Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Masonic Verses Part VII The "MIA Video" Hoax and the 1992 Presidential Election

Un Coronel machine ambition,
Se saisira de la plus grand armée.
Contre son prince fainte invention,
Et descouvert ser soubez sa ramée.

A Colonel intrigues through ambition,
He takes charge of the greater part of the army,*
Against his Prince he will feign an invention,
And be discovered wrapped in his flag.
The Prophecies of Nostradamus Century IV quarto 65

Part V of The Masonic Verses The Elephant in the Room concerned how the arrest of the PFLP-GC “Autumn Leaves” cell in West Germany on the 26th October 1988 may have prevented a terrorist outrage in the six days before the 1988 Presidential Election, an attack that may have threatened Vice-President George H.W. Bush’s electoral prospects. Part VI - Chinatown was concerned with how the “Wimpey fraud” launched from a Hong Kong “bucket-shop” in July 1985, to generate a ransom for a Beirut hostage, had significant if unintended consequences.

Part VII is the story of how the successor fraud, an attempt to sell the US Government for $4.2 US million a video purporting to depict “MIAs” also had significant if unintended consequences, notably the rise of the “Militia” movement and the madness of the Oklahoma bombing together with the defeat of  George H.W. Bush in the 1992 Presidential election. (On the eve of that election British "spy" Ian Spiro supposedly murdered his wife and three children in the suburbs of San Diego.)

Oliver North and "Iran-Contra"

The true story, indeed the true extent of the anti-communist crusade widely, if inaccurately, known as “Iran-Contra”, has not been told and it is unlikely it will be. Many of the key protagonists are dead. Others have told their story in an exculpatory manner.

The phrase “Iran-Contra” is closely linked with the central figure of the scandal – the extraordinary personality of Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North who was seconded to the White House at the beginning of the Reagan Administration, along with many other military officers, to perform (on the defence budget) the functions of middle ranking officials. Before taking the White House job North had been interviewed for and declined a job offer from his fellow Texan H. Ross Perot at Electronic Data Systems. (1)

North was never a “perotista” but used Perot as an occasional cash cow. While serving in the Reagan administration North’s political hero was not Reagan but another Texan VP George H.W. Bush who in time distanced himself from “Iran-Contra” falsely claiming not to have been “in the loop”. Those convicted of Iran-Contra felonies were pardoned by George H.W. Bush some to re-emerge in the administration of his son. North remained a Bush family friend. As it may have been one of North’s scams that lost him the 1992 Election this is the most delicious of ironies.

The label “Iran-Contra” came from the supposedly shocking revelation that North and his associates had been selling arms to the hated Iranians in contravention of official US policy. The rationale for this arms dealing was threefold; firstly to ransom hostages held by Iranian backed groups in the Lebanon, secondly to increase American influence in a projected power struggle in Tehran and thirdly to use the profits to fund North’s pet cause, the Nicaraguan Contra rebels who were fighting the leftist Nicaraguan Government, the funding being contrary to US law. North frequently visited the Contra base at Ologampo, Honduras where the Cuban exile Luis Postada Carriles (2) was employed by the CIA to organise the re-supply effort.

While the hyperactive North (nominally Deputy Assistant Director for Political Military Affairs at the National Security Council) had within his remit both the “Hostage” and the “Contra” portfolios North had his fingers in a number of other pies. He had become involved with the Achille Lauro hijacking and the driving force behind the attack on Libya in April 1986 were believed to be officials of the National Security Council. (North, Poindexter and Cannistraro.)

A major objective of the Reagan administration, of which “Iran-Contra” was an aspect, was the undermining of the Soviet Union by boosting US military spending and organizing, arming and financing militant Islamic groups in Afghanistan who were fighting the Soviet occupation in support of the Communist regime in Kabul.

North’s ceaseless labours on a variety of schemes in the service of his President were not entirely selfless. North had Presidential ambitions of his own, ambitions that were by no means unrealistic. North’s political gifts were quite formidable.

In 1994 North, as the Republican candidate, narrowly failed in his bid to unseat the incumbent Democratic Senator Charles Robb in Virginia. In North's campaign the former hostage David Jacobsen was presented at political rallies to praise North – in reality he was not a symbol of North’s acumen and achievements but of his failures and unfitness for office. North lost narrowly and many staunch Republicans were suspected of voting reluctantly for his opponent who had his own scandals. Had he won it would have been a step on North's road back to the White House.

One aspect of this worldwide anti-communist (or at least anti-Soviet) campaign was not seen as being part of “Iran-Contra” at all. This was the effort to exert military, economic and political pressure on the Soviet Union’s client regime in South-East Asia – Vietnam.

The “MIA” Issue:

North regarded the hostages as ‘MIA’

from Gavin Hewitt’s Terry Waite, Why Was He Kidnapped? (3)

One of the legacies of the Vietnam War was the claim, rumour or legend that following the US withdrawal from South-East Asia the successor communist regimes in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia had secretly kept behind thousands of US and other allied soldiers, together with numerous captured civilians as prisoners. This myth became known as the “MIA issue”. Save for a few diehard “MIA activists” the MIA issue is no longer of much interest. However in the 1980’s and early 1990’s it was a matter of intense controversy in the United States and a cause celebré amongst extreme elements of American political culture.

The central demand of the MIA movement was that the Communist Governments of Vietnam and Laos (whose own war dead numbered some three million) make a “full accounting” of the approximately 3,000 US and allied serviceman and civilians allegedly unaccounted for in the wars in South East Asia.

The “MIA issue” was central to the ideology of the loose coalition of white supremacists, religious extremists, libertarians, anti-government militants and devotees of the 4th amendment (the right to bear arms) that became known as the “Militia” movement. The movement was militantly isolationist and opposed to the UN (seeing that body as the means by which the rest of the world would subjugate America) and distrustful of the institutions and agencies of the US Government.

To some extent the extremism of the Militia movement only outflanked the vilification of President Clinton by mainstream right-wing politicians and the phenomenon of the “shock-jock.” While the Militia movement had grown throughout the Presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush (who was castigated by the “activists” for supposedly covering-up the “MIA issue”) the movement reached it’s zenith in the early years of the Clinton Presidency coinciding with the challenge to Presidential authority of House speaker Newt Gingrich.

In his January 1989 inaugural address President H.W. Bush spoke not only of his determination to free the (Beirut) Hostages but to address the problem of the “missing”.(4)

Perhaps the most famous or infamous MIA “activist” was former (or “sheep-dipped”) Army Sergeant Timothy McVeigh who on the 19th April 1995 together with an unidentified associate detonated a Ryder rental truck packed with explosives outside the William P. Morrow Building in Oklahoma City killing 170 people in “retaliation” for the massacre of the Branch Davidian Church at Waco, Texas (Nolrth's birthplace!) exactly a year earlier. The Oklahoma bombing marked the movement’s nemesis and the events of “9/11” marked the effective end of the Militia movement.

The movement was essentially rural and class based. A central issue for the MIA activists was that the Army that fought in Vietnam was a conscript army. While many Americans were proud to do their patriotic duty the soldiers that actually did the fighting were disproportionately poor (and black although the Militia movement was overwhelmingly white.) The sons of the American elite usually avoided the war completely and the burden of active service fell disproportionately on those who could not afford a college education or those who lacked the political clout to secure a favourable posting.

Behind it all, he says (a Militia spokesman) is immense bitterness and pent-up anger over the Vietnam war - Who are the people running this government? Aren’t they the ones who dodged the draft and hidout in graduate school? - The festering wound is the fate of American soldiers “missing in action” in Vietnam. To this day there is a widespread belief that the U.S. abandoned up to 1,200 of its men in captivity claiming that they were probably dead. – But the MIA story remains at the root of the deep and abiding mistrust of the US federal government amongst a large strata of American society.( 5 )

Famously George H.W. Bush’s eldest son George W. Bush attended Harvard (because his father had) before being drafted as a pilot in the Air National Guard with the sons of other members of the Texas political and business elite (including the son of Clinton’s Treasury Secretary and Dukakis’ running mate Lloyd Bentsen.) Even a supposed war hero such as the 2004 Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry spent most of his war service in Washington. Therefore as most of the combat soldiers were poor conscripts it therefore followed that most of the personnel listed as “Missing in Action” were poor conscripts.

This actually was far from true. Many of the men listed as “Missing in Action” were navy pilots (or navigators) shot down over Vietnam. (Senator John McCain being the most well known.) Many of the “MIAs” were not officially military personnel at all but pilots and other contractors fighting in the “secret” war in Laos run by US Civilian personnel from the US Embassy in Vientiene, Laos headed by Ambassador William Sullivan (later Ambassador to Iran at the time of the Islamic Revolution). Ambassador Sullivan was supported by the large CIA Station headed by Theodore Shackley. Shackley  had previously been head of the CIA’s Miami Station where he organised the CIA’s campaign of sabotage and terror against the Castro regime in Cuba. (6)

One of Shackley’s associates in Vientiene, organising the CIA's notorious proprietary airlines was the former White House Press spokesman Pierre Salinger. (30 years later Salinger played a crucial role in obtaining the evidence upon which Abdel ali Baset Ali Al-Megrahi was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. Salinger had interviewed Al-Megrahi in Tripoli. In the course of the interview Al-Magrahi denied having been in Malta on the night of the 20.12.88 – 21.12.88. This denial was the most crucial piece of evidence against him.) (7 )

The theory behind the “MIA issue” was ingenious. It’s proponents argued that the communists had captured many more personnel than those prisoners returned to the USA in “Operation Homecoming” in 1973 when several hundred US prisoners of war were returned to the US. Many were simply unaccounted for. Hundreds of Americans had been captured in Laos. Only nine, captured in the last days, were returned

It was further argued that the Communist regime in Vietnam had been promised reparations and US assistance in rebuilding their ravaged country. There is some evidence that the Vietnamese were promised $3.5 billion by the Nixon Administration shortly before the President’s resignation. The MIAs were essentially hostages. However the communists could not admit to holding the MIAs otherwise the US would resume hostilities. By the same token the US Government could not officially admit to the existence of the MIAs. The Vietnamese and the US Governments were for different reasons (in the “MIA theory”) accomplices in a tacit conspiracy to deceive the US public

Essentially the “MIA issue” was an obstacle to the objective of the Vietnamese Government to normalise relations with the US in order to achieve some sort of economic recovery. It also created a vociferous US lobby implacably opposed to the normalisation of relations with Vietnam. Whenever the US moved towards the normalisation of relations the cry would go up “the prisoners will be killed”.

North and several other American members of “the Enterprise” such as retired Air Force General Richard Secord had served in Vietnam and/or Laos. North’s views on the “MIA issue” are unknown. The NSC’s spokesman on the MIA issue was Army Colonel Dick Childress a man who had clashed with Perot over his insistence the administration were “covering-up” the MIA issue.( 8 ) Childress shared an office in the Old Executive Office Building with Colonel North.

In the early years of the Reagan administration supposed “private” initiatives were made to infiltrate groups into Laos to search for the supposed PoW sites. One famous operation was headed by retired Lieutenant Colonel Bo Gritz whose group briefly entered Laos in 1983 and were arrested, fined and deported on their return to Thailand. (Gritz was later leader of an Idaho Militia.) (9) These “initiatives” may not have been quite as “private” as purported and Gritz claimed that Ross Perot had been asked by Government officials to fund such efforts.

The “Boat-people”:

The phenomenon of the “boat-people” was not just an act of mass migration. It was also one of the most lucrative criminal rackets in human history. In 1979 the Peoples Republic of China had invaded Vietnam as a punitive measure following border disputes. The Chinese were also allies of the genocidal Khymer Rouge, as were the Americans.

In the late 1970’s there had sprung up in the South China seas an extremely lucrative criminal racket known as maritime insurance fraud or “ship-sinking.” It involved extended gangs of fraudsters operating from Taiwan, mainland PRC and above all Hong Kong. Expatriate right-wing Vietnamese of Chinese origin were key figures in the syndicates. Rustbucket freighters would be supposedly loaded with goods produced from the syndicates’ industrial enterprises to be shipped to overseas associates. The goods were never loaded and indeed may never have existed. When the ship “sank” claims would be made for the hull and the cargo.

The same or similar crews featured in more than one sinking. The “sunken” vessel, with minor cosmetic changes would often reappear in another guise. For example with the application of a lick of paint the “Skyluck” became the “Kylu”. In one case the cook was ordered to prepare sandwiches for the crew’s lunch. Only when munching on one several hours later whilst sat in a lifeboat did he understand why! (10)

In response to these frauds the London Insurance Market set up FERIT the Far East Regional Investigation Team involving insurance professionals, the Navy and various Police forces. Soon after “FERIT” was established the frauds came to a halt with much self-congratulation amongst the investigators. The frauds had stopped not because of “FERIT” but because the syndicates had found a far more lucrative use for their rust-bucket freighters. They were loaded with Vietnamese refugees in Vietnam and sailed towards Hong Kong

Many of the “witnesses” who claimed to have seen live American prisoners in Vietnam escaped from Vietnam in this way. The creation of the “MIA issue” served the interests of the anti-communist Vietnamese gangsters who organised the “boat-people” racket and they had an interest in perpetuating the myth as an obstacle to the normalisation of relations with the Communist Government of Vietnam. These gangsters became US citizens and drugs, fraud and the "boat-people" racket generated colossal sums of "black" funds for use in contemporaneous "Iran-Contra" projects.

The fee for the trip was usually 5 taels, approximately 6 ounces of gold the price of which hit $1,000 dollars an ounce netting the gangs a profit of some ten million dollars a freighter. Half a million refugees passed through Hong Kong alone where they received a modicum of humane treatment. Refugees who tried to travel west suffered unspeakable privations at the hands of Cambodian or Thai pirates. On being settled in the West, primarily in the USA they provided further lucrative opportunities to the gangsters who had brought them out of Vietnam.

The "MIA Video" Hoax;

One noticeable feature of “Iran-Contra” was the overlapping of projects and the confusion of objectives. North thought it a “neat idea” that the sale of arms to Iran was (allegedly) financing the Contra re-supply effort and the arms sales in turn were supposed to resolve the Beirut Hostage Crisis. Was there a linkage between the MIA issue and the Hostage crisis with funds raised from one used for Hostage ransom schemes?

The MIA video hoax was an attempt made in 1985 to sell the US Government a videotape for $4.2US million dollars a videotape supposedly depicting hundreds of US POWs being held in captivity in south East Asia. Central to the MIA video hoax was its supposed vendor a man called Robin Gregson who used the alias “John Obassy.” Save for his clashes with the law notably in Thailand and Singapore and his involvement in some notable frauds little is known of him.

The “real” Robin Gregson may have been Rhodesian. Indeed, as is the nature of such fraudsters they often employ a plethora of false identities depending on whose passport they have come into possession of, usually from some pickpocket gang. The name “John Obassy” arises from altering a passport issued to an Englishman John Bassie by inserting an "O", an apostraphe and joining the "i" and "e" to form a "y" for a traveller's cheque scam. Such conmen also swap or share bogus identities to confuse the authorities.

In October 1985 “John Obassy” swore a fantastical affidavit at the office of a US Attorney Mark Waple, also an “MIA activist”, situated just outside Fort Bragg.(11) Obassy purported to be a resident of Laos and Thailand. He spoke several Asian languages and was married to a Laoatian woman from a hill tribe. He made money by buying Lao gemstones cheaply and selling them in Thailand at a fabulous profit. (i.e.he was exploiting the Lao tribesmen.)

He was able to move freely around areas of Laos not controlled by the communists and occasionally came into contact with other Europeans whom he later came to realise were American PoWs. The CIA tried to recruit him. He had filmed a 248 minute video in Laos showing Americans in captivity which he would sell to the US Government for $4.2 million dollars to finance a scheme of medical relief in the non-communist areas of Laos.

(In 1985 Obassy had flown to Vietnam from Thailand with Sean O’Toolis an IRA Quartermaster to purchase a huge quantity of weaponry from the Vietnamese authorities from stores left behind when the Americans evacuated Vietnam a decade earlier. Whilst in Vietnam O’Toolis saw a number of MIAs held prisoner by the Vietnamese.

This appears to have been an extremely sophisticated “sting”. O’Toolis was not in Vietnam at all but Cambodia and the “prisoners” were American Special Forces training the Khymer Rouge. The “arms shipment” was intercepted, the IRA lost their money and several persons were tried and convicted in Chicago.)

(As noted in The Mysterious Life and Death of Ian Spiro (12) Ian Spiro had sought to obtain Terry Waite’s release by organising a scheme of medical relief in the Southern Lebanon. Spiro purported to be a fluent Arabic speaker and claimed the ability to move round Beirut unscathed due to his local contacts. Both “Obassy” and Spiro purported to be residents of Beirut. Spiro was seeking to sell his story for a movie deal to the James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli. Obassy too was trying to get a movie deal.) Both surfaced in Southern California.

A scheme of some complexity to hand over the “MIA video” was communicated to the US Government involving a 747 taking off at Los Angeles for an unknown destination in South East Asia. On arrival the passengers would be taken by helicopter to another destination to view the “MIA video”.

In 1986 the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs held a number of hearings on the MIA issue under the Chairmanship of Republican Senator Dan Murkowski of Alaska. Various witnesses and MIA activists gave their “evidence” which was lightweight stuff, for example a National Geographic map of Laos on which the alleged location of prison camps was indicated.(13)

A former PoW Major Mark Smith claimed to have seen extracts of the video at Obassy’s apartment in Beirut in the presence of a senior officer of Mossad. During his testimony Smith invited a member of the committee to engage in fisticuffs in the carpark.

The Committee also took evidence from Ross Perot. “Obassy” was also scheduled to give evidence at the hearing but at the last minute declined to do so claiming that a newspaper article identifying him as Robin Gregson had “blown his cover.” ( 14 )

Despite an outstanding arrest warrant issued by the Senate Obassy travelled to California where Major Mark Smith introduced him to a purported “film producer” Jon Emr. Emr had never produced anything but made a living conning people to invest in his various film projects none of which materialised. Emr was postumously credited as executive producer of an MIA related project the TV movie “The Bobby Garwood Story”having falsely claimed to own the film rights. (15) ABC subsequently paid a considerable sum to the true owner.

Major Mark Smith had been bombarded with calls from Emr who represented himself as a major Hollywood player (he claimed his partner was Michael Douglas’ brother Joel.) Smith found the flamboyant cigar-chewing, Hawaiian shirt wearing braggart repulsive, describing him as “the king of the oilers.” Emr and Obassy hit it off immediately and were determined to make money from the MIA video. Their relationship soon soured as each tried to make money behind the other’s back.. (16)

Emr had become embroiled in a ferocious feud with another MIA “activist” Scott Barnes who claimed to have infiltrated Laos and taken hundreds of pictures of live PoWs. None of these featured in the account of his adventures “Bohica” (17) as he had given the undeveloped negatives to the CIA who claimed the film had been ruined. The CIA allegedly instructed him to return to Laos to “liquidate the merchandise”. The feud arose from Barnes selling the film rights to his book to another party having already sold them to Emr.

Bohica was dedicated to the Shelton family. Charles E.Shelton was an Air Force pilot shot down over Laos in 1965 who was listed as MIA for decades. In his Amazon biography, Barnes claims to hold several unspecified degrees and besides his experience in the Army, Correctional Services, Social Services and Law Enforcement boasts of his training with the Justice Department, DEA, Treasury and in anti-terrorism at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centre. (He omitted his criminal record.) He also boasts of having been present when Mrs Marion Shelton committed suicide by shooting herself with a magnum handgun at her San Diego home in October 1990. (As noted in The Mysterious Life and Death of Ian Spiro Mrs Gail Spiro was shot dead with a magnum handgun at her San Diego home on the eve of the 1992 Presidential election).

Several years earlier whilst working as a prison guard in Hawaii Barnes supposedly received instructions from the CIA to murder an inmate, a plan he immediately exposed to the media. Being a forgiving lot the CIA had re-engaged him for the Laos mission although they later tried to assassinate him at his California home. Miraculously Barnes survived having his house shot up. (18)

In light of later developments it is interesting that Ross Perot also claims to have survived an assassination attempt at his Dallas home by a group of Black Panthers who were in the pay of the Vietnamese Government. Mr Perot made no complaint to the Dallas Police Department about this incident but is on record as complaining about courting couples parked outside his house.

According to page 107 of the Murkowski hearings Gregson had been arrested in Thailand in 1982 and convicted in 1984 of unlawfully demanding $10,000US from an Australian tourist alleged tro have been in possession of a quantity of heroin. He was sentenced to four years and released on bail pending appeal. His conviction was upheld in January 1986 and a fugitive warrant was issued.

Murkowski continued “Mr Gregson was recently arrested again, this time in Singapore, on charges filed April 3, 1986, that Gregson and a Lebanese associate Maurice Bishoti, conspired to cheat a Mr. Pigibe Olani, a Singapore businessman, of $44,000 in U.S.currency in connection with a proposal to obtain jobs in Lebanon for Sri Lankan and Indian foreign workers and so forth. Charges were withdrawn in late May after an out-of-court settlement was reached to repay Mr Pilay a major portion of the sums involved. Funding for this settlement was arranged by certain individuals in the United states who visited Mr Gregson during his detention in a Singapore jail.” These visitors included Congressman Billy Hendon although the funds were provided by Perot.(20)

Momentous events were happening elsewhere. On the 26th May 1986 former National Security Adviser Bud McFarland, Oliver North, Howard Teicher and party flew from Israel to Tehran in an attempt to achieve a dramatic breakthrough in US-Iranian relations. North was not just relying on diplomacy. Also on the plane were several pallets of ToW missiles. The mission was co-ordinated with other schemes to free the remaining hostages under the supervision of Richard Secord who was co-ordinating these complex matters in Cyprus.(21)

On or shortly after the 26th May (the second day of the Tehran mission) Ross Perot’s personal pilot Jay Coburn (former head of EDS in Iran) flew into Cyprus with $2 million US to fund a hostage ransom operation. At the same time a “Lebanese agent” was to go into the Lebanon with $30,000 US for low-level bribes amongst Hezbollah. Secord speculated that this agent ended up stuffed in a trashcan (therefore assuming he had actually gone to the Lebanon with his $30,000US).(22)

Later that year a reliable witness claims to have encountered Gregson/Obassy by arrangement at a remote beach-bar in Cyprus. Gregson/Obassy had been in touch with NBC News and agreed a meeting in Larnaca with a senior NBC reporter George Lewis who would be in Cyprus to cover the release of US Hostage David Jacobsen. Jacobsen was released in the 2nd November 1986 but the US media knew of the event long in advance and 1,000 ToW missiles had been shipped to Iran over the previous days. (23)

On his way Lewis stopped in Dallas to interview Perot who declined to be filmed or even recorded but met on a “background” basis only. Perot “conceded that VP George Bush had indeed asked him to purchase the videotape” and agreed that he had bailed Gregson/Obassy out of jail in Singapore but with-held several million dollars until the tape materialised. Perot and Lewis agreed it was a “cruel hoax”. (24)

The meeting between Lewis and Gregson/Obassy occurred in a darkened beachfront gazebo. Gregson/Obassy had not brought any evidence but spun Lewis a convoluted story concerning drugs, the CIA, Mossad ect. Lewis was keen the acquire the “MIA video” but was not prepared to entertain the demand for substantial payment in advance..

Mrs Peggy Say & “Michael Trumpower”:
Mrs Peggy Say was the sister of journalist Terry Anderson, who was held hostage for seven years. Mrs Say worked tirelessly on his behalf. In her memoirs she referred to oddballs, working in the realm of the “intelligence community” who showed up on her door.

In the summer of 1987 I got a series of calls from a man who identified himself as Michael Trumpower. He said he wanted to help get Terry free. To establish his bona-fides he shared details with me of an initiative he claimed to have been involved with which was bank-rolled by Ross Perot. The initiative was highly confidential, but, as it happened, I had been in touch with Mr Perot and Trumpower’s information jibed with my own. I called Perot’s office for verification and was told that he did not recognise Trumpower’s name. Now I was really puzzled.” -

“Trumpower claimed he also had recorded evidence of the disinformation campaign and other devious CIA-backed manipulations concerning the Libyan bombing, information that the Libyans would pay dearly for. He said he had reliable Libyan connections.”

“Trumpower inisisted that if the CIA tracked him down they would eliminate him”.

“Trumpower claimed that, although the Libyans would be prepared to pay a great deal of money for these tapes, he was going to try to get them to release my brother and Tom Sutherland in exchange for them.”

Trumpower” turned up at Mrs Say home in Ohio in October 1988. He claimed to have worked for the Government in the Middle East for several years and had recorded his conversations with his contact Terry Arnold. Unfortunately he had left the tapes at home that day. Trumpower proposed a bizarre scheme involving Libya where he would trade these tapes to Libya then release them to the press after the “homecoming” of the remaining hostages. (The scheme made little sense to Mrs Say either!) After some further telephone contact Trumpower called one day and before she could pick up the line was disconnected. She never heard from him again. ( 26 )

There were further strange twists in the story. On the 11th July 1991 Jon Emr’s son Roger was driving a limousine through Culver City, California. Jon Emr was in the passenger seat. Jon’s mother Renee (closely involved in Jon’s “film business”), and Jon’s girlfriend Sue Fellows were in the back of the Lincoln Continental when it stopped at a red light. A man in an SUV pulled alongside on the passenger side and immediately opened fire firing off a dozen shots before speeding off. Jon Emr and his son died instantly. ( 27 )

The killer was recognised by both women passengers. His name was Robert Suggs a former private investigator from Tocema, Washington whom Emr had taken on as his “head of security” with extravagant promises of a glittering future for Suggs in the movie business. “Head of Security” meant dealing not only with disgruntled investors but Scott Barnes against whom Emr had taken out a restraining order.. It transpired that the previous night Suggs had also murdered Emr’s father Art at his home in Arizona. Art Emr had no involvement with his son’s business and Suggs’ motive, if any, is unclear.(28)

Robert Suggs also appears to have murdered his girlfriend Susan Calkins a pleasant, kind and attractive young woman whose only fault was getting involved with Robert Suggs.

Suggs was never arrested. In a press conference given by the Culver City Police Department on Christmas Eve 1992 it was announced that Suggs body, or rather his jawbone, was found in the Mojave Desert in December 1992. Suggs was identified from his military dental records. Most of the remains of Susan Calkins were also found at the site together with what were thought to be the remains of Suggs’ German Shepherd. Police Chief Ted Cooke concluded that this was a murder-suicide. Suggs had murdered Susan Calkins then put the gun in his mouth and shot his head off.

Chief Cooke confirmed to the press that no vehicle had been found at the scene – how Suggs had got there and transported Susan Culkins was not known. When asked about the murder weapon Cooke stated that a blue duffel bag was found in the vicinity that was identified as belonging to Suggs. Two guns were found in the vicinity.

Susan Calkins sister Kathy had discovered a sealed envelope amongst Susan’s belongings marked “do not open until July 10th” (the day Suggs murdered Art Emr senior). It appeared to be a suicide note addressed to Susan. Suggs had addressed his suicide note to a person he intended to murder.

After Chief Cooke finished his briefing the Detective on the case corrected him on one issue. The guns were not found near the duffel bag but in the duffel bag. Suggs had shot himself then put the gun in the bag!
( 29)

The Perot Presidential Candidacy:

The following year Ross Perot launched his Presidential Campaign. His central (perhaps sole) proposition was to reduce the Federal deficit. The Federal deficit had exploded under the Reagan administrations as taxes were cut while the federal budget, and particularly the military budget soared.

The process had continued under George H.W. Bush who had promised “no new taxes” when hundreds of billions of dollars were required to compensate investors in the Savings & Loan fiasco in which his son Neil was personally involved.

By concentrating on this single issue the Perot candidacy was not neutral but opposed to the incumbent. Perot drew his support disproportionately from Republicans and “Reagan Democrats” unenthused by George H.W. Bush.

Even George H.W. Bush’s greatest triumph, the ejection of Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, was not universally applauded, particularly by those who disdained multilateralism and viewed Saddam Hussein’s regime as a continuing insult to American power. By example one of George H.W. Bush’s fiercest critics was his eventual successor, his son George W. Bush.

By 1992 the MIA issue” was fading as a matter of concern to many Americans as was “Iran-Contra.” Activists and extremists kept the issue alive but no longer did 75% of Americans believe prisoners were still being held in Vietnam. “Rambo” had moved on to Afghanistan.

Perot himself had not abandoned the issue and chose as his running mate the most senior former PoW, Admiral James Stockdale, a resident of San Diego. (As the main base for navy fliers San Diego was known as MIA city). An honourable and respected military officer Stockdale was a disaster as a candidate for national political office.

A story in The Times Rabbit Bush Kept on the Hop (30) identified the MIA video as the cause of Perot’s animus, perhaps even hatred of George H.W. Bush. Reporting on the attempt made in 1986 by a “Hong Kong based British Businessman”** to sell the US Government the video the paper’s Washington Editor reported that Perot had said to Bush that “there are lions and tigers and eagles in this world – and you are a rabbit.” (Perot's reference to eagles may have been to himself and his associates. Perot’s authorised biography On Wings of Eagles chronicles Perot’s heroic efforts to free EDS employees from revolutionary Iran using the skills of a former Green Beret Colonel “Bull” Simon. (31) (According to Gritz Simon had planned his 1983 incursion into Laos.)

Three weeks later on the 16th July 1992 Ross Perot withdrew from the Presidential race. At the time Perot had unprecedented poll ratings for a third party candidate. His approval rating far exceeded that of Bush or Clinton. However press scrutiny of Perot’s business practice, views and the source of his wealth were not flattering. The Republicans had recognised the threat posed by Perot and had concentrated their fire on him and exposed his limited political gifts, prickly personality and egotism. Bill Clinton, yet to be named the Democratic candidate, benefited from the let-up in the attacks on his character.

In an interview on CBS news 60 minutes that appeared two weeks before the election Perot claimed he had been told that Republicans were planning to distribute doctored photographs of his daughter, depicting her as a lesbian, prior to her wedding. His source for these allegations – Scott Barnes! (32) Presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater described Mr Perot’s allegations as “all loony”.

Perot had never even met Barnes but must have been aware of his reputation for telling tall stories. Gritz for one held Barnes in very low esteem. Barnes later admitted to author Rod Lurie that the story was a hoax but claimed that Perot had orchestrated the whole affair.(33)

The episode did enormous damage to Perot’s credibility amongst his supporters many of who were wary of electing President a man who took the claims of someone like Scott Barnes seriously. Perot had re-entered the Presidential race on the 1st October 1992. By rejoining the race late in the day he avoided much media scrutiny.

The central enigma of Perot’s 1992 Presidential candidacy was whether he actually wanted to be President at all. Beyond appearing on Larry King and making a few commercials he had little stomach for campaigning and few worked out policies. Was he simply trying to publicise the issue of the deficit and was he simply positioning himself to ensure the defeat of George H.W.Bush?

George Bush had been badly hurt by revelations in the papers of Reagan’s Defence Secretary Casper Weinberger (which Weinburger had donated to a library) that Bush had lied on oath when denying all knowledge of the arms for hostages deals.(34) It was after all Bush who tried to make “character” the central issue in the election. Further Bush had performed badly in the three three-way Presidential debates while Clinton had excelled.

The election was on Tuesday 3rd November 1992. Bush received 38% of the popular vote Clinton 43%. Perot received a creditable 19% of the vote. Without the intervention of Perot would Clinton have won?

Without the foiling of the “Autumn Leaves” plot George H.W. Bush may never have become President. He may have lost the White House not because of “Iran-Contra”, or his unimpressive domestic record but because he upset a man with a big Bank balance and an ego to match who had been taken in by a hoax that emanated from an office within the Old Executive Office Building of the Reagan White House.

History repeats itself ; the first time as tragedy the second time as farce”. ( 35 )

* While the US took control of the northern (Honduran) front of the Contra army the southern (Costa Rican) front under Eden Pastora @ Commandante Zero remained beyond US control.

** “David J. Hutcheson” the middleman in the Wimpey bribe story (see part VI Chinatown) was described in identical terms in the original Sunday Times story as “a Hong Kong based British businessman”.

(1) Oliver North with William Novak Under Fire Fontana 1992 Introduction xii.

(2) The Masonic Verses Part III Lockerbie – Criminal Justice or War by Other Means – section The Political/Historical background
(3) Gavin Hewitt Terry Waite, Why Was He Kidnapped Bloomsbury 1991.

(4) George H.W. Bush inauguration speech January 22nd 1989 featured in part II of BBC2’s broadcast
and the West
(5) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Inside the underground world of America’s secret militias
Sunday Telegraph 30.4.95

(6) Theodore Shackley Spymaster; My Life in the CIA page 87

(7) Evidence of Pierre Salinger to Camp Zeist trial Glasgow Law School Lockerbie websit
see also Lockerbie Judgement para.88.

(8)Patrick Tyler The 1992 Campaign Candidate’s Record; Perot Stand on Prisoner issue Left a
Residue of Bitterness New York Times 12.5.92 (story online).

(9) Bo Gritz as a Militia leaser featured in an episode of BBC2’s Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends

(10) George Mariat The Law of the Sea Part II Far East Economic Review 4.2.84

(11) Affidavit of “John Obassy” 2.10.85 see also All the bad actors in one place at
Joe Schlatter’s website (a site dedicated to debunking the “MIA issue")

(12) The Masonic Verses Part II The Mysterious Life and Death of Ian Spiro

(13) Transcript of the Murkowski Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs
(available from the Library of the US Embassy Grovesnor Square.)

(14) Washington Post 20.3.86

(15) ABC film of the week The Bobby Garwood Story Executive Producer Jon Emr (aired summer 1993.)

(16) Rod Lurie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood-Moviemaking, Congames and Murder in Glitter City
Pantheon books New York published 1995 page 175-6

(17) Scott Tracey Barnes Bohica (Bend Over Here It Comes Again).

(18) Lurie page 116

(20) Murkowski hearings page 107 (also Lurie page 178 and

(21-22)Major General Richard Secord Honoured and Betrayed page 147

(23-24) Lurie 178-185

(25) Peggy Say with Peter Knobler Forgotten page 230-1 Simon & Shuster 1991

(26) Say and Knobler 230-237

(27) Lurie chapter 1

(28) Lurie chapter 4

(29) Lurie epilogue

(30) The Times Rabbit Bush Caught on the Hop by Jaimie Dettmar 22.6.92

(31) Ken Follett On Wings of Eagles William Morrow New York 1983

(32) Interview on CBS Sixty Minutes 26.10.88 Reported in NYT 26.10.88 1992 as Campaign Overview – Perot Claims He Quit to Thwart G.O.P. Dirty Tricks.

(33) Lurie page 119

(34)25-31 Oct. Iran-Contra Indictment; New Weinberger note says Bush approved deal to sell
Iran Missilies for Hostages New York Times 1.11.88

(35) Karl Marx The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Chinatown" (Featuring background to HSBC Tax Evasion Scam -how the HSBC stole $1.5 billion dollaars in order to take over The Midland Bank!)

In Chinatown nothing is what it seems to be”Noah Cross (John Huston) to Jake Gittins (Jack Nicholson)
(from Roman Polanski’s Chinatown)

Parts VI & VII concern the consequences of two “Iran-Contra” fundraisers, attempts to raise “black” funds to ransom hostages. Both had very significant if unintended consequences, unrelated to the actual fraud.

The first, an attempt to solicit funds from Wimpey PLC, supposedly to bribe Malaysian politicians, was utilised by the Sunday Times in an example of “sponsored” journalism to pursue a campaign of mischief against the British and Malaysian Governments.

This arose from a Hong Kong corruption scandal in which the Hong Kong Government fraudulently presented an edited and sanitised account of the extent of this corrupt activity, centred around the head of the Legal Department's Commercial Crime Unit Charles Warwick Reid,  portraying it at harmless. The true story involved several murders including those of three witnesses whose statements were corruptly disclosed by the Hong Kong Government’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

The story also involves prosecutions arising from the 1983 collapse of the “Carrian” group of companies, in which two of the defendants were charged not in the interests of justice but at the behest of No.10 Downing Street in order to facilitate a Civil action against the groups’ accountants (and perhaps their legal advisers) to recover the losses of a corrupt Malaysian Bank in order to appease the Malaysian Prime Minister.

When the case collapsed the UK taxpayer picked up the bill for the Bank’s losses through funding the Pergau Dam project. As a delicious irony the case lay behind the creation of the “Cash for Questions” affair, central to the allegations of Conservative Party “sleaze”, which was central to the disintegration of John Major’s Conservative Government.

The story also involves a colossal fraud, the $1billion (Aus) Bell Resources scam by which the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank reduced its massive unsecured exposure to Alan Bond as a necessary prerequisite of the takeover the Midland Bank.

A Dam Waste of Money;
On the 20th February 1994 the Sunday Times published the notorious story “Wimpey offered contract bribe to malaysian PM” under the by-line John Davison (1) A text insert referred to a previous story concerning the Pergau Dam.

This told the story of how in 1985 the British construction giant Wimpey had been approached by a “Hong Kong based British businessman David J. Hutcheson” soliciting funds supposedly on behalf of influential Malaysian politicians as bribes in order to award Wimpey the contract to build a (supposedly) proposed $600US million aluminium smelter project. The paper’s editor Andrew Neil argued on BBC2’s Newsnight that the story didn’t say money was offered to the Malaysian PM. (2)
(A baffling claim in view of the article's title!)

The story provoked the Malaysia Government to impose a further trade embargo on the United Kingdom as it was intended to do. A decade earlier, the prickly Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammed Mahathir had imposed a trade embargo in protest at Mrs Thatcher’s policy of ending subsidies for overseas students. (Malaysians of Chinese origin preferred to study in English in the UK rather than in their third language Malay. Mahathir took the view that it was the responsibility of the UK taxpayer to educate his country’s racial minority as the British had brought his country’s racial minorities to colonial Malaya.)

In January 1983 Mrs Thatcher met with PM Mahathir at Downing Street. A package of measures was agreed to improve bilateral relations. These included measures to recover the colossal losses of the Malaysian Bank Bumiputra Malaysia to the Hong Kong Carrian Group.

While obviously an “advance-fee” fraud of a type endemic in Hong Kong and the Far East at the time this fraud was of unusual significance. The fraud was launched from a “bucket-shop” in the Empire Centre, East Tsimshatsui, a sub-prime business area at the tip of the Kowloon peninsular, on or about the 11th June 1985 13 days after David Jacobsen, Director of the American University Hospital in Beirut had been kidnapped. The man behind the scam was a notorious fraudster and later a personal friend of Jacobsen’s.(3) Indeed the alias “David J. Hutcheson” may have been some clue to this. He was also part of Oliver North’s “inner circle”.(4 )

The fraud was abandoned around September 1985 after Wimpey had foolishly paid some $100,000 to “Hutcheson”. Wimpey then made a complaint to the Royal Hong Kong Police’s Commercial Crime Bureau who launched an investigation under the supervision of Superintendent Phil Layton. The Police were unable to identify or trace “David J. Hutcheson”. The other occupants of Hutcheson’s office were unable to assist. They had merely rented out a desk space to some unidentifiable person.

At the time the Sunday Times’ Wimpey bribe story was published several UK broadsheets, Newsweek Magazine, Channel 4 news and the Sunday Times itself were showing a great deal of interest in the Pergau Dam project when in 1989 £214 million or 90% of the Foreign Aid budget was devoted to this single scheme. Even the Minister for Overseas Development Chris Patten (later Governor of Hong Kong) was baffled.

By third world standards Malaysia had a high and rising standard of living. Nearly all the Foreign Aid budget was going to a single country, one with which Britain had long had fractious relations. The Prime Minister had ignored the advice of the National Audit Office who described the project as “unnecessary, unenvironmental and a waste of taxpayer’s money”.(5)

A widely held, if untrue suspicion, was that “Pergau” was about “arms for aid”, a subsidy so Malaysia would buy British military equipment. (A consequence of the new trade embargo was that the Malaysian Air Force ended up being equipped with MiGs!). In fact it was a lot sleazier than that. (6 )

Why did the Sunday Times publish as fact an obvious fraud eight years after the event? As would become clear the story had not been approved by the Sunday Times libel lawyer.

Three weeks later, on the 13.3.94 the Sunday Times published another strange story under the same by-line of “John Davison”. Risibly titled “Victim Spends Years in Jail Without Trial” this full-page story told the story of Lorraine Osman, former Chairman of the Bank Bumiputra Malaysia who had fled Malaysia in 1983 and sought asylum in the UK. He had been arrested in 1985 and had spent seven years on remand fighting extradition to Hong Kong to face corruption charges in relation to the Carrian case.(7)

(The edition of the 13th March 1994 also carried a four page special on the “Malaysian Affair” which made numerous allegations of criminality and corruption against PM Mahathir and his associates. The piece was illustrated by a number of racist caricatures). (8)

Eventually extradited to Hong Kong in 1992 Osman pleaded guilty and served a further nine months imprisonment. On his release his extradition specialist Michael J.Kingston boasted to a Hong Kong newspaper of having sold Osman’s story to a London newspaper for £5,000. (9) (If true, this would be contrary to the newspaper’s code of conduct that forbids payment for a convicted felon’s story.) According to the Independent a “freelance journalist” had touted the story to the Observer and Independent for £5,000. But who was paying whom?

Again the story was not checked for libel and repeated defamatory comments about a Malaysian politician Tengku Rezaleigh Hamza made in the earlier Wimpey story alleging Hamza was involved in the murder of the Malaysian accountant Ibrahim Jafaar (see below).

The story referred to “Alex Carlisle MP” (now Lord Carlisle a Government advisor) “making the latest of many appeals on Osman’s behalf in the House.”(10)     MPs of all parties had been  approached by Osman’s representative Kingston some of whom (such as Labour’s Barry Shearman) showed him the door. Osman’s lobbying extended to the press such as an anonymous “letter from Hong Kong” placed in Private Eye (11) and a petition published in the letter column of the The Times “Call to End 6 Year Remand” (12) signed by Mr Kingston and a number of luminaries.

The Sunday Times continued to print further stories criticizing Malaysia to the bemusement of readers and the embarrassment of the newspaper’s proprietor who was trying to establish Star TV in Asia and who sought cordial relations with the regions authoritarian governments. The “Malaysia Campaign” was sometimes seen as an attempt by News International to exert pressure on the Malaysian Government. In truth it probably demonstrated Rupert Murdoch left editorial control to his editors (reserving of course the right to sack the editor!)

In February 1996 the Sunday Times published a bizarre retraction and apology. According to the “apology” News International had been sued for defamation by Hamza in relation to two stories published in relation to the “Malaysian affair”. These stories were not referred to my title or content but by their dates of publication 20.2.94 & 13.3.94. (the Wimpey bribe story and the Osman story.) (13)

News International made an unreserved apology for these unspecified allegations and announced its agreement to pay substantial, if unspecified, damages. News International repudiated their unspecified source and stated that these stories should never have been published. The ordinary reader would have no knowledge of which stories it was referring to or that News International had retracted the story that provoked the 1994 Malaysian Trade Embargo.

Within weeks Andrew Neil, who had earlier described the Wimpey story as “copperbottomed” and vigorously defended his “Malaysian campaign”, stood down as editor. In his memoirs Neil continued to refer to the fictitious “David J. Hutcheson” as a real person. (14)

The Carrian Case:

There is no such thing as politically motivated crime – crime is crime is crime.” - Margaret Thatcher ( 15 )

The Carrian group of Companies were established in Hong Kong in the late 1970s by a\Singaporean George TAN Soon-gin who was living illegally in Hong Kong. (The name “Carrian” derives from the names “TAN” and his mistress Carrie Wu.)   For a time the group prospered with interests in property, transport, taxis and pest control.

The group’s main bankers were the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, the Bank’s Chairman Michael Sandberg being a personal friend. (Sandberg was also a backer of Alan Bond and later Asil Nadir.) Another major backer was the Bank Bumiputra Malaysia.

This connection was a matter of controversy in Malaysia. The Bank Bumiputra Malaysia had been established with a racist mandate to support indigenous Malays (Bumiputras) rather than the more commercially sophisticated Chinese. Instead Bank Bumiputra lent nearly all it’s capital to a group of Hong Kong Chinese businessman on what transpired to be grossly inadequate security.

TAN used the services of the elite of Hong Kong’s business community. Price Waterhouse were the public companies’ accountants and John Marshall a PW partner was appointed Chairman. The groups’ Legal advisors were the Colony’s most prestigious law firm Deacons.

In 1981 Carrian pulled off the most astonishing property coup buying the Bank of America Tower, a landmark of Central District, then, almost immediately, announced its sale for 100% profit to two Hong Kong businessman the Lam brothers. Carrian’s profits soared with this coup and the share price surged. The Hong Kong property boom exploded and the Carrian group borrowed huge sums on the security of Carrian shares and mortgaged their assets to the hilt (and beyond).

An insider’s dream, the Bank of America Tower deal was a sham.  As a scheme to boost the Carrian share price those with knowledge of the scam could make a fortune . As the Lam brothers later admitted they hadn’t paid a cent. The supposed “sale” was a fraud.

Following Mrs Thatcher’s ill-fated visit to Beijing in 1983, where her hopes to negotiate an extension to the lease on Hong Kong’s New Territories were dashed, the Hong Kong Stock Market slumped and the Carrian stock price fell sharply. Bankers dumped Carrian stock, depressing the price further and leading to panic selling. As the Carrian group was on the verge of collapse the Police’s Commercial Crime Bureau raided Carrian HQ. The liabilities of the Carrian group exceeded three billion Hong Kong dollars.

Also involved in the Carrian case was the Territory’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) whose sweeping powers, including the power of press censorship, made them a formidable body to cross. Often seen as rivals to the Police with whom they later undertook some supposedly “joint” investigations they actually controlled the Police investigation of Carrian and other Police cases through their control of the Attorney General’s Commercial Crime Unit (CCU) headed since 1981 by a New Zealand Solicitor and Barrister Warwick Reid. Police files left with the Legal Department were routinely copied by the ICAC.

While the plan to raid Carrian had long been in gestation the raids were precipitated by one of two homicides in the case arising from the relationship between Bank Bumiputra Malaysia and the Carrian group.

As Carrian’s financial position worsened Bank Bumiputra’s Hong Kong subsidiary made a number of loans to the group. A Malaysian auditor Ibrahim Jafaar was sent to Hong Kong by the Bank’s HQ to investigate. He was murdered in his hotel room in Kowloon and his body found in a banana plantation in the rural New Territories.

The second suspicious death was that of John Wimbush, senior partner of Deacon’s and Chairman of the Hong Kong Law Society who had handled the conveyancing on the Bank of America Tower deal. At about 9 a.m.on Monday the 28th March 1984 Wimbush was found in the swimming pool of his Peak District apartment with a manhole cover tied to his neck with nylon rope. (Despite the apparent Masonic symbolism Wimbush was not a Mason.)

His family were out of the Territory but two teenage friends of his son were staying at the flat. At about 7 a.m. they had heard Wimbush having a heated telephone conversation with a person never officially identified. He left a brief suicide note.

The case was treated as suicide, and the party with whom Wimbush was speaking on the phone never came forward. Wimbush was to be arrested later that day.   CCB's Deputy Commander Russ "What's in a name?" Mason had made an appointment with Wimbush in advance to do so!   Also to be arrested, by appointment, were two other Deacons Solicitors partner Maurice Wong and his assistant Simon Poon who according to an anonymous CCB spokesman speaking on the Monday were “still out of town”.

At 11 am on the morning of Saturday 25th March, 48hrs before Wimbush’s death the two senior CCB officers on the Carrian case Superintendent Philip Layton and his sidekick Chief Inspector Rod Starling met Wong and Poon at Deacons offices in Swire House and briefed them on the case against them. They also told the two lawyers that they were free to leave Hong Kong.

The two lawyers along with many others had made fortunes insider trading on Carrrian shares through their knowledge of the Bank of America deal. They fled Hong Kong for Australia and the USA never to return. In evidence to the Carrian trial Layton falsely claimed the two had never been interviewed.

They had been tipped-off on the instructions of Warwick Reid at a meeting held earlier that morning at the Legal Department also attended by John Sulan, senior Legal Department official handing Carrian and by CCB’s Russ Mason. Layton had been told not to make any record of the interview and to remove the two from the Immigration Department stoplist. Layton was baffled by Reid’s instructions but did as he was told.

At the inquest into Wimbush’s death, despite heavy pressure from the Coroner to return a verdict of suicide the Jury returned an open verdict.

The Reid Affair;

In September 1989, Warwick Reid, now Director Designate of the New Zealand Serious Fraud Office, (with a “character reference” from Hong Kong Attorney General Michael Thomas) (17) was arrested by the Independent Commission against Corruption ICAC and two years later pleaded guilty to unspecified corruption, (being in control of assets greater than the total of his cumulative earnings.)

While in ICAC custody Reid’s “confession” statement was concocted and Reid was presented as a “supergrass”, supposedly giving a true account of his corrupt activity in order to receive a reduced sentence and keep the bulk of his fortune intact. He served a further three years of an eight year sentence all in ICAC custody.

        Any reduction in his sentence was dependent on his coming up with a version of events that suited the Hong Kong Government and the ICAC, primarily that his “confession” would not incur any financial liability for the Hong Kong Government. While happy to dump liability for the Carrian collapse on Price Waterhouse they had no plans to face the bill for Reid’s systematic corruption. Reid claimed in Court he only took bribes to do what he would have done anyway and that no miscarriage of justice ever occurred from his taking money not to drop prosecutions.   This is of course risible.

Reid’s arrest may have been prompted by his planned move to New Zealand. The ICAC were doubtless aware of his corrupt activities and degenerate lifestyle for years prior to his arrest through one of Reid’s associates.

Toby Lok was a key figure in Reid’s admitted corruption. A corrupt former Detective Inspector and Sun Yee On Triad Society member Lok disappeared shortly before Reid’s arrest. (He is rumoured to form part of the foundations of the Hongkong Bank’s spectacular HQ at No.1 Queens Road, Central, Hong Kong.) Reid’s association with Lok long predated his admitted corruption and as early as 1981 Reid had scuppered prosecutions in major cases in which Lok was involved.

While other corrupt Policemen fled Hong Kong in the 1977 crackdown on Police corruption, (in which Lok’s own “bagman” his former Station Sergeant was arrested and charged) Lok remained in Hong Kong and was never arrested or charged. As an English speaker he had become a valuable informant for the ICAC who in its early days were staffed largely by masonic refugees from “Operation Countryman”.

      Reid’s “confession” statement produced an edited, sanitised and quite incredible account of the extent and duration of Reid’s corrupt activity pretending he had only become corrupt in April 1986 under the pressure of his elder brother’s debts (Mike Reid was a Senior Crown Counsel, Warwick Reid’s subordinate in the CCU) and that he had made corrupt deals on just six cases.

Reid gave evidence against just three persons, only one of which, a Banker, was alleged to have actually paid him money. It was apparently a mystery who was the source of the millions of dollars paid in the other five cases. The two other defendants, Oscar LAI a Solicitor, and Eddie SO a Barrister, had, as a team, represented parties in all six cases. "Carrian", the Ka Wah Bank and a number of other cases involving the collapse of Banks such as the Overseas Trust Bank, Dominican Finance Deposit Taking Company and other less high-profile cases were expunged from the official version of events.   Of particular interest Oscar LAI had been the senior Chinese partner at Deacons before he left in the aftermath of Wimbush's death to start his own firm.    While Reid's corrupt activities supposedly only commenced in May 1986 (evidence to the contrary being suppressed) he had been involved in corrupt activity in April 1984 allowing two Deacons Solicitors to flee Hong Kong and Lai and So had represented the Lam brothers when Reid dropped charges against them.  Of course Lai and So weren't going to point out they had been bribing him for years longer than was alleged!

In relation to the collapse of the Ka Wah Bank (one of several Bank collapses that feature in the “Reid affair”) the principals of the Bank the Low brothers had fled to Taiwan.(16) According to Warwick Reid’s statement the Low brothers wanted to get their hands on witness statements made in the case and Mike Reid had spent his working hours photocopying the files with a view to selling this material (as he doubtless did in other aspects of Reid’s “covered-up” corruption.) Warwick Reid’s statement noted that “the ICAC were concerned for the safety of their witnesses.”(17) Mike Reid was never arrested or charged but was allowed to return to his native New Zealand where he later committed suicide. (18)  (Trying to make the world a better place?)

On the 10th September 1989 Dr David Chye was shot dead in the garage of his Sidney home. In January 1990 his sister Mrs Brenda Caleo was hacked to death at her Sydney home. Mrs Caleo was the former mistress of one of the Low brothers. Both murders remain unsolved.

In May 1990 the world famous surgeon heart surgeon (and friend of Princess Diana) Dr Victor Chang was shot dead in a street in Sydney. This time the Police had a lucky break. The professional hitman who gunned him down had dropped his wallet at the scene! (As you do!) (19)

Like Chief Superintendent John Orr of the Strathclyde Police Sydney’s finest grasped the essential principal of successful criminal investigation - “you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, and arrested the assassin, who had been working as a restaurant plongeur (dish-washer) as he boarded a flight to his native Malaysia.(20) He got life.

Marketing confidential files to suspects and to the ICAC was an important revenue stream for the Reid brothers. But had Mike Reid actually sold the Ka Wah Bank papers or was this passage in Reid’s statement created to exonerate the ICAC and the new Attorney General Jeremy Mathews from their own responsibility for the murder of these three witnesses?

The Hong Kong Government had brought a crackpot Civil action against the principals of the Ka Wah Bank which recovered $200HK (£20 sterling) of the $3HK billion (£300 million) liabilities of the Bank. To provided the evidence for this civil action the Hong Kong Government engaged the services of a firm of private detectives with a personal link to a senior ICAC officer. Did these private detectives actually conduct an “investigation” or did they simply use copies of statements given in confidence, passed to them illegally (under the secrecy clauses in the ICAC Ordinance)?

Evidence that contradicted Reid’s self-serving claims of the extent and duration of his corrupt activities was suppressed and the authorities relied on the fact they would not be trampled in the rush of Reid’s other paymasters to confess. Reid had channelled his corrupt payments (or at least the few deals that were admitted to) through a Singaporean bank account he had opened in his mother’s maiden name. The date this account was opened and the activity on the account went undisclosed in evidence.

Also not disclosed was that when 26 year old Reid joined the Hong Kong Government in 1975 he had recently divorced his wife and was supporting two children. (22) As a junior Crown Counsel, living a riotous bachelor lifestyle (23), Reid was under financial pressure as soon as he landed in Hong Kong eleven years before he supposedly became corrupt.

For the purposes of managing the “Reid Affair” the Hong Kong Legal Department (or the ICAC) imported a new DPP John Wood, former head of the UK Serious Fraud Office, who announced within days of his arrival that the ICAC had “got to the bottom of the Reid Affair.” How would he know? As a senior official of the Crown Prosecution Service Wood had become close friends with fellow Mason Graham Stockwell now the ICAC Director of Operations. (23)

As a Metropolitan Police Superintendent Stockwell had achieved a measure of fame in the Maxwell Confait case a Police abuse that nearly led to the resignation of the DPP. Maxwell Confait was a transsexual prostitute who died in a fire at his flat in 1972. Two days later two youths were seen running from a burning shed. After several hours in custody they had not only confessed to setting light to the shed but also to the murder of Maxwell Confait!  Charges were later dropped and a major enquiry followed. The case led directly to the introduction of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. (PACE).

Amongst the several “covered-up” aspects of Reid’s corrupt activities was the “Carrian” case. When conspiracy charges against the two Lam brothers (the supposed purchasers of the Bank of America Tower) were dropped and they became instead “witnesses” it apparently went quite unnoticed that in court they were represented by Oscar Lai and Eddie So.

The flight of Wong and Pun was a corrupt deal three years before the “official” start of Reid’s corrupt activities. Reid knew the two Solicitors had been placed on the Immigration Department stoplist and only the Police could remove them. At the time Oscar Lai was the senior Chinese lawyer at Deacons leaving soon after to start his own firm.

P:arallel to the “Reid affair” the ICAC had arrested Police superintendent Phil Layton together with a former ICAC officer John Picken on charges that were almost unintelligible. Layton was accused of “soliciting an advantage” by looking at the possibility of working in the private sector. He was acquitted after a lengthy and very expensive trial in which his sidekick Rod Starling was a reluctant witness against him, hampered by the fact that the charges against Layton was so ethereal.

Layton, who formerly led the Police Carrian investigation was represented by Martin Thomas QC (no known relationship to Michael Thomas QC) a former Lib-Dem parliamentary candidate. Martin Thomas was also representing Lorraine Osman who was facing corruption charges in the Carrian case which may give some clue as to the Sunday Times’ ultimate source of the Wimpey bribe story.

The Carrian Trial;

The prosecution in the “Police” Carrian case took nearly two years from September 1985 until June 1987 to present its case. At the close of the prosecution case the Trial Judge Dennis Barker, sitting alone, ruled that all defendants had no case to answer a ruling against which there was no appeal. The charges arose out of the 1981 accounts of Carrian and the four defendants in the case were George TAN, his assistant Bentley HO and two relatively junior Price Waterhouse accountants David Begg and Anthony Lo. Many of their more senior colleagues, partners in Price Waterhouse, had been interviewed and given statements after having been given immunity from prosecution by Reid and John Sulan.

The prosecution of Begg and LO was for reasons other than the interests of Justice. While the accounts of the public company had been falsified to overstate Carrian’s profitability through the Bank of America Tower scam Begg and LO were being prosecuted for failing to realise it was a fraudulent deal. Were these two juniors to blow the whistle when a senior partner in the firm was Chairman of Carrian?

The Carrian case was masterminded by a Foreign Office body called the Commonwealth Fraud Secretariat headed by Dr Barry Ryder, who had been one of the board that had appointed Reid to head the CCU. (Apart from the Carrian case a “Commonwealth” Secretariat had no real function). At the annual conference of Ryder’s private business C.I.D.O.E.C. held at Jesus College Cambridge in August 1994 the theme for the conference was “Making the Accountants Pay”. When this had actually been tried in the Carrian case it the UK taxpayer who ended up paying by funding "Pergau". (24)

(Had any of the Deacons Solicitors been convicted Deacons could have been facing a substantial Civil suit but John Wimbush was now dead and Wong and Poon had permanently absconded. Charges against a fourth Deacons solicitor were also dropped.)

Ryder’s sidekick was Dr David Chaikin an Australian Barrister. In 1981 Reid had supposedly recruited a South Australian Lawyer John Sulan to head the Carrian enquiry two years before the group’s collapse. In fact Sulan may have been recruited at the behest of his friend (and co-religionist) Chaikin.   Sulan did not personally prosecute any Carrian case and left the Hong Kong Government in 1985 to become the Australian Special Prosecutor into Alan Bond.

Another central personality in the affair was the Attorney General Michael Thomas who was appointed in 1983. Thomas had developed a "friendship" with the most prominent personality in Hong Kong Baroness Lydia Dunn who had many interests in the business and political sphere (in Hong Kong there was little distinction between the two.) Baroness Dunn was a Director and later Deputy Chairman of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank as well as thousands of other companies. Amongst her numerous positions she was Chairman of the ICAC Complaints Committee as well as being a principal advisor to the Foreign Office before leaving Hong Kong in the run-up to the 1997 handover.

In 1988 Thomas resigned as Attorney General, divorced his wife and married Ms Dunn. Despite being Reid’s supervisor for five years Thomas was unaware of Reid’s corrupt activities regarding him as being very able. (If ignorance is bliss Thomas must have been a very happy man.)

In a speech given prior to Reid’s arrest to the dinner of the Hong Kong Society of Accountants Thomas boasted of the skills and experience of the Legal Department’s (inept and corrupt) CCU but complained they were often left to pick up the pieces “after the bird has flown” and called on accountants to “blow the whistle at the earliest opportunity”. “Eternal vigilance” he pontificated “is the price of freedom”. ( 25 ) Despite sounding like he was touting for business and despite being a bit short on eternal vigilance himself the sole consequence of his ineptitude was that the ICAC dropped their annual claim to “work on the principal of supervisory accountability” from the Hong Kong Government yearbook.

Alan Bond and the "Bell Resources" Fraud ;

During the trial of Oscar LAI and Eddie SO some dirty laundry was aired. One of the interesting details to emerge concerned Michael Sandberg’s protégé Australian “entrepreneur” Alan Bond. In 1983 Bond had floated Bondcorp on the Hongkong Exchange. Bond then caused apoplexy by publicly announcing that the value of assets in Bondcorp far exceeded the offer price.

It transpired that the Police (Phil Layton) had obtained an arrest warrant for Bond in relation to this public statement. It further transpired that the Attorney General Michael Thomas had cancelled this warrant after being asked to do so by John Oates, Deputy Chairman of the HKSBC. (26) Thomas had done so “in consultation with his senior staff on the case” which included Reid and the future Australian Special Investigator of Alan Bond John Sulan.

When Sulan was appointed Special Investigator the major crime for which Bond was convicted had yet to be committed. In 1987 Bond bought a minority stake in the late Robert Holmes A’Court’s vehicle Bell Resources. Bond and cronies hijacked the board excluding other minority shareholders notably the AMP insurance group. Bell Resources was “cash-rich” earning interest from long-term cash deposits.

The new Bell board decided that these stuffy safe investments were not good enough. Instead they resolved to lend Bell Resources reserves to the financial black hole known as Bondcorp. Within two years Bell Resources had been looted of a $1,000 million Aus (this was when a billion dollars was a lot of money.) What became of the money was not explained. Little was recovered from the liquidation of Bondcorp.

The Bell Resources case was central to Sulan’s role as Special Investigator. Bond was eventually prosecuted but a “sweetheart” deal was struck. Bond pleaded guilty, was sentenced to five years in prison (he was out in three) and nobody else was prosecuted. No money was recovered.

There was more to “Bell Resources” concerning a frequently mooted merger of the British Midland Bank and the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank. A planned merger in 1988 had to be abandoned because of mounting losses in the Midland’s US operations and growing losses by the Hongkong Bank’s Australian subsidiary the Hongkong Bank of Australia which had massive unsecured exposure to Bond and a number of similar Australian "entrepreneurs."

How Bond had financed his stake in Bell Resources was a mystery. He must have borrowed the money from somebody and the party who lent him the money might be regarded as a party to the fraud. It was no secret that the Bell Resources fraud coincided with a substantial reduction in the Hongkong Bank of Australia’s exposure to Bondcorp. ( 27 )

In 1991 BCCI collapsed. BCCI had been inadequately supervised by a “college of regulators.” (i.e. no regulation at all!) Following the 1992 General Election the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank launched a takeover bid for the Midland Bank. The HKSB engaged the former Hong Kong Minister Francis Maude, who had lost his seat in the April 1992 General Election as “consultant” for the deal who was paid a fee of £1 million.

It is suspected that personalities associated with the HKSB and the Swire group had made substantial contributions to Conservative Party funds prior to the election and Prime Minister John Major had visited the territory the previous year and whist there solicited donations to party funds.

In 1995 David Leppard of the Sunday Times ran an expose of “Tory Party funding” a story of how several prominent Hong Kong personalities, some unsavoury, had funded the Conservative Party. However the guts of the story “Bell Resources”, the takeover of the Midland Bank and the contributions to the Conservative party of the Deputy Chairman of the Hongkong Bank, “named” insider dealer, LI Ka-shing was expunged as LI was a friend of the Sunday Times Business Editor Geoff Randall.

In order to supposedly prevent the BCCI fiasco ever occurring again (look around!) PM John Major had set up a Special Investigations Unit within the Bank of England. In response to the PM’s standard request for persons with relevant information to “come forward” the author drew the SIU’s attention to matters concerning the Bell Resources fraud and personalities associated with the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank. (27)

The SIU declined to pursue the matter unless the author agreed to his information being disclosed to the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption a body who covered-up systematic and related corruption in the Hong Kong Legal Department and who had disclosed confidential information resulting in the murder of three of their own witnesses! The regulation of a UK Bank was in the hands of a Hong Kong criminal enterprise who had kept personalities associated with the Hongkong Bank "out of the frame".

The “Cash for Questions” Affair;

On the 10th July 1994 (a few months after the publication of the Wimpey and Osman stories) The Sunday Times Insight Team published the first of several stories on the “cash for questions affair” an attempt to test the probity of MPs by offering them money to ask questions in the House of Commons. Two Tory MPs, both Parliamentary Private Secretaries initially accepted money to ask questions about a fictitious drug. One of the two (Graham Riddick) had second thoughts and returned the money.

The Sunday Times story became entwined in revelations published in The Guardian of a more systematic attempt to subvert Parliament involving the lobbying company Ian Greer Associates who maintained a “stable” of MPs for the purpose. The Guardian story featured the affairs of Mohammed Al-Fayed and the take-over of Harrods an arcane parliamentary affair of little or no interest to people in the real world.

Al-Fayed had apparently paid more than one Conservative MP for “advice” and the story led to the libel case brought against Al-Fayed by the former Trade Minister Neil Hamilton and the imprisonment of the former Minister for Defence Procurement Jonathan Aitken.

The Sunday Times’ attempt to entrap MPs was based on the experiences of the Sunday Times’ informant a “prominent businessman” who had experience of paying MPs to ask questions in the House. The informant was widely assumed to be Mr Al-Fayed. Mr Al-Fayed, no shrinking violet, was never shy in coming forward with allegations of wrongdoing. In fact the Sunday Times’ (self-styled) “prominent businessman” was Lorraine Osman for whom paying MPs to ask questions and paying for press coverage were aspects of his futile seven year long campaign to avoid extradition to Hong Kong. (Osman's later involvement with Irish Taoiseach Albert Reynolds led to his disgrace and resignation.)

Unaware and uninterested in the true motivation behind the story the Committee on Standards and Privileges nonetheless condemned the Sunday Times for the attempt to entrap MPs. The scandal led to the establishment of the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life in October 1994. By coincidence a member of the Nolan Committee, Peter Shore MP headed the Foreign Affairs Select Committee investigation of Pergau but being unaware and uninterested in the true story was unable to conduct a worthwhile investigation.

The “cash for questions” affair was a major contributory factor to “sleaze” the perception that MPs and particularly Conservative MPs were corrupt, and significantly contributed, to the defeat of the Conservative Government in the 1997 General Election.

Postscript: The Hong Kong Terrorist Association

In the summer of 1987 Hong Kong was rocked by a number of terrorist bombings carried out by an entity calling itself, rather lamely, the "Hong Kong Terrorist Association".    The Acting Governor David Ford had publicly promised the people of Hong Kong that the culprits would be brought to justice.

The "Masonic Verses" is essentially a blog about the Lockerbie case arising from how the Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary and in particular the CIO Chief Superintendent John Orr made a colossal blunder in "eliminating" Heathrow as the point at which the primary suitcase was introduced.   How could the Police make such an elementary blunder?   Well I had been there before.   My colleagues in the Royal Hong Kong Police were unable to solve the Hong Kong Terrorist Association case, even though I told them who did it!

In October 1987 (possibly as an aspect of the "Reid Affair") I was interdicted and never returned to duty.   One day I went to my parent unit and ran into an old friend Ricky who was in charge of the "Hong Kong Terrorist Association" investigation which was apparently going nowhere.    Ricky and I had worked together several years earlier with another officer nicknamed by the rank and file (without irony) as "mental".     One day "mental" just wasn't there any more.  He had been sacked.   I later heard he had been burgling his new place of employment just to show he was cleverer than the Police.

I suggested to Ricky that the culprit was somebody like "mental"   Ricky thought about this for a microsecond and said "no it couldn't be.   The person they were looking for was Chinese but spoke good English, had a grudge against the Police and was an expert chemist."   I responded that "mental" was Chinese and spoke good English, had a horrendous grudge against the Police in having been so badly humiliated and I told Ricky something he didn't know.   "Mental" was a graduate chemist.  Ricky considered this for a further mic5rosecond.  "No" he said, "couldn't be."   Curious that the OC case actually knew the bomber.   Contrary to the Acting Governor's pledge the case was never solved.  It was no surprise to me John Orr got it so badly wrong.

(1) Wimpey offered contract bribes to Malaysian prime minister John Davison Sunday Times 20.2.94 which refers to New evidence links aid for Malaysian dam to arms deal Sunday Times 23.1.94

(2)Panel discussion BBC2 Newsnight 4.3.94 featuring Andrew Neil

(3)David Jacobsen with Gerald Astor Hostage My Nightmare in Beirut Donald I.Fine 1991 (1993 Edition ) meeting with “John Smith” p.308

(4) Gavin Hewitt Terry Waite, Why Was He Kidnapped (published in US as Terry Waite and Oliver North ) Bloomsbury 1991 Chapter 4 The Inner Circle

(5) Chris Blackhurst Patten ‘fury’at Malaysia dam deal – Minister thought Pergau not proper use of aid
Independent –

(6) The Malaysian air-force bought 18 Mig 29s.

(7) John Davison Victim spends years in jail without trial Sunday Times 13.3.94

(8) Sunday Times 13.3.94

(9) Interview with Mike Kingston SCMP (South China Morning Post) 28.8.93

(10) John Davison Victim spends years in jail without trial Sunday Times 13.3.94

(11) Letter from Hong Kong (sic) (Macclesfield actually!) from Our Own Correspondent Private Eye 6.12.91

(12) Call for end to 6 year remand from Mr M.J.Kingston and others
Letters Times 9.9.91

(13) Sunday Times Feb.1996

(14) Andrew Neil Full Disclosure

(15) Statement to camera by Lady Thatcher featured on BBC TV as a
trailer. Date and time of statement unknown.

(16) “confession” statement of Charles Warwick Reid – not in public domain.

(17) Lindy Course Thomas in court denial of Reid claim SCMP 7.4.92

(18) Lindy Course Reid’s brother a ‘paid informant’ SCMP 11.2.92

(19) Sidney Police left in the dark over Hongkong link in murders Hongkong Standard 10.2.91

(20) Dropped wallet provided clue in surgeon’s killing SCMP 20.7.91

(21) Marriage cert.1853 All Saints Anglican Church Nelson, New Zealand 24.2.68

(22) Lindy Course Reid tells of lawyers’ sex and booze binges SCMP 11.2.92

(23) John Elliott Hong Kong given a morale boost Financial Times 19.10.90

(24) August 1994 Prospectus for conference of C.I.D.O.E.C.
Jesus College, Cambridge.

(25) Attorney General urges accountants to report business fraud SCMP 3.10.87

( 26) Terry Porter Thomas ‘killed Bond charge’ SCMP February 1992

(27) Paul Barry The Fall and Rise of Alan Bond page 198

(28) Author’s correspondence with Bank of England’s Special Investigations Unit.

The Masonic Verses Part V

The Elephant in the Room –
Richard Lawless & “Autumn Leaves”

I will never apologise for America; I don’t care what the facts are - I’m not an apologise for America kind of guy”. ( 1 )

Vice-President George H.W. Bush

The bombing of Pan Am 103 did not come as a bolt from the blue. It was expected and planned for. While it is widely recognised that the “Vincennes Incident” gave Iran a motive to retaliate, it is not widely recognised that the “Vincennes Incident” also gave the US Government a motive to collude in a measured or proportionate response on a calculation that any alternative course of action would result in far greater loss of life without any political benefit.

Save for those who perished, their friends and families (who at least received substantial compensation) Lockerbie and the creation of the “Libyan solution” worked out quite well. Most relatives, particularly the Americans were largely satisfied with the outcome of Camp Zeist and see no reason to question the guilt of Al-Megrahi or the culpability of the Libyan regime.

Our perception of events are conditioned by assumptions. It is widely, almost universally assumed that in the event of a threat to bomb a civilian airliner the authorities would do all in their power to prevent such an occurrence. This is not necessarily true. (for example credible claims, routinely but not convincingly denied, have been made that the Omagh bombing might have been prevented at the cost of the authorities revealing intelligence sources and surveillance techniques.)

The alternative to “Lockerbie” was not that the supposed warnings were acted on, the bombing prevented and nobody died but that different people, and perhaps many more people, would have died.

It was reputed the Ayatollah Khomeini had demanded the destruction of six aircraft in revenge.(2) Ayatollah Montashemi threatened that “the skies would rain blood”(3) while the Iranian Prime Minister stated the US “would not escape responsibility.”(4) A spokesman for the Iranian Embassy in London Mohamed Basti promised or threatened “an appropriate response to the magnitude of the crime”.(5) But what was an “appropriate response” and how would the Americans themselves respond to this unspecified response?

The American Government would have held crisis meetings, the deliberations of which will be likely be secret forever, to consider each possible Iranian response and to plan the US counter-response to each possible Iranian response and to consider in turn how the Iranians would respond to each US response and so on. This is basic International Relations theory. (By pretending retaliation for the Vincennes Incident never happened the proverbial “line in the sand” was drawn and the cycle of response, counter-response, counter counter-response was broken).

The Vincennes Incident would have been top of the agenda for the Inter Agency Group that met on a daily basis in the White House situation room. Comprising representatives of the State Department, the NSC, the CIA and the Military they would have co-ordinated US policy, initially the response of official spokesmen, including the President.

Beyond what was agreed these agencies, who were not only colleagues but rivals, they may have had their own agenda as competing groups within these agencies. For example what would be the collective view of the Military towards a major conflict in the Middle East and what was the view of the Army, Marine Corp and USAF towards the Navy’s conduct in the “Vincennes Incident”?

What where the possible Iranian responses that American planners would consider?

Firstly the Islamic Republic could have decided to forgive and forget, complain to the UNSC and the I.C.A.O., make some threats for domestic consumption, but essentially turn the other cheek. Unlikely as such a response may have seemed this is supposedly what actually happened obviating the need for any US response.

A second option might be that the Islamic Republic might try to pursue the matter under the Montreal Convention, demand the extradition of Captain Rodgers and his crew and put them on trial. This was not a proposition that the USA could countenance.

A third option was that Iran might attempt to destroy several aircraft. Such a plan was conceived and practised by the mastermind of the first World Trade Centre bombing Ramzi Younis who learned his bomb-making skills at Cardiff Polytechnic (an institution also attended by Mr Megrahi) and plans for a similar scheme were thwarted in theUK in the summer of 2006.

There are indications from the “Autumn Leaves” affair in which several aviation bombs were produced that this was the option initially chosen. It may be that different Iranian factions were pursuing different policies. “Autumn Leaves” was presented as a triumph to prevent an attack before “the baton was handed on to Libya.” Was it instead an operation to prevent unacceptable retaliation that would compel the US to make a drastic counter-response?

A fourth option might be that Iran would attempt to destroy a single aircraft. Increased security might prevent this (for a time) but sooner or later “the bomber would get through”. Would the Americans attempt to control the circumstances in which retaliation occurred in order to manage the consequences?

Further possible responses might be a limited or limitless campaign of terrorism, hostage-taking and attacks on US interests. Disproportionate retaliation would lead to counter-retaliation, escalation and war. Was there a way out of the impasse? If Iran retaliated by destroying a single aircraft the US Government could tolerate that (they had few practical alternatives) but it was essential for domestic considerations to pretend that retaliation had not occurred otherwise the pressure for counter-retaliation might be overwhelming.

The Americans could have tried to deter any Iranian reaction by a threat of the use of overwhelming counter-retaliation. There are no indications in the public domain that the US attempted to deter retaliation or even that a threat to the security of US aviation was even acknowledged following the Vincennes Incident.

At a meeting in London an un-named US official told Martin Cadman, father of a Lockerbie victim “my Government knows perfectly well who did this but they will never tell”.(6) This statement may have been absolutely true.

Alleged Meetings between Iranian Officials and a US Envoy:

Following the exposure of Colonel North’s “arms for hostages” operations triggered by the publication of an article in the Beirut newspaper “Al Shiraa” in October 1986 and the eruption of the “Iran-Contra” affair in Washington it might be assumed that the attempt to trade arms for hostages had been brought to an end.

The policy had been recognised by more sober minds in the State Department as being counter-productive. Giving the hostages value only encouraged further hostage-taking, not just of Americans but any Westerner then any foreigner. By the time North left the scene there were more Americans held in Beirut than when he started, his initiative having resulted in the release of just two or three hostages.

In two articles (7) (8) in his series of Lockerbie related articles Diary of a Vengenace Fortold Professor Ludwig De Braeckeleer wrote of a number of meetings that occurred in late September and early October 1988 between a former CIA officer Richard Lawless and four Iranian officials. According to Professor De Braeckeleer the purpose of these meetings were to discuss the ongoing Beirut Hostage Crisis and resulted in the release of one Hostage Mithelswar Singh an academic and US resident who had been held captive for 20 months.

According to other newspaper reports Lawless had handled the release of a South Korean diplomat who had been kidnapped in Beirut, apparently simply as a commercial venture. While the South Korean Government denied a ransom had been paid for his release it is likely that some ransom was paid. This was allegedly paid through Lawless’ Company.(9)

These claims were first made in October 1988 by former Iranian President Bani-Sadr (a man with doubtless very good sources and perhaps an interest in thwarting any rapprochment between the USA and the Islamic Republic) who alleged that both sides in the Presidential campaign had sent envoys to Iran and that an aide to Vice President Bush had held meetings in Switzerland with representatives of the Iranian Government in September and October. (10)

According to White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwalter:-

There is a fellow named Lawless. He is over there. What he’s up to nobody knows. But he doesn’t represent to United States….he does not represent the Vice President or the President or anybody else.” (10)

Lawless himself denies that these meetings took place or that he has even held negotiations on the Hostage issue or ever met with any Iranian official or person purporting to represent the Iranian Government.(10) Spokesmen for both Presidential candidates also denied their involvement in any negotiations to release the hostages.

Lawless’ business partner Therese Shaheen stated that Lawless’ passport and business charge records showed he was not in the area during that period, (9) a claim at odds with Fitzwater’s statement.

The “Iran-Contra” revelations had severely damaged President Reagan’s credibility. The “Hostage” portfolio was firmly in the remit of the State Department and Ambassador Paul Bremmer’s had instituted a strict policy of no negotiation and no publicity. It was the emotional appeal to the President himself that had wrecked a rational policy and Bremmer was determined Reagan’s sentimentality on this issue was not going to affect policy.

Further Vice-President George H.W.Bush was campaigning for the Presidency. Having been dogged by the claims of the “October Surprise”,* and attempting to distance himself from claims of his direct involvement in the “Iran-Contra” affair the surprise release of more hostages was probably not top of his wish list at that time.

After leaving the CIA in 1987, after the death of CIA Director Bill Casey and considerable recriminations in the agency following the exposure of aspects of “Iran-Contra”, Lawless. a Korean speaker, set up a consulting company dealing in trade with the Far East and developed ties with Taiwanese interests. There is nothing in the public record to link him with the Middle Eastern politics.

For four and a half years 2003-2007 he was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defence for North East Asia dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue. The husband of his business partner Therese Sheheen was Chief of Staff to Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who resigned in November 2006 and was replaced by former CIA Director Robert Gates. (Deputy Director at the time of the Lockerbie disaster).

According to a number of Internet sources Lawless was the protégé of many senior Republican figures. He served in Korea when the Station Chief was Donald Gregg President George H.W. Bush’s National Security Adviser, one of his two closest friends in politics with whom he also co-authored a book. He was associated with Dick Cheney (later George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Defence) and with other rising stars referred to collectively as the “Lawless Group.”. (Is there a pun intended?) He had been spoken of as a possible Director of a “reformed” (i.e. partisan) CIA earlier in the Presidency of George W.Bush. (11).

However his most interesting relationship was with Jeb Bush, second son of George H.W.Bush. Jeb Bush and Richard Lawless appear to be close business associates and Jeb Bush acquired considerable wealth from his participation in deals involving Richard Lawless. ( 12 ) When Jeb Bush was Florida’s Commerce Secretary Lawless’s Company won contracts to promote Florida in Asia. (13)

In July 1988 Jeb Bush left his post as Florida’s Commerce Secretary to work full-time on his father’s Presidential Campaign (as did older brother George W.Bush). Later Jeb Bush was seen as his father’s political “heir” and far more likely to succeed him that his older brother.

Did Lawless meet with Iranian officials in September and October 1988 and for what purpose? Save for the comments of Marlin Fitzwalter and the claims of Bani Sadr there is little evidence that he did and none about what was discussed. Could they have held discussions about the hostage situation, as Professor De Braeckeleer alleges, and ignore The Elephant in the Room, the shoot-down of an Iranian civilian airliner by a US warship?

The idea of having contacts with the hated Iranian regime was anathema and allegations of such contacts were strenuously denied. But if the Americans were not talking to the Iranians perhaps they should have been. The Republican party were anxious to secure the Reagan legacy and possible Iranian retaliation for the “Vincennes Incident” threatened George H.W. Bush’s road to the White House. In 1980 the Iranians had had a decisive effect on the outcome of the Presidential Election.

Autumn Leaves;

While the “Autumn Leaves” affair occurred eight weeks prior to the bombing of Pan Am 103 as an aspect of Lockerbie it relates largely to the first ten months of the investigation when the Police were convinced of a link between Lockerbie and the activities of the West German cell of Ahmed Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine–General Command (PFLP-GC). While this link was discounted when evidence of the supposed “rogue suitcase” materialised the Police were probably correct. They were then unable to square the circle having “eliminated” Heathrow as the point at which the bomb was introduced. (14 )

However there are four aspects to the “Autumn Leaves” affair that are of particular significance in the build-up to Lockerbie. These are:

(a) The travel movements of Abu Talb

(b) The existence of a plot to build bombs suitable for use against commercial civilian aircraft

(c) That the Central Intelligence Agency had an active policy

(d) The timing of the arrests.

Abu Talb’s Travel Movements:

Abu Talb was an Egyptian born Palestinian militant who had been granted political asylum in Sweden. His relationship, if any, to the Lockerbie incident, remains unproven. In the film The Maltese Double Cross evidence was fabricated to “prove” a relationship between Abu Talb and Khalid Jafaar a Lockerbie victim who was central to Francovich’s fraudulent claims. (15) He was imprisoned in Sweden in 1989 in relation to attacks on Jewish targets in Copenhagen on the 21st July 1985 and Stockholm and Amsterdam 1986. He was called as a witness in the Camp Zeist trial and was hostile to the defence who were unable to obtain a full and coherent account of his activities.

Interest in Abu Talb centres around his movements in October and November 1988. He left Sweden on the 3rd October 1988 flying to Larnaca. In Cyprus he met his Hafez Dalkamoni a member (leader?) of the “Autumn Leaves group. He then flew to Rome on the 18th October 1988 where he attempted to board a flight for Libya but was ejected from the plane by Libyan security guards. At Camp Zeist he claimed that he planned to fly to Libya in order to enter neighbouring Egypt illegally overland in order to visit his mother. As a deserter from the Egyptian Army he was wanted in Egypt.

In the Lockerbie case the authorites constructed an elaborate scenario to “prove” the primary suitcase was introduced at Malta in order to incriminate Al-Megrahi and Libya. If the Autumn Leaves group planned to bomb one or more civilian aircraft might a subsequent revelation that one of the group had begun his journey in Tripoli be used to “prove” Libyan involvement?

Having been thrown off the plane to Tripoli Abu Talb flew instead to Malta on the 19th October 1988 leaving on the 26th October and returning to Sweden. Despite intense questioning by the defence team at Camp Zeist Abu Talb refused to say by what route he had returned to Sweden. He did not use the unexpired portion of his return ticket to Cyprus. The significance of the matter is that the 26th October 1988 was the date on which the West German authorities moved against the Autumn Leaves group. Was Abu Talb to collect, or did he collect, an aviation bomb on the way to Sweden?

An associate of Abu Talb’s was Imad Chabaan @ Martin Imandi. On the 24th July 1985 Imandi travelled to England by the Gothenburg Ferry to lay low for a while. Imandi had been to England get married. ( 16) This is a possible route by which the primary suitcase was brought to England. As it incorporated a barometric trigger this was probably a lot safer than flying and security on a ferry would not be looking for an aviation bomb.

The objective of the “Autumn Leaves” gang

The central point of the Autumn Leaves conspiracy is that it appears to represent a plot to build several aviation bombs and therefore one mighty deduce a plan to bomb several planes. The extent of the plot are not known because the PFLP-GC bombmaker, the Jordanian Marwan Khreesat was released from custody and left West Germany soon after his arrest. While Khreesat was subsequently interviewed by FBI agents who gave hearsay evidence of what Khreesat said the defence had no opportunity to question or cross-examine him.

In the “special defence” advanced by the defence teams at Camp Zeist Abu Talb and Directors of the Mishca bakery in Malta were named as suspects (lending credence to the “Malta scenario”) while Khreesat was not. As Khreesat had not been named in the Special Defence their Lordships were not inhibited from accepting his “evidence”.

Marwan Khreesat – A CIA Informant:

It was revealed at the Camp Zeist trial that Marwan Khreesat was an “asset” of the CIA. The Camp Zeist Judgement stated that:-

“it is also to be noted that the cell’s principal bomb-maker was one Marwan Khreesat who was in fact an agent who infiltrated the cell on behalf of the Jordanian Intelligence Service. His instructions from them were that any bomb he made must not be primed. Moreover while he himself did not give evidence, there was evidence of a statement given by him to FBI agents in which he said he never used radio cassette players with twin speakers (such as the Toshiba RT-SF 16) to convert into explosive devices”. (17)

Khreesat was suspect in three earlier aviation bombings. In 1970 47 people had died when a Swissair jet from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv exploded and on the same day an Austrian Airways flight from Frankfurt to Israel survived an explosion. Khreesat was also suspect in the bombing of an El Al jet from Rome to Tel Aviv in August 1972.(18) The plane made an emergency landing.

The claim about Khreesat’s supposed instructions not to prime the bombs does not arise from his “statement”. On the contrary he “stated” (via the FBI) that he felt constrained, due to his being closely supervised, from doing this and the devices he built were fully functioning. (19)

Indeed on the 17th April 1989, following an intelligence tip the BKA returned to search the basement of a grocer’s shop belonging to one of the Autumn Leaves group and recovered two further IEDs that had supposedly been there since October the previous year. Later that day two BKA technicians attempted to disarm one of the devices in an armoured workshop at BKA HQ. The device exploded killing one technician Hans Sonntag and seriously injuring another. Contrary to the Camp Zeist Judgement Khreesat’s IEDs (if these further devices were the work of Marwan Khreesat) were lethal.(20) The West German authorities did not pursue the death of Sonntag as a criminal matter.

Their Lordships also saw no reason to question Khreesat’s reported claim that he never used a radio-cassette with twin speakers. He would have had an obvious motive to deny having built the bomb that killed 270 people and his claim may have been self-serving. His claim may however have been true.

The Lockerbie IED was allegedly concealed within a black twin speaker model SF-16, Toshiba radio-cassette player. Khreesat had built an IED within a model RT-f453D single-speaker model (recovered from the boot of Dalkamoni’s Ford Taurus on the 26th October 1988 in Neuss.) Khreesat also possessed a second 453 model single-speaker Toshiba which was also recovered.(21)

However the identification of the radio-cassette in the Lockerbie case, which was blasted to smithereens in the explosion, is extremely dubious. Essentially it is predicated on the recovery of one of the most curious exhibits in the case – a charred owners manual for a twin speaker SF-16 radio-cassette recovered eighty miles away and assumed to relate to the IED radio-cassette. (22) (No other Toshiba radio-cassette was recovered in the wreckage.)

In the official version of events Megrahi (or somebody else) built a bomb within a Toshiba radio-cassette. This was stored in Malta or flown from Libya to Malta. At some point the radio-cassette was placed in a bronze samsonite tourister suitcase together with a quantity of clothing that had been purchased at the Saint Mary’s House Boutique Silema and in the official version the timer was set. But why would they put the owner’s manual into the suitcase as well?

Some observers believe that the IED that destroyed flight PA103 was similar in construction and design to the device recovered from Dalkamoni’s Ford Taurus on the 26th October 1988. It is not known into whose custody this device was eventually entrusted and it is not impossible that this was the device that destroyed flight PA103..

The Timing;

The most significant aspect of the Autumn Leaves case was the timing of the arrests at a point when it appears that the PFLP-GC were about to put their plans into action. The arrests were made on Wednesday 26th October 1988 at which time a fully functioning aviation bomb concealed with a Toshiba radio-cassette recorder was recovered.

Wednesday 26th October 1988 was six days before the US Presidential Election held on Tuesday 1st November 1988. What would have happened if the “Autumn Leaves” group had not been neutralised and what they had planned had gone ahead?

It was George H.W.Bush who had defended the “Vincennes Incident”, George H.W.Bush who said he would never apologise for America. According to Marlin Fitzwalter it was Richard Lawless “over there” a man apparently seen as a representative of George H.W.Bush. Could a terrorist atrocity have had a major impact on the Election? (23)

In 1980 Ronald Reagan had beaten the incumbent Jimmy Carter in a landslide, only the second time in US History that an elected incumbent President had been defeated. The Iranian Government had played a decisive part in that election in holding the US Embassy Hostages. Carter was campaigning against the backdrop of the hostage situation whose release was eventually timed to coincide with Reagan’s inauguration. This was not a gesture of conciliation but tgo underscore how a US domestic election had been affected by the issue.

If Iranian revenge for the “Vincennes Incident” was inevitable it could have come at a worse time for George H.W.Bush. Although he would have to deal with the situation the election was safely out of the way. He was still Vice-President but President-elect working to organise the new administration. Ronald Reagan, who had never recovered from the Iran-Contra revelations of late 1986 where it was revealed that he had little knowledge or control over what officials were doing, was still President perhaps already affected by Alzheimer’s.

Until the announcement of the indictment in the fourth year of Bush’s Presidency (long after the end of the Gulf War) the investigation had, to the disgust of the relatives, had apparently been glacial. It was the 41st President George Herbert Walker Bush who famously announced that Syria and Iran had taken a “bum rap.”

As pointed out in Parts I & III the object of the indictment was not a trial but sanctions against Libya. These could not be introduced without the changes to the Security Council that took effect on the 1st January 1992 and the main sanctions resolution 738 was passed on the 31st March 1992. That summer Bush was to campaign for re-election essentially on his foreign policy record and presumably had some foreign policy plans for his second term involving the Middle East.

*The “October Surprise” was the claim, almost certainly a hoax, that prior to the 1980 Presidential Election the Republicans had made some agreement with Iran that the US Embassy hostages would not be released until after the Presidential Election ensuring Reagan’s victory. (In the event their release coincided with the inauguration.)

Central to this claim was a purported former CIA officer Oswald Le Winter who claimed to have been involved in arranging security for a meeting that occurred in Paris attended by Vice-Presidential candidate George H.W.Bush. Unfortunately for Le Winter’s story on this day Bush was filmed in Washington.

A claim was therefore made that another native Austrian Gunther Russbacher, who purports not only to be a master spy but a USAF test pilot had flown Bush from Paris to Washington in two hours in an experimental plane. (Russbacher’s astonishing exploits and incredible adventures can be enjoyed on the Rumour Mill website run by his ex Raylean.)

The “October Surprise” hoax was exposed in a BBC current affairs expose made by the late Alan Francovich and Jane Ryder with whom he was romantically involved. Le Winter (filmed with a bag on his head) confessed it was a hoax. A decade later Francovich employed Le Winter as his “consultant” in the fraudulent documentary The Maltese Double Cross purporting Le Winter had been employed by the CIA even after exposing the “October Surprise”. Some of the “evidence” staged by Le Winter for The Maltese Double Cross, notably a telephone conversation between Le Winter and a supposed former CIA colleague was so blatantly fabricated even lawyers at the Scottish Crown Office noticed it.

After Francovich died Russbacher dumped his wife, divorced her without her knowledge in Mexico, and married Jane Ryder in California apparently forgetting he was already married!

Oswald Le Winter ended up in gaol in his native Austria in 1999 having been convicted of having tried to sell Mohamed Al-Fayed “evidence” the CIA colluded with MI6, Prince Philip ect. in the murder of Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana. This was (according to Winter and his ilk) a CIA/FBI plot to prevent Le Winter appearing as a witness in the Camp Zeist trial. (see Other Theories of the Spiro Murders in Part II The Mysterious Life and Death of Ian Spiro.)

( 1 ) Vice-~President George H.W.Bush quoted at a campaign rally 2.8.88 quoted in “Perspectives” in Newsweek Magazine 15.8.88.

(2) Claim attributed to Vincent Cannistraro reported in David Leppard On the Trail of Terror Jonathan Cape, London 1991 page 212

(3) Susan and Dan Cohen PA103 New American Library 2000
page 34

(4) PA 103

(5) Film library clip featured in BBC2 Correspondent The Other Lockerbie

(6) Interview with Martin Cadman featured in Alan Francovich’s The
Maltese Double Cross

(7)Former Iranian President Reveals Secret US Talks With Iran by Professor Ludwig De Braeckeleer Ohmynews International 9.10.08

(8) US Official Denies Arms for Hostages Deal With Iran by
Professor Ludwig De Braeckeleer Ohmynews International 10.10.08

( 9) Hostage Deals; Koreans Look to the US by Robert Neff 23.8.07

(10) Exiled Iranian President Connects Both Candidates to Hostage Talks
New York Times 5.10.88

(11)Tompaine.commonsense 15.11.2004

(12) Alecia Swasy & Robert Trigaux Make the Money and Run St
Petersburg Times Online 20.9.1998

(13) The Masonic Verses Part III Lockerbie – Criminal Justice or War
by Other Means
section The Historical/Political Background refers
to Jeb Bush’s association with right-wing Cuban exiles linked to the
bombing of Cubanair flight 455 when George H.W. Bush was
Director of the CIA .

(14) The Masonic Verses Part I Lockerbie – the Heathrow Evidence

(15)See Francovich The Maltese Double Cross or any version of the
Drug Conspiracy Theory”.

(16) Leppard page 184

(17) Judgement para.75

(18) Leppard page 8, 141

(19) Evidence of Hal Hendershott of interview with Marwan Khreesat
(get Glasgow Law School Lockerbie Trial website.

(20) Leppard 142

(21) Leppard p.11

(22) Camp Zeist Judgement para.10

(23) In the event Bush beat Dukakis by 426 – 111 in the Electoral College
and by 53.8% to 42.6% in the popular vote a considerable margin of