Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 2 Num. 09

("Quid coniuratio est?")



O.K. For those listeners just joining us, give us an overview of your involvement with Barry Seal and what you were doing in Mena, Arkansas.

O.K. I met... I was introduced to Barry Seal through Oliver North. I met him in late 1983, in Arkansas. Seal sought me out -- he'd been told that I had certain talents, primarily manufacturing or flight training, so that I could contribute to the CIA's efforts to bypass the Boland amendment -- to train a small group of pilots, Nicaraguan nationals, to basically liberate {1} their country, to help fly aerial sorties, you know, fly supplies into the guerrilla warfare action, to supply their own soldiers in the field.

In Arkansas, I was part of an operation that flew guns, manufactured guns, and trained Nicaraguan pilots. Certainly it's now the contention of many that that also included flying cocaine back into the United States. All I saw was cash being flown back in. {2}.

But Seal and I became very close, became friends, throughout the course of my 15 months of training there. Barry was a very intelligent... As John Cummings said, he was an excellent pilot, a very intelligent businessman. I saw him in a totally different light than he's been portrayed, and I hope the book, Compromised, is actually giving him, rewriting the epitaph, or giving him the proper epitaph that I felt he deserved all along.

But he helped manage the operation, in Arkansas. I mean, he was really the "project manager", if you will.
Yeah, Barry reported to [Oliver] North, from what he told me. North provided the oversight and Seal provided the mechanics of it.

Seal had gone to Mena in 1982, to actually move his aircraft operation up there. He got in business with a man named Fred Hampton, and built a new hangar at the Mena airport. The company was called Rich Mountain Aviation, and in this new hangar was where the majority of the maintenance was done on, not only Seal's aircraft (which were numerous), but also aircraft belonging to other federal agencies, i.e., DEA and U.S. Customs, that were being modified for -- covertly -- for sting operations into the Medellin cartel and into Central and South America.

So it became a clandestine hub. Beyond Seal's operation, there was a lot of other intelligence activity going on in this little town of 5,000 people, only a few miles from the Oklahoma state line, in western Arkansas. {3}.

The name that Oliver North used, the last name was "Cathey"?
Yeah. C-a-t-h-e-y. I was introduced to him...
John Cathey.
Yeah. I was introduced to him in 19... February of 1982, as CIA agent John Cathey, based out of Toronto, Canada, and working on the illegal flow of our defense technology that was being pilfered by a combination of Japanese and Hungarian firms and bootlegging it to the USSR. That's what got me involved, initially, in the civilian side of intelligence gathering was because of my Air Force background and, quite frankly, it was because I happened to be at the right place at the right time. I was approached [and asked] if I wouldn't help monitor those efforts. And I actually did travel behind the iron curtain, on one occasion, to actually spy on them; to come back with information about their manufacturing capability as it relates to computer memory which is a critical element in weapons designs -- primarily the cruise missile technology that we see on TV today. That memory technology in those guided missiles, that are unjammable, comes from the actual machine tool industry. And most people don't realize.
Hmm. What were the major undercover projects that you were involved in, involved through, over the years?
Well, in 1980 I moved to Oklahoma and ultimately became the vice- president of the trading company, a small firm that was trading in technology. We were involved in retooling America. The oil business -- in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and southern Arkansas, primarily -- was growing rapidly and was retooling, was automating and modernizing. And my firm was signing trade agreements with Japanese and European firms and we were importing machine tools to... These were machine tools that run pretty much unmanned. The industry is referred to [as] computer and numerical control, or C&C. And the C&C machine tools had very sophisticated memory in that day. In 1980, it was referred to as "bubble memory". And bubble memory technology had actually been developed by the United States Navy. The U.S. Navy, working on a grant, had been putting together the bubble memory technology to work with torpedoes for... The torpedoes would actually turn corners.
Um-hmm [understands].
And, you know, not have to go straight line trajectory.

The U.S. Air Force wanted that same memory technology to put into cruise missile technology, which in 1980 was still a pretty young industry.

But the civilians had access, through this joint venture, the civilian machine tool builders had access to this memory technology. And I was sitting there in the middle of a field that, quite frankly, all I cared about in 1980 was making up for my lost time, monetarily, from my 8 years of the U.S. Air Force time.

Would you say your most infamous project (or famous, to some) would have been the Mena, Arkansas training... the contra pilots? And also, what you found to be beyond just a training ground for contras.
Well as far as total voluntary participation, yes.

I found the travelling behind the iron curtain to be the most stimulating, from an exciting point of view, thinking about the consequences of getting caught. I didn't feel anyone was gonna get caught at Mena. Certainly you had the Arkansas state police, and the FBI, were actually running cover for this operation! The U.S. attorney's office in western Arkansas became the "black hole" of data. All federal authorities were reporting their findings about what we were doing to a U.S. attorney that was not indicting anyone.

So the interesting part that I've witnessed is, how fragile our system is.

And surprisingly, the only person that tried to blow the lid on this was IRS undercover agent, or CID agent, Bill Duncan.
Well, there were more than him. But we certainly detailed a lot of his information, since a lot of it's public record and he cooperated with John [Cummings] and myself. But the local sheriff there, a man by the name of Al Hadaway... Al Hadaway and his deputy, Terry Capehart(sp?), were on this thing from the very outset, and were surveilling, you know, everyone coming and going, taking photographs and diligently giving their material to the FBI. What they didn't know was, the FBI was "in on it" and was taking their information and literally doing nothing with it other than cataloging it in Little Rock...
So the sheriff thought by cooperating and passing this information along to the feds, he had done his duty.
Yes! That's correct. We have secret, classified messages that I have been able to get through my court discovery {4} in which they're saying, you know, they've notified the sheriff not to seize certain aircraft; that the DEA does, in fact, have a vested interest in some of Seal's aircraft.

So you have the right hand of law enforcement fighting the left hand. {5}. It's a very interesting situation to see it all fall apart and not work as a result of the White House's wishes to circumvent Boland.

We want to talk about consequences to one's actions -- especially if you go public, like you have. And let's talk about what happened to you: your indictment, your court case.

We'll be back with that, and we'll also bring into the mix John Cummings, investigative reporter extraordinaire.

[ be continued...]

--------------------------<< Notes >>---------------------------- {1} " train a small group of pilots, Nicaraguan nationals, to basically liberate..." Depending on your point of view, this could also be read as "liberate", i.e., that there was nothing to liberate, that the Sandinistas were, in fact, the good guys.

{2} "All I saw was cash being flown back in." Here Reed means while he was in Arkansas. When he later went down to Mexico and saw that cocaine was being warehoused for shipment to the U.S., at that point he divorced himself from the operation.

{3} Mena, "...this little town of 5,000 people..." Future major tourist attraction? See where it all happened! Bring the kids!

{4} "...court discovery..." I think this means that, because Reed was under indictment at the time, because a defendant is entitled to any evidence that will help prove his innocence, then prior to trial Reed went through a "discovery process" during which he had access to information that could be used in his defense. (Note that Reed was later found "Not guilty".)

{5} "...the right hand of law enforcement fighting the left hand." Just like our "War on Drugs", where the CIA brings the drugs into the United States and the DEA tries to stop drugs from being brought into the United States.

I encourage distribution of "Conspiracy Nation."

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Aperi os tuum muto, et causis omnium filiorum qui pertranseunt. Aperi os tuum, decerne quod justum est, et judica inopem et pauperem. -- Liber Proverbiorum XXXI: 8-9

Brian Francis Redman "The Big C"

"Justice" = "Just us" = "History is written by the assassins."