-Caveat Lector-


Richard V. SECORD, Plaintiff,
Leslie COCKBURN, et al., Defendants.

Civ. A. No. 88-0727-GHR.

United States District Court,
District of Columbia.
Aug. 27, 1990.


REVERCOMB, District Judge.

     The plaintiff, retired Major General RICHARD V. SECORD,
filed the instant libel action against the defendants Leslie
Cockburn, Andrew Cockburn, Morgan Entrekin, Atlantic Monthly
Press, and Little, Brown and Company, Inc., arising out of the
writing, publication and distribution of a book entitled "Out of
Control: The Story of the Reagan Administration's Secret War in
Nicaragua, the Illegal Pipeline, and the Contra Drug Connection"
(1987) (hereafter "Out of Control"). This matter is before the
Court pursuant to the defendants' motion for summary judgment.

I. Subject of the Suit

"Out of Control" is a book about the purported activities of a
group of Americans that supported the movement of the Contras to
overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The plaintiff
contends that "Out of Control" identifies him as a member of a
"secret team" which had engaged in illegal drug trafficking,
torture, murder and attempted assassination as part of its
conspiracy to overthrow the Sandinista government.  The plaintiff
broadly alleges that "the entire text of 'Out of Control' defames


As I testified at my deposition (Leslie Cockburn Dep. at 221-25)
it had also been widely reported prior to the publication of
"Out of Control" that the programs that Mr. Secord oversaw
involved massive bribery.

For example, "the Iran-Contra Connection," a book published in
1987 prior to publication of my book and relied upon by me,
reported that:

"In Iran, Hakim made a handsome living selling military
equipment from such firms as Olin Corp., Hewlett-Packard and his
own Stanford Technology Corp. Hakim's STC had a $5.5 million
contract to supply the notorious, CIA-promoted IBEX project,
which Secord oversaw. Secord reportedly helped Hakim win another,
$7.5 million contract with Iran's air force for a sophisticated
telephone monitoring system to allow the Shah to keep track of
his top commanders' communications. The Shah's secret police,
SAVAK, operated the equipment.
"Hakim's business methods were as controversial as his products:
"He arranged the latter communications deal through the air force
commander, Gen. Mohammed Khatemi, who Hakim bribed on at least
one other deal and who also received hefty payoffs for approving
the IBEX contract."

(Exh. 33.)

"In the most notorious case, the CIA and Rockwell International
pushed on Iran a gigantic electronic spying and communication
system called IBEX ...

"The IBEX project smelled for other reasons beyond its doubtful
contribution to Iran's defensive needs. Rockwell paid huge bribes
to Iran's air force commander (and the Shah's brother-in-law),
Gen. Mohammed Khatami, to win approval for the $500 million
project. Other military contractors, including Bell Helicopter,
Northrop and Grunman, hired agents who bribed Iranian officials
with handsome commissions, often amounting to millions of

(Exh. 35) (footnotes omitted) (Iran-Contra Connection at 153).

"Secord headed the Air Force Military Advisory Group, which in
effect represented the U.S. arms merchants before the Shah ...
That job would have given Secord a direct role (with the CIA) in
the shady deal of IBEX ..."

(Exh. 35) (Iran-Contra Connection at 156) (footnotes omitted).

I also read and relied upon: Los Angeles Times, February 14,
1987 ("One source who knew him said Secord helped Hakim get Air
Force contracts, including one from the Iranian government for 15
million to install phone taps at the main Iranian Air Force
base.&nbsp; In turn, Hakim provided intelligence to his contacts
among U.S. intelligence officers in Iran.")

(Exh. 40); P. Maas, Manhunt at 59 (Edwin "Wilson had tried to
sell the Iranians [a surveillance system], using the good offices
of General Secord in Teheran, but despite Secord's best efforts,
SAVAK wasn't in the market ...")

(Exh. 41); S. Rosenfeld, San Francisco Examiner, December 9, 1986
(linking both Hakim and Secord to the IBEX project and describing
Hakim as a "bag man for U.S. concerns seeking approval from
Iranian officials on military sales")

(Exh. 42).  Leslie Cockburn Affidavit at p 37 (footnote omitted).

Furthermore, paragraph 34 specifically details the basis of the
author's assertion that General Secord did head the Air Force
Military Assistance Advisory Group in Iran in the late 70's:

As one published source stated: "According to his Pentagon
biography Secord 'acted as chief advisor to the commander in
chief of the Iranian air force and managed all U.S. Air Force
programs to Iran as well as some Army and Navy assistance
programs.' "
J. Marshall, P. Scott and J. Hunter, "Iran-Contra Connection" at
156 (Exh. 35).

The MAAG, whose Air Force contingent was headed by Secord,
according to the authors "in effect represented the U.S. arms
merchants before the Shah."

"Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi himself complained that he sometimes
was unable to tell whether various weapons systems were promoted
to further U.S. policy or to generate profits for defense
contractors and fees for their representatives ...

" 'You Americans pretend to be so righteous,' fumed the ruler
when U.S. Senate investigators were alleging corruption by
Iranian military commanders in connection with defense
" 'But,' he continued in the presence of a high American
official, 'it is hard for me to believe that your MAAG officers
(the military advisory group at the U.S. Embassy) haven't already
been hired by American companies and aren't under their influence
...  Are they giving me real advice or just promoting companies?'
Los Angeles Times, 2/3/80. (Exh. 36).


The author's affidavit provides:

It was well-known that the Shah was paying inflated prices for
U.S. equipment at this time and I had seen several documents
demonstrating this. For example, as noted in "The Iran-Contra
Connection" at 156,

"Erich von Marbod, [who] had worked closely with Secord to
arrange covert financing for CIA-directed Thai guerillas fighting
in Laos in the early 1970s ... championed the Carter
administration's controversial proposal to sell Iran 8 Airborne
Warning and Control System (AWACS) planes, a system blasted by
the General Accounting Office as too advanced for Iran's needs
and overpriced."
(Exh. 35)

The AWACS planes were to have been sold to the Iranians at
$102.671 million each (in addition to a separate $510.2 million
contribution for spares, maintenance support, site surveys and
training) under a 1977 contract.  A year later, the United States
Air Force bought more sophisticated versions of the same plane
for $78.1 million each.
T. Gervasi, "Arsenal of Democracy II" (1981) ("Arsenal ") at 137.
(Exh. 43.)

The Khomeni government cancelled Iran's order, and the planes
were never delivered.
Id. at 272.

Other military equipment sold or delivered to Iran by the
United States during Mr. Secord's tenure as head of the Air Force
MAAG in Teheran (1975-8) was similarly overpriced as compared to
sales to other allies or to the United States armed services. In
1974, Iran ordered several hundred AIM 54-A air-to-air missiles
for delivery in 1976 through 1978 at a cost of $708,000 each.
The 1976 unit procurement cost to the United States Navy of the
same missiles was $363,823.
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, "World Armament
and Disarmament" (1978) ("World Armament " ) at 264 (Exh. 44);
Arsenal at 213.

Also in 1974, Iran ordered 80 F-14A Tomcat aircraft for delivery
in 1976 and 1977 at a price of $23.750 million each.  In 1978,
the unit procurement cost to the United States military was
$20.624 million each.
"World Armament" at 265; "Arsenal" at 97.

In 1978, Iran ordered (and later cancelled) 160 F-16 aircraft at
$14.844 million each.  The cost of the same aircraft to the
United States military in 1978 was $9.482 million each.
"Arsenal" at 272, 283.

Iran ordered (and later cancelled) August 1978 delivery of 186
AIM-9H air intercept missiles for $75,268 each.  The 1975 unit
procurement cost to the United States Navy was $17,176 each.
"Arsenal" at 211, 272.

[Defendant's] affidavit provides:

"Both Vang Pao's and Air America's involvement in opium
trafficking, and the CIA's sponsorship of Vang Pao, were well
documented by accounts I had read prior to publication and which
I credited.  Those accounts included A. McCoy, "The Politics of
Heroin in Southeast Asia" (1972); former CIA agent Victor
Marchetti's "The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence" (1974); C.
Robbins, "Air America: The Story of the CIA's Secret Airlines"
(1979); and R. McGehee, "Deadly Deceits: My 25 Years in the CIA"
(1983).  These accounts established that Vang Pao had established
a heroin laboratory at Long Tieng -- the town where the CIA had
its Laotian quarters ("Politics of Heroin" at 248-49 and n. 23,
281 and 247: "the U.S. Bureau of Narcotics reports that Gen. Vang
Pao, Commander of the CIA's Secret Army, has been operating a
heroin factory at Long Tieng, headquarters for CIA operations

in northern Laos" (Exh. 32); Air America at 138, 232, 237-38)
(Exh. 31); that he CIA turned a blind eye (or, to use the phrase
of Mr. Secord's complaint as to other matters, "acquiesced in and
condoned") towards Vang Pao's narcotics activities ("Air America"
at 230, 237 ("[w]hile the Meo fought the war for the CIA, the
agency turned a blind eye to their generals' profitable sideline
in opium") (Exh. 33; "Cult of Intelligence" at 254 (Exh. 34);
"Politics of Heroin" at 353 (Exh. 32) ("American involvement has
gone far beyond coincidental complicity;&nbsp; embassies have
covered up involvement by client governments, CIA contract
airlines have carried opium, and individual CIA agents have
winked at opium traffic"); and the CIA Airline, Air America,
carried opium to Long Tieng and other locations. Id. These books
are well respected and credible, and I believed (and believe
today) that the accounts I have referred to are accurate.


As detailed in my July 1987 broadcast for West 57th, two
companies, Ocean Hunter and Frigorificos de Puntarenas, that
received over $200,000 from the State Department for
"humanitarian aid" to the Contras, were deeply involved in
cocaine trafficking.&nbsp; My sources for this link included FBI
documents, on-camera interviews, bank records, customs documents,
sworn testimony given to the Kerry Committee, and interviews with
defense lawyers, DEA bounty hunters, and Coast Guard officials,
among others.  State Department documents that I had reviewed
showed that Robert Owen, who worked directly under Oliver North
in the Contra resupply operation, was overseeing the Ocean
Hunter/Frigorificos accounts while the companies were under
active investigation by the DEA, Customs and the Coast Guard.


The specific passage in "Out of Control" to which the plaintiff
cites provides:

"Shackley and Clines were, however, besmirched enough by their
associations with Wilson to be forced to resign from the CIA by
Stansfield Turner in 1979.  They thereupon joined forces with two
people whose names were to become well known to Sheehan and, much
later, to the press and public: Richard Secord, at the time an
active general officer in the U.S. Air Force, and Iranian-born
arms dealer Albert Hakim.

"According to the intelligence officer's story, this group began
shipping arms, ammunition, and explosives to the remnant of
Somoza's National Guard immediately after they escaped from
Nicaragua and began to reform themselves as the contras.  Later
on, the same cast of characters, employing Quintero among others,
delivered lethal supplies to contras in Costa Rica, in part
through John Hull.  In fact it appeared that this group had
been the main suppliers of the contras from 1979 through 1980,
and again from 1984 to 1986, during the official cutoff of U.S.


The plaintiff generally cites to the chapters in "Out of Control"
entitled "The Cocaine Connection" at pages 152-167 and "Guns for
Drugs" at pages 168-188.  More specifically, the plaintiff
challenges the following passages:

"Scandalous though the use of Hull's strips for drugs and arms
may seem, there was another airfield in Costa Rica reportedly
being used for drug trafficking, one that puts Oliver North and
his associates in even closer conjunction with the narcotics
business.  The secret airfield at Santa Elena authorized by North
and Secord, promoted by Ambassador Tambs, scouted by Station
Chief Fernandez and Robert Owens and Rafael Quintero was also,
according to several sources, a transshipment point for cocaine.

"Seal told [Mickey Tolliver] that not only would the flying be
interesting, the pay would be good too.  He told Tolliver to go
to Miami and call a particular number.  The interesting flying,
thought Tolliver, could be "anything from Campbell's soup to dead
babies, but knowing Seal, it involved drugs.
"He had no idea however that he was stepping into the middle of
the secret contra supply network, and that his control agents
would include, according to Tolliver, at least one high-level
operative in the North-Secord-CIA operation: Rafael Quintero.


"In 1976 Richard Secord turned up in Tehran, posted to run the
air force component of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory
Group, the main function of which was to advise the shah to buy
lots of expensive American weapons.  Weapon sales promoted by
Secord involved what one observer calls "some of the biggest
bribery in Iran."
"The enormous U.S. weapons sales program to Iran was, in
addition, marked by a huge disparity between the prices paid by
the Iranians and what the U.S. military paid for identical
equipment.  This, as we shall see, was not the last time the
Iranians were to be subject to such official profiteering.

"Secord's superior and partner in these efforts was Erich von
Marbod, who had now become the senior U.S. defense representative
to Iran.  Handling bribes, or as he prefers to call it,
baksheesh, was the specialty of a man whom Secord first met in
Iran and who was to become the financial comptroller of Secord's
complex business organization.  Albert Hakim was a middleman who
would receive bribe money from defense contractors to be paid to
Iranian officials who were purchasing the weapons.  Not all the
money would pass out of his control, however.  As he later
testified to the Iran-Contra committees, Hakim was trusted by the
shah's generals to invest their ill-gotten gains in Switzerland,
in accounts untraceable to the true owners of the money.

"It was in this period that the network began to set up its own
proprietaries, as private companies owned by the CIA are called.
Some of these were to become famous when the Iran-Contra scandal
finally burst on America.
"They included the Stanford Technology Corp. and Energy
Resources.  Others, such as CSF Investments Ltd., were
specifically Central American in their orientation.  This was
hardly a coincidence, for in 1978 the network had made a new and
fateful connection.


The plaintiff was indicted on Iran-Contra charges on the very day
that he filed this libel action.



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