Subject: more S+L links CIA money laundering Keywords: more of Pete Brewton's uncovering o

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Subject: more S&L links CIA money laundering Keywords: more of Pete Brewton's uncovering of CIA-MOB-S&L connections The following article appeared in the August edition of "The Monthly Planet, a publication of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze of Santa Cruz County, Box 8463, Santa Cruz, CA 95061, 408/429-8755. This is a very useful and informative alternative media source offering an 11- issue/year subscriptions for $15. ($10 for student/senior/low income) ------------------------------------------------------------------------- CIA Links to the Savings & Loan Scandal by Joseph A. Palermo The federal government is now just beginning to sift through the wreckage of what appears to be the largest crime in American history. The Office of Thrift Supervision, which oversees the nation's savings and loans, is barely able to record the collapse of over 1,300 financial institutions, let alone do anything to arrest it. Congress has done little to spotlight the full scope of the savings and loan fraud, even though it has estimated the cost to taxpayers will be $500 billion over the next 40 years. In other words, it will cost every American man, woman, and child at least $2,000 to pay for what "Time" magazine called "a decade-long orgy" of wild spending and speculation resulting in the establishment of government guarantees that "privatized profits and socialized losses." The Justice Department estimates that massive fraud caused the failure of 450 savings and loans seized so far by the federal government. It also estimates that it will take over five years to prosecute the 100 institutions on its priority list. Most of the money lost in S&L failures has yet to be traced to its ultimate destination. Worthless loans, kickbacks, false appraisals, and insider fraud have accounted for much of the misspent funds. Federal and congressional investigators who have the subpoena power to trace the money have shown little interest in doing so. Federal regulatory agencies have suffered enormous cutbacks in recent years as part of the Reagan-Bush legacy of deregulation, and are hopelessly understaffed and underfunded to take on a financial crisis of this magnitude. Most of the billions of dollars "lost" have been so expertly laundered or tied to assets through shell companies and off- shore banks that the Justice Department predicts that hundreds of cases will go unprosecuted. Criminal activity was the primary cause in the collapse of two of every five S&Ls that failed. A significant number of insolvent thrifts which could cost taxpayers as much as $75 billion have been linked to the activities of organized crime figures and CIA operatives. In a series of articles published in the "Houston Post" earlier this year, investigative reporter Pete Brewton unearthed numerous ties with the CIA, the Mafia, or both in the failure of at least 25 savings and loans, including 16 in Texas. Some of the players have also been involved in gun-running, drug- smuggling, money laundering, and covert aid to the Nicaraguan Contras. Fraud was the key factor in the failure of each of these S&Ls. Richard Brenneke, a CIA contract agent for eighteen years and a Portland, Oregon arms dealer, testified during a federal court trial in Denver in 1988 that the CIA effort to raise money for covert operations involves a number of schemes to siphon funds from financial institutions "at the expense of an insurance company," meaning the federal deposit insurance program. After the trial, Brenneke told the "Houston Post" that banking and S&L officials involved in such schemes were required to sign "secrecy agreements" with the CIA. Evidence obtained from court documents, sworn testimony, law enforcement records and interviews with government investigators and prosecutors suggests that the CIA may have used part of the proceeds from S&L fraud to help pay for covert operations and other activities that Congress was unwilling to support. Brewton following an 18-month investigation, also found evidence that the CIA may have intervened in criminal investigations involving agency operatives accused of S&L fraud. Lloyd Monroe, a former prosecutor with the Justice Department's organized crime strike force, said federal agencies responsible for investigating S&L fraud are "being precluded from investigating wrongdoing that is possibly being conducted in the name of national security." The former prosecutor said he was told by FBI agents to drop an investigation of one individual connected to bank failure because that individual had "CIA connections" and therefore held a "get-out-of-jail-free card." A former FBI agent has corroborated the prosecutor's statements. Brewton's articles in the "Houston Post" eventually caught the attention of Rep. Frank Annunzio (D-IL) who chairs the financial institutions subcommittee of the House Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over all legislation affecting banks, thrifts, credit unions and the federal agencies that regulate them. Annunzio has asked CIA Director William Webster to appear before the panel in a closed-door session to address the evidence of CIA involvement in S&L fraud. But CIA Director Webster has refused to testify before Annunzio's subcommittee and the CIA has only provided vague denials of its involvement through its public relations office. In response to the allegations, CIA spokesperson Mark Mansfield said that S&L fraud "would be a violation of U.S. laws, and we do not violate U.S. laws." CIA Public Affairs Director James Greenleaf sent a letter to the "Houston Post" in response to Brewton's article of February 4, 1990, which first made the connection between the CIA and some failed thrifts, stating that "for the record, such a claim is not true; the CIA would not participate in fraudulent activities." Because CIA Director Webster refused to testify and because Rep. Annunzio's subcommittee staff is limited, Annunzio has asked Rep. Anthony Beilenson (who chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which has jurisdiction over the CIA) to undertake a complete investigation of the various allegations involving the CIA and failed financial institutions. Annunzio wrote to Beilenson: "In the face of the billions of dollars that are being paid to protect depositors, we cannot allow any suggestion that the Central Intelligence Agency was behind the failure of any financial institution not to be investigated." Annunzio also wrote referring to the derailed criminal investigations, "I do not think a well-respected former justice Department prosecutor and a former FBI agent would make up something so serious as the CIA charges." The CIA has promised to "fully cooperate" with any investigation by the intelligence committee. If the intelligence committee decides to pursue a serious investigation, a number of connections between individual CIA operatives, organized crime figures, and failed financial institutions will have to be explored. For example, Robert L. Corson, a Houston developer connected with the fraud-related failures of several S&Ls, has been identified by a former CIA operative as a "mule," meaning that he carried large sums of unaccountable cash from country to country for the agency. The CIA would neither confirm nor deny whether Corson had a relationship with the agency, a common agency practice. Lawrence Freeman, a lawyer who helped engineer a fraudulent Florida land transaction that caused the collapse of two savings and loans, allegedly has ties to both the CIA and organized crime. Freeman, a twice-convicted money launderer, has ties to the CIA dating back to the early 1960s when he worked with the late Paul Helliwell. Helliwell was a top officer in southeast Asia in World War II with the Office of Strategic Services, the wartime predecessor of the CIA, and was a close associate of the late William Casey, Reagan's CIA director. Helliwell was a founding member of the CIA and participated in many covert operations including efforts to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Freeman and Helliwell were senior partners in Castle Bank and Trust in the Bahamas during the early 1970s when it was used by the CIA and organized crime to launder money. Freeman pleaded guilty to laundering money for a convicted drug smuggler and was sentenced to three years in prison. He is now out on parole but is barred from practicing law. Freeman and Helliwell's Castle Bank and Trust folded in 1977, following Helliwell's death. According to journalist Jonathan Kwitny, the author of "The Crimes of Patriots," it was then that the CIA and the Mafia turned over their money laundering operations to the infamous Nugan Hand Bank in Australia and to companies in the English Channel tax haven of the Isle of Jersey. Freeman allegedly wired millions of dollars to shell companies on the island as part of the land transaction that played a role in the failure of two thrifts. Some of the money from this deal may have been diverted for use in CIA-sponsored covert operations. Officers of these companies were also reportedly used by Freeman to launder drug smuggling proceeds. But Freeman's biggest money laundering client, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement records, was an organized crime figure called "the Cobra" by Freeman and his associates. Law enforcement sources in Florida and Texas have identified "the Cobra" as Mafia boss Santo Trafficante of Tampa, who died in 1987. Trafficante's involvement in the CIA's attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro in the early 1960s is well documented. During this period, he was also involved with Helliwell in CIA-sponsored anti-Castro activities. A close associate of Trafficante who also participated in CIA anti- Castro plots was New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello. Marcello has extensive business ties with fellow Louisiana organized crime figure Herman Beebe. Beebe pleaded guilty to fraud in connection with a loan at State Savings in Dallas and has twice been successfully prosecuted. He was involved in a scheme in the early 1970s to smuggle guns and explosives to anti-Castro Cubans operating in Mexico. Beebe also had business dealings with Edward "Fast Eddie" Susalla, whose son Scott pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine in 1985 in one of the largest drug busts in southern California history. It was Herman Beebe who provided the seed capital for the creation of Palmer National Bank in Washington, D.C., which was controlled by two officials of the George Bush 1980 presidential campaign, Stefan Halper and Harvey McLean. Halper was policy director for Bush's 1980 campaign, while McLean was southern finance chairman and a Bush fundraiser. McLean became a major player in a number of failed savings and loans in Texas where fraud was a factor and has been placed in involuntary bankruptcy. McLean owned Paris Savings and Loan in Paris, Texas, which failed in 1988 and was merged with 11 other insolvent Texas S&Ls at a total cost to the federal government of $1.3 billion. The "New York Times" and the "Washington Post" reported that Palmer National Bank actively arranged loans for wealthy, right-wing Republicans and their pet projects. Halper and McLean first met while they were working on the Bush 1988 presidential campaign. Palmer National loaned money to individuals and organizations that were involved in covert aid to the Nicaraguan Contras. In February 1985 the National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty (NEPL), a conservative foundation run by Iran-Contra figure Carl "Spitz" Channell, secured $650,000 from Palmer National to illegally purchase weapons for the Nicaraguan Contras. Channell was one of the few private citizens convicted of crimes in the Iran-Contra scandal. He was the first to plead guilty to illegal activities in the scandal, and was placed on two years' probation for illegally using NEPL to help Oliver North raise donations for military supplies for the Contras. Channell recently died of pneumonia while recovering from a car accident. The money went through NEPL's account at Palmer National to a Swiss bank account used by North for Contra funding and the secret arms deals with Iran. NEPL raised about $10 million for the Contras after Congress had banned such military aid. While Stefan Halper was helping NEPL secure loans at Palmer National to buy guns for the Contras, his father-in-law Ray Cline, a former deputy director of intelligence in the CIA, was an adviser to a firm associated with retired Major General John Singlaub, one of the principal leaders of private efforts to supply the Contras. In addition, the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC) borrowed more than $400,000 from Palmer National, as did political action committees for Senator Bob Dole (R-KS.) and then-Rep. Jack Kemp (R-NY). Palmer National co-founder Halper also helped set up Oliver North's legal defense fund. Halper's name appears in North's final entry in his White House notebook the day he was fired by the president on November 25, 1986, under the heading "Legal Defense Fund." "Ollie is a friend of mine and at the time I thought we might be able to help him," Halper later recalled. Finally, Palmer National, although still solvent, held a $250,000 note on a California beach house that was used by organized crime associates and figured in the criminal convictions of two savings and loan figures. Halper's connections to the intelligence community were primarily through his former father-in-law Cline, a career CIA officer. Cline became a top foreign policy and defense adviser to George Bush during the 1980 campaign. According to an article which appeared in the "Village Voice" in 1988, when Bush was seeking the Republican presidential nomination, Cline boasted during the 1980 primaries that he intended to "organize something like one of my old CIA staffs" to help Bush win. The "New York Times" reported that Bush, who was CIA director from January 1976 to January 1977, received offers of campaign assistance from many former CIA officials. The "Village Voice" reported that even active CIA agents may have worked for the Bush campaign. Some key operatives who were linked to the CIA and played significant roles in failed thrifts in Texas also worked for George Bush's Presidential campaign. For example, Halper, in addition to being a co-founder of Palmer National Bank and policy director for the Bush campaign, was allegedly part of the Reagan-Bush election team that participated in the October 1980 Paris negotiations with representatives of Iran that has come to be known as the "October Surprise." Halper worked with long-time CIA official Robert Gambino in an intelligence operation guided by Reagan-Bush campaign director William Casey (who went on to become CIA director). According to former CIA agent Richard Brenneke and several independent researchers, there was a secret effort by the Reagan-Bush campaign to make contacts with Iranian government officials to offer arms and other concessions if Iran agreed to hold the American hostages until after Jimmy Carter's defeat in the November 1980 election, thus avoiding an "October Surprise" release of the hostages. William Casey, Richard Allen (who became Reagan's first National Security Adviser), George Bush, and Stefan Halper were all allegedly involved in the plan, which involved super-secret meetings in Paris in October 1980. Halper also emerged as a key figure in the so-called "Debategate" scandal. A House subcommittee concluded that James Baker, who was in charge of the Reagan debate group, obtained then-President Jimmy Carter's briefing materials for the upcoming debates with Ronald Reagan from William Casey, who was then the Reagan-Bush campaign director. Someone within the Carter White House pilfered Carter's debate briefing notes and passed them on to the Reagan-Bush team. Halper allegedly played a role in both the "October Surprise" and "Debategate," and was rewarded after the election with the appointment of Deputy Director of Politico-Military Affairs for the State Department. William Casey went on to become CIA director, James Baker became Reagan's chief of staff, then Treasury Secretary, and then Bush's Secretary of State. Baker was instrumental in first bringing Halper into the Reagan-Bush campaign. Meanwhile, charges of conflict of interest against Neil Bush, the President's son, will be taken up at a September hearing by federal regulators. The younger Bush served on the board of directors of Silverado Banking, Savings and Loan Association of Denver, Colorado, which collapsed in December 1988 at an estimated cost to taxpayers of $1.3 billion. The charges accuse Bush of voting to loan over $100 million to business associates who subsequently defaulted, and failing to properly disclose the extent of his business dealings with the borrowers. Federal regulators may file a $200 million lawsuit against Neil Bush and other Silverado directors and officers. The Office of Thrift Supervision released documents stating that the 34-year-old Bush was "unqualified and untrained" to be a director of Silverado. "He had no experience managing a large corporation, especially a financial institution with almost $2 billion in assets," the OTS documents said. With the president's son involved in the failure of one of the larger S&Ls, the crisis has received more attention in Washington and in the media. So far both Democrats and Republicans have pointed the finger at each other. Democratic National Committee Chair Ron Brown said that Republicans cannot escape the fact that "George Bush, Ronald Reagan and their high-roller friends ran the government, designed the S&L policy and handpicked the people that gutted the oversight agencies. They are now being forced to take responsibility for the greatest rip-off in American history." It will be difficult for the Republicans to skirt this issue in the upcoming mid-term elections and therefore the savings and loan crisis may have immediate political effects. Time will tell whether or not the American taxpayer will be able to bear the burden of yet another expensive scandal. Joseph A. Palermo teaches United States History at Hartnell Community College in Salinas, and Gavilan Community College in Gilroy. -- daveus rattus yer friendly neighborhood ratman KOYAANISQATSI ko.yan.nis.qatsi (from the Hopi Language) n. 1. crazy life. 2. life in turmoil. 3. life out of balance. 4. life disintegrating. 5. a state of life that calls for another way of living. ============================================================================= The following article, summarizing Pete Brewton's, ("Houston Post's" investigative reporter) continuing examination of CIA and organized crime involvement in the failure of various S&Ls, appeared in "IN THESE TIMES", July 18-31, and is reprinted here with permission. --------------------------------------------------------------------------- One White House, many gates By Joel Bleifuss The "Houston Post"'s Pete Brewton continues to report on CIA and organized crime involvement in the failure of 25 federally insured financial institutions, the bailout of which will cost the taxpayers an estimated $75 billion. Though this time the money trail leads straight to the White House door, the papers of record--the "New York Times," "Washington Post" and "Los Angeles Times," upon which we must unfortunately depend to set the national agenda--continue to ignore the "Houston Post" series. Brewton's latest installment details the story of a solvent institution, the Palmer National Bank of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1983 by two men active in George Bush's failed 1980 presidential campaign, Palmer was the bank of choice for right-wing organizations and Republican officials. The National Conservative Political Action Committee borrowed more than $400,000 from Palmer. It also lent money to PACs headed by Republicans Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas and former Rep. Jack Kemp of New York. And Palmer was one of the financial institutions where convicted Irangate felon Oliver North's contra-aid network stashed its cash. Palmer has assets of less than $100 million, a surprisingly meager amount for a bank that occupies a modern 11-story building three blocks from the White House. IRANGATE: Brewton reports that in February 1985, the contra-support organization National Endowment for the Preservation of Liberty (NEPL) opened its first of four accounts at Palmer. In April 1986, NEPL transferred $650,000 from one of those accounts to a Swiss bank account that North used to deal arms to Iran and thus fund the contras. NEPL was founded by the late Carl "Spitz" Channell, who died this year of pneumonia. This crack fundraiser brought in about $10 million for the ClA's anti-Sandinista army, including $5 million that Channell charmed out of two right-wing dowagers whom he code-named "Dog Face" and "Ham Hocks." As a token of NEPL's appreciation, large donors were able to meet privately with then-President Reagan. After the Iran-contra scandal broke, it was discovered that not all the NEPL money had reached the contras--some of it had been siphoned off for Channell's and his boyfriend's personal use. But Channell was not sentenced to two years' probation for this diversion of funds. (Contra dollars were used to purchase silk underwear and a condo, among other things.) He was convicted for helping the Reagan-Bush White House arm the contras at a time when Congress had outlawed such military support. A HALPER HAND: Brewton reports that a former high-level Palmer employee told him that Channell established his NEPL accounts at Palmer with the help of Stefan Halper, one of the bank's two founders and a friend of North's. Halper was policy director of Bush's 1980 presidential campaign. Halper was connected to the intelligence community through his father-in-law, Ray Cline, a former CIA deputy director who also advised Bush during his 1980 campaign. The "Village Voice" reported in 1988, "Any inquiry into the 1980 Bush campaign would have to begin with Dr. Ray S. Cline. ... Cline boasted during the primaries that he intended to 'organize something like one of my old CIA staffs' to help Bush win." DEBATEGATE: Well, Bush didn't win, but the Reagan-Bush ticket did. When Reagan named Bush as his running mate, Halper was brought on the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign by another former Bush campaign official, James Baker, current secretary of state. According to a 1983 story in the "New York Times," Halper's role on the campaign was to gather intelligence on then-President Jimmy Carter's foreign-policy objectives. The "Times" reported that Halper was assisted by retired CIA officers and quoted an unnamed source in the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign as saying, "There was some CIA stuff coming from Halper, and some agency guys were hired." Halper was particularly interested in Carter's attempts to gain the release of the 52 American hostages held in Iran prior to the November election. (Hostagegate: It has been alleged that the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign cut a secret arms-for-hostages deal with the government of Iran to keep the hostages held in Iran until after the election to prevent Carter from benefiting from their pre-election release. See "In Short," June 24, 1987, Oct. 12, 1988, and "The First Stone," May 9 and 16). Halper's intelligence-gathering work during the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign apparently involved the theft of the Carter campaign's debate briefing books, a scandal that came to be known as Debategate. The Reagan-Bush campaign used these books to prepare its candidate for the 1980 presidential debates. The man in charge of the Reagan debate team was Baker, whose name has come up as a likely Republican candidate for president in 1996. A BANK IS BORN: After the 1980 election, the Reagan administration appointed Halper deputy director of the State Department's Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, the division of the State Department responsible for international weapons-trading and military exercises oversees. Brewton reports that Halper left the State Department in 1983 to become chairman of Palmer National Bank. Halper founded Palmer with Harvey McLean Jr., a man he had met during the 1980 Bush campaign. The "New York Times" has described McLean as "a Dallas real-estate developer who was Southern finance chairman for George Bush's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980." Halper and McLean came up with their idea for Palmer National Bank during a State Department business trip to Southeast Asia on which McLean accompanied Halper. Halper told Brewton the following story: "Somewhere over the Pacific, we got into a conversation about banking. Now, mind you, I had never been a banker. I was one of those guys who had a checking account with $71.38 in it, and banks frightened me a little bit. But Harvey said, 'Well, got to have a good bank in Washington.' He was sort of bemoaning the fact that banks were not as strong or responsive as they should be. And as the conversation unfolded, he basically said, 'Look, if you'll create the bank I'll put up the money.'" McLean certainly had access to money at that time. Brewton reports that McLean owned Paris Savings and Loan of Paris, Texas. During the '80s McLean also borrowed more than $38 million from three other S&Ls--Vernon Savings and Independent American Savings in Dallas and Continental Savings in Houston. All four later failed, and the latter three are included on Brewton's list of failed S&Ls that had links to the mob and the CIA. In 1989 federal receivers placed McLean in involuntary bankruptcy. S&LGATE: Brewton reports that when Palmer National Bank was founded, it was not McLean who put up the money but Herman K. Beebe Sr., a shadowy Louisiana organized-crime figure who was a close friend and business associate of McLean. Brewton reports that Beebe has numerous connections to New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello, associations with Mafia families in New York and California and links to the Teamsters. In 1983 Beebe loaned McLean and Halper $2.8 million from his Bossier Bank and Trust in Shreveport, La. This loan provided the majority of the money that was used to initially capitalize Palmer. A 1985 report by the comptroller of the currency listed Palmer as one of 12 national banks that Beebe has possible influence or control over. Further, Beebe has been implicated in the failure of at least 12 savings and loans (including Vernon Savings in Dallas and Continental Savings in Houston). In April 1985, just after Beebe had been convicted of defrauding the Small Business Administration and two months before the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation shut down Bossier, the $2.8 million loan from Bossier that established Palmer was transferred to San Jacinto Savings of Beaumont, Texas. GOING, GOING ...: San Jacinto, a subsidiary of the Dallas-based real- estate investment firm Southmark Funding, is now on the verge of collapse. When San Jacinto topples, federal regulators say its bailout could cost taxpayers more than the estimated $2 billion that was paid to bail out Charles Keating's Lincoln Savings of Irvine, Calif., which currently holds the honor of being the most expensive S&L failure. Brewton reports that in September 1988 an S&L regulator in Dallas wrote to Darrel Dochow, a federal bank regulator, expressing concerns about the "significant number and volume" of loans between Silverado Savings of Denver (Neil Bush's failed S&L) and M.D.C. Holdings of Denver (owned by Colorado GOP fundraiser Larry Miezel) and between San Jacinto Savings of Houston and Lincoln Savings of Irvine, Calif. The regulator also said he was concerned about "the apparent shifting of such loans among those institutions." ANOTHER HALPER HAND: Brewton reports that Halper left his position as chairman of Palmer early in 1985 to become chairman of National Bank of Northern Virginia. Halper, however, did not sever his ties with his friend Oliver North. In the last entry of North's diary--dated Nov. 25, 1986, the day that the lieutenant colonel was fired by the president he had served so faithfully--North wrote "Legal Defense Fund--Stefan Halper, Chris Lehman [a Halper associate]." As Halper told Brewton, "We got trustees and put it in place." WHAT'S IN A NAME The following acronymic ranting is a work by Brian Zick, who paints pictures for a living at his home on the edge of Hollywood. Clouseau Imitation Award Convoluted Implausible Alibi Cultivated Instability Achieved Credibility Isn't American Cold-war Intentionally Aggravated Congenital Insatiable Avarice Collusion Insures Amnesty Clowns Implementing Armageddon Congressional Intimidation Artists Certifiably Insane Agenda Cryptic Incoherence Articulated Constitution Infringement Authority Cocaine Import Associates Constantly Incorrect Analysis Citizens Intelligence Assaulted Credit Institutions Acquired Concoct Incredible Antipathy Coverup Is Automatic -- daveus rattus yer friendly neighborhood ratman KOYAANISQATSI ko.yan.nis.qatsi (from the Hopi Language) n. 1. crazy life. 2. life in turmoil. 3. life out of balance. 4. life disintegrating. 5. a state of life that calls for another way of living.


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