NARCO-POLITIK: John Hull, the CIA & the Attempted Assassination of US Ambassador Lewis Tambs – By Dean Henderson (Flashback)

Source –

“…Oliver North’s liaison to John Hull was Rob Owen – Hull was plotting with Rob Owen to assassinate US Ambassador to Costa Rica Lewis Tambs, who worked in the same US Embassy building as Hull’s CIA handler, Philip Holtz. Hull’s idea was to kill Tambs, then blame it on the Sandinistas to justify an escalation in the US war on Nicaragua”

Lil’ Ol’ Airstrip In Arkansas – By Dean Henderson

In 1982 citizens of Mena, Arkansas began wondering why the town’s airport was experiencing an unusually high rate of nighttime landings.  Police there began to suspect drug trafficking, but were kept away from the planes by federal agents.  When cops started asking questions, they were stonewalled by federal agencies including DEA, FBI, Justice and even the IRS.  Scores of witnesses to the strange events began to show up dead.

Pilot Barry Seal says he flew Medellin Cartel cocaine into Mena for the CIA from 1982-1986.  Seal was busted in 1983, then began working for Vice-President Bush’s NNBIS.  He was sent to Nicaragua to take fake photographs supposedly depicting Sandinista soldiers loading cocaine onto Seal’s C-123K cargo plane.  Those loading the powder were actually contras.  According to at least seven other pilots, Seal also began training contras at Mena.

The planes used to ferry weapons from Miami to the Honduran arms supermarket belonged to SETCO and Hondu Carib.  Suspected drug trafficker Frank Moss worked for both and claims he often made drops at Barry Seal’s farm outside Baton Rouge, LA.  Retired Air Force investigator Gene Wheaton says Seal was also flying between Mena and George Bush Sr. oil buddy William Blakemore III’s West Texas ranch, where contras were also being trained.  Wheaton says the plane Seal was using was the same Southern Air Transport aircraft that Eugene Hasenfus later crashed inside Nicaragua. [162]

When Seal started telling authorities about shipments of cocaine coming into Mena and into Blakemore’s West Texas ranch in 1984, Oliver North blew Seal’s cover.  A short time later Seal was gunned down in New Orleans. [163]

Pilot Terry Reed said Seal wanted him to turn his plane over to the Enterprise, then declare it stolen and collect the insurance money.  When Reed refused, his plane was stolen and ended up in Mena anyway.  Reed wrote Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA, in which he says both he and Seal were actually on CIA payroll when they were flying coke into Mena.

He also claims that the DEA has a video of George W. and Jeb Bush flying into Tamiami Airport outside Miami in their private King jet, “to pick up a couple of kilos for a party”.  Reed says Seal knew too much about cocaine deals involving both Bush and then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton.  Reed is confident that Seal was assassinated by the CIA. [164]

Another outfit serving Mena was Commercial Helicopters run by Bobby Ross.  Ross was close to the Ed Wilson TF-157 crowd.  Commercial leased planes from Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers Airlines, supplied offshore oil rigs, brokered helicopter sales to the Saudis and ferried Edwin Edwards during his campaign for Governor of Louisiana.  When the now-imprisoned Edwards won, he appointed Ross Secretary of Transportation.

Commercial was CIA and worked closely with Woody Jenkins’ Guatemalan helicopter firm.  Commercial bought API Distributors of Houston, which sold oil drilling equipment to PEMEX, the Mexican state oil company.  API was set up in 1978 by Tom Clines and Ed Wilson.  Its board of directors mirrored that of Nugan Hand Bank, which often wired money to API.  In 1988 Clines was a top adviser to the Bush campaign.  Employees of API included Ted Shackley and Raphael Quintero. Financing for the start-up came from Herman Beebe, lieutenant to New Orleans mob boss Carlos Marcello. [165]

According to Chicago researcher Sherman Skolnick, indicted former Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Dan Rostenkowski (D-IL) was a large shareholder in Garfield Ridge Trust & Savings Bank, a Chicago savings and loan which disguised Mena drug money laundering as soybean and currency trades on Chicago’s Commodity Futures Trading Exchange.  Chicago-based Libertyville Savings & Loan had close ties to Walgreens and laundered money through Madison Guaranty Savings & Loan in Little Rock with help from Hillary Clinton and Vince Foster at the Rose Law Firm.  Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton received as much as $47 million of this Libertyville cash to protect the Mena drug smuggling operation. [166]

In his book Boy Clinton: The Political Biography, R. Emmett Tyrell Jr. chronicles the mysterious deaths of those who had knowledge of Clinton’s involvement in the Mena operation.  These included Vince Foster, Kathy Ferguson (ex-wife of former Arkansas State trooper and Clinton bodyguard Danny Ferguson), Bill Shelton (Kathy Ferguson’s boyfriend and an Arkansas cop), Jon Walker (an investigator looking into Madison Guaranty for Resolution Trust Corporation),  Paul Wilcher (an attorney investigating corruption at Mena Airport), Danny Casalaro (an investigative journalist working on a book titled The Octopus), Jerry Parks (Clinton’s Chief of Security during his 1992 Presidential campaign) and Stanley Higgins (another Madison Guaranty investigator).

Dennis Patrick, who investigated Clinton friend Dan Lasiter’s law firm, survived three assassination attempts.  Lasiter was a Little Rock bond swindler convicted in 1986 on drug charges.  He was a major contributor to Clinton’s political career and often let Clinton use his private plane, while providing “entertainment”.  Arkansas State Trooper L. D. Brown claims Clinton often flew to Central America on the planes flying weapons to the contras and returning to Mena with cocaine.  Brown says he asked Clinton once if he knew Barry Seal was running drugs and unreported currency and Clinton replied, “Don’t worry. That’s Lasiter’s deal.”

When Clinton became President he appointed DNC Chairman Ron Brown as his Secretary of Commerce.  When the Whitewater Scandal erupted, Brown talked openly of cutting a deal with prosecutors.  A short while later his plane went down while on a trade mission to Eastern Europe.  A pathologist close to the crash investigation said there was a hole in Brown’s skull resembling a gun-shot wound.

Not long after the crash, Clinton’s Whitewater partner James McDougal died of an apparent heart attack while in solitary confinement in a federal prison in Arkansas.  On November 29, 1996 Barbara Wise, a Commerce Department staffer who had been close to Ron Brown, was found dead, her badly bruised and naked body locked in a closet at Commerce.

In 1993 Reverend Jerry Falwell began circulating a video titled, The Clinton Chronicles, which documents Clinton’s involvement in Mena.  Scores of Arkansas Highway Patrolmen were also implicated.  From the opposite side of the political spectrum, High Times magazine did an expose in its January 1995 issue alleging the same thing, but also implicating Vice-President Bush in the Mena escapades.  The High Times article claims that Bush and Clinton worked together in the CIA.

The New York Times reported on November 20, 1993 that the CIA had imported 1,000 kilos of cocaine into the United States in 1990.  In 1996, the Democratic National Committee received a $20,000 contribution from convicted Miami cocaine smuggler Jorge Cabrera who was invited to a White House Party and to a Miami reception for Vice-President Al Gore. [167]

[131] The Gulf: Scramble for Security. Raj Choudhry. Sreedhar Press. New Dehli. 1983. p.59

[132] “War Criminals, Real and Imagined”. Gregory Elich. Covert Action Quarterly. Winter 2001. p.21

[133] Endless Enemies: The Making of an Unfriendly World. Jonathan Kwitny. Penguin Books. New York. 1986. p.265

[134] Dope Inc.: The Book That Drove Kissinger Crazy. The Editors of Executive Intelligence Review. Washington, DC. 1992. p.504

[135] Hot Money and the Politics of Debt. R.T. Naylor. The Linden Press/Simon & Schuster. New York. 1987. p.78

[136] Kwitny. p.233

[137] Naylor. p.80

[138] Rule by Secrecy: The Hidden History that Connects the Trilateral Commission, the Freemasons and the Great Pyramids. Jim Marrs. HarperCollins Publishers. New York. 2000. p.105

[139] “Naming Names”. Louis Wolf. Covert Action Information Bulletin. #32.

Summer 1989. p.14

[140] The Big White Lie: The Deep Cover Operation that Exposed the CIA Sabotage of the Drug War. Michael Levine w/Laura Kavanau-Levine. Thunder’s Mouth Press. New York. 1993

[141] “Recent Findings from the La Penca Lawsuit Investigation”. Convergence. Christic Institute. 9-3-88. p.3

[142] Ibid. p.4

[143] Ibid. p.4

[144] Ibid. p.3

[145] The Outlaw Bank: A Wild Ride into the Secret Heart of BCCI. Jonathan Beaty and S.C. Gwynne. Random House. New York. 1993

[146] “Ex-Agents Say CIA Compiled Death Lists for Indonesia”. Kitty Kadane. San Francisco Examiner. 5-20-90

[147] Elich. p.20

[148] “The Bombing of Pan Am 103”. Jeff Jones. Philippine Currents. November/December 1991. p.32

[149] Convergence. p.2

[150] “Up North, Sanctuary for Hull”. Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta. Washington Post. 8-8-90. p.D-13

[151] The Mafia, CIA and George Bush: The Untold Story of America’s Greatest Financial Debacle. Pete Brewton. SPI Books. New York. 1992

[152] In Banks We Trust. Penny Lernoux. Anchor Press/Doubleday. Garden City, NY. 1984. p.79

[153] Editors of Executive Intelligence Review. p.250

[154] Ibid

[155] Ibid

[156] Ibid

[157] Marrs

[158] “The Other Iran-Contra Cases”. Fred Strasser. The National Law Journal.

3-26-90. p.1

[159] “Costa Rica is Asking US to Extradite Rancher Tied to 1984 Bombing that Killed

Four”. Lindsey Grusco. New York Times (International Edition). 3-1-90

[160] “Legacy of War, Misery and Manipulation”. Phillip N.D. Martin. Covert Action Information Bulletin. Spring 1991

[161] “Vernon Walters: Crypto-Diplomat and Terrorist”. Ellen Ray and William

Schaap. Covert Action Information Bulletin. #32. Summer 1989. p.49

[162] Brewton

[163] “Noriega, Drugs and the Ones that Got Away”. Garry Emmons. In These Times. Chicago, IL. September 18-24, 1991. p.2

[164] “Book Answers Bush’s Cocaine Questions”. Uri Dowbenko. The Spotlight. 9-6-99. p.1

[165] Brewton

[166] “The Nugan Hand/S&L Connection”. Sherman H. Skolnick. 1997

[167] “Return to Sender”. AP. Missoulian. 10-26-96


Indiana Hull & Contra Cocaine

Richard Brenneke’s Congressional testimony got more interesting.  He said the Honduran arms bazaar was bankrolled by Columbia’s Medellin Cartel.  When Brenneke discovered this he went to Donald Gregg, who told him, “You do what you were assigned to do.  Don’t question the decisions of your betters”. [143]

Former Panamanian Intelligence Chief Jose Blandon, testifying before the same subcommittee, corroborated Brenneke’s story.  He also said that his boss, Panamanian President Manuel Noriega, had been aiding the CIA in arming the contras and in arranging Medellin Cartel cocaine shipments.  Blandon said Noriega was instructed by the CIA to open accounts at the BCCI branch in Panama City.  The CIA deposited $200,000 into these accounts each year.

Brenneke’s testimony is further bolstered by a note in Oliver North’s diaries, which were obtained at the Iran/Contra trials.  A scribbling of North’s dated 7-12-85 reads, “plans to seize all…when Supermarket comes to a bad end.  $4 million to finance came from drugs”.

Michael Tolliver, another pilot involved in the contra effort, testified that he was recruited by Felix Rodriguez to fly weapons to contra bases in Honduras.  He said the arms for drugs quid pro quo was happening in the cargo hold of his plane.  He said he once watched as 28,500 pounds of military hardware came off his plane in Honduras only to be replaced by 25,360 pounds of marijuana.  Tolliver says he flew to Homestead Air Force Base in South Florida where he delivered the pot.  Another pilot, George Morales, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee a similar story.

The State Department issued checks totaling over $800,000 to known drug smugglers who re-supplied the contras. [144]  During the war against Nicaragua, contra drug rings were discovered in Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, New Orleans and Memphis.  In August 1996 the San Jose Mercury News ran a three-part series titled “Dark Alliance”.  The paper says a Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to LA street gangs with the profits going through Danilo Blandon and Norwin Meneses to fund the contras.

Donald Gregg had good reason to bristle at Brenneke for bringing up the CIA drug problem.  It was Felix Rodriguez who approached the Medellin Cartel to solicit money for the contras and Felix took orders from Gregg.  The Cartel kicked down $10 million.  But its relations with the Enterprise were not philanthropical in nature.  While Rafael Quintero was sending arms from Miami to Honduras, cocaine was being smuggled to Miami via Honduras.

Karachi-based BCCI had suddenly taken a keen interest in the Honduran coffee business.  Coffee is often used by cocaine smugglers due to its strong smell.  Munther Bilbeisi, one of BCCI’s top marketing executives and son of a top Jordanian Minister, was eventually convicted of smuggling coffee by a Miami magistrate.  The Bilbeisi family is one of the four richest families in Jordan.  When Bilbeisi was caught, his day job was selling arms to the Guatemalan government.  In one deal Bilbeisi arranged for a $30 million BCCI loan to help the Guatemalan military buy helicopters, securing the deal by bribing President Vinicio Cerezo via the Israeli Leumi Bank in Miami. [145]

Much of the cocaine was coming into Honduras by way of Costa Rica, where the Enterprise point man was John Hull.  Hull orchestrated the CIA overthrow of the leftist government of President Achmad Sukarno in Indonesia in 1964.

Sukarno railed against colonialism and hosted the radical Bandung Conference of Asian and African leaders in 1955.  The CIA installed General Suharto, who ruled the archipelago with an iron fist until 1999.  Following the Sukarno coup, 500,000 to 1 million trade unionists, ethnic Chinese and members of the Indonesian Communist Party were slaughtered.  US Embassy personnel in Jakarta supplied names to the Indonesian Army of those to be assassinated, while checking off the names of those killed or captured. [146]  Unable to keep pace with Washington’s demands for carnage, the Indonesian army organized Muslim extremists to further terrorize the Indonesian people.  The US responded by sending even more weapons.

By 1967, Indonesia was back in the IMF/World Bank fold, passing liberal foreign investment laws.  The dictator Suharto was rewarded with $200 million in US aid by 1969. [147]  CIA agent John Hull wasn’t the only Iran/Contra figure who surfaced in the Indonesian theatre.  Throughout the 1970’s Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khoshoggi, now an important channel for Secord’s Enterprise, bribed Indonesian Air Force officers to sell Lockheed fighter planes.  The bribes were paid through numbered accounts in Singapore known as the Widows and Orphans Fund.  Khashoggi made over $100 million peddling Lockheed weaponry to the Saudis during this period.

John Hull now owned a ranch in northern Costa Rica, near the Nicaraguan border.  There a guns-for-drugs exchange was set up by Felipe Vidal and Rene Corvo, two Bay of Pigs members of Alpha 66, a known drug trafficking ring based in Miami whose members seem to have a collective get-out-of-jail-free card.  Hull too had been involved in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.  Hull’s ranch and another owned by American Bruce Jones served as resupply bases for the southern ARDE front of contras based in Costa Rica.  Oliver North’s liaison to John Hull was Rob Owen.  Owen delivered $10,000 a month from the NSC to Hull to purchase supplies and train contras.  Far larger revenues were being generated by cocaine shipments passing regularly through Hull’s ranch.  Hull worked directly with the two kingpins of the Medellin Cartel – Pablo Escobar and Jorge Ochoa.  With the help of Panamanian President Noriega, the Columbians were able to use Hull’s ranch as a transshipment point for their coke from 1983-1985.  The coke was shipped to Miami on shrimp boats.

It was 1983 when the ringleader of the Enterprise, Richard Secord, became the Pentagon’s Chief Liaison to Saudi Arabia.  What exactly a “chief liaison” does is anyone’s guess, but if Secord’s history is any guide, his main job was to recycle petrodollars from the Saudi royal family and other wealthy Persian Gulf sheiks to buy arms for the contra cause.  The House of Saud kicked down at least $35 million for the contras.  Secord was equally comfortable working with royalty and criminals, handing over the monarchs’ money to Manzer al-Kassar to buy over 100 tons of small arms for the contras.

Al-Kassar headed a major Syrian-based heroin ring and was close to Syrian intelligence and then-President Hafez Assad.  He also worked directly with the Medellin Cartel.  But Al-Kassar was no rogue criminal element.  He was part of a super-secret CIA unit operating in Damascus code-named COREA.  Al-Kassar would ship arms to Panama for Secord, where they would be purchased by contra front companies set up with the help of Noriega and Banco de IberoAmerica, a known money laundry for the Cartel. [148]

While Secord kept the arms flowing, Hull was plotting with Rob Owen to assassinate US Ambassador to Costa Rica Lewis Tambs, who worked in the same US Embassy building as Hull’s CIA handler, Philip Holtz.  Tambs had a $1 million bounty placed on his head by the Medellin Cartel, which he had been trying to shut down.  Hull’s idea was to kill Tambs, then blame it on the Sandinistas to justify an escalation in the US war on Nicaragua.

The plot was foiled, so Hull turned his sights on Eden Pastora, whose stubborn Revolutionary Front of Sandino contra faction was threatening the unity of UNO.  Hull procured the services of a right-wing Libyan exile working with DINA, the Chilean secret police.  Amac Galil posed as a journalist at a Pastora press conference in La Penca, Costa Rica, planting a bomb.  Pastora narrowly escaped the blast.  Four journalists were killed and many others badly maimed.  Two injured journalists, Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey, led an investigation revealing CIA involvement in the plot. [149]

Hull wasn’t just a drug trafficker and a murderer.  He was also a thief who specialized in shaking down the US taxpayer.  He swindled a $375,000 loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) in 1983.  Since OPIC is insured by the US government, when Hull didn’t pay back the loan, US taxpayers did. [150]  A US prosecutor tried to investigate John Hull in 1985.  In San Jose, he was stonewalled by the US Embassy.  Back in Washington, his request for a grand jury was denied.  Soon afterward the Justice Department dropped the case altogether and sent the prosecutor on a dead-end mission to Thailand.  A similar fate met federal public defender John Mattes, who said he encountered, “clear attempts to obstruct the truth” at both Justice and the FBI while investigating Hull.

A lawsuit by the Washington-based Christic Institute naming Hull, Secord, Shackley, Clines and their cohorts as co-defendants under federal organized crime (RICO) statutes, was summarily dismissed by Judge King in Miami.  King, a close friend of Richard Nixon, then made the Christic pay Enterprise attorney fees of $1 million.  Prior to the case coming to trial, numerous key witnesses for the prosecution were murdered, including Stephen Carr, who was ready to testify that he was at several meetings between the Enterprise, contra leaders and Medellin Cartel representatives.

Dean Henderson is the author of five books:Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve, Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel.  You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column

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