(From the May 1996 Conspiracy Nation Newsletter)
                       CAST OF CHARACTERS
Hillary Rodham Clinton -- wife of Bill Clinton, her office at the
Rose Law Firm is right next to "WEBB" HUBBELL's office.
Roger Clinton -- brother  of  Bill  Clinton.  Roger works for DAN
Webster ("Webb") Hubbell -- a close friend of then-Governor  Bill
Clinton.  "Webb" Hubbell works at the Rose Law Firm.
Dan  Lasater  --  Arkansas  "Bond Daddy" and close friend of Bill
Clinton.  His firm, Lasater  &  Co.,  was handling more than $300
million per year in preferred state bond activity.
Barry Seal -- a skilled pilot, from his  plane  he  drops  duffel
bags  filled  with cash onto the Triple S Ranch near Hot Springs,
Finis Shellnut -- son-in-law  of  SETH  WARD.  Finis lives at the
Triple S Ranch and is the go-for who  retrieves  the  bundles  of
cash being dropped by BARRY SEAL.  Finis works for DAN LASATER as
a "bondsman".
Seth Ward -- owner of the Triple S Ranch.  His daughter, Suzy, is
married to WEBSTER ("WEBB") HUBBELL.
John Cummings is a former prize-winning investigative reporter at
New York Newsday.  He has co-authored the Heist (1987), Goombata:
The Improbable Rise of John Gotti and His Gang (1990)  and  Death
Do  Us Part (1993).  His latest book, Compromised:  Clinton, Bush
and  the  CIA  (Clandestine  Publishing,  ISBN:   1-883955-02-5),
co-authored with Terry  Reed,  has  been  a bestseller.  For over
thirty years, since the Bay of Pigs,  Cummings  has  studied  the
confluence   of  intelligence  gathering,  money  laundering  and
I spoke with Mr. Cummings on March 25, 1996.
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CONSPIRACY NATION:  I heard you and Terry Reed, I think it was on
Radio Free America with Tom Valentine.  And as I recall, you were
investigating some kind of corruption in Florida that led you to,
when you first became aware of Terry Reed and his situation...
JOHN CUMMINGS:  It began around the time of the Bay of Pigs.  And
I  came to know a lot of the guys who were involved in that.  And
it worked out that I began  to  look into this question of covert
operations.  And the more I looked into it (prior  to  that,  I'd
been  working  on  organized  crime),  the more I found organized
crime and drug trafficking.   They  always  seemed to go hand-in-
hand.  And that led to my looking, some  years  later,  at  Barry
Seal.  And from Barry Seal, I was led to Arkansas by some friends
in  the  Louisiana  State Police who believed that Seal was doing
more than what most people  *thought*  he was really doing.  This
one particular cop came to believe that Seal  had  some  kind  of
government  protection  and  that he was probably engaged in some
kind of covert activity.  And he  said that he left Louisiana and
he went up to Arkansas.  And then I started  to  look  up  there.
And  the  more  I looked up there, the more suspicious I got, the
more it smelled of an  intelligence operation.  (Which I had seen
a lot of in Florida.)  And *that* led me,  eventually,  to  Terry
CONSPIRACY NATION: How did you first get in contact with Reed?
JOHN  CUMMINGS:   I heard about Terry Reed from a friend who is a
private investigator in  Washington.   (He's  a  retired CID man.
[IRS Criminal Investigation  Division])  And  he  told  me  about
Terry's  case.   Terry  at the time was under indictment for mail
fraud.  And so I called his  lawyer (and in the interim, I'd done
a big piece on Barry Seal for Penthouse, and she  had  read  it.)
And  she sent me some of the pleadings from the case.  And here I
see Terry was at Mena.  So I began to pursue Terry.
CONSPIRACY NATION: What exactly was Mena about?
JOHN  CUMMINGS:   Terry  came  in  contact  with  a  man  who was
introduced to him as "John Cathey."   And  John  Cathey  was,  in
reality, Oliver North.  And he came into contact as the result of
the Toshiba investigation.  And you know what that was, right?
CONSPIRACY NATION:  That was something  with  submarines,  wasn't
JOHN CUMMINGS:  The Toshiba Machine Tools  was  secretly  selling
propeller  technology  to the Soviet Union.  This equipment would
allow the Soviets to  make  propellers  that would elude American
detection.  There was a *big* scandal about it.   At  one  point,
Congress  wanted  to  totally  stop  trading with Toshiba and not
allow them in the country.   There  was a tremendous tumult about
    Well North, or "Cathey," asked Terry to  make...   Terry,  at
the time, was working for Toshiba.  And they wanted him to try to
find out what was going through the Toshiba warehouse.
    Anyway,  that's  how  he  came  to  meet North.  (Although he
didn't know his name was Oliver  North.  He only knew that he had
been in Vietnam  like  Terry  had  been.)   And  they  were  very
    So  at  some  point,  Terry  decides  to go into business for
himself and he's gonna  move  to  Arkansas.  And North tells him,
"Well.  If you're moving to Arkansas, there's a guy  there  who's
running  some stuff for us that you ought to meet."  And he says,
"You can probably make some money out of this."
    So anyway, North gives him  the  name  of Barry Seal and says
that Seal will contact him.  And Terry moves to Little Rock,  and
not  too long thereafter, Seal comes to see Terry at his place of
business.  And he has with  him,  when  he  comes that day, a guy
name of Dan Lasater.  And working for Lasater,  as  a  chauffeur,
was [Bill] Clinton's brother, Roger.
    Well  he meets Seal, and they hit it off.  And Seal tells him
that he needs  someone  who  can  train  *Contra*  pilots to drop
supplies into areas of Nicaragua at night; you know,  teach  them
how to do air drops.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  And they trained those pilots so that the CIA
would have plausible deniability.
JOHN  CUMMINGS:   Right.   The  CIA   would  appear  to  have  no
"hands-on"  knowledge.   This  [would  appear  to  be]  simply  a
free-lance operation.
    At the same time,  Terry  (whose  background  is  in  machine
tooling)...   Seal needed help with producing untraceable weapons
that they could give the *Contras*.
    Anyway, that's how it  came  about.   That's how he met Barry
CONSPIRACY NATION:  And then, what wound up  happening  was  that
the  guns  were being flown down there, but either (I'm not clear
on this) it was,  say,  "individual entrepreneurship" that caused
some pilots to decide to  fly  back  with  drugs?   Or  were  the
JOHN  CUMMINGS:  Well Terry did not know about the drugs.  All he
would do was go  to  Mena,  teach  these guys, in various places,
[about flying].  And they were kept at a place out in the  woods.
This area is very remote.  And they built a makeshift base out in
the  woods  near Mena, Arkansas.  And all Terry would do was take
'em up and try to  teach  'em.   And  although these guys had had
pilot training, they  were  very  rough.   They  could  fly,  but
    So  Terry's  job  was  trying  to teach them how to drop this
stuff at  night,  in  the  jungle,  to  supply  their own troops.
Because they didn't want (what later happened), they did not want
a plane shot down with  an  American  crew  on  board.   (And  of
course, that *did* happen.)
    And one of the people working with Terry, working  with  Seal
at  that time, was William Cooper -- who was a pilot of the C-123
that *was* shot down.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  And Cooper died in that crash, right?
JOHN CUMMINGS:  He died.  Only [Eugene] Hasenfus survived.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  But in general,  these planes were not flying
back to the U.S. empty.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  Well, separate and  apart  from  this.   See,  my
suspicion was, as they were flying weapons in, since the cargo...
You  know,  the  planes were empty.  They weren't gonna come back
empty.  I mean, Seal's (how shall  I say?)  "cover" was that of a
drug trafficker.  In other words, he had gotten  into  that  game
early.   And  for  all  the world, all the time they were chasing
Seal around Mena, they  were  looking  for  drugs.  But what they
were *really* doing was running a supply operation.
    Now if Seal was  running  stuff  *back*, it was not something
Terry was involved in.  Terry didn't find  out  about  the  drugs
until much later, when he was in Mexico.
CONSPIRACY  NATION:   And  that  was what caused him to break off
from the operation.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  Yeah.  He broke  off  from that.  And right after
he did, he started having legal problems.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  So he found out, while he was in Mexico, that
drugs were involved.  And he didn't want to have anything  to  do
with the drugs.
JOHN  CUMMINGS:   He  was  down there supposedly to run a machine
tool company.  And he  had  acquired  a big warehouse for putting
machine tools.  He'd been told that what they were gonna do  with
this  proprietary  company  was run guns from the U.S. to Central
America.  But when he went  to  his  warehouse one day, he opened
one of these big, huge containers, and it was  full  of  cocaine.
And  at  which time he then confronted his then boss, a man named
Felix Rodriguez (although *he* was going under a pseudonym too.)
CONSPIRACY NATION:  Yeah.  "Max Gomez."
JOHN CUMMINGS:  Max Gomez.  Yeah.
    And he [Terry  Reed]  bargained  his  way  out  of there.  He
thought he was home free.  He says, "I just want out.  I'm  gonna
go home.  I'm not gonna say anything to anybody.  I just want out
of this."
    And  then  suddenly,  it turns out that a plane that had been
stolen from [Reed] years  earlier  turns  up  in  a hangar he had
rented in Little Rock.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  Wasn't Buddy Young, then working as Clinton's
chief of security, involved?
JOHN CUMMINGS:  Buddy Young is one of the people he's sueing.
CONSPIRACY  NATION:   And  what  happened   was,   Reed   thought
everything  was  okay,  and he heads north.  And Buddy Young puts
out a "profile" on him, through the computers.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  He put out  a  phony profile on him!  Saying that
he was a known drug trafficker and that he had  been  dealing  in
drugs  in  Central  America.   He  put  that  into the government
CONSPIRACY NATION:  So then, Reed figured they must be out to get
him.  He figured that  they'll  probably,  since they've got this
false profile on him, that he's this "dangerous drug trafficker",
he'll be lucky if he gets captured alive.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  Yes, well that was the idea.  They had listed, on
this alert, "Armed and dangerous" -- which is a tip-off to  every
cop:   shoot first and ask questions later.  But, you see, he had
enough knowledge that he could  have implicated both Bill Clinton
*and* George Bush in this.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  So  Reed  went  "underground"  for  what,  18
months or so?
JOHN CUMMINGS:  Well, a little less than a year.  He and his wife
took off with their children and drove across the country, trying
to  stay out of sight, figuring that he had been marked for a hit
like [Barry] Seal had been!   He  was convinced they would do the
same thing to him that they did to Seal.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  Barry Seal had taken that secret videotape of
[the Sandinistas] loading that plane  with  narcotics.   And  who
leaked that tape?  Was it Reagan or North?
JOHN CUMMINGS:  It was photos, not videotape.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  But wasn't it North, or Reagan, that made the
photos public?
JOHN CUMMINGS:  Reagan put 'em on the air.
CONSPIRACY  NATION:   Yeah.   Because  Reagan was under political
JOHN CUMMINGS:  He wanted  to  get  aid  to the *Contras* through
Congress.   And  they  wanted  to  show,   "Look.    These   guys
[Sandinistas]  are  all  drug  dealers."  And by doing that, they
made it known who was informing on them.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  And then Seal  was  a marked man.  And by the
government putting him in a position where he was  easily  found,
it was the same as setting him up.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  Yeah, that's a well-documented story.
CONSPIRACY  NATION:   So  after  about  a  year underground, Reed
decides that he's gonna turn himself in.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  No, he learns that he's been indicted.  So having
been indicted, he decided that  he'd better surrender before they
tried to come  and  find  him.   And  he  did.   He  arranged  to
surrender.   And  he  went with an attorney and surrendered.  And
his wife was also indicted.  And she had done absolutely nothing.
CONSPIRACY NATION:   Yeah.   She  says  in  the  video ["The Mena
Connection"] that the judge at one  point  said,  "Mrs.  Reed,  I
don't even understand why you're here in court."
JOHN  CUMMINGS:   What  he  said  was,  "Why is *she* here?"  And
Terry's attorney said, "I  guess  because  she's married to him."
The judge asked, several times, "Why is *she* here?"
CONSPIRACY NATION:  So then Reed was exonerated,  and  found  not
JOHN  CUMMINGS:  He was acquitted, yeah.  He was acquitted by the
judge.  It was an  order  of  acquittal,  from a judge (which you
hardly ever see.)  There was no jury trial.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  So he was so obviously innocent that...
JOHN CUMMINGS:  He was acquitted on the law.  Not on  the  facts.
Because  the jury decides the facts.  But the judge said that the
government had no case!   (This  was after two-and-a-half years.)
And when I spoke to the judge  about  it,  he  told  me  that  he
thought the case "had a high odor to it."
CONSPIRACY  NATION:   And  after  he  was  acquitted, he had gone
through a lot of hardship because of  all this and had to spend a
lot of money, I assume, with legal fees and everything.
    And at what point did you meet up with him?
JOHN CUMMINGS:  I met up  with  him  while  he  was  still  under
indictment.  I met him for the first time, personally, the Summer
of 1990.  The judge's acquittal came in the following November.
CONSPIRACY  NATION:   One  of the reasons he decided to work with
you on a book was because he  figured if he got his story out, he
and his family would be safer.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  *I* told him that.   If  he got his story out, it
wouldn't be a suit of armor, but it would raise more suspicion if
something happened to him.  Otherwise, if they were to shoot  him
dead, I mean, who knew about this guy?
CONSPIRACY  NATION:  So after he was acquitted, he wanted redress
of his grievances and he also wanted to get the truth out.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  He was very angry because of what they  had  done
to  his  wife.   He  was very angry that they had put her through
this.  And they had three  small children.  And it's very obvious
that she had done absolutely nothing.  In fact, I read the  grand
jury minutes:  there was virtually no case going on there at all.
But  you  know, there's a saying:  "A prosecutor can indict a ham
    And that's what really pissed  him  off.   So the two of them
decided...  They were still wary of  me,  at  that  point.   They
decided  that  they  were  going  to  go back into court and seek
justice.  (Not really realizing that that is a relative term, and
seeking justice sometimes can be a very burdensome thing.)
    But anyway, they decided  to  do  this.   And  then I went to
visit him in early 1991.  And that was the  first  time,  in  our
conversations,   that  he  brought  in  Bill  Clinton,  and  ADFA
[Arkansas Development  Finance  Authority], and money-laundering,
and all the rest of it.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  The book *Compromised* was kind of a landmark
book, or a ground- breaking book, in that it  outlined  what  was
going  on;  it  provided a road map for what had been going on in
JOHN CUMMINGS:  What it was, it was a kind of  diary  of  a  foot
soldier in that war [i.e.  *Contras*].  This is something that he
really  believed  in.   He  believed in the *Contras* and he felt
that they  should  be  helped.   (You  know,  he  and  I had many
arguments about that.)  And he said that he, at the time, thought
that Oliver North was (although he didn't know, at the  time,  he
was  Oliver North), he thought he was a great guy.  And he was as
pissed off as Terry was about what had happened in Vietnam.
CONSPIRACY  NATION:   And  so   Reed  brought  suit  against  the
JOHN CUMMINGS:  No, it wasn't a suit against the government.   It
was  a suit against the two men who testified against him.  There
was a third man, who was an Arkansas state trooper, who works for
the DEA.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  He brought  suit  against these 3 people.  Do
you know the names of the people?
JOHN CUMMINGS:  Buddy Young.  Tommy Baker.  And Sanders  --  he's
an Arkansas cop who was working with the DEA.
    Sanders was brought in because of the contacts...  I tell you
what:   to  really understand the court case you have to read the
chapter, "Department of Injustice."   Because  these guys lied so
many times, in their testimony.  They kept getting caught:   they
would  say  one  thing,  and  then the facts would show something
    See, the reason he  brought  suit  against those guys, it was
very clear that they were lying in  their  testimony.   And  they
didn't  even  really  make any attempt to hide the fact they were
CONSPIRACY NATION:  And by  bringing  suit, this allows what they
call  the  discovery  process,  right?    That   he   (at   least
theoretically)  should  have  access  to  documents  that  aren't
normally available?
JOHN  CUMMINGS:   He  got documents from the FBI and from the DEA
Intelligence Headquarters in El Paso  which showed that Young had
planted the profile about him being a drug trafficker,  and  that
they  claimed when they found the airplane that they took the VIN
number through NCIC  [National  Crime  Information Center] -- but
not when they said they did!
CONSPIRACY NATION:  And so this lawsuit was proceeding well.  And
in the video, "The Mena Connection," it ends with a request  that
people try to help with the legal expenses.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  If they can.  Yes.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  Did he get much help with the legal expenses,
from people?
JOHN  CUMMINGS:   Yeah,  there was help that came in.  Basically,
Terry is taking what income,  his  share of what income there has
been from the book, to plough into this case.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  So he's in a situation that happens to a  lot
of  people:   the  government  has  got  unlimited  funds, but an
individual citizen, if they're  gonna pursue something like this,
they've got to spend their own money.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  That's right.  There's  no  way  you  can  really
out-spend the government.
CONSPIRACY  NATION:   And  so,  this case was proceeding well, up
until recently, right?
JOHN CUMMINGS:  There was a motion, from the other side, to limit
the amount of evidence that Terry  could bring in.  And that copy
of the court order I sent you [See CN 7.56] just about wipes away
any reference to Mena or...  In other words, he can try his civil
rights case, but you can't go into *why* they would  have  wanted
to frame him.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  So the judge is like a gatekeeper, right?  He
decides what gets allowed in.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  The judge is, of course, a  product  of  Arkansas
CONSPIRACY NATION:  What's the judge's name?
JOHN CUMMINGS:  George Howard.
    He's  the  one  that's  trying  the  case now against Jim Guy
CONSPIRACY NATION:  So that would  indicate that the case against
Tucker is also likely to be biased.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  I'm not familiar with that *case*.  There's a lot
of people running interference for Bill Clinton.
    And  I  think  the thing that you might want to keep in mind:
every attempt to pull back the rock on Mena has been thwarted.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  I don't  know  if  you know this fellow named
Sherman Skolnick, out of Chicago...
JOHN CUMMINGS:  I know who he is.  I don't know much about him.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  Well he's been looking into this whole thing,
with Whitewater and Mena, and  his  end of this is, he represents
somebody named Joseph  Andreuccetti  which,  it's  a  complicated
case,  but  there  was supposed to have been a transfer of an RTC
[Resolution Trust Corporation]  contingency  fund -- an *illegal*
transfer -- that this money went down to Arkansas to cover up  an
embezzlement of a savings and loan down there.
    But just generally, I'm familiar that the state just reeks of
JOHN  CUMMINGS:   Arkansas?  Oh geez.  We have a chapter in there
which we refer to as  "America's Banana Republic."  Which is what
it is.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  So at this point you're being stymied.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  Terry has run into a  big  road-block  with  this
judge.  Yeah.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  And what's the prognosis at this point?
JOHN CUMMINGS:  Well, I think that (I'm giving you my speculation
now),  if Terry appeals this, if he can't appeal it now, it would
keep the case out of court  until  after the election -- which is
what I think they're after.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  In your book,  there's  two  occasions  where
Reed actually meets with Clinton...
JOHN CUMMINGS:  There were three meetings.  Reed only talks about
CONSPIRACY NATION:  And the third is kept quiet, for now.
    I  talked  with  Sarah  McClendon,  the  veteran  White House
correspondent.  And she thinks  that  Clinton is just, basically,
innocent.  How involved was Clinton?
JOHN CUMMINGS:  Up to his ears.  Here was  a  guy,  what  he  was
doing was playing ball with the Administration in Washington, and
for  a lot of reasons.  There was a lot of money flowing into the
state.  You have to *really*  understand the amount of money that
was flowing into Arkansas.  And the net effect of this  was,  the
money  went  to finance firms run by Clinton's friends, who could
then make  very  nice  campaign  contributions  to  him.  I mean,
Clinton never got any of that money directly.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  When I talked with Sarah McClendon, she  said
that  there were several "Menas", so-called; that this was not an
isolated operation.
JOHN CUMMINGS:  There was at least  one other that I know of, out
in Texas.  [Barry] Seal was involved.
CONSPIRACY NATION:  The Arkansas  Development  Finance  Authority
[ADFA],  the way that worked:  drug money goes into ADFA and then
it gets loaned out to people...
JOHN CUMMINGS:  [Barry Seal] was dropping $9 million a month into
Arkansas.  And the money ended up going to Dan Lasater.  Where it
went from there, who  knows?   ADFA...  Nobody knows where ADFA's
money came from.  We know that they lent out a lot  of  money  to
Bill  Clinton's  friends  -- people who didn't need it!  ADFA was
supposedly set up  to  help  companies  that couldn't get regular
CONSPIRACY NATION:   You've  looked  into  the  drug  corruption.
What's your opinion on the "War on Drugs"?
JOHN CUMMINGS:  The "War on Drugs" is a joke.
CONSPIRACY  NATION:   Orlin Grabbe, a former finance professor at
the Wharton Business College,  has  theorized that what this "War
on Drugs" is about is inflating the cost of these drugs; that the
United States sells arms to the Third World and the  Third  World
has no way to pay, except with their drugs.  And the way it works
is,  the  "War  on  Drugs"  artificially boosts the cost of these
JOHN CUMMINGS:  I'm somewhat aware of  his theory.  And I have no
serious argument with it, although I have no  personal  knowledge
of that.
    I'll  put  it to you this way:  the guy who originally put me
on to Barry Seal was a narcotics investigator.  And he said to me
(referring to Seal), "I  thought  I  was chasing the biggest drug
trafficker in the country, only to learn that  the  biggest  drug
trafficker  in the country *was* the country."  (And I think that
really tells it all.)  He  suddenly  realized that he'd spent his
life on a fool's errand.
    The "War on Drugs" is a tremendous farce.  But it's  easy  to
sell this country on anything.