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UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper CXXXIV: August 23, 2010, 7:00 p.m.

Joseph J. Trento, Prelude to Terror: Edwin P. Wilson and the Legacy of


America's Private Intelligence Network (New York: Carroll and Graf,
2005).

[Thesis. "The private intelligence Mexico (16-21). Got out of the oil
network originally inspired by Paul business in 1965 (21-23).
Helliwell, created by Edwin P. Wilson, and
taken over by Ted Shackley and his Ch. 3: Spybiz. Paul Helliwell specialized
associated became the model for future in "the arcane craft of concealing secret
major covert operations by the United business operations," starting in Asia and
States" (311). The CIA lied about its continuing in 1960 in Florida, cementing
relationship with key player Edwin the CIA's relationship with organized
Wilson, convicted as a rogue to protect crime (24-27). Theodore Shackley
the agency's reputation.] emerged from the debacle of the Bay of
Pigs operation to run a covert war
Introduction. Brief summary (ix-xv). against Cuba (27-30). He ran the secret
Three men have been key sources: Dr. war in Laos beginning in July 1966
William R. Corson, James Jesus Angleton, funded by opium (30-33). Edwin Paul
and Robert Trumbull Crowley (xv-xvi). Wilson, Thomas Clines, and Erich von
Marbod grew in stature by assisting
Ch. 1: Allen Dulles and Prescott Shackley in Laos (33-35). Others (35-38).
Bush. Allen Dulles privately recruited
ex-Nazis and ran a "private intelligence Ch. 4: Secret War Buddies. As part of
service" out of 44 Wall Street, then the CIA's European trade-union
brought his "networks and assets" to the infiltration, Wilson became the political
CIA (1-3). Prescott Bush worked for the asst. of the AFL-CIO's boss (39-40). Then
Thyssen-funded Union Banking Wilson "became the new Paul Helliwell,"
Corporation (UBC), the largest Nazi front ran Air America (41). In 1968 Wilson, his
business in the U.S.; its stock was cover blown by a Soviet agent on Sen.
confiscated in 1942 with almost no Eastland's staff, "struck off on his own"
publicity (3-7). Recruited to the CIA, (43).
Prescott Bush put his experience in
clandestine financing to work and Ch. 5: The Ice Man. Shackley, "the Ice
became a key intelligence liaison to Man," was made station chief in Saigon
President Eisenhower, as his designation (44-47). Shackley orchestrated the coup
personally to investigate a failed 1955 in Chile that overthrew Allende (48-50).
attempt on Zhou Enlai's life shows (7-12).
Ch. 6: Wilson Branching Out. The CIA
Ch. 2: Recruiting George H.W. Bush. distrusted Henry Kissinger, set Thomas
George Herbert Walker Bush's Moorer to spying on him (51-52). Wilson
independent business career was a myth was tasked to penetrate TF-157, a secret
(13-15). He began doing favors for the naval task force handling
CIA in the late 1950s through his communications for Kissinger (52-55).
company Zapata-Offshore and assisted Wilson assisted SAVAK in Iran (55-58).
the anti-Castro Operation Mongoose (15-
16). G.H.W. Bush cultivated a key Ch. 7: The CIA under Fire. Watergate
relationship with Diaz Serrano, aide to led to investigations of the CIA; William
Lopez Portillo, who became president of Colby relied on Shackley for cover-up,
fired J.J. Angleton (59-64).
Ch. 14: Bush and the Safari Club.
Ch. 8: New Old Boy at the CIA. George H.W. Bush succeeded while head
G.H.W. Bush ambassador to China (65- of the CIA in switching reliance for
66). Head of CIA (66-69). regional intelligence from Israel to Saudi
Arabia (99). An informal intelligence
Ch. 9: Picking Up the Pieces. With network was set up outside the U.S. with
contacts from Frank Terpil, Wilson set up the help of Saudi Intelligence head
a working relationship with Libya; his Sheikh Kamal Adham after Watergate; at
goal was to make money, using CIA this time "worldwide covert operations
connections in hopes of business for the Agency were funded through a
expansion (70-77). host of Saudi banking and charity
enterprises" (101; 100-01). Ed Wilson
Ch. 10: Murders at Home and supported this network (101). This
Abroad. Orlando Letelier's 1976 murder network, which included France, Egypt,
in D.C. was part of Operation Condor, a Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Iran, was
joint S. African, Israeli, S. Korean, called the Safari Club (101-03). With
Chilean, etc. "murder-and-assassination Bush's "official blessing," Adham set up
rampage" (78; 78-82). "the biggest clandestine money network
in history " in the Bank of Credit and
Ch. 11: Operation Watchtower. The Commerce International (BCCI) (104; the
Bush-Noriega relationship "may have operation of this bank, busted by French
been the first attempt by America's authorities in 1991, is still not understood
private intelligence network to finance [370n.4]).
operations in this hemisphere with drug
operations, as they had done in Laos" Ch. 15: Stansfield Turner Takes
(83). Bush agreed to Noriega's demand Over. Carter made war on the CIA and
to be cut into the CIA's drug operation; lost (107-09). Carter tried to end Israel's
Edwin Wilson was made the scapegoat special relationship with the CIA, but
for Operation WATCHTOWER (a secret Shackley went around him and became
CIA-Israeli operation in Colombia) (83- the Mossad's man at the agency (109-
86). 11).

Ch. 12: Setting Up Wilson. Confused Ch. 16: The Setup. Shackley set out to
negotiations were under way involving "create a totally private intelligence
assassination plots when in the network using CIA assets until President
aftermath of the Letelier murder the CIA Carter could be replaced" by taking over
"labeled Wilson a former CIA agent who Wilson's assets and discrediting Wilson
had left the Agency and gone rogue" (93; (113-15). One of Trento's best sources is
87-93). Shirley Brill, with the CIA since 1960 and
in an affair with Tom Clines during this
Ch. 13: Politicizing Intelligence. The period (116-19). Wilson did not realize
June 1976 decision, when G.H.W. Bush Shackley was out to get him until after
was head of the CIA, to set up an outside he was in prison (119-22).
group of intelligence experts ("the B
Team") to evaluate Soviet strategic Ch. 17: Missing the Rogue Elephant.
strength "eventually allowed the ultimate Turner axed 823 CIA operatives in the
privatization of American Intelligence" 1977 Halloween massacre; Clines left the
(94). The mysterious John Arthur Paisley, agency and Shackley was demoted (123-
subject of an entire book by Trento and 26). Roberta "Bobbi" Barnes became
his wife Susan, entitled Widows (96-97). Wilson's paymaster and mistress (126-
27). Wilson's dealings with Libya (127-
30). API in Mexico (130-31). The Carter- Brzezinski to the CIA in 1960, when he
Turner effort to reform the CIA was was at Columbia (166 [Trento says
doomed (131-32). When Carter cut loose Brzezinski was "a graduate student" in
Somoza, CIA rogues began backing 1960, but he was in his 30s and on the
reactionary elements in Central America faculty at Columbia, having finished his
(133-37). Ph.D. at Harvard in 1953]). The funding
of Islamic resistance in Afghanistan failed
Ch. 18: Change Partners. Wilson's to anticipate that this would strengthen
operations; good relations with Israelis in Islamic fundamentalism (167-68).
1977 (138-44).
Ch. 21: 7777 Leesburg Pike.
Ch. 19: The Takeover. Shackley "[H]undreds of angry intelligence
believed that he would be CIA director in officers" supported George H.W. Bush's
a George H.W. Bush administration, and presidential bid in 1980 (169). Right-
Wilson agreed to help him "take things wing lobbyist Richard Viguerie's offices at
private" (145). Shackley used Don 7777 Leesburg Pike in Falls Church, VA,
Lowers and Neil Livingston to became the "headquarters for the
outmaneuver Wilson (145-50). Wilson private CIA" (172; 170-72). Shackley
formed dozens of front companies and now turned on Wilson, who became a
ran them out of his townhouse in D.C.; he fugitive, while Clines used EATSCO (the
hoped to profit from the 1978 Camp Egyptian American Transport and
David settlement and buy his way back Services Corporation) to cut Wilson's
into the CIA (150). In December 1978, company out of business (172-80).
Wilson, Shackley, von Marbod, Clines,
and Richard Secord met; Wilson agreed Ch. 22: The Fatwah and Richard
to put up $500k and set up two Helms. Dawud Salahuddin (born David
companies, Arcadia in Switzerland and Theodore Belfield), an American Black
International Research and Trade (IRT) in Muslim recruited to be an assassin for
the U.S. (150-54). the Islamic Revolution, assassinated
Iranian exile Ali Akbar Tabatabai'e in D.C.
Ch. 20: Carter Blindsided. Carter lost on July 22, 1980, carrying out a fatwah
control of U.S. intelligence: "President conveyed by Gen. Hosian Fardust when
Carter's inner circle was cut off from the the latter came to the U.S. for secret
intelligence they needed to conduct a negotiations about the hostages (181-
successful foreign policy" (158; 157-58). 94).
Wilson supplied hundreds of identities of
Iranians being trained in Libya to SAVAK Ch. 23: The Drowning of a President.
(159). Wilson knew of "revolutionaries "Carter's most secret operations were
from scores of countries" who were being thoroughly penetrated by Bush
trained in Libya, but Wilson's information partisans," which doomed his efforts to
on them was withheld from the Carter free U.S. hostages in Iran (200). Trento
administration (160). In 1979, Israel regards as proven allegations that
decided to compromise Carter through Republicans negotiated a delay in the
his brother Billy (160-64). Carter, American hostages' release until
clueless, was an outsider in his own Reagan's inauguration (201-11).
government (164-65). "Shackley was
prepared to use every resource . . . to Ch. 24: The Winners. "Bush turned the
help remove Carter and Turner from new administration toward the private
office" (165). Shackley had "his men on intelligence network that he had come to
the President's National Security Council know so well" (214). The Reagan
Staff, having recruited Zbigniew administration "quickly split into two
intelligence factions: Bush and the
rogues versus Casey, Secretary of State Ch. 29: The EATSCO Cover-up.
Alexander Haig, and Secretary of Theodore Greenberg was the assistant
Defense Caspar Weinberger. In the U.S. attorney who successfully convicted
middle was Bobby Ray Inman" (216). Ed Wilson while also covering up EATSCO
"Casey was not kept informed of all the involvement with the CIA (259-69).
secret operations. Bush was running his
own operations out of the executive Ch. 30: Ollie and the Network.
office" (221). The Max Hugel scandal (a William R. Corson, a source and friend of
businessman made director of operations Trento (270-72). At an April 1984 lunch
by Casey (218-23). in the John Hay Room of the Hay-Adams
Hotel, Ollie North, a former protégé,
Ch. 25: Bush vs. Casey. Casey wanted makes Corson realize that the Reagan
to renew corporate-sponsored CIA administration had "got sucked into the
activities; in early 1981 Robert T. old Ed Wilson crowd: Shackley, Secord,
Crowley, one of Trento's key sources, Clines" (277; 272-79).
refused his request for help; Robert
Gates, who had helped the Reagan-Bush Ch. 31: Off the Books and Out of
campaign while working in the Carter Control. "The Reagan-Bush
White House, was at the meeting administration used the private
(Crowley considered him "a puppy raised intelligence network for foreign-policy
by Casey") (224-26). Casey also tried to activism [funding the Contras; arms in
run a "private intelligence network" and the Iran-Iraq war] for almost five years
sometimes Bush and Casey were using before severe consequences emerged";
the same people (226-34). Shackley was "at the center of it all"
(280; 282; 280-85). Iran-Contra (285-
Ch. 26: Embracing Saddam. As arms 89).
shipments to Iran proceeded, Bush and
his friend Kamal Adham "established the Ch. 32: Shakedown. Soghanalian's
'tilt' toward Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War. role in the network as an arms dealer
It was an arms merchant's wildest dream (290-300). His prosecution (he spent
come true" (235). The U.S. dealt with 1991-1995 in prison) and subsequent
Saddam through Sarkis Soghanalian, a career (300-10).
Turkish-born Armenian arms merchant
fluent in seven languages (237-43). Legacy. The private intelligence
network transformed how the U.S. did
Ch. 27: Killing Sadat. Casey wanted to covert operations (311). Salahuddin
assassinate Qaddafi, angering Sen. Barry joined mujahideen in Afghanistan (311-
Goldwater, who went public with 13). The private intelligence network
complaints (244-45). Trento insinuates partially funded and protected Pakistan's
that Sadat's vice president and protégé, nuclear weapons program (313-29). The
Hosni Mubarak had motive (involvement Bushes, the Saudis, and James Bath (330-
in EATSCO corruption) and means 37). The CIA's failure to anticipate the
(access to security procedures) needed collapse of the Soviet Union, its
for arranging or allowing the subsequent abandonment of the groups
assassination of Anwar Sadat (248-51). it had created or exploited, and the blind
eye it turned to its Saudi benefactors
Ch. 28: Luring Wilson Home. A con were typical of the way it operated (337-
man named Ernest Keiser was used to 40). U.S. reliance on "an illegal network
lure Wilson back to the U.S., where he of private businesses and secret
was arrested on June 15, 1982 (252-59). alliances" led necessarily to failure in the
important realm of counterintelligence
(340). The origins of al-Qaeda were [Additional information. Joseph J.
missed (341-44). The George H.W. Bush Trento is on the board of the Public
administration (344-50). Shackley died Education Center, which is devoted to
in 2002 (350). Clines is still active (350). supporting investigative reporting.
Wilson's prosecution was exposed as a Background information on him is hard to
sham by a federal judge in Texas; he now come by.]
lives with a brother in Washington State
(350-51). [In 2007 he tried to sue those [Critique. Based on a welter of
who had prosecuted him.] The incomplete reports that sometimes
ineffectiveness of the CIA at present conflict, Prelude to Terror is a speculative
(351-53). The "tragic results" of the account of the clandestine activity of a
flourishing of the Bush family (353-56). private intelligence network working
sometimes with, sometimes at cross
Notes. 30 pp. purposes to the U.S. government. It is
captivating but not always coherent.
Bibliography. 6 pp. Joseph Trento's narrative is fast-paced
and often sketchy. His sourcing for his
Acknowledgments. Susan Trento, his claims, sometimes spectacular, is often
wife, persuaded the author to pull not transparent, and often is nothing but
together a narrative explaining "why U.S. hearsay. Although Trento asserts he has
Intelligence failed us so" (395). Bill thousands of pages of files from insiders,
Corson, Robert T. Crowley, James citation of documentary evidence is rare.
Angleton, David Belfield (Dawud While he has not proven his case that the
Salahuddin), Sarkis Soghanalian, structures he is describing are cohesive
colleagues at the Public Education enough to justify being called a network,
Center, editors (395-97). the notion does succeed in bringing
many different events into a plausible
About the Author. Joseph J. Trento is overarching narrative. — The author
an investigative reporter with several offers no prescription for the ills he
decades experience and the author of describes. — Trento's writing is
The Secret History of the CIA. He has workmanlike but is weak in the area of
worked for CNN, the Wilmington News characterization, especially when it
Journal, and Jack Anderson. He has comes to the key figure of Ted Shackley.]
authored or coauthored other books on
air safety, the U.S. space program, and
intelligence matters.