This is an interview with Al Martin, author of "The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran Contra Insider". Al Martin is the man who knows too much. About government fraud at the highest levels. About Iran Contra. And about the unindicted conspirators who continue to do their dirty work.
In the past, Lt. Cmdr. Al Martin (US Navy, Ret) has testified before Congress for the Kerry Committee and the Alexander Committee, which investigated the illicit deals of so-called Iran-Contra.
Al Martin's new book, "The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran Contra Insider," is a true crime story and an unprecedented expose of high-level government crimes, coverups and scandals.
The book includes first-hand accounts of US Government-sanctioned narcotics trafficking, illegal weapons deals, and an epidemic of securities fraud, real estate fraud, banking fraud and insurance fraud by high-level government perps.
These criminal perpetrators are members of the cryptocracy, those who rule from the shadows of government.
In his landmark historical study, "Operation Mind Control," author Walter Bowart describes the cryptocracy as "a secret bureaucracy still supported by all the power of the federal government, but which operates outside the chain of government command."
Former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams called it "a shadow government in the United States." In Al Martin's own words, it's a "Government Within a Government, comprising some thirty to forty thousand people the American Government turns to, when it wishes certain illegal covert operations to be extant pursuant to a political objective."
Bowart describes the cryptocracy as "a technocratic organization without ideology, loyal only to an unspoken, expedient, and undefined patriotism... Its funds are secret. Its operational history is secret. Even its goals are secret."
IRAN-CONTRA: IN THE BEGINNING
"Iran-Contra" itself is a euphemism for the tremendous frauds perpetrated by military, corporate and government criminals for profit and control using the cover story of "Fighting Communism."
Ostensibly this inaccurate term entered history as shorthand for the public scandals of illicit arms sales to Iran (which were really to Iraq) coupled with the illicit weapons deals and narcotics trafficking to fund the Nicaraguan-based CIA army called "The Contras." The real story, however, is much more complex.
One of Al Martin's roles was acting as a fundraiser for the bogus "War Against Communism" in Nicaragua. His expertise as a finance and corporate securities specialist served "The Cause," as Oliver North called the enterprise of raising cash for secret illicit operations.
After he retired as from the Navy, Al Martin's life went into the fast lane as a black ops specialist and an Office of Navy Intelligenc (ONI) officer. In his book "The Conspirators," Al Martin tells the facts that have been ignored, ripping off the covers of the sleaziest secrets of the Washington power-mongers.
Because of his failing health, Al Martin has decided to go public and tell the whole story of the Iran-Contra Conspiracy.
His book "The Conspirators" is a secret history of the late 20th century and an uncensored version of what really goes on in the back rooms of realpolitik brokers and go-fers.
In a recent interview, Al Martin decided to share some of his knowledge of this covert world of global fraudsters.
LAWRENCE RICHARD HAMIL: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY
At a meeting with General Richard V. Secord and government-sponsored con man Lawrence Richard Hamil, Martin was briefed about Iran Contra operations and allowed to view CIA white papers on "Operation Black Eagle," code name for the illegal program of narcotics trafficking, massive fraud and weapons deals.
"Hamil was the type of guy who had a big ego, and he liked to impress people," says Martin. "I thought he was trying to impress me because of the level of his access, but it was much more sublime than that. He knew that later on these documents would become increasingly valuable as Iran-Contra would start to fall apart."
The documents he showed Martin revealed an operation that was basically government-sanctioned fraud, a "license to steal," as it were, in other words, a government-protected racket.
"Hamil was a master of 'The Game,' one of the best in the United States," Martin says. "He's one of the best political manipulators behind the scenes to ever come down the pike. He is not just a simple con man, a government-connected swindler and money launderer, as people seem to think. He was very deeply involved in all sorts of political deals at the same time. In late 1984, Hamil undertook a separate operation. He began dispensing money to House and Senate Republicans, and I don't think anyone else knew this."
The payoffs and systemic corruption were just "business as usual," according to Martin. "You have to look at the states where Hamil did a lot of business. Not only are they states controlled by Republicans, but they are also states where Hamil passed out a lot of envelopes. Illinois, Tennesee, Kentucky. On three occasions, I met then Governor William Thompson of Illinois. We met him and his aide several times, in the bar at the Whitehall Hotel in Chicago [to pass envelopes of cash to him]. Also to the governor of Kentucky, Marcia Lane Collins."
You've heard of COD (Cash On Delivery) but to maintain this level of fraud requires CIE. That's Cash In Envelope.
AL MARTIN'S COVERT OPS CAREER
And how did he start? "I was in the Naval Reserves for a long time," he continues. "How I actually got involved was in 1975, with an old chum of mine George W Carver III, son of George W. Carver Jr., one of the then Deputy Directors of Intelligence for the CIA. He was DDI on their Central and Southern Desk. Actually I volunteered for ONI [the Office of Naval Intelligence.] I went from being a lowly 'G' (G's were essentially citizens who kept their eyes and ears open) They weren't looked at as particular assets or resources. Apparently, I did a pretty good job."
"We were in Peru," he continues. "At the time the country had a military dictatorship and its political line was officially pro-Moscow. There were about 4,000 so-called Russian advisors in Peru at the time. Peru has always been a problem for Washington because of the number of Russians in the country. The Russian military presence increased for another two years until the installation of civilian president Bernando Terry. In 1975, my function was to simply keep an eye out on any movement of Russian troops."
So did he realize that Peru would become a staging area for CIA cocaine production and trafficking? "I didn't notice any organized effort in narcotics trafficking when I was there," he replies. "But I knew the CIA Deputy Station Chief in Lima at the time, the famous Buzz Barlow, Eugene 'Buzz' Barlow."
"As you well know, the Tingo Maria Huallaga Valley area of Peru became a focal point of cocaine processing," I pressed on. "That wasn't until after the Russians were kicked out," he answers. "The only thing the CIA seemed to care about at the time was perpetually subverting Soviet interests in Peru and continuously attempting to establish a narcotics base of operations as it were. But the Russians would continually frustrate that. They [the Agency] wanted to establish a network of narcotics traffickers within Peru who would cooperate with the Agency."
Was CIA looking forward to a time when the Soviet presence would be gone and they could step in? "They were trying to build a network," Al answers. "That was already in the process, when I was there in 1975. I lived in Central and South America from 1975 to late 1979 -- early 1980. Then I became involved in smuggling American Express cards into Argentina. I also became involved in circumventing the Dominican sugar embargo of 1981. That's how I first met Hamil, from weapons sales to Argentina during the so-called Falklands War in 1982."
"As you can imagine, the CIA could not be put in the political position of helping Argentina during the Falklands War. The American Express Card Affair in Argentina and the subsequent subversion of the Dominican Sugar Embargo were CIA-instituted. Through the operation in Argentina, I also met the famous Carlos Cardoen, the Chilean arms merchant. That was simply business."
"In my service career as an active oficer, I was never involved in anything covert," Al continues. "That came later. Also there has never been a whole lot of interagency cooperation. There has never been a truly joint operation between the CIA and ONI. I know people like to say that, but the only people the CIA wouldn't step on to accomplish their aims was ONI. They would easily subvert an FBI or DEA investigation, but never ONI, because they were frightened of them.
In his book, Al writes that contrary to popular belief, ONI is the most powerful US intelligence agency.
"The ONI already had a deep existing covert illegal structure. They had a mechanism before the CIA even existed. They had contacts in foreign intelligence services and in foreign governments that the CIA never could have hoped to obtain."
"Also ONI controlled its own assets, which the CIA had to build from scratch later on. The CIA can't control any of its own assets domestically because it's against the law for it to do so, thus the ONI is obviously in a superior position. For instance, you don't see an airfield that says 'Owned by the CIA' on it in the United States. The ONI doesnt have any such restrictions because it's part of the US Navy."
"ONI is where the real deep control is. It's where the real deep secrets are kept. That was what ONI always did the best. Keeping secrets. Accumulating secrets. Warehousing secrets for the purposes of control."
When I asked him 'what secrets?' he replied, "One thing I can tell you is the ONI was instrumental in dethroning former Mexican President Louis Portillo. Portillo got very friendly with George Bush and the CIA, and ONI had never alligned with the Bush faction. I know what people think, but that's not true. From what I can tell, it has never been alligned, but has always been hostile to that Eastern Country Club Bush Cabal and their friends in the CIA. The Bill Casey faction is the George Bush-Allen Dulles Faction."
The principals of the ONI faction are "people that you wouldnt know. Admiral Anderson. Admiral Garrett. Their power comes from the fact that they're not known. Their names wouldn't really mean anything, therefore, they can act in such a behind-the-scenes fashion -- much more than the CIA. It's because of their established structure. They're very deep in old contacts. They've simply been around longer than the CIA. They are able to blend overt and covert operations in the same breath because they are essentially not a covert agency like the CIA. It allows them great cover to operate in the open."
OFFSHORE MONEY FLOWS
To understand the secret flow of money from the US "offshore," or to tax-free jurisdictions, where bits and bytes of monetary transactions can be hidden from public scrutiny, is to understand global finance.
For instance, so-called "Dutch Sandwiches" are well-known in certain well-heeled circles, including movie moguls like Saul Zaentz, the recording impresario and producer of "Amadeus" and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." The novel "Black Money" by Michael Thomas also deals with them, as well as other arcane money laundry techniques.
When asked about them, Al laughs knowingly. When pressed further, he replies, "A Dutch Sandwich is a certain exotic money transaction. What allows it to exist is a peculiarity in the Dutch legal system and Dutch banking laws. You can retain a lawyer in the Netherlands for offshore trusts in the Netherlands Antilles, and you can give the lawyer exceptional power. He also has exceptional protection from Dutch law, as long as that lawyer is a Dutch citizen. If he is outside the Netherlands, then he can break certain financial laws with impunity. What you're talking about [Dutch sandwich] has been used in the past for the flow of monies. In Hamel's personal address book, he always had a bunch of names of Dutch law firms in Amsterdam and the senior law partners in those firms. I still have those names."
And where did the money from rich Republican donors go?
"The money went in two different directions," Martin answers. "Hamil had to pay some of the money over to Oliver North and Richard Secord. Otherwise he wouldn't have been allowed to operate. I know what the arrangements were with me. I imagine he had other arrangements with them. I know one of the principal asccounts he used to pay into was the account of International Industries S.A. of San Jose, Costa Rica, which was an account controlled by Oliver North and Richard Secord. This very account, as a matter of fact, became public during the Kerry Committee Hearings of 1987. It was one of the principal accounts North used to launder money through."
"Surprisingly enough, from what I could see, North operated through very few accounts, of which Intercontinenatal Industries SA happened to be a big one. He also operated through Secord's accounts. Secord had longstanding accounts and the names are quite famous. Stanford. Stanford Technologies Overseas. Stanford Exports Overseas. During Iran-Contra, when it came to the money end, anything with the word 'Stanford' in it was controlled by Richard Secord."
Another prime way of hiding the flow of money was through the use of tax-free foundations, designated 501c3 entities, by US tax code.
"That was a whole separate diversion scheme instituted by Senator [Jesse] Helms in collusion with Oliver North," Martin continues. "Money could be raised through a 501c3, then made tax-exempt for a seemingly charitable or innocuous purpose. Even political monies can be raised through tax-exempt organizations, and this is a quirk in the law -- as long as they support a charitable purpose. This is when North came up with the idea of setting up all those medical clinics. He wanted to set up a string of medical clinics in Guatemala and Mexico. It was those medical clinics in concert with his partner Dr. Louis Oschner of New Orleans. He's a very fanous name in covert circles. He was a longtime friend of Bill Casey. I dont know exactly what their relationship was, but North went to Oschner to set up a series of medical clinics. Supposedly tax free charities would fund these."
The entire Contra Clinic fable was a great cover story. "The real purpose of these clinics, by the way, was to treat Contra wounded because they didn't want a lot of Contra wounded coming to the United States for medical treatment and the obvious questions that would be raised. Therefore, North came up with this idea much closer to the scene, ostensibly for the purpose of treating Contra wounded. Of course, the reason it didnÕt happen is because there wasn't that many Contra wounded because they never engaged in any pitched battle with the Sandinistas. There were very advanced plans made and certainly a lot of money was raised. The clinics were never established, but a lot of tax-free money went into them."
GLOBAL MASTERS OF FRAUD
Al Martin has plenty of behind the scenes information about the career tracks of government insiders like Frank Carlucci, Richard Armitage and their Blackstone Investment Group.
Because of Blackstone's involvement in many high-level high-profile frauds like the Russian Bailout and the Mexican Bailout, one could assume that the company itself was a CIA "cut-out," an actual propretary of the Agency.
"No, it's not," says Martin. "They're just sympathizers. They're an asset of the agency. They're not a cut-out. They're just one of the legion of financial companies, mostly domiciled in Washington or northern Virginia, which the CIA turns to, on occasion, to launder money, or for some other illegal purpose."
And who gave them the green-light to go to Russia for the post-glasnost scams?
"You're talkng about long established relationships that probably existed since the 1950s. Assistant Secreatry of State Richard Armitage and National Security Advisor Frank Carlucci were not young in the mid 1980s," answers Martin.
"They had been involved with their Blackstone Investment Group, and they have other partners, originally Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense Richard Stilwell, the son of the famous General Stilwell. Stilwell himself was a retired Major General. Stilwell was also very close to Armitage, Carlucci, and Pete Peterson."
"There was a whole cabal of these guys," Martin continues. "They had been involved in all sorts of stuff for a long while. For instance, when we were bailing out the Mexicans in 1994, the new covert thing became to commit frauds in Mexico, against the Brady Plan, not the Brady Bonds themselves, the whole plan of using Brady Bonds to back up Mexican debt. There was a window of about a year, when you could commit fraud against the Bank of Mexico and other Mexican companies. You would buy essentially worthless Mexican bonds, and you could give a Mexican company in a file drawer a face lift, and then you could get Brady Bonds in exchange for them, which were backed by the US Government."
"Or, to back those up, to securitize essentially worthless Mexican corporate securities -- you could take a security that was essentially worth two or three cents on the dollar and make it suddenly worth thirty or forty cents on the dollar in the marketplace. The only thing Brady Bonds are is a collateral guarantee."
"A Brady Bond is essentially a strip-down, what's called a strip or a stripped down US Treasury bond that essentially guarantees the ultimate mature capital value of a note. It does not however guarantee the interest of that note. It only guarantees the return of capital."
For the record, the underwriters of these bonds were powerhouse investment banking firms Goldman Sachs, Shearson Lehman and Merril Lynch. "They were making the one and a half point concession fees on the bonds and they were known as the primary dealer of the bonds," Martin says.
The so-called Russian Bailout followed a similar scenario. "Follow the money, and it will lead you to the new fraud," instructs Al Martin. "The Blackstone Investment Group, even before the Mexican loan deal, was 'in the bag' as it were. Blackstone immediately set up an office in Mexico City because it knew that where there was fraud, there was money to be made. You see it three years later in 1997 when Blackstone set up an office in Mexico."
Likewise there was massive trading activity in the Far East, where the bottom- feeder investment bankers, would arrive to pick up "distressed assets," defaulted stocks and bonds for pennies on the dollar. "That was early in 1998 before things fell apart," says Al Martin, "because they knew things were going to fall apart."
"The Carlyle Group, which is Frank Carlucci, and the Blackstone Investment Group are virtually one and the same. Two different names, but they are virtually the same organization," he continues. "All they do is ride the crest of the waves of various frauds from country to country. Before the so-called Global Financial Crisis of 1998, Blackstone and Carlyle suddenly opened up an office in Jakarta. They didn't have an office in Jakarta before because they were very friendly with President Sukarto. Sukarto gave them all sort of inside capabilities to short, or sell short, the Indonesian rupiah which nobody really had the ability to do because the currency wasn't particularly liquid. They do on a large scale on a multi-billion dollar scale what Richard Hamil does on a multi-million dollar scale."
"They actually purchase a security, let's say US Treasury Bonds, one security with their own money. They then use that security and hypothecate it ten or twenty times to all different types of transactions. Now that kind of fraud is not particularly hard to commit, particularly if you have a trust company under your control or a trust company that's willing to play ball with you. It isnÕt that hard to take the same asset and pledge it twenty times."
Because bank officers don't do due diligence or what? I asked. "You have to understand that the securities don't move anyplace. They're just pledged. They're usually just held in an account in a securities firm."
And one bank won't tell another bank that these assets have been pledged and there's no way of finding it out? I pressed on.
"Not if you got people willing to play ball with you," Al Martin replies. "The people willing to play ball are the security firms in the United States which have long-standing relationships with, not only the CIA, but also this little Eastern Country Club Cabal, as I call it. The firms that have had longstanding intelligence activities and illegal relationships with wealthy Republicans would be undoubtedly Goldman Sachs and Merril Lynch."
You could call them the Insiders' Insider Deals. "Look where Press Secretary Regan came from," Al Martin points out. "He was the chairman of Merril Lynch."
THE BUSH FAMILY - HARKEN ENERGY FRAUD
In his online column, "Behind the Scenes of the Beltway," (http://www.almartinraw.com), Al Martin has written that "you have to look at the entire Bush Family in this context -- as if the entire family ran a corporation called 'Frauds-R-Us.' Each member of the family, George Sr. , George Jr., Neil, Jeb, Prescott, Wally, etc., have their own specialty of fraud."
"George Jr.'s specialty was insurance and security fraud. Jeb's specialty was oil and gas fraud. Neil's specialty was real estate fraud. Prescott's specialty was banking fraud. Wally's specialty was securities fraud. And George Bush Sr.'s specialty? All of the above."
In this context, the infamous Harken Energy Fraud takes on new meaning as a multi-generational family of fraudsters, using high-level insider contacts, are able to manipulate stock prices for their own profiteering.
"Harken was one of those deals that was a combination fraud as well as a manipulation," says Al Martin. "There's different types of fraud when you get into securities. When George Jr. was put in charge of Harken Energy by his father [George Herbert Walker Bush], he essentially took it down the tubes. You have to realize that every business that George Jr. has ever had has failed. That's the man's business record."
Enquiring minds want to know -- was it deliberate? "It was a deliberate act by the old man, knowing that his son would take it down the tubes because the son's incompetent," Al Martin replies.
"George Bush, Sr. and James Baker and Senator Tower would heavily short Harken stock. I have a list of everybody because I was one of them but to a much smaller extent. Harken stock was trading at 7-3/4 or 8, when George Jr, was put in charge of it. A year later, the stock was trading at 1-1/8 bid, 3/8 offer. They pumped the stock back up through a lot of bogus press releases and by using essentially worthless leases in Bahrain and essentially worthless South American oil leases and through sympathetic geologists making them appear to be really worth something and making it appear that Harken's about to make a strike when in fact it's all made up. It's all fictitious. And through carefully crafted broker releases and broker statements and press releases, you can pump the stock back up. This has happened sixteen times to my knowledge. Harken would get pumped back up from the dead, from say a buck, buck and a half, back to seven, seven and a half, then it would get dumped again. Originally George Jr. had control of the company. He stayed on the board."
THE HIDDEN SIDE OF BARRY SEAL
The notorious Barry Seal was a legendary CIA drug smuggling pilot, but there was another side to this 20th century government-pirate (or privateer) which Al Martin reveals in this interview.
"Barry Seal was extensively involved in all manner of fraud," says Al Martin. "His principal partner was after all, Larry Hamil. Hamil had an equal relationship with Barry Seal. Barry provided seed money to set up fraudulent oil and gas and real estate limited partnerships for Hamil. Hamil later profited from them. Hamil would allow Barry to use these limited partnerships for Barry to launder his money through."
"It was a laundry situation. Barry would provide the seed money perhaps a million dolars or whatever to establish a fraudulent limited partnership, then Barry would use that limited partnership to launder money in lieu of a fee. That was his return."
Was it to launder Seals' money or CIA money? "From what I could tell it was for Seals' own money, not an Agency thing. But where Seals' own money stops and the Agency's monies begins -- the percentage or whatever deal they had -- I'm not familiar with that. I just know what Seals' relationship was with Hamil. Before I mentioned Triton Energy, one of Hamil's oil and gas frauds that he set up in conjunction with Seal."
"It was a scam, but Barry wasn't really interested in the point of it being a scam. What attracted Barry about it was Hamil's ability to launder money, to hide money, to move money, and since these were fraudulent, since they were all set up under temporary corporate names, it was easy to disguise everything when it all fell apart. This is one of the peculiarities of the 1980s which you can't do anymore.
"The laws in all the states have since changed," he continues. "In the 1980s, you could set up what's called a 'temporary' corporation. You would go to the Secretary of State's office and set up what's called a 30 Day Corporation for $10. At the end of 30 days, you had the right to convert that to a regular full corporation. If you didn't do so, after 45 days all records of your temporary corporation would be erased. There were other states you could do this. Too may people were doing what Hamil was doing. He was taking a temp corporation and treating it like it was a genuine corporation. He would get a corporate seal, a charter. He would simply have the 'T' for temporary removed off the charter and seal. All you need is some body is friendly in the Secretary of State's office. In some cases he would keep operating through those for two or three years. But there would be no corprate records.There would be nothing left. He would never convert them to full corporations."
And so the scams continue...