- Here is an article from the Portland (Ore.) Free Press,
about the extensive, many-tentacled scandal behind the diversion of US
Forest Service planes ORIGINALLY intended for firefighting use (usually
modified C-130's as well as other planes and equipment) into all manner
of CIA covert projects, often drug-running operations...as in the outrages
which went on at the Mena, Ark. airport, when Bush was President and Clinton
was governor. DARE to keep the CIA off drugs, indeed.
- THIS article tells the WHOLE story, all right. An INCREDIBLY
TWISTED TALE of CIA malevolence, skullduggery, corruption, theft, extortion,
double-dealing, back-stabbing, massive drug dealing, money-laundering...
- Compromised, cowardly and corrupted law enforcement personnel
and prosecutors at all levels involved in this business round out a picture
of a nation tumbling headlong into all-out official lawlessness.
- It is claimed FOURTEEN firefighters died in 1994 because
SO MANY of the Forest Service's planes were in use...elsewhere.
- In California this year, tremendous blazes burned utterly
unchecked in Los Padres, Angeles and Trinity National Forests (among MANY
other places), because apparently, some of the firefighting planes had
again been "diverted" by the CIA and other spook slimers.
- We and many others in northern California kept wondering
all through the late summer and early fall as the skies grew ever more
infused and inundated with vast banks of smoke and fumes--"WHERE the
hell are the tanker planes???"
- The planes never arrived.
- NewsHawk® Inc.
- This article is a MUST-READ! ___________
- Who's Who in the C-130 Scandal
- By John Titus Portland Free Press March/April 1997 issue
- The Aircraft
- An estimated 42 former military planes, both Air Force
C-130's and Navy P-3 Orions, were diverted into a long train of covert
operations under cover of firefighting. Early attempts to obtain A-10 "Wart
Hog" jet fighters were shut down by the Department of Agriculture's
Office of Inspector General (OIG), but broker Roy Reagan did manage to
obtain six Bell UH-1E "Huey" helicopters from a Naval museum.
- In fact, all these military aircraft were exchanged for
obsolete planes nominally destined for museums.
- Roy Reagan
- After leaving the Air Force, Reagan used a network of
contacts to successfully broker former military aircraft on the open market.
One C-130 obtained by Reagan in 1986 was sold to Detrich Reinhardt and
Peter Turkelson, both of whom have been identified as CIA operatives by
Congressman Curt Weldon (R-PA). Weldon investigated the affair following
the crash of this C-130 in Angola while on a CIA mission. Robert Weldon,
the congressman's nephew, died in the crash. Reinhardt had previously owned
St. Lucia Airlines, which was used by Oliver North to smuggle missiles
to Iran during the embargo.
- As his payoff, Reagan received in excess of $1 million,
including several C-130's which he later resold.
- Reagan and Forest Service official Fred Fuchs have been
indicted by a federal grand jury in Tucson, Arizona, for conspiracy and
theft of government property.
- Reagan has hired attorney Stuart Gerson to represent
him. It was Gerson, as acting attorney general in the late Bush and early
Clinton administrations, who ordered the tanks into the tragic siege of
the Branch Davidian ranch in Waco, Texas.
- Fred Fuchs
- As former director of the Forest Service aviation program,
Fuchs (and Reagan, according to the indictment) met with and misled Department
of Defense and General Services Administration officials as to who would
ultimately retain title to the aircraft in question. Government officials
believed that the planes would remain under Forest Service control, and
that they would only be used for forest and rangeland fire management.
As his payoff, Fuchs received flight-time upgrades to his pilot's license
from the very contractors he negotiated on behalf of. He also received
a vintage "Steerman" bi-plane aircraft.
- James P. Ross
- Ross, a business partner of Reagan's, is named as an
unindicted co-conspirator in the case by the U.S. Attorney in Arizona.
Ross delivered C-130 aircraft to one of the firefighting contractors, Hemet
Valley Aviation of Hemet, California, and is identified in a 1983 Federal
Aviation Administration document as the inspector of the C-123 cargo plane
that was later shot down on a supply mission to CIA-backed Contra rebels
in Nicaragua. (Eugene Hasenfus survived this crash and named the CIA agents
he worked for, thus destroying the government lies that they did not run
the Contras.) The same C-123 had also been used by CIA pilot Barry Seal
in his cocaine-running operations.
- Jack Chisum
- Jack Chisum was a vice president of T&G Aviation
of Chandler, Arizona. He is believed by an investigator to have been set
up and turned in to authorities by Evergreen Aviation and Southern Air
Transport for "muscling in on the [Middle East] C-130 action."
It was Jack who provided the investigator with the outline of the C-130
mission to Kuwait, in which (T&G) Forest Service-contracted C-130's
went on missions in Kuwait at the close of the Gulf War. T&G was allegedly
hauling oil-field equipment for Bechtel Corporation, but Evergreen and
Southern Air claimed the company was illegally hauling whiskey into the
- Whatever their cargo was, T&G was contracting for
Bechtel through a company called MARTECH. The aircraft on the Kuwait mission
were ordered to return to the U.S., and were flown to Evergreen's air complex
at Marana, Arizona.
- Jack Chisum was a long-time friend of Gary Eitel. Their
association dated back to a time when they both flew for the Forest Service
in the 1970s. It was Chisum who explained the details of rogue CIA missions
involving the ex-military workhorses. And, sadly, many secrets have died
with Chisum, who was struck and killed by a vehicle while walking down
an Arizona highway. Gary Eitel has never been satisfied with the results
of the accident investigation, and believes that Chisum may have been targeted,
hit and silenced.
- Gary Eitel
- Eitel has spearheaded the investigation into the illegal
uses of the former military aircraft. After military service, Eitel flew
for the Forest Service, the Department of Defense, and private companies
in Alaska. He is a decorated Vietnam combat pilot, and became a law enforcement
officer and later an attorney in Texas.
- In 1976, he was recruited to fly CIA missions in Angola,
and other missions involving Lear Jets that were operated out of southern
Oregon. As early as 1989, while Eitel was employed at Evergreen Aviation,
he observed that card-carrying CIA personnel were on Evergreen property
acting as Evergreen employees.
- According to documents filed in Federal Court, it was
Eitel who tipped government officials off to both the corruption in the
Forest Service aircraft exchange program, and another scandal charging
that Evergreen Aviation defrauded the U.S. Postal Service by over-billing
that agency an estimated $52.6 million on a two-year contract. Court filings
state "Evergreen exploited its CIA contracts by offering the CIA [services]
over and beyond the primary CIA contract and, allegedly, on no charge to
the CIA on the pretense Evergreen would be able to over-bill the Forest
Service, Air Force, and United States Postal Services contract." In
1993, Gary Eitel testified before Congress concerning his knowledge of
the C-130 scandal. (See July/August '94, "The Sky Pirates: Aerial
Heavy Hauling," p. 1;January/February '95, "Cloak, Dagger and
Cockpit -- An Evergreen Update," p. 17; July/August '95, "CIA
Airlines Never Die," p. 4; and July-October '96, "Steal a C-130
-- Go to Jail" [an update], p. 7.) Eitel has federal prosecutor status
on behalf of the government in both of these cases. Until December 1996,
the government held back and let him pursue the C-130 case alone. It was
only after the recent indictments of Reagan and Fuchs by a U.S. Attorney
in Arizona, that the Department of Justice entered the lawsuit to save
face, and possibly manipulate it.
- As the result of his investigation and lawsuits, Eitel
has received a number of threats, and, considering the mysterious deaths
of Jack Chisum and another Evergreen Aviation pilot, Dean Moss (see March/April
'94 issue, "Evergreen Pilot Murdered on Weapons Flight," p. 1;
May/June '95, "Air Force Investigates Evergreen," p. 4 [and sidebar,
p. 5]; and update, May/June '96, p. 3), these threats are taken seriously.
- Joseph Russoniello
- In the 1980s, Joseph P. Russoniello was a U.S. Attorney
in California. Presumably, a U.S. Attorney is a tough prosecutor who represents
the best interests of the public; but Russoniello went soft when it came
to a drug case involving the CIA.
- Between 1981 and 1984, the DEA had compiled sufficient
evidence to crack the biggest cocaine ring in California at that time.
Police had nabbed several "frogmen" swimming onto a beachhead
carrying at least four-hundred pounds of cocaine. Ultimately, 35 people
were arrested, along with guns, drugs, catalogs for automatic weapons and
silencers, and $36,800 in cash. Federal prosecutors declared that the money
was evidence from the drug operation, and would be used for the trail.
While this appeared to be a clean bust, the authorities were about to have
a rug pulled out from under them.
- The drug ring's alleged leader, Julio Zavala, claimed
that the cash was not drug money, but was money earmarked to purchase weapons
for the CIA's illegal Contra war in Nicaragua. Zavala requested that the
money seized by the cops be returned to the Contras. According to Gary
Webb of the San Jose Mercury News, Russoniello decided not to keep the
cash as evidence, and did not want it forfeited to the government, which
is the standard procedure in drug cases. The drug money was then returned
to the Contras. In a 1996 Senate hearing, Senator Arlen Spector and investigator
Jack Blum openly discussed Russoniello's capitulation to Contra drug-runners.
Blum stated that Russoniello had angrily shouted at investigators and Senator
John Kerry, who was chairing the committee investigating intelligence-community
links to the drug trade. Russoniello accused them of being "subversive
for wanting to go into it."
- Some may say that Joseph Russoniello (now an attorney
for companies that allegedly obtained government aircraft illegally) went
from prosecuting criminals to representing criminals. Others may say that
from the "frogman" cocaine case to the current aircraft scandal,
Joseph P. Russoniello has always represented the best interests of the
- It should be noted that documents filed in federal court
indicate that Russoniello believed he had an agreement with the Justice
Department that his clients would not be the target of any grand jury indictment,
and that the government would not intervene in Gary Eitel's whistle-blower
case. Has Rusoniello cut another deal with the devil?
- Evergreen International Airlines
- Originally based in McMinnville, Oregon, Evergreen expanded
from a small helicopter company in the 1960s to a major international airline
with secretive government contracts.
- In 1975, after a series of revealing hearings led by
Senator Frank Church, the CIA was pressured to sell off its lucrative business
front companies. The result of this program was the privatization of those
former government assets into corporate hands. It was Evergreen that was
chosen to take over the CIA's airbase at Marana, Arizona, which led to
decades of privileged treatment regarding Evergreen's government contracts.
Top CIA aviation officers, including the legendary George Doole, worked
for Evergreen. Prior to working for Evergreen, Doole had managed all of
the CIA's proprietary airlines.
- In the last few years, Evergreen has faced industry criticism
and hard financial times. In 1994, the company defaulted on $125 million
in junk bonds and found its books open to public scrutiny, not a comfortable
situation for a CIA contract airline.
- In late December 1996, Evergreen announced that an unnamed
financial institution would help Evergreen buy back all $125 million of
the defaulted junk bonds. The company, which is saddled with a tremendous
amount of debt, is considered the recipient of a back-door government bailout.
- Pacific Harbor Capital / PacifiCorp
- To understand the complexity of this aircraft-laundering
operation, consider this exchange: - (1990) The Forest Service gives two
planes to TBM, Inc. TBM gave those two planes to Roy Reagan as part of
his kickback. - Reagan sold those two planes to Woody Grantham of T&G
Aviation. - Grantham sold them to Pacific Harbor Capital. - Pacific Harbor
Capital sold them back to T&G. - Finally, in 1993, T&G sold the
same two planes back to Pacific Harbor Capital.
- Both companies claim this final sale was a repossession,
but Federal Aviation Administration documents show it was a sale.
- This operation was obviously intended to "wash away"
Forest Service ownership and to help "sheep-dip" sophisticated
military aircraft, some of which were equipped with electronic surveillance
gear. [Sheep-dip is spook-speak for concealing the source, purpose or nature
of something so that it can be used in ways that would otherwise be impossible.]
- PacifiCorp, a Northwest financial giant, is the parent
company of Pacific Harbor Capital, and according to the 25 October 1993
issue of the Seattle Post Intelligencer, PacifiCorp is also linked to the
CIA. And not surprisingly, the 1975 Senate hearings led by Frank Church
identified the holding company for all the CIA airlines as "The Pacific
- Independent Firefighting Contractors Aero Union
- This company appears to be a major hub of the conspiracy
to obtain government aircraft. Roy Reagan maintained an office at Aero
Union and his associate, John Ford, is a key attorney is handling aircraft
sales for him. Joseph Russoniello is the corporation's top legal talent.
- Hemet Valley Aviation
- C-130 aircraft were delivered to Hemet Valley Aviation
by James P. Ross, who inspected and certified aircraft linked to Oliver
North's and Barry Seals' gun- and drug-running operation for the Contras.
- Hemet Valley sold two C-130s to Michael Zincka Leasing
in 1989. The registration numbers of these aircraft identify them as "C-130-A
Modified versions" that were equipped with sophisticated electronic
- Zincka Leasing put them to work for French Securite'
Civile, the French CIA, for two years.
- T&G Aviation
- Reagan, Fuchs, and the other companies cited in this
article are attempting to dump on T&G Aviation. While Woody Grantham
and Jack Chisum contracted out for the missions in Kuwait, they had State
Department approval for tha work.
- However, the Forest Service mandate for the use of the
aircraft stated that they could only be used stateside for fire-suppression
use.T&G's Jack Chisum had related much of this information to Eitel
before his death; Eitel is pitted against the former acting Attorney General
of the United States Stuart (Waco) Gerson and former California U.S. Attorney
Joseph Russoniello (who returned CIA drug money to the Contras.) T&G
is represented by John P. Frank of the law firm Lewis & Rocca. Lewis
& Rocca represented the CIA's Intermountain Aviation and later facilitated
the sale of the CIA airbase at Marana, Arizona, to CIA contractor, Evergreen.
- Hawkins and Powers
- This company leased one of the Forest Service C-130's
to British Aerospace Corporation, and another to Multitrade International,
a company linked to a previous C-130 sale.
- In the late 1970s, a number of military C-130's were
flown in from the Australian Air Force, destined for use by private American
air contractors. The company that brought them over was Southern Cross
(owned by Multitrade). Most of the planes were brought under the control
of the law firm Ford & Vlahos. Mr. Ford in this case is John Ford,
a powerful attorney who is listed as an assistant secretary for T&G
Aviation, as well as attorney for Pacific Gas & Electric (a California
energy corporation), and attorney for Pacific Harbor Capital (a subsidiary
of PacifiCorp, another financial giant that is linked to the CIA). At least
one of these former Australian C-130's was involved in the Mena, Arkansas,
CIA gun-and-drug operation. Another, tail number N69-P, was being operated
on Roy Reagan's certificate (a sort ofoperating license), on contract for
the U.S. military's Nuclear Defense Agency. This same aircraft was later
busted by the DEA in Miami, Florida, on a cocaine smuggling mission.
- The plane was then sold to a U.S. Customs agent and flown
to T&G Aviation to be refitted, and then went on to work in Africa.
- TBM, Inc.
- TBM, of Tulare, California, was one of the first companies
to deal with Roy Reagan. They gave two of their Forest Service C-130's
to Reagan in a complex series of aircraft sales. TBM owns about 70% of
Butler Aviation of Redmond, Oregon.
- In 1994, after the tragic deaths of 14 firefighters in
a Colorado wildfire, the owner of Butler Aviation, Cal Butler, wrote the
governor of Colorado a revealing and disturbing letter.
- Butler, who pioneered early techniques using aircraft
to fight forest fires, told Governor Roy Romer that the loss of lives could
have been avoided had airtankers been available to drop fire-retardant
material. This was at a time when Forest Service aircraft were being used,
illegally, in Europe and Latin America.
- Butler, the only apparent co-conspirator with a conscience,
maintains the skeletonized hulk of one Forest Service C-130, stripped
of its electronics and running gear, at his facility at Redmond, Oregon.
- This criminal conspiracy is evolving on a day-by-day
basis, and parallel court cases are being pursued in both Oregon and Arizona.
Here is the short list of what we do know:
- - According to private and congressional investigators,
the CIA has been using some of the Forest Service aircraft. - Many of the
Forest Service planes have been parted out, like sports cars in a chop-shop,
to service other planes operating on missions not pertaining to firefighting
operations. - As evidence of a criminal conspiracy, the principals involved
may not have reported income from the profitable use of these aircraft
or capital gains from sales to the Internal Revenue Service. - The C-130
scandal is but the tip of an iceberg, with dozens of companies and individuals
operating beyond the oversight of the Department of Agriculture (Forest
Service), Congress and the Justice Department. - In a 6 December 1989 internal
Forest Service document, Assistant General Counsel Kenneth Cohen raised
concerns that one of the C-130's had ended up in the hands of drug runners,
and that the Department of Defense wanted the Forest Service to act as
an intermediary in the C-130 program, so that "if any future aircraft
are used in drug smuggling, the Forest Service and not DOD will suffer
adverse publicity." (See document.) - As this paper goes to press,
we have just learned that the federal conspiracy case against Reagan and
Fuchs in Tucson, which was set to go to trial in April, has been postponed,
- Sources close to the case have told the Free Press that
a veil of national security has been wrapped around the trial, and that
U.S. Attorney Claire Lefkowitz, who has been very candid with reporters
in the past, will provide no further comments!
- (c) Portland Free Press _____________
- This excellent Portland Free Press article was forwarded
to us by David Hoffman, publisher of the Haight Ashbury Free Press.