Editor’s note: When we ran the first conversation, there was the question of reader interest 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, 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: Sunday, February 25, 1996
Commenced: 1:30 PM (CST)
Concluded: 2:11 PM (CST)
GD: Good afternoon, Robert. Been to church today?
RTC: And good afternoon to you. Not today. Have you?
GD: I’ve been in many churches in my life but for the architecture, not the services.
RTC: I’ve never asked you, Gregory but are you Catholic?
GD: In taste, Robert, but not in faith. I told Bender what you had to say about the UFOs but did not credit you. I called you a senior intelligence official.
RTC: I appreciate that. What did he say?
GD: A subject that will be covered but in its place. Your point of view is that there were so-called official saucers used by the military and unofficial ones that no one knows anything about. Correct?
GD: But by unofficial I don’t mean Russian.
GD: I don’t suppose there’s paper on this?
RTC: The Air Force would have it but we don’t. We had nothing to do with it but it was common knowledge that there were visitors not from this world.
GD: I don’t want to spend much time on this because if I do, the critics will jump on it and claim I’m a Flying Saucer Nut. They already hate me and this would only give them more ammunition.
RTC: When I read your first book, didn’t I tell you this would happen? You can’t claim you were surprised.
GD: Yes, but they are so fucking stupid, pardon the French. ‘Oh hello Mr. Douglas! My name is Edgar Quince and I’m a reporter for TIME magazine. We were really thrilled to read your landmark book on the Gestapo fellow and we want to do an interview with you. Do you have any documents proving he worked for the CIA? We could put you on the cover of TIME! Wouldn’t that be exciting? We could fly a team out to see you tomorrow. And we want to see any CIA papers. By the way, what’s your home address?’ When I said stupid, that’s a typical example.
RTC: Well, they really aren’t all that bright, unfortunately. Don’t forget, Gregory, I had to deal with the media for years. Cord and Frank did the publishing companies and I worked with media corporate. We had a death grip on them. Couldn’t and wouldn’t print a word if we told them not to or ran puff pieces we wanted out.
GD: My late grandfather told me that once a newspaper man, always a whore.
RTC: Let’s call them sluts, not whores. We rarely paid them and they just did it to make us happy.
GD: That’s a difference without much of distinction, Robert. Did you have to take a shower after each and every meeting? Use Lysol to get off the stench?
RTC: I’ve had to work with business executives, Gregory, and they’re worse. Believe me, the Mafia are more to be trusted. Don’t forget I was raised in Chicago and my father was a cog in the Kelly-Nash machine so I got to know some of the mob people.
GD: My grandfather was a Chicago banker and I remember him saying once that the Ambassador belonged in Alcatraz along with his crime partner Capone.
RTC: Your grandfather was right. Kennedy was tied up with the Chicago mob in the liquor business. Capone got crossed by Kennedy and put out a hit on him. Kennedy took the next train to Chicago with a satchel filled with large denomination bills. Paid Capone back the money with great interest and Alfonso forgave him.
GD: Some history we have never heard before.
RTC: How did your grandfather know about this? Was he involved?
GD: No. He was involved with the Merchandise Mart and I guess that’s where he met Kennedy. Grandfather said he was an unconvicted bootlegger.
RTC: True enough. Joe wanted to run his oldest for the White House but Roosevelt put a spoke into that plan. Franklin wanted to die in office…
GD: Which he did…
RTC: And the eldest son had a fatal accident in England .
GD: I know. I covered that in the first book.
RTC: The kid was supposed to pilot a plane full of explosives to a German V bomb base, parachute out and let the plane blow it up. Churchill, ever a good friend when Franklin was alive and giving him support, arranged for a radio station near the airfield to send out a trigger code and blew young Kennedy into cat meat. One hand washes the other, doesn’t it?
GD: Bloodthirsty amoral shits, all of them. Mueller told me once that when a man has achieved a certain elevation, morality goes down the tube. I remember his exact words. ‘Morality and ethics are excellent norms but not effective techniques.’
RTC; I met him several times. An impressive man to be sure. Speaking of Mueller, I ran into someone several days ago at the National Archives. A wonderful man and a great supporter of your book.
GD: I didn’t think I had great friends inside the Beltway. Who was it? Corson?
RTC: No, that butt-licking Wolfe. Sidled up to me and went on about how evil you were and how much damage you were doing to his friends at the CIA. And probably were a secret Nazi who longed to shove Jews into the ovens. He wants to think that the CIA loves him but he’s just another stool pigeon to them. They give gift pens to ones like that.
GD: He’s always so nice to me but I trust him as far as I could throw him by his ears.
RTC: I wouldn’t. Anything you say to him, goes straight to Langley .
GD: Tell me I’m surprised. Wolfe’s as subtle as a fart in a spacesuit but I keep filling him full of entertaining stories. I should send him a box of dignity pants before every phone session. Did you know that he got a top secret document for me out of the Archives? It was a ’48 Army General Staff report on top Nazis, listed as war criminals, that they and your people hired and brought over here?
RTC: Could you give me chapter and verse on that one?
GD: I’ll have to dig it out but I will.
RTC: Top secret you say?
GD: Release forbidden by presidential order.
RTC: Probably Truman’s doing. Yes, would appreciate a copy.
GD: No problem.
RTC: What do you plan to do with it?
GD: Publish the contents. Why not?
RTC: Oh somewhere out there a George Brown, actually a top Gestapo official who ran a death camp, is an analyst for the Rand people. You’ll shock his neighbors.
GD: The Gestapo didn’t run any camps but I take your meaning.
RTC: Ah the images of Gestapo men in black overcoats with Dobermans, rounding up screaming Jews and shoving them into the showers is pretty well fixed in the American mind. If it ever gets out the degree and extent of those types we gratefully used, the Jewish community here will scream for months and, worse, use their papers to blast government types.
GD: I doubt that. They don’t want to kill the goose that lays their golden eggs. I see them turning on me as the announcer of matters they would rather ignore. Money and weapons have that effect on people.
RTC: You knew their Stern gang tried to kill Truman once? Harry may have gotten their ball rolling but he stopped shipments of explosives over there to stop the wave of bombings and so on. So they decided to kill him. As I remember, they sent anthrax to Harry in a letter but someone else got it. Kept very quiet. The secret service tracked the doers to Montreal and turned it over to us. We found five of them living in a safe house and nailed all of them. Ironically, they got rid of the bodies by dumping them into a local hog farm where the pigs ate them.
GD: Pigs will do that. I heard a farm person, who raised pigs, once say that his uncle disappeared. He said he went to shit and the hogs ate him. When I worked in Northern California , I could see that that was not really a joke. The outhouses are built on the side of a hill and open in the back. The pigs run wild up there and when they see someone going to the outhouse with a newspaper, they flock to the site. For them, it’s manna from heaven.
RTC: Have you no shame, Gregory? And the other one has escaped to Cuba so we got Batista’s people to ice him. By the way, did you know that the CIA put Castro in office? No? We were tired of Batista and some moron thought Castro would cooperate better with our business interests. He did not and both big business, Alcoa mostly, the mob and the Company tried for years to kill him. You don’t need to write about that if you please.
RTC: And the JCS was planning to fake Cuban attacks on American targets to justify a military attack? I didn’t think so. Eisenhower thought it was a wonderful idea but Kennedy killed it. Considering that his father was such a crook, it’s amazing how uncooperative his son was.
GD: You don’t have any paperwork on that on, do you?
RTC: No but believe me, it’s true.
GD: Did that have anything to do with the Kennedy business?
RTC: A contributory factor.
GD: Perhaps sometime we can discuss this.
RTC: Perhaps later.
GD: Eisenhower was a shit after all. He would have let tens of thousands of German POWs starve to death after the war but Truman saved them.
RTC: I went to the Point and under Ike’s picture in the yearbook, it referred to him as a Swedish Jew. I think they were German but you can see why he might have been upset with the Germans.
GD: Well, long ago, the Roosevelt family were Jewish. The name was Campo Rosso, changed to Rosenfeld and then to the Dutch Roosevelt. I mean that was back in the 1600s but Franklin had a second cousin who was Orthodox until he died. If you dig back far enough, it’s amazing what you find.
RTC: Where did you dig that up?
GD: The Congressional Record, German genealogical agencies and so on. I do dig, Robert, don’t forget that. I never accept anything as fact until I’ve checked it out. The Costello business is an example. Murdered by the Russians? Try his black boyfriend he kept in a flat in Soho. Costello’s own brother was a British naval officer and he refused to take custody of the body. They probably cremated John and shipped the remains back to London . The boyfriend went to the post office and hauled John’s ashes for the last time.
GD: Well, it’s apt.
RTC: You are a mean person, Gregory, very mean.
GD: Yes, I am. I once poured water on a drowning man, Robert. I have devastated small children by my revelations about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Cruel.
RTC: You’re a social Darwinist, Gregory, just like the rest of us.
GD: I agree but let’s not get the religious freaks exercised by mention of that awful name. The world is only 6,000 years old according to Bishop Ussher, and we dare not even question Holy Writ. I keep away from that when I write because God hath no fury like a Jesus freak deluded. Anyway, sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof and on that uplifting note, I have to take the dog out or he will desecrate the carpet. Regards to the wife.
RTC: Always happy to hear from you, Gregory.
(Concluded at 2:11PM CST )
Also see: Conversations with the Crow Part I
Conversations with the Crow Part II