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.
(1) Daniel P. Sheehan, affidavit (12th December, 1986)
1. I am a duly licensed attorney at law, admitted to practice before the State and Federal Courts of the State of New York in both the Northern and Southern Districts of New York.
2. I am duly licensed and have been admitted to practice before the Courts of the District of Columbia, both local and Federal and I am in good standing before both the Bar of New York and the Bar of the District of Columbia.
3. I have practiced law before the courts of New York and numerous other states in our nation since 1970, having served as counsel in some 60 separate pieces of litigation in the states of New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma, Ohio, Colorado, Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming and Mississippi.
4. I graduated from Harvard college in 1967 as an Honors Graduate in American Government, writing my Honors Thesis in the field of Constitutional Law, and was the Harvard University nominee for the Rhodes Scholarship from New York in 1967. I graduated from Harvard School of Law in 1970, having served as an Editor of the Harvard Civil Rights) Civil Liberties Law Review and as the Research Associate of Professor Jerome Cohen, the Chair of the International Law Department of Harvard.
5. While at Harvard School of Law, I served as a summer associate at the State Street law firm of Goodwin, Proctor and Hoar under the supervision of Senior Partner, Donald J. Hurley, the President of the Boston Chamber of Commerce and Massachusetts Senatorial Campaign Chairman for John F. Kennedy. At this firm I participated in the case of BAIRD v EISENSTAT, under Roger Stockey, General Counsel for the Massachusetts Planned Parenthood League (establishing the unconstitutionality of the Massachusetts anti-birth control law) and in the Nevada case, under Charles Goodhue, III (establishing the constitutional right to bail in criminal extradition cases, including capital cases). While at Harvard School of Law, I authored "The Pedestrian Sources of Civil Liberties" in the Harvard Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review and I served under Professor Milton Katz, the President of the International Law Association, as the Chairman of the Nigerian Biafran Relief Commission responsible for successfully negotiating the admission of mercy flights of food into Biafra in 1968.
6. While serving as a legal Associate at the Wall Street law firm of Cahill, Gordon, Sonnett, Rheindle and Ohio under partner Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines directed the Phoenix Project in Vietnam, in 1974 and 1975, which carried out the secret mission of assassinating members of the economic and political bureaucracy inside Vietnam to cripple the ability of that nation to function after the total US withdrawal from Vietnam. This Phoenix Project, during its history, carried out the political assassination, in Vietnam, of some 60,000 village mayors, treasurers, school teachers and other non) Viet Cong administrators. Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines financed a highly intensified phase of the Phoenix project, in 1974 and 1975, by causing an intense flow of Vang Pao opium money to be secretly brought into Vietnam for this purpose. This Vang Pao opium money was administered for Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines by a US Navy official based in Saigon's US office of Naval Operations by the name of Richard Armitage. However, because Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Armitage knew that their secret anti-communist extermination program was going to be shut down in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand in the very near future, they, in 1973, began a highly secret non-CIA authorized program. Thus, from late 1973 until April of 1975, Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Armitage disbursed, from the secret, Laotian-based, Vang Pao opium fund, vastly more money than was required to finance even the highly intensified Phoenix Project in Vietnam. The money in excess of that used in Vietnam was secretly smuggled out of Vietnam in large suitcases, by Richard Secord and Thomas Clines and carried into Australia, where it was deposited in a secret, personal bank account (privately accessible to Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Secord). During this same period of time between 1973 and 1975, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines caused thousands of tons of US weapons, ammunition, and explosives to be secretly taken from Vietnam and stored at a secret "cache" hidden inside Thailand.
The "liaison officer" to Shackley and Clines and the Phoenix Project in Vietnam, during this 1973 to 1975 period, from the "40 Committee" in the Nixon White House was one Eric Von Arbod, an Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs. Von Arbod shared his information about the Phoenix Project directly with his supervisor Henry Kissinger.
Saigon fell to the Vietnamese in April of 1975. The Vietnam War was over. Immediately upon the conclusion of the evacuation of U.S. personnel from Vietnam, Richard Armitage was dispatched, by Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines, from Vietnam to Tehran, Iran. In Iran, Armitage, the "bursar" for the Vang Pao opium money for Shackley and Clines' planned "Secret Team" covert operations program, between May and August of 1975, set up a secret "financial conduit" inside Iran, into which secret Vang Pao drug funds could be deposited from Southeast Asia. The purpose of this conduit was to serve as the vehicle for secret funding by Shackley's "Secret Team," of a private, non-CIA authorized "Black" operations inside Iran, disposed to seek out, identify, and assassinate socialist and communist sympathizers, who were viewed by Shackley and his "Secret Team" members to be "potential terrorists" against the Shah of Iran`s government in Iran. In late 1975 and early 1976, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines retained Edwin Wilson to travel to Tehran, Iran to head up the "Secret Team" covert "anti terrorist" assassination program in Iran. This was not a U.S. government authorized operation. This was a private operations supervised, directed and participated in by Shackley, Clines, Secord and Armitage in their purely private capacities.
At the end of 1975, Richard Armitage took the post of a "Special Consultant" to the U.S. Department of Defense regarding American military personnel Missing In Action (MIAs) in Southeast Asia. In this capacity, Armitage was posted in the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand. There Armitage had top responsibility for locating and retrieving American MIA's in Southeast Asia. He worked at the Embassy with an associate, one Jerry O. Daniels. From 1975 to 1977, Armitage held this post in Thailand. However, he did not perform the duties of this office. Instead, Armitage continued to function as the "bursar" for Theodore Shackley's "Secret Team," seeing to it that secret Vang Pao opium funds were conducted from Laos, through Armitage in Thailand to both Tehran and the secret Shackley bank account in Australia at the Nugen-Hand Bank. The monies conducted by Armitage to Tehran were to fund Edwin Wilson's secret anti-terrorist "seek and destroy" operation on behalf of Theodore Shackely. Armitage also devoted a portion of his time between 1975 and 1977, in Bangkok, facilitating the escape from Laos, Cambodia and Thailand and the relocation elsewhere in the world, of numbers of the secret Meo tribesmen group which had carried out the covert political assassination program for Theodore Shackley in Southeast Asia between 1966 and 1975. Assisting Richard Armitage in this operation was Jerry O. Daniels. Indeed, Jerry O. Daniels was a "bag-man" for Richard Armitage, assisting Armitage by physically transporting out of Thailand millions of dollars of Vang Pao's secret opium money to finance the relocation of Theodore Shackley's Meo tribesmen and to supply funds to Theodore Shackley's "Secret Team" operations. At the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Richard Armitage also supervised the removal of arms, ammunition and explosives from the secret Shackley/Clines cache of munitions hidden inside Thailand between 1973 and 1975, for use by Shackley's "Secret Team". Assisting Armitage in this latter operations was one Daniel Arnold, the CIA Chief of Station in Thailand, who joined Shackley's "Secret Team" in his purely private capacity.
One of the officers in the U.S. Embassy in Thailand, one Abranowitz came to know of Armitage's involvement in the secret handling of Vang Pao opium funds and caused to be initiated an internal State Department heroin smuggling investigations directed against Richard Armitage. Armitage was the target of Embassy personnel complaints to the effect that he was utterly failing to perform his duties on behalf of American MIAs, and he reluctantly resigned as the D.O.D. Special Consultant on MIA's at the end of 1977.
From 1977 until 1979, Armitage remained in Bangkok opening and operating a business named The Far East Trading Company. This company had offices only in Bangkok and in Washington, D.C. This company was, in fact, from 1977 to 1979, merely a "front" for Armitage's secret operations conducting Vang Pao opium money out of Southeast Asia to Tehran and the Nugen-Hand Bank in Australia to fund the ultra right-wing, private anti-communist "anti-terrorist" assassination program and "unconventional warfare" operation of Theodore Shackley's and Thomas Cline's "Secret Team". During this period, between 1975 and 1979, in Bangkok, Richard Armitage lived in the home of Hynnie Aderholdt, the former Air Wing Commander of Shackley`s "Special Operations Group" in Laos, who, between 1966 and 1968, had served as the immediate superior to Richard Secord, the Deputy Air Wing Commander of MAG SOG. Secord, in 1975, was transferred from Vietnam to Tehran, Iran.
In 1976, Richard Secord moved to Tehran, Iran and became the Deputy Assistant Secretary of defense in Iran, in charge of the Middle Eastern Division of the Defense Security Assistance Administration. In this capacity, Secord functioned as the chief operations officer for the U.S. Defense Department in the Middle East in charge of foreign military sales of U.S. aircraft, weapons and military equipment to Middle Eastern nations allied to the U.S. Secord's immediate superior was Eric Van Marbad, the former 40 Committee liaison officer to Theodore Shackley's Phoenix program in Vietnam from 1973 to 1975.
From 1976 to 1979, in Iran, Richard Secord supervised the sale of U.S. military aircraft and weapons to Middle Eastern nations. However, Richard Secord did not authorize direct nation-to-nation sales of such equipment directly from the U.S. government to said Middle Eastern governments. Instead, Richard Secord conducted such sales through a "middle-man", one Albert Hakim. By the use of middle-man Albert Hakim, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Secord purchased U.S. military aircraft and weapons from the U.S. governament at the low "manufacturer's cost" but sold these U.S. aircraft and weapons to the client Middle Eastern nations at the much higher "replacement cost". Secord then caused to be paid to the U.S. government, out of the actual sale price obtained, only the lower amount equal to the lower manufacturer's cost. The difference, was secreted from the U.S. government and Secord and Albert Hakim secretly transferred these millions of dollars into Shackley's "Secret Team" operations inside Iran and into Shackley's secret Nugen-Hand bank account in Australia. Thus, by 1976, Defendant Albert Hakim had become a partner with Thomas Clines, Richard Secord and Richard Armitage in Theodore Shackley's "Secret Team".
Between 1976 and 1979, Shackley, Clines, Secord, Hakim, Wilson, and Armitage set up several corporations and subsidiaries around the world through which to conceal the operations of the "Secret Team". Many of these corporations were set up in Switzerland. Some of these were: (1) Lake Resources, Inc.; (2) The Stanford Technology Trading Group, Inc.; and (3) Companie de Services Fiduciaria. Other companies were set up in Central America, such as: (4) CSF Investments, Ltd. and (5) Udall research Corporation. Some were set up inside the United States by Edwin Wilson. Some of these were: (6) Orca Supply Company in Florida and (7) Consultants International in Washington, D.C. Through these corporations, members of Theodore Shackley's "Secret Team" laundered hundreds of millions of dollars of secret Vang Pao opium money, pilfered Foreign Military Sales proceeds between 1976 and 1979. Named in this federal civil suit to be placed under oath and asked about their participation in the criminal "enterprise" alleged in this Complaint is probative of the criminal guilt of the Defendants of some of the crimes charged in this Complaint.
Plaintiffs and Plaintiffs' Counsel, The Christic Institute, possess evidence constituting "probable cause" that each of the Defendants named in this Complaint are guilty of the conduct charged.
If further detailed evidence is required by the Court to allow the Plaintiffs to begin the standard process of discovery in this case, the failure to place it in this Affidavit is the function of the short time allowed by the Court for the preparation of this filing, it is not because the Plaintiffs lack such evidence.
(2) Ted Shackley, Spymaster: My Life in the CIA (2005)
By 1966 the dimensions of the opium problem in Southeast Asia were widely known. The files that I read before going to Vientiane, my discussions with officers who had served there, and a review of the open-source literature all brought the issue home to me. In brief, Laos was not going to be at all like Florida. In Miami the dragon was outside the wall, and my task had been to keep him there. In Laos, on the other hand, he was already inside the perimeter, and I was going to have coexist with him without being seared by his breath.
I can already hear the howls of outrage: "Coexist with narcotics traffickers! Just as we always thought! He should have been wiping them out."
Well, only rogue elephants charge at everything in their path, and the CIA was never such an animal. The critics' point of view is a respectable one, perhaps even reasonable, if you leave out of consideration the fact that the CIA takes its orders from higher authority and that nowhere in these orders at the time under discussion now a generation ago-was there any mention of narcotics. The mission that had been handed me was to fight a war in northern Laos against the Pathet Lao and the NVA and to interdict, along the Laotian part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the flow of military manpower and materiel from North Vietnam to the battlefields of South Vietnam. My plate was full.
In addition to this, the cultivation of poppy and the medicinal use of opium formed part of the economic and social fabric of the area I would be working in. The CIA inspector general, reporting in September 1972 on the drug situation in Southeast Asia, said that when the United States arrived in the region, "Opium was as much a part of the agricultural infrastructure of this area as was rice, one suitable for the hills, the other for the valleys."'
This generalization was as true for Laos as it was for the rest of Southeast Asia, but it tends to obscure the fact that this common agricultural infrastructure supported and was supported by a multiethnic society. Among the Laotian hill tribes alone there were the Hmong, the Yao, the Lao Thung, and the Lu, just to identify a few, and the Hmong were further subdivided into the Red Hmong, the Striped Hmong, and the Black Hmong. These tribes and subtribes all shared a common culture in which the cultivation and use of opium played a part, but each had put its own individual twist on it. Subjecting all these groupings to a standard set of mores is a job I would not wish on any social engineer.
I did have to ensure that the guerrilla units we were supporting were not trading or using opium and to minimize the prospects that Air America or Continental Air Services aircraft were being used for opium-smuggling tasks while under contract to us...
The fantasy that the CIA was smuggling opium for its own profit has been examined and dismissed as the nonsense it is by a select committee of the United States Senate.
(3) Daniel Sheehan, speech at Southern Oregon University (9th January, 2003)
The special prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, ended up giving prosecutorial immunity to 14 of our defendants, and then ended up indicting six people. Then, when George Bush, Sr. lost the election in 1992, one of the last few things he did before leaving office - the first thing he did was pardon all of the people the special prosecutor had indicted. The next thing he did was order the head of the Internal Revenue Service, who is a political appointee, to revoke the 501(c)(3) charter of the Christic Institute, that happened to cause all this trouble and name all these people and push everybody around and make them look into this big investigation
Once the tax-exempt charter had been revoked, the court appointed by Richard Nixon, the chief federal judge in Miami - Judge J. Lawrence King, appointed by Richard Nixon at the request of Bebe Rebozo, who had formerly sat as a member of the board of directors of Meyer Lanskys National Bank of Miami - summarily dismissed our case and told us that we could not appeal. And if we attempted to appeal, that he was going to impose a bond upon us of $1.6 million for having to pay all the attorneys fees for the other side. But if we would just go away, that we wouldnt have to pay any such fine.
But we insisted upon appealing, and he imposed this $1.6 million bond on us, so that we went out to a lot of you and asked for contributions on an emergency basis to pay the bond, and we mortgaged all of our buildings all across the country, and all of our equipment and everything. We put the bond up, we pursued the appeal, it went to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, and the three-judge panel was appointed to hear this appeal. Judge Vance, the chief judge of the three-judge panel, was assassinated one week later. He was killed with a letter bomb that was sent to his home, giving George Bush - as his final act, before leaving office - the power to appoint a replacement.
He appointed Stanley Birch, Jr., a man who had never been a judge a day in his life. He in fact was a major contributor to the George Bush campaign, and in fact was the patent lawyer for the Cabbage Patch Dolls. He chaired the three-judge panel and just threw a fit when we walked into the courtroom, saying, You should have known that you never would have been able to pursue this type of a case! These charges youve made against these people are basically criminal in their nature, and the Justice Department has the exclusive jurisdiction to prosecute criminally, and you are attempting to usurp the exclusive jurisdiction of the Justice Department, and therefore it was an outrage that you should file these types of claims. He sustained the judgment of the court below and required that we pay all $1.6 million - which the Christic Institute did, and then immediately had our 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charter revoked.
(4) Joel Bainerman, The Crimes of a President (1992)
Did the Reagan-Bush White House do business with drug traffickers? This question not only applies to the Presidencies of George Bush and Ronald Reagan, but to every single administration since the end of World War II.
The Christic Institute and its founder, Daniel Sheehan, deserves special credit for its work in exposing the CIA's ties to drug lords, particularly during the Reagan years. Founded in 1980 as a non-profit, public-interest law firm and public policy center, the Christic Institute had previously prosecuted some of the most celebrated public-interest lawsuits of the decade, including the Karen Silkwood case as well as the Greensboro Massacre suit against the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan.
During one of my trips to Washington I finally got a chance to meet Sheehan. Although situated only a few blocks from Washington's Union Station, it seemed only right that a nonprofit organization fighting against the tremendous odds of battling covert operators would be housed in a rundown, near slum neighborhood of the nation's capital.
Although we had just a short time together because I was flying back to Israel that evening, Sheehan struck me as being one of the very few people in the United States who grasped most of the complexities of the story of how the CIA had become involved with drug traffickers. The way he rattled off the names and events, he could probably have repeated them in his sleep.
Sheehan claims that there existed a conspiratorial "secret team" of covert operators which carried out its own, private foreign policy much of it funded by proceeds from the international drug trade. The 29 defendants named in a suit instituted by the Christic Institute in Florida included Lt. Colonel Oliver North, retired major generals Richard Secord and John Singlaub, former CIA intelligence officers Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines, financier Albert Hakim, Robert Owen, a former aide to Vice President Quayle, Contra rebel leader Adolfo Calero, mercenary Thomas Posey, and drug dealers John Hall and Jorge Ochoa.
"We assembled evidence that the Contra resupply network orchestrated criminal covert operations, including secret wars, assassination programs and illicit arms deals. It financed these activities, in part, through the smuggling and sale of tons of cocaine and other illegal drugs into the United States," says Sheehan. "Since the Congress, the Reagan-Bush White House's Justice Department, and the Judiciary had, for the most part, turned a blind eye to these allegations, we took our evidence directly to the American public. The public needs to know and has a right to know of covert and illegal activities undertaken by private citizens in the name of U.S. foreign policy and 'national security.' "
In the lawsuit, the institute used the RICO statutes, passed in 1970 to bring Mafia bosses to justice (the statutes enable a member of a conspiracy to be held accountable for crimes committed by those under his orders). The institute was able to formally charge the Reagan-Bush Secret Team as a result of the 1984 bombing of a press conference in La Penca, Nicaragua. During the early part of 1984, after the Boland Amendments were passed, Oliver North came up with a new plan to secretly circumvent the congressional ban on Contra military aid. The idea was to take away the responsibility of arming and training them from the CIA and transfer it to a "private" network controlled directly by him from the White House. This meant uniting the various Contra forces into one effective fighting force.
One of the Contra leaders, Eden Pastora of the ARDE organization based in Costa Rica, refused a CIA ultimatum to ally his group with the larger Contra group the administration was supporting, the FDN. He was told by the CIA to "unite with the FDN or suffer the consequences."
At a press conference where Pastora was to announce that he was not going to accede to these demands, a bomb exploded, killing eight people and injuring many others. The White House obviously wouldn't take no for an answer.
Sheehan alleges that the explosion was arranged by Hull, a drug trafficker who helped Oliver North's Contra supply operation, and Felipe Vidal, another narcotics smuggler who worked with Hull. At a crucial December 1984 meeting at the Shamrock Hilton Hotel in Houston, Texas, attended by Hull and Owen, Jack Terrell, another participant in North's supply network, claims Hull told him "Pastora had to be killed" (The Progressive, March 1990).
The CIA helped cover up the bombing through extensive use of disinformation within Costa Rica. A Costa Rican government report revealed that in 1984 CIA agent Dimitrius Papas trained an elite 15-member group of Costa Rican intelligence agents known as "the Babies" to organize a network of illegal telephone taps and a slush fund for payoffs to Costa Rican leaders (The Progressive, March 1990; Newsweek, February 12th, 1990).
(5) Jonathan Vankin & John Whalen, The 60 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time (1995)
A true period piece and document of an era, the Daniel Sheehan Affidavit even inspired a graphic novel appropriately, because the document is less a court filing than a work of art; a Francis Ford Coppola-esque epic of secrets and subterfuge and omnipresent danger.
The affidavit was filed in December 1986 by Daniel Sheehan, a longtime activist-lawyer-he had worked, for example, on the Karen Silkwood case and for the Native Americans besieged at Wounded Knee. By the mid-eighties he was chief council for the Washington, D.C.-based Christic Institute, "an interfaith, public interest law firm and public policy center."
Wielding the unwieldy Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute (RICO) usually employed by prosecutors to bag mob bosses, Sheehan tried to nail an entire "secret team" of spies, mercenaries, gun runners, and their White House basement buddies by implicating them in the bombing of a renegade Contra leader's press conference in La Penca, Costa Rica.
The Contra, Eden Pastora, had tired of CIA hands-on management of the anti-Sandinista rebellion. He called the press conference to explain his reasons for breaking with other Contra groups who paid greater homage to the CIA than to the cause. As soon as Pastora started to blab-boom!
The Christic clients were two journalists scarred in the blast. With the broadly drawn RICO statute, if Sheehan could tie the bombing to the activities of this secret team, he could bring down the entire shadow government.
The affidavit came out around the same time that the Iran Contra scandal hit the news and as the scandal unfolded some of its key names turned out to be among those men listed as the Christic Institute's twenty-nine defendants. Names like Richard Secord, Oliver North, John Hull, and Theodore Shackley; Thomas Clines, Albert Hakim, John Singlaub, and Edwin Wilson-all of them CIA operatives, military officers, arms dealers, or some combination thereof-populate Sheehan's counter-reality.
The affidavit, arising from Sheehan's own investigation involving seventy sources, spins the tale of an arms-for-drugs-forguns-for-money enterprise extending from the far reaches of Southeast Asia three decades ago to Central America in the 1980s. The narrative picks up against a God father Part II backdrop of rip-roaring Havana circa 1959, overtaken by socialist revolution. Conspiracies unfurl posthaste. Richard Nixon meets with security-specialist-cum-private-spy Robert Maheu to discuss means of undermining the new Cuban government.
Maheu contacts the underworld elite: John Roselli, Sam Giancana, Santos Trafficante. They assemble a team of assassins to "supplement" the supersecret National Security Council "Operation 40," aimed at toppling Castro.
Members of Operation 40 also smuggle drugs into the United States from Cuba. Use of the Mafia leads to some "problems of control," but the operation carries on.
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.
Throughout the winter and spring, as Sheehan talked to Wheaton and Jenkins, he had something else on his mind: a two-year-old bombing in Nicaragua. On May 30, 1984, a bomb had exploded at a press conference in La Penca, Nicaragua, held by Eden Pastora, a maverick Contra leader who resisted cooperating with the CIA and the main Contra force. Several people were killed, but not Pastora. Afterward, Tony Avirgan, an American journalist who suffered shrapnel wounds at La Penca, and his wife, Martha Honey, set out to uncover who had plotted the attack. A year later, they produced a book that charged a small group of Americans and Cuban exiles-some with ties to the CIA and the Contras-with planning the murderous assault. One of the persons they fingered was John Hull, a Contra supporter with a spread in northern Costa Rica and a relationship with North and the CIA. Their report noted that some Contra supporters were moonlighting in the drug trade.
Hull sued the couple for libel in Costa Rica. He demanded $1 million. Avirgan and Honey, who lived in San Jose, received death threats. They considered retaliating by filing a lawsuit in the States against individuals in the secret Contra-support network. But they could find no lawyer to take such a difficult case. Eventually Sheehan was recommended to them. They checked him out. The reports were mixed. But he had one undeniable positive attribute: he would accept the case. The couple retained him.
Come late spring of 1986, Sheehan was mixing with spooks in the Washington area, and he was pondering how to craft a lawsuit for Avirgan and Honey. He collected information on the Contra operation. He drew closer to Wheaton, who had a new tale every time they met. Then Sheehan made a pilgrimage to meet the dark angel of the covert crowd: Ed Wilson.
The imprisoned rogue officer made Sheehan's head swim. The essence of Wilson's story, Sheehan claimed, was that the Agency in 1976 had created a highly secretive counter terrorist unit modeled on the PRUs of Vietnam and had run this entity apart from the main bureaucracy. The mission: conduct "wet operations" (spy talk for assassinations). After the election of Jimmy Carter, this group was erased from the books and hidden in private companies, and Shackley was the man in charge of the unit both in and out of government. The program was divided into different components. CIA man William Buckley supposedly had directed one out of Mexico with Quintero and Ricardo Chavez. Another unit was headed by a former Mossad officer. Felix Rodriguez was involved in yet one more in the Mideast. Sheehan took Wilson at his word. "Wilson went into such detail," Sheehan later maintained. "It's not something that's being made up."
At one point after Sheehan met with Wilson, it dawned on him: everything was connected. The La Penca bombing, the North-Contra network, the Wilson gang, all those CIA-trained Cuban exiles, the whole history of Agency dirty tricks, the operations against Castro, the war in Laos, the nasty spook side of the Vietnam War, clandestine Agency action in Iran. It was an ongoing conspiracy. It did not matter if these guys were in or out of government. It was a villainous government within a government, a plot that had existed for decades, a permanent criminal enterprise. Sheehan had a unified held theory of covert U.S. history. And Shackley was the evil Professor Moriarty, the man who pulled all the strings. The avenging Sheehan now was determined to take Shackley down.
Sheehan melded the La Penca bombing case to his Wheaton - influenced investigation of the old-boy network. Avirgan and Honey shared with him all the information they carefully had developed on the Contra support operation. Names and stories he threw at them - including Shackley's - were unfamiliar. They took it on faith that Sheehan knew what he was doing when he blended the results of their professional investigation with the grab-bag of information he had collected from Wheaton, Wilson, and others. "We saw John Hull as the center, and Sheehan saw it as Shackley," Honey recalled. "Shackley was the main ingredient. I don't know why Danny fixated on him. He told us he had lots of information on Shackley's involvement in La Penca. That was b.s. But what do we know, sitting in Costa Rica?" Sheehan was looking for a case he could play before a large audience. He repeatedly told Avirgan and Honey the public did not care about La Penca. But people would pay notice if the enemy was one grand conspiracy headed by a dastardly figure.
Sheehan applied the resources of his small Christic Institute to the case. Wheaton continued investigating the Wilson crowd and other covert sorts. He started telling Jenkins that he believed he was chasing a decades-old, top-secret assassination unit. Wheaton claimed it had begun with an assassination training program for Cuban exiles that Shackley had set up in the early 1960s. The target was Castro. The secret war against Cuba faded, but the "Shooter Team" continued. It expanded and was now called the Fish Farm, and Shackley remained its chief.
Sheehan knitted together all this spook gossip and misinformation with a few hard facts, and on May 29, 1986, he dropped the load. In a Miami federal court, Sheehan filed a lawsuit against thirty individuals, invoking the RICO antiracketeering law and accusing all of being part of a criminal conspiracy that trained, financed, and armed Cuban-American mercenaries in Nicaragua, smuggled drugs, violated the Neutrality Act by supporting the Contras, traded various weapons, and bombed the press conference at La Penca. Sheehan's plaintiffs were journalists Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey. The conspirators were far-flung: John Hull in Costa Rica; Cuban exiles based in Miami (including Quintero); drug lords Pablo Escobar and Jorge Ochoa in Colombia; arms dealers in Florida; Contra leader Adolfo Calero; an Alabama mercenary named Tom Posey; Robert Owen, a secret North aide; the unknown bomber at La Penca; and Singlaub, Hakim, Secord, Clines, and Shackley. Sheehan alleged that Shackley had peddled arms illegally, plotted to kill Pastora, and (with Secord, Clines, and Hakim) accepted money from drug sales for arms shipments. Sheehan demanded over $23 million in damages.
With this lawsuit, Sheehan believed, he could break up the Contra support operation and cast into the light shadowy characters who had been up to mischief for years. Sheehan and Wheaton had stumbled across some real players and some real operations. But they both possessed hyperactive imaginations, and whatever truth they did uncover they had twisted into a false, cosmic conspiracy.
The filing-drafted sloppily by Sheehan-surprised Shackley and his fellow defendants. Hoven and Jenkins were stunned. Neither expected Sheehan to produce such a storm. Sheehan clearly was in this for politics and ego. He was not about to be a quiet disseminator of information. "I had been left with the assumption," Hoven noted, "that I was set up to pass information to Sheehan. But they" - whoever they were - "mucked it up because Sheehan was not playing it close to the script."
(7) Daniel Sheehan, speech at Southern Oregon University (9th January, 2003)
The John F. Kennedy - liberal John F. Kennedy School - said that, Ever since George Washington warned his country against foreign entanglements, empire abroad has been seen as Americas permanent temptation, but also its potential nemesis." Yet what word but empire could possibly describe the awesome thing that America is now becoming? It is the only nation that polices the world through five global military commands, maintains more than a million men at arms on four continents, deploys carrier battle groups on every one of our planets oceans, guarantees the survival of countries from Israel to South Korea, drives the wheels of global trade and commerce and fills the hearts and minds of our entire planet with its desires.
John Quincy Adams warning in 1821 now becomes stark and pertinent. He said, If America were ever tempted to become the dictator of the world, she would surely no longer be the ruler of her own spirit. For what empire lavishes abroad cannot possibly spend on maintaining republican government at home: on hospitals or roads or schools. Distended military budgets only aggravate Americas continuing failure to keep its egalitarian promise to itself and to the world, and these are only a few of the costs of empire.
Other costs are detaining American citizens without charge or access to legal counsel in military brigs; imprisoning foreign combatants in island prisons, in a legal limbo; keeping lawful aliens, and even American citizens, under permanent, illegal surveillance at home, while deporting some aliens after only secret hearings. These are not the actions of a republic that lives by the rule of law or by its Constitution, but of an imperial power which in fact distrusts its own liberties.
And he goes on in this vein for several pages, actually, predictably critiquing this extremely conservative foreign policy of the Bush administration and pointing out that on September 11, he said, was a rude awakening, a moment of reckoning with the avenging hatred which this imperial policy raises around the world. American citizens may not have thought of the Twin Trade Towers and the U.S. Pentagon as symbolic headquarters of a world empire, but numberless millions across the world do. And these men and women cheered the men with box cutters and their propagandistic deed of September 11.
And this goes on in this vein - and this is, I guess, only to be expected from the liberal John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. But surprisingly enough, rather than continue in the article by condemning this totally conservative foreign policy on the part of the new Bush administration and setting forth a clear, liberal alternative, what in fact Professor Ignatieff does - and it comes from recognizing, which I hadnt recognized to begin with, that the name of the article is not simply, The American Empire. It is, The American Empire: Get Used to It.
For he goes on - rather than setting forth a clear alternative policy - to point out, saying, Why should such a republic ever take on the risk of becoming an empire? Doesnt this run the chance of endangering its identity as a free people? The problem is, he says, that this question implies the existence of innocent options, which in the case of Iraq do not exist. Iraq is not just a question about whether the United States can retain its republican virtue in a wicked world, for virtuous disengagement is no longer a possibility. Since September 11, the question has now become whether our republic can possibly survive in safety without imperial policing abroad.
He said, Containment, rather than a war, would be the better course. But the Bush administration has concluded that containment has now reached its limits. And this conclusion is not unreasonable. He says that, The possession of weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein - for this would render him the master of the region which contains so much of the worlds oil resources that it makes that region what a military strategist might call the center of gravity of any intended empire.
And he goes on in this vein to point out that what his real criticism of this conservative imperial policy is that it simply does not adequately share the policing power of the New Imperium with our European allies in our allied field. He also points out that in fact the other criticism of this is it does not adequately link together the massive bombing - the upcoming bombing, as he refers to it - of Iraq with, in fact, an adequate policy to bring peace to the entire Middle East. He said that just bombing Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein doesnt really ensure the establishment of a democratic set of institutions in Iraq, and so therefore he criticizes the policies of the administration by not going far enough in being an imperial power.
In addition to simply bombing Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein, he said, we must get into building an entire culture in Iraq that is predicated upon democratic principles and free-market principles - and if were going to do this, then of course, he says, we have to open a dialogue with Iran, the next-door neighbor, so it wont feel threatened by the existence of a democratic republic in its next-door neighbor. And then, of course, were going to have to convince the Saudis, the House of Saud, that they will have to begin to import more democratic institutions. And in fact were going to have to convince the Kuwaiti royal family that they would have to do something similar. And of course were going to have to assure the Turks that in fact were not going to support the Kurds in establishing a free homeland, and were going to have to persuade the Kurds not to continue to demand a free homeland.
And so what he says is that, The real question isnt whether the United States is becoming too powerful. The question is - from the perspective of the liberal critique - are we becoming powerful enough to actually successfully assert the full powers of empire, which he recommends we prepare to do.
(8) Mark Gabrish Conlan interviewed Daniel Sheehan for Zenger Magazine (2003)
Mark Gabrish Conlan: We are in a society where the conservative world-view is becoming so ascendant, it controls the entire government, virtually the entire media, and the Right is looking for and hunting down the last pockets of resistance in the religious community, in academia and in the media.
Daniel Sheehan: Its actually a reactionary world-view. The distinctions between the merely conservative world-view and the reactionary world-view are very real and very specific. They have an entirely different cosmology. They have an entirely different theory of the role of the human family in the unfolding of the universe. They have an entirely different theory of the mode of ethical reasoning that ought to be applied in evaluating different policies. Theyre very different from mere conservatives, or from moderates.
The long history of the Republican party has predominantly been one of a moderate to conservative world-view. Everett Dirksen and all the old classic Republicans, Eisenhower and the others, are not the same as the reactionaries. McCarthy types was an extreme reactionary. Right now you have William Kristol, Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and those guys, who are unabashed advocates of a reactionary world-view, who have basically hijacked the administration of President George W. Bush.
Its unfortunate because George Bush, Sr., who was in fact more of a conservative, went about getting his son chosen to be the Republican nominee for the Presidency basically to have him undertake a full additional term to carry out his fathers conservative world-view. He picked him because he was so malleable and would likely submit to his fathers proposals. Unfortunately, William Kristol and these other reactionaries have surrounded Bush Jr., and he has followed them in this much more reactionary world-view. So its not hard to predict where theyre going and what the policies are that theyre going to be advocating here if they get actually elected in 2004.
Mark Gabrish Conlan: I know youve described the reactionary world-view as essentially one in which might makes right and the strongest prevail.
Daniel Sheehan: Not exactly. The might-makes-right world-view is the authoritarian world-view. Its a world-view that gravitates towards autocracy, one particular all-powerful person like Genghis Khan or Caesar. The reactionary world-view is a dialectical one which actually believes that a whole community - a larger tribal community - derives its primary value from engaging in a dialectical struggle with some ultimate Other tribe. Thats how they generate their sense of self-value.
The authoritarian world-view is that the whole world is complete chaos, theres a threat of chaos looming everywhere, and therefore we all have to be willing to give up our own personal freedom to some very strong individual who will in fact dictate to us what we have to do in order to be safe in an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable world. Now that is much more kind of crazed than the reactionary world-view, which actually believes that it can discern a dialectical pattern underlying reality.
Ironically enough - its one of those little-known facts about a well-known subject - it turns out that both state capitalists - fascists - and state Communists are both reactionary world-views. The struggle between capitalism and Communism was a combat between two equal adversaries who were adherent to the reactionary world-views. The fascists believed that the primary struggle was going on between the Übermensch, the elite Caucasian super-race, the pinnacle of all biological evolution, in dialectical struggle against the aboriginal people. The Communists believed that the fundamental dialectical struggle goes on between the capitalist class and the proletariat: a class struggle as distinct from a racial struggle. But both of them adhered to the same basic world-view. The Communists were not in fact any further Left than the state capitalists were. You have to go to the Left of both of them to come to a mere conservative world-view.
Mark Gabrish Conlan: One of the things weve seen since the September 11 attack is the reactionaries have said, Well, see? This proves it. We are right that we can no longer debate that the world is in a state of constant struggle. This has proved it. They have declared war on us. They hate us. They hate us because were rich and free, and all this stuff. This is no longer open for debate. We can no longer ignore the threat. All we can talk about is how best to deal with it.
Daniel Sheehan: Its important to remember they were talking about that before September 11. If you read the report of the Project for a New American Century, you will see that these exact same people were saying the exact same stuff back in 1991. They were aggressively advocating all of the same policies. It was all set forth fully, in writing, by Bill Kristol and all these other people, advocating that we had to undertake a military attack against Saddam Hussein. There was actual discussion going on within the Bush administration, right after they came into power in January of 2001, of how and when they were going to launch a military strike against Iraq. They were planning it, and they were sending military information to the Pentagon to start running war-game scenarios and everything. So the question of who it was that was planning to attack whom becomes very important.
Mark Gabrish Conlan: They could come back and say, Well, yes, certainly we were talking about that before 9/11, because before 9/11 we thought this was how the world works. Now we know this is how the world works. Now we know we were right all along.
Daniel Sheehan: What they were actually saying was that they knew it beforehand. They knew it so much that they were getting ready to do it. Youve got an administration with the most powerful military in the world planning a massive military assault in Middle East, and theyre giving instructions to the Pentagon to start preparing for this whole thing. Then all of a sudden the other side attacks. Thats what they call pre-emptive warfare, which is exactly the policy that the administration is endorsing ironically enough.
Thats really what September 11 was about. If it had gone according to plan, September 11 would have been substantially more effective than it was. If the third plane had actually hit the Pentagon directly, instead of just off to the side, it would have knocked out the entire air-conditioning system for the Pentagon complex. It would have melted down the central computer system for the entire United States military. And if the fourth plane had actually gone on and hit the White House and/or the Capitol Building and killed those people, it would have been a dramatically effective attack against the most powerful economic and military power in the world.
Its that old adage that if one is going to shoot the king, youd better get him. And they didnt. But if they had if they had killed a substantial portion of the American Congress and had blown up the White House and had melted down the entire computer system of the United States Pentagon and totally pulverized the twin towers of the World Trade Center, that would have been a substantial and effective pre-emptive military strike on the part of the Islamic world.
So, while we all uniformly condemn what they did, its important to keep a perspective on what it was they were responding to. They had every reason in the world to know that this Bush administration, under the influence of Project for a New American Century, was in fact actively planning major military operations in the Middle East whether these people responded or not. So they planned and attempted to carry out what they thought was the most effective possible thing that they could do to try to blunt that type of military operation which, of course, they failed to do, and suffered the consequences of a highly mobilized and still very effective U.S. military.
Mark Gabrish Conlan: I still have the feeling sometimes it comes from the famous line in George Orwells 1984 - that its possible that the victory of the reactionary world-view will be so total that there simply wont be the words or the thoughts to express any alternatives.
Daniel Sheehan: Theres no doubt whatsoever that the advocates of this reactionary world-view believe that is, in effect, what ought to happen: that all of these kinds of subversive, insidious types of ideas ought to be eliminated from public discourse. You can see it on the Fox channel. If you watch the Fox channel, youll see that anybody who is invited to be on the Fox channel who doesnt share their reactionary world-view is just harangued, browbeaten and insulted, to the point where those people cant even get in a full sentence. I dont know why anybody that believes in anything other than kind of total state fascism is so crazy as to go on the Fox network, because thats what they do.
Their news is that way too. They have commentators that basically stand up and just spew at everybody about this kind of Right-wing reactionary world-view, and how anybody who even raised a question about it is unpatriotic and ought to be hunted down and purged, like Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon and all the others who get disinvited even to come and participate in social events. (Robbins and Sarandon were disinvited from a showing of their film Bull Durham at the Baseball Hall of Fame because of their anti-war political activities.)
Mark Gabrish Conlan: Yet another thing Orwell wrote in 1984 is that in order to maintain this state of constant combat, the enemy has to be kept alive; that in order to sustain the liberal-bashing the Fox channel does to its audience, there have to be liberals to bash.
Daniel Sheehan: That doesnt necessarily follow, because one of the things you see in a dynamic like this is that they move farther and farther and farther to the Right all the time. They constantly need to have an ultimate Other, some ultimate Other enemy, and as they eliminate the larger groups that might resist them, they spend the same exact energy going after the smaller and smaller groups. But they never stop. After theyve eliminated anyone who genuinely disagrees with them, they start going after people who dont even disagree with them. Or they start going after people who they suspect might possibly disagree with them. Eventually they turn on themselves and start eating away at their own tails. Theyll start working their way up through their own ranks of eliminating people who are perceived to be less and less orthodox.
Weve seen this before. This world-view has manifested itself a number of times in the past, but most recently in the Third Reich in Germany but also in Stalins Russia. Its the exact same world-view. So thats what we really see happening, and thats why its so important that they not be allowed to really be elected to office. You know, its one thing for them to have gotten in by chicanery and artifice, you know, by having the seven of the nine Justices who were appointed by Dads administration vote them in.