Daniel Sheehan was born in 1946. While studying at the Northeastern University in 1964 he considered joining the Green Berets. However, he changed his mind during classes on how to kill the enemy. Sheehan now went onto Harvard Law School where he was a cofounder and editor of the Harvard Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Law Review.
After obtaining his degree he worked for the American Civil Liberties Union. Sheehan also served as general counsel to the Jesuits' social ministry office in Washington.
Sheehan became a left-wing activist and worked on the cases of Daniel Ellsberg and Karen Silkwood. He was also involved in the prisoners rights movement in New York state and was at Attica State Prison during the 1971 riot, attempting to negotiate a peaceful solution, when Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered authorities to take down the prison by force. He was also a member of F. Lee Baileys law firm, which represented Watergate burglar James McCord at the time he wrote his famous letter to Judge John Sirica.
In 1980 Sheehan became general counsel for the Christic Institute, a small public-interest group supported by religious organizations. Other members of the team included Sara Nelson, William J. Davis, Lewis Pitts, and Lanny Sinkin. The main objective of the Christic Institute was to unite Christians, Jews and other religious Americans on an effective and practical platform for political change.
In 1985 Paul Hoven met Carl E. Jenkins, a former CIA officer, at a party for people associated with the Soldiers of Fortune magazine. Jenkins introduced Hoven to Gene Wheaton. Hoven discovered that Jenkins and Wheaton had been attempting to win federal contracts involving transporting goods to Afghanistan and Nicaragua. Wheaton told Hoven about how the Ronald Reagan administration were involved in illegal arms deals. He also provided information about how the CIA had been responsible for carrying out a series of political assassinations.
Hoven introduced Wheaton and Jenkins to Sheehan in February, 1986. The two men told Sheehan about a group of former CIA agents and assets were involved in illegal arms deals with the Contras in Nicaragua and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. Those named included Tom Clines, Raphael Quintero, Ted Shackley, Richard Secord, Felix Rodriguez, Albert Hakim and Edwin Wilson. Wheaton and Jenkins also provided more information about political assassinations that had been organized by members of the CIA.
In October, 1985, two journalists, Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey, accused John F. Hull as being involved in the La Penca bombing. Hull responds by filing suit against Avirgan and Honey for "injuries, falsehood and defamation of character". During their trial, Avirgan and Honey provide documents and witnesses to support their comments on Hull. As a result the judge rejected Hull's lawsuit.
In a CBS documentary broadcast in April 1986, a former contra pilot identified Hull's ranch as a "major transshipment plant for military supplies and drugs". The following month Daniel Sheehan and the Christic Institute named John F. Hull, Ted Shackley, Thomas G. Clines, Richard V. Secord, John K. Singlaub, Robert W. Owen, Rafael Quintero, Albert Hakim, Adolfo Calero, Pablo Escobar, Jorge Ochoa and 18 others as major figures in a racketeering network involved in drug trafficking and arms smuggling.
On 12th December, 1986, Daniel Sheehan submitted to the court an affidavit detailing the Irangate scandal. He also claimed that Thomas Clines and Ted Shackley were running a private assassination program that had evolved from projects they ran while working for the CIA. They added that it had begun with an assassination training program for Cuban exiles and the original target had been Fidel Castro.
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.
Shirley Brill, a former CIA official, published a 24 page affidavit in 1988. Brill had lived with Tom Clines in 1977 and claimed that he was involved in illegal activities with Raphael Quintero and a drug dealer living in Miami. After retiring from the CIA in 1978, Brill claims Clines joined forces with Ted Shackley, Richard Secord and Edwin Wilson in order to gain Pentagon contracts. Brill also argued that she heard Clines, Secord, Quintero and Shackley plotting to frame Wilson.
Sheehan went to see Edwin Wilson in prison and he confirmed that Shackley, Clines and Secord had been involved in shipping illegal arms to Nicaragua. Sheehan made a series of speeches where he advocated the impeachment of Ronald Reagan and George Bush. Several left-wing celebrities such as Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Don Henley and Kris Kristofferson, helped raised funds for the campaign being led by Sheehan and the Christic Institute.
In March, 1988, Gene Wheaton agreed to provide a deposition in a federal courtroom in Washington. Wheaton claimed that Ted Shackley was overseeing an assassination outfit called the Fish Farm. However, he refused to say which retired CIA official had given him this information.
It was assumed that Wheaton's source was Carl E. Jenkins. However he denied it saying: "I am astounded that on the basis of his conversations with me, Mr. Sheehan would swear under oath that I supplied him with any of this information."
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.
An anonymous article for The Journal of Defense and Diplomacy (it was assumed that it was written by Ted Shackley) claimed: "This attack (by Daniel Sheehan) is part of a long-range plan to weaken the entire U.S. intelligence community." It was suggested that Christic Institute was under the control of the Soviet Union.
In her book, Legal Terrorism: The Truth About the Christic Institute (1989), Susan Huck joined in the attack and claimed that the Sheenan lawsuit had advanced "Soviet interests" and that the Christic Institute had been devoted to "weakening the United States and supporting our enemies". This was as a result of Shackley's "record of thwarting Moscow and Havana for three decades".
Lawrence Walsh, the special prosecutor in the Iran-Contra scandal, gave prosecutorial immunity to 14 defendants and indicted six people. Then, when George Bush lost the election in 1992, one of the last few things he did before leaving office was to pardon all of the people the special prosecutor had indicted.
The Christic Institute moved to Los Angeles and in 1995 Mikhail Gorbachev appointed Sheehan as director of the Strategic Initiative to Identify the New Global Paradigm. One of Sheehan's tasks was " to try to identify the new principles of a new paradigm that would replace anti-Communism and anti-capitalism as the primary new organizing principle for major global institutions after the Cold War.
In 2000 Sheehan became director of the New Paradigm Institute for the Study of New World Views.