The Global Rollback Network from Chiang Kai-shek to Oliver North

from the book


Right-wing Power in U.S. Foreign Policy

by Thomas Bodenheimer and Robert Gould

published by South End Press, 1989



The revelations of Contragate focused the public on a covert network carrying out foreign policy operations. Yet little attention has been placed on the historical context of Contragate. In fact, the prosecution of a secret foreign policy by a mixture of governmental and quasi-private operatives is not a new development. Contragate is simply another chapter in a forty-year pursuit of global rollback by a committed cadre of U.S. covert operatives in conjunction with a growing, domestic and international right-wing network.

This network, activated in the early postwar rollback activities of Eastern Europe and the Far East, has gradually developed a strong constituent interest in maintaining and fortifying an active program of global counterrevolution.


Whereas some authors have described the international right wing network, thus far this institution has not received a generally accepted name. Global rollback network is an accurate description because the network is global in scope and its political goal is likewise global. We will call it Rollnet for short. Rollnet refers to the cadres-the most dedicated members-of the much larger political movement, the international right wing.

It is important to think of Rollnet as an international institution separate from, though interlinked with, the government of the United States. Rollnet cadres, such as those central to Contragate, circulated in and out of the official U.S. government. Those cadres-most prominently Oliver North-who had gained influential U.S. governmental positions were in effect using these positions to further their Rollnet cause; the Constitution and laws of the United States were secondary considerations. They equated the goals of the United States with the goals of Rollnet.


Covert Cronyism: Who are the Actors?

The CIA and "ex"-CIA Old Boys Network

CIA and supposedly ex-CIA operatives, the world's specialists in covert action, constitute the heart of the global rollback network. Perhaps the best known of these people (publicized during the Contragate hearings) are the groupings of operatives involving retired Maj. Gen. Richard Secord, Theodore Shackley and Thomas Clines,' and the overlapping entourage surrounding retired Gen. John Singlaub. In the work of these operatives, it is difficult to distinguish what is governmental activity, what is private, and what is a public-private meld. Similarly, it is difficult to determine whether a particular person in a particular operation is on the CIA payroll or not. In their private functions some individuals in these groupings appear sometimes to have conflicting motives: the rollback of unwanted governments and the accumulation of personal profit. ... the past and present activities of these individuals and their contacts reads like a review course of major U.S. covert operations.

The book The Iran-Contra Connection provides an important analysis to explain the centrality of ex-ClA operatives in Rollnet. The explanation is called "the disposal problem": what to do with troops no longer needed. In the late 1970s, 820 positions were eliminated from the CIA's clandestine services, producing a group of unemployed covert war specialists. Such an elite corps would not simply fade into the suburban United States; their way of life was anti-communism, secrecy, and, on occasion, shady financial deals involving arms and/or drugs. Some of these ex-CIA operatives worked for the election of Ronald Reagan; after his victory they insinuated themselves back into newly revived covert operations, whether in governmental, private, or mixed roles.

The Military-Industrial Complex

The military-industrial complex includes both the Pentagon and the corporations who develop and manufacture weapons under Pentagon contract. Whereas some military officers act as professional soldiers without an overriding political agenda, others-like their CIA counterparts-are committed right-wing cadres whose governmental and private political activities are difficult to keep separate. Individuals and corporations representing the military contractors have also acted as key members of Rollnet. General Electric, one of the top ten Pentagon contractors, played an important role in starting Ronald Reagan's political career. David Packard (of Hewlett-Packard) has raised funds for three major right-wing think tanks: the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Three interlocking organizations speaking for the military-industrial complex have been the American Security Council, the Coalition for Peace Through Strength, and the Committee on the Present Danger. Generals John Singlaub and Daniel Graham, with lengthy covert careers in both the military and the CIA, have been co-chairmen of the Coalition for Peace Through Strength.

The American Security Council (ASC), established in 1955, has been led by a number of high-ranking military officers and prime defense contractors; three retired chairs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were at one time co-chairs of its national strategy committee. The ASC has spent millions to ``educate voters" on the need for a stronger military. Its president, John Fisher, has stated the need for clear military superiority. ASC has actively supported Third World rollback in Nicaragua and Angola. The two men most responsible for the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), Gen. Daniel Graham and physicist Edward Teller, have both worked with the American Security Council.'

Right-wing Foreign Governments

Critically important support for Rollnet has always come from certain governments that for one reason or another have a stake in rollback. A major rollback government, not surprisingly, has been Taiwan, which has always wanted to roll back the Chinese Revolution and has actively assisted right-wing operations in other countries. South Korea, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Israel have also acted as rollback regimes. Of course, these governments often act in their own direct national interest, for example Taiwan vis-a-vis the Chinese mainland. But at other times they seem to provide assistance as part of more complicated deals such as Saudi Arabia sending money to U.S.-backed insurgencies in Nicaragua, Angola, and Afghanistan in return for receiving sophisticated U.S. weapons. Sometimes these governments have acted through ostensibly private organizations; for example Chiang Kai-shek and South Korean intelligence agents created and operated through the Asian People's Anti-Communist League (APACL).

In an example of rollback regime behavior, South Africa illegally provided $450,000 in campaign contributions to defeat-liberal Sens. John Tunney and Dick Clark in the 1970s; Clark was author of the amendment prohibiting U.S. aid to the South African-backed Angolan contrast South Africa also donated to conservative Senator Hayakawa who sat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Africa and contributed $40,000 to a research institute headed by Gen. Daniel Graham.

The case of Israel is complex because it is a major arms exporter for economic reasons, selling arms to many nations and groups throughout the world. However, U.S. intelligence officials have claimed that Israel has secrecy provided several million dollars of aid to the Nicaraguan contras as a political action in support of rollback.'

Eastern European Emigres and Fascists

Among the first covert operations attempted by the reformulated U.S. military/intelligence network in the postwar period were chose against the USSR and its satellite Eastern European states. Recruited into these operations were a host of people who ranged from social democrats, disaffected with Stalin's incorporation of Eastern Europe, to native fascists who actively collaborated with the Nazis during the war. In addition, German Nazi leaders were recruited into Western intelligence circles.

Some groups in the Eastern European fascist network joined together to form an anti-Soviet front known as the Anti-Bolshevik Nations (ABN). Members of this organization aided U.S. military actions and propaganda efforts such as Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty against the Soviet Bloc. In general, they have taken the most extreme rollback position against the USSR and Eastern Europe.

The Knights of Malta is a European organization which played a role facilitating Hitler's assumption of power in Germany. Former CIA Director William Casey belonged to the Knights of Malta as did James Angleton, at one time chief of the Counterintelligence Division of the CIA. The Knights of Malta also had links with the fascist P-2 Masonic Lodge, members of which were responsible for many terrorist actions in Italy during the 1970s.

The World Anti-Communist League

The World Anti-Communist League (WACL) was formed with the merger of the Anti-Bolshevik Nations (ABN) and the Asian People's Anti-Communist League (APACL) in 1966. In addition to ABN and APACL, WACL embraces disparate national right-wing formations that include:

* Latin American right-wing nationalist and/or fascist parties, some of which have at times been in power, some of which have sponsored death squads and/or narcotics-related activities. (Examples are the Guatemalan National Liberation Movement (MLN) and the El Salvadoran Arena Party.) Organized within the regional WACL chapter, the Latin American Anti-Communist Confederation (CAL), these groups have provided much of the Latin American support for the Nicaraguan contras.

* Members of the U.S. Right, represented over the years within the U.S. affiliate U.S. Council for World Freedom (USCWF). The membership has had strong representation by notables from the military/intelligence community including Singlaub and Graham, who have been USCWF's top two officers, with Singlaub having served as WACL's Chairman in 1984.

* Representatives of right-wing governments in power including Taiwan, South Korea, South Africa, Chile, and Saudi Arabia.

Roger Pearson, a known neo-Nazi and WACL's world chairman in 1978, was removed as head of the U.S. WACL chapter because his views were too extreme even for WACL. Pearson was editor of the Journal of International Relations in the 1970s; the journal's publisher was John Fisher, president of the American Security Council; the associate editors were Gen. Robert Richardson (also of ASC) and ex-CIA counterintelligence chief and Knight of Malta James Angleton.

The "Moonie Empire"

The Unification Church headed by Reverend Sun Myung Moon is closely interrelated with WACL. The Moon organization has known ties to the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCLA), itself an offshoot of U.S. intelligence agencies. Moon served the interests of the Japanese Right and its U.S. military allies when he set up campus study groups called Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP); by the early 1960s, these were used by school authorities to counter the strong anti-militarist radical student movement. These Japanese groups prefigured the Moonie CARP movement set up on U.S. campuses to promote right-wing causes among students. In addition to its close relationship with the right-wing South Korean government, the Moonie Empire has received $4.5 million from the government of South Africa.

A notable Rollnet-related organization in the Moonie Empire is the Unification Church's political arm, Confederation of Associations for the Unity of the Societies of America (CAUSA). This organization has worked in close coordination with the U.S. Right to support Reagan policy in El Salvador and Nicaragua. In Nicaragua, it was part of Singlaub's private contra supply network. The Moonies have also promoted their right-wing views with such publications as the Washington Times and the weekly glossy Insight, offered free to business executives and other elite opinion makers.

CAUSA USA's president has been retired Air Force Gen. E. David Woellner, who also held high positions in the American Security Council and the Coalition for Peace Through Strength. CAUSA has also worked closely with the Council for Inter-American Security, the organization sponsoring the Santa Fe Committee whose influential 1980 report recommended a global rollback policy.

Rollback Intellectuals and Government Officials

A respectable veneer for Rollnet has been supplied by a number of U.S. intellectuals/In fact, the ExSET theory can be viewed as the intellectual justification for Rollnet's activities. During the Reagan administration, some of these people became important government officials. One key link of Rollnet with intellectuals is the ClA. Leading neoconservative Irving Kristol was publisher of a 1950s journal Encounter which was financed by the ClA. Former ClA deputy director Ray Cline has more recently served as a foreign policy "analyst" at the conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies. Cline helped initiate APACL during his ClA days in Taiwan and also assisted in organizing the U.S. WACL chapter while also serving as a representative of the related Moonie CAUSA organization.

The Committee on the Present Danger (CPD) has provided important links between rollback-oriented intellectuals such as Eugene Rostow, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Norman Podhoretz, and military-industrial figures including David Packard, Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, and ex-Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Lyman Lemnitzer. Thirty-three CPD members received appointments in the Reagan administration; among them were John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy and Richard Perle, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, both of whom had performed consulting work for large military contractors. Foremost ExSET theorist Richard Pipes was a Reagan National Security Council advisor, and Fred Ikle, formerly from the Air Force's Rand Corporation think tank, became Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Clare Booth Luce, former China Lobby mainstay, was also on the CPD and became a member of Reagan's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Right-wing think tanks have also had Rollnet links. Professor Stefan Possony has worked at the Hoover Institution and has also been active in WACL and the American Security Council. The ubiquitous Gen. Daniel Graham has been associated with the Heritage Foundation. The Nicaraguan contras also have their supporting group of intellectuals, called Prodemca (Friends of the Democratic Center in Central America), including such prestigious people as Jeane Kirkpatrick, right-wing patron William Simon, and Ben Wattenberg of the influential Coalition for a Democratic Majority.

Anti Castro Cubans and other Assorted Contras

The word contra means counterrevolutionary. Every social revolution creates a group of individuals or economic groups that have lost their power, wealth, or economic stability. These groups are fertile soil for the recruitment of professional contras who hope to regain their previous positions in society vie armed insurgency. The leaders of these groups are often military or police officers supportive of the dictator deposed by the revolution. If their insurgency fails, they often become permanent exiles, available for other counterrevolutionary causes around the world. Along with ClA and ex-CIA operatives, contra leaders are key Rollnet cadres.

While the Nationalist Chinese contras have played a major Rollnet role, the grouping most significant in modern U.S. politics has been the Cuban contras or anti-Castro Cubans. Following the failed Bay of Pigs rollback attempt, some Cuban exiles have been willing ClA mercenaries, signing up for ClA actions in the Congo, Bolivia, Vietnam, and Central America. At the same time, a number of Cuban contras have been convicted of drug smuggling and accused of bombings and other terrorist acts.

As with ClA operatives, failed contra insurgents constitute a major disposal problem. With the spate of contra operations of the 1980s, this problem is likely to increase. In particular, if the Nicaraguan contras fail in their rollback efforts, they could become the next generation of unemployed Rollnet mercenaries. As the Iran-Contra Connection puts it, " The $100 million in U.S. aid now flowing to the contras is a mere down payment for violence yet to come."

Organized Crime and Drug Smugglers

Covert action networks have had working relationships with organized crime from the time of World War II, when U.S. military intelligence arranged to release Mafia kingpins Lucky Luciano and Vito Genovese from prison in return for their cooperation in facilitating Allied landings in Italy. This U.S. government-initiated bailout of the drug-dealing Mafia allowed the European heroin trade to revive at a time when it was in disarray and heroin could possibly have been eliminated as a major social problem in the United States.

With the onset of the Cold War, the covert intelligence community worked with criminal elements in a mutually beneficial way, based on the rationale that such tactical alliances were necessary in the global crusade against communism. In addition, the high profitability of drug trafficking has proved useful for generating cash flows for secret operations. According to one theory, ClA-related trafficking in drugs in Southeast Asia was used as a self-financing device to pay for services and persons whose hire would not have been approved by Washington. The Afghan resistance has partially financed its war by selling opium; Afghanistan and bordering areas of Pakistan are the world's leading source of illicit heroin exports to the United States and Europe. Drug smuggling has also had an intimate relation with gun running; in both Southeast Asia and Central America, pilots have ferried weapons into battle zones and brought drugs back out. The dose relationship between narcotics dealing and contra armies in such places as Latin America and Afghanistan has led one observer to call the armies narco-contras.

Banks and Airlines

Since Rollnet is like a government unto itself, it requires an infrastructure and large funding sources. Some shady banks and CIA-related airlines have been key parts of Rollnet's infrastructure. The Castle Bank & Trust and the Mercantile Bank and Trust were created by Paul Helliwell, former OSS chief in China and operator of the CIA-controlled Sea Supply Corporation which was involved in gun and drug trading in Thailand. The Castle Bank was one of the CIA's conduits to finance Cuban rollback operations and held the accounts of several organized crime figures. The Nugan Hand Bank in Australia had close ties to the ClA and was probably used to launder drug profits from Laos and Thailand. Funds through the Nugan Hand Bank were alleged to have been channeled to the CIA-backed rebels in Angola.

CIA-run airlines have been used to transport personnel, ship arms, and traffic drugs. The ClA supplied the rollback-oriented Nationalist Chinese army in Burma via Civil Air Transport, later changed into Air America. Air America crews supplied the pro-U.S. Montagnard tribes in Vietnam and Hmong tribes in Laos; the CIA airline also flew opium out of northeastern Laos. Southern Air Transport was a CIA company that became "privately" owned in 1973; it was used to transport arms to the Nicaraguan contras and to deliver U.S. arms to Iran in 1985-86. The FBI received at least one report that cocaine had been loaded onto Southern Air Transport planes in Colombia. CBS News journalist Leslie Cockburn, in her recent book Out of Control, convincingly documented extensive drugs-for-guns trafficking utilizing current and "ex"-CIA proprietaries within the contra supply network.

International Arms Merchants

As the diversion of profits from Iranian arms sales to the contras demonstrated, international arms sales are an excellent method for financing Rollnet's activities. The other purpose of the arms trade for Rollnet, of course, is to obtain arms for Rollnet insurgent fighters. One clever method used to supply the Nicaraguan contras was reported to be the transfer of weapons to them after each major U.S. military exercise in Honduras. Clearly an international movement can accrue enormous power and wealth based on arms transactions and-with the addition of Saudi Arabia to the right-wing club-from oil. Arms, drugs, airlines, banks, and governments work together in the implementation and financing of Rollnet operations.

The U.S. New Right and Religious Right

A network of 1970s-vintage right-wing organizations generally associated with the New Right are connected with or part of the global rollback network. Howard Phillips, who has been chairman of the Conservative Caucus, and Andy Messing, former Caucus executive director, have been on the advisory board of the U.S. WACL affiliate, and General Singlaub has been active in Conservative Caucus activities. Fred Schlafly, the husband of Phyllis Schlafly who spearheaded the New Right and-ERA campaign, has been on the board of directors of the U.S. WACL chapter. The Unification Church has raised $500,000 for the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC). The Conservative Digest, formerly published by Richard Viguerie, is a major supporter of Rollnet causes.

Accuracy in Media (AIM), right-wing critic of the New York Times, CBS and other "liberal establishment media," was co-founded by Bernard Yoh who served under the CIA's Gen. Edward Lansdale in Vietnam and advised Spanish dictator Francisco Franco and right-wing regimes in South Korea and the Philippines; a number of ClA and military figures have been on AlM's advisory board. AIM chairman Reed Irvine has had a regular column in the Moonie-run Washington Times.

An important umbrella organization of the religious Right, the National Religious Broadcasters (which has included Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Jimmy Swaggert on its board of directors) has worked with the Moonies and WACL. The Council for National Policy provides a link between the Christian Right and other right-wing groups; CNP recently had on its board General Singlaub, Oliver North, Pat Robertson, and General Graham. Oliver North arranged for the Florida-based Gospel Crusade to assist in supplying the Nicaraguan contrast Rightwing evangelist and presidential candidate Pat Robertson has also helped raise funds for the contras.

Right-wing Funding Sources

The global rollback network did not just happen; it needed money. Right-wing businesses saw the usefulness of Rollnet for their economic interests and provided much of the funds to create and sustain the network through a small number of ultraconservative foundations. Richard Mellon Scaife has contributed over $100 million in recent years, with beneficiaries including CPD, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Heritage Foundation, Accuracy in Media, and the American Security Council. The Smith Richardson Foundation, the Coors Foundation, the Olin Foundation, and the Pew Freedom Trust have financed many of the same groups. Texas millionaire Nelson Bunker Hunt donated funds to WACL." The ClA operations naturally have received their funding from the U.S. taxpayers, and contra groups are funded by the U.S. government, other rollback regimes, and private sources. Drug trafficking and arms sales are other key sources of Rollnet money.


Clearly, Rollnet is a highly complex institution with multiple interrelated parts. Who runs it' Is it ultimately a ClA creation? Or is it controlled by certain right-wing individuals or corporations, possibly within the military-industrial complex, who have succeeded in pressuring the U.S. government to let them use the ClA for their own purposes? The latter is probably closer to the truth. In any case, each part of the network has particular interests in global rollback. These interests might be the regaining of personal power lost in a revolution or the earning of profits by a military contractor thriving on the Cold War.


Rollnet and U.S. Foreign Policy: : 1945-1980

Rollnet's Origins: U.S. Covert Operations

The global rollback network derives in part from the expanded use of covert operations to support U.S foreign policy objectives after World War II. With the onset of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and its "satellites" became a central target for these operations. U.S. capability for covert action grew directly out of the experiences of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and related military agencies that ran "special operations" to anti-fascist resistance groups during World War II. Subsequent to the signing by President Truman of the 1947 National Security Act, covert operations derived a strict line (albeit changing over the years) of authorization from the president and top leadership represented in the National Security Council.

With technological developments causing more intelligence to be collected by machines rather than spies, the ClA was reorganized to devote more of its activities to covert action. Starting in the late 1940s, skilled operatives from the ranks of the old OSS were recruited into the ClA's Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) and subsequently into the Deputy Directorate of Plans (DDP), coordinating with special operatives in the military services to conduct covert and overt operations throughout the world. Such old-time covert warriors include John Singlaub, Thomas Clines, Paul Helliwell, Richard Stilwell, and Ray Cline, all of whom worked in the OSS operation in the Burmese-China theater during World War II, and who over the next forty years would be involved in operations ranging from Cuba to Southeast Asia to Central America. Reagan's CIA Director William Casey was a member of the OSS "band of brothers," the "club that didn't meet," the old-timers who were "the dedicated secretive operatives who did the dirty work."

These early days established the basis for personal and political relationships that would form a major nexus of power within the covert community. Although tremendous battles would continue to be waged among U.S. foreign policymakers over issues such as containment versus rollback Of a nuclear-armed USSR, the covert warriors were primed for an aggressive global mission. As expressed in President Eisenhower's 1955 directive NSC-5412/2, the general guidelines for covert operations aimed to:

" Create and exploit troublesome problems for International Communism, impair relations between the USSR and Communist China and between them and their satellites, complicate control within the USSR, Communist China and their satellites...Counter any threat of a party or individuals directly or indirectly responsive to communist control to achieve dominant power in a free world country.. In areas dominated or threatened by International Communism, develop underground resistance and facilitate covert and guerrilla operations..."

The ideology expressed in these guidelines, differing little from the precepts of the modern Reagan Doctrine, would increasingly constitute the worldview of covert activists. The total commitment against "international communism" would inevitably generate its own set of policy objectives and political alliances that would impact greatly on the international and the domestic U.S. political scene.

Western European Restraint, Eastern European Frustration

As the Cold War took hold, the traditional conservative establishment was predominantly Atlanticist, preoccupied with restraining Soviet power in Europe. Within Western Europe, particularly France and Italy where communist parties active in the anti-Nazi resistance commanded widespread popular support, containment involved numerous covert activities on behalf of pro-Western political parties and labor unions. In 1948, the CIA worked with the Corsican underworld to provide the shock troops to defeat communist-led strikes in Marseilles. Consequently, the Corsicans gained a foothold enabling them to set up heroin processing labs in southern France that would provide the bulk of street heroin to the United States.

In the same year, covert relationships were worked out with the Mafia in Italy to counteract the strength of the Italian Communist Party, which threatened a victory at the polls. This continuation of previous understandings reached with Luciano guaranteed the Mafia the powerful position it has maintained within Italian politics to this day.

The ClA conducted numerous operations against the Western European communist parties, including financing a family of anti-socialist intellectual journals sponsored by the Congress for Cultural Freedom.

The combination of covert activities and Marshall Plan economic aid was highly successful in keeping Western Europe in the U.S. camp. Eastern Europe was another matter. While the basic policy was to contain the Soviets within the limits agreed to at the 1945 Yalta Conference it was considered fair game to take cautious advantage of any Soviet weaknesses in Eastern Europe. Direct military rollback under the nose of the Soviets was far too dangerous, especially after the USSR became a nuclear power. Thus most covert activities against the Eastern Bloc were centered on intelligence collection and psychological warfare. Chapter One summarized the failed Albanian venture; of note is that Rollnet figure E. Howard Hunt of Watergate fame served as chief of covert operations for the Balkans during this operation. After Albania, practical recognition of the dangers of fighting the Soviets constrained the United States from giving direct military aid to rebellious Hungarians, East Germans, and Poles.

East European emigres and Nazis were particularly useful as sources of intelligence. After the war, Gen. Reinhard Gehlen, head of Nazi counterintelligence on the Eastern front, transferred his extensive files and network of anti-Soviet spies and collaborators to the U.S. intelligence services. The U.S. government actively aided and abetted the escape of numerous Eastern European fascists after World War II, sometimes in conjunction with the efforts of right-wing Vatican elements, allowing such Nazis as Klaus Barbie to flee to South America. These activities were carried out in conjunction with the Anti-Bolshevik Nations (ABN) and were justified as serving the anti-Soviet cause.

With the merger of ABN and the Asian People's Anti-Communist League (APACL) in 1966 to form the World Anti-Communist League (WACL), a major actor in the global rollback network was born. ABN provided links to those Nazis who had escaped to South America, many of whom subsequently attained positions of influence within various Latin American military dictatorships such as Gen. Alfredo Stroessner's Paraguay. Klaus Barbie was allegedly in a cocaine smuggling ring in Bolivia while serving as a close advisor to its right-wing government. Though organized rollback attempts in their own countries were impossible, the frustrated Eastern European fascists committed numerous terrorist murders, a TWA hijacking in 1976, and a Yugoslav airline bombing in 1972 that killed twenty-seven people. A failed movement, they became a disposal problem, and some fought as mercenaries on other continents while others became cadres of WACL.

Rollnet's Crucible: Far Eastern Rollback

In Chapter One we reviewed the rise of a new interventionist Right, attuned to the potential of U.S. expansion into the Pacific Rim and bankrolled by a Sunbelt-based military-industrial complex providing the technological muscle for Pacific air and naval power. The traditional elite Atlanticists, as represented in the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), recognized Chiang Kai-shek's lack of any political base in China and preferred to adopt a wait-and-see attitude toward the 1949 Chinese Revolution. The Asia-first economic interests lost their bid for direct military confrontation with China during the Korean War, but successfully pressured for a covert policy to roll back China in the 1950s. While the rollback attempts were never serious enough to gain victory, the organization of Far Eastern covert operations laid the groundwork for the next forty years of Rollnet actions, both within the United States and internationally. The major domestic movement growing out of the China issue became known as the China Lobby.

The China Lobby

Allied with those traders and missionaries oriented to satisfying the economic and spiritual needs of a mass Asian market, the China Lobby sprang forth to reclaim a China "lost" by traditionally conservative, equally anti-communist Atlanticists. The conservative elites could barely protect their own State Department from the ravages of a McCarthyism that was ultimately nurtured by the very anti-communist climate the elites had created to sell their European Truman Doctrine. With no nuclear threat from China, the traditional elites signed on" to rollback in the Far East as long as war with Russia could be prevented.

The China Lobby in its most populist expression took on a strong bipartisanship exemplified by the activities of the Committee of One Million, organized by Marvin Liebman. While controlled by the right wing, the Committee was backed by a notable number of Atlanticist cold warriors. The Committee of One Million launched numerous campaigns persuading the majority of Congress to oppose diplomatic and trade relations with communist China and to prevent Chinese admission to the UN.

Most important for the development of Rollnet domestically were the movers behind the China Lobby. The politico-economic base for the China Lobby was the classical triad of frontier expansionism: the entrepreneur, the soldier, and the missionary. In the case of China, this involved Protestant church people (in particular Henry Luce, publisher of Time and Life, born in China of missionary parents), shipping and aviation interests (including Gen. Claire Chennault and Sen. William Knowland from Oakland, California, a major poet), import-export traders, and the Navy and Air Force, who wanted to maintain the Pacific as the American lake it had become following the defeat of Japan. But transcending these narrow considerations, the China issue was one that could rally reactionary opposition to the Atlanticist conservative elite.

The major political figure benefiting from the China Lobby's intense criticism of the Truman administration was Sen. Joseph McCarthy who used the China issue to purge anti-rollback elements from the State Department. but for long-range right-wing organization building, more important was conservative fundraiser and Committee of One Million organizer Marvin Liebman, who conducted his campaigns in close contact with the Taiwanese government. Liebman, who prefigured Richard Viguerie as the predominant right-wing fundraiser of his time, in turn coordinated his activities with the numerous other right-wing groups he worked with, providing them with more clout and more organizational capabilities. Some groups benefiting from their association with China Lobby leaders have been Young Americans for Freedom, the American Security Council, Accuracy in Media, the Moonie Empire, and the Committee on the Present Danger. WACL was closely related with the China Lobby; Marvin Liebman was general secretary of WACL's first steering committee and Liebman's successor at the Committee of One Million organized the first U.S. chapter of WACL.

Change Kai-shek APACL and the Moonies

Domestically the China Lobby was an important precursor of the modern rollback Right, but far more important were the international linkages developed between the CIA and the first major contra army, the Nationalist Chinese.

After being routed from the Chinese mainland, Chiang Kai-shek and his troops (described by U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Stilwell as "a Gestapo") had established themselves on Taiwan by a massacre of perhaps 20,000 Taiwanese. From 1950 to 1970, Chiang and his Nationalist Chinese played major roles in the U.S.-directed covert warfare programs in East Asia. Wherever the CIA went, they were able to make use of the natural networks of Chinese businessmen all over the Pacific. According to Asia scholar Franz Schurmann, the Chinese supplied the CIA with saboteurs, commandos, agents, smugglers, spies, and "businessmen" to help out in the complex world of East Asian transactions.

Close cooperation between U.S. covert intelligence agencies and the Taiwanese government continued in this period. This included the establishment of the Political Warfare Cadres Academy, allegedly with the help of Ray Cline, who was Taiwan CIA Station Chief from 1958- 62. This school provided warfare training to thousands of Third World military figures. Prominent graduates include El Salvador's Roberto d'Aubuisson, widely viewed as the mastermind of his country's death squads; Lieutenant Colonel Domingo Monterrosa, a Salvadoran military commander whose troops massacred an estimated one thousand civilians at Mozote in December 1981; Amilcar Santamaria a rightist Honduran political figure; and numerous other intelligence officers in the armies of Latin American dictators.

Concurrently, the United States collaborated with Chiang Kai-shek and South Korean intelligence in founding the Asian People's Anti-Communist League (APACL) in 1954. Ex-Nazi collaborators from Eastern Europe also helped set up APACL. This organization had the purpose of uniting conservatives from all over the Asian continent to battle communism. Possibly arranged through Taiwanese ClA station chief Ray Cline, U.S. funds seem to have helped start APACL. APACL also drew sustenance from the coffers of the Japanese Right. Ryoichi Sasakawa and Yoshio Kodama were prominent members of the wartime fascist Tojo clique who had been convicted of war crimes. In a manner analogous to the rehabilitation of German Nazi war criminals to serve the interests of the West, these individuals were freed in 1948 and helped to bankroll APACL.

Intertwined with APACL was the Unification Church of right-wing Korean Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Moon received major financing from Sasakawa (who has called himself the world's wealthiest fascist) and Kodama. The Korean ClA (whose precursor may have been set up in part by General Singlaub, CIA deputy chief in South Korea in the 1950s), organized by South Korean dictator Park Chung Hee to support his 1961 military coup, adopted the Unification Church as its political arm. Park, as head of one of the world's chief rollback governments, was also a major actor in APACL. In both Korea and Japan, the Moonies and APACL were closely interrelated.

Two important rollback activities in Asia were the Nationalist Chinese attempt to overthrow the Chinese government and the multiple coups in Laos to prevent neutralist governments from gaining power. These two related operations, spanning the 1950 to 1970 period, were the true moments of birth for Rollnet; individuals joined in covert warfare in Asia then spread out as rollback operatives throughout the world.

Arms and Drugs in Burma

The Burma-based Nationalist Chinese operations directed against communist China in the 1950s were supplied by the CIA airline Civil Air Transport (CAT), with some pilots drawn from the ranks of ex-Nazis recruited by the United States. CAT was originally organized by Gen. Claire Chennault in consultation with Colonel Richard Stilwell, the ClA's Office of Policy Coordination chief for the Far East. Also used in these activities was the ClA-run Sea Supply Corporation, which brought arms to the Chinese contrast Sea Supply was run by Paul Helliwell who, as chief of the OSS mission in China during World War II, had used opium brides to pay off local informants, initiating intelligence-related involvement with drug traffic. Continuing this tradition, Nationalist Chinese trafficked in Burmese opium, using CAT planes delivering arms to ship the opium out, to ultimately reach the world market. These GIDO (guns in, drugs out) operations persisted in Laos and later in Vietnam and Central America.

During this period the China Lobby was taking out full-page ads asserting (without evidence) that communist China was behind the heroin trade. But the truth about the Burmese operation leaked, causing a scandal leading to Stilwell's dismissal and the cessation of direct CIA support for the Chinese contrast However, APACL, probably using the same CAT planes, took over the supply operation.

Arms and Drugs in Laos

The Chinese contras were driven from Burma into Laos in 1961, and the CIA, after changing the name of CAT to Air America, took over a revived arms/drug trade. The political objectives of the Laotian operation were several: the organizing of the Hmong (who inhabited parts of China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and Burma) into/ a pro U.S. force in Southeast Asia, the prevention of a neutralist Laotian government, the development of a capacity to disrupt the supply lines of the Ho Chi Minh Trail that ran along the Laotian-Vietnamese border, and the securing of a base from which to launch paramilitary raids against North Vietnam. Rollnet cadres Ted Shackley, Thomas Clines, Richard Stilwell, John Singlaub, Richard Secord, and Felix Rodriguez worked together in the Laotian secret war.

As usual, politics is never pure. Franz Schurmann explains that

" One need not believe that the CIA had some grand design for flooding the world with dope to believe that it got entrapped in the dope business. The [the Hmong] raised opium as their main cash crop, then one would have to put aside one s puritanical beliefs about opium in order to gain their support for more important causes. If Chinese businessmen in Bangkok and Hong Kong helped to process and smuggle the opium to various parts of the world, it was exceedingly deplorable. But, since they formed an invaluable intelligence network...that too had to be overlooked. If Air America was supposed to help the anticommunist covert war in Laos, who could prevent its Asian and American operatives from making some money on the side ?"

Arms and Drugs in Vietnam

As regular U.S. forces became progressively involved in the Vietnam conflict in the later 1960s, many of the personnel associated with the secret war in Laos shifted over to Vietnam. Some members of the U.S. intelligence team in Vietnam were Ted Shackley as head of the ClA station, John Singlaub, Richard Secord, Oliver North, Felix Rodriguez, Edward Lansdale, Harry Aderholt, and William Colby, who directed the Pheonix assassination program that resulted in the deaths of 20,000 to 40,000 Vietnamese.

Besides Burma and Laos, a third Southeast Asian GIDO operation involved the pro-U.S. Montagnards in South Vietnam, whose loyalty was to some extent bought by Air America assistance in bringing the Montagnards' opium crop to the world market. Mafioso Santos Trafficante, fresh from his covert work against Cuba was also a key organizer of this drug network. The multiple purposes of the drug smuggling were to gain the favor of opium growers, to generate funds for the secret operations themselves, and to gain personal profit. The networks created by GIDO operations formed the basis of Rollnet: U.S. military and intelligence personnel, contra armies, airlines, banks, arms, and drug dealers.

The drug trade run though Air America blossomed. As well as supplying the habits of the addicts that at one point comprised over 5 percent of the U.S. armed forces, heroin from the "Golden Triangle" came home to hook tens of thousands of U.S. citizens. Most of the drugs came through Florida via anti-Castro Cuban networks working with the Trafficante organization with Trafficante himself visiting Southeast Asia to coordinate setting up of regional heroin factories to supplement the Corsican networks that heretofore had provided the only source of street heroin.

With the fall of the Saigon regime in 1975, the covert assets that had been carefully nurtured over the years were removed for future use. Under the direction of Assistant Secretary of Defense Erich von Marbod and the CIA apparatus headed by Shackley, millions of dollars worth of arms and profits from the heroin trade were transferred out of Vietnam, Money was deposited in secret accounts around the world. Of special note was the use of the Nugan Hand Bank in Australia, which would provide a secret source of funding over the next few years for U.S. covert operations, including the destabilization of the Australian Labor Party and possibly the South Africa-backed Savimbi insurgency in Angola.

Nugan Hand's connection with the entire Rollnet web is underscored by the people intimately involved with its activities. Individuals associated with the bank included Theodore Shackley, Thomas Clines, and Edwin Wilson, later convicted of selling arms to Libya. The president of the bank, which stole the savings of low-level military personnel, was retired Rear Adm. "Buddy" Yates, who had been the chief of staff for planning for U.S. forces in Asia and the Pacific. The head of the bank's Hawaiian operations was retired Gen. Edwin Black, who had been the commander of U.S. troops in Thailand as well as assistant army chief of staff in the Pacific. Former CIA Director William Colby served as a lawyer for Nugan Hand. The bank reportedly laundered money for Suharto of Indonesia, provided services for Marcos of the Philippines, and assisted the Shah in shifting money out of Iran.

Southeast Asia, then, was the cradle of the global rollback network. Close behind in importance was Latin America, in particular the operations involving Cuba.

The Latin American Death Squad Network

Eight major rollback operations have been mounted in Latin America since World War II: Guatemala in 1954, Cuba in 1961 (failed), Brazil in 1964, Dominican Republic in 1965, Chile in 1973, Jamaica in 1980, Grenada in 1983, and Nicaragua in 1981-present. In addition, large counterinsurgency campaigns have been conducted in Guatemala, El Salvador, Argentina, Uruguay, and elsewhere. In most of these nations, various elements of the global rollback network have been in evidence.


The overthrow of the Arbenz government in 1954 involved a full-scale psychological warfare campaign organized by Guatemala CIA station chief E. Howard Hunt. Bombing raids were carried out by Civil Air Transport planes flown by Nationalist Chinese pilots. Following the coup, U.S.-picked Colonel Castillo Armas took over the government. The Guatemalan episode saw the cooperation of neighboring allied dictatorships that prefigured the later campaigns against Cuba and Nicaragua. Somoza's Nicaragua was used for training the insurgents and they staged their invasion from Honduras. Howard Hunt built upon this relationship to organize the Interamerican Council for the Defense of the Continent (CIADC), the first Latin American affiliate of APACL, in Mexico City in 1954.

Castillo Armas' personal secretary was Mado Sandoval Alarcon, the future "godfather" of the Guatemalan death squads. By the late 1950s, Sandoval had become leader of the right-wing party the National Liberation Movement (MLN), which in the 1960s initiated the death squads to eliminate any serious opposition to military rule. By 1970, it was difficult to distinguish the death squads from the Guatemalan military. One observer explained: "People ask if the death squads are controlled by the Army. They are the Army."

Sandoval has reportedly worked for the ClA, and the CIA was involved in the creation of the Guatemalan death squads. Sandoval also had dose ties with Taiwan and arranged for fifty to seventy Guatemalan officers to receive training at the Political Warfare Cadres Academy there. Sandoval was also head of the Guatemalan chapter of WACL and helped create a death squad apparatus in El Salvador and Honduras. During the Carter administration, aid to Guatemala was cut off as a result of the unfettered death squad activities; in 1979, Generals Singlaub and Graham headed an American Security Council delegation to Guatemala with the aim of re-establishing U.S. aid. By 1980, aid to Guatemala had become an interest of the U.S. New Right. Leaders from the Heritage Foundation, Moral Majority, Young Americans for Freedom, and the Conservative Caucus visited Guatemala. Ronald Reagan is reported to have received an estimated $10 million in campaign contributions from rightist Guatemalans, and Sandoval "mixed with the Reagan inner circle during inauguration week."


Rollnet cadres involved in planning the overthrow of Fidel Castro included Ted Shackley and Thomas Clines, who ran the ClA office overseeing the Bay of Pigs invasion and the subsequent secret war against Castro. Central European ex-Nazis helped train the Cubans for the Bay of Pigs." Paul Helliwell's Sea Supply Corporation and Castle Bank were used in the financing of the Cuban operations.

It was during the anti-Castro operations, organized by the ClA's largest station in the world, that numerous right-wing Cubans received training that would provide an indispensable reserve for U.S. covert activities in years to come. Cuban contra veterans have seen action in the Congo, South America, Southeast Asia, Southern Africa, the Middle East, not to mention the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. With the winding-down of the ClA station in 1%5, many of these Cubans were set loose, and some used their talents in the netherworld of crime, drugs and right-wing politics." A number of anti-Castro Cubans had been criminal elements, running prostitution and gambling rackets for the Mafia under the pre-Castro Batista regime; this involvement persisted in the United States. According to the book The Fish is Red, a great deal of evidence implicates a coalition of Cuban contras and the Mafia in the events surrounding President John Kennedy's assassination. In the attempts to assassinate Castro, the ClA worked directly with organized crime figures Sam Giancana, Johnny Roselli, and Santos Trafficante, Mafia boss of Southern Florida. While these activities were intermittently prosecuted by U.S. authorities, in the main the Cubans continued to support the larger aims of U.S. policy in the hemisphere and elsewhere. The Cuban contras were a disposal problem, but a useful disposal problem indeed.

It is useful to review the careers of two active members of the Bay of Pigs graduating class. Cuban contra Felix Rodriguez worked under Shackley and Clines in Southeast Asia, setting up the secret army in Laos. He also served in the Congo in 1965 to help mercenaries supporting pro-U.S. Mobutu against an insurrection. Afterwards he spearheaded CIA efforts to track down Che Guevara in Bolivia, and was at Guevara's interrogation before his murder. (Rodriguez reportedly wears Guevara's watch today.) Rodriguez went back to Vietnam as a counterinsurgency expert, working under Shackley after the latter became CIA station chief for South Vietnam. In 1981, he served in the ClA-supported Nicaraguan contra training camp run by the Argentinians in Honduras, and at the time of Contragate was in charge of logistics at the Salvadoran Ilopongo airbase supplying the contras.

The second Contragate figure, Luis Posada, supposedly took part in a CIA-inspired assassination attempt against Castro in 1971. He has been identified as a member of Operation 40, an elite force recruited by the ClA which had to be closed down after one of its planes crashed with several kilos of cocaine and heroin aboard. Posada's dose friend and Operation 40 member Eugenio Martinez was arrested as one of the Watergate burglars and later pardoned by President Reagan. In 1976, Posada attended the founding meeting of the Congress of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU), a Cuban terrorist alliance supported by the Chilean and Argentine dictatorships. CORU was financed by gun-running and narcotics trafficking. One of the organizations working in CORU was the Cuban terrorist group Alpha 66, which was closely connected with WACL. Posada and fellow Cuban Orlando Bosch were indicted in Venezuela for the 1976 bombing of a Cubana Airlines plane, killing seventy-three people. After getting out of prison, Posada ended up at Ilopongo with Felix Rodriguez to help supply the Nicaraguan contrast


Two assassinations following the Chilean coup of 1973 demonstrate the international workings of Rollnet. The Pinochet dictatorship that took over after the coup initiated Operation Condor to coordinate the security forces of Latin American right-wing governments, enabling them to hunt down their enemies. After Condor was dismantled as an official operation, its work was contracted to private groups including WACL. This international murder network was responsible for the 1975 assassination of an anti-Pinochet Chilean, Bernardo Leighton; the killing was planned by the Chilean government, carried out by a Cuban contra group, and took place in Italy. The following year, anti-Pinochet Chilean Orlando Letelier was assassinated in Washington, D.C. by a mix of Rollnet actors: the crime was ordered by the Chilean dictatorship and carried out by Cuban contras assisted by a member of the Mafia-connected Italian fascist group P-2. One of the chief right-wing groups behind the 1973 Chilean coup was Patria y Libertad, which apparently gained the contacts needed to undertake these assassinations under the auspices of WACL.

El Salvador

El Salvador has suffered heavily under the influence of Rollnet. Maj Roberto d'Aubuisson, trained at the Political Warfare Academy in Taiwan, and his ARENA Party bore a remarkable resemblance to Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang. Guatemala's Mario Sandoval Alarcon took d'Aubuisson as his protege, reorganized and assisted the Salvadoran death squads which are widely believed to be led by d'Aubuisson.

Through WACL, Sandoval recruited fifty Argentine military advisors, veterans of the Argentine fascist terror campaign of the late 1970s, to assist in training Salvadoran death squads.

According to former U S. Ambassador to El Salvador Robert White, testifying before the House Subcommittee on Western Hemispheric Affairs,

" From the first day in office, the Reagan White House knew - beyond any reasonable doubt - that Roberto d'Aubuisson planned and ordered the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. The administration of President Carter classified ex-Maj. Roberto d'Aubuisson, accurately, as a terrorist, a murderer, and a leader of death squads."

In November 1987, Salvadoran President Jose Napolean Duarte formally accused d'Aubuisson of planning the Romero murder. But death squads were no obstacle to d'Aubuisson's gaining respectability in Rollnet circles, not only through WACL, but also via the U.S. New Right, to which he became something of a hero. Sen. Jesse Helms and New Right organizer Paul Weyrich have been d'Aubuisson supporters, as is the American Security Council where d'Aubuisson has given two speeches.

The El Salvador-Guatemala-Argentina death squad nexus did be come an image problem for WACL in the early 1980s, in part due to a Jack Anderson column linking WACL's Latin American affiliate CAL (Latin American And-Communist Confederation) with death squads WACL chairman Singlaub wrote to right-wing journalist Reed Irvine, now head of Accuracy in Media, asking for help in combating the Jack Anderson "articles which link WACL with the death squad activity."


The period of military terror in Argentina in the late 1970s is often called the "dirty war." The repression of any liberal or left-wing dissent led to an estimated 9,000 people murdered or disappeared. The Argentine government joined Chile, Guatemala, and El Salvador as a death squad regime. In doing so, it became a positive example to CAL, WACL's Latin American branch. Argentine interrogators and torture specialists, coordinated through CAL, taught their methods to other Latin militaries. The Argentines, working with the CIA, were also the first to train the Nicaraguan contrast

The Argentine junta also had a connection with European fascism and the Mafia through the Italian-Argentine Masonic lodge P-2, which supported the junta. P-2 veteran Stefano delle Chiaie was involved in the murder of Chilean Orlando Letelier, helped train death squads in El Salvador, and his associate Klaus Barbie provided German and Austrian gunmen for death squad operations.

In Latin America, the global rollback network shows its true face: death squads, tortures, terrorism, repression all coordinated with European and Asian links. In the 1980s, the Nicaraguan contras were trained by the death squad organizers of the 1970s to become-as Chapter Four will show-a celebrated death squad of the 1980s.

Rollnet Reaches Southern Africa

In Southern Africa, U.S. goals have been to keep the region pro-Western without appearing too closely linked with South Africa, an international outlaw because of its apartheid policies, but also the dominant regional power. One mechanism for carrying out this policy has been to utilize Rollnet in implementing U.S. objectives, enabling the official U.S. position to appear at least mildly critical of South Africa.

Besides South Africa, the Belgian Congo was important as a large nation that gained independence in 1960. Now named Zaire, this nation fought a post-independence struggle in which the United States helped eliminate popular leader Patrice Lumurnba. But after a pro-U.S. government had been installed, insurgency continued, and the CIA brought in its Bay of Pigs Cuban veterans and South Africans to put down the rebellion.' By 1965, Zaire was safely in the hands of dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. The United States now had friends at both the northern and southern ends of the Southern African region.

When revolutions erupted in the Portuguese colonies of Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau, the United States provided counterinsurgency assistance to the Portuguese Salazar dictatorship. Cuban Bay of Pigs veterans flew missions for the Portuguese. At the same time - playing both sides of the field so as to win whatever the outcome - the CIA kept insurgent leaders Holden Roberto (Mobutu's son-in-law) and Jonas Savimbi on retainer.

With the 1974 revolt of progressive officers against the decades-old Salazar dictatorship, the colonialist war in Africa was effectively over. The United States authorized about $30 million through the CIA to unseat the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). Finally, Sen. Dick Clark succeeded in passing an amendment forbidding covert actions in Angola, thereby forcing the United States to rely on South Africa to carry on.

South Africa, with tacit collusion of the United States, permitted terrorist attacks against the leftist government of Mozambique, and propped up the Savimbi insurgency in Angola, possibly aided by secret funds flowing from the coffers of the Nugan Hand Bank. As we noted earlier, South Africa spent considerable sums attempting to defeat Senator Clark and to reverse U.S. public opinion. The upshot of these activities was that the newly independent governments of Southern Africa were the first to suffer the effects of modern contra-war, presaging the future unleashing of the Reagan Doctrine on the Third World.

Rollnet Profiteering in the Middle East

Only a few points will be made about the enormously complex Middle East. First, this region contained three important pro-U.S. nations: Iran prior to the fall of the Shah in 1979, Saudi Arabia, and Israel. Even before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Shah and the Saudis were aiding the Afghan rebels against the pro-Soviet regime.

Second, these three Middle East nations were closely linked with the U.S. military-industrial complex. Because Israel received billions of dollars each year in military aid, it bought many weapons from the United States. Because the Shah's Iran and Saudi Arabia were rich, oil-producing nations, they could afford billions in arms purchases. In just one of many arms deals, Rockwell International, assisted by the CIA, paid large bribes to the Shah's air force commander (and brother-in-law) to gain approval to sell to Iran a $500 million electronic spying and communication system of little value. Admiral Thomas Moorer, on the board of directors of the American Security Council, was also involved in a major arms transaction with the Shah, as was Richard Secord, who at that time headed the Pentagon's military assistance program to Iran.

Third, it was in the money-laden labyrinth of the Middle East that profit came close to exceeding anticommunism as motivation for some Rollnet operatives. Ted Shackley, Thomas Clines, Richard Secord, and Edwin Wilson had formed the private firm EATSCO to transport arms to Egypt, a deal that allegedly skimmed $8 million from U.S. government funds. Center for Strategic and International Studies "intellectual" Michael Ledeen intervened on behalf of Shackley and Secord in this case. Secord and Oliver North had also been involved in the $3.5 billion AWACS radar plane sales to the Saudis, following which Saudi funds were sent to the Nicaraguan contras.

For most of these operatives/entrepreneurs, patriotism and profit were designed to overlap. But for Edwin Wilson, this may not have been the case. Wilson was convicted of supplying Libya's Qaddafi with advanced explosives, timing devices, and military training. Regarding Contragate, Wilson has said, "If I wasn't in jail I'd have headed up this operation."


Poised and Ready

By 1980, the global rollback network was poised and ready for action. They had a candidate, Ronald Reagan, with many Rollnet ties. The military-industrial complex wing of Rollnet led by CPD had scored major victories against the SALT II arms control pact and in favor of greater military budges. Revolutionary changes on three continents had spawned resistance movements that tied into Rollnet. Old time CIA operatives and Cuban exiles felt betrayed, abandoned, and unemployed by the Carter administration and were mad. And the actions of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, plus the taking of hostages in Iran, created the ideal climate for a resurgence of global rollback.

During this transition period, the global rollback network was very active both in lobbying for the U.S. government to support their causes and in modernizing their networks. Less than two months after Ronald Reagan's inauguration, Rollnet was back in business.


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