Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Office of Security: A Tale of Sex, Drugs and High Weirdness Part IV

Welcome to the fourth installment in my ongoing examination of the CIA's notorious Office of Security (OS). With the first installment I primarily focused on the composition and politics of the OS personnel in contrast to the "Old Boys" --largely Office of Strategic Services (OSS) veterans with backgrounds in law and banking. The OS personnel, in contrast, came from more humble backgrounds and had primarily cut their teeth in the FBI and/or military intelligence before joining the CIA. Many of the OS men were fiercely anti-Communist with far right wing leanings and largely held the OSS "Old Boys" in contempt.

With the second installment I began to consider the involvement of the OS in the Watergate scandal, noting that longtime OS veteran James McCord seems to have played a key role in bungling the second break-in, which has long been alleged to have been tipped off to the police. The arresting officer, Carl Shoffler, was friendly with General Paul Gaynor, McCord's long time boss in the OS's Scrutiny Research Staff (SRS, which also oversaw Projects BLUEBIRD and ARTICHOKE) while McCord and/or one of his employees have been fingered as the tipster on several occasions

In part three I noted the reason for the break-in: a prostitution ring that was being run out of nearby Columbia Plaza and which was using the DNC to recruit potential clients. Specifically, the phone in R. Spencer Oliver's office seems to have been the main line between the DNC and the Columbia Plaza operation with Oliver's secretary, Maxie Wells, serving as the broker.

R. Spencer Oliver
Also noted there was the background of Heidi Rikan, the woman behind the Columbia Plaza operation, including her ties to powerful organized crime figures and wealthy individuals linked to Texas oil money. More than a few of Heidi's contacts had ties to the Kennedy assassination as well and at least one was a "former" Naval intelligence officer.

This may explain why Lou Russell, a man employed by James McCord in his security firm, appears to have been deeply involved in Heidi's operations. As was noted in part three, Russell had provided several thousand dollars worth of bugging equipment to Heidi's operation. He also appears to have been involved in outfitting one of the Columbia Plaza apartments used by Heidi with a two-way mirror and a recording devise capable of filming motion pictures.

Safe House Intrigues

Over the years more than a few researchers have noted that Heidi's Columbia operation bore more than a passing resemblance to the "safe houses" used in the CIA's behavior modification and enhanced interrogation experiments. The CIA of course maintains safe houses across the wold for a variety of reasons, but primarily to house defectors and deep cover agents in. However, the safe houses that are most well-known to the public nowadays are the ones used by George Hunter White as a part of MK-ULTRA, overseen by Technical Services Staff (TSS) head Sidney Gottlieb. Here's a bit about White's operations for the uninitiated.:
"... White rented two adjacent Greenwich Village apartments, posing as the sometimes artist 'Morgan Hall.' White agreed to lure guinea pigs to the 'safehouses' --as the Agency men called the apartments --slip them drugs, and report the results to Gottlieb and the others in TSS. For its part, the CIA let the Narcotics Bureau use the place for undercover activities (and often for personal pleasure) whenever no Agency work was scheduled, and the CIA paid all the bills, including the cost of keeping a well-stocked liquor cabinet --a substantial bonus for White. Gottlieb personally handed over the first $4,000 in cash, to cover the initial costs of furnishing the safehouse in the lavish style that White felt befitted him.
"Gottlieb did not limit his interest to drugs. He and other TSS officials wanted to try out surveillance equipment. CIA technicians quickly installed see-through mirrors and microphones through which eavesdroppers could film, photograph, and record the action. 'Things go wrong with listening devices and two-way mirrors, so you build these things to find out what works and what doesn't,' says a TSS source. 'If you are going to entrap, you've got to give the guy pictures [flagrante delicto] and voice recordings. Once you learn how to do it so that the whole thing looks comfortable, cozy, and safe, then you can transport the technology overseas and use it.' This TSS man notes that the Agency put to work in the bedrooms of Europe some of the techniques developed in the George White safehouse operation."
(The Search for the "Manchurian Candidate", John Marks, pgs. 99-100)
Sidney Gottlieb
In point of fact, it would now appear that John Marks' unnamed TSS source was being a little less than forth coming with the researcher. On the whole, Marks makes a few critical mistakes. One is his assertion that White employed prostitutes at the Greenwich Village safe house. This is patently false. White did later employ prostitutes at the MK-ULTRA safe houses in San Francisco, but not in the Greenwich Village operations. What's more, the MK-ULTRA safe houses were not the first ones the CIA attempted to use to entrap targets in sexual follies. In point of fact, the ARTICHOKE team (which was under the OS) was already engaged in such activities before MK-ULTRA was even green lighted.
"Not all ARTICHOKE teams were dispatched to locations out of the country. Some were deployed domestically to two CIA safe houses, one in a Washington, D.C., row house, just blocks away from the State Department on K Street, and another on Maryland's Eastern Shore, a large farm house bordering the idyllic and secluded town of Easton. Both of these safe houses were expensively equipped with large two-way mirrors, sound recording equipment, numerous concealed and emote-controlled microphones, and motion picture taking equipment.
"In addition to outfitting the safe house with state-of-the-art technical equipment, the CIA also, on occasion, employed a number of high-priced call girls for what it termed 'operational activities to be conducted in the safe houses.'..."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli Jr., pg. 230)
All of this was unfolding in 1952, indicating that Project ARTICHOKE was already engaged in the activities long-linked to George White when the former Colonel was still formulating the concept of his own safe houses. What's more, the OS network of safe houses appears to be far more vast than what the MK-ULTRA team deployed:
"Among the visitors whom the CIA had occasion to entertain were foreign leaders, agents in transit and defectors. But entertainment was by no means the only purpose served by the agency's liaison with local vice squads around the country. Blackmail was another function, and, towards that end, the Office of Security maintained safehouses --literally, houses or apartments untraceable to the CIA --in a number of American cities..."
(Secret Agenda, Jim Hougan, pg. 14)

And beyond the ones in the United States, there are indications that OS kept multiple safe houses for similar purposes overseas. This researcher is aware of one such setup in Frankfurt, Germany used for ARTICHOKE experiments. By contrast, it is believed MK-ULTRA operated less than ten safe houses across the US. Thus, the scale of the OS's operations in this regard appear to have vastly surpassed what the MK-ULTRA teams were doing.

It should be noted, however, that many if not the bulk of these safe houses used for "honey traps" had no ties to ARTICHOKE and/or MK-ULTRA. Indeed, probably a fair amount of them (especially overseas) weren't even used for blackmail. The OS ran a variety of operations for which it would have had need for an extensive network of safe houses (i.e., stashing defectors in, as noted above). As for the blackmail operations, it is almost certain they were separate from ARTICHOKE and MK-ULTRA, though occasionally they did overlap. But moving along.

As far back as the 1950s there were also indications that girls were being procured for these rings from the Syndicate. One of the OS' most mysterious assets seems to have taken a lead role in these arrangements:
"... former FBI agent and CIA contractor Robert Aime Maheu, a private investigator whose firm, Robert A. Maheu Associates, was located near the State Department in Washington. Coincidentally, Robert A. Maheu Associates was also located just a block away from the CIA's safe house in D.C... 
"Maheu, born in Maine in 1917, was a graduate of Holy Cross College in Massachusetts. He was employed as an FBI Special Agent from 1940 to 1947, frequently coming in contact with James McCord and William Harvey. After leaving the Bureau, he went into the private sector with a business called Dairy Dream Farms that went bankrupt in 1952. From there, he served briefly as director of security for the Small Business Administration, but was forced to resign for political reasons. In February 1954, Maheu opened his own investigation firm, initially sharing space with another former FBI agent, Carmine Bellino. According to CIA files, Maheu 'successfully handled' a number of 'prestige accounts, including [Greek shipping line] Niarchos [and] Schenley Distillers,' and he maintained offices in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. A few weeks after he started his investigation outfit in 1954, the CIA's Office of Security says it 'recruited' Maheu. Former Agency officials recall that Maheu received a large amount of contractual support from Paul Gaynor's Agency security section before he was placed on a $500 a month retainer... 
"The CIA officially granted Maheu a Covert Security Approval on August 30, 1954. Maheu was then assigned to several 'highly sensitive projects' and 'accepted assignments from elements of the predecessor of the Deputy for Operations.' CIA files reveal that Maheu assisted the Agency with the delicate task of 'procurement of feminine companionship' for certain foreign dignitaries during their official state visits to the United States. Maheu also recruited, according to former CIA officials, 'women of less than upstanding character' for employment in the Washington, D.C., safe house used by TSS and other Agency branches. Assisting Maheu's firm with its 'human procurement' tasks was notorious, debonair gangster Johnny Rosselli."
(A Terrible Mistake, H.P. Albarelli Jr., pgs. 661-662) 
Robert Maheu
Maheu is an especially curious figure. As we shall see in a future installment, he was the CIA asset the OS initially tasked with recruiting Syndicate figures to assassinate Fidel Castro. A key part of his CIA work, however seems to have been providing the OS with call girls for their blackmail operations in D.C. (in A Terrible Mistake, Albarelli notes that the original D.C. "safe house" was located in Foggy Bottom, where Heidi's later Columbia Plaza operation was also located).

These operations seem to have been quite active from the early 1950s up until the Watergate scandal briefly halted the fun. No doubt things were very ambitious by then. In addition to Heidi's Columbia operation, there are allegations that another blackmail ring was being run in D.C. during the Watergate era by another OS veteran as well.
"According to fugitive ex-CIA officer Frank Terpil, CIA-directed sexual blackmail operations were intensive in Washington at about the time of the Watergate scandal. One of those operations, Terpil claims, was run by his former partner, Ed Wilson. Wilson's base of operations for arranging trysts for the politically powerful was, Terpil says, Korean agent Tong Sun Park's George Town Club. In a letter to the author, Terpil explained that 'Historically, one of Wilson's Agency jobs was to subvert members of both houses [of Congress] by any means necessary.... Certain people could be easily coerced by living out their sexual fantasy in the flesh.... A remembrance of these occasions [was] permanently recorded via selected cameras, I'm sure for historical purposes only. The technicians in charge of filming... [were] TSD personnel. The unwitting porno stars advanced in their political careers, some of [whom] may still be in office. You may now realize the total ineffectiveness of the "Watchdog Committee" assigned to oversee clandestine operations.' "
(Secret Agenda, Jim Hougan, pgs. 120-121)
the Georgetown Club
It is interesting to note that Edwin P. Wilson had technically "retired" from the CIA in 1971, as the Georgetown Club operation seems to have been heating up. Shortly thereafter he found himself employed by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and detached to the mysterious Task Force 157:
"Created by [Admiral Thomas] Moorer in 1965-66, TF-157 was at first staffed by only a few agents. Before long, however, it had grown to more than a hundred full-time operatives and support personnel worldwide. While its operations remain classified, it is clear that its principal target was the Soviet Navy. It monitored nuclear weapons shipments aboard Soviet vessels passing through nautical 'choke points' such as the Strait of Megellan; eavesdropped on Soviet communications at sea; recruited agents with access to Soviet-bloc port facilities; acquired new Soviet weaponry and defense systems for analysis and evaluation; and, generally, gathered intelligence in the ports and souks of countries as far apart as Argentina and Pakistan. All of these operations were conducted with great secrecy, of course, many of which had been established by the Navy by a corrupt former CIA agent named Edwin P. Wilson.
"A veteran of the CIA's Office of Security, Wilson is said to have been tasked by the agency with the responsibility of making secret reports on the activities and assets of TF-157. While we do not know the details of those reports, it would be surprising, given the CIA's interest in Henry Kissinger, if Wilson was not specifically directed to obtain information concerning the SR-I channel. And, in fact, according to a former senior analyst at the agency, the CIA mounted an aggressive operation to identify and crack a communications channel that can only have been SR-I while using the pretext (among its own agents and analysts) that the sought-after channel was a new and uniquely sophisticated vehicle for Soviet naval communications. That this search was ultimately successful was suggested, the analyst said, by the formation of a special analysis group to study communications transcripts that were alleged to have been obtained from Soviet sources in Eastern Europe but, as it happened, were far more concerned with Kissinger and the White House than with the Soviet Union."
(Secret Agenda, Jim Hougan, pgs. 61-62)
Compelling evidence now suggests that Wilson's primary duty for the CIA while deployed to TF-157 was in fact to monitor Kissinger's communications on SR-I. At the time this ultra-secret channel was being used to conduct Kissinger's negotiations with Communist China, a development that outraged much of the Pentagon and the CIA. The above-mentioned Admiral Thomas Moorer, the founder of TF-157, was also spying on Nixon and Kissinger during this time frame:
"The main reason Moorer was spying on Kissinger was that the Nixon White House had selected a secret Naval Task Force called TF-157, operating in suburban Virginia, to handle communications between Kissinger and Communist China. Moorer had not been made privy to any of these TF-157 communications. [Theodore] Shackley and [Thomas] Clines also wanted to know more about 157. Normally the CIA and the National Security Agency, along with the Army Signal Corps, took care of such matters. For years, the CIA had been able to tap into and report anything sensitive on the so-called 'roger' channel used by the ambassadors for what they thought was privacy from the CIA. The idea that someone who had as much control over the CIA's destiny as Kissinger could keep his communications secret was anathema to the covert-operations staff...
"Shackley and Clines agreed that Wilson was perfect to penetrate TF-157. Clines arranged with William Hokum, a CIA security official who had gone to work for Naval Intelligence, to make Wilson the corporate front for 157. Hokum, an old friend and U-2 colleague of Wilson's, assured him that he would have no difficulty penetrating TF-157's secrets."
(Prelude to Terror, Joseph J. Trento, pgs. 51-52)
Edwin P. Wilson
Admiral Thomas Moorer is quite important to the Watergate scandal and will be addressed again before this installment is finished, so do keep him in mind dear reader.

Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines were two of the CIA's most notorious agents, heading up the so-called "Enterprise" by the 1980s after they had been drummed out of the Company. Unlike Wilson, both men had spent virtually their entire CIA careers in the Directorate of Plans, typically working out of the Special Activities Division (SAD), the CIA's primary paramilitary wing.

Like a lot of the OS personnel, however, neither Shackley or Clines had the type of Ivy League background that dominated the upper echelon of the CIA during this era. Shackley and Clines had both been military men before joining the CIA, Shackley serving in Army intelligence at the time of his recruitment. Shackley cut his teeth working at the legendary Berlin station under former FBI agent William King Harvey. Harvey, a former FBI man, was quite close to a lot of the former Bureau people working in the OS.

Theodore Shackley
It is especially interesting that Wilson's "in" to Task Force-157 was another former Office of Security member, William Hokum. It would appear that the OS played a key role in Wilson's "penetration" of TF-157 and that after Wilson was established there, he began to carry on functions that typically fell under the Office of Security's responsibilities.

That the OS would have been the primary department tasked with sexual blackmail is most logical. As was noted before in a previous installment, the OS was the CIA department with the  most overt domestic responsibilities. Their attempts to sexually entrap targets could be rationalized as part of their functions in terms recruiting defectors or screening potential CIA employees. What's more, General Paul Gaynor, James McCord's longtime boss in the OS's Security Research Staff, had extensive experience in such matters. As was noted in the first installment, Gaynor had made a career for himself out of his notorious "fag files," dossiers concerning thousands of the nation's suspected homosexuals and their families.

Gaynor was surely an "old hand" at such practices by the time the CIA's entrapment safe houses were up and running and would have been an obvious choice to lead such operations. It should come then as little surprise that two of the apparent blackmail rings can be linked to the OS, one of them run by a long time aid's of Gaynor's. But moving along.

Lee Pennington and a Midsummer's Fire

One final aspect of the Watergate scandal in which the Office of Security was implicitly implicated in was the destruction of James McCord's personnel records days after his arrest for the second break-in. When all was said and done, all the paper records residing in McCord's home were put to the fire and a very special guest arrived to assist in these endeavors.
"This was the conflagration in James McCord's home on the afternoon of June 21 or 22 (a Wednesday or Thursday). Among those present at the fire was a former top-ranking official of the FBI, the seventy-six-year-old Lee R. Pennington, Jr. At the time, Pennington was director of the Washington office of the ultraconservative American Security Council (ASC). He was also, and had been for fifteen years, a contract agent of the CIA's Security Research Staff. In that capacity, he reported (at various times) to three people: SRS chief Paul Gaynor, and two case officers. Pennington's contract with the CIA was oral rather than written; he filed no written reports of his own (or so we are told); he was paid by means of 'sterile checks'; and his affiliation with the agency was unknown to anyone outside the Security Research Staff --including the CIA's own director. 
"Pennington was a close friend of McCord's, having been recruited by the younger man in the early 1950s while serving as director of the American Legion's National Americanism Commission. In that capacity he helped McCord to identify those members of he CIA who, for one reason or another, might be regarded as politically suspect. He was able to do this because one of his principal duties with the Legion was to compile and maintain a watch list of Americans who had attended the wrong rallies, signed the wrong petitions, or joined the wrong political party. Pennington's secretary, Donald Sweany, himself a veteran of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, had married McCord's secretary, Lucille. It was something of a reunion, then, when Pennington 'just happened' to drop by McCord's house a few days after the break-in. There Pennington says that he found the Sweanys and Mrs. McCord standing before the fireplace, destroying every shred of paper that was to be found in McCord's office --books, magazines, files, photographs, everything. (Apparently, because the fire had been lighted in some haste and perhaps the flue had not been opened beforehand, the house was engulfed in smoke, and later would require repainting; the walls were blackened with soot, and the furniture was smoke-damaged as well). Eager to be of help, Pennington sat down before the fire and began tossing folders into the flames. Asked later about the contents of these folders, Pennington could not be of much help: as he said, it was not as if a selected process had taken place --if it was paper, it got burned.
"This, at least, is what Pennington claims occurred and, lest anyone jump to the conclusion that they were destroying evidence, Mrs. McCord has stated that this summer fire was set at her husband's direction. According to Mrs. McCord, she had received a telephone call from Houston, Texas, on June 19, two days after the arrests, in which a bomb threat had been made. In a telephone conversation with her jailed husband, Mrs. McCord informed him of the threat. He, in turn, recalled that his office at home were filled with papers of every kind. Should a bomb go off in the house, these papers might catch fire, and so Mr. McCord told Mrs. McCord to burn every piece of paper in his study. In effect, it was a preemptive strike, and, surely, some important personal papers must have gone up in flames. However odd this must seem, so also must Mrs. McCord's information that the alleged telephone threat came from Houston, Texas. How could she have known that? Was the threat made collect?
"What is most astonishing about this conflagration, however, is not the fatuous explanation put forward to justify it but the Ervin committee's failure to question McCord about the matter. Clearly, there was every reason to suspect that the committee's principal witness had ordered the destruction of potentially valuable evidence, and yet, because the committee found McCord's testimony so convenient to its own biases, Senator Ervin and his colleagues were loath to ask questions of McCord that might impugn his credibility as a witness or complicate the morality play that the committee had chosen to put on."
(Secret Agenda, Jim Hougan, pgs. 227-229)
Lee Pennington with J. Edgar Hoover
Pennington may have his tendrils in the Ervin Committee as well. Hougan goes on to note that shortly after the Watergate break-in Lou Russell (a private detective employed by McCord who was active in the Columbia operation, as noted before here) was contacted by Carmine Bellino, a former FBI special agent who had headed congressional investigations into organized crime on behalf of Robert Kennedy. Bellino would go on to become the head investigator to the Ervin Committee as well.

Bellino reached out to Russell via a mutual friend, John Leon (who ,as noted in the prior installment, had provided Russell with surveillance equipment for the Columbia Plaza operation). Bellino then met with Russell and shortly there after the financially destitute Russell would be performing odd jobs for one William Birely, Bellino's longtime friend and stockbroker.

This has led some to speculate that Russell had sold out McCord at some point and had gone to work for the Democrats. After all, Bellino had had very close ties to the Kennedy family for years at this point. But James McCord continued to keep Russell on the payroll of another private security firm he had founded (and was at the time headed by another "former" CIA man) for over a year after his arrest for the second Watergate break-in. How McCord could have managed the money for this and why he would continue to keep Russell on retainer after he appears to have gone to work for the Democrats has long puzzled researchers.

Lou Russell
Russell apparently was also in contact with Heidi and several of the other girls from the prostitution ring throughout this whole time frame. Russell's involvement would not end until his death via a massive heart attack on July 2, 1973. It was either the second or third heart attack Russell had had in 1973.

And then there's William Birely, who also employed Russell throughout this period. In addition to being friendly with Bellino, Birely was also close to Lee Pennington, whom he had known for many years:
"... Similarly, Birely says, his friendship with Lee Pennington was also a coincidence: both he and Pennington had long served together as executive officers in various patriotic societies based in Washington.
"Birely and Pennington had worked together on the Cross of Languedoc, the official publication of the Huguenot Society of Washington. Birely adds that he and Pennington were also active members of the Sons of the American Revolution."
(Secret Agenda, Jim Hougan, pg. 236)
William Birely, who was also a member of the American Legion
So, the chief investigator of Ervin Committee was aware of Russell's ties to McCord and likely the Columbia Plaza operation and yet the Senate Democrats never brought any of this up during the Watergate hearings. Nor did they pay any mind to the bizarre incident in which McCord's wife and several of his close friends burned every piece of paper in the man's home and caused serious damage to the interior in the process. Does any of this have to do with the shadowy presence of Lee Pennington, who assisted in the fire and was a close friend of Russell's employer at the time of his death?

Lee Pennington and the Netherworld of Industrial Security

Lee Pennnigton is easily the most mysterious figure in the Watergate scandal, in no small part due to the great lengths the CIA went to cover up his relationship to the Agency and ties to McCord. Initially the FBI had become curious about Pennington when they discovered someone with that last name had been a past supervisor of McCord's in the CIA. The CIA decided to offer up another Pennington with no ties to Watergate to draw attention away from Lee Pennington.
"The inquiry generated considerable concern within the Office of Security. Pennington was regarded as a 'very, very sensitive source' whose value would be diminished if the CIA were to 'give him up' to the FBI. Why the agency took this attitude is unclear: Pennington, after all, had at one time been the number three man in the FBI, a protege of J. Edgar Hoover's who was so completely trusted that he had had the responsibility of preparing Hoover's personal income tax returns. In other words, he was the Bureau's long before he became the CIA's. Moreover, if we are to credit the testimony of General Paul Gaynor, head of the Security Research Staff, Pennington appears to have done nothing for the agency but clip newspapers and, on one occasion, to purchase a copy of the publicly available Congressional Directory. According to his operational file, he had not been given a single assignment for the CIA since 1969, though he met regularly with his case officer and General Gaynor, and continued to be paid by sterile check. It is strange, therefore, in light of this testimony as to Pennington's supposed unimportance, that the CIA's response to the FBI's inquiry was to give the bureau the name of a different Pennington --not Lee R., Jr., but Cecil H. The latter was a retired employee of the Office of Security. He had nothing whatsoever to do with the Watergate affair and had not, of course, driven McCord anywhere at any time. Grilled by the FBI for reasons that he could not comprehend, his alibi was quickly verified, with the result that the Pennington lead turned into a dead end for the bureau, just as the CIA had intended."
(Secret Agenda, Jim Hougan, pg. 229-230)
It was not until two years later that things came to a head. The Office of Security was ordered to turn over all files concerning Watergate to the CIA's inspector general's office. Upon getting this order, OS head Howard Osborn ordered all materials relating to Pennington removed from the files. Two disgruntled members of the OS eventually informed the CIA's Office of Legislative Counsel of the suppression of the Pennington files. This led to some files that were very damaging to the OS surfacing that exposed of Pennington's role in the Watergate cover-up.
"The Pennington matter is significant for several reasons. To begin with, an informational memorandum prepared over the signature of Howard Osborn specifically states that Pennington helped to destroy McCord's files in order to eradicate any evidence of a connection between McCord and the CIA. What is most meaningful about this is the fact that McCord's past connection to the CIA was already a matter of public record --indeed, the front page of public record --at the time that Pennington fed the flames at McCord's home. The inference, then, is obvious and unavoidable: since McCord's past connection to the CIA was well known at the time, the only purpose to be served by destroying McCord's files in June 1972 was to eliminate evidence of an ongoing clandestine relationship between the CIA and the recently jailed spook.
"The cover-up of the Pennington incident is important, also, for what it suggests, either in its own right or in conjunction with other evidence. Internal CIA documents make reference to the fact that Pennington repeatedly briefed his case officer on McCord's situation vis-a-vis Watergate, and that Pennington provided the Security Research Staff with investigative reports about Jack Anderson that McCord had prepared on the basis of Lou Russell's information. It appears then, that Lee R. Pennington was McCord's cut-out to the Security Research Staff. So, too, as evidenced by the deliberate concealment of the Pennington incident from the CIA's own director and inspector general, it is clear that a secret agenda was at work wih the CIA --a 'second track' or 'runaway operation' to which only a select few (e,g. General Gaynor) were privy."
(Secret Agenda, Jim Hougan, pg. 234)
James McCord
This researcher agrees that Pennington appears to have been a part of a rogue operation that the mainline CIA was unaware, but what was it? Given the scale of the sexual blackmail employed by the OS and the fact that other elements of the Agency seem to have been involved in such operations, the Columbia Plaza set-up in and of itself does not seem that it would have warranted the scale of secrecy the OS applied to Pennington's role.

Some have suggested that it might have had to do with mind control. This is not a bad proposition, as some five months later outgoing CIA director Richard Helms ordered all files related to the CIA's "mind control" experiments destroyed. Was Helms concerned that a Watergate investigation may lead to ARTICHOKE? Perhaps, but Pennington's work for the CIA was apparently only known to the OS and Old Boy's Old Boy Richard Helms seems to have been totally unaware of Pennington and his work for the CIA.

This researcher believes that the secrecy surrounding Pennington likely had to do with the former FBI's agent long time field of expertise: industrial security.
"... All defense contractors were eventually required by law to conduct industrial-security investigations, under legislation for which both the FBI and the American Legion had helped to lobby. This legislation created work both for veterans and for the Legion itself. During World War II the Legion had built up a network of confidential information contacts, on the model of the so-called vigilantes of the American Protective League during World War I. The key man in this effort, an FBI agent named Lee Pennington Jr., left the Bureau for the Legion in 1953, where he began to develop a massive 'library' of information on alleged subversives. Future Watergate burglar James McCord, in search for subversives in the CIA, made his first contacts in the 1950s with Pennington, his library and Lou Russell of HUAC.
"Pennington thus became a CIA consultant, a status which continued when he transferred his by-now-massive files on Americans from the American Legion to the newly formed American Security Council. However, the principal users of his library were large corporations, including defense contractors such as large oil companies, who consulted the file-card index when screening employees as part of their industrial-security program."
(Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, Peter Dale Scott, pgs. 244-245)

This would go a long way to explain why the OS would have a nearly fifteen year relationship with Pennington and why SRS chief General Paul Gaynor would have regular meetings with Pennington. One of the Office of Security's principal duties was screening potential CIA employees and Pennington's files would no doubt be invaluable for such purposes.

That Gaynor and the OS/SRS would have wanted to keep a lid on their use of Pennington's files is also understandable. As noted above, the American Legion network had its origins in the American Protective League, which played a key role in the First Red Scare. In the 1940s a lot of the American Legion's records were used by HUAC for the purpose of "blacklisting."

In this day and age the public is assured that the only elements of American society that were subjected to blacklisting were the entertainment industry. This is of course ridiculous. In point of fact, the entire defense industry was subjected to this process through ultra-right wing organizations such as the American Legion and the American Security Council, the latter of which used intelligence provided by organizations such as the Minutemen, the Liberty Lobby and the John Birch Society to track "subversives." Many of these groups defined "subversives" as anyone who supported the Anti-War and Civil Rights movements, nuclear bans, or were homosexuals or other such "bohemians." This was chronicled at length on this blog during my examination of the American Security Council.

Effectively then vast swaths of the American public who possessed liberal politics were blacklisted from many defense-related jobs (which constitute a rather large segment of the American economy) for decades on the recommendations of the ASC and their backers in the CIA and FBI. Had the American public learned of this, it no doubt would have made the backlash to the original reports of blacklisting in Hollywood look like a cake walk by contrast. Especially since the same department of the CIA, the Office of Security's Security Research Staff, that took the lead on this also seem to have been the premier department for sexual blackmail and behavioral modification research. This is all rather ominous, to put it mildly, and would have totally violated the part of the CIA's charter prohibiting domestic operations.

So, in this context, it is easy to understand why the OS tried to cover-up Pennington's relationship with the Agency at all costs.

Moorer, Radford, Anderson and Woodward: An Interlude

Let us return now to the above-mentioned Admiral Thomas Moorer, the founder of Task Force 157. By the early 1970s Moorer was "out of the loop" so to speak with regards to the foreign policies being perused by Nixon and Kissinger, which included a de-escalation of Vietnam, the "tilt towards Pakistan" and the normalization of relations with Communist China. Mainstream history charges that Moorer tasked a Navy Yeoman known as Charles Radford to spy on Kissinger in what proved to be a rather clumsy attempt.
"Other leaks of Nixon-Kissinger excesses in foreign policy, notably the December 1971 of the 'tilt toward Pakistan,' provoked frenzied investigation by the White House Plumbers. Eventually this investigation revealed that the source of the leak, navy yeoman Charles Radford, had been systematically stealing White House documents and passing them, via his navy superior, Admiral Robert Welander, to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), Admiral Thomas Moorer. In retrospect, it seems clear that the primary JCS motive for conspiratorial spying on the White House was dislike of Nixon's and above all Kissinger's policies of detente and coexistence with the Soviet bloc and China. As historian Stanley Kutler wrote in his Wars of Watergate: 'Moorer bitterly remembered what he regarded as foolish and soft policies toward North Vietnam. His successor as chief naval operations, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr., came close to accusing Nixon and Kissinger of treason and Kissinger of being a Soviet sympathizer.' "
(The Road to 9/11, Peter Dale Scott, pgs. 46-47)

The leaks in question largely centered around several columns written by legendary muckraker Jack Anderson in regards to the "tilt towards Pakistan." It is widely believed that Charles Radford was the cause of these leaks, though he has long denied it. Even more bizarre is the fact that Admiral Moorer has long insisted that he learned absolutely nothing from the documents that Radford pilfered from Kissinger that he was not already aware of. Why continue upon a risky operation like this that was producing no meaningful intelligence while evidence was emerging that the highly classified findings of this mission were being leaked to the press?

Even more curious is what came afterwards. These alleged revelations in the wake of the exposure of the Moorer-Radford ring led to downright comical surveillance of Jack Anderson by the Office of Security in an operation known as "Project Mudhen" (seriously).
"... Rightly or wrongly, Yeoman Charles Radford had been identified as Anderson's source within the National Security Council. Coincidentally or not Anderson's access to --or, at least, his publication of --national security secrets dwindled precipitously thereafter. The Office of Security's decision to place Anderson under surveillance in February is therefore peculiar because the problem appeared to have been solved. 
"If the project was perplexing because of its untimeliness, it was interesting also for the fact that it was redundant and wholly uncoordinated with other agencies. As the columnist himself has noted, 'The Pentagon, according to its former security chief, W. Donald Stewart, conducted at least 11 separate investigations of us, sparing no expense. The FBI secretly grabbed our telephone records, and the Internal Revenue Service conducted a penetrating, year-long audit of my finances.' To which it might be added that Anderson was also the subject of a White House-inspired investigation by International Intelligence Incorporated (Intertel), and an ad hoc investigation by McCord Associates. It appears, then, that Anderson as the target of a conspiracy whose origins rested with White House concerns about leaks. And yet the matter is subtler. While some such conspiracy no doubt existed, Project Mudhen (and the CIA) were not part of it: Mudhen was a CIA operation whose 'product' was consumed by the Office of Security, and only by the Office of Security. No reports were made to the White House, and there is no evidence that the White House or any other federal agency were aware of the operation. What, then, was the CIA doing? The surveillance was so intense and involved so many agents that the risks of exposure was enormous, as the Office of Security soon realized when Anderson's children began to photograph the funny men sitting in cars outside their home. It was, in other words, the sort of operation that would have been anathema to the usually cautious Richard Helms. How, then, is one to explain its illegality, dangers and untimeliness?
"The evidence suggests that Project Mudhen was instituted for some purpose other than identifying leakers. A CIA memorandum for the chief of the Security Research Staff, General Paul Gaynor, cites an irresponsible article published in the Washington Observer Newsletter. The memo to General Gaynor pretends to implicate Jack Anderson in an alleged Mafia conspiracy 'to attack conservative organizations, Members of Congress and high public officials who want to crack down on Communists, rioters and assorted left-wingers.' According to the article or memo --the latter paraphrases the former in such a way as to seem an advocate of the article's thesis --the supposed conspiracy has been masterminded by the publisher of a 'pornographic sheet called National Enquirer,' Generoso Pope, Jr. He, we are told, is a former CIA officer who joined forces with '[Drew] Peterson and the Anti-Defamation League, who [sic] assigned its top spy, Sanford Griffith, to work with the smear conspiracy. This alliance between the Mafia and the ADL is not new --allegedly the family-owned tax-dodging Generoso Pope Foundation aids Jewish charities and Zionist funds, and is suspected of being a secret conduit for CIA funds.' The memo then goes on to report the findings of the Office of Security with respect to the Bell-McClure Syndicate, the North American Newspaper Alliance and World Wide Features, Inc. --alleged keystones in a supposed liberal-Zionist-Mafia conspiracy to 'muscle in on newspaper syndication on a global basis.'
"The contents of the memo are obviously claptrap, and it is remarkable (and worrisome) that he Office of Security would take them seriously enough to include them as part of its background study on Anderson. Drafted on January 17, 1972, the memo may well have contributed to the CIA's decision to place Anderson under surveillance.
"The memo presages James McCord's own investigation of the columnist (conducted in the spring of 1972). Indeed, the tone and contents of the memo are so compatible with McCord's own view of the columnist's supposed place in the scheme of things that it would not be surprising if it turned out that he was the principal source of the memo. And as it happens, McCord was an acknowledged source for both the Washington Observer Newsletter (quoted in the memo) and the equally right-wing and anti-Semite Liberty Lobby (with which the Newsletter was associated)..."
(Secret Agenda, Jim Hougan, pgs. 86-88)
Jack Anderson
So, to recap: Admiral Thomas Moorer, the founder of Task Force 157, becomes enraged with Nixon and especially Kissinger when he was excluded from their foreign policy schemes. Nonetheless, Moorer provides an allegedly secure channel to Nixon and Kissinger via Task Force 157. TF-157 is then promptly penetrated by Office of Security veteran Ed Wilson with the assistance of another OS vet.

Moorer then instructs Yeoman Charles Radford to begin spying on Kissinger and looting classified documents from the National Security Adviser in a rather inept manner. This is despite the fact that Moorer has long claimed that Radford turned up nothing that Moorer was not already aware of. And of course the Anderson leaks began around this time and have long been traced back to Radford.

Henry Kissinger
The White House Plumbers, who were penetrated by OS veteran James McCord, then "uncover" the Moorer-Radford ring, which Nixon promptly uses to blackmail Moorer. The leaks to Anderson stop, but the OS nonetheless embarks upon an investigation of Anderson so comically over the top that its discovery seems to have been intentional. What's more, this investigation was apparently spurred in part by an article from a publication associated with the notorious Liberty Lobby. It probably goes without saying, but when the OS investigation of Anderson was reported to the press it turned out to be a public relations nightmare for the Nixon administration, whose domestic spying operations were already perceived as being out of control.

This notion caught the imagination of the American people thanks in no small part to the work of legendary investigative journalist Bob Woodward. Woodward was of course one of the two journalists, along with Carl Bernstein, who broke the Watergate cover-up (as opposed to the break-ins, which Nixon was totally unaware of) in the pages of the Washington Post to the American public, ultimately leading to Nixon's downfall. Ah, but here's the thing: Woodward himself had recently left the Navy when he got into the journalism racket around 1970. And guess who he served under while in the Navy during his final year in Washington D.C.:
"When Woodward arrived in Washington he went of the staff of Admiral Moorer, together with his two former skippers, Fitzpatrick and Welander; he reported to Fitzpatrick through Commander John J. Kingston, chief of all the watch officers, and supervised the people manning terminals in the CNO's communications center. It was Woodward's job as communications watch officer to route incoming messages to the proper person on the staff of the chief of naval operations or the secretary of the Navy, and to be aware of the particular sensitive areas or 'hot spots' about which the CNO or his flag officers must be alerted. Most of the messages were classified, and some were top secret..."
(Silent Coup, Len Colodny & Robert Gettlin, pg. 80)
Not only did Bob Woodward serve under Admiral Thomas Moorer, he was also (according to Moorer) a "briefer" on his staff during this time frame. What's more, another of Woodward's COs, Admiral Robert Welander (noted above), was also implicated in the Moorer-Radford ring. It is also quite possible that Woodward was aware of Task Force 157 and its secret channel as part of his duties, though this has never been confirmed (Woodward would later report on Task Force 157 as a journalist).

Bob Woodward
It is also interesting to note that the Washington Post itself has long been alleged to have had a covert relationship with the CIA. Philip Graham, the publisher and co-owner of the Post, was reportedly recruited into Operation Mockingbird by OSS Old Boy Frank Wisner and that Graham's widow, Katherine, continued this relationship after Philip's suicide in 1963. At the time of Watergate, Woodward's editor was Ben Bradlee. Bradlee was a descendant of Boston Brahmans who, like many individuals in the Watergate saga, had served in the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Thus, we are left with a curious situation: Jack Anderson and Bob Woodward, two journalists especially damaging to Nixon, potentially had sources stemming from Admiral Thomas Moorer, a man who grew to despise the foreign policy objectives of both Nixon and especially Kissinger. Was Moorer running a propaganda campaign against Nixon and Kissinger via the nation's press? And if so, where does the Office of Security, which had moles in both Task Force 157 and the Plumbers and which engaged in surveillance of Jack Anderson that was especially damaging to Nixon, fit into all of this?

The Shadow Hand of the ASC

It certainly seems as though the OS and Moorer, along with elements in the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), were working in conjunction with one another to bring down the Nixon administration. What's more, there is a rather compelling link between these two factions that even the best Watergate researchers (i.e. Hougan, Len Colodny, Phil Stanford, etc) have missed: the American Security Council (ASC).

As was noted above, the ASC was partly a massive private intelligence network employing numerous "former" FBI, military and CIA men to conduct industrial security investigations on the American populace. This part of the ASC, however, was well hidden from the public view for years. Superficially the ASC was a lobby group for the defense industry. As such, there was no single organization in the United States more opposed to "detente" throughout the Cold War than the ASC.

The Council and its corporate backers spent a fortune opposing detente. The ASC was also especially close to the so-called "China Lobby," agents of the drug-financed Kuomintang Party (KMT) of Taiwan. For years Taiwan occupied Communist China's seat on the United Nations Security Council and normalizing relations with the People's Republic jeopardized this status. It probably goes without saying, but the China Lobby was fanatically opposed to Nixon's bid to normalize relations with Communist China.

The same could be said of Nixon himself, who had been a long time darling of the ASC and the China Lobby before ascending to the presidency. With Nixon's election, these forces felt as those they had finally gotten "their boy" into the White House. When Nixon began to pursue a foreign policy largely designed by Rockefeller-shill Henry Kissinger, the shock and outrage was especially pronounced. As was indicated above and in the second installment, there seems to have been more than a few military and CIA men who genuinely believed that Kissinger was a Soviet agent who had some how co-opted Nixon by the early 1970s.

Interestingly, one of the primary backers of the Georgetown Club in which OS veteran Ed Wilson was alleged to have run sexual blackmail operations out of was Anna Chennault. Chennault was the widow of General Claire Chennault, founder of Civil Air Transport (which eventually became the notorious drug smuggling Air America), for years the nation's primary figurehead of the China Lobby. Upon Claire's death Anna stepped into this role. Both of the Chennaults were very, very close to the ASC as was the China Lobby on the whole.

As was noted in part one of this series, James McCord's long time boss in the OS' Security Research Staff, General Paul Gaynor, also had very close ties to the ASC. Noted above is the possibility that the ASC's Washington head, Lee R. Pennington, was passing information along to Gaynor from McCord during his time with Plumbers. Both Gaynor and McCord had been friendly with Pennington for a number of years. McCord also had ties to the Liberty Lobby, an organization linked to the ASC (as noted before here).

So, on the whole, it seems as though there were a lot of ties between the OS personnel linked to Watergate and the ASC. But the same is also true of the Moorer-Radford ring. Both Admiral Thomas Moorer himself, along with another figure implicated in the Moorer-Radford ring (the above-mentioned Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt Jr) would go on to become key figures within the ASC upon their retirements from the Navy.

Admiral Elmo Zumwalt
It should be noted, however, that neither of these men became involved with the ASC until the late 1970s if not the early 1980s, nearly a decade after the Watergate break-in. But the ASC was packed with numerous high ranking military officers for years and it is quite likely that Moorer and Zumwalt had former colleagues active in the ASC by the time of the Watergate break-in. Both Moorer and Zumwalt appear to have seen time in the Pacific Theater of World War II, which means there's a strong chance they were friendly with the group of military officers who rallied around Douglas MacArthur in the years afterwards and who became the backbone of the ASC for many years (noted before here).

All of this seems to indicate that there is a strong possibility that the Watergate scandal was carried out by a cabal centered around the American Security Council and employing ASC-tied members of the CIA's Office of Security along with the Office of Naval Intelligence (in addition to Task Force 157, keep in mind that one of the names in Heidi Rikan's little black book from her time in Dallas was Gordon McLendon, a "former" Naval intelligence officer; also, Bob Woodward's editor during Watergate, Ben Bradlee, was former ONI as well). If there was collaboration between the OS and the ONI, this could explain how Moorer was already aware of the information Yeoman Radford gleamed from Kissinger: Ed Wilson or another of the OS moles who had penetrated Task Force 157 were passing their findings along to Moorer.

It seems to have unfolded a bit like this:

  • Nixon outrages the ASC and the China Lobby along with the hierarchy of the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in his pursuit of detente; these organizations then use their contacts in the OS and ONI to begin undermining his administration
  • Admiral Thomas Moorer arranges for the OS to penetrate the ONI's Task Force 157 so as to spy on Kissinger's communications to Communist China
  • Alarmed at what he is learning, Moorer then enlists Yeoman Radford to steal classified documents from Kissinger and arranges for them to be passed along to the press (whether Radford himself did this or was merely a patsy is unknown)
  • The White House Plumbers, themselves penetrated by the OS,  then "uncover" the Moorer-Radford ring. Whether this was intentional to gain the trust of Nixon loyalists (i.e. G. Gordon Liddy) affiliated with the Plumbers or merely a slip up is unknown; regardless, Nixon retains Moorer as head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who faces no real penalties for spying on the president
  • the leaks stop but the OS begins an almost comical surveillance of Jack Anderson that would be impossible to miss; this is later used to frame Nixon as being "out of control"
  • Meanwhile, Syndicate-connected call girl Heidi Rikan has entrapped several members of the Nixon White House, including John Dean and Jeb Margruder, in her prostitution ring. Dean will go on to play a key role in authorizing the Watergate break-ins (with support from Margruder) and will initiate the White House cover-up that will eventually bring down Nixon
  • Heidi, who is friendly with former ONI man Gordon McLendon, recruits D.C. attorney Phillip Bailley in late 1971 to establish a pipe line between her prostitution ring (now operating out of Columbia Plaza) and the DNC headquarters located in the nearby Watergate
  • Procuring proof of prominent Democrats involved in sexual improprieties has been a long time obsession of Nixon's; as was noted in the second and third installments of this series, evidence indicates the Watergate burglars were attempting to procure information about the Columbia Plaza from the DNC headquarters in Watergate; were Nixon loyalists affiliated with the Plumbers incited into such a risky operation on hopes of bringing to Nixon the kind of blackmail material he had long sought on his opponents? 
  • James McCord, a long time member of the OS, appears to have sabotaged the second break-in at every step; D.C. vice cop Carl Shoffler, a man friendly with McCord's long time boss General Paul Gaynor, appears to make the arrest; allegations have long existed that McCord or one of his employees tipped off Shoffler, all of which was discussed in part two
  • John Dean convinces the Nixon White House, which had no real knowledge of the operations the Plumbers were up too, to embark upon an ill advised cover-up
  • This cover-up is later exposed in spectacular fashion by Bob Woodward, a Washington Post reporter who had previously served under Admiral Thomas Moorer during his time in the Navy; many Watergate researchers believe that Woodward encountered the mysterious "Deep Throat" during his time of Moorer's staff
Admiral Thomas Moorer
The stage was now set for Nixon's downfall and crash hard he did. It is interesting to note that the milieu of industrial security, which the ASC was effectively the coordinating body of throughout the Cold War, also appears to have played a key role in the Kennedy assassination as well (noted before here and here). This was not the only overlap with the Kennedy cabal either. As was noted in part three, the same network of Syndicate figures and Texas oilmen who appear in the background of Heidi Rikan's prostitution ring also turn up in similar rings operating in Dallas around the time of the assassination.

Before wrapping up I feel obligated to briefly address E. Howard Hunt. Hunt is often depicted as the mastermind behind the Watergate scandal and readers may be surprised by his omission throughout this series. There are two reasons for this:

  1. Hunt did not have ties to the Office of Security, the topic of inquiry in this series
  2. Hunt does not seem to have been aware of McCord's operation and has repeatedly denounced him in the years following the break-in 
E. Howard Hunt
There is compelling evidence that Hunt had a secret agenda of his own, but this researcher is not convinced that Hunt was aware of the OS-ONI cabal that seem to have been the principal architects behind Nixon's downfall. Hunt, a graduate of Brown University and a veteran of the Office of Strategic Services, was very much an Old Boy within the CIA. It is likely Hunt's purpose on the Plumbers was to keep fellow Old Boys Richard Helms and James Jesus Angleton in the loop, but such a topic is far beyond the scope of this series to address.

And with that I shall wrap things up for now. In the next installment I shall begin addressing the OS's role in assassinations and other intrigues. Stay tuned.


  1. Robert Mahue looks a lot like J. Edgar Hoover. I wonder if he ever acted as a double for him?

  2. Christine-

    That actually was J. Edgar Hoover! I apparently had the image mislabeled. Thank you for pointing that out to me.


    1. okay, just added y second comment before I saw your reply.

  3. Great work as always.

    Carmine Bellino was an early partner of Guy Banister, who used the vast intelligence database of the American Security Council and boasted that he himself had the most extensive file on subversive activities in New Orleans.

    This certainly suggests Bellino himself may have had double allegiances. While in the Justice Department, he worked alongside Walter Sheridan. Sheridan later found employment with NBC and produced several 'progressive' documentaries before becoming one of the lead organizers of the campaign to discredit and sabotage the assassination investigation of the New Orleans District Attorney's Office. Sheridan produced a biased 'special' about the case in 1967, and a number of witnesses claimed that he had attempted to coerce them - even making direct threats. Sheridan was a CIA asset and had formerly worked for the FBI, ONI and NSA.