Date: Tuesday, February 4, 1997
Commenced: 8:45 AM CST
Concluded: 9:30 AM CST
GD: Feeling a little better, Robert?
RTC: Much, thank you. By the way, Gregory, I dug up the information on this Landreth person you asked me about. He used to work for CBS news and his father ran our offices in Havana. Edward Landreth. Used Sterling Chemical Company as a front. I wouldn’t trust this one, if I were you.
GD: No, I didn’t like him at first sight. And he got some hack named Willwirth at Time magazine to promise to put me on the cover of their trashy rag if I cooperated.
RTC: What do they want?
GD: Anything and everything relating to Mueller’s CIA employment. Anything with his new name, that is. I have an old Virginia driver’s license, a pilot’s license, an old CIA ID card and things like that.
RTC: Don’t even show them to them and keep the new name to yourself. The first thing they will do, and the Army as well, will be to get out the burn bags and totally obliterate any trace of him. You see, Mueller came in at such a high level and so early that his name is not known. Once your book came out, there were frantic searches of the files but they ran up against the dismal fact that they could not identify his new personality. Beetle Smith knew it but he’s dead. Critchfield is foaming at the mouth over all of this but he doesn’t have the name either. Wonderful. But take my advice and don’t give out the name. They would obliterate any trace of it and then piously deny they knew anything about it. Why not try the Army records in Missouri? List five or six names plus the Mueller pseudonym and get a researcher to get the copies of the files. Don’t use your name because you are on the no-no list now. Then, you can take the real Mueller out and toss the rest.
GD: Robert, how brilliant of you. I did this a year ago but I’m glad to see you’re right up on things.
RTC: Well, I know the name, you know the name but Tom Kimmel and Bill Corson do not know the name. I assume both of them have asked you?
GD: Of course they have.
RTC: Not surprising. I like Bill but he had gone over to the other side, lock, stock and barrel so use discretion with him. And you can be polite to Kimmel but shut up around him. Anything either one of them get would go straight to Langley.
GD: And the burning would commence.
RTC: Clouds of smoke would blanket the eastern seaboard, Gregory. Help keep America pollution free and keep your mouth closed. No, that’s not what I meant. Your mouth is not a source of pollution. The smoke from the burning CIA records is what I had in mind. What kind of approaches do they use?
GD: Kindergarten level. ‘We are going to make you famous’ is the main one followed by such stupidity as ‘you can tell me because I’m your friend.’ With friends like that, who needs any enemies? I wouldn’t let any of them into my house. My grandfather would have had them use the tradesman’s entrance. They don’t do that anymore. One great homogenous melting pot of proletariat idiots, ill-educated twits, liars and chronic violators of deceased prostitutes.
RTC: (Laughter) Such an accurate portrayal, Gregory.
GD: It’s been quite an unwanted education, Robert, listening to all the foolishness coming out of these creeps. But, good humored banter aside, I wanted to discuss the Kennedy thing with you.
RTC: Go ahead.
GD: I have been reading through all the major books on the subject and here and there I find something interesting. Mostly, only personal opinion without facts. But in looking through my notes, I am positive that your collective motives were based on what you thought was good for the country and the CIA, in opposite order.
RTC: Passing secrets to the enemy is very serious, Gregory.
GD: Yes, but Kennedy sacked your top people and was going to break the agency up. Self-preservation is a powerful motive for action.
RTC: Yes, it is. We had a similar problem with Nixon as I recall.
GD: You weren’t planning to off him, were you?
RTC: No, but we did get him out of the Oval Office.
GD: I met Nixon once and I rather liked him. You? What about Watergate?
RTC: Watergate was our method of getting him out. It wasn’t as final as the Zipper business but he played right into it.
GD: What did Nixon do to you?
RTC: Now that’s a long and involved story, Gregory.
GD: Well, since you didn’t have him killed, can you tell me?
RTC: I suppose so. Nixon was no specific threat to us, understand. We worked with him rather well. But he was getting squirrelly the second time around. And the China business was no good. China was our enemy and we had the best relations with Taipei….Formosa. The very best relations and very profitable. Nixon threw the entire thing out of balance and then the war in Vietnam was another factor. Very complex.
GD: I have plenty of time.
RTC: It was the drug business in the final analysis.
GD: There have been stories around about that.
RTC: Can’t be proven. We get curious reporters fired for even hinting at that. Anyway, it started in ’44-’45 with Jim’s Italian connections in Naples and Palermo.
RTC: Yes, of course. Jim had lived in Italy as a child and spoke the language fluently. He knew the Mafia people in Sicily and the gangs in Naples, not to mention the Union Corse people in Corsica. I mean it was to get their assistance in intelligence matters. First against the Germans and then against the local Communists. Jim was very effective but I don’t think he realized that by asking for favors, he put himself in the position of having to give favors back again. That’s how they are, you know.
GD: I’ve known one or two. Yes, very much that way. Didn’t he realize he was making a bargain with the Devil?
RTC: No, Jim did not. The Italians he grew up with were not that way. I knew a few of those people through my father. He was involved in politics in Chicago in the old days and that means a guaranteed association with the Mob.
GD: And they called in their markers?
RTC: Oh yes, they did. And that’s how the drug connections got started. The Italian gangsters helped Angleton when he was there with the OSS and then later, they called their markers in with him. Not much at first but much more later. Opium makes morphine and refined morphine makes heroin. You must know that. Turkey has opium fields and so do a number of places in SEA. Burma for example. Once you get into that sort of thing, Gregory, you can’t get out again. And we comforted ourselves that the actual movers and shakers were doing the dirty work and, at the same time, assisting us with intelligence matters. Killing off enemies, securing sensitive areas and that sort of thing. Naples and Palermo to begin with and later Corsica. And then in Asia, Burma first. We were big supporters of Chaing and when the Commies forced him out of mainland China, he went to Taiwan and one of his top generals, Li Mi went south with his military command and got into former French Indo China and then into Burma. He had a large contingent of troops, thousands, and both us and the French supplied him with weapons and he, in turn, set up opium farms and we, but not the French, flew out the raw products to be refined in the Mediterranean. The weapons were often surplus World War Two pieces out of Sea Supply in Florida. As a note for your interest, we shipped tons of former Nazi weapons from Poland to Guatemala when we kicked out Guzman there. You have to understand that the Company was huge and compartmented so most of the people knew nothing about the drugs. Of course the various DCIs did and Colby, who later was DCI, ran the drug business out of Cambodia.
GD: The Air American thing?
RTC: Among others. We actually used official military aircraft to ship when we couldn’t use our own proprietary people. Angleton had mob connections and they used him far more than he used them but he did not dare try to back out. It got way out of hand but none of us wanted to bell that cat, believe me. And we finally flew out Li Mi with thirteen millions in gold bars. Flew him to safety in Switzerland.
GD: That stopped the drugs?
RTC: No, it all came under new management. Colby was very efficient.
GD: As a point of interest here, Robert, is that why they snuffed him?
RTC: Partially. He knew too much and no one dared to gig him too hard over the civilian killings he ran in Vietnam. There was always the danger he would break down. He was getting along in years and that’s when we have to watch these boys carefully. A heart attack here, an accidental drowning there. After we drowned Colby, we tore his summer place to bits and then ransacked his Dent Place address. Not to mention getting our friendly bankers to let us go through his safe deposit boxes. After hours, of course.
GD: Of course. You weren’t involved, were you?
RTC: In what? Removing these dangerous people? In some cases. I had nothing directly to do with the drugs. That was mostly Angleton.
GD: He muse have gotten rich.
RTC: Not really.
GD: But Nixon….was he in the drug business too?
RTC: No. Nixon was a nut, Gregory. A poor boy elevated on high and couldn’t handle the upper levels. Very smart but got to believe his own power. The second election, a landslide, convinced him that he was invulnerable. He wasn’t and he began to play games with China. By playing nice with them, he outraged Taiwan and we all do much business with those people. Drugs and other things. Never mind all that because it’s still going on. Anyway, they bitched to us, louder and louder, that Nixon would listen to Mao and dump them. If they got dumped, they would tell all and none of us could stand that so we decided to get Nixon removed. No point of doing a Kennedy on him but he had to go. After Spiro got the boot, Jerry Ford took over and we knew we would never have any problem with good old Jerry. Hell, during the Warren Commission, good old Jerry ran to Hoover every night with the latest information so we knew he was a loyal player.
GD: And now did you do it?
RTC: Get rid of Tricky Dick? He did it to himself. We supplied him with a team of our men after we convinced him that everyone was plotting against him. I told you he was getting strange. I think paranoid is a better word. Anyway, we convinced him that McGovern was getting money from Castro and he sent our people to break into the Democrat offices in the Watergate. To get the proof that didn’t exist. They went there to get caught. They taped open the door and one of our people called local security. You know the rest I am sure. Nixon did it to himself in the end. We just supplied the push. And Ford did what he was told and everyone was happy again.
GD: No wonder they call the stuff powdered happiness.
RTC: (Laughter) I haven’t heard that but it’s fitting. I remember we were afraid Nixon might call out the military so we stuck Alex Haig in there to keep him isolated. Haig was a real nut but he did his job very well. And another government change but this time there were no inconvenient questions about Oswald and Ruby types for the nut fringe to babble about. No, Nixon did it to himself.
GD: It didn’t do the country any good, this drawn out death agony.
RTC: It would not have been a good idea to shoot him, not after the fuss after Kennedy. And Formosa is happy and we are happy and the drugs are still moving around, making everyone money. Just think what we were able to do with our share of mystery cash. No Congress to badger us about our budgets at all. We got billions from them and more billions in cash from the other stuff so we were all sitting in the catbird seat. Nixon was one man and he had served his usefulness. Notice he’s had a nice retirement.
GD: And so has Ford.
RTC: Ford was a classic pawn. Washington is full of them, Gregory. And I strongly urge you to keep away from this subject if and when you decide to write about things. The Company is not as keen on killing everyone like it used to be but I don’t think you want to run up against the Mob.
GD: No, of course not.
RTC: That’s a smart fellow, Gregory. Go after dead CIA people but keep away from the Mob. Got it?
GD: Got it loud and clear.
(Concluded at 9:30 AM CST)