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The Iran-Contra Scandal, the Killing of Judge Vance and the Don Siegelman Case

COMMENT: We are going to defer discussion of the fallout from “The Muslim Brotherhood Spring” and rumination on “Lone Nut Season” here in the U.S.

Studying American power politics, one is impressed by how unresolved–often unexamined–national security imbroglios feed upon one another.

Exemplifying this “conspiratorial progression” is Daniel Hopsicker’s landmark research on Barry Seal, dovetailing into his work on 9/11.  A member (along with Lee Harvey Oswald) of David Ferrie’s Civil Air Patrol unit, Seal progressed to work for the CIA (very possibly including participation as a get away pilot for the JFK assassination), and went to work as one of the Agency’s drug smugglers during the Iran-Contra operation. Seal was assassinated as part of the Iran-Contra cover-up.

In his book Welcome to Terrorland, Hopsicker notes numerous connections between elements involved in the Iran-Contra affair and 9/11. (Mohamed Atta and company infiltrated the U.S. courtesy of the Carl Duisberg Gesellschafft and some of the intelligence community’s controlled drug networks.) Elements investigated by Hopsicker in connection with the 9/11 milieu were using aircraft registered at one time to Barry Seal.

The BCCI is another lake whose waters lap upon numerous shores, including the Iran-Contra scandal and 9/11.

Updating his incisive coverage of the conspiratorial political landscape in “Karl Rove’s Alabama,” Legal Schnauzer highlights the genesis of the plot against former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman and its links with the Iran-Contra scandal.

Utilizing information from the subscription-only Wayne Madsen Report, the blog identifies Siegelman’s troubles as originating when he was Alabama Attorney General and began investigating some of the intelligence community’s clandestine airfields and facilities in rural Alabama. One of those, Doss Aviation was apparently connected to the Iran-Contra shenanigans.

Hired to keep the realities of Doss and other companies obscured from public view, Mark Fuller has been front and center in the proceedings against Siegelman.

According to Schnauzer and WMR, the central element in this conspiratorial process is the assassination of Judge Robert Vance by a mail bomb in 1989. An appellate court judge, Vance was viewed as sympathetic to the Christic Institute’s suit and likely to help reinstate the suit on appeal. Vance was also a former law partner of Don Siegelman.

As discussed in the AFA series about the Iran-Contra scandal (#’s 2935), the Christic Institute had correctly identified many of the players in the Iran-Contra affair and had filed a RICO suit against many of them. Had Vance successfully enabled the case to go forward on appeal, the suit might well have succeeded, and the horrors of the Dubya presidency could have been avoided.

“Siegelman Case Has Roots in the Iran-Contra Scandal and the Assassination of a Federal Judge in the 1980’s”; Legal Schnauzer; 8/14/2012.

EXCERPT: The roots of the Don Siegelman prosecution can be traced to the Iran-Contra scandal and the assassination of a federal judge in the 1980s, according to a new report from a Washington, D.C.-based investigative journalist.

The Siegelman case also has connections to a lawsuit styled Avirgan v. Hull, which was dismissed in curious fashion–an action that might have been a forerunner to the rampant judicial corruption we see today, especially in the Deep South.

Siegelman trial judge Mark Fuller long has been involved in efforts to cover up massive CIA drug- and gun-smuggling operations that are tied, in part, to Iran-Contra, according to the Wayne Madsen Report (WMR). Fuller also has been involved in a cover up involving the 1989 mail-bomb assassination of federal judge Robert S. Vance in Birmingham.

How did Fuller become connected to such nefarious activities? His hometown of Enterprise, Alabama, is home to a prime airfield that has been used in the smuggling operations, Madsen reports.

Where does Siegelman fit into this picture, and how did he become the target of a bogus prosecution that was driven by the Bush family and their affiliates? Siegelman was our state’s attorney general from 1987 to 1991, and WMR reports that he became aware of Fuller’s ties to Doss Aviation and the use of south Alabama airfields for suspicious flights to Central and South America. To make Siegelman even more of a target, he and Robert Vance had once been law partners–and Siegelman considered Vance to be one of his primary mentors.

Fuller recently resentenced Siegelman to five years and nine months in federal prison, with a curious reporting date of September 11, 2012. Even more curious, WMR reports, is a statement Fuller made at the resentencing hearing: (WMR is a subscription site, and a link is not available to the content; we have received permission to run excerpts from the piece.)

After Siegelman said he accepted the decision of the court and respected the system, Fuller made a shocking and revealing statement that underscored his own criminal past–and desire for revenge against Siegelman, Alabama’s attorney general two decades ago before he became a one-term governor from 1999 to 2003.

“You came from the highest legal office in the state of Alabama,” Fuller told Siegelman Aug. 3, “and it has taken you 21 years to understand that, and I find that difficult.”

This column reveals for the first time the meaning behind Fuller’s comment, which stems, according to WMR sources, from the Fuller family’s involvement in the notorious Iran-Contra arms and dope-smuggling scandal of the late 1980s.

ran-Contra has its roots in the Reagan years, and fallout from the scandal continued during the George H.W. Bush administration. Mark Fuller was a private attorney in a small Alabama town at the time, so how did he become involved? WMR explains:

The fear of the Bush administration was that its network of CIA-linked drug and weapons runners would be exposed. Of particular concern to the conspirators was the activities of a group of CIA shell companies, all mostly dealing with millions of dollars of cash transactions, including air transport firms incorporated mostly in the small southeastern Alabama town of Enterprise would be exposed.

From 1985 to 1996, Fuller was a private attorney in Enterprise with the law firm Cassady, Fuller and Marsh. One of Fuller’s clients was a company called Parker Brown Refueling Company of Enterprise. In 1989, Parker Brown Refueling Company was bought by investors in Colorado Springs, and the company became known as Doss Aviation. The Brown in Parker Brown Refueling was the mayor of Enterprise, M. M. “Jug” Brown. The Cassady in Cassady, Fuller and Marsh, according to a reliable source in Enterprise, was Joe Cassady, who, according to our source, also served on the board of Doss Aviation.

Fuller’s rise in legal and judicial circles was driven, WMR reports, by his ties to Doss Aviation, CIA-backed drug and gun smuggling, and the Bush family:

WMR has learned that Siegelman, as Attorney General, was well-aware of Doss Aviation’s dealings and Fuller’s role in the firm. In 1996, Republican Governor Fob James had Fuller appointed as the Chief Assistant District Attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit of Alabama and later that year he was elected District Attorney for the 12th Circuit. In 2002, President George W. Bush nominated Fuller as a federal judge for the Middle District of Alabama in Montgomery.

In the span of six years, Fuller went from a largely unknown small-town lawyer, with thin credentials, to a federal judge. A specific and sinister purpose was behind Fuller’s rapid ascent:

As district attorney and federal judge, Fuller has been entrusted by the CIA to ensure that the illegal operations involving the agency’s drug and weapons smuggling operations remain a secret. In addition, Fuller has ensured that anyone who is believed to be a threat to the secrecy of the operation, is dealt with harshly, and that includes the Attorney General who first caught wind of the Enterprise operation, Siegelman.

How does this tie back to the Robert Vance assassination? Walter Leroy Moody was convicted in 1991 of being the sole individual responsible for sending the mail bomb, but WMR reports that Moody almost certainly did not act alone–if he was involved at all. The Vance murder probably was tied to Avirgan v. Hull, a lawsuit that grew from the 1984 bombing at a contra press conference in La Penca, Costa Rica, killing one American journalist (Linda Frazier) and injuring another (Tony Avirgan). The Miami-based Christic Institute brought the case under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), alleging that a North American farmer named John Hull was behind the bombing. A 1990 report from the Christic Institute provides background:

Among those injured was ABC cameraman Tony Avirgan. Once Avirgan recovered from his injuries he joined his wife, journalist Martha Honey, who had already begun an investigation to track down those responsible for the La Penca bombing.

The two journalists discovered a trail of evidence leading from La Penca to a secret contra base in Costa Rica, located on a ranch owned by a North American farmer named John Hull. Eyewitnesses identified the ranch as the staging area for the La Penca bombing.

Avirgan and Honey learned that Hull was a key figure in the criminal enterprise of retired military officers, former intelligence officials and private “soldiers of fortune” who were supplying arms for the contra war against Nicaragua. They also learned that Hull was allowing Colombian drug traffickers to use his ranch to smuggle cocaine into the United States. The profits from the drug operation were used to purchase military supplies for the contras.

Despite an escalating series of anonymous death threats and the murder on Hull’s ranch of one of their informants, Avirgan and Honey completed their investigation and published their findings. Realizing they had found evidence of a broad criminal conspiracy, the two journalists asked the Christic Institute to represent them in a federal civil lawsuit against the individuals responsible for the La Penca bombing and other criminal acts. The Christic Institute, which had already amassed extensive information about the criminal operations of the Richard Secord Enterprise, agreed to represent the journalists.

The lawsuit was filed six months before the Iran-Contra story broke in the press. A federal judge in Miami dismissed the lawsuit, but a number of reports have stated that Vance was considered a strong bet to reinstate the case on appeal in the Eleventh Circuit. The appeal was pending when a mail bomb exploded at Vance’s Mountain Brook home on December 12, 1989, killing him instantly. Christic’s appeal would be denied, and the trial judge’s imposition of Rule 11 sanctions totaling about $1.5 million was upheld, forcing the institute into bankruptcy. That helped ensure that the truth behind Iran-Contra would never be unraveled, and WMR shows how it all ties to the Siegelman prosecution:

The murder of Vance needs to be understood in the context of the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal and Siegelman’s understandable desire to investigate it as attorney general, particularly given the extensive use of airfields in Southern Alabama for suspicious flights to Central and South America. Vance was the lead justice on the 11th Circuit panel that was considering the appeal of a lower court’s decision to toss out a Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) suit brought by the Christic Institute against the Bush administration for the Iran-contra scandal, specifically the 1984 bombing of a contra meeting in La Penca, Costa Rica that killed American journalist Linda Frazier and injured another American journalist, Tony Avirgan. The suit was thrown out by U.S. Judge James King in Miami and an appeal was filed by Christic with the 11th Circuit in Atlanta. With Vance’s assassination, the RICO appeal was doomed. Siegelman, as someone close to Vance and, hence, to the case, would have understood the impact of Vance’s assassination in exposing the entire Iran-contra episode, including Fuller’s involvement with it.
According to WMR, Fuller knows exactly who helped him rise to power, and he intends to protect their secrets at all cost.

As district attorney and federal judge, Fuller has been entrusted by the CIA to ensure that the illegal operations involving the agency’s drug and weapons smuggling operations remain a secret. In addition, Fuller has ensured that anyone who is believed to be a threat to the secrecy of the operation, is dealt with harshly and that includes the Attorney General who first caught wind of the Enterprise operation, Siegelman. . . .

 

Discussion

5 comments for “The Iran-Contra Scandal, the Killing of Judge Vance and the Don Siegelman Case”

  1. I noticed this article at Legal Schnauzer a couple of weeks ago, but declined to post it here because of the Wayne Madsen connection.

    During the Bush years, Madsen used to have a “Weekly Intelligence Report” podcast that was available on some liberal websites. At that point, Madsen was anti-Bush & seemingly liberal-leaning. However, before Obama had even been sworn-in, Madsen seemed to switch sides … or, apparently, Madsen sides against whomever is in power. Fair enough.

    Even so, during Madsen’s anti-Bush years, I detected a lack of any central political principles & a lot of contradictions that attenuated any potential value to his “insider information”.

    Madsen’s anti-Obama “switch” began with apparent affirmations of Birtherism, albeit with his own unique twists so as to be able to straddle Left & RIght (or attempt to), possibly to keep his future options open, or to maintain his unique paid-subscriber niche.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayne_Madsen

    Madsen often seems to have interesting information that cannot be corroborated or substantiated, yet is very tantalizing when it confirms a little-known milieu or paradigm that would be of note for FTR listeners. However, just when you think his insights are spot-on, he drops a token right-wing spin into the mix, possibly to keep that subscriber-base paying their bills.

    I don’t think this invalidates the mystery of the Siegelman case or the death of Judge Vance, or any number of tangential deaths in Alabama/Florida. It looks as if Alabama is being groomed to become the next Colombia.

    The Siegelman case in particular hasn’t revealed its depths, I don’t think. Or its purpose to Rove, which I believe extends far beyond the state of Alabama (or the Bush drug-smugggling Cartel).

    But it’s worth examining the details about Madsen, and being wary about conclusions based on his information.

    For those who are interested, simply Google the phrase “Wayne Madsen Report mp3” and the first link which comes up contains many past broadcast mp3s.

    Further down the Google search you will see Madsen’s current reports that “Obama is depressed, schizophrenic, and gay”.

    For the record, this is not to defend Obama. My doubts about his true political alliegance are already on the record elsewhere in FTR comments. But like any honeypot, some of Madsen’s information may be true, but we should be careful. We should double-check his facts if we can.

    Posted by R. Wilson | August 27, 2012, 6:18 pm
  2. @ R. Wilson–

    Thanks for this. I hadn’t kept up with Madsen for the last decade or so and have seen plenty of things to red flag him.

    I wasn’t aware of his “Birther” spin, but I’ve seen plenty to steer me away from using him on a regular basis.

    Got a hunch this info is accurate, however.

    Maybe WMR is just hedging his bets.

    There IS a lot of hedging going on these days, no?

    At some point in the not too distant future, I’ll be tangling with “Lone Nut Season” and the others going off these days.

    The “anarchist” militia that just got busted in Georgia doesn’t look “anarchist” to me.

    You might think some folks would catch on here.

    Best,

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | August 27, 2012, 7:25 pm
  3. Good stuff as usual, Dave. I seriously have to wonder just what Gov. Siegelman uncovered and how deep the proverbial rabbit hole really goes…..not to mention the death of Bob Vance in ’89, something I don’t recall hearing of until today.

    I’d also like to hear your take on the rather high number of ‘Lone-Nut’ shootings which have indeed been happening lately; is there also a possibility that we may see a lot more of this kind of thing if Obama wins his next term in office?

    Best regards,

    -Steve

    Posted by Steven L. | August 27, 2012, 8:29 pm
  4. Hi Dave,

    Thankyou for all of your hard work and effort.
    I was linked to this page from a group that I started to look into the OCTOPUS scandal and the death of Danny Casalaro.
    Your stuff on Oliver North has been invaluable to date – maybe we could get you on for an interview one day!

    Kind Regards,
    Nick

    Posted by Nick | September 1, 2012, 2:57 pm
  5. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/12/us/bloggers-incarceration-raises-first-amendment-questions.html?_r=0

    Blogger’s Incarceration Raises First Amendment Questions

    By CAMPBELL ROBERTSONJAN. 11, 2014

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — For over six years, Roger Shuler has hounded figures of the state legal and political establishment on his blog, Legal Schnauzer, a hothouse of furious but often fuzzily sourced allegations of deep corruption and wide-ranging conspiracy. Some of these allegations he has tested in court, having sued his neighbor, his neighbor’s lawyer, his former employer, the Police Department, the Sheriff’s Department, the Alabama State Bar and two county circuit judges, among others. Mostly, he has lost.

    But even those who longed for his muzzling, and there are many, did not see it coming like this: with Mr. Shuler sitting in jail indefinitely, and now on the list of imprisoned journalists worldwide kept by the Committee to Protect Journalists. There, in the company of jailed reporters in China, Iran and Egypt, is Mr. Shuler, the only person on the list in the Western Hemisphere.

    A former sports reporter and a former employee in a university’s publications department, Mr. Shuler, 57, was arrested in late October on a contempt charge in connection with a defamation lawsuit filed by the son of a former governor. The circumstances surrounding that arrest, including a judge’s order that many legal experts described as unconstitutional and behavior by Mr. Shuler that some of the same experts described as self-defeating posturing, have made for an exceptionally messy test of constitutional law.

    Posts on Roger Shuler’s blog, Legal Schnauzer, have prompted many defamation suits. His refusal to cooperate in one recent case has led to his being jailed since October and has drawn international attention. Shelby County Jail

    “You’ve got a situation where sometimes there’s no good guys,” said Ken White, a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles who writes about and practices First Amendment law.

    Mr. Shuler is no stranger to defamation suits, as one might surmise from reading his blog. He started it in 2007 to document a property dispute with his neighbor that blew up into a legal war and ended with the neighbor’s lawyer becoming a part-owner of Mr. Shuler’s house, which is in Birmingham. Later, the blog branched out to expose what he alleged were the corrupt machinations of powerful figures, mostly Republicans, and with a particular animus toward former Gov. Bob Riley.

    His allegations are frequently salacious, including a recent assertion that a federal judge had appeared in a gay pornographic magazine and a theory that several suicides were actually a string of politically motivated murders. Starting in January 2013, Mr. Shuler, citing unidentified sources, began writing that Robert Riley Jr., the son of the former governor, had impregnated a lobbyist named Liberty Duke and secretly paid for an abortion. Both denied it, and Ms. Duke swore in an affidavit that they had never even been alone in the same room.

    In July, Mr. Riley and Ms. Duke sought an injunction in state court against such posts, citing Mr. Shuler and his wife, Carol, in defamation suits. A judge issued a temporary restraining order in September barring the Shulers from publishing “any defamatory statement” about Mr. Riley and Ms. Duke and demanding that the offending posts be immediately removed.

    Such a sweeping order struck some lawyers as far too broad, and Mr. Shuler says he did not even know about it.

    The Shulers refused to answer the door when officials came to serve court papers, stating their suspicions in blog posts that the visits were part of an “intimidation and harassment campaign” stemming from the reporting on another topic.

    One afternoon as the Shulers drove to the local library, where Mr. Shuler had been writing his blog since they could no longer pay for their Internet connection, a member of the Sheriff’s Department pulled them over, saying they had run a stop sign. The officer then served them the papers, which the Shulers refused to accept, contending that service under such a pretext was improper.

    “We were both throwing the papers out of the windows as we were driving off,” Ms. Shuler said in an interview.

    The Shulers missed a hearing the next day, and the restraining order was superseded by a similarly worded preliminary injunction, which some free-speech advocates saw as a clear violation of Mr. Shuler’s First Amendment rights.

    “It seems to me that the judge’s order was really way out of bounds,” said David Gespass, a civil rights lawyer in Birmingham, who was further troubled by the judge’s initial decision to keep the case under seal.
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    Carol Shuler in the basement of her home in Birmingham, Ala. She is facing the same defamation suit that has her husband, Roger, in jail on a contempt charge. Cary Norton for The New York Times

    Mr. Shuler continued blogging. On Oct. 23, the police followed Mr. Shuler as he pulled into his driveway, arrested him in his garage and took him to jail on charges of contempt and resisting arrest.

    In the hyperpartisan corners of the blogosphere where Mr. Shuler was already known, there was shock. Even some of his dedicated foes were alarmed.

    The National Bloggers Club, a group led by the Republican activist Ali Akbar, who has also threatened to sue Mr. Shuler for defamation, released a statement condemning Mr. Shuler’s “rumormonger cyberbullying” but also criticizing the injunction as creating a potential chilling effect on blogging.

    The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a “friend of the court” brief, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press sent a letter to the judge.

    On Nov. 14, the judge held a hearing, and Mr. Shuler, who was representing himself, took the stand, insisting that the court had no jurisdiction over him and calling the court a joke. The judge decided that the hearing had “served as a trial on the merits” and made his final ruling: Mr. Shuler was forbidden to publish anything about Mr. Riley or Ms. Duke involving an affair, an abortion or payoffs; was to pay them nearly $34,000 for legal fees; and was to remove the offending posts or remain in jail.

    Mr. Riley said Mr. Shuler’s refusal to engage with the legal process had given the judge the leeway to make a final ruling.

    “If someone can continually ignore the judge just by saying, ‘You don’t have jurisdiction over me,’ then the whole system breaks down,” Mr. Riley said, adding that Mr. Shuler could not plead ignorance of the legal process. “This is not the first time Roger Shuler has been in court.”

    But Mr. White and others say that before a judge can take the step of banning speech, libel must be proved at trial, or at least over a litigation process more involved than a quick succession of hearings, with the only evidence presented by the plaintiffs.

    “Idiocy is not a zero-sum game,” Mr. White said. “I think you can say that what the court is doing is unconstitutional and troublesome and also that Shuler is his own worst enemy.”

    So while the furor has all but dissipated, Mr. Shuler remains in jail, unwilling to take down his posts but also unwilling to hire a lawyer and contest his incarceration in the state courts.

    “This is flat-out court corruption, and it’s criminal,” he said in an interview from prison.

    His wife spoke of collecting damages when this is over, but Mr. Shuler is thinking beyond civil remedies this time: He is planning to bring federal criminal charges against the judge.

    Posted by Vanfield | January 12, 2014, 10:57 am

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