Armitage- Part I: The Early Years & the Golden Triangle

Mizgin’s Desk Reports

Mizginslogo2As mentioned earlier, Brent Scowcroft will be ending his nine-year reign as chairman of the American Turkish Council (ATC) and will be succeeded by former Bush administration Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage.

Armitage may be best remembered for leaking information to Robert Novak that exposed Valerie Plame as a covert CIA agent in a political scandal that became known as the Plame Affair. Selective amnesia on the part of the servile US mainstream media has repeatedly obscured Armitage’s curriculum vitae, which goes back decades and begins during the Vietnam conflict.

Graduating from the US Naval Academy in 1967, Armitage served four tours of duty in Vietnam before leaving the military in 1973, when he joined the Defense Attache in Saigon. It was at this time that Armitage’s association with the CIA began:

GoldenTriangleTheodore Shackley and Thomas Clines financed a highly intensified phase of the Phoenix Program, in 1974 and 1975, by causing an intense flow of Vang Pao opium money to be secretly brought into Vietnam for this purpose. This Vang Pao opium money was administered for Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines by a US Navy official based in Saigon’s US office of Naval Operations by the name of Richard Armitage. However, because Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Armitage knew that their secret anti-communist extermination program was going to be shut down in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand in the very near future, they, in 1973, began a highly secret non-CIA authorized program. Thus, from late 1973 until April of 1975, Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Armitage disbursed, from the secret, Laotian-based, Vang Pao opium fund, vastly more money than was required to finance even the highly intensified Phoenix Project in Vietnam.

In 1975, Armitage went to Washington DC as a Defense Department “consultant” and was posted to Tehran until the end of 1976. No information from “official” sources describes the purpose of Armitage’s “posting” in Tehran, but unofficial sources name Armitage as working in Tehran to oversee “the transfer of heroin profits from Indonesia to Shackley’s account in Tehran . . .” As soon as Armitage finished his DOD business in Iran, he moved to Bangkok and began a private sector “import/export business”, although others have linked Armitage’s work in Thailand to the Pentagon and to the Nugan Hand Bank. Many of the same players in the Nugan Hand Bank scandal would resurface again, during the Iran-Contra scandal, including Richard Armitage.

In the early 1980s, Armitage began working for President-elect Reagan as a foreign policy advisor and was appointed as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, a position he held until 1983 when he became the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy. One of Armitage’s duties at the DOD was to oversee the recovery of MIAs and POWs from Vietnam, according to testimony by former Special Forces officer James “Bo” Gritz before the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. During his efforts to locate any potential MIAs in Southeast Asia, Gritz eventually came to believe that Armitage used his position at the Pentagon to block private-sector efforts to bring missing American servicemen home. More importantly, Gritz was given information by Khun Sa, the “King of the Golden Triangle”, which fingered Armitage as having been the individual “who handled the [opium] money with the banks in Australia“:

[Khun Sa] sadly reported that after an exhaustive search his agents had turned up no evidence of U.S. prisoners alive in Western Laos, but he was willing to reveal some of the U.S. officials he had dealt with since winning the Burma-Laos Opium War in 1967! My ears pricked up when Richard Armitage was named as the person who handled the money with the banks in Australia! I was familiar with the Michael Hand’s Nugan-Hand Bank chain that laundered CIA drug money worldwide. The Chiang Mai branch telephone was answered by the DEA secretary. Mike Hand had been a Special Forces operative. Nugan was found shot to death after the bank examiners revealed their nefarious dealings. Hand disappeared. If Armitage was the bagman, then he wouldn’t want live POWs coming home. Follow-on investigations would involve him as the responsible bureaucrat. Armitage and Harvey were close associates who lifted weights together at the Pentagon Officers Athletic Club. If Armitage was involved and saw Khun Sa’s offer to name names, it could have sparked the “newspaper drug war” — something certainly did!

Khun Sa reiterated his information in a 1987 letter to the DOJ. Why would Khun Sa name Armitage as the money-handler for Golden Triangle opium profits unless Armitage was associated with the business? In other words, what other interest would Khun Sa have for naming Armitage or what would Khun Sa gain by lying in this matter?

Former Congressman John LeBoutillier (R-NY) viewed the videotapes of Gritz’ meeting with Khun Sa, videotapes that Gritz brought back from Burma:

As the Associated Press reported on June 4, 1987, “A drug warlord in Burma accuses Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard L. Armitage and others of drug trafficking to fund anti-communist operations, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Thursday.”

The AP story then stated, “In a three-hour videotape interview smuggled out of Southeast Asia within the past week, Khun Sa said high-ranking American officials were involved in drug trafficking between 1965 and at least 1979.”

This three-hour videotape was made by retired Army Green Beret Lt. Colonel James “Bo” Gritz and then smuggled out of Burma.

I have seen part of this tape – and it is chilling.

Armitage’s reaction?

Mr. Armitage denied any involvement in the drug trade. He called the allegations, according to AP, “ludicrous and baseless.” He also was never charged with any crime based on these or other allegations.

Where have we heard these kinds of denials before? As we shall see, Armitage’s early history with narcotics-trafficking will continue to come up during his career and remain relevant today.

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Comments

  1. je-sus H.
    after picking up my jaw from the floor…
    This is amazing info…although it has been floating around for a long time it is nice to see it coming back to the surface again. Remember all the trouble Ross Perot got into fighting to get private info on what really happened to some of those MIAs in Vietnam? Bush Sr. didnt take too kindly to Perot putting his nose where it shouldnt have been. Im curious though, what exactly did you mean by being ‘the bagman’ and why would this make Armitage not want POWs coming back? and how was this program not CIA approved? does this mean there is a rogue group of high government officials running their OWN clandestine drug running group?

    Again, as I have noted before, do a youtube search for interviews with a guy named Chip Tatum. I have no idea if he is for real but his info seems to dovetail pretty well with this story.

  2. Mizgin:

    Great piece of work! Curiously, I have followed LeBoutillier\’s blog before and emailed him a few times. Occassionally, he used to refer to something he called \"the Big Scandal\" that he hoped would break someday soon. I wonder if this is what he\’s referring to. Although he\’s a conservative, I have found him to be pretty fair in his analysis. He pretty much attacks Republicans with the same vigor he attacks Democrats.

    As for Armitage: it is interesting, given his checkered history, how he is portrayed as a \’moderate\’. If this is what a \’centrist\’ looks like, who needs \’Neocons\’?

  3. I think the reason they did not want the POWs home had something to do with the Vietnamese using them as leverage to get more concessions the U.S. was not willing to make, or something like that.

  4. Forgot to link to this interesting article by Mike Ruppert on this subject:
    http://www.aiipowmia.com/sea/sarinpw.html

  5. this just keeps getting better [worse] with every day. true a vice-presidential kinda man. the quintessential free marketeer. shame all that good poppy money don’t get taxed.

  6. Great piece, Mizgin. Isn’t it strange that the same cast of characters turns up in these places doing similar things? As I recall, wasn’t John Negroponte in the State Dept. in Saigon at the same time? So it seems Armitage made his ATC bones when he copped to his role in the Plame Affair at precisely the right time to take the heat off Libby and Cheney while also obscuring the Grossman/ATC/ISI/AQKhan connection that Sibel overheard. Now consider these two salient facts.

    1.According to Sibel, Plame’s brass plate covert op, Brewster/Jennings, was blown by Grossman to the ATC/ISI two full years before Plame’s own identity was compromised.

    2.To my knowledge, to this day, Melanie Sloan, Plame-Wilson’s attorney, has never contacted Edmonds about her testimony and it’s relevance to Plame’s civil case against Cheney, Libby et all.

    Now why would high government officials allow the compromise of their main Nucelar Non-Proliferation covert op, run by their own intelligence agency’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Division? Why would the main victim of this action not contact the one witness who could actually provide an accurate timeline to B/J’s compromise and place it in the context of her later compromise?

    My take on the reason for Plame’s outing was because these people already knew her network was effectively useless and, therefore, she had no further value. What’s unclear to me is why she would not reach out to the one person who could really blow her case back onto the headlines.

  7. As a child born in the mix of the covert operation in Laos during the American War in Vietnam, it all come clear now of how people of developed countries take advantage of those that preferred to be in their own secluded, non-political and non-violence realm; especially those that are entrusted with power and CARE. Money, sex, greed and personal or self serving have and will always be the force.

    Hope we all can learn and change of how our US gov’t and its foreign policies work.

  8. Yeah, Ian, I had to pick my jaw off the floor when I came across Armitage’s history with the Golden Triangle. I had not heard this before at all.

    Apparently, some of those who have written about this aspect of Armitage’s history refer to Armitage as the “bagman” because he was the one who carried the opium money to Australia. As for the business of not wanting MIAs/POWs to return, this comes from Gritz and he doesn’t explain exactly what he means by it. It may be that the ones left behind might have known something of the opium operations and would have exposed those who were involved if they had been returned. But that’s my speculation.

    Also, I did come across information that seemed to say that the opium operations were not official CIA and that, in fact, it was government officials, like Armitage, Shackley, Clines, etc., who were running these operations as their own “business”.

    Mike Ruppert has a number of articles about Armitage at his From the Wilderness site and I think I’ll be able to work a couple of them into the subsequent posts on this subject.

    Thanks, Miguel. I don’t know what LeBoutillier would mean by a “Big Scandal” but it seems to me that the hiding of the information about Armitage’s dealings in the Golden Triangle is a pretty big scandal. Why this hasn’t been investigated further is also a pretty big scandal. There will be more, too, on how Armitage is portrayed by the jackasses in the mainstream media, and there’s one thing in particular that I can’t believe they’ve actually pulled off since Iran-Contra regarding Armitage’s character. But that’s coming soon.

    Well, Remo, if Armitage is the quintessential free-marketer, then his stuff shouldn’t be taxed. After all, it’s the “free” market, right?

    Thanks, Ishmael. Yes, Negroponte was the Political Officer in the embassy in Saigon and was the chief liaison officer in Saigon between the South Vietnamese and North Vietnamese governments, but he held these positions in the 1960s. More on him at Rightweb.

    I think there’s a lot more that went on between Armitage and Grossman over the ridiculous Plame Affair, but we’ll talk about that later. Remember, Armitage was Grossman’s boss. His new position as Grand Poo-Bah of the ATC may definitely be his “reward”.

    Why did Plame not contact Sibel? Because Plame is one of THEM. Her worthless husband is an old buddy of Grossman and nothing about the Plame case had anything to do with anything that is right and good. It was all about the grinding of political axes. These people don’t really care about nuclear non-proliferation anyway. I mean, if they did, why didn’t they continue with the wiretaps on Grossman and nail him for his behavior? Why didn’t they go after the other players, like Giza Technologies?

    Besides, if nukes proliferate, then everyone can get rich selling missile defense shield systems, right?

    Taz, you’re right. Things don’t have to be the way they are. But I don’t see many options available to us other than to “take care” of the criminals in power.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

  9. Yeah, Ian, I had to pick my jaw off the floor when I came across Armitage’s history with the Golden Triangle. I had not heard this before at all.

    Apparently, some of those who have written about this aspect of Armitage’s history refer to Armitage as the “bagman” because he was the one who carried the opium money to Australia. As for the business of not wanting MIAs/POWs to return, this comes from Gritz and he doesn’t explain exactly what he means by it. It may be that the ones left behind might have known something of the opium operations and would have exposed those who were involved if they had been returned. But that’s my speculation.

    Also, I did come across information that seemed to say that the opium operations were not official CIA and that, in fact, it was government officials, like Armitage, Shackley, Clines, etc., who were running these operations as their own “business”.

    Mike Ruppert has a number of articles about Armitage at his From the Wilderness site and I think I’ll be able to work a couple of them into the subsequent posts on this subject.

    Thanks, Miguel. I don’t know what LeBoutillier would mean by a “Big Scandal” but it seems to me that the hiding of the information about Armitage’s dealings in the Golden Triangle is a pretty big scandal. Why this hasn’t been investigated further is also a pretty big scandal. There will be more, too, on how Armitage is portrayed by the jackasses in the mainstream media, and there’s one thing in particular that I can’t believe they’ve actually pulled off since Iran-Contra regarding Armitage’s character. But that’s coming soon.

    Well, Remo, if Armitage is the quintessential free-marketer, then his stuff shouldn’t be taxed. After all, it’s the “free” market, right?

    Thanks, Ishmael. Yes, Negroponte was the Political Officer in the embassy in Saigon and was the chief liaison officer in Saigon between the South Vietnamese and North Vietnamese governments, but he held these positions in the 1960s. More on him at Rightweb.

    I think there’s a lot more that went on between Armitage and Grossman over the ridiculous Plame Affair, but we’ll talk about that later. Remember, Armitage was Grossman’s boss. His new position as Grand Poo-Bah of the ATC may definitely be his “reward”.

    Why did Plame not contact Sibel? Because Plame is one of THEM. Her worthless husband is an old buddy of Grossman and nothing about the Plame case had anything to do with anything that is right and good. It was all about the grinding of political axes. These people don’t really care about nuclear non-proliferation anyway. I mean, if they did, why didn’t they continue with the wiretaps on Grossman and nail him for his behavior? Why didn’t they go after the other players, like Giza Technologies?

    Besides, if nukes proliferate, then everyone can get rich selling missile defense shield systems, right?

    Taz, you’re right; things don’t have to be the way they are, but sometimes I don’t think there are any other options open to us except to “take care” of the criminals in power.

  10. This story reminds of the story of Frank Lucas, who’s story was the basis of the recent movie, “American Gangster”. He was able to get herion out of the Golden Triangle area by placing it in the coffins of dead American servicemen from Vietnam.
    Wondering if there was any connection from the Lucas end with this story. I know Mr. Lucas is still alive.

  11. “Because Plame is one of THEM.”

    I’ve always tried to figure out exactly why, on the one hand, the ATC and its connected Turkish companies are free to involve themselves in nuclear proliferation while, on the other hand, the CIA pays people like Valerie Plame and her cohorts to work undercover to STOP the trade in nuclear technology.

    My best guess is that it’s a case of different Agencies, or even departments within Agencies with different objectives. On the one hand, you have the State Department that wants to do everything to keep Turkey and Pakistan happy. They want some nuclear technology? Sure, why not, as long as “our friends” in Pakistan and Turkey are promoting America’s long term objectives in the Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia, they are free to raid the cookie jar.

    On the other hand, elements of the CIA and FBI are actually trying to stop or at least track the flow of technology, to prevent it from getting into the “wrong hands” (as if Turkey and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia weren’t wrong enough). This is why Sibel overheard Grossman warning off the Turkish and Pakistani targets from dealing with Brewster Jennings. Grossman was obviously at odds with the CIA (Oh yeah, and personal corruption might have been another factor.)

    It reminds me when Michael Levine at the DEA had a big bust ready to go of some drug lords in Mexico in the 1980s. The day the operation was ready;someone else Levine was working with informed him the Attorney General Ed Meese had tipped off the Attorney General in Mexico of the raid, effectively blowing the whole operation.

    I do believe Plame was probably doing her job at the CIA, though we can’t know for sure if her marraige to Wilson effected her work. As for Joe Wilson, I don’t really know what he knew or was involved in. We do know he is a phony whistleblower (one of those people who kept their mouths shut when it could have made a difference, then falsely tried to make a hero of himself when it no longer mattered.)

  12. avatar Kingfisher says:

    I would be extremely skeptical about anything Lt. Col. Gritz (US Army, ret) has to say about this.

    In the summer of 1981 the Army’s Delta Force had conducted its final rehearsal of an operation to rescue American POWs being held in Laos by the North Vietnamese, all they needed was the word ‘go’. Then all of a sudden Gritz shows up on world television and announces he has information on the location of POWs and is working on a private plan to go in and rescue them.

    Lt. Col. Gritz’s actions compromised the mission.

    Then a year later, Delta dusts-off the mission and begins planning to rescue POWs. Guess what happens? Gritz shows up in Bangkok saying he has located the POWs and is planning a rescue, compromising the Delta mission again!

    Eric Haney, a Delta Force member wrote this in his book about Gritz’s role:

    “The only thing Gritz possibly accomplished by a stunt like that was the compromise of a mission. His and ours. It was unbelievable that a former Special Forces officer could do such a thing. What could possibly explain Gritz’s reckless behavior? Was he being manipulated or was he simply chasing self-promotion?

    There were several men in our unit who had served with Gritz in other assignments, and they said he was entirely capable of the self-promotion part of the equation.

    But I didn’t completely buy it. I just could not, and would not, believe that a professional American soldier—even one who was, as rumor had it, a legend in his own mind—would purposefully do something that would cause harm to his former comrades. It just didn’t add up.

    I came to believe that Gritz was being used by people who were well aware of his personal propensities.”

  13. Ian, I emailed James Gritz regarding your question as to why Armitage would not want to see the return of MIAs/POWs. Here is his reply:

    “The answer concerning Armitage is that as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, he was responsible for U.S. POW/MIAs. If any would have ever come home, Congress would have investigated who was in charge; what took so long; and what was ISA doing if not searching for POWs? Armitage, Shackley, and all the others (including Bush, Sr.) would have been uncovered — along with their ocean of illegal cash (for covert operations — bypassing Congress).”

    KF, I would be extremely skeptical about anything Eric Haney would say about the matter, too. He was a military expert on many of the worthless news networks promoting the Pentagon’s propaganda after 9/11 and many of those were paid propagandists.

    I would also think that an organization like the Delta Force would have been able to keep their operations a secret but, by Haney’s own admission, Gritz was able to find out about them each time and thwart them? That’s amazing. How could something like that happen, I wonder? Unless the same people blocking Gritz were the same ones manipulating the intel on Delta Force operations?

  14. avatar Kingfisher says:

    “KF, I would be extremely skeptical about anything Eric Haney would say about the matter, too. He was a military expert on many of the worthless news networks promoting the Pentagon’s propaganda after 9/11 and many of those were paid propagandists.”

    Haney was an enlisted man, the former military talking heads getting paid by the networks and getting talking points from the Pentagon were officers. Second of all, Haney criticized the neocons, the war in Iraq, and the Bush administration. I think the military expert role for tv networks you cite, is for his role as the adviser to the tv series “The Unit”.

    “I would also think that an organization like the Delta Force would have been able to keep their operations a secret but, by Haney’s own admission, Gritz was able to find out about them each time and thwart them?”

    I don’t know if Gritz knew about the Delta mission or not, either way it is irrelevant. Announcing that you are going in to rescue American POWs to the world media absolutely destroys whatever element of surprise you may have. Even if the POWs did exist and were being held somewhere, that position would be reinforced (including more anti-air) or the POWs would be moved – either way your plan is compromised. The second time you do it; they kill the POWs and destroy the evidence they existed. It was irresponsible and stupid at best, and murderously negligent at worst.

    “How could something like that happen, I wonder? Unless the same people blocking Gritz were the same ones manipulating the intel on Delta Force operations?”

    I doubt Gritz’s operation would have worked anyway – that was the point; a freelance hostage rescue operation of 50-100 people deep in a hostile country being financed by American right-wing billionaires, makes for a great movie but doesn’t add up in reality. If we are to believe Haney, Gritz was manipulated into his bumbling plots by forces in the government that didn’t the POWs to be rescued, in-order to undermine the Delta Force mission. Gritz was a tool.

    I take it that you have actually researched this guy, Mizgin?

  15. Heroin, is that a challenge people can meet? HBO reported on the Anxiety Medication being used in Iraq. The stench of war drives people mad. The unusually greedy sky.

  16. avatar JamesLaffrey says:

    Sibel, I love your website. The posts followed by the deep-knowledge discussion in the comments make this a vital site in
    - correcting the “history” we’ve been fed, and
    - informing our future efforts, which I hope include governing this country after we defeat the bankster-corporate-military-intelligence complex.

    (Sorry for submitting this message two times on your site. I prefer it here.)

  17. Excellent work Mizgin. What about the 120 planeload cocaine convoy under the command of Col. Cutolo? Why this shift from heroin in Asia to cocaine in South America precisely in late 1975-1976 as the Vietnam war winds down but other situations worldwide, such as Teheran, needed their “attention”?

    Cutolo’s affidavit:

    http://www.deepblacklies.co.uk/deep_black_1_2.htm

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