Wednesday, 11. November 2009
Mizgin’s Desk Reports
As 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:
Theodore 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.
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.