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Reply #37: The story really starts with the OSS in China during World War II [View All]

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starroute Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-04-05 08:18 PM
Response to Reply #34
37. The story really starts with the OSS in China during World War II

The place was Kunming in the South China province of Yunnan. The time was the end of World War II. Amid the chaos of war, opium and gold became the primary media of exchange, and cult-like bonds were forged among a small staff of Americans and high-ranking Chinese. Yunnan was a center of Chinese opium cultivation and Kunming was the hotbed of military operations, among them Claire Chennault's 14th Air Force and Detachment 202 of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).

Singlaub had first met Cline, along with four future backers of CIA-Cuban operations (Howard Hunt, Paul Helliwell, Lucien Conein and Mitch WerBell) in a small OSS mission at Kunming in China, at the very center of the World War II KMT drug traffic. According to the Wall Street Journal, OSS payments at this base were frequently made with five-pound shipments of opium.

Helliwell, of course, continued in the drugs-and-arms business for the CIA, but the other five of these men are noteworthy as well: E. Howard Hunt. General John Singlaub, head of the World Anti-Communist League in the 80's when it was the primary conduit of illicit aid to the Contras. Ray Cline, who left the CIA in 1973 and played an important role in the 1980 Bush for President campaign. Conein and WerBell, two exotic characters who show up in an astonishing number of dubious contexts from the 50's to the 70's, including the Nixon White House.

Here are a few particularly ripe paragraphs on Conein from Gaeton Fonzi's "The Last Investigation":

Youve got to start with the premise that Lou Conein is crazy, said one of his former CIA bosses once. Crazy enough to always survive. A beefy, scarred, gnarled old grizzly of a man, Conein left Kansas City when he was seventeen to join the French Foreign Legion. In 1941 in France, he switched to the OSS and lived and fought with the notorious Corsican Brotherhood, which was then part of the Resistance. (Later, the Brotherhood became deeply involved in the drug trade and was considered much more effective and dangerous than its Siciliar counterpart, the Mafia.) Moving on to the Far East, Conein was part of an OSS team parachuted into Vietnam to fight the Japanese alongside the Vietminh. He then fought against the Vietminh with the Blackhawk operation, helped Ngo Dinh Diem consolidate his power in South Vietnam and then, in a policy turnaround, was the CIAs liaison with the cabal of generals who murdered Diem.

It was Coneins involvement with this last coup which led another old OSS cohort, E. Howard Hunt, to give him a call several years later. Hunt, by then, was working in the Nixon White House. Besides wanting Conein to release a group of phony telegrams which would have squarely blamed President Kennedy for the Diem assassination (Nixon then considered Edward Kennedy his prime political foe), he wanted Conein to run what was, ostensibly, the White House war against the international drug trade. (p. 73)

Then, in November, 1973, Conein got moved out of the White House--though not out from under White House command--to become chief of Special Operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration. He was to be part of Nixons highly publicized nationwide police campaign, led by White House enforcers with special powers, to combat drug abuse.

It has been suggested that Nixons antidrug campaign was, in actuality, a bid to establish his own intelligence network. It has also been suggested that it was exactly that bid which brought the sucker setup that was Watergate and Nixons political assassination. (pp. 70-71)
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