Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #503 The Death of Barry Seal

Record­ed March 20, 2005
MP3 Side 1 | Side 2

The death of drug smug­gler and CIA oper­a­tive Bar­ry Seal encap­su­lates much of the secret and unsa­vory his­to­ry of Amer­i­can covert oper­a­tions in the sec­ond half of the 20th cen­tu­ry. A pri­ma­ry oper­a­tor in the Con­tra-relat­ed cocaine smug­gling of the 1980’s, Seal was gunned down in Feb­ru­ary of 1986 because he was threat­en­ing to “roll-over”—to squeal on his han­dlers. Had Seal done this, it might have led to the down­fall of the Reagan/Bush admin­is­tra­tion and the cur­tail­ment of the Con­tra-sup­port oper­a­tion. The mate­r­i­al in this pro­gram is from the remark­able book Bar­ry and the Boys by Daniel Hop­sick­er. (Be sure to vis­it his web­site and order the book.) Begin­ning with the account of Seal’s mur­der being broad­cast over the police radio in the Baton Rouge area, the pro­gram relates the extra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the arrest and “pros­e­cu­tion” of the Colom­bian assas­sins who killed Seal. Even more extra­or­di­nary was the behav­ior of the FBI, which (con­trary to legal pro­ce­dure) con­fis­cat­ed evi­dence that had been kept by Seal in the trunk of his Cadil­lac. That evi­dence con­sist­ed of tapes of Seal talk­ing with his han­dlers, who appar­ent­ly includ­ed ele­ments of the CIA and then Vice-Pres­i­dent George Bush. When one of Seal’s attor­neys prod­ded Seal for more infor­ma­tion about whom he was work­ing for, Seal hand­ed him the phone and told him to call a num­ber that he gave to his coun­sel. When Ungles­by (the lawyer) called the num­ber, he got Vice-Pres­i­dent Bush’s office. When Seal attempt­ed to pre­vail on Bush to inter­vene on his behalf with the IRS, Seal was mur­dered. Much of the pro­gram deals with Seal’s his­to­ry in the world of covert operations—especially his involve­ment with the New Orleans milieu involved in the assas­si­na­tion of JFK.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The pos­si­bil­i­ty that Seal may have flown a get­away plane out of Dal­las on 11/22/1963; Seal’s involve­ment with CIA covert oper­a­tions when he was still in high school; Seal’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in a Civ­il Air Patrol unit com­mand­ed by JFK assas­si­na­tion con­spir­a­tor David Fer­rie and includ­ing among its mem­bers Lee Har­vey Oswald; the bru­tal warn­ing sent to Louisiana State Police Lieu­tenant Robert Thom­mas­son (his dog was decap­i­tat­ed and left float­ing in his back­yard pool as a deter­rent to Thom­mas­son’s talk­ing about Seal; an overview of Seal’s career in the Spe­cial Forces; Seal’s involve­ment with a unit that may have been involved in the assas­si­na­tion of Mar­tin Luther King; alle­ga­tions that Seal’s mur­der had been con­tract­ed by Lieu­tenant Colonel Oliv­er North; indi­ca­tions that a num­ber of oth­er peo­ple famil­iar with the details of Seal’s drug-smug­gling career may have been mur­dered to insure their silence; the spe­cial nego­ti­a­tions that moved the base of Seal’s smug­gling oper­a­tions from Louisiana to Mena, Arkansas.

1. The show begins with an account of a Louisiana State Police lieu­tenan­t’s hear­ing of Bar­ry Seal’s death. This lieutenant—Robert Thomasson—had long tracked Seal, in a vain attempt to bring the CIA agent extra­or­di­naire to jus­tice. “The white unmarked police car car­ry­ing Louisiana State Police Lt. Robert Thom­mas­son, head of a spe­cial 21-man nar­cotics unit tasked sole­ly with stop­ping Bar­ry Seal, rolled slow­ly out of New Orleans in the hazy twi­light. . . After anoth­er long day Thom­mas­son was going home; his car inched through long day Thom­mas­son was going home; his car inched through traf­fic onto the 24-mile long Cause­way across Lake Pontchar­train which con­nects New Orleans with its leafy north­ern sub­urbs.” (Bar­ry and the Boys; by Daniel Hop­sick­er; Mad Cow Press [HC]; Copy­right 2001 by Daniel Hop­sick­er; ISBN 0–9706-5911–0‑5; p. 425.)

2. “Though Thom­mas­son was tired, fatigue has not dulled his vivid rec­ol­lec­tions of what hap­pened next. . . . A call crack­led over his police radio. ‘1018. Repeat: 1018. Imme­di­ate­ly call head­quar­ters,’ ordered a grim dis­patcher’s voice. A cop who had learned a grudg­ing respect for his elu­sive quar­ry, Thom­mas­son heard the news in dis­be­lief. . . ‘What’s white-and-brown-and-red and rolling around in Baton Rouge?’ asked the dis­patch­er in the mirth­less tone cops use to dis­tance them­selves from bloody events. ‘Bar­ry Seal. They just gut­ted him.’ ” (Idem.)

3. “As he heard the news, in the dis­tance he was still lis­ten­ing to his cruis­er’s tires rolling over the cause­way’s grat­ing. Thump . . .Thump. . . Thump. . . A $500,000 Medellin car­tel mur­der con­tract had hung over Seal’s head, upped to a cool $1 mil­lion if he was brought alive to Colom­bia. Still, the chill­ing bru­tal and clin­i­cal effi­cien­cy with which the ‘rene­gade’ agent had been dis­patched was breath-tak­ing. . . espe­cial­ly giv­en that Seal him­self, a man with the most impec­ca­ble intel­li­gence sources, had not felt threat­ened. He cer­tain­ly had­n’t availed him­self of the Fed­er­al Wit­ness Pro­tec­tion pro­gram when it was offered to him.” (Ibid.; p. 426.)

4. There was appar­ent­ly con­cern on the part of law offi­cers who had pur­sued Seal that they might be blamed for his death. “The dis­patch­er asked, ‘Hey, bud, where you at?’ Thump. . . ‘Mid­dle of the cause­way,’ Thom­mas­son replied numbly. ‘Good,’ came the curt rejoin­der. ‘Get a bridge tick­et on your way back into town, stamped with date and time.’ ‘See, how volatile the whole Seal thing was,’ says Thom­mas­son today, ‘is that they want­ed me to have proof of exact­ly where I had been when Seal was killed, to remove any sus­pi­cion that we had played any role in it. It felt very much like ‘where were you when Kennedy was shot?’ It was that big—at least in Louisiana it was—especially since ten­sions had been run­ning so high since Bar­ry was con­vict­ed.’ ” (Idem.)

5. “In ret­ro­spect, Thom­mas­son says, the mur­der was a shock, but no sur­prise; Seal had seem­ing­ly fall­en from favor with who­ev­er had been pro­tect­ing him. He’d been on a well-doc­u­ment­ed down­ward spi­ral for over a year, los­ing sta­tus, pos­ses­sions, and immu­ni­ty from pros­e­cu­tion he had once tak­en for grant­ed as a mem­ber of a ‘pro­tect­ed’ class.” (Idem.)

6. “Most who knew Bar­ry Seal were sad­dened at his exe­cu­tion, but not sur­prised. His sec­re­tary Dan­dra Seale (no rela­tion) was typ­i­cal. . . ‘The day Bar­ry was killed, when he came back from lunch. . .’ she began, then stopped, her throat catch­ing. ‘See, he knew that day that they were killing him. Yes he did. Good lord. And he took it calm­ly, and con­tin­ued with what he’d been doing, which was try­ing to get the Play­boy Chan­nel into the Sal­va­tion Army, so that he and the rest of the men could watch it while he was locked up there at night.’ ” (Ibid.; pp. 433–434.)

7. Although the offi­cial sto­ry of Seal’s mur­der holds that he was exe­cut­ed by the Medellin car­tel, few who knew him believed it. His per­son­al sec­re­tary was among the skep­tics. “Not sur­pris­ing­ly, Dan­dra blames the ‘gov­ern­ment’ for Seal’s mur­der, and not the Medellin Car­tel ‘tar baby’ of the offi­cial ver­sion of events. . . ‘The CIA peo­ple here allowed it to hap­pen. He had a chart, he had dirt on any­body and every­body.’ ” (Ibid.; p. 434.)

8. “Bob Thomas­son, now a fed­er­al drug enforce­ment offi­cial teach­ing inter­dic­tion tech­niques to state and local police offi­cers, recalled what hap­pened when the state Police learned that Bar­ry Seal had been mur­dered. . . ‘I imme­di­ate­ly put out troops in Baton Rouge. Now, keep in mind, we are the State Police. The mur­der juris­dic­tion was in the city/parish. State police go in only when they’re called in, all right? Then I put the crime lab on stand­by. The city cops took one look at Seal’s bloody body, real­ized what they had, and request­ed the state police at the scene. So I imme­di­ate­ly put the New Orleans office on stand­by,’ he con­tin­ued.” (Idem.)

9. ” ‘At that time we had no idea yet that these guys—the shooters—were like rab­bits spread­ing out in a wild­fire. None what­so­ev­er. Thir­ty-five min­utes after the shoot­ing, I had dis­patch call the Baton Rouge office of the FBI, and the New Orleans office of the FBI, to give a noti­fi­ca­tion, just because it’s the right thing to do. . . You know, we’ve got a major smug­gler mur­dered, da-da-da-da-da.’ ” (Idem.)

10. Hop­sick­er relates that when one of Seal’s exe­cu­tion­ers was arrest­ed at the air­port, the arrest­ing FBI agent acci­den­tal­ly exposed the film the killer had tak­en of Seal’s mur­der. “We dis­cov­ered that one of the killers actu­al­ly took pic­tures of the mur­der-in-progress, but that the FBI agent who nabbed this guy at New Orleans Inter­na­tion­al Air­port as he was try­ing to flee the coun­try that night exposed the film, ren­der­ing it use­less as evi­dence.’ Thom­mas­son choos­es his words care­ful­ly. ‘What you get, when you call the FBI at night,’ he explains, ‘is a duty agent, okay?’ He’s just a kid, usu­al­ly, just out of the FBI Acad­e­my, his stand­ing orders are, ‘Make No Deci­sions Under Any Cir­cum­stances.”” (Ibid.; pp. 434–435.)

11. ” ‘What you don’t get at that time of night is a sea­soned agent or a SAC (Spe­cial Agent in Charge). You don’t get any­body impor­tant. So the appre­hen­sion at the air­port was made by a kid. It went like this: my head­quar­ters called the New Orleans FBI office. As soon as that phone call was received, the two ‘baby’ agents that had watch that night—they’re called ‘watch supes’—went out to cov­er the air­port.’ ” (Ibid.; p. 435.)

12. ” ‘Now, nev­er in a thou­sand years would this ever hap­pen again, but these two lucky guys park their car at the air­port, and head into the ter­mi­nal at the exact same time as this shoot­er, and they’ve got a phys­i­cal descrip­tion over their radio that exact­ly match­es the guy they’re see­ing. That’s the only way that guy got caught. So. . . if you’re ask­ing me, did they delib­er­ate­ly expose that film at the air­port? I got­ta say: look at who these two FBI guys were. Rook­ies. These are not the Men in Black.’ ” (Idem.)

13. After Hop­sick­er braced Thom­mas­son about the involve­ment of the CIA in Seal’s mur­der, Thom­mas­son’s demeanor dark­ened. ” ‘Why was there so much sus­pi­cion of the CIA?’ we asked. From his gri­mace we sur­mise he feels we’re push­ing. He paus­es, straight­ens in his chair, then fix­es us with a state felt before, no doubt, by innu­mer­able South­ern mis­cre­ants. ‘Tell me why you’re doing this,’ Thom­mas­son demands. From the way he says ‘this,’ we know exact­ly what he means. . . And after we tell him he sits, think­ing hard. And then with­out anoth­er word of com­ment, while star­ing fixed­ly out a 12th sto­ry win­dow of a hotel room in Day­tona Beach, Flori­da at the blue-green Atlantic, turn­ing now a deep­er blue as the sun slow­ly sets some­where a mil­lion miles away, he starts to talk. . . And the words at first come slow­ly, but soon enough are pour­ing out in tor­rents.” (Idem.)

14. ” ‘This gets real­ly black, okay, and it gets black for a lot of peo­ple. . . But I’ll give you a sequence of events: The FBI appears, shows up, on site, at the shoot­ing, okay? And I go, hmmm. . . . it hap­pens. . . .it’s not too fuck­ing extra­or­di­nary, but still. . . And then the con­tents of the car, the trunk, were seized.’ ” (Ibid.; pp. 435–436.)

15. Appar­ent­ly, the FBI vio­lat­ed stan­dard oper­at­ing pro­ce­dure by con­fis­cat­ing evi­dence from the trunk of Seal’s car. ” ‘But they can’t just seize mate­r­i­al evi­dence in a cap­i­tal crime!’ we protest­ed. ‘Isn’t it ille­gal for any­one but the inves­ti­gat­ing offi­cers to remove evi­dence from a crime scene?’ ‘I told you,’ he con­tin­ued, ‘this gets real­ly black. But some of the con­tents of the trunk, any­way, made it to my lab. . . our Louisiana State Police lab, which is def­i­nite­ly not a mom and pop shop—they’ve got 60–80 high­ly-trained employ­ees. . . Here’s the police pro­ce­dur­al: if it’s my case and I call the lab, I own the lab, okay? They take orders only from me. It would be the same pro­ce­dure if a sher­iff from Podunk called—they would then own the lab, the lab would work only for them. Under­stand?’ ” (Ibid.; p. 436.)

16. ” ‘Now, it would be beyond a breach of ethics, it would be crim­i­nal. . . . if, say, I called the lab and said, hey, I hear the city police sub­mit­ted a report on Joe Schmo, I’m com­ing by to pick it up. Its called ‘tam­per­ing with evi­dence.’ We’re into crim­i­nal acts here. The evi­dence that went into that lab on Bar­ry Seal went to a guy that won’t talk to you, so don’t ask me for his name or phone num­ber. This has caused a lot of stress in his life. He’s a long-time friend, and a top gun in foren­sics. And he gets the con­tents of Bar­ry Seal’s brief­case, and some oth­er con­tents of the car as lab exhibits. And he brings it into the lab. Our lab had worked the scene, and so had then brought the trunk­’s con­tents back to the lab,’ he con­tin­ued.” (Idem.)

17. When Daniel inquired about the nature of the con­tents of the trunk of Seal’s Cadil­lac (con­fis­cat­ed by the FBI), it became appar­ent that he was tread­ing on very sen­si­tive turf. Appar­ent­ly, Seal had taped all his phone calls—including those made to his intel­li­gence handlers—and kept them with him at all times. Lieu­tenant Thom­mas­son received a point­ed warn­ing about the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of the Seal case—his fam­i­ly’s dog was decap­i­tat­ed and found float­ing in their back­yard pool. “We can’t help our­selves, and blurt out the ‘Big Ques­tion.’ ‘What was in the trunk of the Cadil­lac?’ ‘I’m not try­ing to be eva­sive. . . ’ Thom­mas­son answers somber­ly. ‘But, I want to make it very clear. . .I only have third-hand reports. Okay?’ ‘Seal’s trunk con­tained com­pelling and–again, from 3rd hand data—very very com­pelling doc­u­ments and tapes. Sev­er­al brief­cas­es, boxes—wherever Seal’s Cadil­lac was, that was where Bar­ry’s instant records were.’ From the way he stressed ‘3rd hand’ we knew he was speak­ing for the record. Lat­er, we dis­cov­ered that this man’s fam­i­ly dog was decap­i­tat­ed and left float­ing in their back­yard pool as a warn­ing. . . .ful­ly three months after Seal’s assas­si­na­tion. . .” (Ibid.; pp. 436–437.)

18. ” ‘See, Bar­ry taped his calls. Bar­ry taped all of his calls, includ­ing all his calls to his con­trollers. I sus­pect that were you to have seen the con­tents of the trunk, it would cer­tain­ly val­i­date for whom he was employed, and what his mis­sion was.’ ‘Okay, who has heard those tapes that I could talk to?’ The ten­sion in the room ris­es. When he speaks his voice is soft, bare­ly above a whis­per. ‘That’s liv­ing?’ he asks. ‘No one. I told you: this gets real­ly black.’ ” (Ibid.; p. 437.)

19. Hop­sick­er’s fas­ci­nat­ing nar­ra­tive gets into the sub­ject of who had Bar­ry Seal killed, and why: ” . . . If Seal was right in being unafraid of Medellin car­tel retal­i­a­tion, then who then was respon­si­ble for his mur­der? There is no bet­ter source for this crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion than the three Colom­bians con­vict­ed of the killing, sen­tenced to life in prison with­out parole. We inter­viewed Richard Sharp­stein, a promi­nent Mia­mi crim­i­nal defense attor­ney, and the lawyer for one of the three con­vict­ed assas­sins, who casu­al­ly revealed the explo­sive truth about who ordered Bar­ry Seal killed—and why.” (Ibid.; pp. 437–438.)

20. Seal’s killers were under the dis­tinct impres­sion that the US mil­i­tary offi­cer who direct­ed their actions was Oliv­er North. ” ‘I rep­re­sent­ed Miguel Velez for the Bar­ry Seal homi­cide, which was one of the most incred­i­ble expe­ri­ences I have ever been through,’ Sharp­stein began. ‘It was an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence. Nobody want­ed to think about what any of this meant back in 1986. The impli­ca­tions were just too big. And I’m only speak­ing with you now because some of this has leaked out. All three of the Colom­bians who went on tri­al always told us—their lawyers—that they were being direct­ed, after they got into this coun­try, on what to do and where to go by an ‘anony­mous gringo,’ a Unit­ed States Mil­i­tary offi­cer, who they quick­ly fig­ured out was Oliv­er North,’ Sharp­stein says.” (Ibid.; p. 438.)

21. ” ‘Say that again?’ we asked. We were sure we’d heard it right the first time; we just need­ed con­fir­ma­tion. . . ‘Once they ren­dezvoused togeth­er in the States,’ explained Sharp­stein, ‘they, the Colom­bians, were being direct­ed, by phone, by a man who insist­ed on remain­ing anony­mous, but who did iden­ti­fy him­self as being an offi­cer in the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary. . . They were put in touch with this offi­cer through Rafa (a Colom­bian smug­gler) who was the guy my client worked for. And they all believed that it was Oliv­er North.’ ” (Idem.)

22. The pro­gram broach­es the sub­ject of the mar­tial law con­tin­gency plans drawn up by Oliv­er North when he worked for the White House. (For more about this sub­ject, see RFA#32—available from Spit­fire.) “What cor­rob­o­ra­tive indi­ca­tions are there to jus­ti­fy the charge of mur­der against Lt. Col. Oliv­er North? North, numer­ous sources stat­ed with­out prompt­ing, had been run­ning an assas­si­na­tion squad right out of his White House office. So the extra-judi­cial exe­cu­tion of Bar­ry Seal would­n’t have made him blink an eye. There are even alle­ga­tions that he had been tasked with draw­ing up plans to sus­pend the US Con­sti­tu­tion and declare mar­tial law, in the event the mas­sive drug smug­gling tak­ing place ever came to pub­lic light.” (Ibid.; pp. 438–439.)

23. “In Guts and Glo­ry: The Rise and Fall of Oliv­er North, author Ben Bradlee, Jr., writes. . . ‘North’s work for FEMA from 1982 to the spring of 1984 was high­ly clas­si­fied, and some would say bizarre. He was involved in help­ing to draft a sweep­ing con­tin­gency plan to impose mar­tial law in the event of a nuclear war or less seri­ous nation­al crises such as wide­spread inter­nal dis­sent or oppo­si­tion to an Amer­i­can mil­i­tary inva­sion abroad.’ ” (Ibid.; p. 439.)

24. Mov­ing beyond the Medellin car­tel dis­in­for­ma­tion, the pro­gram delves into what actu­al­ly hap­pened. “But the pop­u­lar mythol­o­gy of Seal’s assas­si­na­tion is—not just wrong—but active dis­in­for­ma­tion. When we began to exam­ine Seal’s assas­si­na­tion more close­ly, we saw then even basic facts, like how many killers there were, was stat­ed wrong to slant the sto­ry. In the offi­cial ver­sion of events recount­ed in news­pa­pers, the killers were always described as a ‘three-man hit team of Colom­bian nation­als.’ Even a cur­so­ry read­ing of the head­lines revealed, to our amaze­ment, there weren’t, had­n’t been, three men involved. . .there had been eight. Three men may be a hit ‘team. Eight is a hit ‘squad.’ So this is clear­ly active dis­in­for­ma­tion; even news­pa­per reporters can count to ten. . .unaid­ed.” (Idem.)

25. In addi­tion to the Colom­bian exe­cu­tion team, Jose Coutin was impli­cat­ed in the mur­der. (For more about Coutin, see RFA#‘s 29, 30—avail­able from Spit­fire.) “Six men had been arrest­ed at var­i­ous stages of attempt­ing to flee the scene. A sev­enth, Rafa Car­dona, who had dis­patched the team, was safe­ly ensconced in Colom­bia. . . at least for a while. He was charged in absen­tia for plan­ning the hit, but was him­self mowed down, in a spray of auto­mat­ic gun­fire inside his antique car deal­er­ship, in Colom­bia lat­er that year. Then there was the ‘eighth man,’ Mia­mi CIA ‘asset’ Jose Coutin, who had sup­plied the machine gun. More on him in a moment. . .” (Idem.)

26. “Richard Sharp­stein’s client, Miguel Velez, aka ‘Cum­babam­ba,’ has been described as a ‘CIA hit man’ in the New York press, where he was want­ed for mur­der. It was a total fluke that he was caught. He was done in by a deer. Ear­li­er, Velez had been spot­ted, ques­tioned, and then released at the air­port, by those sharp dressers at the FBI. After escap­ing the fee­ble clutch­es of the FBI at the air­port, Velez had hired a cab to dri­ve him from New Orleans to Mia­mi.” (Ibid.; p. 440.)

27. “In the mid­dle of the night, in Merid­i­an Mis­sis­sip­pi, the cab hit a deer at a lone­ly gas sta­tion on the inter­state. While wait­ing for repairs, a high­way patrol­man hap­pened by, and noticed that the sur­gi­cal out­fit worn by the cab’s pas­sen­ger fit the descrip­tion released by Baton Rouge police of one of the trig­ger­men. Offi­cers imme­di­ate­ly put Velez in hand­cuffs. The cab­bie, irate at los­ing such a big fare, pro­fessed to the cops that he could­n’t under­stand why the police were mak­ing such a fuss over a dead deer. . . .” (Idem.)

28. “Police then raid­ed two ‘safe’ hous­es in Algiers, a seamy sub­urb of New Orleans, and nabbed Bernar­do Vasquez and Louis Quin­tero-Cruz, the oth­er two men lat­er con­vict­ed, as well as John Car­dona, broth­er of the man fin­gered at the tri­al, Rafa Car­dona Salazar. Elib­er­to Sanchez was caught try­ing to flee at the New Orleans Inter­na­tion­al Air­port. Jose Rente­ria was nabbed the next day while wait­ing to board a plane in Mia­mi. The ‘eighth man’ in the assas­si­na­tion is Jose Coutin, who had sup­plied the weapons for the hit. He is thus, by law, guilty of mur­der; or, at the very least, of con­spir­a­cy to mur­der. But being con­nect­ed means nev­er hav­ing to say you’re sor­ry. . .” (Idem.)

29. “Coutin was nev­er even charged with a crime. He went on to tes­ti­fy before the Ker­ry Com­mit­tee, say­ing, no doubt, any­thing his ‘bene­fac­tors’ want­ed him to say. Coutin was the pro­pri­etor of the Broad­way Bou­tique, a Mia­mi fash­ion shop with a unique inven­to­ry: ladies cloth­ing in the front, and mil­i­tary gear in the back. Accord­ing to Les­ley Cock­burn in ‘Out of Con­trol,’ he was a well-known CIA asset, FBI infor­mant, and Con­tra weapons sup­pli­er. Why Sanchez and Car­dona were sim­ply deport­ed and nev­er charged with mur­der has nev­er, unsur­pris­ing­ly, been sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly explained. . .” (Idem.)

30. “But what hap­pened to Jose Rente­ria is reveal­ing. Tes­ti­mo­ny at the tri­al of the three accused of killing Seal revealed that Rente­ria had been the cut-out between Coutin, known to be linked to Oliv­er North, and the shoot­ers, to whom he deliv­ered the weapons from Coutin. . . So Jose Rente­ri­a’s case was sev­ered from the tri­al of the oth­er three.” (Ibid.; p. 441.)

31. “It was the strangest thing,’ says attor­ney Sharp­stein. ‘He was sev­ered on some odd the­o­ry that he was­n’t at the mur­der scene. What real­ly hap­pened is he had indi­cat­ed that he might, in exchange for a deal, be will­ing to talk. . . . Some­one on the gov­ern­ment side was clear­ly not very eager for that to hap­pen. Accord­ing to tri­al tes­ti­mo­ny, it was Rente­ria who took pic­tures of the mur­der. When his cam­era was con­fis­cat­ed by an FBI agent at the New Orleans air­port, it was opened and the film inside exposed. Rente­ria was sent to Mia­mi to face (minor) pend­ing charges. His boss­es must have felt that his was a job well-done.” (Idem.)

32. ” ‘They cut him a deal, they made a fast plea and he was in and out, serv­ing a bit of time and then being deport­ed,’ states Sharp­stein. ‘The result was we nev­er got to hear the sto­ry he was ready to sing at the tri­al.’ And Coutin? ‘Same thing,’ Sharp­stein said. ‘They made a deal with him; he tes­ti­fied at the tri­al, and then lat­er before the Ker­ry hear­ings in Wash­ing­ton. I was the lawyer who brought up his CIA and Con­tra con­nec­tions in the tri­al, because I felt that there were lots of rea­sons why the CIA might want to mur­der Bar­ry. . . .’ ” (Idem.)

33. ” ‘And Coutin went crazy on the stand when I did. You’d have thought he’d been zapped with a ray gun.’ Had the Colom­bians dis­cussed motive with their lawyers? ‘They were just sol­diers,’ Sharp­stein stat­ed. ‘They did what they were told. But in tes­ti­mo­ny at the tri­al giv­en by one of Seal’s attor­neys, Lewis Ungles­by, we did final­ly hear about motive. . .’ ” (Idem.)

34. “Lewis Ungles­by is today a promi­nent and very well-con­nect­ed Louisiana lawyer. At the time his name was dai­ly on the front page of the state’s news­pa­pers, defend­ing his long-time client and asso­ciate, Gov­er­nor Edwin Edwards. Ungles­by had told us about a con­fronta­tion he had with Bar­ry over the fact that Seal was keep­ing him in the dark about mat­ters Ungles­by con­sid­ered cru­cial to defend­ing him. . . .” (Ibid.; pp. 441–442.)

35. One of the most dra­mat­ic of the dis­clo­sures in Bar­ry and the Boys con­cerns what Seal’s lawyer Lewis Ungles­by revealed about who was con­trol­ling Bar­ry Seal’s operations—then Vice-Pres­i­dent George Bush! ” ‘Bar­ry pushed the phone across the desk to me and said, ‘You wan­na know what’s going on? Here. Dial this num­ber. Tell ’em you’re me,’ Ungles­by relat­ed. ‘When I did what he request­ed,’ he con­tin­ued, ‘A female voice answered the phone, say­ing, ‘Vice Pres­i­dent Bush’s office, may I help you?’ ‘I said, ‘This is Bar­ry Seal.’ She asked me to wait while she trans­ferred the call, which was imme­di­ate­ly picked up by a man who iden­ti­fied him­self as Admi­ral some­body or oth­er, who said to me, ‘Bar­ry! Where you been?’ ” (Ibid.; p. 442.)

36. Seal was try­ing to get George H.W. Bush to get the IRS off his back. He alleged­ly threat­ened to blow the whis­tle on the whole Con­tra scheme, includ­ing the com­plic­i­ty of the US gov­ern­ment and the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion in the mas­sive cocaine influx that bedev­iled the US in the 1980’s. ” ‘That’s when I told him that I was­n’t Bar­ry Seal, I was his lawyer,’ said Ungles­by. ‘Imme­di­ate­ly he slammed down the phone.’ ‘So why was Bar­ry Seal mur­dered?’ we asked Sharp­stein. ‘Ungles­by said he had been with Seal when the IRS came and seized all his prop­er­ty,’ Sharp­stein relat­ed. ‘The IRS man said, ‘You owe us $30 mil­lion for the mon­ey you made in drug deal­ing.’ ‘Hey, I work for you,’ was Seal’s reply. ‘We work for the same peo­ple.’ ‘You don’t work for us,’ the IRS agent stat­ed. ‘We’re the IRS.’ ” (Idem.)

37. ” ‘Ungles­by was with Seal when he retired to a back room,’ Sharp­stein. ‘He watched as Seal placed a call to George Bush. He heard Bar­ry Seal tell Bush: ‘If you don’t get these IRS ass­holes off my back I’m going to blow the whis­tle on the Con­tra scheme.’ Sharp­stein spoke solemn­ly, aware of the grav­i­ty of his words. . . ‘That’s why he’s dead,’ is what Ungles­by said.’ ” (Idem.)

38. “One week after the phone con­ver­sa­tion between Bar­ry Seal and George Bush, Seal was sen­tenced to a half-way house. Two weeks lat­er he was dead. ‘Bar­ry Seal, you mean that agent that went ‘bad?’ Gor­don Nov­el had casu­al­ly inquired, when we’d posed the ques­tion of his asso­ci­a­tions with Seal. An agent that ‘goes bad,’ as we under­stand intel­li­gence indus­try trade jar­gon, is one who con­tem­plates talk­ing. ‘Seal was gunned down, sup­pos­ed­ly by those Colom­bians,’ says Sharp­stein. ‘But they were fed infor­ma­tion by the ass­holes in our gov­ern­ment who want­ed him dead.’ ” (Ibid.; pp. 442–443.)

39. More about the alleged role of the CIA in Seal’s death: “The assas­si­na­tion of Bar­ry Seal was very like­ly not even the first attempt on Seal’s life by North, we were told by CIA elec­tron­ics expert Red Hall, on the ground in Nicaragua with Seal on the San­din­ista drug sting. . . ‘The only thing I knew was the CIA had to do a lot with it (Bar­ry’s mur­der.) The killers were being direct­ed by Oliv­er North at the time. It was the same thing Oliv­er North pulled on us down in Nicaragua. Then, I did­n’t know yet that Oliv­er North had it for Bar­ry Seal, because he was work­ing with Oliv­er at that par­tic­u­lar point. We was under­cov­er, and we were still down there (Nicaragua), when Oliv­er North blew the whis­tle on us.’ ” (Ibid.; p. 443.)

40. “Chip Tatum, anoth­er covert oper­a­tive who had known Seal and shared con­fi­dences with him, lis­tened with amuse­ment the first time we breath­less­ly relayed what we’d dis­cov­ered: that Oliv­er North is guilty in the assas­si­na­tion of Bar­ry Seal. . . ‘No shit, Sher­lock,’ he replied, laugh­ing. ‘It ain’t exact­ly the secret of the cen­tu­ry, I can tell you.’ ” (Idem.)

41. The IRS wound up on Bar­ry Seal’s case for rea­sons sim­i­lar to the ulti­mate appre­hen­sion of Al Capone: “Bar­ry Seal had threat­ened George Bush over the IRS trou­ble he was hav­ing. Why could­n’t Bush have ‘tak­en care’ of the IRS? Per­haps he could have. But there were oth­er Seal ‘prob­lems’ as well, like state police so dis­gust­ed they were threat­en­ing to go to the media with damn­ing evi­dence of offi­cial cor­rup­tion in Seal’s case, should the biggest drug smug­gler any of them had ever seen receive no ‘time’ at all. ‘Al Capone killed over five hun­dred peo­ple. What did he go to prison for?’ asked one for­mer state police offi­cial. We remem­bered. ‘Tax eva­sion?’ ” (Ibid.; pp. 443–444.)

42. “Exact­ly. Tax eva­sion. Get the pic­ture? I beat on desk­tops in IRS offices all across the Unit­ed States to find some­body that would take the case, till I found a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tor for the IRS named Earl Buck Holmes, will­ing to come down and set up a war­room in my office.’ Some ‘wised-up’ local and state cops had fig­ured out that Bar­ry Seal had been too valu­able to cer­tain peo­ple in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca to ever go to prison for his crimes. . . .” (Ibid.; p. 444.)

43. “Know­ing this, local law enforce­ment had done an end-around on them, and tak­en their case to the IRS, where they hatched a plan to at least strip Seal of some of his ill-got­ten goods. Remark­ably, in the court pro­ceed­ings in nei­ther Mia­mi nor Baton Rouge had Seal’s orga­ni­za­tion­al assets—like his fleet of planes—been con­fis­cat­ed, although this is stan­dard oper­at­ing pro­ce­dure in drug cas­es. Why not? Because they were still being used . . .” (Idem.)

44. “Local and state cops, we found, to our amaze­ment, had tracked a ship­ment of cocaine to one of Seal’s ocean-going ves­sels, the Cap­tain Won­der­ful, just weeks before Seals’ mur­der. There they were met—and dis­suad­ed from boarding—by DEA and CIA agents. State and local cops in the South often appear to know the score. . . When we told one Louisiana law enforce­ment source what we had learned from Mia­mi attor­ney Richard Sharp­stein, about how the hit team had been get­ting orders from Oliv­er North, he said sim­ply, ‘That does­n’t sur­prise me at all.’ ” (Idem.)

45. Seal was mur­dered because he was indeed get­ting ready to spill the beans about some of the unsa­vory events with which he had been involved and who was direct­ing these events: “Then we dis­cov­ered why Seal had been so uncon­cerned about being killed by the Medellin car­tel. . . ‘I asked Bar­ry why he was­n’t wor­ried about the Colom­bians killing him,’ stat­ed close asso­ciate, Mob pilot Rene Mar­tin. ‘He said he had told the Colom­bians he was going to pull a fast one, and tes­ti­fy for Ochoa against the US gov­ern­ment.’ Two weeks before he died, Bar­ry Seal had hired a pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor in Mia­mi, Steve Din­er­stein, to run FAA title search­es on 15 dif­fer­ent air­planes he had used in his smug­gling Enter­prise. . .Seal was get­ting ready to talk about who had owned his smug­gling fleet fif­teen years ago.” (Ibid.; pp. 444–445.)

46. “Bar­ry Seal was assas­si­nat­ed because he was get­ting ready to talk. . . He had even con­tact­ed a Para­mount Stu­dios pro­duc­tion vice-pres­i­dent about mak­ing a movie. While the killers approached Bar­ry Seal’s Cadil­lac in the Baton Rouge twi­light, Seal had been on his car phone with a CIA air­craft pro­cure­ment exec­u­tive in Ari­zona, Bill Lam­beth, who will him­self be mur­dered in Phoenix sev­en years lat­er. Sud­den­ly cut off, and fear­ing the worst, Lam­beth fran­ti­cal­ly dialed Bar­ry’s home phone, where his wife Deb­bie answered. ‘I think some­thing’s wrong with Bar­ry,’ Lam­beth said omi­nous­ly.” (Ibid.; p. 445.)

47. “Deb­bie, unable to reach her hus­band, bun­dled her three small chil­dren into the car and fran­ti­cal­ly head­ed for the Sal­va­tion Army half-way house where he had been sen­tenced to sleep for six months. On the way she stopped at a pay phone to make anoth­er attempt to reach her hus­band, and learned he was now ‘unreach­able.’ ‘He’s not going to the hos­pi­tal she remem­bers being told. ‘He’s dead. Don’t come here Deb­bie. Don’t.’ ” (Idem.)

48. “As she returned to her car, she could see through her tears, her three small chil­dren’s heads bare­ly peek­ing over the car seats. And though Bar­ry Seal is any­thing but blame­less, his three small chil­dren were. . . .they sym­bol­ize the mil­lions of lives ruined by a pho­ny drug war whose only pur­pose is to line-still-more the pock­ets of a crew of elite deviants who took over our coun­try. ‘All I could think of was my poor lit­tle babies. . . .my poor babies,’ Deb­bie Seal told us, chok­ing back tears. ‘I did­n’t know how I was going to tell them that their Dad­dy was dead.’ ” (Idem.)

49. We will take a break from the account of Seal’s death in order to review some of his pro­fes­sion­al history—a his­to­ry that winds through the CIA’s anti-Cas­tro wars, the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy and decades of covert oper­a­tions work on behalf of the gov­ern­ment. After exam­in­ing some of this, it will be appar­ent why the pow­ers that be were so alarmed that Seal might begin talk­ing. Daniel Hop­sick­er had CIA pilot and Seal asso­ciate Gary Eit­el inter­pret Seal’s mil­i­tary his­to­ry. “. . . Nor are these the only gaps in Bar­ry’s ear­ly fly­ing his­to­ry. Dur­ing two sep­a­rate four-month stretch­es in 1962 and ear­ly 1963 he leaves no records at all in his log books of where he is fly­ing, and with whom . . . at the exact same time the Agency was train­ing exiles and ‘sol­diers of for­tune’ for a sec­ond inva­sion in Guatemala, on No-Name Key in Flori­da, and on the north shore of Lake Pon­char­train in Louisiana.” (Ibid.; p. 136.)

50. “His pilot’s logs then begin to drop all pre­tense to accu­ra­cy, and every oth­er day, month in and month out, Bar­ry’s logs state that he is ‘ban­ner-tow­ing,’ always for pre­cise­ly five hours. For exam­ple, on a day for which we have pho­to­graph­ic proof that he was in Mex­i­co City, Jan­u­ary 22, 1963, his pilot’s logs read ‘ban­ner tow­ing in Baton Rouge. Five hours.’ When we showed his friend and fel­low fly­ing instruc­tor Cliff Rice these pilot logs his face showed dis­may. ‘His flight logs raise a lot of red flags,’ Rice told us slow­ly. ‘He made a lot of flights to Dal­las, and to Flori­da, I see. As well as to Waco. Pret­ty irreg­u­lar.’ ” (Idem.)

51. “We asked for­mer CIA pilot Gary Eit­el to inspect Bar­ry Seal’s offi­cial mil­i­tary records for us. Eit­el’s recent career includes a stint as an attor­ney, where his court tes­ti­mo­ny helped con­vict two CIA mis­cre­ants in Ari­zona in the mid-’90’s, who were sell­ing C‑130 mil­i­tary car­go planes to Mex­i­can drug car­tels. ‘It says Bar­ry was 1st Spe­cial Forces from Baton Rouge, La., assigned to duty that’s been ‘redact­ed.’ His duty spe­cial­ty codes are redact­ed, so that won’t tell us any­thing. . .’ Eit­el start­ed, read­ing the records aloud.” (Idem.)

52. ” ‘On 31 Aug 61, he joined a reserve Spe­cial Forces group,’ he con­tin­ued. ‘Then on 15 Dec 62, he’s assigned to the 21st Spe­cial Forces Group—Airborne, and goes to Fort Ben­ning Jump School. And then in Jan­u­ary of 63, he’s trans­ferred to Com­pa­ny ‘B’ of the 21st Spe­cial Forces group.’ That would be the same month of the pic­ture we saw in Mex­i­co City. We had ques­tions. Could the peo­ple in that night­club some­how con­sti­tute Com­pa­ny B? And why had Seal joined the Spe­cial Forces reserve?” (Ibid.; pp. 136–137.)

53. ” ‘You get a lit­tle more free­dom in the reserves, a lit­tle more cow­boy style,’ Eit­el replied. ‘You can take a leave of absence with­out los­ing your ser­vice num­ber. See, in the mil­i­tary, once you prove your­self once, the juicy oppor­tu­ni­ties start to come your way. And once you’re into that club. . . you’re okay. The gravy train rolls in.’ ” (Ibid.; p. 137.)

54. “Has some­one, or some orga­ni­za­tion, smoothed Seal’s progress? ‘Bar­ry found a lit­tle niche in the Spe­cial Forces reserves,’ Eit­el stat­ed. ‘One rea­son might be that good pilots often flunk out of flight school, because of the dis­ci­pline. In 1960, he was 20. In 1962 Seal would have been 22 years old. The draft was big time then. He could have gone to Viet­nam.’ ” (Idem.)

55. Seal’s mil­i­tary career had been deeply involved with covert oper­a­tions. “Indeed, Seal had flunked out of his one semes­ter of col­lege, at LSU. Could the CIA have smoothed his way into the Spe­cial Forces Reserve? ‘It’s high­ly pos­si­ble,’ stat­ed Eit­el. ‘In 1962, remem­ber, Spe­cial Forces was­n’t well-known yet at all. Army Rangers did­n’t have the bad-ass rep­u­ta­tion they devel­oped lat­er. There was­n’t a ‘Bal­lad of the Green Berets’ yet . . . What is clear is that Bar­ry was in some kind of unit that had a spe­cial ops focus.’ ” (Idem.)

56. In the spring of 1963, Seal was assigned to the 20th Spe­cial Forces Group. ” ‘Here’s some­thing . . . on 1 May 63 he’s assigned to com­pa­ny D Spe­cial Ops Detach­ment of the 20th Spe­cial Forces Group Air­borne. Now he goes up to the next grade of Spe­cial Forces—Special Detach­ment Spe­cial Ops. The CIA could eas­i­ly have recruit­ed him right out of the ser­vice,’ Eit­el con­clud­ed. ‘If he was­n’t already work­ing for them.’ ” (Idem.)

57. The 20th Spe­cial Forces Group was a rather extra­or­di­nary unit. (For more about the unit and its alleged role in the assas­si­na­tion of Dr. Mar­tin Luther King, see FTR#46.) “Was there any­thing unusu­al about Bar­ry Seal’s 20th Spe­cial Forces Group? Yes . . . When it was dis­cov­ered that the Birm­ing­ham-based 20th had sent a detach­ment of Green Berets to Mem­phis to car­ry out an unknown mis­sion on the day Mar­tin Luther King was assas­si­nat­ed, the local paper, The Mem­phis Com­mer­cial Appeal had inves­ti­gat­ed. They dis­cov­ered that the 20th was chock­full of vet­er­ans of CIA assas­si­na­tion ops in South­east Asia. The paper quot­ed a for­mer army coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence major as stat­ing that the 20th had even had a domes­tic intel­li­gence net­work, oper­at­ed for them by the Ku Klux Klan and ‘Klan Spe­cial Forces.’ The major said, ‘The rur­al South was ‘in-coun­try’ to these guys, and at times things got out of hand.’ ” (Ibid.; pp. 137–138.)

58. “Bar­ry’s reserve ser­vice con­tin­ues until his release in Novem­ber of 1966. For the last two years of his 6‑year hitch he was assigned to head­quar­ters of 245th Engi­neer bat­tal­ion based in Saint Louis. ‘That fits,’ Eit­el told us. ‘Engi­neers and Spe­cial Forces just go hand-in-hand. Engi­neers are the first guys in, they’re road main­tain­ers. They build airstrips where covert ops can go in the dark. Bar­ry was an owner/operator. The CIA con­tract­ed him for work. They said, hey Seal . . . we’re gonna pay you.’ Gary Eit­el was also a CIA pilot, a life­long mem­ber of the same fra­ter­ni­ty of fly­ers to which Seal belonged. He knew him only slight­ly, but, liv­ing in neigh­bor­ing Texas, he heard quite a bit about him. . .” (Ibid.; p. 138.)

59. Hop­sick­er broach­es the sub­ject of Seal’s hav­ing flown a get­away plane out of Dal­las on 11/22/1963. (For more about this sub­ject, see FTR#288.) ” . . . We asked Gary Eit­el, ‘Have you heard any­thing about Seal fly­ing a get­away plane out of Dal­las?’ ‘It would have had to be an awful damn big plane,’ he replied slow­ly. ‘There were so many peo­ple involved in that thing, they’d have need­ed a 747 to get ’em all out. Its down­right embar­rass­ing.’ ” (Ibid.; p. 139.)

60. In Bar­ry and the Boys, Daniel Hop­sick­er expos­es Seal’s involve­ment in covert oper­a­tions in the mid and late 1950’s, when Seal was still a teenag­er. Seal’s smug­gling activ­i­ties drew the atten­tion of the FBI even in that ear­ly time peri­od. ” . . . Dur­ing exact­ly this same time peri­od there was also quite a bit of FBI inter­est in the young Bar­ry Seal as well. Accord­ing to Jer­ry Chidgey, who was Bar­ry’s room­mate and friend, he became aware—in ear­ly 1960—that the FBI was fol­low­ing Bar­ry.” (Ibid.; p. 70.)

61. ” ‘When I met Bar­ry, I owned ‘The Amber Bot­tle,’ a folk club in Baton Rouge. We were cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the folk craze,’ Chidgey recalls. ‘And that was where Bar­ry used to hang, and we became good friends and end­ed up liv­ing togeth­er. And one day I remem­ber two FBI guys showed up ask­ing ques­tions about him, while Bar­ry was gone on a trip.’ ” (Idem.)

62. Next, Hop­sick­er relates Bar­ry Seal’s involve­ment with the milieu of the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy, includ­ing David Ferrie—the orig­i­nal tar­get of Jim Gar­rison’s probe. Like Fer­rie, Seal had a pho­to­graph­ic mem­o­ry. (For more about JFK’s assas­si­na­tion, see—among oth­er pro­grams—FTR#‘s 19, 47, 54, 62, 63, 76, 108, 120, 158, 168, 188, 190, 253, 288.) ” ‘Anoth­er time that same year (1960) I flew to Dal­las, and two men in black suits fol­lowed me there and back, and the only rea­son I could ever fig­ure out was because of Bar­ry,’ says Chidgey. ‘Unless, that is, they were mak­ing a prac­tice of sur­veilling folk club own­ers.’ Bar­ry Seal and Dave Fer­rie share yet-anoth­er high­ly unusu­al trait, we dis­cov­ered, a trait which is a big plus for any secret agent. Both men had pho­to­graph­ic mem­o­ries.” (Idem.)

63. “When we inter­viewed Fer­rie inti­mate and CIA ‘asset’ Lay­ton Martens, he had attempt­ed to dis­pel the belief that Fer­rie had been plot­ting the Kennedy assas­si­na­tion dur­ing the two weeks pri­or, while Fer­rie had been stay­ing at Churchill Farms, Mar­cel­lo’s Louisiana coun­try­side estate. Many have won­dered why Mar­cel­lo would have used a mere pilot on his legal team. ‘Dave Fer­rie had a pho­to­graph­ic mem­o­ry,’ Martens told us. ‘That’s why Car­los used him. He was use­ful because he had sat down and mem­o­rized the Louisiana Napolean­ic Code in six weeks—in its entire­ty!’ ” (Idem.)

64. “Bar­ry Seal went Dave Fer­rie one bet­ter. ‘Bar­ry not only had a pho­to­graph­ic mem­o­ry,’ his wid­ow Deb­bie Seal says, ‘but he was also able to read upside down. He could go into an office and sit down in front of some­body’s desk and, while still car­ry­ing on a nor­mal con­ver­sa­tion, read what they had in front of them and remem­ber it com­plete­ly lat­er.’ ” (Ibid.; p. 71.)

65. “A pho­to­graph­ic mem­o­ry . . . the abil­i­ty to sur­rep­ti­tious­ly read upside down. . . being as good a pilot as any alive. . . These are all clear­ly use­ful traits in the world of clan­des­tine ser­vices. But they don’t explain why the FBI was so inter­est­ed in both David Fer­rie and Bar­ry Seal. What were Seal and Fer­rie doing which war­rant­ed FBI sur­veil­lance back in the ear­ly ’60’s? The answer opens what’s been called ‘an end­less can of worms.’ ” (Idem.)

66. Next, the pro­gram places Seal’s career and per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al acquain­tances in the con­text of the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy. In turn, many of the prin­ci­ples in the JFK assas­si­na­tion were involved in the murky under­world of drug and gun smug­gling. ” . . . What activ­i­ty do Lee Har­vey Oswald, Jack Ruby, Bar­ry Seal, Guy Ban­is­ter, David Fer­rie, Gor­don Nov­el, Michael McLaney, and Mey­er Lan­sky all share in com­mon? Under nor­mal cir­cum­stances, would homo­sex­u­al and pedophile Dave Fer­rie hang out with cig­ar-chomp­ing com­mie-hat­ing Guy Ban­is­ter? What would they find to talk about? And what did vio­lence-lov­ing Jack Ruby—he enjoyed being his own bounc­er in his strip clubs—share in com­mon with sup­posed ‘Marx­ist intel­lec­tu­al’ Lee Oswald?” (Ibid.; p. 124.)

67. “They worked togeth­er. They all saw each oth­er at the office, at the air­port, or at the odd Klan cross-burn­ing that func­tioned as ‘cov­er’ for some of them. Its not that they’re per­son­al­ly close. . . they’re like peo­ple who see each oth­er maybe once a year at some Gift Show Con­ven­tion.” (Idem.)

68. “As it hap­pens, the indus­try these men were in was enjoy­ing a major boom at the time. Their busi­ness is weapons and nar­cotics, which togeth­er com­prise just one indus­try. . . because who con­trols the one inevitably con­trols the oth­er. Jack Ruby, to cite just one exam­ple . . . Pro­fes­sor [Peter Dale] Scott shows him to be involved in nar­cotics traf­fick­ing as far back as the late 1940’s. Talk about being ahead of the curve!” (Idem.)

69. “We were amazed to learn that by 1956, Ruby was doing so well in nar­cotics that he was show­ing train­ing films to poten­tial recruits into the orga­ni­za­tion. When a pimp named James Breen met with Ruby to dis­cuss col­lab­o­rat­ing in run­ning three pros­ti­tutes, he found Ruby burst­ing with ‘lofti­er’ ambi­tions. . . Ruby showed Breen an ear­ly nar­co-indus­try train­ing and recruit­ing film, excit­ing enthu­si­asm in his new recruit in ‘an extreme­ly effi­cient oper­a­tion in con­nec­tion with nar­cotics traf­fic.’ Typ­i­cal loads were val­ued at over $300,000. In 1956, that was real mon­ey.” (Ibid.; pp. 124–125.)

70. “The oth­er big action is in weapons. This per­haps explains why—to a star­tling degree—the lead char­ac­ters in our sto­ry are almost all involved in smug­gling weapons, as if they all worked for a giant super­store called ‘Guns R’ Us.’ ” (Ibid.; p. 125.)

71. “This is why they all know each oth­er: our US Cus­toms agent friend was right about there not being all that many play­ers. Lee Oswald knows Jack Ruby, based on too many wit­ness­es for even the FBI to ignore. Oswald also knows Dave Fer­rie, Oswald knows Bar­ry Seal, Seal knows Fer­rie, and, based on flight plans in his pilot logs, may have also known Jack Ruby. And every­body knows Guy Ban­is­ter.” (Idem.)

72. Hop­sick­er’s account con­cludes with dis­cus­sion of a stun­ning nego­ti­a­tion between the Attor­ney Gen­er­al of Louisiana—William J. Guste, Jr. and then Vice Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush. They were arrang­ing for Seal to escape pros­e­cu­tion for drug smug­gling in Louisiana and for Seal to move his oper­a­tion to Mena, Arkansas. ” . . . We were to make one final dis­cov­ery. After Bar­ry Seal had threat­ened to roll on Richard Ben-Veniste, and while he was still in pos­ses­sion of those ‘two brief­cas­es’ filled with incrim­i­nat­ing infor­ma­tion he had ‘lib­er­at­ed’ from Ben-Venis­te’s office, Ben-Veniste had inter­ced­ed for Seal and set up a meet­ing with the then-Vice Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, George Bush.” (Ibid.; p. 445.)

73. “We learned that Seal had not attend­ed this meet­ing. Instead, he sent the Attor­ney Gen­er­al for the state of Louisiana., William J. Guste, Jr., to argue on his behalf. The Vice Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, George Bush, sat down and cut a deal with the Attor­ney Gen­er­al of the State of Louisiana—in what amount­ed to state-to-state-negotiations—about the fate of a Louisiana native CIA agent with a ‘lit­tle prob­lem,’ Bar­ry Seal.” (Ibid.; p.446.)

74. As it turned out, Guste had been an inti­mate of the Guy Bannister/David Fer­rie milieu in New Orleans. That milieu was deeply involved with the assas­si­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Kennedy. “The result, which we already knew, was that Seal had moved his oper­a­tion to Mena in the Spring of 1982, and went to work for Oliv­er North. But who was William Guste? Why had seal placed such faith in him? And the answer, when we found it, brought our sto­ry of Bar­ry and ‘the boys’ full cir­cle. . . William Guste, Jr., in addi­tion to involve­ment with Edwin Edwards in shady casi­no deals—standard Louisiana fare—had been, way back in 1956 and ’57, when our sto­ry began, the head of the New Orleans Met­ro­pol­i­tan Crime Com­mis­sion, where he had been instru­men­tal in bring­ing to town Guy Ban­is­ter, the agent who had helmed the entire New Orleans oper­a­tion from its incep­tion. Small World.” (Idem.)

75. Seal’s wid­ow took note of a con­tin­gent of fed­er­al gov­ern­ment agents who attend­ed Bar­ry’s funer­al: “At the Baton Rouge funer­al home where mourn­ers gath­ered for Bar­ry Seal’s wake, the new­ly-wid­owed Deb­bie Seal’s old­est child­hood friend noticed with curios­i­ty an entire line of men in sleek dark suits hov­er­ing at the back of the room. ‘Who are they?’ she asked Deb­bie. ‘They’re with the gov­ern­ment,’ Deb­bie replied. ‘They’ve come to make sure that he’s dead.’ ” (Idem.)

76. The pro­gram ends with the pas­sage with which Hop­sick­er con­cludes his book: “This has been the sto­ry of Bar­ry Seal, the biggest drug smug­gler in Amer­i­can his­to­ry, who died in a hail of bul­lets with George Bush’s pri­vate phone num­ber in his wal­let.” (Idem.)


2 comments for “FTR #503 The Death of Barry Seal”

  1. I won­der how much of an impact Bar­ry Seal had on our retire­ment sys­tem con­sid­er­ing his his­to­ry of nar­cotics smug­gling and mon­ey laun­der­ing? All that mon­ey had to be “washed clean” some­how.

    Posted by Bruce Allen | December 8, 2013, 7:41 pm
  2. Remem­ber the sev­ered head of Hol­ly­wood Hills that Hop­sick­er wrote so much about in 2012? The pre­sumed behead­er has been charged, although it’s unclear if he has a lawyer:

    Los Ange­les man charged in sev­ered head case
    By TAMI ABDOLLAH, Asso­ci­at­ed Press | March 10, 2014 | Updat­ed: March 10, 2014 10:46pm

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Ange­les Coun­ty pros­e­cu­tors have charged a man with killing his live-in boyfriend and dump­ing his sev­ered head, hands and feet near the Hol­ly­wood sign two years ago.

    Police announced the arrest of Gabriel Cam­pos-Mar­tinez, 38, on sus­pi­cion of killing Her­vey Coro­n­a­do Medellin, 66, of Los Ange­les. Cam­pos-Mar­tinez was arrest­ed in San Anto­nio on Sun­day with the help of local author­i­ties and was being held on $1 mil­lion bail pend­ing an extra­di­tion hear­ing.

    Cam­pos-Mar­tinez was charged Mon­day with one felony count of mur­der with mal­ice afore­thought in the slay­ing of Medellin, who had been dat­ing Cam­pos-Mar­tinez and was liv­ing with him at the time of his dis­ap­pear­ance, Deputy Dis­trict Attor­ney Bob­by Grace said.

    It was­n’t clear if Cam­pos-Mar­tinez was rep­re­sent­ed by an attor­ney. San Anto­nio police said they did­n’t know, Bexar Coun­ty Sher­if­f’s offi­cials said they don’t dis­close that infor­ma­tion, and a mes­sage with the San Anto­nio Cen­tral Mag­is­trate Office was not returned.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 10, 2014, 8:32 pm

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