Compiled from public sources, including Covert Action and
On March 23, 2001 former Vietnam-era covert operative and Contra-era figure Richard Armitage was confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State. He had previously been investigated by President Reagan's Commission on Organized Crime (1984) for alleged links to gambling and prostitution was totally ignored by the major American media.
Armitage, who was denied a 1989 appointment as Assistant Secretary of State because of links to Iran-Contra and other scandals, served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in the Reagan years. U.S. Government stipulations in the Oliver North trial specifically named Armitage as one of the DoD officials responsible for illegal transfers of weapons to Iran and the Contras. But Armitage's dirty past goes much deeper.
A Vietnam veteran and graduate of Annapolis, Armitage's roots have been thoroughly intertwined with the likes of CIA veteran Ted Shackley, Richard Secord, Heine Aderholt, Elliot Abrams, Dewey Clarridge, Edwin Wilson and Tom Clines. All of these men have been directly linked to CIA covert operations, the drug trade, the abandonment of U.S. prisoners of War after Vietnam and/or Iran-Contra. Armitage has also been routinely discussed in FTW as a Bush-era covert functionary who has been linked to covert operations, drug smuggling and the expansion of organized crime operations in Russia, Central Asia and the Far East.
In 1986 a private dispute between POW activist Ross Perot and Armitage went public as photos of Armitage with a topless Vietnamese nightclub owner Nguyen O'Rourke brought allegations of gambling and prostitution very close to Armitage's doorstep. The stories went public when TIME and "The Boston Globe" wrote lengthy stories on the feud in 1986 and 1987. That scandal arose as a result of 1984 investigations by President Reagan's Commission on Organized Crime in which the photo and documentation of gambling charges and prostitution led directly to Armitage's close association with O'Rourke. Then LAPD Assistant Chief Jesse Brewer, a former Commanding Officer of this writer, served on the Reagan Commission.
The 1992 best-seller "Kiss The Boys Goodbye" by former "60 MINUTES" producer Monika Jensen-Stevenson details Armitage's role as Reagan point man on Vietnam POW-MIA issues and describes why Armitage has earned the enmity of many POW activists. However, in a 1995 interview with "The Washington Post", Colin Powell referred to Armitage as his "white son." This, notwithstanding the fact that the 6 foot, balding, power-lifter, now 56, can still bench press 300 or more pounds and reportedly "enjoys killing."
William Tyree, Special Forces Veteran who has provided much reliable information and documentation to FTW in the past said, "Armitage used to 'sit ambush' on the trails in Laos and Cambodia. He liked it. Now when Powell, 'the dove,' sits down at a table with Armitage 'the killer' beside him the message will be that Armitage can reach across the table and deal with the other party on the spot." That message will not go unheard.
ARMITAGE SNEAKS IN: SEVENTEEN PARAGRAPHS into a story on Bush's retention of CIA director George Tenet, the NY Times quietly drops a bombshell, "Meanwhile, Gen. Colin L. Powell, Mr. Bush's choice to be secretary of state, has selected Richard Armitage, his close friend and a former Pentagon official, to be the deputy secretary, two Republicans close to the Bush transition team said. Mr. Armitage was initially a front-runner for deputy at the Defense Department, and resisted entreaties to work for General Powell, fearing it might interfere with their friendship. But the general has prevailed upon Mr. Armitage to join him at the State Department, associates said."
Meanwhile, indeed. Nothing - not even Ashcroft - raises so many warning flags about the intentions of the Bush administration than does the resurrection of this veteran of some of the sleaziest and most corrupt periods of American foreign policy, including the CIA-drug trade love fest in SE Asia and the Iran-Contra scandal. If we had a press and a Democratic Party worthy of their names, the Armitage appointment would be major news. Here, for starters, are some reasons why:
OLIVER NORTH, "UNDER FIRE:" [William] Casey handed [Robert] McFarlane a sheet of paper on which he had outlined plans for a new CIA anti-terrorism unit . . . [it] officially sanctioned a secret entity with a mandate to coordinate our government's response to international terrorism - preemptively if possible, retroactively if necessary. I became its first chairman . . . My associates on the Task Force included Noel Koch (and later Richard Armitage) from Defense, Dewey Clarridge and Charlie Allen from the CIA, Buck Revell and Wayne Gilbert from the FBI, Bob Oakley from State, and Art Moreau (and later General Jack Moellering) from the Joint Chiefs of Staff"
INDEPENDENT COUNSEL'S REPORT ON IRAN CONTRA: Director Casey's unswerving support of President Reagan's contra policies and of the Iran arms sales encouraged some CIA officials to go beyond legal restrictions in both operations. Casey was instrumental in pairing North with [Richard] Secord as a contra-support team when the Boland Amendment in October 1984 forced the CIA to refrain from direct or indirect aid. He also supported the North-Secord combination in the Iran arms sales, despite deep reservations about Secord within the CIA hierarchy. Casey's position on the contras prompted the chief of the CIA's Central American Task Force, Alan D. Fiers, Jr., to "dovetail" CIA activities with those of North's contra-resupply network, in violation of Boland restrictions. Casey's support for the NSC to direct the Iran arms sales and to use arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar and Secord in the operation, forced the CIA's Directorate of Operations to work with people it distrusted . . . Contrary to their testimony to the presidentially appointed Tower Commission and the Select Iran/contra Committees of Congress, Independent Counsel determined that Secretary Weinberger and his closest aides were consistently informed of proposed and actual arms shipments to Iran during 1985 and 1986 . . . The notes demonstrated that Weinberger's early testimony that he had only vague and generalized information about Iran arms sales in 1985 was false, and that he in fact had detailed information on the proposed arms sales and the actual deliveries. The notes also revealed that Gen. Colin Powell, Weinberger's senior military aide, and Richard L. Armitage, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, also had detailed knowledge of the 1985 shipments from Israeli stocks. Armitage and Powell had testified that they did not learn of the November 1985 HAWK missile shipment until 1986 . . . There was little evidence that Powell's early testimony regarding the 1985 shipments and Weinberger's notes was willfully false. Powell cooperated with the various Iran/contra investigations and, when his recollection was refreshed by Weinberger's notes, he readily conceded their accuracy. Independent Counsel declined to prosecute Armitage because the OIC's limited resources were focused on the case against Weinberger and because the evidence against Armitage, while substantial, did not reach the threshold of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
US STIPULATION IN OLIVER NORTH TRIAL: Stipulation 61 - In late March 1985, North advised McFarlane that the initial deliveries of US arms from DoD to Honduras had gone well. The Honduran government had expressed its gratitude through those who were supporting the Resistance. North proposed that McFarlane ask Secretary of Defense Weinberger to convey President Reagan's and McFarlane's thanks to DoD personnel who had effected the expedited procurement for the Honduran government, including Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage and General Gast . . . Stipulation 92 - In late March 1986, Elliott Abrams offered Honduran President Azcona immediate additional security assistance. LtCol North prepared a memorandum from Admiral Poindexter to President Reagan (with copies to Vice President Bush and Chief of Staff Regan) describing the results of Abrams' discussions with Azcona . . . The Honduran army and navy specifically requested a sophisticated ground-to-air missile on the ground that the US had already furnished such weapons to the Resistance. The total cost for the items ultimately agreed upon was approximately 20 million. Among [sic] of the additional assistance to Honduras (in addition to President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Regan, and Admiral Poindexter) were LtGen Gast (Director of DSAA), Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Nestor Sanchez.
BO GRITZ: [Gritz, a colorful figure upon whom the character of Rambo was partly based, is the most decorated Green Beret commander of the Vietnam era] What I want to tell you very quickly is something that I feel is more heinous than the Bataan death march . . . What I'm talking about is something we found out in Burma - May 1987. We found it out from a man named Khun Sa. He is the recognized overlord of heroin in the world . . . On video tape he said to us something that was most astounding: that US government officials have been and are now his biggest customers, and have been for the last twenty years. I wouldn't believe him . . . We ran the war in Laos and Cambodia through drugs. The money that would not be appropriated by a liberal congress, was appropriated. And you know who we used for distribution? Santos Trafficante, old friend of the CIA and mobster out of Cuba and Florida . . . Fifty-eight-thousand Americans were killed. Seventy-thousand became drug casualties. In the sixties and seventies you saw an infusion of drugs into America like never was before.
PROJECT PHOENIX: Several figures -- including Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines and Richard Armitage - later associated with the Iran Contra scandal were involved in Project Phoenix, which was financed in part with opium money. It has been alleged that the close relationship with SE Asian drug dealers continued after the US withdrawal from Vietnam, with Iran used as a conduit for drugs and money. It has also been reported that, as a sequel to Project Phoenix, an off-the-books assassination program was established in Iran.
RALPH MCGEHEE: [Ralph McGehee is a former CIA officer who has exposed agency wrongdoing]The Phoenix or Phuong Hoang Operation was originally designed to "neutralize," that is assassinate or imprison, members of the civilian infrastructure of the [Vietnamese] National Liberation Front. Phoenix offices were set up from Saigon down to the district level. Their functions were to: (1) collate intelligence about the "Vietcong Infrastructure"; (2) interrogate civilians picked up at random by military units carrying out sweeps through villages; (3) "neutralize" targeted members of the NLF . . . The original Phoenix concept was quickly diluted, for two main reasons: (1) pressure from the top to fill numerical quotas of person to be neutralized; (2) difficulties at the bottom of identifying NLF civilian infrastructure, who were often indistinguishable from the general population, and the near impossibility of proving anyone membership in the NLF. The result was vastly to increase the numbers of innocent persons rounded up and imprisoned, indiscriminately murdered, and brutally tortured in an effort to show results . . . Between 1968 and 1972 hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians were rounded up and turned over to the Vietnamese police for questioning. Such interrogation has usually been marked by brutal torture.
AFTER THE WAR: At the end of 1975, Armitage became as a special consultant to the Department of Defense, working out of Bangkok and dealing with unrepatriated prisoners and the missing in action. Armitage also started a mysterious business called the Far East Trading Company. Meanwhile, from 1976 to 1979 in Iran, Richard Secord was supervising the sale of US military aircraft and weapons to Middle Eastern nations. During this same period, there are reports that Shackley, Clines, Secord, and Armitage set up several curious corporations and subsidiaries around the world including Lake Resources, Stanford Technology Trading Group, Companie de Services Fiduciaria, CSF Investments and Udall Research Corporation.
ARMITAGE AND POWELL: Powell and Armitage apparently met first in 1981, and later, when Powell served as chairman of the joint chiefs, "they started to call each other daily to share information and bounce ideas off each other," according to a 1993 profile in USA Weekend. "They have become sounding boards for just about anything the other guy wants to discuss. Often they talk, if only briefly, two or three times a day." Newsweek reported that Armitage "may be Powell's closest friend."
ARMITAGE AND ROSS PEROT: Perot and Armitage met in 1986, when Armitage was working on the POW-MIA issue. Perot, bothered by problems with the POW program as well as reports of Armitage's involvement with drug traffickers, urged Armitage to resign. Armitage told the St. Louis Post Dispatch, "I found out he was putting his mouth on me, and I asked him to come to my office." Armitage told Perot that federally investigators had cleared him. Perot went to see President Bush who said it was a matter for the FBI. Perot then met with FBI Director William Webster and subordinates, pointing out, among other things, that Armitage had given a character reference for a Vietnamese woman convicted of conducting a major illegal gambling operation in Arlington, Virginia. Bush nominated Armitage to be Secretary of the Army in 1989 but Armitage withdrew before the confirmation hearing following reports that Perot and veteran organizes were gearing up to oppose him. Syndicated columnist Jack Anderson reported in 1986 that the President's Commission on Organized Crime had questioned Armitage about his relationship with the Vietnamese refugee. Powell sided with Armitage on the issue.
[The pro-CIA Time Magazine rises to Armitage's defense]
GEORGE J. CHURCH, TIME MAGAZINE, 1987: Among the targets of Perot's current probe are some whose names have surfaced in connection with Iranscam. He has been looking into the alleged links between ex-CIA agents Thomas Clines and Theodore Shackley, retired Generals Richard Secord and John Singlaub, Iranian born Businessman Albert Hakim and other former and present Government officials going back to the early 1960's. "I think we'll conclude that Admiral Poindexter and Colonel North were bit players," he told the Washington Post, "and the major characters were people who were in the weapons business for years, some of whom had CIA connections." A far more curious target is Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Armitage, a man widely respected for his integrity and effectiveness. After his appointment in 1981, Armitage began working in Southeast Asia to track down reports of MIAs in Viet-Nam; Perot suspected him of not doing enough. Last October, Perot met with Armitage at the Pentagon and bluntly demanded that he resign. Perot's stated reason was that Armitage had written, on Pentagon stationery, a glowing character reference for a Vietnamese woman refugee, Nguyet Thi O'Rourke, who had been convicted of running a gambling operation in Virginia. Armitage later conceded that using Pentagon stationery had been "dumb", but not illegal or improper. At the meeting, Armitage vigorously denied any implication that he had anything to do with an illicit arms or drug network . . . Lately, Perot and his investigators have been interviewing people who have also been questioned by the Christic Institute, a Washington public interest law firm. Christic last year filed a suit in Miami against Clines, Shackley, Secord, Singlaub, Hakim and 24 others; Armitage is mentioned several times but is not a defendant. The suit charges that some of the defendants became involved in drug smuggling from Southeast Asia in the early 1960's and later in a series of shady weapons deals around the world, using the profits to finance covert anti-Communist activities. But the lawsuit's allegations, many of which are inaccurate or based on false assumptions, are a shaky foundation on which to base an investigation. Armitage calls the suit "malicious" and has a four-page list of factual refutations. For example, an affidavit filed by the Christic Institute's attorney claims that Armitage was in Bangkok setting up a company that allegedly served as a front for the movement of opium money during a period in the late 1970's; part of that time he was actually living in Washington and working as administrative assistant to Senator Robert Dole.
ARMITAGE AND BURMA: UNOCAL is the leading American investor in Myanmar, a target of widespread sanctions and boycotts for its repressive regime. In 1997 Richard Armitage reportedly went to Burma on a trip sponsored by the Burma/Myanmar Forum, a Washington group with major funding from UNOCAL.
QUESTIONS NEEDING ANSWERS: Before Richard Armitage holds another public office, we need the answers to a few questions such as:
- What exactly was his role in the disastrous, deadly, and deeply corrupt CIA arrangements with the SE drug trade?
- What is in Lawrence Walsh's files concerning Armitage's involvement in Iran Contra?
- What is in Ross Perot's files concerning Armitage and what is Armitage's response?
- Do the files of the Kerry committee that investigated Iran Contra shed any light on Armitage's role?
- What was the nature of the various business enterprises with which Armitage has been affiliated?