POW issue more than just abandoned soldiers
By: Larry O'Daniel - goldencoastpublishing@tds.net

One of the most contentious issue in the POW controversy is how are POWs tied to the drug issue. Are they? Are they also tied to other issues? This site will tackle this issue as perhaps no other site has before.

Are POWs tied to the drug issue? I believe they are. First, the area where many POWs were lost is Laos, home of drug dealing between it and Vietnam during the war. As I wrote in Trails of Deceit, Did the dope angle keep site 85, a strategic asset, from being protected by American forces? Did the CIA believe too many eyes would compromise too many secrets? I credit Kiss the Boys Goodbye with tackling the issue, although it did get unduly attacked by many on my ideological side, conservative, as being too left -wing. Attacking dope dealers in the government is neither liberal nor conservative. It is the right attacking the wrong. Intelligence gathering should be done correctly not leaving open the opportunity for exploitive behavior hiding behind patriotism

The issue first arose in 1978 when LTC Albert Shinkle, a DIA operative in Laos, testified before a Congressional Subcommittee headed by Congressman Lester Wolff. Shinkle testified about POWs and was asked questions about the dope trafficking and intelligence forces. Acknowledging the problem, Shinkle made these points:

* Some of the Meo we were backing raised opium.

* Air Force Intelligence made a decision... to stay out of the opium business...

* On the relationship between intelligence and drug trafficking, Shinkle said, ... we were not letting them do that (traffic) so we could gather intelligence ... we were looking the other way to let them make money so that they would let us fight a war in Laos...

* On CIA and Air America, Shinkle said, while having no personal knowledge... it was common gossip... CIA aircraft or Air America aircraft transporting... narcotics. I never saw a Royal Lao Air Force aircraft transport any either, but I didnt always go out and look... (Trails of Deceit pg. 25)

Khun Sa, Gritz, POWs, and Drugs

In September 1996, GEN MAJ Jan Sejna testified that chemical experiments were done on POWs in Korea and South Vietnam. I outlined a place, highly suspected of holding our POWs as being a place where that chemical interrogation took place. At the bottom of this page, youll find a link to that revelation in my book. For this purpose, what I wrote was Besides evidence of live Americans emerging from Vietnam came a pattern of possible corruption in the intelligence agencies supposedly looking for our POWs. The cover was POWs. The real object - drug trafficking and a Super CIA' responsible to no one... I learned, before the book Kiss the Boys Goodbye was printed, about alleged growing of poppies around Au Phi prison camp. In 1989, I learned about charges made by LTC Bo Gritz on the subject of drug trafficking, Khun Sa, and POWs. In October, 1990, I met with Gritz in Phoenix and watched the editing of his video interview with Khun Sa - the whole over 2 hour version and saw his edited version. Here is what they charged:

* Gritz wrote that Unfortunately, Khun Sa knew nothing about US POWs.

* Khun Sa said instead that he wanted out of the drug trade.

* He wanted political concessions affecting his people.

* He charged that the American people have been mislead to look upon us as the main source of all the drug problems...

* Khun Sa charged that his investigation found some high officials in the US Governments ... with the influence of corrupted persons objected to our active participation in the drugs eradication program... (to) retain their profitable self-interest from the continuation of the drug problems...

Khun Sa then named those who he believed were involved and the names were not low level personnel. These are his charges and have not been proven nor have they been reliably investigated. All those charged have said they were innocent - Khun Sa may have ulterior motives tied to the Chinese for making the charges - Khun Sa is an acknowledged drug lord - yet, no one has looked into the charges - under oath - and some have been prone in the past to dodge the bullet on direct questioning on the charges. Some have had links to questionable decisions on giving reliable information on POWs. A full scale investigation on what was charged in Kiss the Boys Goodbye and what Gritz uncovered has never been done. Until that is done, those charged by Khun Sa by his own self admitted secret investigation, need to clear the air about their involvement or non-involvement - straight up - no dodging - no equivocating - like every other public person is having to undergo in Washington, D.C. prior to being appointed to high posts. Without this public airing and cleansing, the doubts will remain.

Khun charged CIA Chief in Laos, Theodore Shackley was in the drug business, having contacts with the opium warlord Lor Sing Han...

* Santo Trafficante acted as his buying and transporting agent ... perhaps a hold over from his alleged involvement with CIA in Cuba in decades earlier arrangements

* Richard Armitage handled the financial section with the banks in Australia... after the Vietnam War ended, when ... Armitage was being posted to ... Thailand, his dealings in the drug business continued ... after 1979 ... Armitage resigned from the US Embassys posting and set up the Far East Trading Company as a front for his continuation in the drug trade and to bribe CIA agents in Laos... For over ten years, Armitage supported his men in Laos and Thailand with the profits from his drug trade and most of the cash were deposited... in Australia ...

* Daniel Arnold was made to handle the drug business as well as the transportation of arms sales...

* Jerry Daniels then took over the drug trade from Richard Armitage...

LTC Gritz urged Washington to look into the possibility that political appointees ... are guilty of bypassing our Constitutional process ... promoting illegal covert operation, conspired in the trafficking of narcotics and arms. Gritz wondered why a secretary for Armitage asked him, Why would he have us expunge his official record of ... past POW/MIA assignments and activities? and :

* It was about the same time a CIA agent named by Khun Sa (Jerry Daniels) turned up dead in Bangkok under mysterious circumstances (gassed to death in his apartment)... and;

* also about this time, as an agent of NSCs Intelligence Support Activity, I was told by ISA Chief Jerry King, ... there are still too many bureaucrats ... who dont want to see POWs returned alive. I failed to realize the fullness of his meaning ... until ... General Khun Sa, ... named (Armitage) as a key connection in a ring of heroin trafficking mobsters and US government officials. and;

* Gritz charged that an agent he knew told him the charges were true by his own personal knowledge... and;

* TIME, May 4, 1988, pg. 18 told of Ross Perots attempt to see if there were any connection and his getting stopped in his tracks.

POWs and the Super CIA

As a former intelligence officer with heavy ties to the CIA (Phoenix), I know how the system is supposed to work with checks and balances. Yet, as I nose around the POW issue, I keep running into allegations of drug trafficking, arms trafficking, off-line operations, CIA "rogue" operations, and what Gritz referred to as the Super CIA. I wrote about Martin Andersons charges from his book Revolution that as a member of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, he saw what he called the Super CIA that never did get a full-scale test before it was exposed and killed. It was based upon the old OSS rendering of the British model of off-line operations funded by off-line enterprises to keep Congress and other meddlers out of the know of what was being done by CIA. It began in 1948, if not earlier, when CIA chiefs passed the hat among their wealthy graduates to fund covert operations in peacetime. The CIA then used companies of these graduates as conduits for CIA secret funds. Some past graduates were listed in the Espionage Establishment (pgs. 124-27) including Sarah T. Hughes (the judge who swore Johnson in as President after Kennedy was assassinated) and Leon Jaworski of Watergate fame.

It was in this context, that I was told by several sources in and out of intelligence that if Iran-Contra had come off as planned, it would be a prelude to some offering of the same sort on POWs. Of course if true, then why not do it in some other way, without the questionable procedures. It is also possible that the shut down of Iran-Contra also shut down the return of POWs. (Another story for another part of the Forum linked below)

As I wrote in my Epilogue in Trails of Deceit, The drug connection is one that is evolving (in my investigations) and I have made more contemporaneous contacts with people who shall remain in the background. The ones I have made convince me even more about the existence of the rogue element in our intelligence agencies that need to be checked. Our system is set up to be exploited by these elements and they have rushed in to fill the void. (In this context, I am talking about a generic they and not any specific people) As I was told, the POW-MIAs became problems to other issues and were exploited for their value to hide other exploits. Let me make it explicit one more time, the material covering Shackley, Armitage, etc., are charges made by others. I have covered those charges. My personal opinion is that these allegations (to which all have said they are innocent) must be investigated fully and completely to lay to rest all suspicions surrounding them.

As I point out in another section (linked at the bottom), the CIA would have reason to deny the drug experimentation that Sejna charged happened to our POWs. They did not want to expose their own operations. I also charged that there might be off-line operations that they did not want exposed. At that time, I did not have the proof of rogue operations. Now, I do. One of those rogue operations resulted in harm to an active - duty Special Forces operative sheep-dipped into a CIA operation. I know the operative, having met him after returning from Vietnam and my tour in Phoenix. I will offer the proof of the rogue part of the operation. If CIA can do this to one of their own then they can do it to unreturned POWs and unrepatriated MIAs. (See link below)

Shinkle had testified, as part of the drug hearing earlier reported, that CIA had hampered the Air Force in their own MIA operations. It so happens that one lead the they did turn up buttressed a later set of circumstances that lead to the only post war POW rescue (Nhom Marrott in Laos in 1981 and linked to at the bottom). Shinkle and Air Force Intelligence found one of the first eye witnesses to live POWs in the Kham Keut area. He also had ties to sources in the Laotian government verifying live POW existence post 1973. In fact, his 6499th Special Activities Group... an Air Force clandestine intelligence collection group... conducted sensitive operations with Thai intelligence sources including, in 1968, a Pathet Lao Junior Officer with knowledge of Kham Keuts use, on a regular basis, as a detention center. The 1972 operation above, provided an eyewitness to that fact. At first, people wondered if "professional jealousy" on the part of two intelligence agencies provided the charge of CIA interference in POW investigations. However, the charge really needs investigation in itself since allegations on other misconduct have appeared and are still in the making.

Are the POWs and drug trafficking connected? A few years ago, I would have said no. A few years ago, I would have denied charges of a "rogue" CIA operation also. I know better now. As I said, people on the conservative side need to open their eyes a bit and realize that all charges from the "left" are not automatically wrong. The CIA is not "automatically right." A few years ago, I vigorously denied "assassination" was part of the Phoenix Program. At my level, I still deny it. However, our intelligence agencies, especially the CIA, are so compartmentalized that serious misconduct can slip through easily. As I said earlier, this is not conservative versus liberal. This is right versus wrong. We need a full scale "look" to see that right is done and wrong, if done, is eliminated. Then, fix the machine so it will work properly. Don't use POWs as a cover for this type of operation, or anything else. If there are POWs, which I believe, negotiate them home; repatriate the reamins; and then legitimately work on the "bigger issues." Not before!

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