Editor’s note: We ran the first conversation earlier this week and the question was one of readership and acceptability. It is pleasant to report that our server was jammed with viewers and the only other tbrnews story that has had more viewers was our Forward Base Falcon story that had a half a million viewers in less that two days. We are now going to reprint all of the Crowley conversations, including a very interesting one on John McCain, all in chronological sequence. It is also pleasant to note that two publishers and three reporters have all expressed concrete interest in the Crowley conversations.
On October 8th, 2000 , Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley ‘s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley ‘s CIA files.
Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal , Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment. Three months before, July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley , died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda , Md.
After Corson’s death, Trento and a well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley ‘s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.
The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento ‘s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.
When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..
A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.
The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley ‘s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files our of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement , secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.
Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago , Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in military intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.
One of Crowley ’s first major assignments within the agency was to assist in the recruitment and management of prominent World War II Nazis, especially those with advanced intelligence experience. One of the CIA’s major recruitment coups was Heinrich Mueller, once head of Hitler’s Gestapo who had fled to Switzerland after the collapse of the Third Reich and worked as an anti-Communist expert for Masson of Swiss counterintelligence. Mueller was initially hired by Colonel James Critchfield of the CIA, who was running the Gehlen Organization out of Pullach in southern Germany . Crowley eventually came to despise Critchfield but the colonel was totally unaware of this, to his later dismay.
Crowley ’s real expertise within the agency was the Soviet KGB. One of his main jobs throughout his career was acting as the agency liaison with corporations like ITT, which the CIA often used as fronts for moving large amounts of cash off their books. He was deeply involved in the efforts by the U.S. to overthrow the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile , which eventually got him into legal problems with regard to investigations of the U.S. government’s grand jury where he has perjured himself in an agency cover-up
After his retirement, Crowley began to search for someone who might be able to write a competent history of his career. His first choice fell on British author John Costello (author of Ten Days to Destiny, The Pacific War and other works) but, discovering that Costello was a very aggressive homosexual, he dropped him and tentatively turned to Joseph Trento who had assisted Crowley and William Corson in writing a book on the KGB. When Crowley discovered that Trento had an ambiguous and probably cooperative relationship with the CIA, he began to distrust him and continued his search for an author.
Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas in 1993 when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. . In 1996, Crowley , Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley ’s story but only after Crowley ’s death. Douglas , for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publications.
In 1998, when Crowley was slated to go into the hospital for exploratory surgery, he had his son, Greg, ship two large foot lockers of documents to Douglas with the caveat that they were not to be opened until after Crowley ’s death. These documents, totaled an astonishing 15,000 pages of CIA classified files involving many covert operations, both foreign and domestic, during the Cold War.
After Crowley ’s death and Trento ’s raid on the Crowley files, huge gaps were subsequently discovered by horrified CIA officials and when Crowley ’s friends mentioned Gregory Douglas, it was discovered that Crowley ’s son had shipped two large boxes to Douglas . No one knew their contents but because Douglas was viewed as an uncontrollable loose cannon who had done considerable damage to the CIA’s reputation by his on-going publication of the history of Gestapo-Mueller, they bent every effort both to identify the missing files and make some effort to retrieve them before Douglas made any use of them.
All of this furor eventually came to the attention of Dr. Peter Janney, a Massachusetts clinical psychologist and son of Wistar Janney, another career senior CIA official, colleague of not only Bob Crowley but Cord Meyer, Richard Helms, Jim Angleton and others. Janney was working on a book concerning the murder of Mary Pinchot Meyer, former wife of Cord Meyer, a high-level CIA official, and later the mistress of President John F. Kennedy. Douglas had authored a book, ‘Regicide’ which dealt with Crowley ’s part in the Kennedy assassination and he obviously had access to at least some of Crowley ’s papers. Janney was very well connected inside the CIA’s higher levels and when he discovered that Douglas had indeed known, and had often spoken with, Crowley and that after Crowley’s death, the FBI had descended on Crowley’s widow and son, warning them to never speak with Douglas about anything, he contacted Douglas and finally obtained from him a number of original documents, including the originals of the transcribed conversations with Robert Crowley.
In spite of the burn bags, the top secret safes and the vigilance of the CIA to keep its own secrets, the truth has an embarrassing and often very fatal habit of emerging, albeit decades later.
While CIA drug running , money-launderings and brutal assassinations are very often strongly rumored and suspected, it has so far not been possible to actually pin them down but it is more than possible that the publication of the transcribed and detailed Crowley-Douglas conversations will do a great deal towards accomplishing this.
These many transcribed conversations are relatively short because Crowley was a man who tired easily but they make excellent reading. There is an interesting admixture of shocking revelations on the part of the retired CIA official and often rampant anti-social (and very entertaining) activities on the part of Douglas but readers of this new and on-going series are gently reminded to always look for the truth in the jest!
Date: Thursday, February 9, 1996
Commenced: 9:11 AM (CST)
Concluded: 9:38 AM (CST)
RTC: Good morning, Gregory. How are you doing today?
GD: Functioning. Yourself?
RTC: Good days, bad days. I have to be careful in the bathroom because I sometimes lose my balance.
GD: Put in some grab irons.
RTC: Better said than done. I have some advice for you Gregory. Don’t get old.
GD: Do I have a choice?
RTC: We know the alternative. Have you heard back from your publisher?
GD: He’s too patient with me, I must say. He wants to see something about flying saucers but I have a diary entry for Mueller that covers this subject and I want to put it in there. His cousin was involved in the Roswell business and Roger actually saw one of the American ones out at Moffitt Field once. Actually climbed up on it.
RTC: Oh the hysteria of it all.
GD: I remember very clearly. At least three sightings a week. I created one of them at least.
RTC: How so?
GD: Oh we made a fake saucer out of balsa and silver paper, mounted two pulse jets at the rear and set it up for radio control.
RTC: Did you put little green men in it?
GD: No. The pilot area was covered with a plastic salad bowl upside down but it really wasn’t very big. We took it down to the beach on a really hot day in July and flew it from one cliff to another. Right past a beach full of fat people getting sunburns. It was a distance of…oh say about 1000 feet give or take. To me, it wasn’t realistic but we put some noisemakers inside the jet pipes and it made a shitawful noise. High whistling and farting noises. Anyway, I was on one headland and my friend was on the other. We flew it fairly slowly in a straight line and believe me, the beach was packed. Right at the surf level but about 300 feet up in the air. God, you never heard so much shrieking and yelling in your life.
RTC: You always seem to have such a bizarre sense of humor, Gregory. Do you still do things like that?
GD: No. At my age, people get stuck into nut houses doing that but at the time, I did enjoy it. I remember once we carved the dorsal fin of a Great White out of a Styrofoam boogie board, mounted an underwater motor at the base with the control antenna running up to the top. Jesus, it was a huge fin at that. And of course we painted it up right. That was about the time that Jaws came out. And this time we took it down to an even bigger beach…..do you know the California coast by any chance? I could be more specific
RTC: No, not really. Go on.
GD: It was the Fourth of July and hot as shit and the beach and the surf were jammed with intercity types. There was a pier that ran out well past the surf at the northern end of the beach so we took a rented rowboat with the fake fin and the radio control equipment and rowed right under this pier. It was a big pier with a road on it and all kinds of shops along the sides so there was certainly room under it. Anyway, we put the fin in the water, turned on the motor and aimed it towards the beach. It was a little hard to direct what with the surf and all but with a few tries, we got it fine. Ran it towards the beach and then paralleled it just out past the surf line. Jesus H. Christ, Robert, you couldn’t imagine the havoc. Screaming we could hear under the pier and everyone stampeded out of the water. We ran it back and forth a few times and then headed out to where a bunch of twits were fishing and again panic reigned supreme. Little outboard jobbies fleeing in terror in all directions. I mean given the size of the fin, what was supposed to be underneath it must have been the size of the Titanic. We saw a Coast Guard boat coming so we just aimed it out to sea and opened it up. Lost the whole rig but I didn’t feel like trying to get it back. If we’d been bagged, I would have got at least ten years out of it. But probably for contaminating the beach. I’ll bet there were six inches of shit floating in the surf.
RTC: Your escapades always entertain me, Gregory. But what do you know about real saucers? I don’t mean toys.
GD: The Germans developed one during the war and flew it. That I do know. Habermohl, Meithe and some wop.
RTC: Yes, true enough. And after the war we got the plans and one of the engineers. The Russians got a prototype and another scientist.
GD: Bender tells me the one he saw at Moffitt was made in Canada .
RTC: Yes, by the A.V. Roe Company. Called it AVRO.
GD: He said they had used it as a high altitude recon craft and it had USAF marking on it.
RTC: They let him see it?
GD: Been out of service for some time and he had some friend in the Navy who got him in.
RTC: Well, those were the legit ones. There really were others, you know.
RTC: No. We have no idea where they came from. Radar picked up flights around the moon that never came from down here. And the Roswell business was true enough. That’s where we got transistors, you know. But the sightings came at a sensitive time. The Korean War, the Cold War and so on. Great national fears. Remember the Orson Wells program?
GD: On Halloween of ’38. Mercury Theater radio show. I heard it as a kid. Of course I read Wells’ book and knew it was just a show.
RTC: A lot of others did not, believe me. It caused an enormous national panic. Hundreds dead, people killing themselves and their children, fleeing into the countryside and so on. I’m, surprised they didn’t lynch Orson. But he infuriated old Hearst with his movie….
GD: Citizen Kane.
RTC: Right and old Hearst blackballed Orson and ruined his career. But because of the huge flap over this, Truman decided to keep serious accounts about the sightings out of the papers and they minimalized it and made fun of the whole thing. But they were real enough.
GD: Given the huge number of systems out there, from a mathematical point of view, there isn’t any question superior entities do exist. Why would they bother with our planet? To watch the pink monkeys running around killing each other? Investigate Elvis concerts?
RTC: Well, most of the legit sightings came around the period when they were all testing A-Bombs so maybe that got the little green men interested.
GD: Did the Company have anything to do with all of this?
RTC: No. We had the U-2 business but not the saucers. The real ones. They were strictly military. No weapons but did carry cameras. These were used in various places because they were impossible to intercept but not as stable a camera platform as the U-2. The Russians knew all about these and when the strangers showed up, they thought they were ours and we thought they were theirs. We had several secret conferences about these at the time to try to clarify this.
GD: Any authentic reports of landings or abduction of humans?
RTC: Not that I remember. Mostly what we could call recon passes. The Roswell one was a fluke. Lightening was supposed to have hit one of their ships and brought it down. Don’t forget that Roswell was in a very sensitive military area at the time.
GD: Did they recover bodies?
RTC: As I understand it, they did but I can’t give you any more than that. What did Mueller have to say about these?
GD: That they were both domestic and from somewhere unknown. I’ll include this passage when I do the journals or diaries.
RTC: Journals sounds more authoritative. Diaries sounds like something a little girl keeps about her pets or boyfriends.
GD: I think you’re right.
RTC: When are they coming out?
GD: They’re in German and the handwriting is terrible. And his wife is terrified that I’ll somehow identify her or the children. I won’t but she is not sure of that. Some of your friends will not be happy when this comes out but so what?
RTC: So what. And after that? After the journals?
GD: I don’t know. Any ideas?
RTC: Well, we can always think about the Kennedy killing. I can give you some material on that that could produce a best seller.
GD: For example?
RTC: Now, Gregory, everything in its own good time. First things first. Finish up with the Mueller business and then on to other things. One of these days, we’ll have to jerk Jim Critchfield’s chain a little. I can’t stand that man. His wife, Lois, used to work for me and when we were shortening staff, I got her a job with Jim but we both wish I hadn’t. Jim is a first class asshole and a sadist of sorts. I think we can do a number on him as they say.
GD: Well, if you want to off him, I’m not your man. I’ve truly done in a few in my life but I prefer the typewriter to the gun. I do have an Irish friend who is a hit man but only political. He worked for your people in Ireland . He led the team that did Mountbatten in ’79.
RTC: Oh, I know about that. They caught one man.
GD: The man who planted the bomb on the boat but not my friend. A very interesting story.
RTC: Are you planning to use it? He’s still alive I take it?
GD: Oh yes, and doing fine in the private sector. And, most important, a very good friend. If I do anything, I’ll talk to him first. It’s not only OK but a real duty to fuck your enemies but never your friends.
RTC: Well, in time I can tell you our part in that one but let’s wait awhile. Every day is not Christmas, is it?
GD: That would be nice. Christmas every day. By the way, I read in the Post that it was so cold in DC the other day that a Senator was seen with his hands in his own pockets.
GD: Did I ever tell you the one about the man who asked his girl friend to put her hands into his pocket? No?
RTC: Not that I recall.
GD: Anyway, she said “I feel silly doing this,” and he said, “If you put them any further down, you’ll feel nuts.”
RTC: Gregory, so soon after breakfast. Don’t you know any refined jokes?
RTC: God no. The last time you got off on those we were an hour on the phone and Emily wondered why I was laughing so much. You must know thousands of them. How can you remember so much?
GD: It’s a curse, believe me.
RTC: Bill said you have a phenomenal memory.
GD: I can remember everything but dates and figures. No pre-natal memories.
RTC: The shrinks are useless, Gregory. We hired weird people like Cameron and you would be astonished at the pure crap they peddled on everyone.
GD: You know, I think most of them went into the game because they started reading up on their own psychosis and went on from there. Freud used to bang his sister when he wasn’t smoking Yen Shee….
RTC: You mean opium?
GD: Yes. Coleridge loved it too but Xanadu is all he has to show for it. Oh, I was digging into the Elmali business. The Greek coins. Now there’s a funny story for you. The Bulgarians forged up thousands of the rarest old Greek coins and sold them to the sucker brigades for millions. Cash for operations. Like the Stasi doing the Hitler Diaries.
RTC: You were into that one, weren’t you?
GD: I did all the detail work for Wolfgang and let Connie Kujau do the writing. Old Billy Price gave them a million dollars for the Hitler Diary I turned out. I mean I did the research and Connie did the writing. Now that would make a nice book.
RTC: Was if profitable for you?
GD: Oh God, yes. Very. They still can’t account for millions of marks. But I really enjoyed watching the phonies and experts like Irving and Trevor-Roper get shit on their bibs. God, such a frenzied drive to get their names into print. Irving is such a brainless fuck that I can’t believe it. One of these days, Dave will really start believing his own lies and they he’ll get caught. ‘ Irving ’s been in hiding since early last fall when his picture first appeared on the Post Office wall.’
RTC: Costello admired him.
GD: Don’t forget, I met Costello. If he admired Irving , Irving must have a huge cock.
RTC: Now, now, I liked Costello.
GD: Brittle and vituperative without a reason or an excuse. I don’t have much use for him but he was a better writer than Irving .
RTC: I’ll agree. But John tried.
GD: What an epitaph!
RTC: Do I detect professional jealousy here, Gregory?
GD: No. You know how Costello died, don’t you?
RTC: There is somewhat of a mystery about that. There is a story going around that the Russians did him because he had discovered something sinister on his last trip to Moscow . What have you heard?
GD: John died of AIDS on a flight from Spain to Miami . Found him dead in his seat.
RTC: Gregory, come now. Where did you get that canard?
GD: It’s not a canard. Miami is in Dade County , Florida . When someone dies like that, the local coroner get the body and has to do a post on it. I used to do posts so I have some knowledge. Anyway, I called the coroner’s office there, talked shop with a technician and got him to pull the initial death certificate and the final report. Costello had a raging lung infection only caused by HIV and died from it. Not open to debate at all. Since these are public records, I sent my new friend the money and he got official copies and sent them off to me. When I told Kimmel and Bruce Lee about this, Lee was very irate and, true to form, Kimmel refused to believe me. I can understand why Kimmel was negative because I can never be right but Lee’s reaction was interesting.
RTC: Why speculate?
GD: I’m a curious person, Robert. Why did the dog not bark in the night? Lee told me sinister forces got Costello and poisoned him with shellfish. The official autopsy report shows differently. I sent him a copy of the reports and he was not happy.
RTC: Regardless of the truth of this, Costello was a very competent historian, don’t you think?
GD: Costello alive didn’t particularly impress me. I talked with him in Reno , as you know, for about three hours and I’ve had more enlightening conversations with the hairlip who grooms my dogs.
RTC: How are your dogs?
GD: Being dogs. Actually, Robert, I am a firm believer in Frederick the Great’s sentiment. He said that the more he saw of people, the more he loved his dogs. I told Tom Kimmel that and he got huffy about it.
RTC: Tom is a decent sort but I agree he’s conventional.
GD: How can you be a good intelligence officer and be conventional? I’m not at all conventional and you yourself said I would have been your best agent. Or were you just flattering me?
RTC: You have talent.
GD: Ah, my Russian friends have said the same thing but we don’t need to discuss that aspect, do we?
RTC: That might be interesting.
GD: Not to the author of the ‘New KGB.’ You did write that, correct?
RTC: We had some help from Joe Trento.
GD: I wouldn’t admit that to anyone. You should have used my literary abilities. Trento is of the mistaken impression that he’s important and articulate.
RTC: We didn’t know you then but you probably would have done a much better job at that.
GD: Truth pressed to earth will rise again.
RTC: That’s ?
GD: Mary Baker Eddy. Actually, it’s Latin. I could give it to you in Latin but what the hell? Oh, well, another day and another fifteen cents. How’re your family?
RTC: Doing fine, thank you for asking. And yours?
GD: My evil sister is still alive but all the rest of them have gone off to play cards with Jesus. If it’s true that when you die you have a great burst of glowing light and then you get to meet all your dead relatives, I think I’ll try to postpone the inevitable and find some place where they aren’t. Like Monaco .
RTC: Sam Cummings and Monaco . Do you know about Sam?
GD: A Limey who ran Interarmco and sold to the wrong people. That’s a no-no for one of your people. And safe in Monaco . Sometime I’ll talk to you about Jimmy Atwood and his Merex gun operation but not now.
RTC: Always promises. I’m going to have to cut this short Gregory because I have to do a little maintenance work upstairs and Emily keeps reminding me about this in a nice way. If you talk to Bill, ask him to call me, would you? His wife is not doing too well and it’s hard to get a hold of him.
GD: Of course. And be good.
RTC: At my age, there isn’t much reason not to.
(Concluded at 9:38AM CST )
Also see: Conversations with the Crow Part III