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: Wednesday, March 20, 1996
Commenced: 9;32 AM(CST)
Concluded: 10:08 AM (CST)
RTC: Hello, Gregory. Sorry I was out the last time you called but we were off on family business. My son’s family. By the way, I have some information for you that might interest you. You know, there are a number of people here who are not happy with you and they are certainly not pleased that I am talking with you. Not at all. This morning I had a call from some shit at Justice who wanted to warn me, being a friendly and caring person of course, that you were a very bad person and I would ruin my reputation by telling you anything. He had a similar talk with Corson yesterday. Bill called me last night about this and we both laughed about it. This is a sure sign that you must be right. Both of us know you were friends with Mueller and the thought of him loose in America is something the Company and now Justice does not want talked about. First off, they don’t know what name he used while he was here.
GD: Are you serious, Robert?
RTC: Oh yes, very. You see, the CIA and don’t forget the Army, used high-level Nazis after the Cold War broke out. We especially went after the Gestapo and SD people because they had the most to do with fighting the Communists, both in German in the ‘30s and then during the war.
GD: I knew Gehlen very well and met some of them. I agree. His top recruiter was old Willi Krichbaum who was a Colonel in the SS and a top Gestapo person. I talked many times with Willi who had been in the Freikorps after the first war and he was quite a fellow. He was Mueller’s top deputy in the Gestapo and in charge of the border guards at one time. And, don’t forget, Willi was head of the Wehrmacht’s Geheime Feldpolizei who had a terrible reputation with the troops. Hanging deserters at the end of the war. Yes, Gehlen told me the SS intelligence men were his best people.
RTC: You have a grasp of this from the time, don’t you. So, of course no one now wants to infuriate the rah-rah patriotic idiots and most especially the Jews by letting anyone know about this. You see, they brought Mueller and others over here and gave them new names and identities. The higher they had been, the more they concealed them. Now your friend Mueller’s name was known to Truman, Beetle Smith, Critchfield, Gehlen and about three others. Now that everyone is dead and you are tearing open old caskets, they are absolutely frantic to find out what name Mueller was here under and actually so they can run around the files and burn anything with that name on it. Then they can say, like the pious frauds they are, that Oh no, we never heard of that person. We searched our records, sir, and believe us, there was no such person anywhere. That’s what they want. Smith is dead, Truman is ditto, Critchfield will never talk because he ran Mueller and still has his pension to consider. I know the name but they have never brought the subject up to me. They think you’re a loose cannon, Gregory, with no loyalty to the system and they think I am getting daft in my old age and marginalize me.
GD: Think they’ll shoot me? A boating accident? Something like that?
RTC: When I was in harness, yes, they would. A bungled robbery or a rape like Kennedy’s lady friend but not now. Besides, they don’t know what you have on them and if you were crushed to death by an elephant falling out of a plane, who knows what might come out? I have to send you some documentation which you then have to let them know you have. But in a safe place, not in a local storage locker under your name or in your attic or garage. A gentle hint of joys to come. I have hinted at that and very strongly. The Justice oaf today got an earful from me and when I told him I would tell you about this, he got scared and hung up on me. Now, I can expect Tom Kimmel to call me and try to find out if I’ve told you or given you anything. You know, you got some rare documents that were very helpful to his case to clear the Admiral but now he’s a torn person. The family want desperately to accept these as genuine but are furious that you, a terrible person in their eyes, had them. No gratitude. I suppose if that awful Wolfe had found them and passed them along, he would be a great hero to the Kimmel family but you are one whose name is never to be mentioned. You know, Gregory, I find this very entertaining. And Kimmel is horrified that Bill and I like you and talk to you. Both of us have been warned, I by people from the Company I haven’t seen since I retired and Bill by the fringe wannabees like Trento and others. I think it’s time we nailed Critchfield, don’t you?
GD: I’m game, Robert. If he ran Mueller, he must be scared.
RTC: Will be scared shitless. In the old days, he’d have had you killed at once but those days are no more. You knew Gehlen and that will be my approach. You are quick enough with in house terms so that I can convince Jimmy that you were once part of his operation. You’ll have to play it by ear but you are about ten times smarter than him so you should have fun. I want you to convince him that you were really there and knew some his people. And most important, convince him you knew Mueller. Oddly enough, Jimmy never met Mueller because he operated him out of Switzerland through Willi and later, Mueller moved up the ladder to the point where Jimmy had no access to him. Let’s keep his bowels open, Gregory, what do you say?
GD: I have no problem. Should I tape him?
RTC: Why not get him on a speaker phone with both a tape recorder going and a reputable witness? That way, if something comes of this and they get to the witness, you have a backup.
GD: I have a retired colonel acquaintance who was with your people in ‘ Nam . He’d be perfect as a witness. Just let me know. Is Justice going to do something nasty to me?
RTC: God no. They just want to scare me off of you, that’s all. They’re all such pinheads, Gregory. They chatter like old whores at a tea party and I can remind you that gossip is king here. Everyone inside the Beltway runs around like the little self-important toads that they are, pretending to be really important. They see a Senator in a restaurant, wave at him and get waved at back. This impresses their client who does not realize that the Senator will always wave back on the assumption that the waver might be someone important he might have forgotten. And they tell you that the President, or the Secretary of this or that said this to them when no one knows them at the White House or anywhere else. This jerk from Justice is a small, malformed cog in a big and brainless machine. Typical. I had to deal with these punks for years and I have more respect for a black tart, believe me. At least they don’t try to hide the fact that they fuck for money.
RTC: It really isn’t funny. If the public was aware of the crooked, lying sacks of shit that run this country, they would be boiling the tar and preparing the chicken feathers.
GD: You know, speaking of Gehlen, he told me in ’51 that his famous ’48 report about the Russians being poised to invade Europe was made up at the Army’s specific request. Gehlen told me that far from moving hundreds of armored units into the east zone, the Russians had torn up all the railroad tracks after the war and shipped them back to Russia . And most of the armored divisions were only cadre.
RTC: But it did work, didn’t it? Big business got to gear up for a fictional coming war and the military got a huge boost.
GD: Ever heard of General Trudeau?
RTC: Oh yes, I knew him personally. What about him?
GD: He found out about Gehlen and bitched like hell about what he called a bunch of Nazis working for the CIA and inventing stories about fake invasion threats.
RTC: Now that’s something I didn’t know. You know they shipped him out of the European command and sent him to the Far East ? Yes, and I met him when I was in Hawaii . I’m surprised they didn’t do to him what they did to George Patton. A convenient truck ran into his car and shut him up.
RTC: George found out that the top brass was stealing gold from the salt mine and many generals and colonels were getting very rich. And then the accident and with George dead, they just went on stealing.
GD: I can use that.
RTC: I can get you some paper on that out of my files. Patton was strange but one of our better generals. Lying thieves. Gold has a great attraction for people, I guess.
GD: A few years ago, one of your boys, Jimmy Atwood and I went down into Austria to dig up some Nazi gold. Atwood is a terrible asshole but very useful. I think he viewed me the same way. Anyway, we had a former SS officer and a Ukrainian camp guard along. What a wonderful adventure, Robert.
RTC: Were you successful? Treasure hunts rarely are.
GD: Oh, very. And we brought most of it back with us.
RTC: How ever did you get it through customs?
GD: Boat. Brought it in by boat. I’ll tell you about this some time. Did you ever hear about it?
RTC: No, I didn’t. Should I have?
GD: Probably a rogue operation. Two Limeys got knocked on the head and put over the side on the way to the Panama Canal but other than that, it was an uneventful trip.
RTC: Well, someday, I’ll discuss the Kennedy assassination and you can tell me about the gold hunt. Sounds fair?
GD: Oh yes, why not?
RTC: I remember the time we had to fly the KMT general out of Burma with an Air America transport full of gold. He was our boy out there but he had a hankering to make more money so he began to raise opium and used our weapons to kill of the locals. Thirteen million in gold and twelve trunks full of opium. Quite a problem getting it all into Switzerland and into a bank. But he performed and we kept our word. That fucking Colby was into drugs as well.
RTC: Yes, our beloved DCI. A nasty piece of work, Gregory. Was working in SEA doing the drug business when he was tapped for PHOENIX . And just kept on going when he got to Saigon . PHOENIX got to be a really nasty business and Bill set up torture centers all over our part of the country. Regional Intelligence Centers they called them. Well, Church got his hands on some of the goings on and guess what? Colby snitched on all his co-workers. I know for a fact from some of the old ones that they’re going to kill him for that. I remember he has some kind of a telephone device hidden in his glasses. Princeton man. You can always tell a Princeton man, Gregory, but you can’t tell him very much. Watch the papers pretty soon.
GD: How will they nail him? Run down in a crosswalk? A stampede of elephants flatten him in his garden?
RTC: You have an overheated imagination. I don’t know the how but I do know the why. Give it six months and the Dictator of Dent Place will be another stone in the cemetery.
GD: What about the one who killed himself by tying weights to his legs and shooting himself in the back of the head before jumping off his boat?
RTC: John Arthur Paisley. He used to be the deputy director of the Office of Strategic Research. Paisley . Tragic. Shouldn’t have sold out to the Russians. He was such a rotten mess when they found him that it took weeks to do an ID on him. There’ve been more.
GD: I have a packet coming in from overseas and the mail truck is at the end of the block. Let me ring off now, Robert and I can call you back later today.
RTC: Make it tomorrow. OK? Things to do.
(Concluded at 10:08 AM CST )
Also see: Conversations with the Crow Part I
Conversations with the Crow Part II
Conversations with the Crow – Part 3