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Lloyd Bentsen for a U.S. Senate seat in 1970; a tour as influence over President Ford than was assumed. had, indeed, been cut off.
Ambassador to the United Nations, in which he On February 18, 1976, the Ford White House caught One continuing problem was the revelation of CIA
encountered every imaginable foreign-affairs issue; manipulation of public opinion in this country. Case
the unsuspecting congressional committees by surprise.
yeoman service as Chair of the beleaguered Republican By issuing Executive Order 11905, “to establish policies officers from the Lusaka, Zambia station, had planted
National Committee during the darkest hours of Nixon™s to improve the quality of intelligence needed for national propaganda in the U.S. press in late September 1975-&t
term; and the stint in Beijing. security [and] to clarify the authority and responsibilities Soviets were in Angola, advising government forces. In
only those who worked closely with Bush knew that, of the intelligence departments and agencies”, Ford fact, there was no evidence for this claim, but the Agency
in the UN job, he had deferred alternately to the State preempted a statute whereby Congress could tell the continued planting disinformation about Cuban soldiers
Department and to his own staff. He loyally obeyed Executive what to do. Ironically, although this committing nonexistent atrocities. In February 1976, a
detailed instructions from Henry Kissinger, as well. reorganization of the intelligence community would CIA-sponsored, freelance journalist reported falsely in the
Washington Post that South Africans were not assisting
Similarly, insiders knew how completely irrelevant he had become one of the hallmarks of his service as the
been to U.S.-China policy. Agency™s Director, Bush had nearly nothing to do with it. Savimbi.
Despite Bush™s public persona as a world statesman, The CIA continued to deny to congressional
It had been worked out over the previous six months by
until his job as Director of the CIA, he had actually been committees that arms were still being shipped to the
two Ford advisers.
a messenger carrying out orders for the Nixon and Ford The Senate Intelligence Committee, sensing that it Angolan rebels when, in fact, they continued to be
Administrations. shipped, through allies in the region. As each detail about
lacked public support for extending its inquiry, struck a
Kissinger cabled Bush in Beijing with the offer of illegalities and improper aid was revealed, Bush first
secret arrangement with Bush and the CIA, according to
CIA Director on November 1, 1975. Bush consulted his two of the Committee™s senior staff members. denied, then admitted the CIA wrongdoing, adding that he
wife, Barbara, before accepting. Only two weeks earlier, Rather than move to a new oversight process, there had just learned the news.
Kissinger had been in Beijing to arrange for President When Bush went to the Hill for closed-door briefings,
would be a break, during which the Committee would
Ford™s December trip to China, but he hadn™t mentioned neither set specific reporting requirements nor pass he shared little he had learned about the Angolan situation
and then, in generalities. Here, according to those who
the offer. legislation. Bush would share information with the
By the time Bush returned to Washington, key Committee, with both parties understanding that a more attended the briefings, he seemed sincere and cooperative.
Republicans from the House and Senate had asked him to When necessary, Bush brought along aides who were
cooperative oversight relationship would evolve over time.
withdraw from consideration for Vice President, to prevent For Bush, it was imperative to get the Agency back to familiar with the matter at hand. He soon found he was
any implication of politicizing the CIA. business. The most pressing priority was to restore the not easily second-guessed by his audiences on the Hill.
As he prepared for confirmation hearings in mid- Offering committee members greater detail than
confidence and morale of the thousands of agents who felt
December, he began hearing from old friends that he had that their actions would be examined and criticized by before, and patiently listening to their advice, Bush
been “a damned fool to say yes” and give up his own Congress and the press. restored a foreign policy of secret consensus between the
political future. His Yale classmate and fellow Skull & Bush “took pride in the morale-building sessions...he Administration and key Republicans and Democrats, about
Bones member, Thomas Ludlow “Lud” Ashley, a House containing Soviet and Cuban expansion in Southern
considers this one of his real accomplishments. I find that
Democrat at the time, asked Bush, “What the fuck do you Africa.
a little strange,” says his friend, Lud Ashley, who spoke
know about intelligence?™ often with Bush about his experience as Director. One by one, the elected offtcials bought into the plan.
“Ask me in six weeks,” a confident Bush responded As he settled into the CIA job, Bush continued his According to two senior government officials, limited
(not daring to mention that-based on our information- pep-rally approach to management. Bush™s perception of actions in Angola were on again-justified to phase out
he™d been on the CIA payroll for at least 15 years). his responsibility was to deliver information to the the larger, earlier operations.
At the end of January, Bush was confirmed by the By spring, Bush felt he had the Agency on solid
President, and not to implement policy or linger at the
Senate. As he moved into the CIA™s Langley, Virginia, table as a decision-maker. ground with the congressional oversight committees, but
headquarters, he took control of the most inbred He considered himself uninvolved in major foreign- there was one lingering problem: alleviating resentment in
bureaucracy in government. Room 7D5607 was an Congress. toward certain Agency personnel. Bush knew
policy decisions. For those around Ford, this helped Bush
unattractive, cramped, L-shaped office. It had a square as a buffer with the Hill; he was the honest broker, not a changes had to be made, but he decided to allow the
sitting area, with a column incongruously placed in the bureaucracy to guide his appointments to the upper
player calling the shots.
middle, a cramped alcove housing the Director™s desk and While Bush had done little but accept instructions echelon. From the time of his confirmation, Bush relied
picture windows overlooking a panorama of the Virginia principally on E. Henry Knoche, a CIA veteran, who
from Washington, he now sat at the Cabinet table. What
woods nearby. helped coordinate Colby™s and Bush™s responses to the
he brought to the table was largely what his deputies
In his first months on the job, Bush focused on pushed. There were few opportunities to exercise his own congressional committees.
altering the Agency to satisfy Capitol Hill. Bush™s central Bush “relied on Knoche, because he knew the place”,
initiative, even if he desired. If Bush had been deferential
charge would be to control the House and Senate and loyal to his staff in previous jobs, he became almost notes one old hand. Knoche was considered the “general
Intelligence Committees. obedient to those he was overseeing in the new job. manager of the store”. Another career officer puts it
The more hostile of the two, the House Committee, With the lingering odor of past abuses stifling support differently. He says Knoche knew “where the bodies were
chaired by New York Democrat Otis Pike, soon gave buried or half-buried”.
for new adventures, Bush™s year at the CIA was one in
Bush an unexpected opportunity. On February 11 and 18, Bush also turned to William Wells, a career covert
which covert operations intensified with greater secrecy
1976, the Village Voice published a copy of the “Pike operator who had graduated ahead of him at Yale, as
than ever.
Committee Report”, later acquired through CBS A month later, on Wells™
Some of the problems he™d inherited concerning covert Deputy for Operations.
correspondent Daniel Schorr. The CIA argued that the operations lingered on. The Senate committee wanted to recommendation, Bush appointed Theodore Shackley to
report contained information that endangered U.S. agents Associate Deputy Director for Operations. A third career
know more, for example, about what was going on in
and compromised the country™s intelligence-gathering Angola, since the Senate had prohibited any financial covert operator, John Waller, became Inspector General,
capability. support to Jonas Savimbi™s rebel forces there. responsible for monitoring internal improprieties.
Professionals in the ranks were split over the changes.
Overnight, the political mood shifted from support of Bush™s greatest asset in carrying the Angola ball
Page 14 CONTACT: THE PHOENIX JOURNAL DECEMBER 6, 1999

Some, particularly analysts and post-Vietnam War in- Cuban ex-CIA agents to assassinate Chilean exiles in political maneuvers in Washington; the Philippines Secret
house critics, thought the fox had won a long-term lease Portugal and France, through a regional counter-terrorist Police needed reports on anti-Marcos forces, and so forth.
organization known as Operation Condor.
on the henhouse. Others, particularly those serving in As a result of legislation and the intelligence reforms
Headed by Chile, Operation Condor included agents
operations, thought the correct message was being of the previous year, though, the CIA was banned from
communicated: Covert actions are specialty items. It from Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay- domestic surveillance, including watching foreign
takes specialists to run them; it takes specialists to dedicated to tracking down “subversives” throughout the opposition movements based in the United States. In
investigate them. hemisphere. The details of the plot were passed to the short, the CIA had less and less to share with its
Throughout the falI of 1975 and spring of 1976, news CIA™s intelligence liaisons in Portugal and France, and counterparts abroad.
stories about a new strain of intelligence abuses surfaced they squelched it. The information Bush wanted could be obtained-the
on Capitol Hill; this time committed not by the CIA, but In these cases, Bush™s CIA proved capable of averting CIA™s clandestine operators assured him-if Bush made it
by intelligence agencies of regimes friendly to the United attacks planned by its friends. Unfortunately for targets of clear that the CIA would not crack down on “cooperative”
States. A standard feature of the internal-security similar plots, the Agency did not develop any way of intelligence-agency activities and report their plans to the
apparatus of these allies-Argentina, Chile, Iran, Israel, dealing with such terrorist threats. On June 16, 1976, FBI. At that point, according to a still-active CIA official,
the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea and Taiwan- U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Francis E. Meloy, Jr., his Bush made a tactical judgment, ˜one of the few of his
had been harassment of opposition figures, both driver and the Embassy™s Economic Counselor were career. He wanted to concentrate on collecting more
domestically and abroad. Some of these countries™ assassinated on their way to a meeting with Lebanese information on terrorist activities around the world. To get
intelligence operatives, especially the Koreans, were President-elect, Elias Sarkis. President Ford convened an it, the CIA had to cooperate with friendly foreign agencies
courting members of Congress with campaign emergency meeting to focus on the potential danger to in the United States. No further pressure would be
contributions, bribes and favors, ranging from ersatz other Americans in Lebanon. brought on rogue operations of “cooperative” intelligence
antiques to party girls. agencies. He would try to find ways to help them, rather
The crisis group-Ford, Bush, Kissinger, National
A growing number in the post-Watergate Democratic Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Defense than to curtail their activities.
Congress found this particularly unattractive. They felt Secretary William Clements, Jr. and Chairman of the Joint A new round of damaging self-examination was not a
continued unrestrained activities of these foreign Chiefs of Staff George Brown-convened four times in pleasant prospect for Bush. He had recently spoken
intelligence services threatened to undermine congressional four days. publicly about the Agency™s success in overcoming its
and public confidence in the agency again. On this occasion, Bush moved beyond information- adversarial relationship with Congress. “How we can
To worsen matters, reports had come to Bush about provider, feeling that the murder meant a “new, more ferret out corruption has given way to the more serious
preparations by Cuban-American veterans of the CIA™s dangerous level of terrorist activity in Beirut”. This would question of how we can get better intelligence,” Bush said
on ABC™s Issues and Answers. Oversight, Bush said, was
Miami station-including some who remained on the warrant ordering Americans to evacuate, a move Kissinger
informant payroll-to attack pro-Castro targets. opposed. Ford agreed with Bush: A Navy task force no longer to see if “everybody at the CIA is a bunch of
Previously viewed as freedom fighters, these Cuban- moved in and evacuated 166 people. crooks”, but to improve the job the intelligence agencies
Americans had become reckless terrorists, over whom the Bush was thrilled with his expanded role. He went were doing. Bush dreaded having to watch the adversarial
CIA had lost all control. back to the Agency, anxious to follow through with more relationship reemerge. Any indication that the CIA was
In June, four Cuban-American organizations joined information. For the first time in his career, he was really operating “off the books” would surely spawn precisely
together to form CURO, or the Command of United a center-stage actor on a par with Kissinger. Bush wanted that reaction.
Revolutionary Organizations. to know what the Agency could do to react to this new Bush™s tenure at the CIA would end at President
CUR0 was formed to build political support for Carter™s inauguration but, until the end, Attorney General
terrorist threat.
overthrowing Castro, and its members began working The analytical side of the CIA had little that could Levi pursued criminal cases against CIA officials and
directly with the intelligence agencies of the right-wing help Bush. The National Security Agency had overheard demanded CIA documents. Most disturbing to the Agency
regimes in Chile, Paraguay and Nicaragua. After a millions of conversations from special listening posts and was the accumulated evidence in a possible prosecution of
CUR0 meeting at Bonao, a mountain resort in the satellites around the world and was beginning to process former CIA Director Richard Helms, for lying to Congress
Dominican Republic, consistent reports of planned this through its new, advanced Cray computers. But the about the Agency™s involvement in the overthrow of
bombings and political assassinations filtered back to the results were largely useless, according to a ranking Chilean President, Salvador Allende.
CIA. Although the CIA™s own three-person team had
intelligence official, because Bush and his predecessors
Within six weeks, bombs exploded at the Cuban had ignored warnings that the expanded technological recommended in December 1974 that Helms be
United Nations mission in New York and at four other taking of intercepted signals would not be processed prosecuted, the Agency dragged its heels until after Bush
locations in the hemisphere. The first terrorist war in the took office. But in March 1976, former Ambassador to
without more money.
Americas was under way, and it was being waged by Bush had been granted the responsibility-for the first Chile Edward Korry forwarded a letter to Levi, directly
agents trained and paid by the CIA. time in CIA history-to control the budgets of all contradicting what Helms and several other witnesses told
The CIA had never restrained “friendly” intelligence intelligence agencies. There was virtually nothing the the Senate Intelligence Committee.
agencies and was reluctant to preempt Cuban-American, Helms™ lawyer, Edward Bennett Williams, used his
Agency analysts could do to assess, or help combat, the
anti-Castro activity. The acts, including illegal ones, were terrorists in Lebanon. So Bush turned to the clandestine position on the President™s Foreign Intelligence Advisory
occurring mostly outside the United States. Even when operators, who routinely collect human intelligence abroad. Board to argue against an indictment, according to a
these acts were plotted inside the United States, they were Within the clandestine service side of the Agency, the knowledgeable official. To indict Helms would be unfair,
officially the FBI™s responsibility. Meloy assassination raised serious questions. Most Williams claimed, because his client had not wanted to
Unless the Agency continued to look the other way, it mislead or lie to the committee but only to honor his oath
intelligence from Lebanon came from three sources:
would open a Pandora™s box of congressional Mossad, Israel™s intelligence service; SAVAK, Iran™s to keep the CIA™s secrets. Bush interceded to argue that
investigation. Hoping to avoid years of additional inquiry, intelligence service; and a limited group of Lebanese the outgoing administration should drop the Helms case,
Bush™s aides kept him free of “irrelevant details”, thus Phalangists and assorted rightists taken out of the Athens rather than leave him to the mercy of the new Democratic
maximizing his ability to deny there was a problem. administration.
CIA station by Richard Welch.
Reports of Cuban-American activity were handled In this case, as in others, Bush found himself at odds
In general, the ability to keep up files on opposition
routinely within the bureaucracy below, and rogue parties, dissidents and expatriate political factions in any with the Justice Department. He was also unhappy when
operations were seldom reined-in. There were, however, country depends on the cooperation of the host the Department, despite the CIA™s request, declined for the
second time to prosecute Washington Post reporter Bob
exceptions to this. government. With Welch™s murder the previous
In February 1976, the CIA blew the whistle on December, the Agency had become more dependent on Woodward, according to an official in the Department at
Orlando Bosch, a Miami pediatrician and anti-Castro information from Israel and Iran. that time. On December 12, 1976, Woodward had
organizer. Bosch was detained by Costa Rican police for U.S. intelligence officials felt they needed to published the first account of CIA electronic surveillance
plotting to assassinate Henry Kissinger, who had been The Korean CIA was of government representatives from Micronesia. Bush™s
reciprocate to get cooperation.
conducting negotiations to improve relations with Cuba. interested in Korean dissidents in the United States; job was to protect the CIA™s sources and methods. He
The CIA also intervened when officials learned the SAVAK wanted to know the movements of the Shah™s believed Woodward and his sources had violated the
Signals Intelligence Act, which makes it a felony to
Chilean Intelligence Service (DINA) was planning to use opposition; Mossad wanted information on Palestinian
CONTACT: THE PHOENIX JOURNAL Page 15
DECEMBER 6, 1999

“knowingly and willfully” publish- “in any manner Eventually, Moore was prosecuted under Levi™s terms.
the Warren Commission would probably cause Helms
prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States™- “some anxious moments”, though not “any additional legal But Bush succeeded in stalling, if not in actually
any classified information concerning the CIA codes, problems”. But Bush was assured that a “slightly better” preventing, the prosecutions of those associated with the
story had resulted from an Agency phone call to AP,
ciphers, communications intelligence activities or CIA™s role in Chile, the Wilson affair and the
equipment used in cryptographic or communications protesting that Martin™s story was “sloppy”. Additionally, assassination of Orlando Letelier.
intelligence. Bush was told that an unnamed journalist had “advised his Eventually, these cases would be acted upon more
editors.. .not to run the AP story”.
When Bush had arrived at the CIA, a series of cases vigorously by Jimmy Carter™s Director of Central
designed to find and punish reporters and their sources Intelligence, Stansfield Turner. When Turner began his
Bolten complained to Bush: ˜This is another example
was being pushed forward by Kissinger, former Secretary where material provided to the press and public, in own internal investigations, however, he would find
response to an FOZA request, is exploited mischievously
of Defense Schlesinger and National Security Adviser Bush™s closest aides most resistant.
Scowcroft. These men, despite the reservations of A decade later, Bush included a most curious version
and is distorted to make headlines.” One might more
outgoing Director William Colby, had urged Attorney of the Moore story in his autobiography. There, he
accurately describe it as an occasion where Bush™s CIA
General Edward Levi to prosecute four journalists--l\rew pressured one news outlet to back away from an accurate described the case as his “biggest fight to protect CIA
York Times reporters Seymour Hersh, Nicholas Hot-rock, story, while using a connection in the press corps to sources”. In Bush™s account, his angry objection to the
Woodward and Tad Szulc. suppress it in another. Watergate reference intimidated Levi, causing him to cave
But Levi and his staff, along with White House in.
Stung by revelations in the ™70s about the CIA™s
lawyers and political staffers, were reluctant to prosecute. The author of Bush™s biography, Victor Gold, says
hiring of journalists as spies, the Agency drafted
They had serious doubts that the Signals Zntelligence Act that the emphasis on the Moore case was his own choice,
regulations to prevent such practices. Researcher Robert
applied to journalists. They also worried that the political Gardner obtained a copy of the CIA policy “relations with an editorial decision to liven up the book. Gold
climate, still heated from Watergate and the intelligence Journalists and Staff of U.S. News Media Organizations” acknowledges that he had never heard about Bush™s role
scandals, would make prosecution look like an attempt in the more important cases: Helms, Wilson and Letelier.
and found that it contains loopholes big enough to drive
either to intimidate or to punish one of the journalists who Bush™s spokesman, Steven Hart, says he cannot speak
truckloads of contra aid through.
had uncovered Watergate. about those cases: “Before my time. Only the Vice
The rules prohibit “relationships” with journalists
Levi asked Bush to release sufficient sensitive President knows the answers.” But Bush has repeatedly
accredited by U.S. media outlets, or the use of these
information concerning the published revelations on refused to be interviewed about his days as CIA Director,
outlets™ names for intelligence purposes. The policy does
Micronesia to convince a jury that their publication had emphasizing his oath to protect “methods and sources”.
not prohibit the hiring of freelance journalists, and it
damaged national security. Bush balked-the stakes were Interviews with former aides and current officials, as
allows the CIA to recruit “non-journalist staff
too great for the CIA to confirm its role. As he had well as a careful examination of the record, suggests that
employees”-librarians, sound technicians and camera
before, Levi said he would not go further without it. Bush played the role of a cheerleader and a front man not
persons (?&of media outlets, if authorization is given by
At the end of December, Levi wrote Bush, insisting senior media management. knowing--or wanting to know-of certain operations. He
that the CIA declassify and release the evidence about ignored repeated signals that rogue, “off-the-books”
According to documents recently released under the
Freedom of Information Act, debate continued through
Helms and Chile that the prosecutors needed, or explain operations by former agents were out of control.
why it was being withheld. Inexplicable holes in Bush was even more paralyzed in dealing with other
phone calls and meetings until Levi and Bush agreed to let
documents were unacceptable. Levi cited “the President™s the President resolve the dispute. On January 17, three countries™ intelligence agencies, which were harassing,
stated position on this matter” in calling for prompt release days before Carter™s inauguration, they discussed the case wiretapping, beating, kidnapping and intimidating their
of the missing materials. His staff made it clear to Bush™s in Brent Scowcroft™s office. Levi, scheduled to appear exile populations in the United States. In 1976, after Bush
aides that they thought the CIA™s attitude was “casual” decided not to restrain “cooperative” foreign intelligence
before the Supreme Court later that day, was dressed in a
and “cavalier” and that. the Agency was, in effect, morning suit, white tie and tails. He argued that if there agencies, rogue operators became involved in blowing up
obstructing the investigation, according to former aides to an airliner, assassinating a former Chilean diplomat in
was to be a prosecution, there must be evidence that
both Bush and Levi. showed damage to national security. Washington, attempting assassinations here and abroad
Levi™s irritation grew, as prosecutors said the Helms Bush argued to the contrary; let the Justice and smuggling arms.
documents had been provided only reluctantly and were Department make do with what information the CIA was Whether [or not] Bush was fully aware of the details,
poor-quality copies. Even in the Letelier murder willing to provide-a handful of older, classified this set the tenor for the Iran-Contra scandal. Although
investigation, in which the agreement between Levi and documents. These would do no damage if introduced into accounts vary, this much is clear: Bush failed to conduct
Bush had been most explicit, little useful material had prudent internal inquiries, failed to purge the CIA of rogue
the court record. That was a good way to lose the case,
been included in the tons of cables and peripheral reports Levi pointed out. Since they would do no damage if connections and failed to halt such behavior in policy
passed to the FBI. released, it was difficult to argue that they required statements.
Documents obtained by FAIR, released through the classification to protect national security. To win meant For Bush, ignoring the problem of Manuel Antonio
Freedom of Information Act (FOZA), show that Bush tried showing damage, and thus, creating the damage. Noriega was normal procedure, dating to his days as CIA
to bottle up a news story that exposed the apparent So let the case be lost, Bush insisted. The Director. Just three months after Bush moved into his
duplicity of another former CIA chief, Helms. psychological and financial trauma of being prosecuted office at Langley, he was informed that the Army was
The story-broken on October 1, 1976 by David would be punishment enough for Moore. They could investigating Noriega™s activities. The details could
Martin (now a CBS Pentagon correspondent, then with decide later on what specific evidence would be used. embarrass the Ford Administration and cause long-term
Associated Pres+revealed that Helms had given political damage to the GOP, precisely what Bush had
Bush was adamant that no agent™s name be compromised
misleading testimony to the Warren Commission to help the prosecution. Even the non-sensitive names in been hired to prevent. The last thing Bush wanted to hear
investigating the assassination of John Kennedy. Helms the phone books opened those individuals to recruitment in his morning briefings was that one of his two-bit
testified that the CIA had not “even contemplated” making by the KGB, Bush said. intelligence satraps from Panama was buying intelligence
contact with Lee Harvey Oswald, the presumed assassin. Once more, Levi launched into a lecture about intercepts from U.S. military agents, while he was on
Through the FOIA, Martin obtained CIA memos showing Defendants must learn the
constitutional safeguards. Bush™s Agency payroll.
that in 1960 the agency “showed intelligence interest” in nature of the accusations (and thus the evidence) against The case of the “Singing Sergeants”, code-named
Oswald and “discussed...the laying on of interviews” with them, just as they have the right to be confronted by “Canton Song”, involved Noriega™s purchase of reel-to-
him. witnesses against them. The CIA™s continuing refusal to reel audio tapes from the Army™s 470th Military
When Bush saw the AP story in the Washington Star, turn over materials which the Justice Department needed Intelligence Group, which conducted high-tech wiretaps
he asked for an internal CIA review to verify the story (it “smacked of a Watergate cover-up”, Levi told Bush. throughout the region, under orders from the Defense
was true) and if it would “cause problems for Helms”. These words hit hard, and the memories of his tenure Intelligence Agency.
Helms had lied to a Senate committee about the CIA™s The DIA had ordered the 470th, specifically, to tap
at the Republican National Committee rushed into his
role in subverting Chilean democracy and would later be mind. Bush™s patience gave way. “We™ll be taking it to Panamanian officials involved in negotiations over the
convicted of contempt of Congress. the President in a few minutes,” he said, his voice rising. Canal Treaties. Former California Governor Ronald
After the investigation, Bush™s assistant Seymour “Why don™t you tell him that, in just those words?™ These Reagan was already gaining ground in the Presidential
Bolten reported the exposure of Helms™ false testimony to events were not “Nixonian”, he added. orimaries bv denouncing Ford for giving away “our

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