Author Topic: THE OCTOPUS  (Read 4495 times)


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              Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 3  Num. 14
                    ("Quid coniuratio est?")
By Karen Bixman
(For The People *News Reporter*, 11/14/94)
Through the efforts of Terry Reed and John Cummings, their book
*Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA*, has given readers an
inside view of the inner workings of the Iran-Contra affair and
the resulting Whitewater scandal.
By attempting to poke a hole through the heavily cloaked veil of
government corruption, Reed and others like him have discovered
that a mission of truth-seeking can be inherently dangerous if
not fatal. Unfortunately, investigative reporter Danny Casolaro
learned that lesson too late.
For over a year before his death, Casolaro was running down leads
on an operation he termed the "Octopus." In a proposal he wrote
for his upcoming book, *Behold, A Pale Horse*, he was prepared to
expose an international cabal made up of "thugs and thieves who
roam the earth with their weapons and their murders, trading dope
and dirty money for the secrets of the temple."
According to Danny Casolaro's brother, Dr. Anthony Casolaro, the
Octopus was not a secret organization but a group of individuals
that participated in clandestine operations for profit.
"He didn't envision them as a group like the Mafia, but more as a
network... They would overlap when their needs coincided," said
Dr. Casolaro. "Using the analogy, BCCI would be one arm of it.
The 'October Surprise,' Danny said, was literally just another
arm. Inslaw is yet another arm."
Iran-Contra was yet another tentacle in Casolaro's Octopus.
Casolaro began to develop his theory while investigating the
Inslaw scandal. Inslaw was the name of a small computer company
owned by William and Nancy Hamilton who, in 1982, signed a $10
million contract with the Justice Department to install their
PROMIS software into offices of forty-two U.S. Attorneys.
Incurring heavy debt, Inslaw obtained a loan to complete the
contract, but upon installation the Justice Department refused to
pay, thus forcing them into bankruptcy.
At the same time, a close friend of then-Attorney General Edwin
Meese, Earl Brian, had a controlling interest in a competing
computer company called Hadron, Incorporated. Brian was linked to
covert operations with the United States and Israeli intelligence
communities and reportedly worked for the CIA.
Previously, Hadron's chairman had attempted to purchase the
PROMIS software from Inslaw but they had refused to sell. After
Inslaw sought refuge in Chapter 11, pressure from the IRS forced
Inslaw into Chapter 7 liquidation which would open the door for
Hadron to acquire the PROMIS software.
The Hamiltons and their attorney, former U.S. Attorney General
Elliot Richardson, filed a civil suit claiming the Justice
Department appropriated PROMIS to give the software to Earl Brian
to raise money for covert actions and to turn it over to the
National Security Agency for marketing to foreign intelligence
services. The PROMIS software was designed to keep track of law
enforcement cases, but could also be used to keep tabs on
political dissidents.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George Bason, who ruled in favor of Inslaw
in the civil trial, awarded the Hamiltons $6.8 million and found,
in September 1987, that Justice Department officials "took,
converted and stole" PROMIS through "trickery, fraud and deceit."
Muscle within the Justice Department was allegedly flexed again,
however, with Judge Bason's reappointment to the bankruptcy. Two
years later, Judge Bason's ruling was appealed to the U.S.
District Court where Judge William Bryant upheld the decision.
In May 1991, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.
reversed the findings, claiming that bankruptcy courts lacked
jurisdiction over the matter.
Motivated by media attention, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee
on Investigations conducted a Congressional investigation into
the theft of the PROMIS software and into problems in Chapter 11
The Senate report stated its inquiry was hampered by Justice
Department's lack of cooperation and that it had found employees
"who desired to speak to the subcommittee but chose not to out of
fear for their jobs." The Senate committee was therefore forced
to conclude that there was no basis for the charges, and no
action was taken against any employees of the Justice Department.
During Casolaro's investigation into Inslaw, he met CIA operative
Michael Riconoscuito, who claimed that he had participated in a
joint venture in weapons manufacturing, financed by the CIA,
between Wackenhut Corporation, a security company run by former
intelligence and military officials, and the Cabazon Indian
Reservation in southern California.
He stated that he had been given the PROMIS software for
modification by Earl Brian, and was now being framed with
reportedly trumped-up amphetamine charges by the federal
Riconosciuto also claimed that, in connection with this work on
the Cabazon Reservation, he had been involved with the
development of chemical and biological weapons in a project
connected with Park-O-Meter (POM), the parking meter company
owned by Seth Ward.
He claimed these weapons were for the Contras, and were designed
for the C-130 transport planes [which] were at the time carrying
weapons and drugs in and out of Mena, Ark. He further stated that
he had supervised high-tech equipment transfers and had developed
computer software to help launder drug money emanating from the
Mena operation.
He related that POM received the first loan granted under the
state authority known as the Arkansas Development Finance
Authority (ADFA) in the amount of $2.75 million. In a signed
affidavit submitted into a federal court proceeding, Riconosciuto
stated "that the Wackenhut-Cabazon joint venture was intended to
support the needs of a number of foreign governments and forces,
including forces and governments in Central America and the
Middle East. The Contras in Nicaragua represented one of the most
important priorities for the joint venture."
Riconosciuto asserted that all scandals overlap, and Casolaro,
who gave Riconosciuto the title "Danger Man," was introduced to
the underground world of "spooks." Amid investigating the related
scandals, a pattern of mysterious deaths also began to emerge.
Alfred Alvarez and two of his friends were killed in July 1981.
They were part of the Cabazon Indian Reservation, and opposed the
takeover of the reservation by the Wackenhut Corporation.
While seeking evidence for Riconosciuto relating to the Inslaw
case, private investigator Larry Guerrin was killed in Mason
County, Washington, in February 1987.
On February 6, 1989, in the San Francisco Bay area, attorney
David Meyer died from a gunshot wound. The next day he was to
have appeared in District Court, defending clients who were
reportedly tied in with CIA drug trafficking activities. An
activist, Meyer sought to expose links between Iran-Contra, the
Justice Department, the CIA, and others.
Attorney Dexter Jacobson was killed on August 14, 1990, just
before he was to present evidence of rampant Chapter 11 judicial
corruption to the FBI.
Attorney Gary Ray Pinnell was killed on February 11, 1991, just
before he, too, was to present [evidence of] Chapter 11
corruption to the FBI.
On January 31, 1991, the body of Alan D. Standorf was found in
the back seat of a car parked at the Washington National Airport.
Standorf was a source of information to Casolaro and had been
introduced to him by Riconosciuto. It is believed that Standorf,
an electronic intelligence employee for the National Security
Agency, was a key source for some of the information linking the
Justice Department to the various scandals.
Attorney Dennis Eisman was shot to death twenty-four hours before
he was to meet with Michael Riconosciuto. Eisman was building a
defense for Riconosciuto against the charges filed by the Justice
Department prosecutors as they sought to silence him.
On June 19, 1991, Alan Michael May was found dead in his San
Francisco home. May had reportedly been involved with Michael
Riconosciuto and the movement of $40 million in bribe money to
the Iranians, in the operation known as the "October Surprise."
Casolaro began to receive death threats, but they did not deter
him from his investigation, as he set off for Virginia where he
was to meet an informant. Before leaving, however, he gave his
brother, Dr. Anthony Casolaro, important instructions. "He told
us... if there was an accident and he died, not to believe it."
On the morning of August 11, 1991, Danny Casolaro was found dead
in the bathroom of his hotel room at the Sheraton Hotel in
Martinsburg, West Virginia. His wrists had been slashed ten
times; his briefcase and notes were missing. The authorities
labeled the death a suicide, and before Casolaro's family had
been contacted, the body was embalmed.
Following Casolaro's death, Hamilton's attorney, Elliot
Richardson, called for a federal investigation. "It's hard to
come up with any reason for this death, other than he was
deliberately murdered because he was so close to uncovering
sinister elements in what he called 'The Octopus'."
A congressional subcommittee on Economic and Commercial Law, of
the Committee on the Judiciary, held hearings on Inslaw and the
related death of Danny Casolaro. The House Judiciary Committee
received the same stonewall treatment from the Justice Department
as had the earlier Senate committee. Attorney General Dick
Thornburgh refused to appear before the committee and refused to
let Congress review Justice Department files.
The final House report, released September 10, 1992, accused
Justice Department officials of criminal misconduct and
recommended the appointment of a special prosecutor. Attorney
General William Barr refused to appoint a special prosecutor, but
appointed Chicago attorneys Nicholas Bua [CN -- Our friend, Judge
Nicholas J. "Call Me Nick" Bua; pronounced BOO-ahh], Charles
Knight, and five Justice Department prosecutors, to investigate
the Justice Department's misconduct.
He then impaneled a federal grand jury to conduct an
investigation. After listening to a considerable amount of
evidence, Bua dismissed the grand jury and quickly impaneled
another one. A group named Citizens Committee to Clean Up the
Courts charged that Bua and Knight were impeding the
investigation and covering for the Justice Department. The group
filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, naming Bua
and Knight. While the investigation droned on, the pattern of
mysterious deaths continued.
On November 1, 1992, the bodies of Gail Spiro and her three
children were found in their Rancho Santa Fe, California, home.
Death resulted from gunshot wounds to the head. Three days later,
the body of Gail's husband, Ian Spiro, was found dead in the
front seat of his Ford Explorer in the remote California desert.
Authorities said the cause of death was cyanide poisoning, and
then ruled Ian Spiro had murdered his wife and children and then
taken his own life. Spiro reportedly had connections to the CIA,
and had been involved in various operations. He was helping
Michael Riconosciuto collect documents to present to a federal
grand jury conducting hearings into Inslaw when he died.
Jose Aguilar, a tree trimmer who occasionally worked at the Spiro
home, was found dead from a gunshot wound to the head on November
14, 1992.
Peter Sandvugen, who was helping Michael Riconosciuto defend
himself against the Justice Department, was found dead on
December 2, 1992. Sandvugen was reportedly part of a special CIA
team during the '80s; the circumstance of his death raised
questions, as the gun he always carried was found without the
ammo clip.
In June 1993, Nicholas Bua [CN -- Bua is reportedly now under
investigation himself by a grand jury in California] sent the
report of his investigation to the Justice Department,
exonerating Justice Department officials [and] stating that there
was no truth to any of the charges regarding the Inslaw case. The
Bua report stated facts absolutely contrary to the findings of
the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge, the U.S. District Court Judge,
and the Congressional investigation.
Attorney for Inslaw, Elliot Richardson, issued a statement on
June 18, 1993: "What I have seen of [the report] is remarkable
both for its credulity in accepting at face value denials of
complicity in wrongdoing against Inslaw, and for its failure to
pursue leads making those denials implausible."
A month after the Bua report was released, the body of
investigator and attorney Paul Wilcher was found under mysterious
circumstances. Wilcher was seeking to expose Iran-Contra, the
October Surprise, BCCI, and the Inslaw scandals. At the time of
his death, he was investigating gun-running out of Mena, Ark.
Shortly before his death, he wrote a 105-page letter to Attorney
General Janet Reno describing evidence that he allegedly had
concerning the aforementioned scandals. The first page of his
letter stated in part: "The lives of key participants, other
witnesses, and even myself, are now in grave danger as a result
of my passing this information on to you. If you let this
information fall into the hands of the wrong persons... some or
all of those who know the truth... could well be silenced in the
very near future."
Wilcher's body was found in his Washington, D.C. home on July 23,
1993. The coroner's report, made after the autopsy, could not
find or didn't report the cause of death.
In December of 1993, the FBI began again to review the
circumstances of Danny Casolaro's death, and a review of the
Inslaw case was then ordered by then-Associate Attorney General
Webster Hubbell, then the third ranking official at the Justice
Department. Press reports were silent as to why the case was
being reopened, but Hubbell's connection to his father-in-law's
company POM [Park-O-Meter] had already been reported in *The
Nation*, *The Village Voice*, and to Mark Swaney, the head of a
University of Arkansas student group responsible for a petition
drive to investigate drug trafficking at Mena.
One month after reopening Inslaw, Hubbell was forced to resign
his position at the Justice Department. POM's admitted jobs for
the Pentagon and questionable finances at the ADFA remained
obscure in mainstream media reports as Hubbell's representation
of POM became the official reason for his resignation.
The Rose Law Firm declared that Hubbell had failed to provide
documentation for expenses charged to the firm, and POM had lost
$1 million in litigation fees. This was done when Hubbell pursued
a patent infringement case which he took on a contingency basis
for his brother-in-law, Skeeter Ward.
Critics have charged that then-Governor Bill Clinton passively
resisted investigating the Mena operation and POM, but a less
passive reason for his inaction emerged when the Octopus tentacle
pointed toward the Inslaw affair.
An octopus is defined as a mollusk that has a soft body and eight
tentacles around its mouth. These tentacles are joined by a web.
On the underside of each tentacle lie two rows of powerful sucker
disks. The octopus seizes and holds its prey with these disks,
then sweeps it into the jaws of its mouth.
Upon examination, it seems that tentacles of Danny Casolaro's
octopus were also joined by a web, and many unknowing victims
have been swept into the jaws of its mouth.
     I encourage distribution of "Conspiracy Nation."
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Aperi os tuum muto, et causis omnium filiorum qui pertranseunt.
Aperi os tuum, decerne quod justum est, et judica inopem et
  pauperem.                    -- Liber Proverbiorum  XXXI: 8-9

 Brian Francis Redman    [email protected]    "The Big C"
    Coming to you from Illinois -- "The Land of Skolnick"