush Limbaugh do their thinking for them. The bottom line is Ed Meese is in no way shape or form part of grandaddy’s Republican Party and anyone who would sign a document containing his name needs a long shower even if they are too blind to realize it.
There is a reason marijuana and other drugs aren’t legal and it has nothing to do with the supposed harm drugs do to society. To paraphrase the political saying, its a business stupid and anyone that follows the money will understand why people like Ed Meese wants folks’ attention on his conservative manifesto instead of what he did when he was this nation’s top law enforcement officer. One way we could end alot of senseless drug violence in both Mexico and the US would be to legalize marijuana but that could cost a politician with less than honorable intentions a revenue stream with which to finance a private war.
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
“And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that.” – Lord John Dalberg-Acton
Nowdy, if you hook up with me I’ll take you places you could never imagine.
sop – December 2007