Paul Hoven

Paul Hoven

Paul Hoven, the son of was born in Rochester in 1944. His father worked for an insurance company before enlisting in the US Army just before Pearl Harbor. He served as an officer in England in the 303rd Bomb Group.

After graduating from college in 1964 Hoven joined the US Army. He studied at Quantico and the University of Minnesota before enlisting in the army flight program in January 1967.

Hoven graduated from flight school in 1968 and 10 days later took part in a combat assault on the Y Bridge in Saigon. During the Vietnam War he flew 1392 hours. These were mainly combat assault and combat support missions. He also served in Laos and according to Leslie Cockburn (Out of Control) Hoven "had an enormous range of contacts in the murky world of special - i.e., clandestine - operations." It is believed that some of the people he worked with included Ted Shackley, Tom Clines and Richard Secord. One source claims that he was a CIA handler.

Hoven was discharged from the US Army in 1970 and returned to college and after a couple of years graduated in Political Analysis. Hoven then worked for simulation company that did some work for Army War College. In late 1970s he formed a Simulation company to train militaries for armored warfare. Hoven also wrote articles about latest developments in weapons for Armor Magazine.

According to Hoven "I was incensed when I found out the US Army had waited until after the war to install self sealing fuel cells even though the technology was around before the start of the war. Many a helicopter crew had ended up as 'Crispy Critters' and died needlessly when their bird went down. I spoke at a forum in DC about the problem and how the military never reported the real numbers when it came to helicopter loses."

In January 1981 Hoven moved to Washington where he worked for the group called the Project on Military Procurement. The main objective was to expose the Pentagon's slipshod approach to developing and buying weapons.

In January 1981 Hoven met Daniel Sheehan, a left-wing lawyer, who was head of the Christic Institute. The Project on Military Procurement was funded by the Charles Stewart Motts Foundation and Sheehan was on the board of that organization.

Hoven later admitted that he provided information to "over 300 newspapers, magazines and TV programs (20/20, 60 Minutes etc.). We supplied documents and assisted reporters with information about things military... Our offices on Capital Hill where broken into a number of times. My apartment was broken into a number of times and nothing was ever taken but the items on my desk would be rearranged and the front door dead bolt would be unlocked and the door would be opened a quarter of an inch. Much of our information was supplied by the infamous Pentagon Underground. The underground was made up of a loose confederation of Military Officers and Pentagon civilians, who believed two basic points that weapon systems where not tested fully before purchase and that the Pentagon was not responsible with it’s money."

Hoven was involved in the campaign against the M247 Sergeant York DIVAD [Division Air Defense (gun) 40mm Bofors Cannon on an old M-48 tank body]. He recently admitted: "The Congressional office of Congressman Denny Smith R Oregon who I worked with had all six of the tests on the DIVAD (supplied by the Underground) showing how it could not hit it’s targets (one test the guns where aimed at a car but instead with a gallery of Generals in attendance the DIVAD attacked an outhouse’s ventilation fan on its roof). Remember this is during the 1980’s big military build up and was the first time that a weapon system in production was canceled because it did not work."

According to David Corn (Blonde Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusade) in 1985 Carl Jenkins introduced Hoven to Gene Wheaton. Jenkins and Wheaton were at this time involved in trying to "win federal contracts to transport humanitarian supplies to anticommunist rebels, including the Mujahedeen of Afghanistan and the Contras". They failed in this venture and then complained to the State Department about the activities of Richard Secord, Oliver North, Ted Shackley, Edwin Wilson and Tom Clines.

Hoven arranged for Gene Wheaton to meet with Daniel Sheehan. Wheaton told him that Tom Clines and Ted Shackley had been running a top-secret assassination unit since the early 1960s. According to Wheaton, it had begun with an assassination training program for Cuban exiles and the original target had been Fidel Castro.

Paul Hoven also put Wheaton into contact with Newt Royce and Mike Acoca, two journalists based in Washington. The first article on this scandal appeared in the San Francisco Examiner on 27th July, 1986. As a result of this story, Congressman Dante Fascell wrote a letter to the Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, asking him if it "true that foreign money, kickback money on programs, was being used to fund foreign covert operations." Two months later, Weinberger denied that the government knew about this illegal operation.

According to Paul Hoven an attempt was made on his life: "When I started having chest pains after having some orange juice, I assumed it was a muscle cramp. Finally my roommate Joe Burniece called 911... We pulled into the building and 16 Doctors, Nurses and techs were there to great me. They saved my life. After 3 days I was transferred to my HMO hospital in DC. (Heart function is measured in ejection function. 55 to 60 is normal, after the heart attack mine was 32. At 20 you become eligible for a heart transplant and around 10 you die.)"

a few months later Hoven was in a bar with Carl Jenkins when he met "an ex-special forces turned doctor who Carl knew that was on his way to Afghanistan to doctor the rebels fighting the Soviets. My heart attack came up in conversation. He then asked if I had drank something cold before the attack. I mentioned that I had some orange juice. He said that there was a substance that caused heart attack and was delivered in a cold beverage (milk orange etc.). The doctor... indicated that the poison metabolized into two compounds that where normally found in the body." Hoven added that Daniel Sheehan "told me that there 9 or ten of us that had heart attacks and I was the only one that did not die."

Hoven was also visited by Ted Shackley. "The pay off came a week later when Ted Shackley showed up on my doorstep with a shaved headed gorilla about six foot four that looked like someone out of a terminator movies and wanted to talk about Sheehan’s suit." According to David Corn (Blonde Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusade) Shackley offered Hoven a job with a foreign manufacturer of armed personnel carriers as a bribe.

On 5th October, 1986, a Sandinista patrol in Nicaragua shot down a C-123K cargo plane that was supplying the Contras. Eugene Hasenfus, an Air America veteran, survived the crash and told his captors that he thought the CIA was behind the operation. He also provided information on two Cuban-Americans running the operation in El Salvador. This resulted in journalists being able to identify Rafael 'Chi Chi' Quintero and Felix Rodriguez as the two Cuban-Americans mentioned by Hasenfus. It gradually emerged that Clines, Oliver North, Edwin Wilson and Richard Secord were also involved in this conspiracy to provide arms to the Contras.

On 12th December, 1986, Daniel Sheehan submitted to the court an affidavit detailing the Irangate scandal. He also claimed that Tom Clines and Ted Shackley were running a private assassination program that had evolved from projects they ran while working for the CIA. Others named as being part of this assassination team included Rafael 'Chi Chi' Quintero, Richard Secord, Felix Rodriguez and Albert Hakim. It later emerged that Gene Wheaton and Carl Jenkins were the two main sources for this affidavit.

David Corn (Blonde Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA Crusade) quotes Hoven as saying that "I was set up to pass information to Sheehan. But they f***ed it up because Sheehan was not playing it close to the script."

It was eventually discovered that President Ronald Reagan had sold arms to Iran. The money gained from these sales was used to provide support for the Contras, a group of guerrillas engaged in an insurgency against the elected socialist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. Both the sale of these weapons and the funding of the Contras violated administration policy as well as legislation passed by Congress.

On 23rd June, 1988, Judge James L. King ruled that Sheehan's allegations were "based on unsubstantiated rumor and speculation from unidentified sources with no firsthand knowledge". In February, 1989, Judge King ruled that Sheenan had brought a frivolous lawsuit and ordered his Christic Institute to pay the defendants $955,000. This was one of the highest sanction orders in history and represented four times the total assets of the Christic Institute.

In 1995 Gene Wheaton approached the Assassination Records Review Board with information on the death of John F. Kennedy. Anne Buttimer, Chief Investigator of the ARRB, recorded that: " Wheaton told me that from 1984 to 1987 he spent a lot of time in the Washington DC area and that starting in 1985 he was "recruited into Ollie North's network" by the CIA officer he has information about. He got to know this man and his wife, a "'super grade high level CIA officer" and kept a bedroom in their Virginia home. His friend was a Marine Corps liaison in New Orleans and was the CIA contact with Carlos Marcello. He had been responsible for "running people into Cuba before the Bay of Pigs." His friend is now 68 or 69 years of age... Over the course of a year or a year and one-half his friend told him about his activities with training Cuban insurgency groups. Wheaton said he also got to know many of the Cubans who had been his friend's soldiers/operatives when the Cubans visited in Virginia from their homes in Miami. His friend and the Cubans confirmed to Wheaton they assassinated JFK. Wheaton's friend said he trained the Cubans who pulled the triggers. Wheaton said the street level Cubans felt JFK was a traitor after the Bay of Pigs and wanted to kill him. People "above the Cubans" wanted JFK killed for other reasons." It was later revealed that Wheaton's friend was Carl Jenkins.

Worked for simulation company that did some work for Army War College. In late 1970s formed a Simulation company to train militaries for armored warfare. When we were updating our system for the US Army’s new weapons (M-1, M-2 DIVAD etc.) We found that we cold not make them work in the game the way the Military said they would. We started writing articles in professional journals about or findings ( Armor Magazine ). I was incensed when I found out the US Army had waited until after the war to install self sealing fuel cells even though the technology was around before the start of the war. Many a helicopter crew had ended up as “Crispy Critters” and died needlessly when their bird went down. I spoke at a forum in DC about the problem and how the military never reported the real numbers when it came to helicopter loses. I was offered a job at the Project on Military Procurement and moved to DC in January of 1981.

In an interview with William Law and Mark Sobel in 2005, Gene Wheaton claimed that Carl Jenkins and Rafael Quintero were both involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

© , September 1997 - April 2014

Primary Sources

(1) Paul Hoven, Education Forum (12th September, 2007)

I had met Carl Jenkins at a party thrown by a magazine editor. I met both Carl and his wife. I knew him as a retired Military ops. Guy and his wife as a current psychologist at the company. Being from Minnesota I got along with her because of her Wisconsin birth and upbringing. I was surprised at Carl’s acceptance of my working at the Project of Military Procurement and working with the Military Reform Movement. While most conservatives were not crazy about anyone attacking the Pentagon, not only did it not bother Carl he was very encouraging. After meeting Jenkins I found out that he knew a friend of mine retired Lt. Col. Carl Bernard from service in Laos and possibly further back in Indonesia.

As it turned out I lived close to Carl and spent time visiting at night at a safe house he ran close to his town house. Like many of us conservatives he was not crazy about George Bush for President. I remember one night at Otoole’s Bar ( Agency hang out in Langley) Carl showing me a picture on the wall where George Bush and Agency people had held the first meeting for his presidential bid. Sometime later the picture disappeared before the bar closed (Jenkins was not in the picture).

Along with his dislike of Bush for President he was upset that the White House NSC was being used as an active intelligence operation rather than a clearing house from other intelligence agencies for the President. In particular Lt. Col. Oliver North’s activities bothered him. To such a point that in June of 1986 I set up a meeting for him with the then Commandant of the Marine Corp. I had met the S2 of the Headquarters Marine Corp socially and he arranged the meeting in which Carl (being an ex-Marine) had tried to get Lt. Col. North transferred out of the White House. His argument was that if he stayed in his current position he would be an embarrassment to the Corp. Having been a Marine for a short time myself I understood the pride Marines had for the honor of the Corp. I believe that the Marine Corp did try to transfer North but it was thwarted. As I recall the meeting took place on a Thursday and 2 days later I suffered a major heart attack. Two ambulances from the same county showed up and had a fight over me and the second one to arrive won and took me to a hospital that was not mine and there they saved my life. Unfortunately I lost half of my heart function. I am alive today because of a heart transplant in 2005. Of the number of people involved in Iran Contra that had heart attacks I believe that I was the only one that lived.

I will try and add to the story as I have time and would address any questions that Forum members might have. A couple of heart surgeries screw up your memory a little bit. It seems that I am affected most when it comes to remembering names.

(2) Paul Hoven, Education Forum (13th September, 2007)

At the time of my heart attack two events were taking place that I was involved in. The meeting at Marine Headquarters with Carl and the Commandant (to get Oliver North transferred out of White House) and the DIVAD program was cancelled. I was the point person at the Project on Military Procurement on the DIVAD [Division Air Defense (gun) 40mm Bofors Cannon on an old M-48 tank body]. This was the first time that an active Pentagon weapons system was cancelled.

When I started having chest pains after having some orange juice, I assumed it was a muscle cramp. Finally my roommate Joe Burniece called 911. I lived in Arlington Virginia and Arlington county ran the only ambulance service in the county arrived. I was given some nitroglycerin and removed from the apartment and the stretcher was placed on the ground in front of the ambulance. A second ambulance arrived and the two crews started to argue over who was to take me to the hospital. The second crew mentioned that I was the person involved in the cancelling of the DIVAD. They were both informed that I was to go to George Washington in DC. The second arriving ambulance crew won the argument and proceeded to take me to Northern Virginia Hospital instead. We pulled into the building and 16 Doctors, Nurses and techs were there to great me. They saved my life. After 3 days I was transferred to my HMO hospital in DC. (Heart function is measured in ejection function. 55 to 60 is normal, after the heart attack mine was 32. At 20 you become eligible for a heart transplant and around 10 you die.) You tend to idolize the Nurses that tend you during these times and I had 2 during those 3 days. They worked 12 hour shifts and later I was informed by Knut Royce (a friend and reporter that I worked with at the Project. Knut as a young man was an interpreter for the Emperor of Ethiopia ) that one of my Nurses was the daughter of the CIA liaison in the White House.

Months later Carl Jenkins and I were at Otoole’s Bar in Langley and met an ex-special forces turned doctor who Carl knew that was on his way to Afghanistan to doctor the rebels fighting the Soviets. My heart attack came up in conversation. He then asked if I had drank something cold before the attack. I mentioned that I had some orange juice. He said that there was a substance that caused heart attack and was delivered in a cold beverage (milk orange etc.). The doctor... indicated that the poison metabolized into two compounds that where normally found in the body... Danny Sheehan told me that there 9 or ten of us that had heart attacks and I was the only one that did not die.

(3) Paul Hoven, Education Forum (13th September, 2007)

With my job at the Project on Military Procurement I was dealing with over 300 newspapers, magazines and TV programs (20/20, 60 Minutes etc.) We supplied documents and assisted reporters with information about things military. You might say that we where like Google, if we didn’t have the information we had a phone number of someone who did. Our offices on Capital Hill where broken into a number of times. My apartment was broken into a number of times and nothing was ever taken but the items on my desk would be rearranged and the front door dead bolt would be unlocked and the door would be opened a quarter of an inch. Much of our information was supplied by the infamous Pentagon Underground. The underground was made up of a loose confederation of Military Officers and Pentagon civilians, who believed two basic points that weapon systems where not tested fully before purchase and that the Pentagon was not responsible with it’s money. Most of the people involving like myself were quite to the right of center politically. The overall Military Reform Movement was referred to in the media as the “Cheap Hawks”. The DIVAD was one of my projects and the Project had done over 200 articles on how it did not work. The Congressional office of Congressman Denny Smith R Oregon who I worked with had all six of the tests on the DIVAD (supplied by the Underground) showing how it could not hit it’s targets (one test the guns where aimed at a car but instead with a gallery of Generals in attendance the DIVAD attacked an outhouse’s ventilation fan on its roof). Remember this is during the 1980’s big military build up and was the first time that a weapon system in production was canceled because it did not work. I forgot the exact cost of the program but it was in the billions of dollars. One of Congressman Smith’s main financial backers where the principles in Evergreen Airlines. In Congress today the only real member left who was serious reform player is Senator Charles Grassley R Iowa. I was not well known to most only the real insiders because most of the stories printed or broadcast that we were involved in did not have our names mentioned.

(4) Paul Hoven, Education Forum (13th September, 2007)

The last I heard was that Carl Jenkins was in Panama. That he had remarried a school teacher there. I guess that he and Elisabeth got a divorce after the Sheehan document. When Sheehan submitted his document, I understand that Elisabeth Jenkins resigned from the company and went to work for the State Dept. checking on the Embassy guards in Africa and Central Asia. I believe after it all blew over she returned to Langley and resumed her old position checking out potential new employees. She was a fascinating woman. Brilliant and beautiful. Almost out of a spy novel. As a teenage girl had read spy novels and decided that’s what she would do as an adult. Had a well earned hatred of Bobby Kennedy. During the Bay of Pigs she was 8 months pregnant and at the National Reconnaissance Office as a translator. One morning at about 2:00am she was walking done the hall when Kennedy came around the corner in a hurry and knocked her on her back. At which point the started to curse her out and called her a fat cow for getting in his way. I doubt that she mourned when he was killed. She was in Laos when Carl was there and that is where they got together. I believe at that time she interviewed our guys when they returned from trips over the fence into North Vietnam. Knowing some people that where there said she was the prettiest round eye in Laos.

From what Carl told me he was in Mexico training the Cubans for the Bay of Pigs. And has he hated the Kennedy’s also. The operation was designed for 5,000 Cubans to go ashore. But the White House cut it of at 1,500. Carl was especially hot when the Kennedys started sending down Mafia types in place of Cubans. Old man Kennedy’s mob friends where interested in their old holdings when Castro feel. The real hatred of the John Kennedy came from what he did during the actual invasion. Besides the rag tag Air Force of the Cuban invasion force the US Navy was to supply air cover. I am told that as the rebels were being slaughtered on the beach Kennedy personally called off the Navy. There is supposed to be a tape of that and I have friends that say they have heard it. I have never been able to get a copy of it our to here it.

(5) Paul Hoven, Education Forum (13th September, 2007)

The Non-profit project that I worked for was formed under the Stewart Motts foundation. Danny Sheehan was on the board of that organization. I knew Danny from January 1981. Went to Christic Institute book parties there. I knew the Jesuit priest Father Bill Davis at the institute. He was the priest sent down to investigate the death of the American filmmaker during the military coup in Chile. The wife of the dead filmmaker was a girl from my home town that I had dated a couple of times in High School (some coincidences are real). The long and the short of it is that I knew Danny Sheehan for years before Gene Wheaton or Carl Jenkins ever heard of him. Danny was on my board of directors and was very supportive of what we were doing at the project. I thought what he and the Christic Institute did in the Karen Silkwood case was commendable.

Like wise I had met Carl and Elisabeth some time before I was introduced to Gene. One of the reasons that I listened to Gene was because I had a friendship with Carl. The night of the party where Gene was introduced to me, Carl Jenkins along with (IW) John Harper introduced me to Gene there was no talk about illegal arms or federal contracts. Carl was the sole speaker with IW and Gene nodding in agreement. What he said was that we had to stop George Bush from becoming President and that the wrong people in Afghanistan where getting our aid.

I knew the people that where the principles in Congress that allocating the money for our support of the Afghans that where fighting the Soviets. Carl said that Gene knew that area of the world and that he could help these people. I don’t recall that the Contra’s where brought at all that evening. I supported aid to the contras so it would never haven discussed as a problem. The Lt.Col. Carl Bernard that I mentioned earlier had a civilian brother in the Pentagon who was running the program that developed weapons for the Afghan fighters. Afghanistan was the only shooting war at the time and so it was the topic of conversation with just about everyone I knew including Carl Jenkins. There were two Congressmen who where the main funders of the Afghans in Congress. Cong. McCullam R Florida and Cong. Wilson D Texas. Von Forest was the main staffer for the Florida congressman and I knew him well. They were also big Israel supporters and had an Israeli citizen on staff ( Steffe Bodansky) as a military expert.

I set up a meeting with a senate staffer that I knew to start to introduce Gene to the network of staffers in congress who where the players in support of the Afghans. It is at this meeting that Gene dropped the bomb shell and after a very short time talking about Afghanistan started taking about the assignation of Americans by Americans. There where 10 examples of assassinations but the one that he spent the more than 50% of time talking about was the Ibex killing in Iran. This proved to be an interesting emphasis because of the ten so called assassinations the Ibex killings was the only where I had access to someone who was there at the time it took place. Remember that up to this point my background and job was dealing with military hardware testing and procurement and the waste in the Defense Budget. My interest in the wars in Afghanistan was in the weapons that where being supplied to the Afghans that would be effective but not giving away technology to the Soviets. The covert nature and the spying component held little interest to me then.

A very close friend of mine’s father was in State Department Counter Intelligence in Tehran when the Ibex killing took place. And was investigating the case. I talked to him about what I had heard and he confirmed that it was a strange case. The man killed was coming back from the USA after a going home to report massive diversion of funds (stolen) to American Generals that where overseeing the program that had been sold to the Iranian Government. It was a program that the Pentagon had passed on but was then successfully sold to the Iranians. The man was killed immediately after arriving in Tehran. This was not the pattern of either the Moslem or Communist groups trying to topple the Shah’s government. They would stalk for at least two weeks before pulling off an assassination. The actual assassination used a VW bug as a blocking car against the victims Mercedes Benz sedan with a driver and if memory is right the driver was not killed. The big sedan could have easily driven through the VW bug blocking car. The telling information supplied by my friends father was that the Shah’s secret police who where fearless where afraid of this case and kept saying white man in Parse. At this stage I was convinced that Wheaton was telling me the truth. I assumed that the 9 other cases Gene had talked about involved American assassins as well. The senate staffer was scared to death as this was way out of his league and wanted nothing to do with Wheaton after that. This was not my area either but I could not let it go.

Knut Royce was a personal friend of mine. He was one of five of us who used to meet once a week at a bar in downtown DC. He then brought in his friend Mike Accoca to help on the story. [I was working on a story about the invasion of Panama as consultant to 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace when Wallace the producer Charlie Thompson and Myself all got violently sick and almost died and Mike Accoca did die.]

Knut took the story to Senator John Kerry D Massachusetts. The names that Wheaton mentioned had nothing to do with the Contras based on what Wheaton told me . They where the people that where involved in the assassinations. When Iran Contra became public that October I was shocked because the people mentioned where the same people that Wheaton told me where involved in the ten assassinations of Americans. When I introduced Wheaton to Danny Sheehan the reason was assassinations for my part it had nothing to do with illegal arms shipments to anyone. At that time Danny was looking in to assassinations relative to the Contras and that is why I had the meeting and introduced Wheaton to Sheehan. As I said before I was not opposed to aid to the Contras and would not have had the meeting between the two of them if that was the subject. At some point in those first few months after meeting Wheaton I had a meeting set up with the man who I had originally talked to about Wheaton and the Ibex assassination. After the meeting with the State Department Counter Intelligence Officer (he also held a Lt. Col. Rank in the Army) he advised his son ( a Republican Senate staffer) and myself to not deal with Wheaton anymore. He said that he did not believe Wheaton was on the level.

Jenkins never once mentioned contracts with me and he never indicated that he was involved in the JFK assassination. Remember his wife was on active duty at CIA. Both he and his wife were very bright people and Carl was a professional case officer with decades of service. And Carl was smarter than Wheaton in my estimation. In a million years I can not see him admitting to any part in the assassination of JFK to an outsider if he had played a role. Especially to an outsider like Wheaton. Gene like myself was an outsider. He had non agency bon fides for his work in the Army and I believe that he may have played a role in IW Harpers escape from Libya after IW attempted to assassinate Kaddafi. (Blew up a plane Kaddafi was to board but Kaddafi changed his mind at the last minute. A bunch of his East German bodyguards where killed, however.) I was accepted because I had served in Viet Nam as an Army Helicopter Pilot. And I had been recruited to fly for Air America, I turned them down because I thought I had used up all my luck. But in certain areas you where still considered an outsider.

If Jenkins wanted it known to the world that he planned, trained, etc. the people that killed JFK why not tell me rather than Wheaton. I was dealing on a day to day basis with over 300 plus journalists and in the beginning Wheaton with none. More important I had credibility with them all where Wheaton was a total unknown to them.

I was not happy with Sheehan’s final document. I had no first hand information about the actions that where in the document. And I was never told that I would be listed as a source. Plus his description of me did nothing to protect me. I was listed as a Army Helicopter Pilot in Viet Nam and a Military Reformer, that described a universe of exactly one person in DC at that time. Two days after it was out I was having lunch with a reporter that I had never dealt with before and after introductions she said, “oh you must be the number 48 (I believe that was the number source in Sheehan’s suit). The pay off came a week later when Ted Shackley showed up on my doorstep with a shaved headed gorilla about six foot four that looked like someone out of a terminator movies and wanted to talk about Sheehan’s suit.

(6) David Corn, Blonde Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades (1994)

Throughout 1985, Paul Hoven, a friend of Sheehan's and a Vietnam veteran, regularly attended parties of ex-Agency men and weekend warriors, some associated with Soldier of Fortune magazine. (Hoven worked at the Project on Military Procurement, an outfit funded by liberals and devoted to exposing Pentagon waste.) At a bash near Christmas, Carl Jenkins, a former CIA officer who had been assigned to Miami and Laos, introduced Hoven to Gene Wheaton, a balding middle-aged fellow.

Wheaton was an odd bird. As Wheaton has related his life story, he was a Marine in the 1950s and then joined the Tulsa police force. He was an army detective in Vietnam and in the mid-1970s a security officer at a top-secret CIA-Rockwell surveillance program in Iran called Project IBEX. In 1979 he returned to the United States, went through a string of security-related jobs, and became obsessed with the covert world and drug-trafficking. When he met Hoven, Wheaton, now representing a California aviation company, was scheming with Jenkins and Ed Dearborn, a former CIA pilot in Laos and the Congo, to win federal contracts to transport humanitarian supplies to anticommunist rebels, including the Mujahedeen of Afghanistan and the Contras. So far, the trio had failed to collect any. They had even complained to a State Department official that Richard Secord and Oliver North improperly controlled who got the Contra-related contracts. They badmouthed Secord, noting that he had been mixed up with Shackley, Wilson, and Clines. One set of spooks was pissed at another.

At the Soldier of Fortune party, Hoven pegged Wheaton as someone who thought he was a player but who truly was not. Nevertheless, he agreed to assist Wheaton. Hoven set up a meeting with a congressional aide who followed the Afghan program. Hoven did not realize that Wheaton had more on his mind than contracts. Wheaton had spent much of the previous year hobnobbing with arms dealers, ex-CIA officers, and mercenaries, and he had collected information on past and present covert operations, including the secret Contra-arms project.

Wheaton was obsessed with the 1976 assassination in Iran of three Americans who worked on Project IBEX. He believed the killings were linked to U.S. intelligence, that a ring of ex-spooks was running wild in Central America and elsewhere.

So when Wheaton met with the congressional staffer and Hoven, he skipped the presentation on supplying the Mujahedeen. Instead he launched into a speech about political assassinations related to U.S. intelligence. He rattled on about the mysterious IBEX murders. Hoven had a hard time following Wheaton. His claims were based on a mishmash of speculative hearsay, fanciful information, and some actual facts. But Wheaton made his bottom-line point obvious: a rogue element in the U.S. government had engaged in a host of nefarious activities, including assassinations.

The congressional staffer wanted nothing to do with the rambling intrigue Wheaton was peddling. But Hoven was interested. He called Danny Sheehan, thinking he ought to hear Wheaton's tale.

Sheehan already had developed an interest in the murky community of mercenaries, Cuban exiles, and others secretly aiding the Contras. By early 1986, press accounts had revealed that a clandestine Contra support network ran all the way into the White House and that Oliver North, a low-level aide, was involved-even though Congress had seemingly barred the administration from militarily aiding the rebels. (The White House claimed these stories were wrong.) Here was the perfect target for Sheehan: a furtive program supporting a covert war against a leftist government. He wondered if he could strike at it in the courts. He always was looking for cases that made good stories-ones in which he could be a hero. Then he met Gene Wheaton, who had a helluva tale for Sheehan.

Sheehan and Wheaton sat down in the kitchen of Hoven's house in early February of 1986. It was magic. To a wide-eyed Sheehan, Wheaton, posing as an experienced operator, tossed out wild stories of clandestine operations and dozens of names: Wilson, Secord, Clines, Hakim, Singlaub, Bush. A whole crew was running amok, supporting Contras, conducting covert activity elsewhere. Drugs were involved. Some of this gang had engaged in corrupt government business in Iran and Southeast Asia. Now the same old boys were running weapons to Latin America. Central to the whole shebang was a former CIA officer named Ted Shackley. Sheehan was captivated. He had struck the mother lode.

Sheehan spoke a few times with Carl Jenkins. At one session, Sheehan listened as Jenkins and Wheaton discussed what Wheaton was calling the "off-the-reservation gang" - Secord, Clines, Hakim, and Shackley - and the operations they ran in and out of government. According to Hoven, Wheaton and Jenkins wanted to see information about this crowd made public and saw Sheehan as the mechanism of disclosure.

Wheaton and Jenkins did not tell Sheehan that they hoped to settle a score with a band they believed had an unfair lock on the air-supply contracts they desired. But to Hoven it was clear that one faction of spooks was whacking another. Hoven was not sure who was on what side. He guessed that somebody somewhere-maybe even in the Agency itself-was upset with the freelancers and wanted to see them reined in. But if Jenkins or anyone else thought they could use Sheehan as a quiet transmitter of damaging information, they were as wrong as they could be.