Aug. 11, 1997

Washington Weekly

Relationship to the CIA closer than previously admitted

A just finished TV documentary reveals new details of the association between legendary drug smuggler Barry Seal and the Central Intelligence Agency.

Sam Dalton, the New Orleans-based attorney for three Colombian hitmen convicted of assassinating Barry Seal in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1986 has told TV producer Daniel Hopsicker that on the night of Seal's murder the FBI threatened local police to release the contents of Seal's Cadillac.

When the contents of Seal's trunk was brought into evidence at the murder trial--after the judge had threatened the federal government with contempt-- it changed the picture of Barry Seal as a free-lancing drug trafficker.

"Barry Seal was delivering arms and money to the Contras," Dalton says. "Now one of the things that really turned us on about that premise, which held hope we would be able to persuade a jury to spare the lives of the Colombians convicted of Seal's murder--was Barry's Seals' ability to buy a surplus minesweeper from the government."

"Wait a minute," Hopsicker protested, "Barry Seal, a drug smuggler, bought a minesweeper from the government? How did you find out about this?"

Dalton smiled. "It was formerly named the Stark, and its name was changed to the Condor," he said. "My investigation led me to a transcript of the IRS. So we just felt like that was too close to the federal government to be done in that fashion without the federal government knowing full well what was going on, and having plans of its own for the contras and the use of that minesweeper by the Contras."

Barry Seal first appeared on the front page of the Washington Times on July 17, 1984 in a picture showing his participation in a CIA sting of the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. Seal also carried out a CIA operation to detect nuclear devices in Nicaragua from his airplane. After Seal's assassination, his C-123K Fairchild provider was shot down over Nicaragua with Eugene Hasenfus on board--unraveling the CIA involvement in the Contra war under the Iran-Contra diversion.

The close association between Barry Seal and the CIA uncovered by Hopsicker has led him to conclude that Seal may have been a CIA agent. "The biggest drug smuggler in American history was a CIA agent," he says, adding "being a CIA agent is not something one does at the same time as one smuggles drugs. One smuggles drugs as part of one's duties as a CIA agent." By the federal government's own estimate, Seal imported drugs at a street value of between $3 billion and $5 billion.

The CIA last year released a declassified summary of a report by the CIA's inspector general on the activities at Mena airport in Arkansas where Seal's C-123K was based. Inspector General Frederick P. Hitz confirmed the existence of covert activities at Mena, but claimed that the CIA had only had "limited contact" with Seal and that "all allegations implying that the CIA condoned, abetted or participated in narcotics trafficking are absolutely false."

The report did, however, confirm that Arkansas State Trooper L.D. Brown had been under consideration for employment by the CIA in 1984. Brown has told the Washington Weekly that he was asked by his CIA contact Donald P. Gregg to participate in Seal's transport flights to Central America carrying M-16s for the Contras and bringing duffel bags of cocaine back to Arkansas with the apparent knowledge of then-Governor Bill Clinton and then- Vice President George Bush.

Published in the Aug. 11, 1997 issue of The Washington Weekly Copyright 1997 The Washington Weekly ( Reposting permitted with this message intact


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