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

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