I have only a few of these “syndicated” (ripped off!) pieces to go before I jump back in as the writer here. That being the case, I'll post several in one setting, and speed up the process, m'kay?
The first is recent, an article remembering one of the legends of the shadows. I knew a little of Zvika, like the Eichmann capture and the Epyptian conference, but I didn't know the turtle story.
Malchin was the greatest undercover agent of his generation — maybe ever.
Peter Malchin — Zvika to his friends — has left us, having died in a New York City rehabilitation center following a serious blood infection. He couldn't have just closed his eyes and left. Zvika never did anything the way normal people do. He was an utterly extraordinary person who did extraordinary things that hardly anybody noticed because Zvika was the grand master at making sure nobody noticed him. Most of the time, nobody even saw him.
That is how he became the greatest undercover agent of his generation, and perhaps the greatest ever. I don't know anyone whose skills were at once so diverse and so sharply honed, but he was never satisfied with those skills, nor with his own mastery of so much of modern life. He never stopped analyzing problems most of us thought we understood, and a conversation with Zvika was like jumping into an intellectual and emotional tornado. Nobody could maintain that intensity, and he found solace in painting, at which he excelled.
His most celebrated accomplishment was the capture of Adolph Eichmann in Buenos Aires. He was the invisible man who came up to the Nazi murderer on Garibaldi Street and whispered, "Un momentito, senor," and — his hands encased in gloves to avoid having to actually touch the monster — took him away. During the interrogation of Eichmann, awaiting the proper moment to fly him to his doom in Israel, Zvika started to sketch the captive on a map, and those sketches were subsequently framed and displayed around the world.
But Zvika's real ability, his great genius I would say, was not simply carrying out dangerous operations. Many have done that. Zvika was utterly unique in penetrating to the heart of intelligence problems, from the security of buildings to the seemingly incomprehensible mysteries of counter-intelligence. It is said that he organized the capture of nearly thirty Soviet agents in Israel, and I once asked him how he tracked them down. "I didn't track them at all," he chuckled. "I just asked myself, if I were a Russian spy, where would I be right now? And once I had that answer, I went there and waited for him. It wasn't hard to spot the guy."
Zvika was unparalleled at getting inside others' minds, just as he was unmatched at breaking into buildings. The Israelis used him to check their own security. Once they thought they had made a building or an office impenetrable, Zvika was ordered to break in, and he invariably did it. Then they made it Zvika-safe, and they figured that was the best any human beings could do. Back in the '50s, when the Singaporeans got Israeli help in setting up their intelligence and security services, Zvika went down to see what they had done. To his surprise, he found that a single building housed both the defense ministry and the intelligence service, and he suggested that wasn't very smart. "Once someone gets in he'll get both the defense and the intelligence secrets," he observed. The Singaporeans weren't convinced. They thought it was easier to secure one installation than two, and the head of the intelligence service balked at separating the two. This man's prize possession was a carved turtle, which he locked in his safe every night. Shortly after his conversation with Zvika, the intelligence chief came to his office early one morning and unlocked the safe. The turtle was gone, and there was a note in the safe: "Nothing is really secure, not even a turtle."
My favorite Zvika story had to do with Egypt. The Mossad was determined to place listening devices in Nasser's conference room, so that Israel could be privy to discussions at the highest level of the Egyptian regime. Zvika got into the room during the long lunchtime break and crawled under the table — which was covered with a very large cloth that hung down to the floor — to place the bug. As he was finishing, he heard people entering the room, and he remained under the table during the meeting. "The big problem was to watch those feet and figure out which one was getting ready to move." God only knows how he managed it. Afterwards, back in Israel, he delivered a typically wry after-action report: "The manual is incomplete. We only tell how to break in, but we have to add a chapter on breaking out. Sometimes quickly."
Later in life, disgusted with what he considered the excessively heavy-handed methods adopted by the Israeli internal security people and contemptuous of the quality of his successors, Zvika moved to New York City and spent most of his time painting and lecturing. From time to time he would help track down some of our monsters, of which Robert Morgenthau has spoken, and Uri Dan has written.
As befit a person who wished to remain invisible, he was a very quiet man. He spoke in a gravelly whisper that you sometimes had to strain to hear. But it was worth the effort, for he was an inspiration, especially to young people. He managed to explain to them that life was very difficult, and sometimes terrible — much of his family was killed by the Nazis in Poland. But with all that, he would say, one had to shoulder life's burdens and fight for life.
As befit the paradigmatic outsider, Zvika was not much sought after by the modern practitioners of his intelligence skills. Even after 9/11, official Washington shied away from him, although the unworthy officials of our various failed agencies could have learned a great deal from him. And until one of his friends insisted, not even the Holocaust Museum thought to honor him, or even to have him tell his story to a generation that badly needed to hear it. When he finally came, the room was packed, and nobody who was there that day will ever forget it.
Like almost all of the survivors of the Nazi horrors, he was a tortured soul, and his anguish was intensified by the need to keep secret most of the activities of his adult life. Many of his activities will remain unknown for a long time, maybe even forever, and he would approve of that. His own mother only learned of Zvika's capture of Eichmann on her deathbed. But the glory of the man himself — from his art to his personal wisdom — that we know, and we cherish it, and we will miss it. And we will say the Kaddish for him with all our hearts.
Michael Ledeen, is an NRO contributing editor.
I'm currently reading the latest book from Tom Clancy's command study books, you know, the ones with the generals and the ghostwriter doing most of the work? Yeah, I'm reading Battle Ready, the Tony Zinni book. I just finished his Vietnam experience, and there is a lot of book left.
When the book came out, I remember being turned off by Clancy and Zinni's contrivance to generate publicity. You know, being “outspoken” about the war? Why would I consider those statements “bad?” Because, it was my believe they were just trying to sell extra hardcovers, because they just don't have the “peacenik” temperament.
If you remember, the two of them appeared on Fox's equivalent of CNN's Crossfire, Hannity and Colmes, and were... unresponsive. Hannity, the righty, pressed Zinni to explain a comment he made about “neocons taking over the Pentagon,” and what was the general's response?
“Just read the book.”
Hannity was persistent (if you've seen him on air, he was extra adversarial then).
“Well,” he said (I'm paraphrasing), “if you would just read the book. The answers are in the book.”
So that was the seed of my merchandise theory: cable news doesn't have a bias or a slant; what they're really after is selling books. If a guest shows up, he/she's pushing a book. They same holds with talk and late night comedy. If you see Lynne Chaney, she's not relaying news about policy, she's pushing a book.
Do you want to know why the president doesn't make more press conferences? He's busy writing his book! (Presidents never hire ghostwriters, ask Bill Clinton.)
Here's the excerpt from Battle Ready:
THE TOMAHAWKS WERE SPINNING up in their tubes.
It was November 12, 1998. U.S. Marine General Tony Zinni, the commander in chief of United States Central Command (CENTCOM), was standing in his command room overlooking the command center at CENTCOM's Tampa, Florida, headquarters, leading the preparations for what promised to be the most devastating attack on Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War.
The spacious command center was fitted out with desks, phones, computers, maps, and large and small screens showing updates and the positions of aircraft and ships. In addition to the usual office-type furnishings, the windowed room had secure phones and video communications with Zinni's superiors and his commanders in the field. It was Zinni's battle position-the bridge of his ship.
At the end of the First Gulf War, Iraq had agreed to the UN-supervised destruction of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and the programs to develop and build them. That agreement had been a lie. The Saddam Hussein regime had never intended to give up its WMD program, and for the next seven years it had conducted a running battle with UNSCOM, the UN inspection operation in Iraq, to protect its programs in any way possible . . . by hiding them, moving them around, lying, stonewalling, delay, and noncooperation.
The two essential issues covered by the UN mandate were compliance and accountability. That is, the inspectors had to ask and get satisfactory answers to these questions: "Are the Iraqis in compliance with the UN requirement to destroy their WMD and completely dismantle their WMD programs? And are they satisfactorily accounting for the programs and WMD they claim to have destroyed?" The absence of Iraqi cooperation on both of these issues led UNSCOM to make the obvious assumption that the Iraqis were hiding something-either that the weapons still existed or that the Iraqis at least wanted to maintain their capability to make them. UNSCOM had to look hard at the worst case.*
When UNSCOM had persisted in carrying out the UN mandate, the Iraqis had raised the stakes-by making it ever harder for UNSCOM to do its job. There had been greater and greater threats and intimidation, lies, obstruction, and hostility . . . allied with a diplomatic assault aimed at splitting off powerful states friendly to Iraq (principally France, Russia, and China) from the rest of the Security Council and using their support to sabotage the disarmament effort.
With each Iraqi escalation came a counterthreat from the United States: "If UNSCOM is forced to leave Iraq with their work unfinished, the U.S. will hit Iraq and hit it hard." The threat caught the Iraqis' attention. As each escalation neared its climax, and the inspectors started to pull out of the country, the Saddam Hussein regime blinked, backed down, and let them return-though each time with fewer teeth.
But now it looked like the Iraqis were not going to blink. The day before, November 11, the UN inspection teams had left once again, apparently for good. As they left, President Clinton had given Zinni the signal to go. The twenty-four-hour launch clock had started.
Zinni knew the moment was approaching for the cruise missile launch-the moment of truth. These weren't airplanes. Once the Tomahawks were in the air, they could not be recalled.
Before him was an open line to the White House, where the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) vice-chairman, Air Force General Joe Ralston, was sitting. Before him, too, was another line to his Navy component commander, Vice Admiral Willy Moore, in Bahrain. Moore was in constant communications with the eight ships that would launch the initial cruise missile salvo. The clock ticked on.
The twenty-four hours passed. Zinni had told the President that the strike could be stopped at any moment up to six hours before the bombs were scheduled to hit. That was the drop-dead time for a no-go decision. As it happened, he had built in fifteen minutes of fudge time as a safety margin.
But the no-go deadline had passed. And so had Zinni's fifteen minutes of fudge time.
He took a deep breath-and then the line from the White House lit up: Saddam was backing down again. He'd agreed to UNSCOM's demands.
General Ralston's voice came down the wire: "It's a no-go. Don't shoot," he told Zinni. "Do we have any time left? Is it okay?"
Zinni honestly didn't know. All he could do was grab the phone and call Willy Moore. . . .
FOR ZINNI, this story had begun fifteen months before, on August 13, 1997, when he'd been appointed the sixth CINC (commander in chief) of CENTCOM.*
As commander, Zinni watched over a vast region including most of the Middle East, East Africa, and Southwest and Central Asia. His challenges were legion: the delicate, complex relationships with his regional allies; the rising threat of terrorism, led by the not yet world-famous Osama bin Laden; the growing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; the chronic problems of failed or incapable states, civil wars, border disputes, and criminal activities such as drug trafficking and smuggling; and the difficult task of containing the two regional hegemons, Iran and Iraq.
Though he would have preferred a balanced approach to all the regional issues rather than having to concentrate his energies and CENTCOM's capabilities on America's obsession with Saddam Hussein, by far Zinni's biggest challenge proved to be enforcing the UN-imposed post-Gulf War sanctions on Saddam's regime. In his view, Saddam could be contained and marginalized; making him the issue only gave him more clout and distracted the U.S. from more important regional issues, such as the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Iran, terrorism, and the building of security relationships.
Not long after he became CINC, he proposed a six-point strategic program to William Cohen, President Clinton's Secretary of Defense, aimed at this more balanced approach. After a polite hearing with Cohen and a session with the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders and the Speaker of the House, Zinni was told to stay out of policy and to stick to execution. "Yes, sir," he said-always a good Marine.
Meanwhile, the magnitude of the Iraq problem was once again brought home only five days after he took command, at an extended meeting at CENTCOM headquarters with Ambassador Richard Butler, the new head of UNSCOM. CENTCOM provided support for UNSCOM with UN-supervised U-2 flights over Iraq.
Zinni was already familiar with these missions. Before his appointment as commander, he had, as General Peay's deputy, coordinated the CENTCOM support missions with Butler's predecessor, Rolf Ekeus.
On the face of it, UNSCOM's mandate was straightforward. UN Resolution 687, which set up UNSCOM (and which Iraq had accepted and agreed to support), had directed Iraq to "destroy, remove, or render harmless" its WMD and any missiles with a range greater than 150 kilometers. This process was to have three stages: Iraq would declare its WMD and missiles, UNSCOM would verify the declaration as accurate, and then together UNSCOM and the Iraqis would destroy them.
The Iraqis had given Ekeus a hard time; but his problems were nothing compared with the obstacles they were already putting in the way of his successor. Iraqi efforts to conceal their WMD programs-their "hideous charade," in Butler's words-were to have dramatic consequences for Tony Zinni.
THOUGH TONY ZINNI did not look like a recruiting poster, he was instantly recognizable as a Marine. He was slightly under medium height, solidly built, barrel-chested, with dark hair cut in the jarhead Marine fashion-very short with shaved back and sides. His look was normally intent, thoughtful, direct, and friendly; laughter came easily to him; and he had the social openness, warmth, and common touch that came from long exposure to all kinds and varieties of people. Hardened by a lifetime of military service-and most especially by Vietnam, which had radically changed him-tough decisions didn't faze him.
Before becoming the head of UNSCOM, Richard Butler had been the Australian ambassador to the UN, with considerable expertise in arms control and WMD issues. Like Zinni, he came out of a working-class urban Catholic background (Zinni grew up in Philadelphia, Butler in Sydney); and, like Zinni, he was a burly, physically imposing man, friendly, direct, outspoken, and tough.
Not surprisingly, the two men connected easily. Both men listened well and were not reluctant to express their views.
Butler's first words to Zinni made it clear that he would not play favorites. He'd call the pitches as he saw them. But a successful outcome to the inspections was all up to the Iraqis. If they opened up and came clean with their missiles and WMD, he would give them a clean bill of health, and they'd get their reward-the lifting of the draconian sanctions imposed as a consequence of their invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
So far they had shown zero inclination to come clean-anything but-while crying crocodile tears over their fellow Iraqis, who were enduring the terrible sanctions imposed by the American Satan. (Saddam's henchmen, meanwhile, lived royally in palaces.)
When it came down to the naked truth, Saddam's regime was far more interested in keeping their WMD and missile programs than in lifting the sanctions. Yet if they could get the sanctions removed while keeping their WMD, all the better.
Butler had no illusions about the other players in this high-stakes game, either: he was well aware that the Americans had their own agenda-not to mention the UN bureaucracy, the French, the Russians, the Chinese, and everyone else with a stake in what went on inside the nation with the world's second-largest proven oil reserves . . . a nation whose government was arguably the most repressive since Stalin's USSR.
The Iraqis, well aware of these agendas, played everyone off against each other, trying various gambits aimed at ending or at least weakening UNSCOM-from conning Butler, to putting a wedge in the Security Council, to appealing to the Secretary-General for a diplomatic solution (meaning a diplomatic surrender to Iraq). The Iraqis rightly believed that the French, Russians, and Chinese would stand to gain if the sanctions were removed; but their backing had conditions. It had to be covered over by a mask of support for the previous resolutions calling for disarmament. The Iraqis also rightly believed that the Secretary-General and his staff were hopeful of attaining a "diplomatic solution," even if that meant sacrificing the Security Council's goal of achieving Iraqi disarmament.
The U.S. agenda was even more subtle and complex. The Americans were increasingly coming to understand that disarmament would never happen with Saddam in power. It was therefore not in their interest for the Iraqis to be seen to comply with UN directives and thus to have the sanctions lifted. In the American view, if Saddam appeared to comply with the inspectors, seemed to meet the conditions set by the UN resolution, and was given a clean bill of health, then he would no doubt restart the WMD programs he had not successfully protected from inspection.
As time passed, the Americans' goal for Iraq shifted from the WMD-sanctions equation to regime change-a goal they could not openly advocate because of the UN resolutions they had backed. Yet it was clear they had no intention of dropping the sanctions as long as Saddam Hussein's regime ran Iraq.
The American policy shift did not make Richard Butler's job any easier. It obviously meant there was no motivation for Saddam to comply with the UN conditions. If the regime and not the WMD was the issue, then there was no reason for them not to keep the WMD programs. . . . Of course, that was an excuse and not a reason. Saddam intended to keep his programs no matter what.
OVER THE next months, the Iraqis did their best to scam Butler. The scam didn't work. As they realized he was not a pushover-and was becoming increasingly exasperated by their lies and tricks-they ratcheted up the stakes with attempts at intimidation. By the end of October 1997, they were putting more and more obstacles in the way of the UNSCOM inspectors, and making serious and quite naked threats. At this point, they had two immediate goals: to protect several key sites they had designated "presidential"; and to remove anything "American" from the inspection process, including the U-2 flights. (Of the approximately one thousand UNSCOM inspection staff, about a quarter were American.)
Meanwhile, the Iraqi failure to cooperate had provoked CENTCOM contingency plans for retaliatory air strikes. Though there had been U.S. strikes against the Iraqis before Zinni became CINC, they had been relatively limited. Zinni's strikes were intended to hurt.
The crisis came to a head in early November, when the Iraqis ordered all the American inspectors to leave Iraq and threatened to shoot down the U-2. Although hitting the high-flying aircraft would have taken a very lucky shot, it was possible.
The question: How to respond to the threat? A U-2 mission was scheduled for November 10. Obviously, an attempt to knock it out would be followed by American bombs. But was the threat alone reason enough to hit Saddam?
That was Zinni's position. He did not favor flying the mission, preferring instead to strike Iraq immediately (based on the threat), or else to punish them in other ways, such as increasing the airspace in the no-fly zone/no-drive zone enforcement area.*
But Washington thought otherwise. Their decision was to fly the U-2; and Zinni was ordered to be prepared to conduct immediate air and missile attacks on Iraq if the plane was fired upon. In preparation for the strike, he flew out to the friendly countries in the Gulf to secure agreements to use their airspace, bases, and territorial waters for the strike-a round of visits he would make several times as head of CENTCOM.
On the way, he visited the U-2 pilots at their base in Saudi Arabia. There he learned that the squadron commander had decided to fly the flight himself, an act that impressed Zinni, who later awarded him an air medal for flying into the engagement zones of hostile Iraqi surface-to-air missiles.
Getting agreement from the friendly leaders in the region was not automatic. They were nervous about the strike. Though none had any illusions about the Iraqi leader, they all had a great deal of sympathy for the long-suffering Iraqi people-Arabs, just as they were. A solution that did nothing for the Iraqi people made no sense to them. Thus they all backed an attack that would remove Saddam, but in their minds, yet another round of "pinprick" bombings only made him stronger.
In the end, however, they agreed to a strike if the U-2 was fired upon. Despite their serious questions about the benefits of the U.S. air strikes, they always came through with their support (contrary to U.S. media reports), but preferred to keep the extent of their support private.
The U-2 flew as scheduled on November 10. During the flight, Zinni sat with senior Saudi leaders in the Saudi Ministry of Defense in Riyadh, but in direct communication with CENTCOM's air operations center, ready to give the order to strike at the first indication that the plane was threatened.
As had often happened before, Saddam's threat turned out to be hollow. The flight was uneventful.
On November 14, in the face of the Iraqi demand to remove the Americans, Butler evacuated the entire contingent of inspectors; but after several days of intense diplomatic activity, they were all able to return-though, once again, with less freedom to operate than before. Every "diplomatic solution" lessened UNSCOM's ability to get the disarmament job done.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi lies and threats did not stop; and over the next months, Saddam raised the stakes again and again-always probing for weaknesses, always trying to limit UNSCOM's effectiveness.
In response, CENTCOM built up forces in the region to be ready to strike if the inspectors were no longer able to do their business. This operation became known as "Desert Thunder."
In February, Secretary of Defense Cohen and Zinni conducted a four-day trip to eleven countries to gain support for a major air strike if Butler's inspectors were unable to carry out their mission. By February 17, when a confrontation with Saddam seemed imminent, President Clinton announced in a televised speech that the U.S. would act if he did not cooperate with the inspectors. Zinni briefed the President and key cabinet members on the planned strike and defense of American allies in the region.
But once again Saddam made a last-minute retreat. A February 20 visit to Baghdad by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan got an agreement from Saddam to resume cooperation with Butler; yet it was clearly only a matter of time before this cooperation would collapse.
Meanwhile, the U.S. forces that had been added to the units already in the region remained in the Gulf, poised to strike.
—from Battle Ready by Tom Clancy with General Tony Zinni (Ret.) and Tony Koltz, Copyright © 2004 C.P. Commanders, Inc., published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., all rights reserved, reprinted with permission from the publisher.
Here's one more for today. I'll rap it all up Sunday, but for now, here's a great closer:
Who killed Gerald Victor Bull?
Mystery still shrouds murder of American who helped arm Iraq
Posted: October 27, 2002
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By H.P. Albarelli Jr.
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
It was about 6:20 p.m. on a cold, dank day in Brussels, Belgium. The husky, gray-haired man had just stepped out of the elevator, walked a few paces down the hallway, and was unlocking his sixth floor apartment door when someone stepped behind him and fired three rounds from a silenced automatic into his back. The man crumpled to the concrete floor. Nobody heard the low pop of the fired bullets. But the shooter was not finished. Leaning down he fired two more rounds into the back of the man's head. When the Brussels police arrived 20 minutes later, they found the man's lifeless body lying in a widening pool of blood. The unopened door to the man's apartment still had the key in its lock. The man's briefcase appeared untouched. Police found papers, financial documents and nearly $20,000 in cash inside the case.
Astute television viewers may have noticed that many of the stock films being shown by the networks to depict Iraq's military capabilities feature images from that nation's exploits with the infamous Project Babylon. Also called Doomsday Gun, Project Babylon was the brainchild of a brilliant astrophysicist named Gerald Victor Bull. The story of Bull's life leading to his unsolved assassination in Brussels on March 22, 1990, is riddled with intrigue, the tangled story of a well-intentioned, obsessed man hopelessly caught within that all-consuming whirling vortex called intelligence and national security. In many ways, Bull's story reads like a Tom Clancy novel gone amok. It is replete with enough codenames, secret and double agents, arms dealers, exotic weapons and strange deaths to split the seams of any conspiracy pinata.
Gerald Bull, an Ontario-born United States citizen, was first contacted by the Iraqi government in 1981. Officials there told Bull that they needed his expertise to build a supergun that could be used against Iran. The Iraqis told Bull he had been highly recommended by the governments of South Africa and Austria. They also said that they were prepared to compensate him very well for his services.
Bull soon flew to Iraq and, according to several published accounts, personally met with Saddam Hussein. David Silverberg, managing editor of The Hill, says that Hussein was so taken with Bull's sales pitch that he "downed a bottle of Johnny Walker Red and called up his cronies in the middle of the night, insisting that they rush right over to hear Bull."
Others say that reports of meetings between Bull and Saddam Hussein are not true and that Bull didn't travel to Iraq until several years later. James Adams of London's Sunday Times says that Bull was approached in 1981 by notorious Florida-based arms dealer Sarkis Soghanalian, "who suggested a trip to Baghdad." Adams says that Soghanalian told Bull that "the Iraqis were interested in buying some of Bull's artillery" and that Bull "traveled with Soghanalian to Baghdad where the two men met with the Iraqi defense minister."
Soghanalian is said to have first entered the arms business full-time after he made millions providing the Christian militias in Lebanon with weapons at the request of the CIA. In late 1998, Soghanalian brokered a CIA-sanctioned arms sale to the Peruvian military that resulted in 50,000 surplus AK-47s being diverted to narco-guerrillas in Columbia.
How Bull knew Soghanalian to begin with is not clear. Former State Department officials say that he didn't and that Soghanalian made a "cold approach" to Bull at the request of the Iraqis. Adams writes that "Bull was nervous about getting involved with Soghanalian, whom he considered to be a shady character" and that Bull soon "decided to sever all connections with him." Former intelligence officials confidentially report that Bull "was pretty nervous about Sarkis" but that "his (Bull's) contacts within the U.S. government assured him that Soghanalian was OK."
Despite Soghanalian's seeming largess, it appears he wasn't doing Gerald Bull any favors. Soghanalian is an ostensible fringe player in Bull's story that deserves more attention. During the 1980s, according to intelligence sources, Soghanalian routinely flew American businessmen and scientists to Iraq. Joseph J. Trento, author of "The Secret History of the CIA," says that Soghanalian also "flew Iraqi officials, including two intelligence agents, to the United States" during the 1980s.
"I flew people in and out at the CIA's request," Soghanalian told Trento. "I did it as a favor to the government. I did not ask questions." Trento reports that the Iraqi visitors traveled under phony passports.
Regardless of disagreement over details of Bull's meetings in Iraq, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein's defense ministry contracted with Bull's company, Space Research Corp., to build at least three superguns and that Saddam Hussein told Bull that it was imperative that he produce the weapons as quickly as possible. Iraq desperately needed the superguns in its sagging war with Iran.
Just days after Bull's murder, Saddam Hussein made a speech in which he said, "A Canadian citizen with U.S. nationality came to Iraq. ... He might have benefited Iraq, I don't know. They say the Iraq intelligence service is spread over Europe. But nobody spoke of human rights of the Canadian citizen of U.S. nationality. After he came to Iraq, they killed him."
According to people who knew Bull well, his passion for designing superguns began as a young boy when he became enthralled with the mammoth cannon the Germans used during World War I to bombard Paris. Variously called the Paris Gun and Lange Max, the weapon was employed for "strategic as opposed to tactical purposes," in that it was meant to strike terror into the hearts and minds of French citizens. The Paris Gun could fire a shell nearly 70 miles in 170 seconds reaching an altitude of over 20 miles. The French first became aware of the German supergun early on the morning of March 23, 1918, when, over a period of 24 hours, two dozen huge shells were fired into Paris, killing 15 people and wounding 40 others.
In 1991, a former British intelligence official reported that Bull's long-time fascination with the Paris Gun actually led to his securing the long-hidden designs for the German supergun. Bull also obtained top-secret designs on two Nazi superguns captured during World War II. One of these guns was reported to be the prototype V-3, which was destroyed by British bombers before it was fired.
Weapons experts with the Federation of American Scientists report that Bull, under the auspices of Project Babylon, "designed two advanced self-propelled artillery systems for the Iraqis." These were the 210-millimeter Al-Fao and the 155-millimeter Majnoon. The Al-Fao supergun weighed 48 tons and could fire four 109-kilogram rounds a minute for 35 miles from its 11-meter barrel at a speed of about 80 kilometers an hour. Federation of American Scientists experts also report that Bull helped Iraq increase the range of its Scud missiles.
Other reports reveal that in 1988 and 1989, Iraq, with Bull's assistance, also built a supergun called Baby Babylon, which had "an expected range of 465 miles." Baby Babylon, according to Iraqi defectors, was to be used for "long-range attacks, possibly using chemical and biological warheads." Defectors also reported that there was talk of the possibility of arming Baby Babylon shells with nuclear warheads and also using them as anti-satellite weapons. Bull was paid nearly $25 million alone for work on Baby Babylon.
Blueprints of Bull's Project Babylon publicly revealed for the first time in 1994 that one of its 350-millimeter superguns fired a 12-foot-long projectile dubbed the Babylon II, which had a 48-pound payload. Babylon II projectiles had muzzle speeds of 4,270 feet per second. Military officials in the Middle East estimate that nearly 250,000 Iranians, most of them males in either their early teens or over the age of 60, died from fierce artillery shelling during Iraq's eight-year war with Iran.
The road to Baghdad for Gerald Bull was far from being an easy one. After graduating with a PhD in aerodynamics from the University of Toronto in 1951, Bull quickly made his mark in armament history by designing a 120-foot-long supergun for the U.S. Army. Remarkably, the gun fired a projectile over 100 miles into space, but the army was under intensive financial pressures at the time due to the Vietnam War and was unable to pursue development of Bull's super-weapon.
By the 1970s, Bull was designing and marketing prototype artillery through his own company, Space Research Corp., established on 8,000 acres in rural North Troy and Jay, Vt., just inches away from the Canadian border. Townspeople in the quiet little Vermont hamlets were astounded to see representatives from South Africa, China and Iraq visiting their area for meetings at the SRC compound, which featured a large test-firing range.
Many of Bull's foreign visitors were referred to SRC by Pentagon and CIA officials stationed abroad and in Washington, D.C. According to the Washington Post, in the mid-1970s, South African government representatives were sent to SRC by U.S. Marine Major John J. Clancey III, who was part of the CIA's covert operations team in Angola. South Africa, at the time, was engaged in a war in Angola that involved Cuban forces amply armed with Soviet-made heavy artillery.
Bull's dealings with South Africa eventually landed him in jail. Under U.S. laws in the mid-1970s, American companies were forbidden to export arms to South Africa. For a brief time, Bull was able to sidestep these anti-apartheid statutes by assisting South African armament companies to develop their own weapons. His dealings with South African company ARMSCOR resulted in his arrest and guilty plea to one count of smuggling 30,000 artillery shells to South Africa through the West Indies. Despite his U.S. Army ties, combined with intense lobbying on his behalf by the CIA and the recommendation of federal prosecutors that he serve no time, Bull was sentenced to six months in jail.
Former U.S. intelligence operatives confidentially say that Bull was "double-crossed" by other international arms dealers who may have had better connections with the Army and CIA than he did. "This is a game that sometimes involves millions of dollars for simply arranging the proper shipping manifests," said one intelligence official. "When the stakes are that high you sleep with one eye open, if you sleep at all."
Bull's close CIA connections, scoffed at by some, appear quite real and convoluted. When reports of his South Africa dealings first became public, Bull quickly hired Richard Bissell as a consultant. Bissell was the CIA's former deputy director of plans. He is the man most often credited with coining the term "executive action" as a euphemism for assassination. Former CIA officials, including Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, have said that Bissell took "an abstract, detached approach to murder in the name of national security." Newsweek bureau chief Evan Thomas wrote that Gottlieb told him that Bissell had a "proclivity for technical solutions" when it came to assassinations. Bissell, as has been widely reported, was deeply involved in at least eight assassination attempts against Fidel Castro and other foreign nationals. According to former SRC associates, Bull viewed Bissell as "someone who could open difficult doors and help him keep the wolves at bay."
Besides working with Bissell, there have been reports over the past decade that Bull also had contacts with former CIA directors William E. Colby and Stansfield Turner. Turner's involvement with Bull took place in the late 1960s before he became head of the CIA. Reports have been published that Turner, then a Navy admiral, was a strong proponent for the Navy's hiring of Bull to revamp its artillery system. Colby, at the time of his alleged dealings with Bull, had left the CIA and was a lawyer and consultant aligned with several firms, including Rogovin, Stern & Huge. Like Bull, Colby died under mysterious circumstances in 1996 while on a solo canoe outing in Maryland.
Gerald Bull was not the only person connected to Iraq's weapons programs to die under mysterious circumstances. In 1980, Yahia El Meshad, the Egyptian-born head of Iraq's Atomic Energy Agency, was beaten to death in a Paris hotel room. Meshad's wallet, which contained a sizable amount of cash and numerous credit cards, was not taken from the murder scene. Whoever killed Meshad placed a "Do Not Disturb" card on his door before departing. According to the London Daily Telegraph, Meshad was murdered "one year after an Israeli sabotage team broke into a warehouse in Toulon, France, where the 'beehive' cores of two nuclear reactors destined for Iraq were stored." In 1990, the Washington Times reported, "French police kept the murder secret for four days while the Foreign Ministry reassured the Iraqis that French Intelligence was not involved."
Then in 1990, only a week before Bull was assassinated, on March 15, Iraq executed an Iranian-born British investigative journalist named Farzad Bazoft. Bazoft was hung in the Abu Ghreib prison after he and British citizen Daphne Parrish were arrested by Iraqi secret police near one of Bull's supergun sites. Bazoft was said to be in Iraq researching a story, but before his execution he allegedly wrote a confession that stated in shaky handwriting that he had been employed to go to Iraq to gather information on Gerald Bull and a chemical expert named Steve Adams. Bazoft identified his employer as "a British oil company executive with security service links," according to reports published in London newspapers shortly after his execution.
Bazoft's statement in part reads: "I was told there were two American scientists working at [a suspected chemical weapons] installation and I was asked to investigate them. The scientists were called Gerald Bull and Steven Adams, the first being a specialist in rocket science, the second a specialist in chemical weaponry. I was eager to catch Dr. Bull at the plant. I was told the installation was designed by Dr. Bull to launch missiles at Iran and Israel with chemicals created by Mr. Adams."
Bazoft's employer, the Observer, a British newspaper, said that he was not doing anything in Iraq other than working on a story. According to British and Saudi intelligence sources, Steven Adams was in Brussels on March 21, 1990, and is said to have been the person to first discover Bull's body. Immediately after that, according to the Washington Times, Adams vanished, possibly because "Iraq's defense ministry [was] concerned he might also be a target." Sources told the Times that the defense ministry "diverted an Iraqi Air jet on a direct flight from Baghdad to Manchester to get [Adams] out of Belgium."
Nearly 12 years past his assassination, nobody has been arrested for Gerald Bull's murder. Speculation looms large that the act was committed by the CIA or the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service. There have also been theories advanced that the Iranian government sent a hit team to Belgium to kill Bull. Certainly the deaths of nearly a quarter-million Iranians due to his superguns seems motive enough, but no other proof of Iranian responsibility has been offered. Speculation about the CIA centers on the theory that, after having given Bull the tacit go-ahead to work in Iraq, the agency, because of shifting geopolitical factors, performed a flip-flop suddenly making Bull and his Iraq endeavors a huge liability.
Bull's son, Michael, who helped run SRC, initially thought the Israelis killed his father. But, according to Canadian journalist Dale Grant, Michael has "broached the idea that the CIA did it, because his father was applying for a U.S. pardon on his arms-smuggling conviction." In 1992, Christopher Cowley, a 56-year-old British engineer who worked briefly for SRC, testified before a House of Commons committee in London that he and Bull had kept U.S. and British intelligence officials informed about their work in Iraq. Cowley also told the committee that he believed that the Mossad was responsible for Bull's assassination. According to a 1992 Washington Post foreign service dispatch, Cowley "speculated that the CIA must have been tipped off by the Mossad and thus had acquiesced in the assassination."
Another theory is that the British government, headed by Margaret Thatcher, ordered former SAS intelligence agents to kill Bull because he was taking lucrative Iraq contracts away from arms companies controlled by influential British businessmen. In 1998, journalist Walter De Bock wrote in a Flemish daily newspaper, De Morgen, that Bull's death and dealings in Iraq had connections to the assassination of a British journalist. On March 31, 1990, a little over a week after Bull's murder, Jonathan Moyle was found hanging with a pillow case over his head in a hotel room in Santiago, Chile. Moyle, 28, had traveled to Chile to investigate a story on secret British involvement in weapons traffic to Iraq. Moyle's death was initially ruled a suicide by Chilean police, and the British foreign office promoted vicious rumors that he had died in a bizarre sex ritual. Later, Moyle's death was ruled a murder by a panel of Chilean judges. A British coroner agreed with the judges' finding. The re-investigations discovered a needle mark on Moyle's leg and drugs in his stomach. Murder disguised as suicide has long been a lethal tactic favored by intelligence agencies.
Despite Gerald Bull's death and the destruction of his superguns by U.N. inspectors after the 1991 Gulf War, his legacy in the Middle East continues. Earlier this month, the London Daily Telegraph and Washington Times reported that Iraq is attempting to revitalize Project Babylon and is building a new 33-foot-long supergun "capable of firing biological and chemical shells" with equipment illegally obtained from German companies. German law-enforcement officials have arrested at least two men who obtained equipment for the Iraq superguns and arranged for it to be exported in 1999 to Jordan, from where it was shipped to Iraq.
H.P Albarelli Jr. is an investigative reporter and writer who lives in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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