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

For The Record  

FTR #871 Daniel Hopsicker Rides Again!

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This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment

Intro­duc­tion: Some lis­ten­ers may be aware that inves­tiga­tive reporter Daniel Hop­sick­er had open heart surgery some months ago, account­ing for his absence from the blo­gos­phere. For­tu­nate­ly, he is OK and still with us.

Daniel has been a long-time guest on For The Record, and his arti­cles and books are con­sum­mate­ly impor­tant con­tri­bu­tions to the body of Amer­i­can polit­i­cal sci­ence.

From Bar­ry and the Boys, through Wel­come to Ter­ror­land: Mohamed Atta and the 9/11 Cov­er-Up in Flori­da and con­tin­u­ing through Daniel’s array of arti­cles on the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty’s involve­ment in the drug trade, a cast of char­ac­ters and insti­tu­tions that frame decades of covert oper­a­tions are chron­i­cled in Daniel’s ongo­ing inves­tiga­tive efforts.

After Daniel reflects on his recent brush with mor­tal­i­ty, the pro­gram high­lights Jeb Bush’s denial of his pres­ence on a C‑130 that spir­it­ed away the Venice (Flori­da) Police Depart­men­t’s files on Huff­man Avi­a­tion, as well as Huff­man’s oper­a­tional doc­u­ments.

The plane nev­er made it to FBI head­quar­ters, but appar­ent­ly land­ed in Lan­g­ley, Vir­ginia, the site of CIA head­quar­ters. Among the inter­views we did with Daniel describ­ing the Jeb Bush milieu, Kather­ine Har­ris and their remark­able behav­ior with regard to Wal­ly Hilliard and the milieu around Huff­man Avi­a­tion are FTR #‘s 482483484.

Next, we turn to the deep pol­i­tics sur­round­ing CIA drug pilot Bar­ry Seal, David Fer­rie and Lee Har­vey Oswald–all part of the Civ­il Air Patrol unit com­mand­ed by Fer­rie. Seal appar­ent­ly began his intel­li­gence activ­i­ties while a teenag­er serv­ing in Fer­rie’s unit, may well have par­tic­i­pat­ed in the “get-away” phase of the Kennedy assas­si­na­tion and then grad­u­at­ed to be a major cog in the Iran-Con­tra drug traf­fick­ing.

We then high­light some of Daniel’s over­lap­ping sto­ries about intel­li­gence-con­nect­ed drug traf­fick­ing.

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  • The own­er­ship of sev­er­al planes linked to what Daniel has termed “Cocaine One” by the daugh­ter of Nel­son Bunker Hunt.
  •  The real sto­ry about the Mex­i­can drug car­tels.
  • A major drug bust on the prop­er­ty of Paris Hilton.
  • Drug smug­gling in the Chica­go area involv­ing indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions grouped around Sharon Vaughn, the moth­er of actor Vince Vaughn.

1. Some lis­ten­ers may be aware that inves­tiga­tive reporter Daniel Hop­sick­er had open heart surgery some months ago, account­ing for his absence from the blo­gos­phere. For­tu­nate­ly, he is OK and still with us.

Daniel has been a long-time guest on For The Record, and his arti­cles and books are impor­tant con­tri­bu­tions to the body of Amer­i­can polit­i­cal sci­ence.

With Jeb Bush hav­ing final­ly announced his can­di­da­cy, we have more need than ever for Daniel’s efforts on the fas­cist, nar­co-sew­er that is Flori­da, the state gov­erned by the pre­sumed “45.”

We hope lis­ten­ers will join us in wish­ing Daniel a con­tin­ued recov­ery and good health. He is a true Amer­i­can hero and deserves your thoughts, prayers and well wish­es.

“A Muck­rak­er’s Life, Inter­rupt­ed” by Daniel Hop­sick­er; Madcowprod.com; 2/4/2015.

. . . . Last Fall, in ear­ly Octo­ber, I near­ly died. Or, as they say in the South, “I liked to died.”

Months ear­li­er, I’d noticed some short­ness of breath at a speak­ing engage­ment in Los Ange­les, been diag­nosed with bron­chi­tis, and pre­scribed antibi­otics. What­ev­er was caus­ing the wor­ri­some short­ness of breath, I assumed, was lung-relat­ed.

It wasn’t. Dur­ing a sec­ond vis­it to the doc­tor for more antibi­otics, he uttered this fate­ful line, “I want you to get an EKG.”

Long sto­ry short, in ear­ly Octo­ber my younger broth­er (we both live with our aging-yet-age­less Mom) drove me to the Emer­gency Room at Venice Region­al Hos­pi­tal. When the triage nurse at the admit­tance desk asked why I was there, I replied, truth­ful­ly, “Because I can’t breath.”

It was as if some­one had pulled the fire alarm. I’d appar­ent­ly just said the mag­ic words and was swift­ly dragged to the front of the line with what felt like unseem­ly haste. Min­utes after sham­bling through the Emer­gency Room’s slid­ing-glass door, I’d been admit­ted, placed on a gur­ney, and wheeled down a long fea­ture­less cor­ri­dor to the car­diac care unit, where one week lat­er I under­went open heart surgery to replace a faulty aor­tic valve.

 Breath­ing: It’s sim­ple. In. Out. Repeat.

Lat­er I began to become dim­ly aware of what a near thing it had been. I had (lit­er­al­ly) not had a moment to lose, the sur­geon told me lat­er, when he swung by on his post-op rounds.

When the oper­a­tion began, they dis­cov­ered my heart was weak­er than they’d thought, he told me, and it had inhib­it­ed the anesthesiologist’s abil­i­ty to sedate me, out of fear it might stop my heart. Whoa!

Coin­ci­den­tal­ly, the date of the oper­a­tion, Octo­ber 13th, is famous as the date of the West­ern World’s first extra­or­di­nary ren­di­tion. On Fri­day the 13th of Octo­ber, 1307, hun­dreds of Knights Tem­plar were arrest­ed in France, then moved to secret loca­tions (not on CIA planes), and tor­tured into con­fes­sions of heresy. Ever since, or so the sto­ry goes, Fri­day the 13th is con­sid­ered an unlucky day.

But the 13th of Octo­ber was not an unlucky day for me. (For one thing, it was a Mon­day.) Today, almost four months lat­er, I am enor­mous­ly grate­ful and hum­bled just to be alive, feel healthy, even fair­ly vig­or­ous. . . .

2. Hero­ic inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist Daniel Hop­sick­er is still rockin’! “Back in the [jour­nal­is­tic] sad­dle,” he relates that Jeb Bush stum­bled bad­ly when asked about his actions on the day after 9/11.

When asked about his pres­ence on a C‑130 car­go plane car­ry­ing the files of Huff­man Avi­a­tion to the Wash­ing­ton D.C. area, he denied it.

In his land­mark book Wel­come to Ter­ror­land: Mohamed and the 9/11 Cov­er-Up in Flori­da, Daniel dis­cussed this and ref­er­enced infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed to him by, among oth­ers, Venice police offi­cer Mike Tre­anor (who died of can­cer at the ripe old age of 47 in 2008.)

Among the inter­views we did with Daniel describ­ing the Jeb Bush milieu, Kather­ine Har­ris and their remark­able behav­ior with regard to Wal­ly Hilliard and the milieu around Huff­man Avi­a­tion are FTR #‘s 482483484.

“Jeb Bush’s 9/11 Prob­lem” by Daniel Hop­sick­er; Mad Cow Morn­ing News; 9/4/2015.

On the cam­paign trail in New Hamp­shire two weeks ago, Jeb Bush was asked a ques­tion for which he clear­ly wasn’t pre­pared, which hear­kened back to Bush’s time as Flori­da Gov­er­nor. You can see the ques­tion here.

“Accord­ing to Sergeant Mar­ty (Mike) Tre­anor and oth­er law enforce­ment offi­cials in Sara­so­ta Flori­da, the files per­tain­ing to 9/11 hijack­er pilots Mar­wan Al-She­hhi and Mohamed Atta from Huff­man Avi­a­tion Flight School in Venice Flori­da were loaded onto two Ryder trucks and dri­ven onto a C‑130 car­go plane which left Sara­so­ta the day after 9/11,” began new­ly-mint­ed radio talk show host Mike Jack­man, who with his broth­er com­prise a media out­let pols this elec­tion sea­son can ill afford to miss appear­ing on called “Jack­man Radio.”

“Is it true that you were onboard the C‑130? And, if so, can you tell us what became of the files?”

Accord­ing to those who were there, a cer­tain amount of dis­com­fort ensued. Bush, who has appeared as limp as over­cooked spaghet­ti on the cam­paign trail, vis­i­bly stiff­ened.

“Is it true that you were onboard the C‑130? And, if so, can you tell us what became of the files?”

Accord­ing to those who were there, a cer­tain amount of dis­com­fort ensued. Bush, who has appeared as limp as over­cooked spaghet­ti on the cam­paign trail, vis­i­bly stiff­ened.

“No. Not true,” he replied. Then, as an aside to those sit­ting in front row of his town hall meet­ing, he said, “How weird.”

Bush began tak­ing anoth­er ques­tion, then stopped. His voice ris­ing slight­ly to con­vey indig­na­tion, he said, “I was in the Emer­gency Oper­a­tions Cen­ter try­ing to make sure the state of Flori­da was safe… try­ing to work with local offi­cials to fig­ure out how to make sure anoth­er attack wouldn’t hit and dev­as­tate our economy…That’s what I did.”

“So, that was kind of a weird… (ques­tion.)”

No, Gov­er­nor, not real­ly. What would be “weird” would be if you could back up your off-the-cuff and very star­tled asser­tion that on the day after 9/11 you were in the Flori­da Emer­gency Cen­ter with any­thing like proof. Because there are a num­ber of peo­ple who know you can’t.

Jackman’s ques­tion refers to evi­dence uncov­ered dur­ing my inves­ti­ga­tion into the activ­i­ties of the 9/11 hijack­ers in Venice. And some­where in there Jack­man had also ref­er­enced Wal­ly Hilliard and Rudi Dekkers, the prin­ci­pals in Hoff­man Avi­a­tion. When he did, one observ­er not­ed, Bush seemed to freeze slight­ly.

Per­haps that has some­thing to do with the lit­tle-known fact that a Lear­jet belong­ing to Hilliard, who owned the Venice flight school that trained both pilots who flew planes into the World Trade Cen­ter Tow­ers, had been caught car­ry­ing 43 pounds of hero­in by DEA agents in July of 2000.

Just weeks ear­li­er, Jeb Bush’s Sec­re­tary of State, the infa­mous Kather­ine Har­ris, had heaped praise on Hilliard’s start-up com­muter air­line, Flori­da Air.

Requiem for an hon­est cop

What fol­lows is a re-cap from pri­ma­ry sources who were there —includ­ing local offi­cial and avi­a­tion observers—about what took place on the day after 9/11.

And, after that, one final aston­ish­ing dis­clo­sure, a world exclu­sive, revealed here for the first time.

But first, a word about the sources of the infor­ma­tion about Bush, who it came from, and how I learned of it. In his ques­tion, Jack­man ref­er­ences Mike (Mar­ty) Tre­anor from the Venice Police Depart­ment.

Tre­anor was the first per­son to tell me of Jeb Bush’s flight to Wash­ing­ton with the files from Huff­man Avi­a­tion and the Venice Police Depart­ment. But not the last.

“The FBI took all our files, every­thing,” Tre­anor told me. “They loaded the files right out­side this win­dow into two Ryder trucks, then drove them right onto a C‑130 mil­i­tary car­go plane at the Sara­so­ta Air­port, which took off for Wash­ing­ton with Jeb Bush aboard.”

Tre­anor wasn’t a flake, or a name I made up. He’d been quot­ed in nation­al news reports right after 9/11.

“Det. Sgt. Mike Tre­anor of the Venice Police Depart­ment said that FBI agents had obtained the two sus­pects’ school records from the Huff­man school and the Voss home and iden­ti­fied them as two of the men who agents believe flew the hijacked jets,” report­ed the LA Times on Sept 13 2001.

“Tre­anor said FBI agents were drawn to Venice after find­ing Ara­bic lan­guage flight man­u­als in a car at the Boston air­port.”

“’This one man, Atta,” said Tre­anor, “was con­firmed on one of the planes that hit the tow­ers.’”

“Like Leisure World…without the bright lights”

My per­son­al involve­ment began the day after 9/11, with the news that three of the four ter­ror­ist pilots had learned to fly in tiny Venice Flori­da, a sleepy retire­ment com­mu­ni­ty on Florida’s Gulf Coast. And immediately—there’s no oth­er way to say this—I smelled a rat. For two rea­sons:

First, I knew Venice. My par­ents retired there in the ear­ly 80’s. And being a (semi)-dutiful son, I’d vis­it them reg­u­lar­ly, fly­ing in from Cal­i­for­nia, where I lived. And if by the third or fourth night I was there I was rest­less enough to feel the need to go out and have a beer, I knew from per­son­al expe­ri­ence that there was no place to go, and noth­ing to do… because Venice, Flori­da has the sec­ond old­est pop­u­la­tion in the entire Unit­ed States. Pic­ture Sun City, or Leisure World… only with­out the bright lights.

So what were young men with no known fetish­es for blue-haired wid­ows doing in Venice? Espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing there are 220 oth­er flight schools in Flori­da alone?

It didn’t make sense.

And sec­ond, the way the news qui­et­ly drib­bled out did­n’t make sense, either. That three of the four ter­ror­ist pilots—including both pilots who slammed planes in the World Trade Cen­ter Towers—had learned to fly in Venice instant­ly made Venice Flori­da the biggest Sep­tem­ber 11th crime scene that wasn’t reduced to rub­ble.

But when I rolled into Venice Flori­da three months after 9/11, there hadn’t been any spot­ting of Bob Wood­ward or Sey­mour Hersh or Michael Isikoff at any local water­ing holes.

The town seemed eeri­ly qui­et. Qui­et but jit­tery, I dis­cov­ered. In 25 years of vis­it­ing the par­ents I hadn’t remem­bered ever even see­ing a cop, but on my first day in town, I was pulled over twice by local police.

Nei­ther traf­fic stop result­ed in a tick­et. But when I won­dered aloud if it might be pru­dent to pay a cour­tesy call on the Police Chief, the cour­te­ous offi­cer allowed that it might.

Pay­ing a cour­tesy call on the Chief

So I slid on by the new Police Head­quar­ters to say hel­lo. The Chief wasn’t in, or if he was, wasn’t receiv­ing. And that’s how I met the Sergeant on duty, Mike Tre­anor, who proved con­ge­nial enough for me to ask the burn­ing ques­tion I had about Huffman’s man­ag­er Rudi Dekkers, who had been every­where on tele­vi­sion dur­ing the days after the attack.

My strong sus­pi­cion was that every word out of his mouth had been a lie. So I asked my ques­tion. “Does Rudi Dekkers’ have any local pri­ors (pri­or arrests)?”

Sergeant Tre­anor sighed. He start­ed to say some­thing. He thought bet­ter of it. And then he sighed again.

“Trust local before state. And nev­er trust the Feds”

When Tre­anor died of can­cer in 2008, his obit­u­ary in the Sara­so­ta Her­ald Tri­bune called him the “voice of the Venice Police Depart­ment.”

“His pro­fes­sion­al­ism, com­pas­sion and occa­sion­al humor had earned him the respect of his col­leagues in law enforce­ment,” said a fel­low offi­cer. “He was gre­gar­i­ous, friend­ly and had a big heart.”

More­over, he wasn’t afraid of speak­ing his mind. He was open­ly crit­i­cal of a Venice Chief of Police— even fil­ing a com­plaint against him for improp­er­ly han­dling a crim­i­nal investigation—for more than a year before the Chief was forced out.

3. Vis­it­ing the sub-rosa con­spir­a­to­r­i­al dynam­ics con­cern­ing an ear­li­er Pres­i­den­cy, we exam­ine CIA offi­cer David Fer­rie’s Civ­il Air Patrol unit, which includ­ed both Bar­ry Seal and Lee Har­vey Oswald.

“Fer­rie, Oswald, Seal: ‘Com­mit­ting’ Jour­nal­ism in New Orleans” by Daniel Hop­sick­er; Mad Cow Pro­duc­tions; 10/13/2015.

Lead­ing up to this weekend’s Oswald Con­fer­ence in New Orleans, over the next few days I will be pub­lish­ing inter­views and video of eye­wit­ness­es who knew three men Amer­i­cans were vio­lent­ly pre­vent­ed from hear­ing.

David Fer­rie, Lee Har­vey Oswald, and Bar­ry Seal—each with inti­mate knowl­edge of the plot to kill JFKmet at a two-week Louisiana Civ­il Air patrol sum­mer camp at Barks­dale Air Force Base in Shreve­port Louisiana.

It turns out a lot of peo­ple in New Orleans— pilots, avi­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als, and for­mer mem­bers of the Louisiana Civ­il Air Patrolstill remem­ber them.

“Dude, you’re harsh­ing my mel­low”

Fif­teen years ago I left my home for more than a decade in New­port Beach Cal­i­for­nia to spend two years in and around New Orleans Louisiana inves­ti­gat­ing the life and bru­tal assas­si­na­tion of a life-long CIA pilot who Fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors called the “biggest drug smug­gler in Amer­i­can his­to­ry.”

His name was Bar­ry Seal.

At least ini­tial­ly, I was just look­ing for eye­wit­ness­es who knew him from his role in the explo­sive growth of cocaine traf­fick­ing dur­ing the 1980’s.

I was dri­ving a beat-up ’83 Audi and clutch­ing a Sony cam­corder that had been dropped on its head, and now deliv­ered images that seemed to glow in the dark.

It hadn’t always been like that.

Before I became inter­est­ed in Seal, I was pro­duc­ing a busi­ness TV show air­ing inter­na­tion­al­ly, doc­u­men­taries and new prod­uct intro­duc­tions for major Amer­i­can com­pa­nies whose names are house­hold words, and, it almost goes with­out say­ing, dri­ving a BMW.

“Def­i­nite­ly sec­ond unit meat”

I even went to Cannes for a few years. Not the glam­orous Fes­ti­val de Cannes; I went to MIPCON, the more-sub­dued and less classy TV ver­sion. Still, I par­tied on a few yachts, and dis­tinct­ly remem­ber carous­ing at an all-night MTV affair under a full moon in a 12th Cen­tu­ry cas­tle perched high above the city over­look­ing the Mediter­ranean.

Those days are gone. No more heli­copter shots. Hell, no more dol­ly shots, even. No more 2‑or-3-man crews, no edit­ing ses­sions in Hol­ly­wood with catered lunch­es. Its pret­ty much been what a huge red-haired bear of a sound engi­neer once described to me with a gri­mace as “def­i­nite­ly sec­ond unit meat.”

Still, even with all that, today I wouldn’t change a thing. I was an eye­wit­ness to his­to­ry, Well, maybe not exact­ly. Instead, I was able to inter­view sev­er­al dozen peo­ple who were eye­wit­ness­es to our—to America’s—secret his­to­ry. Many had nev­er before spoken—or even been approached—to tell any­one about what they’d seen.

What hap­pens in New Orleans

What’s odd about that is that those in the main­stream media who are only too eager to use labels to dis­cred­it any­one with the temer­i­ty to ques­tion the offi­cial sto­ry, are nev­er keen—or even curious—about inter­view­ing any eye­wit­ness who pos­sess­es what called “incon­ve­nient knowl­edge.”

Here’s what I learned: What hap­pens in New Orleans doesn’t absolute­ly have to stay in New Orleans. But good luck try­ing to get any of the real­ly juicy bits out.

And if you do, pre­pare to be called a “con­spir­acist,” or a “con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist.”

Or worse.

And I thought Hol­ly­wood was a ‘Com­pa­ny’ Town”

Some­thing strange was going on in the Louisiana Civ­il Air Patrol in the mid-Fifties that leads like a trail of bread crumbs through the sig­nal events of America’s secret his­to­ry dur­ing the sec­ond half of the 20th Cen­tu­ry.

In New Orleans, I found and inter­viewed eye­wit­ness­es to America’s secret his­to­ry: pilots, avi­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als, and for­mer mem­bers of the Louisiana Civ­il Air Patrol, who in those long-ago days in 1955 trained with David Fer­rie, Lee Har­vey Oswald, and/or Bar­ry Seal.

For exam­ple, the sto­ry of how David Fer­rie recruit­ed Lee Har­vey Oswald and Bar­ry Seal into Amer­i­ca’s “clan­des­tine ser­vices” has long been a well-kept secret, and for good rea­son.

No more. A pic­ture of 16-year old Bar­ry Seal prepar­ing to step onto a US Air Force plane bound for a two-week sum­mer camp of the Louisiana Civ­il Air Patrol at Barks­dale Air Force Base in July of 1955 where he will meet fel­low cadet Lee Har­vey Oswald, and where both will fall into the orbit of the freak­ish David Fer­rie was pub­lished in “Bar­ry & ‘the boys.’”

A close perusal offers more than a glimpse into what real­ly hap­pened: While still an impres­sion­able teenag­er both Bar­ry Seal and Lee Har­vey Oswald came under the tute­lage of a man you would­n’t want your worst ene­mies’ kid to know, pedophile David Fer­rie.

Had no one known? Of course they had. They’ve just been afraid to talk.

High Con­cept: Inter­view eye­wit­ness­es. Write down what they say.

Today Collin Hamer is an archivist and librar­i­an at the New Orleans Pub­lic Library who still retains atten­dance records from his time in the CAP with Fer­rie and Oswald, where he was one of Ferrie’s pro­tégés.

Oswald attend­ed more than a dozen CAP meet­ings led by David Fer­rie in an East­ern Air­lines hangar at Moisant Air­port, he tes­ti­fied to the House Select Com­mit­tee on Assas­si­na­tions.

“Fer­rie was a unit leader. He head­ed the Civ­il Air Patrol Unit dur­ing the peri­od that Oswald attend­ed,” Hamer told the Com­mit­tee. “They were both there.”

He recount­ed a sto­ry to me about how Fer­rie came to move his CAP unit from  Lake­front Air­port to New Orleans Inter­na­tion­al (Moisant.)

“Our CAP unit was all-boy, which was just the way Fer­rie liked it,” said Hamer, “until a woman named Gladys Durr brought her girl scout troop over, and we all paired off,  boys and girls togeth­er. Dave Fer­rie did­n’t like that one lit­tle bit. He and Durr got into a hot clash, and he moved to the Moisant unit.”

One rea­son Fer­rie used the CAP was for the pro­cure­ment of young boys for what Hamer wry­ly called “unau­tho­rized phys­i­cals.”

A ‘spe­cial’ CAP unit for mil­i­tary drills

Eddie Shear­er was anoth­er cadet in Fer­rie’s Civ­il Air Patrol unit before join­ing the Air Force.  I read him a quote about the mil­i­tary demeanor of Fer­rie’s out­fit, and he quick­ly affirmed its truth.

“The entire rea­son for the exis­tence of Ferrie’s New Orleans Squadron was nation­al drill com­pe­ti­tions. We attend­ed three years in a row,” said Shear­er.

“The accent in the New Orleans unit was total­ly on pro­fes­sion­al­ism. Almost all of Fer­rie’s cadets intend­ed to go into the Air Force, and if you had your CAP “Cer­tifi­cate of Pro­fi­cien­cy” when you entered, you auto­mat­i­cal­ly had a leg up, and began basic train­ing with one stripe already.”

Shear­er spent time hang­ing around the gas sta­tion that Car­los Mar­cel­lo gave Fer­rie right after the Kennedy assas­si­na­tion.

“There’s nev­er been any doubt in my mind that Dav­e’s gas sta­tion, a Gulf sta­tion out on Air­line High­way, was his CIA cov­er,” said Shear­er.

“Some peo­ple I knew pret­ty well hung out there, and it was the fun­ni­est thing: if you drove in to fill up with gasoline—which is what a gas sta­tion is sup­posed to be for, right?—you could sit in your car for just about for­ev­er wait­ing for some­one to come out and tell you they were “closed.”

“What­ev­er they were doing there, pump­ing gas was­n’t it.”

Bar­ry Seal owned one, too

Jim Gar­ri­son noticed the same thing.

In “Her­itage of Stone,” he wrote, “Although Fer­rie to all intents and pur­pos­es was unem­ployed at the time except for part-time inves­tiga­tive work for a lawyer, an exam­i­na­tion of his bank account at the Whit­ney Nation­al Bank revealed that dur­ing the three week peri­od pri­or to the Pres­i­den­t’s assas­si­na­tion he deposit­ed $7,093.02.”

“Then a few months after the assas­si­na­tion, Fer­rie sud­den­ly acquired a large ser­vice sta­tion.”

“He ran it in much the same way he main­tained his apart­ment. On one occa­sion he had just filled the gas tank of an acquain­tance and then waved him away, turn­ing down pay­ment for the gas.”

“For­get it,” said Fer­rie. “The gov­ern­men­t’s pay­ing for it any­way.”

Skele­tons in the clos­et… and in the back­yard

“Dave was a bril­liant indi­vid­ual, inter­est­ed in all kinds of things,” said Shear­er. “He had a work­shop in his back­yard, out back of the house. And I know this sounds weird, but he had a skull out there, hooked up to a skele­ton, and he had dif­fer­ent col­ored elec­tri­cal wire—blue, red, green—to sim­u­late the ner­vous sys­tem, and bet­ter under­stand human phys­i­ol­o­gy.”

Shear­er sev­er­al times met Dave Ferrie’s moth­er, who was vis­it­ing him, and she told Shear­er that Dav­e’s broth­er was a nuclear physi­cist. Intrigued, I tracked Fer­rie’s only liv­ing rel­a­tive, his broth­er the nuclear physi­cist, who was liv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia. He was unwill­ing to talk.

“There were con­stant exam­ples of Dave Fer­rie’s bril­liance when I hung around with him,” said Shear­er. “For exam­ple, he had a lit­tle lawn­mow­er that he could­n’t get to start. One day I was out back and he had me repeat­ed­ly pull on the lit­tle rope that should have start­ed it, while he watched.”

“ ‘What a waste of effi­cien­cy,’ Dave mused out loud. ‘If we could only just get rotary motion from a motor at the start!’”

“This was, remem­ber, years before the rotary engine was patent­ed, before any­one had ever even heard of a Wankel motor. But Dave had had the same idea, just talk­ing out loud.”

Flies to D.C. Returns flash­ing big wad. Huh.

Like many in New Orleans at the time, Shear­er was used to see­ing Fer­rie at the air­port with Ser­gio Arcacha Smith, the Cuban Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Front leader for whom he (Fer­rie) was train­ing exile pilots.

“There were a lot of things about Dave that just did­n’t fit, unless you added them up anoth­er way,” says Shear­er. “Just his appearance…good god. You have to won­der how East­ern was able to keep him as long as they did.

“I remem­ber him taxi-ing his East­ern Con­va­ir one time, on his week­day Hous­ton-New Orleans ‘milkrun.’ He would always pull in way faster than any oth­er air­line pilots did, and he’d be lean­ing out of one side of his cock­pit win­dow, look­ing like a damn rail­road engi­neer.”

Two week­ends a month Dave would fly a Con­stel­la­tion up to Wash­ing­ton D.C., said Shear­er. “If while he was up there he was meet­ing with his CIA con­tacts, it would make sense. Because I was with him on three or four occa­sions after he returned, and when he opened his wal­let, he had hun­dred dol­lar bills.”

“You’ve got­ta remem­ber, this was in the Fifties,” Shear­er con­tin­ued. “Any­one who was work­ing back then can tell you, every­body got paid in twen­ties. Nobody got paid in hun­dred dol­lar bills. You hard­ly ever even saw hun­dred dol­lar bills.”

“Every time I think I’m out…”

Shear­er received con­vinc­ing proof of Dave Fer­rie’s career in clan­des­tine ser­vices  five years after his death.

“In 1972 I was asked to join the senior CAP, which is an out­fit with no cadets. There I met Herb Wag­n­er, a Navy fli­er in World War II who’d been recruit­ed by the OSS at the end of the war, and after we got friend­ly, I’d go over to his house, and some­times he’d rem­i­nisce about things he’d done for the CIA dur­ing the mid-‘50’s.”

“Herb who told me, ‘Once you’re in the CIA, its hard to get out.’ He’d tried to get out when he got mar­ried and set­tled down. He and his wife adopt­ed a baby girl, and he was­n’t the dare­dev­il he’d once been.

“But still they pres­sured him to fly for them,” he told me.

“One time I saw him just after he’d received a vis­it from the CIA ask­ing him to go do some­thing he quite obvi­ous­ly no longer real­ly want­ed to be doing. And he was real­ly down, and lat­er I thought that was maybe why he loos­ened up a bit about Dave Fer­rie.”

“He said ‘if the truth was ever known about him, he’ll be rec­og­nized as one of the true unsung heroes of the Unit­ed States.’ ”

“That’s when I real­ized that Fer­rie had been a reg­u­lar CIA guy, not just some ‘asset,’ or ‘con­tract oper­a­tive.’ ”

For­get the mice. Look into my eyes.

Of the many fringe con­tro­ver­sies swirling around Dave Fer­rie’s life—like the one about whether he was attempt­ing to induce can­cer in lab mice kept in cages in his apartment—none is “fringe-ier” than his sup­posed tal­ent for hyp­no­tism.

But the evi­dence for this was not mere­ly per­sua­sive: it was over­whelm­ing. From numer­ous sources I heard unso­licit­ed first-hand tes­ti­mo­ny about his pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with hyp­no­tism, as well as his abil­i­ty to hyp­no­tize peo­ple.

A report on David Fer­rie by FBI agents Eugene P. Pittman and John C. Oakes dat­ed Decem­ber 2, 1963 refers to remarks from Gene Barnes, an NBC cam­era­man.

“Barnes said Bob Mul­hol­land, NBC News, Chica­go, talked in Dal­las to one Fairy, a nar­cotics addict now out on bail on a sodomy charge in Dal­las. Fairy said that Oswald had been under hyp­no­sis from a man doing a mind-read­ing act at Ruby’s ‘Carousel.’ Fairy was said to be a pri­vate detec­tive and the own­er of an air­line who took young boys on flights ‘just for kicks.’ ”

Bob Mul­hol­land will lat­er become Pres­i­dent of NBC News; “Fairy” (Fer­rie), who did own an air­line, Unit­ed Air Taxi Ser­vice, will three short years lat­er be dead.

Using it on the kids

Eddie Shear­er brought the sub­ject (hyp­no­sis) up him­self.

“The hyp­no­tism busi­ness was the thing about him that both­ered me most. I remem­ber, one time, we were march­ing in formation—drilling—out at Lake­front Air­port, get­ting ready to go to the CAP nation­als drill com­pe­ti­tion. And  this one kid was twirling a ‘guidon’—a met­al thing, a fleur de lis on the top of the pole with the units’ colors—and it got away from him and it cut his hand pret­ty deeply. I mean, a real deep gash.”

“The kid gets up hold­ing his hand, and blood is run­ning all down his arm past his elbow.  Dave walked over to him, and put his hand out in front of the kid’s face  like he’s giv­ing him a stiff-arm. Then he said, ‘Sleep. You will feel sen­sa­tion but no pain.’ ”

“And then we were all wait­ing for an ambu­lance to take the kid to the hos­pi­tal,” Shear­er con­tin­ued, “and the kid is bleed­ing all over. But he’s not in pain any­more. And Dave goes over to him again, and says,  ‘You will stop bleed­ing.’ ”

“And he did. Lat­er, when I was in the Air Force, I learned that this is pos­si­ble, that it can be done. But it can’t be done with a sub­ject unless you’ve been work­ing, hyp­not­i­cal­ly, with that sub­ject for a pret­ty long peri­od of time. You can’t just walk over to some­one, in oth­er words,  and tell them to stop bleed­ing.”

“So it was clear to me that Dave Fer­rie had been work­ing hyp­no­sis with that kid for a long time with­out any­one know­ing it. At least I had nev­er heard of it before, and I spent a lot of time out there, hang­ing around that air­port.”

“The FBI was always strug­gling to catch up”

Shear­er remem­bered some­thing else he thought was strange.

“It was back in ’58 and ’59 that Dave became con­vinced the FBI was tap­ping his phone. So he warned us not to say any­thing on the phone that we did­n’t want to have over­heard. And when he would pick it up before dial­ing, some­times we’d hear him swear­ing a blue streak into the receiv­er, like he was talk­ing to who­ev­er was tap­ping his phone.”

Bar­ry Seal and Dave Fer­rie were in the same busi­ness, and also shared an unusu­al trait that’s a clear plus for any would-be secret agent. Both had pho­to­graph­ic mem­o­ries. (So, too, for that mat­ter, did Richard Bis­sell, the CIA agent in charge of the Bay of Pigs dis­as­ter.)

So it comes as no sur­prise that they had sim­i­lar expe­ri­ences with Fed­er­al law enforce­ment, and at about the same time. Accord­ing to Jer­ry Chidgey, Bar­ry’s room­mate and friend, there was quite a bit of fed­er­al inter­est in Bar­ry Seal. The FBI was even fol­low­ing him.

“When I met Bar­ry I owned ‘The Amber Bot­tle,’ a folk club in Baton Rouge, and that was where Bar­ry used to hang,” Chidgey recalled. “We were cap­i­tal­iz­ing on the folk craze. We became good friends and end­ed up liv­ing togeth­er. One day two FBI guys showed up ask­ing ques­tions while he was gone on a trip.”

“Lat­er that same year, I think 1960, I flew to Dal­las. And two men in black suits fol­lowed me, both there and back. And unless they were mak­ing a prac­tice of shad­ow­ing folk club own­ers, the only rea­son I could fig­ure out was it must have had some­thing to do with Bar­ry.”

“Cause it makes your hair ‘do-right.”

James Poche is a pilot and the kind of col­or­ful char­ac­ter Louisiana seems to pro­duce with some reg­u­lar­i­ty, a liv­ing embod­i­ment of the laid-back Caribbean ‘Mar­gari­ta-ville’ lifestyle pop­u­lar­ized at some now-dim moment in time in a pre­vi­ous cen­tu­ry by singer Jim­my Buf­fet.

Poche wears san­dals, his shirt hangs out­side his jeans, and he’s got a ‘do-rite’ rag wrapped around his head. When I asked why it’s called that, he grinned.

“My old­est sis­ter hooked me up with Bar­ry,” he explained. “They went to school togeth­er, and I took a cou­ple of fly­ing lessons from him in 1958, and that was how it start­ed. I used to make signs and ban­ners for him.”

“I was the son of a Louisiana state troop­er who ran secu­ri­ty at the State House in Baton Rouge,” he told me. “So—in the Louisiana way of things— I had some fam­i­ly con­nec­tions.

James was (typ­i­cal­ly) being mod­est. His father, Pap­py Poche, was Gov­er­nor Earl Long’s per­son­al body­guard, as well as some­thing of a local  leg­end.

“Pap­py  would  go  par­ty­ing  on  Bour­bon  Street  with  the  Guv  at  the Famous Door,” he recalls. “And the girls would come around pass­ing the cap, and Pap­py would take his gun out and set it in the hat, and  they’d go nuts. One  time he pulled  a .38 and com­man­deered a horse car­riage in Jack­son Square, just throw­ing some tourists out.  You could get away with that kind of thing back then.”

Poche became  one of Bar­ry Seal’s old­est and best friends, as well as a smug­gling bud­dy. He explained,  “I was a young kid and want­ed to learn to fly, part­ly just to have some escape from a dys­func­tion­al fam­i­ly, with all that entails. So I just grav­i­tat­ed towards Bar­ry. He taught me a lot.”

“Find kids whose par­ents won’t miss ’em much.”

Poche had described a fam­i­ly sit­u­a­tion remark­ably sim­i­lar to Seal’s own, which was sim­i­lar­ly trou­bled under the sur­face. His Father,  B.C. Seal, drank, and Seal moved in and out of the house dur­ing ado­les­cence.

Had David Fer­rie, Seal’s recruit­ment offi­cer, been look­ing to recruit boys in just these cir­cum­stances?

“He would go off for two or three weeks at a time, and then be back like noth­ing had hap­pened. And he had a lot of secrets. He seemed pret­ty mys­te­ri­ous. He was an enig­ma in Baton Rouge. No one there had ever seen any­thing like him before, or could ever fig­ure out just what he was real­ly up to.”

James first began work­ing for—and lat­er fly­ing with—Barry Seal in the ear­ly 1960’s.  Then, in the mid-70’s, he went into ‘mar­i­jua­na impor­ta­tion’ with him.

“Baton Rouge is kind of a go-nowhere place,” Poche explained. “And Bar­ry had a lot of ‘sol­dier of for­tune-type’ ideas, which made him seem glam­orous to kids around the air­port. Bar­ry had the James Bond Syn­drome.”

James’ sis­ter, Nan­cy Poche, the child­hood friend of Seal’s who’d intro­duced them, agrees with her broth­er about the kind of dead-end life avail­able local­ly.

“Louisiana is the kind of place,” she told me, “where as soon as you cross the Sabine Riv­er com­ing in from Texas, the  road begins to go galump, galump, galump. And this is on the Inter­state, for god sakes, and you’ve got to won­der: Where does all the mon­ey go?”

Even then, Elvis was fix­in’ to leave the build­ing

As Bar­ry Seal began jump­ing in with both feet into the cocaine smug­gling busi­ness, Poche was most­ly con­tent to watch him from the side­lines, espe­cial­ly when Bar­ry began to build­ing an increas­ing­ly-para­mil­i­tary orga­ni­za­tion. For as long as he could ( for a long long time) James Poche held on to a roman­tic ide­al: the lone bush pilot and occa­sion­al mar­i­jua­na smug­gler.

“Elvis,” some of his bud­dies were call­ing Bar­ry Seal. It seemed to describe him. At least the Elvis who once said “Ambi­tion is a dream with a V8 engine.”

“We would fly down to New Orleans from Baton Rouge for the evening,” Poche said. “Drink at the Play­boy Club, vis­it the sher­if­f’s broth­el in Opelousas, that sort of thing. We were liv­ing in his air­plane hang­er, and hang­ing out with John­ny Rivers, the musi­cian, who’s from Baton Rouge. And that was how Bar­ry met Elvis, through John­ny.”

By now, Bar­ry was the sub­ject of open gos­sip among his pilot friends about what he was doing, and for whom. Tak­ing mys­te­ri­ous trips that were nev­er explained, then com­ing back and hang­ing out at the Play­boy Club as if noth­ing had hap­pened. Maybe it was Elvis wished he could be more like Bar­ry Seal. After all, he did always want to be a spy.

A “Secret Agent Man” State of Mind

A curi­ous side­light: many believe, as Poche does, that John­ny Rivers one big hit, “Secret Agent Man,” was about Bar­ry Seal.  Today it looks as if this ear­ly 60’s cul­tur­al focus on “secret agent men” was a way that our nation­al  ‘col­lec­tive uncon­scious’ found to tell a deep truth about what was hap­pen­ing in Amer­i­ca.

It was a more seri­ous truth than any­one real­ized at the time.

“Though Bar­ry, I met a lot of the ‘play­ers,’” said Poche. “I knew Dave Fer­rie; and flew around with him a cou­ple of times. He was a friend of mine. Me and anoth­er friend, Char­lie Heck, bought a Cess­na 170 and kept it out at Lake­front, where Fer­rie was based. In fact, I’ve even got copies of David Fer­rie’s sig­na­ture in my log books.”

What is today known as “Lake­front Air­port” was not—back in the ear­ly Sixties—just the small pub­lic air­port it appears to be today. It was, instead, a Naval Reserve facil­i­ty where Cubans trained as pilots before the Bay of Pigs inva­sion.

“We used to live togeth­er in (Bar­ry’s moth­er) Mary Lou’s spare bed­room. Bar­ry was involved in all sorts of things. One time I remem­ber help­ing him fig­ure out how to drop 50,000 leaflets over Baton Rouge with pic­tures of apples with a worm in them.” Poche grinned. “It got a guy named “Apple” Sanders un-elect­ed from the State Sen­ate that year, that’s for sure.”

“You got­ta remem­ber: Bar­ry smug­gled for the Democ­rats.”

What foot­ball is to Nebras­ka, state pol­i­tics is to Louisiana. It’s a con­tact sport, and Bar­ry Seal was a play­er, at Grady Part­in’s behest. James Poche told us, “Bar­ry was hang­ing out at Grady Part­in’s (a famous Team­ster, and ene­my of  Jim­my Hof­fa) dur­ing ‘62 and ’63.

An old Team­ster offi­cial  con­firmed Bar­ry’s friend­ship with Partin, which he said explained Seal’s fre­quent appear­ances with him at the local Team­ster hir­ing hall.

“Hell, back then we was kings in this state,” says Butch McK­e­own, today a bail bonds­man. “We absolute­ly ruled this state back then.”

Who was the “we” Butch was refer­ring to? When I learned more about Grady Partin, I was less puz­zled. Lat­er still, Butch told me, in one sen­tence, more than I’d learned pok­ing around the drug trade  for a year.

“You got­ta remem­ber,” Butch said to me, look­ing seri­ous, “Bar­ry smug­gled for the Democ­rats.”

Three cheers for drug abuse

After Jim­my Carter’s elec­tion, his White House Strat­e­gy Coun­cil on Drug Abuse  was wor­ried about the influx of drugs from Afghanistan and Pak­istan. They were stonewalled by the CIA, and report­ed­ly denied access to all clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion on drug traf­fick­ing, even as the CIA and the Army joint­ly set up a spe­cial avi­a­tion oper­a­tion called “Sea­spray.”

This was old news to local and state police in high traf­fick­ing areas, where the cyn­i­cal manip­u­la­tion was used to flood Amer­i­ca with a riv­er of drugs.Barry Seal was there dur­ing a peri­od which saw the grow­ing clout and impor­tance of Spe­cial Forces. In late 1961 the Air Force set up—as part of this increased empha­sis on Spe­cial Forces— a Spe­cial Ops Air Base in the mid­dle of Eglin Air Force Base in the Flori­da pan­han­dle, pulling in air­craft and crews from the world-wide “Air Amer­i­ca” sys­tem.

His pilot’s logs reflect the change. He began fly­ing reg­u­lar­ly to a des­ti­na­tion which he coy­ly list­ed as “Pen­saco­la,” the town near­est the base. At the age of only 22, Bar­ry Seal was learn­ing trade­craft.

“Bar­ry would call me from the road every so often,” said James Poche. “Once I got a call from him, and he was all excit­ed. ‘I’m in Karachi, Pak­istan,’ he said. ‘You should come right over.’”

In 1987 New York Times reporter Sey­mour Hersh revealed that when the Rea­gan Admin­is­tra­tion sought to expand covert para­mil­i­tary oper­a­tions in Cen­tral Amer­i­ca, the CIA was “forced” to rebuild its capa­bil­i­ties illegally,relying on out­side assets like Bar­ry Seal.

They called it Oper­a­tion Sea­spray.

The CIA and the Army joint­ly set up a spe­cial avi­a­tion oper­a­tion called “Sea­spray.” Every  pilot was hand­picked by a group of Army and CIA offi­cers, among whom were expe­ri­enced pilots and spe­cial oper­a­tions per­son­nel.  How­ev­er this was already old news to local and state police in high traf­fick­ing areas, being flood­ed with a riv­er of drugs.

Over Colom­bia, Seal’s by-now small fleet of planes flew through “win­dows” in Colom­bian air­space: pre­cise peri­ods,  paid for with $25,000 bribes, when the mil­i­tary would “look the oth­er way,” although they must have had to look straight down at the ground  to avoid see­ing the dozens of flights which took off every night at dusk.

“You would be sit­ting in your plane over­look­ing the sea, on a run­way hacked out of a moun­tain­side,” smug­gler pilot James Poche told us. “Then as if on cue, as soon as the sun went down you would see dozens of tiny specks tak­ing off and fly­ing out over the water as soon as the sun went down, head­ing north.”

Pilots return­ing to the US over the Gulf with a load of dope often flew just 60 feet above the water, with waves from the Gulf splash­ing up onto the wind­shield, in what was— except for the dim lights of the instru­ment panel—total dark­ness.

When law enforce­ment author­i­ties debriefed con­vict­ed “drug smug­gler” Seal in late 1985, one of the cops present spoke to Seal brusque­ly.

He said, “We already know about Sea­spray.”

4. We then do a jour­nal­is­tic “touch-and-go” on some of Daniel’s recent sto­ries, includ­ing: a cocaine-laden plane land­ing on prop­er­ty owned by Paris Hilton; a recent drug-smug­gling oper­a­tion involv­ing a con­stel­la­tion of indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions grouped around the moth­er of actor Vince Vaughn; dis­cus­sions of the so-called “war on drugs” in Mex­i­co.


2 comments for “FTR #871 Daniel Hopsicker Rides Again!”

  1. Daniel Hop­sick­er for Pres­i­dent, and give him a Pulitzer to boot!

    Posted by GK | November 1, 2015, 7:44 am
  2. Here’s the lat­est reminder that the 9/11 attacks weren’t just wid­ly suc­cess­ful. They were also inex­plic­a­bly suc­cess­ful:

    ‘The Attacks Will Be Spec­tac­u­lar’

    An exclu­sive look at how the Bush admin­is­tra­tion ignored this warn­ing from the CIA months before 9/11, along with oth­ers that were far more detailed than pre­vi­ous­ly revealed.

    By Chris Whip­ple

    Novem­ber 12, 2015

    “Bin Laden Deter­mined to Strike in U.S.” The CIA’s famous Pres­i­den­tial Dai­ly Brief, pre­sent­ed to George W. Bush on August 6, 2001, has always been Exhib­it A in the case that his admin­is­tra­tion shrugged off warn­ings of an Al Qae­da attack. But months ear­li­er, start­ing in the spring of 2001, the CIA repeat­ed­ly and urgent­ly began to warn the White House that an attack was com­ing.

    By May of 2001, says Cofer Black, then chief of the CIA’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism cen­ter, “it was very evi­dent that we were going to be struck, we were gonna be struck hard and lots of Amer­i­cans were going to die.” “There were real plots being man­i­fest­ed,” Cofer’s for­mer boss, George Tenet, told me in his first inter­view in eight years. “The world felt like it was on the edge of erup­tion. In this time peri­od of June and July, the threat con­tin­ues to rise. Ter­ror­ists were dis­ap­pear­ing [as if in hid­ing, in prepa­ra­tion for an attack]. Camps were clos­ing. Threat report­ings on the rise.” The cri­sis came to a head on July 10. The crit­i­cal meet­ing that took place that day was first report­ed by Bob Wood­ward in 2006. Tenet also wrote about it in gen­er­al terms in his 2007 mem­oir At the Cen­ter of the Storm.

    But nei­ther he nor Black has spo­ken about it pub­licly in such detail until now—or been so emphat­ic about how spe­cif­ic and press­ing their warn­ings real­ly were. Over the past eight months, in more than a hun­dred hours of inter­views, my part­ners Jules and Gedeon Naudet and I talked with Tenet and the 11 oth­er liv­ing for­mer CIA direc­tors for The Spy­mas­ters, a doc­u­men­tary set to air this month on Show­time.

    The dra­ma of failed warn­ings began when Tenet and Black pitched a plan, in the spring of 2001, called “the Blue Sky paper” to Bush’s new nation­al secu­ri­ty team. It called for a covert CIA and mil­i­tary cam­paign to end the Al Qae­da threat—“getting into the Afghan sanc­tu­ary, launch­ing a para­mil­i­tary oper­a­tion, cre­at­ing a bridge with Uzbek­istan.” “And the word back,” says Tenet, “‘was ‘we’re not quite ready to con­sid­er this. We don’t want the clock to start tick­ing.’” (Trans­la­tion: they did not want a paper trail to show that they’d been warned.) Black, a charis­mat­ic ex-oper­a­tive who had helped the French arrest the ter­ror­ist known as Car­los the Jack­al, says the Bush team just didn’t get the new threat: “I think they were men­tal­ly stuck back eight years [before]. They were used to ter­ror­ists being Euro-lefties—they drink cham­pagne by night, blow things up dur­ing the day, how bad can this be? And it was a very dif­fi­cult sell to com­mu­ni­cate the urgency to this.”

    That morn­ing of July 10, the head of the agency’s Al Qae­da unit, Richard Blee, burst into Black’s office. “And he says, ‘Chief, this is it. Roof’s fall­en in,’” recounts Black. “The infor­ma­tion that we had com­piled was absolute­ly com­pelling. It was mul­ti­ple-sourced. And it was sort of the last straw.” Black and his deputy rushed to the director’s office to brief Tenet. All agreed an urgent meet­ing at the White House was need­ed. Tenet picked up the white phone to Bush’s Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advis­er Con­doleez­za Rice. “I said, ‘Con­di, I have to come see you,’” Tenet remem­bers. “It was one of the rare times in my sev­en years as direc­tor where I said, ‘I have to come see you. We’re comin’ right now. We have to get there.’”

    Tenet vivid­ly recalls the White House meet­ing with Rice and her team. (George W. Bush was on a trip to Boston.) “Rich [Blee] start­ed by say­ing, ‘There will be sig­nif­i­cant ter­ror­ist attacks against the Unit­ed States in the com­ing weeks or months. The attacks will be spec­tac­u­lar. They may be mul­ti­ple. Al Qaeda’s inten­tion is the destruc­tion of the Unit­ed States.’” [Con­di said:] ‘What do you think we need to do?’ Black respond­ed by slam­ming his fist on the table, and say­ing, ‘We need to go on a wartime foot­ing now!’”

    “What hap­pened?” I ask Cofer Black. “Yeah. What did hap­pen?” he replies. “To me it remains incom­pre­hen­si­ble still. I mean, how is it that you could warn senior peo­ple so many times and noth­ing actu­al­ly hap­pened? It’s kind of like The Twi­light Zone.” Remark­ably, in her mem­oir, Con­di Rice writes of the July 10 warn­ings: “My rec­ol­lec­tion of the meet­ing is not very crisp because we were dis­cussing the threat every day.” Hav­ing raised threat lev­els for U.S. per­son­nel over­seas, she adds: “I thought we were doing what need­ed to be done.” (When I asked whether she had any fur­ther response to the com­ments that Tenet, Black and oth­ers made to me, her chief of staff said she stands by the account in her mem­oir.) Inex­plic­a­bly, although Tenet brought up this meet­ing in his closed-door tes­ti­mo­ny before the 9/11 Com­mis­sion, it was nev­er men­tioned in the committee’s final report.

    And there was one more chill­ing warn­ing to come. At the end of July, Tenet and his deputies gath­ered in the director’s con­fer­ence room at CIA head­quar­ters. “We were just think­ing about all of this and try­ing to fig­ure out how this attack might occur,” he recalls. “And I’ll nev­er for­get this until the day I die. Rich Blee looked at every­body and said, ‘They’re com­ing here.’ And the silence that fol­lowed was deaf­en­ing. You could feel the oxy­gen come out of the room. ‘They’re com­ing here.’”

    Tenet, who is per­haps the agency’s most embat­tled direc­tor ever, can bare­ly con­tain him­self when talk­ing about the unheed­ed warn­ings he says he gave the White House. Twirling an unlit cig­ar and fid­get­ing in his chair at our stu­dio in down­town Wash­ing­ton, D.C., he says with res­ig­na­tion: “I can only tell you what we did and what we said.” And when asked about his own respon­si­bil­i­ty for the attacks on 9/11, he is vis­i­bly dis­traught. “There was nev­er a moment in all this time when you blamed your­self?” I ask him. He shifts uncom­fort­ably in his chair. “Well, look, there … I still look at the ceil­ing at night about a lot of things. And I’ll keep them to myself for­ev­er. But we’re all human beings.”


    “To me it remains incom­pre­hen­si­ble still. I mean, how is it that you could warn senior peo­ple so many times and noth­ing actu­al­ly hap­pened? It’s kind of like The Twi­light Zone.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 24, 2015, 6:25 pm

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