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Document Creation Date: 
December 22, 2016
Document Release Date: 
March 8, 2012
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Publication Date: 
May 23, 1986
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Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/03/08 :CIA-RDP90-009658000402950017-7 ~ P~ -~- 23 "lay 1986 ~~ ,~.. nalist cou '-- Y S THE rwsHlN TON TIMES ple which was obtained b ~~ The Washington Times, Mr. Hull is SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - A libel mentioned more than a dozen times trial opened here yesterday featur- in connection with alleged CIA ac- ing soldiers of fortune, CIA "dirty tivities, drug trafficking and a tricksters;' Latinrevolutionaries, se- bombing plot against Mr. Pastore. cret tape recordings, kidnappings, The report, called "La Pence: Pas- drug trafficking and an attempt to fora, the Press and the CIA," was assassinate Nicaraguan rebel leader funded in part by the U S. Commit- Eden Pat tee to Protect Journalists and the X e case pits John HulLaformer American Newspaper Guild, ac- U S. citizen who is now a naturalized cording to the Tico Times. The un- Costa Rican, against two American derwriters are not named on the re- `~ I~~a+~iifbi.Hpppl,gttd Tony port, but Miss Honey said it was also Avirgan, a husband and wife team. funded by the World Press Freedom Mr. Hull, a rancher who owns or Association. manages land near the Nicara- The perpetrator of the unsolved guan border, is suing the couple for La Pence bombing posed as a Scan- nearly $20 million, charging that dinavian photojournalist, but Mr. they libeled him by linking him with Avirgan and Miss Honey contend he a bombing nearly two years ago at was a Libyan "whose comrades La Pence, Mr. Pastora's Nicaraguan knew him as Amac G ' " ,r jungle camp near the Costa Rican They state m t eir report that Mr. border. Galil was recruited in Chile for the Three journalists were killed and La Pence operation in early 1984 by several people were injured in [hat the CIA, members of two Contra bombing, including Mr. Pastore and groups -including the largest one, Mr. Avirgan. the Nicaraguan Democratic Force The journalist couple has lived - and anti -Castro Cuban - herefor the past three years, accord- Americans in Miami. ing to an interview with Miss Honey, They further allege that Costa and they report on Central America ~~ officials participated in a for American, Canadian and British cover-up of the bombing plot, which television networks and newspa- they say was styled to look like a per?, including the Times of London. Sandinista attack on Mr. Pastore. Mr. Hull's attorney, Alberto Rodri- guez, said that Mr. Hull denies all Contra leaders began to suspect charges made by the journalists and Mr. Pastore was a communist and [hat their report contains numerous Plotted against him, Miss Honey said anonymous sources, pseudonyms in an interview T'he CIA assisted in and statements of third parties the plot, upset that Mr. Pastore unsupported by any acceptable evi- steadfastly refused to unite with the dence. other Contra groups operating in the According to the Tico Times, Mr. north of Nicaragua, she added. Hull has long expressed sympathy Early press reports on La Pence for the Nicaraguan rebels and his pointed a finger at ETA, a Basque activities in northern Costa Rica separatist organization that report- have been the subject of numerous edly had close ties to the Sandinistas. local investigations in recent years. But Miss Honey and Mr. Avirgan However, the Tico Times added, Mr. contend that intelligence sources in Hull has strongly denied any con- Washington planted those stories in nection to the La Pence bombing. the major U.S. media. 1~ial of journalists offers intrigue ar-d a cast of hundreds Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/03/08 :CIA-RDP90-009658000402950017-7 Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/03/08 :CIA-RDP90-009658000402950017-7 Artttt,~ ~~~ 9 November 1986 ON P~ A -~~ WORLD NEWS J U.S. Role in Contra Su 1 Fr Pp y og'r'am Remains vsterlous By .ioe PirF~iwlln aid P. Grnoo ~ ~.,..,..:_ _ ., _ / When a camouflaged cargo plane was shot down m Nicaragua Oct. 5, the inner workings of a clandestine rebel supply operation exploded into public view-sad appeared to suggest a trail that led back to the White House. There were allegations of Central Intelligence Agen- cy involvement, possible links to Vice President Bush and further revelations about the private network of organisations that helped the Nicaraguan contras dur- ing the two years when U.S. military aid was cut off. But today, more than a month after the C123K cargo plane went down, fundamental questions about the pro- gram remain. It is not known, for example, who controlled and fi- nanced the supply operation to the contras, who say it was not their money. Nor is it known how much Reagan administration officials knew about the network or whether they were directly involved in it, even though U.S. ofScials have said that, while it was not a govern- ment operation, they knew more about it than they would say publicly. This is not the first time that efforts to pin down the administration's role in supporting the contras, or coun- terrevolutionaries, has produced more questions than answers. During the past two years, congressional committees and others have repeatedly challenged the administra- tion's claims that it adhered to a congressional ban on military aid to the contras, but no "smoking gun" dis- proving administration statements has been found. The plane incident has provided congressional critics with dramatic but largely circumstantial evidence of possibly improper administration involvement with the contras. But with Democrats controlling the Senate as well as the House next year, congressional scrutiny of the sup- ply network and the entire contra aid program is likely to intensify. Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.), likely new chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a critic of contra aid, said late last week that he intends to make the U.S. policy in Central America a top priority and will pursue "with increased vigor" information about possible ad- ministration wrongdoing. 1 For the moment, the administration statement that the operation was financed and controlled by private individuals and not the U.S. government has not been proved or disproved. Bush has acknowledged meeting twice with Felix I. Rodriguez, a former CIA operative said to have helped coordinate the supply flights. Bush's press secretary said the vice president's national security adviser, Don- doran -----""?"` s""r spec~al~st to the Salva- military. But Gregg has never explained his involvement with Rodriguez, including whether Rodriguez discussed with him his work with the contra supply network. Administration officials have argued that the involve- ment of a coterie of former military and CIA operatives in the effort does not prove that it was set up and/or controlled by the U.S. government. Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, admin- istration point man on Central America, said last month that it is "predictable and logical" that "there is a small circle of people who fly into hwtile territory carrying military supplies." Shortly after the plane went down Abrams said he had "some intelligence" about the mission. "The CIA is asked to report on events in Central America, and among things they report on to ua is some of this activity," Abrams said. "But they do not direct it, directly or indirectly, wink or nod, or steer people. It's illegal," Sinning with President Reagan, administratiop officials have made no secret of their support for the rebels and their approval of private efforts to provide money and materials to the contras during the twayear cutoff of military aid. But administration officials' knowledge and public encouragement of contra-support activities does not necessarily mean that they violated the law. The debate over the role of Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, a member of Reagan's National Security Council staff who is cited as a key liaison between the admin- istration and the contras, is a microcosm of the larger dispute over possible administration wrongdoing. 'Ctitics and news reports have alleged that North has advised rebel leaders on military tactics and steered contributors to them-both of; which would be possible viola- tions of the congressional ban. Former Reagan national security adviser Robert C. McFarlane, in recently denying that North vio- lated the congressional ban, ex- plained that when Congress cut off aid to the contras North was one of those assigned to assure contra leaders that the administration still believed in them and would contin- ue , to lobby Congress to resume military aid. North "periodically met with them (rebel leaders) ... near- ly always here (in Washington] but Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/03/08 :CIA-RDP90-009658000402950017-7 Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/03/08 :CIA-RDP90-009658000402950017-7 sometimes down there [in Central Cooper was one of Air America's Americaj," McFarlane said, adding chief pilots. Hasenfus was a cargo Force in 1984 to fly cargo to Cen- that he stayed within the law. handler or "kicker." tral America. One congressional aide, who is Cooper; Wallace B. Sawyer, who In fact, since 1983, Southern Air crjtical of the contra program, said was the plane's copilot, and an un? has received $90 million in civilian that while administration officiab identified Nicraguan rebel, were air cargo contracts from the Air may not have violated the law, they killed when the plane crashed. Force, according to information "go right up against the law and ex- Hasenfus also disclosed that Provided by a spokesman for the Air ploit any loophole." y Southern Air Transport [nc., a Mi- Force's Military AirliR Command. The debate over whether North ~ ami-based air caigo- i~rm owned by [n 1984, Southern Air received stepped out of bounds has been fu- the CIA until the agency said it was two contracts, one for $10.8 million Bled by disclwurea that Salvadoran sold in 1973, played a major role .in to fiy cargo to Air Force bases with- phone records from a "safe houses" assisting the operation. in the United States and another for used by members of the operation William Kress, a company $13.3 million to ferry supplies to show repeated calls in September spokesman, has said Southern Air bases in the Caribbean and Central to~ White House phones in North's serviced both of the C123s at its America, including Cuba, Panama office. A Reagan administration oI Miami facilities and that the firm and Palmerola air base in Honduras, ficial, quoted anonymously, told also sent repair and maintenance which has afull-time contingent of The Associated Press that North crews to the Ilopango airport in El U.S. military personnel and has be- "to his knowledge" never received Salvador to work on the planes. Ha- come a key military air strip in the any phone calla from the safe house, senfus said the company also ar- area' Last year, the administration re- ranged his round-trip ticket to EI Critics question whether the pulsed a congreaiorul effort to find Salvador when he began work in Ju- surge in military contracts to out more about North's role as a li- ly. Southern Air and recent expansion aiaon to the contras. But Kress has said Southern Air of the company is tied to the in- :The administration was also auc- did not own or operate the downed creased U.S. involvement in Cen- cessful this year in persuading Con- plane or the other C 123K. He said tral America. grew to eliminate the two-year ban the company was simply performin Although the company received on military assistance to the contras work for a customer whose identitg cargo contracts from the Air Force and to provide $100 million in aid, y between 1960 and 1973-the pe- he declined to disclose, rind that it was owned by the CiA- including $70 million for military Southern Air was purchased by Southern Air did not receive any activities. Last month, Reagan the CIA in 1960 to provide support contracts between 1973 and 1983, livery f the a d totthe contras and to Air America and another CIA- according to the Air Force spokes- owned airline in the Far East, ac- man. allows the CIA, the State Depart- cording to former CiA general meat and other U.S. agencies to re- counsel Lawrence R. Houston. The spokesman did not know the sumo direct assistance to the reb? The downed plane was purchased date when the contracts were re- els. in March with a check issued b gamed in 1983. y Among the other aspects of the According to information from Southern Air, according to a source operation that remain mysterious records retrieved from the downed familiar with the transaction. Kress, are: plane and captured crewman Eu- while not verifying that account, ~ The supply network's use of a gene Hasenfus, the plane's pilot, said recently that Southern Air Honduran air base at Aguagate, an William J. Cooper, began setting up could have done so on behalf of a airport rebuilt several years ago by the resupply network last February. customer. U.S. military engineers that has be? Operating under the name "Corpor- Southern Air also was hired to fly come a contra supply base, and of ate Air Service Inc.," Cooper a said several flights of nonlethal U.S. aid the Salvadoran air base at Ilopongo, to; have recruited about 14 pilots to the contras, which company and where U.S. military personnel op? and crewmen and aaaembkd a fleet U.S. officials said was separate erase. of. five airplanes, including two from its work on the weapons re- Critics question how the su 1 C123K cargo planes that sell fpr supply operation. A Southern Air network could get access to both several hundred thousand dollars crewman on at lent two of the non- bases without U.S. knowledge and apiece. letha/ aid flights was Sawyer, who, approval of the operation. Both Hasenfus and Cooper, as according to Kress, worked for ? The visit of Col. James Steele, well as several other members of Southern Air until last April. head of the U.S. militar the operation, had worked together While State Department officials Salvador, to Hasenfus' Iginup m EI during the Vietnam war as employ- said Southern Air was not hired di- ters to complain about high eele- es of the CIA-owned airline Air redly by the U.S. government for phone bills and raucous behavior in America. the nonlethal ald flights, Southern San Salvador restaurants by mem- Air was retained by the U.S. Air hers of the supply network. Coptinuod Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/03/08 :CIA-RDP90-009658000402950017-7 Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/03/08 :CIA-RDP90-009658000402950017-7 United Press International re- ported last month that a reliable source confirmed that Steele went to the safe house but said he had nothing to do with directing the op- eration. "Steele went in beaux his feeling was that whatever was go- ing on would reflect negatively on the U.S. government mission in El Salvador;' the source told UPI. ^ The possible role in setting up and financing the operation by Rich- ard V. Secord, a retired Air Force major general and former assistant secretary of defenx. Secord last month denied reports that he was a point man in raising Saudi Arabian money for the con- tras. Salvadoran telephone records for the safe houxa uxd in the supply network show that xveral calls were placed to Secord'a home and business last summer. Secord has been quoted as saying he advised the rebels on "how they ought to design their efforts ... but I am not commanding the contra air force. if I were, I'd be down there." ^ The allegation by the Sandinistas that one of two ex?CiA operatives who helped coordinate the flights in El Salvador and who went by the name "Ramon Medina" was Luis Po- sada Carrilea a fugitive suspected u a~6-n tern riat. Poaada escaped from a Ven:uelan jail in August 1986 where he had been held on charges stemming from the 1978 bombing of a Cuban airlines flight, in which ?3 persona were killed. Salvadoran phone records from the sate houses show that at least one phone call was made to Poaa- da's wife in Miami. She confirmed recently that her husband called her from abroad several times in recent months without identltying his lo- cation. Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/03/08 :CIA-RDP90-009658000402950017-7