Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 3 Num. 50

("Quid coniuratio est?")

The Crash of United Flight 553
[Excerpted from Defrauding America by Rodney Stich]

A United Boeing 737 crashed into a Chicago residential area (December 8, 1972) during an approach, killing everyone on board, including the wife of Watergate figure E. Howard Hunt. She was reportedly carrying money to silence Watergate witnesses, and carried papers implicating President Richard Nixon in the coverup. A Chicago public-interest group, know as the Citizens Committee [to Clean Up the Courts] {1} believed that Justice Department personnel played a role in the crash of United flight 553, and that they wanted key individuals on flight 553 exterminated. Twelve of the people who boarded United Flight 553 had something in common relating to questionable Justice Department and Watergate activities.

There had been a gas pipeline lobbyist meeting as part of the American Bar Association in Washington, D.C., conducted by Roger Morea. Among the lobbyists attending were attorneys for the Northern Natural Gas Company of Omaha; attorneys for Kansas- Nebraska Natural Gas Company; and [the] president of the Federal Land Bank in Omaha. The Citizens Committee portrayed these people as a group determined to blow the lid off the Watergate case.

For many years Chicago resident Lawrence O'Connor boarded flight 553 like clockwork. He had no Watergate connections, but he had friends in the White House. On this particular Friday, O'Connor supposedly received a call from someone he knew in the White House, strongly advising him not to take flight 553. The caller advised him to go to a special meeting instead of taking that flight {2}. Whether this was coincidental or to save his life is unknown to me [i.e. author, Rodney Stich], although the Citizens Committee considers it significant.

U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell, later indicted and sent to federal prison, and the Justice Department were putting pressure on Northern Natural Gas. The firm had subsidiaries that the federal government indicted on federal criminal charges in Omaha, Chicago, and Hammond, Indiana. (September 7, 1972.) Justice Department charges included bribery of local officials in Northwest Indiana and Illinois, to get clearance for installing the pipeline through their state. {3}.

Allegedly to blackmail the Justice Department and cause them to drop the charges, the Omaha firm uncovered documents showing that Mitchell, while attorney general in 1969, dropped antitrust charges against a competitor of Northern Natural Gas -- El Paso Natural Gas Company. Just before the crash, Carl Kruger, an official with Northern Natural Gas Company, had been browbeating federal officials to drop the criminal charges. {4}.

The Citizens Committee alleged that dropping these charges saved the utility 300 million dollars. Simultaneously, Mitchell purchased through a law partner a stock interest in El Paso Natural Gas Company. Gas and oil interests, including El Paso, Gulf Resources, and others, contributed heavily to Nixon's spy fund supervised by Mitchell. The Citizens Committee reported that Kruger had previously been warned he would never live to reach Chicago. Kruger carried these revealing documents on United Flight 553, telling his wife that he had irreplaceable papers of a sensitive nature in his possession. For months after the crash Kruger's widow demanded that United Airlines turn his briefcase over to her.

CBS news reporter Michelle Clark travelled with Mrs. Hunt, doing an exclusive story on Watergate. Ms. Clark had already gained considerable insight into the bugging and coverup through her boyfriend, a CIA operative. Others knew of this exclusive interview, including the Justice Department.

According to some media articles, Dorothy Hunt conveyed offers of executive clemency with the financial payoffs to some of the Watergate defendants. Mrs. Hunt reportedly also sought to leave the United States with over two million dollars in cash and negotiables that she obtained from CREEP (Committee to Re-Elect the President).

Early in December 1972, Dorothy Hunt and her husband threatened to blow the lid off the White House if Hunt wasn't freed of the criminal charges and if they both didn't get several million dollars. {5}. Hunt claimed, according to McCord, to have evidence necessary to impeach Nixon. McCord said matters were coming to a head early in December 1972. Dorothy Hunt was unhappy about bribing defendants and witnesses, and wanted out of the mess.

The Citizens Committee to Clean Up the Courts reported that over a hundred FBI agents were inexplicably in the area when the plane crashed, and that the FBI kept a medical team out of the crash zone. One member of the medical team said he heard someone in the crashed plane screaming for help. {6}. Witnesses near the airport reported that the FBI agents were there before the fire department arrived. Something highly irregular appeared to be going on, involving the Department of Justice.

In Secret Agenda, author Jim Hougan makes reference to this intrigue and the request to the FBI by Michael Stevens (who supplied bugging devices to James McCord, allegedly under authority of the CIA) for protection. Stevens claimed he was to receive part of the money Mrs. Hunt was carrying, that his life had been threatened, and that he believed Mrs. Hunt's death had been a homicide.

-+- More Political Intrigue? -+-

The day after Flight 553 crashed, the White House appointed White House aide Egil (Bud) Krogh, Jr. to the post of Under-Secretary of Transportation, which controlled the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] role in the investigation. His qualifications? Krogh was involved in the Ellsberg burglary caper and was part of the White House Plumbers group. In his new position Krogh had an important safety role supervising, or muzzling, the NTSB [National Transportation Safety Board] and the FAA. He could exert political influence over the NTSB investigation through the politically appointed NTSB Board members who establish the official probable cause of the crash.

Further control over the air safety process was demonstrated ten days later. On December 19, 1972 the White House appointed Nixon's deputy assistant and secretary to the Cabinet, Alexander Butterfield, former CIA aviation liaison officer, to head the FAA. {7}. The officials controlling the FAA, the NTSB, and the Department of Transportation had political loyalties to the White House. At the initial NTSB crash investigation hearings (February 1973), White House Appointment Secretary Dwight Chapin reportedly threatened media people with reprisals if they mentioned sabotage. These political appointees could influence matters affecting the nation's air safety.

-+- United's Connections In Government -+-

Five weeks after the crash, Nixon's appointment secretary, Dwight Chapin, became a top executive with United Air Lines in the Chicago home office, even though he had no previous business experience. Before the crash, Herbert Kalmbach, Nixon's personal attorney, had been an attorney for United Air Lines.

Those federal officials were capable of carrying out reprisals against the news media through Clay Whitehead, Nixon's communication czar. The breakup of the networks on antitrust charges was always lurking in the wings. Threats of IRS harassment, Justice Department prosecution for vague federal offenses, fabricated charges, and news handouts, all played a part in government control of the news media.

-+- Never In Living Memory -+-

Supporting the fact that these irregular actions occurred, NTSB chairman John Reed testified before the House Government Activities Subcommittee on January 13, 1973, concerning Justice Department interference with the NTSB's investigative duties. Reed testified that he sent a letter to the FBI, claiming that never had the FBI acted as they had in this crash. Reed said fifty FBI agents came into the crash zone shortly after the crash, assuming the duties assigned by law to the NTSB.

The FBI confiscated the Midway Control Tower tape relating to Flight 553, interfering with the NTSB investigation. The FBI conducted twenty-six interviews, including the surviving flight attendants, obstructing the NTSB's safety responsibilities.

At the original NTSB accident hearings, Board members refused to consider the documentation and testimony provided by the Citizens Committee relating to suspicious FBI activities. The NTSB reopened the hearings after the [Citizens] Committee sued the NTSB (June 13, 14, 1973). Over thirteen hundred pages of documentation were produced by the group and many witnesses were brought forward, establishing the obstruction of the accident investigation by the FBI. The final NTSB report ignored the [Citizens] Committee's testimony and evidence.

The Citizens Committee alleged that a gang known as the Sarelli group came into possession of the highly sensitive documents carried by Mrs. Hunt. This discovery was made after the arrest of gang members on January 12, 1973, for an unrelated robbery. {8}. The Nixon Strike Force in Chicago prosecuted the case against the Sarelli mob. What they didn't know was that their star witness against the gang was a staff investigator on the Citizens Committee, Alex Bottos, Jr.


--------------------------<< Notes >>---------------------------- {1} Citizens Committee to Clean Up the Courts, 9800 South Oglesby, Chicago, Illinois 60617.
{2} Report by Citizens Committee.
{3} Chicago Daily News, September 8, 1972. {4} Chicago Tribune, May 18, 1973.
{5} See Memo of Watergate spy, James McCord, before the Ervin Committee. (New York Times, 5/9/73).
{6} Testimony offered at the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) hearing on June 13 and 14, 1973. {7} Jack Anderson's column, Chicago Daily News, 5/8/73. {8} U.S. Magistrate Balog's records, 72-41, U.S. Courthouse, Chicago.

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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"

Coming to you from Illinois -- "The Land of Skolnick"