William Francis Buckley was born in Medford, Massachusetts, on 30th May, 1928. He joined the United States Army in 1947. He later attended Officers Candidate School and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Buckley also attended Intelligence School at Oberammergau, Germany.
Buckley served as a company commander with the 1st Cavalry Division during the Korean War. In 1955 Buckley joined the Central Intelligence Agency. He left two years later and after graduating from Boston University he was employed as a librarian in Lexington.
In 1960 Buckley joined the 320th Special Forces Detachment. Promoted to the rank of colonel he served in Vietnam as a Senior Advisor to the ARVN.
Buckley rejoined the CIA and served in Mexico in 1963. According to one source, Buckley was recruited by Ted Shackley and joined his Secret Team that had been involved with Edwin Wilson, Thomas Clines, Carl E. Jenkins, Raphael Quintero, Felix Rodriguez and Luis Posada, in the CIA “assassination” program. Leslie Cockburn pointed out in her book, Out of Control (1987), that Buckley had had to approve CIA assassinations undertaken by the Shackley organizations. In his book, Prelude to Terror (2005) Joseph Trento claims that Buckley was "one of Shackley's oldest and dearest friends."
Buckley served with the CIA in Vietnam (1965-1970), Zaire (1970-1972), Cambodia (1972), Egypt (1972-1978), and Pakistan (1978-1979). It is believed he worked with William Casey in the secret negotiations that had taken place with the Iranians on behalf of Ronald Reagan during the 1980 presidential elections.
In 1983 Buckley became CIA station chief in Beirut. On 16th March, 1984, Buckley was kidnapped by the Hezbollah, a fundamentalist Shiite group with strong links to the Khomeini regime. Buckley was tortured and it was soon discovered that he was a senior CIA officer. Buckley eventually signed a 400 page statement detailing his activities in the CIA. He was also videotaped making this confession. William Casey asked Ted Shackley for help in obtaining Buckley’s freedom.
Three weeks after Buckley’s disappearance, President Ronald Reagan signed the National Security Decision Directive 138. This directive was drafted by Oliver North and outlined plans on how to get the American hostages released from Iran and to “neutralize” terrorist threats from countries such as Nicaragua. This new secret counterterrorist task force was to be headed by Shackley’s old friend, General Richard Secord. This was the beginning of the Iran-Contra deal.
Talks had already started about exchanging American hostages for arms. On 30th August, 1985, Israel shipped 100 TOW missiles to Iran. On 14th September they received another 408 missiles from Israel. The Israelis made a profit of $3 million on the deal.
In October, 1985, Congress agreed to vote 27 million dollars in non-lethal aid for the Contras in Nicaragua. However, members of the Ronald Reagan administration decided to use this money to provide weapons to the Contras and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
The following month, Ted Shackley traveled to Hamburg where he met General Manucher Hashemi, the former head of SAVAK’s counterintelligence division at the Atlantic Hotel. Also at the meeting on 22nd November was Manucher Ghorbanifar. According to the report of this meeting that Shackley sent to the CIA, Ghorbanifar had “fantastic” contacts with Iran.
At the meeting Shackley told Hashemi and Ghorbanifar that the United States was willing to discuss arms shipments in exchange for the four Americans kidnapped in Lebanon. The problem with the proposed deal was that Buckley was already dead (he had died of a heart-attack while being tortured).
His body was returned to the United States on December 28, 1991 and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.