the same guy wrote "gray money" i think.....

by Mark Swaney 07.26.01

This is a story that I have tried in vain to get reported. When all else
fails, do it yourself, and so this is my own personal account of what I know
about the Mena investigation by the House Committee on Banking and Financial
Services, also known as the House Banking Committee (HBC).
It is an important story that bears directly on current events, but to
understand it, you must know something about past history.
This story is about ordinary citizens in Arkansas who were lied to and
cheated by Jim Leach and other corrupt politicians.
This is also a missing person story, and for all we know, Steve Ganis,
former Mena investigator for the HBC, has been threatened to insure his
The crucial questions remain unanswered.
* Where is the report on the Mena investigation?
* And where is Steve Ganis?
Mena is a small town in southwest Arkansas, population 5,000.
Mena has an airstrip, and in the early 1980's this quiet country town became
the center stage for a famous pilot and smuggler, Barry Seal.
Seal based his cocaine smuggling operation in Mena. Local officials knew
that laws were being broken and they appealed to the federal government for
The rumors were that Seal was running guns to the Nicaraguan Contras, and
bringing back cocaine.
People believed then and now that Barry Seal was actually a government
operative using his public persona as a famous drug smuggler as cover.
After the revelations of the Iran-Contra scandal, the questions about Seal's
operation continued to bother people in Arkansas who wanted to know if their
state had been used by George Bush and Bill Clinton as a base for a
government protected dope running operation.
In 1990, some students and citizens and I formed an organization at the
University of Arkansas called the "Arkansas Committee." The focus of the
Arkansas Committee was to combat government secrecy.
Quickly we discovered that we had a monster case of government secrecy in
our own backyard, and we began to agitate to get a full disclosure of the
Seal case.
Most of our strategy centered on getting the media to pay attention.
Since the case involved both Bill Clinton and George Bush, the media did
write some stories that were almost always centered on the topic of how the
Mena story might affect the political chances of one or the other of the now
former presidents.
In almost every case, the straight truth was ignored in favor of political
"spin". The truth is that Mena is a bipartisan scandal. But that simple idea
was lost in the welter of left vs. right reporting.
By late 1994, the Arkansas Committee had been battling for five years to get
more information on Mena to the public. To that end we had traveled to Mena,
Little Rock, and Washington DC, written countless letters, held press
conferences and demonstrations, filed Freedom of Information requests and
embarked on our own investigation.
In the beginning we thought that once the media "discovered" the Mena story
that they would do their own investigations, but we were sorely
We learned that the American media is a very weak reed for democracy to lean
More and more we relied on our own investigation to give the people
something accurate on the Mena case.
We went after Bill Clinton's Arkansas Development Finance Authority (ADFA),
because we believed that ADFA had been established by Clinton to launder
money from government covert dope smuggling. We went after them tooth and
On the same day that the Arkansas Committee retrieved the Coral Reinsurance
documents from ADFA, December 2, 1994, we met with Bill Duncan, former IRS
agent, and Micah Morrison of the Wall Street Journal.
That night Morrison treated us to a fine dinner courtesy of the WSJ, and the
irony was enormous. Here we were, college radicals, teamed up with the WSJ!
Morrison had come to Little Rock to talk to Bill Duncan about Mena and he
informed us that the Arkansas Committee's long pursued goal of obtaining a
new investigation into the Mena allegations had finally been achieved.
The managers of the WSJ editorial page had been convinced by former Arkansas
congressman Bill Alexander and others that the Mena stories were worth
pursuing. They in turn had convinced the incoming chairman of the House
Banking Committee (HBC), Jim Leach, to use his good offices to investigate
And it came to pass as reported by Micah, soon there was an announcement by
James Leach that his committee would investigate Mena, and "let the chips
fall where they may".
These were the heady days of the Whitewater investigation and the Foster
suicide. In their zeal to poke a hole in Bill Clinton, the Republicans
apparently didn't care whose ox they gored, even if it was named "Bush". Or
so they said at the time.
The Arkansas Committee was skeptical, but willing to go along.
After all, we had been beating the drums, doing our own investigation, and
here comes the government saying they will finally do what they should have
done long ago.
We wanted to believe them, we really did. And we weren't about to let the
Congress of the United States investigate Mena without our getting in on it.
On the other hand, we were by this time veteran sufferers of public double
talk and self-serving deceptions by "investigative" reporters and corrupt
I decided to stick to the HBC's investigation every step of the way so that
when and if there was another cover-up, I would know it.
Initially, I thought that the probable result of the HBC's Mena probe would
be a weak investigation, followed by an equally weak report, with the
standard "Scotch Verdict " (meaning "not proved") so favored by
Congressional committees.
But was I wrong.
In the spring of 1995, I got a call from Steve Ganis, who had been assigned
to be the chief Mena investigator for the Leach committee. Steve Ganis was a
young lawyer that previously had worked on an investigation of the Rose law
firm and their role in cleaning up some savings and loans for the RTC.
So he already had some knowledge of who the players were likely to be in
Arkansas. For the first time I found myself explaining Mena to someone
empowered to investigate. We talked for four hours on that first call.
There were many others. Steve and I became friendly. I told him I would back
off the public pressure and just let him do his job and read the report like
everyone else when it finally came out. I told him I was tired of fighting
for the truth to come out on Mena, and that I would draw a line in the sand
on my efforts when I finally held in my hand the report of his
I'm still waiting.
Over the course of the next year (1996), I sent to Steve Ganis all the
documentation that I had collected and that he wanted, including the
AIG/Coral documents from ADFA.
In one conversation I remember having with Ganis early on, I told him that I
believed that the Stephens group was getting rich by laundering money for
the US intelligence services.
Ganis was quick to point out that money laundering by the US government was
legal, and that if he found ADFA or any entity laundering money for the
government, that he would not be able to report on that information.
That was a crucial statement when considered in the light of the new
revelations about the history of AIG [American International Group, a global
mega-corporate "insurance" entity] and Coral insurance.
I also kept up with the other people that I expected that the investigators
would want to talk to, including Bill Duncan and Russell Welch, the original
law enforcement team that worked on the Barry Seal case, and Jean Duffey,
former prosecuting attorney in Arkansas.
Ganis and the investigators looked in every place that I thought that they
should look. They went to Mena and took statements from Chuck Black the Polk
county prosecutor, and others in Arkansas.
Ganis requested information from several federal agencies that up until that
time had been silent on Seal and Mena, including Customs, FBI, CIA, and IRS.
I was impressed.
It was clear that the HBC and Steve Ganis were not slouching in their
efforts to get information. Ganis worked closely with Bill Duncan, the
former IRS agent that has made Mena a personal crusade. I trust Bill Duncan
completely, and Bill told me that Ganis was a bulldog on the hunt, that he
was honest and wouldn't give up.
During the first year of the HBC's investigation, Ganis seemed to me to be
pessimistic about getting anything that he considered good evidence. He
discounted much of the information that I had collected.
After the first year, in the fall of 1996, Steve said that he was close to
completing his investigation. One day in late 1996, he called me to ask
about a certain person from Saudi Arabia. I never heard of the guy, and I
told Steve that I didn't know who it was. Ganis didn't tell me anything
about the Saudi, but he was obviously excited about his new lead.
It would be four years before I would find out what he had.
One set of information I had sent that Ganis did take an interest in was the
AIG/Coral material. I mailed him the documents on the deal that I had gotten
from my FOIA work at ADFA.
Later, he called me to tell me that I would be credited in the report for
having provided the HBC with the information. Ganis said that it would be
convenient for him to credit me because he had also obtained the Coral
documents from another source that did not wish to be identified. I asked
why the information was being included in the report, and he said that at
first he didn't think much about the Coral/ADFA/AIG deal. Then he said
"later I found out something about AIG that I hadn't know before" but he
wouldn't tell me what is was.
After the phone call about the Saudi Arabian, Steve seemed to be more
positive about the direction of his search. He would never tell me directly
what he was finding. He would only say that the Mena story would be far from
over when his report was finished.
All through 1997 we waited patiently for the investigation and the report to
be completed. And all during this time there were continuing contacts
between Steve Ganis and people in Arkansas. It was getting to be a long
effort, much longer than we had initially expected.
In one memorable e-mail to me, Steve compared writing the Mena report to
Edward Gibbon writing the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire".
At the time we thought that a long investigation and report was a good sign,
it showed that Jim Leach really wanted to get it done right.
But as the months went by, and there began to be fewer and fewer contacts
between Steve Ganis and the Arkansas sources, we began to wonder when we
would see the results of his investigation.
After all, by this time, late 1997, the investigation had been going on for
more than two years. We had been expecting the report at any time since the
fall of 1996. I started to worry when Jean Duffey told me that the word on
the street in Washington was that Leach was going to bury the report since
the evidence uncovered was all against George Bush and not Bill Clinton.
That bit of intelligence turned out to be almost true.
Ganis had always maintained that it was Leach himself that he had to appeal
to in order to get support for carrying on the investigation. We knew as
well that there were other people on Leach's staff that didn't want to
continue, including Gregory Wierzynski and Jim Clinger.
According to Ganis, Leach was dedicated to getting to the bottom of the Mena
mystery. And we believed he was telling the truth. Leach had always had a
good reputation in the Congress for being an honest man. Everyone said that
Jim Leach wouldn't cover up anything.
Then in December of 1997, a very ominous sign occurred.
In the middle of the Clinton-Starr battles over Whitewater, the HBC held a
press conference in which they said that their investigation had not yielded
any information on Bill Clinton. This did not bode well.
The investigation had been billed as an effort to get to the bottom of the
Mena allegations, not to get Bill Clinton. Leach's statement was an obvious
ploy to put the press off the story of the investigation.
Without imparting any other information to the media, no report, and
certainly not any information on what may have been uncovered about George
Bush and Barry Seal, the HBC threw a bare bone to the myopic media.
George Bush Sr. was always the more likely to be culpable in the bi-partisan
corruption called Mena.
The Arkansas Committee had labored in vain to explain this point to various
reporters in New York and Washington, who were always looking for a quick
The HBC effectively mis-directed the whole Washington-New York press core.
Unasked questions might have been, "If you found nothing on Bill Clinton,
then what did you find on George Bush?" or, "If you found nothing on Bill
Clinton, where's the report that says you found nothing on Bill Clinton?"
or, "You've told us what you didn't find, so will you now tell us what you
DID find?"
>From this point on, the HBC was actually stonewalling, and Leach knew what
>he was sitting on, and whom it would benefit to keep it under wraps.
George W. Son-of-Bush, already known to be gearing up a campaign for
With this unsettling sign that things were going wrong, I tried to talk to
Steve Ganis about the situation. He avoided talking to me as much as
possible, and on the rare occasions that I did get to talk to him he would
assure me that everything was all right, the report would indeed be released
some time soon.
In one phone conversation Steve described the report to me. It had chapters
on Mena before Barry Seal, chapters on Mena during Barry Seal, and chapters
on Mena after Barry Seal. He told me to be sure to read carefully the
footnotes as they were very important and just one of the chapters had about
four hundred of them.
In desperation, in the summer of 1999, a year and a half after the
investigation and the report by Steve Ganis was completed, I sent a futile
"Freedom of Information" request to the HBC only to be informed that
Congress had exempted itself from the FOI law. Typical. The HBC's letter
went on to say that the investigation and the report had been delayed by the
tardy reply to requests that the committee had sent out to the various
federal agencies involved, and that IF the report was to be released, then I
would certainly be allowed to receive a copy.
This news was followed again by calls to Steve Ganis during which he would
try to reassure me that the report would be released. I discussed the
non-release of the report with Bill Duncan. Bill was of the opinion that we
had to trust Steve. I agreed with Bill as it seemed to be the only option.
Steve Ganis was, and is, the only person in the government to give us any
support. We believed that he would not stand for a faked report being
released over his name. We hoped that in the event that his report was not
released that Ganis would come to our defense and stand up for his findings.
I would have been even less optimistic than I was had I known at the time
what I was later told by both Bill Duncan and Russell Welch.
Ganis had told both the former lawmen that he had been personally frightened
during his investigation. That he felt that his investigation had been
interfered with by unknown persons, and that he thought people were trying
to intimidate him. Given that sort of harassment, Ganis would have wanted
protection, and Jim Leach was the only person who could have provided any.
In any case, we kept up some hope that perhaps Leach would at some time
release the full report. Perhaps he was waiting for just the right moment we
But in my mind, it was clear that "things" had gone wrong. On the other
hand, Ganis still held all the cards. He knew the truth, whatever it was,
about what he had actually found in his investigation. I wanted to know what
he knew about Seal and Mena and all the rest, we all did. And Ganis had
always been friendly and we liked him. So we kept up hope that something
would still be forthcoming. We hung on.
Then, in the July of 2000, something started to move.
The presidential race was on, with Bush and Gore the nominees for the
Leach's six year tenure at the HBC was almost up, and we got word from Steve
Ganis that he was about to leave his job at the HBC. I freaked out. With
Steve Ganis gone from the HBC, we didn't have any contacts there, and there
would be little to no chance that we could get any cooperation from anyone
Dave Runkle, the PR man for Leach, affectionately known as "marble mouth",
never knew what was going on with the Mena report, and always gave us the
standard claptrap. Near the end he took to saying that the report "may not
be released" but refused to give any reason why.
That week, a series of phone calls took place between myself, Steve Ganis,
and a cool character from upper New York state named Mario Calabrese.
Calabrese had been following the progress of the Mena story since the early
nineties, and had been hammering on various federal agencies trying to get
information on Mena. I had talked to him on the phone several times. He just
happened to be in Washington that week, working a part-time summer job,
using the opportunity to try and lever some documents out of the CIA and the
Leach committee.
He called me that last week in July to ask me about Greg Wierzinsky. I asked
him why he was trying to talk to Wierzynski, and he said that he was hoping
to get some information on the Mena investigation. I told him that Steve
Ganis was the guy he should be talking to, and that in fact at that very
moment I myself wanted desperately to talk to Ganis in person. I had asked
Steve on several occasions to give me a time when the two of us could meet
in Washington. He had always put me off. But now at least, Mario was there
in the living flesh, and maybe he could tell me what was happening.
Calabrese went down to the HBC that week to find Steve Ganis.
Tuesday went by, Wednesday went by, and finally on Thursday, he got to talk
to Ganis.
Calabrese found him in a press conference on a bill that Ganis had helped
Leach put together. Later, they went out to eat and Calabrese and Ganis
talked about the report. Calabrese conveyed to Ganis that we in Arkansas
felt cheated by Leach and the HBC, and Ganis said that he understood. Ganis
also told Calabrese some of the things that were in the report on Mena.
Calabrese called me to convey the information. He gave me Ganis's e-mail
Finally, on Wednesday, August 2, 2000, Ganis called me himself. We talked
for over an hour on the phone. Steve was concerned that I not stir up a mess
about his leaving the HBC without the Mena report being released. He tried
to reassure me that the report would still, after all, be released, and so I
shouldn't cause any trouble for Leach, that might just make him change his
mind. He said that Leach had promised him that the report would be released
- after the election.
I interpreted all this to be a reaction to my furious phone calls to the PR
man for Leach, David Runkle. I figured that Ganis was trying to make an exit
from the HBC and the whole investigation and wanted me to chill any actions
that might make it harder for him to reestablish himself.
Of course, I didn't believe Leach would release the report after the
election, but what choice did we have? And besides, what was four months
compared to the 15 years since Seal was gunned down?
I didn't want (and don't want) to make Ganis an enemy. He is the guy who did
the job. He's our hero.
Ganis also talked to me for some time about the contents of the report. He
said that the report had been finished in late 1997, and no more work had
been done on it after that time. He said that he couldn't nail Bill Clinton
for being in on Mena, and that he was not able to prove that Seal was flying
guns down to the Contras, he said that the trail was just too cold. That's
what he didn't find in his investigation.
But what did he find?
Ganis's main results (to the extent that he told me his main results) are
revealing to say the least.
Ganis told me that he proved that Barry Seal had been flying cash money to
the Contras. He had traced sums of money from Barry Seal's bank account in
Twin Cities Bank in Little Rock, by amounts and dates, to the bank records
of the Contras. Some of the money he thought might have come from a source
in Saudi Arabia.
Barry Seal was far more than a dope smuggler who got caught and was
eventually killed. Ganis had deposed Oliver North on the subject of the
exact means by which the Contra's received their financial support from the
National Security Council group, and North would not respond.
Ganis told me that his results suggest that Barry Seal was part of a covert
action group reporting to the Vice President, George Bush Sr., and was using
the status of "turned DEA asset" as a cover.
Ganis found that Barry Seal was involved in a covert action to infiltrate
Fredirico Vaughn into the Sandinista government.
The report also includes additional information linking the Carver ranch in
Belize to the Contra army. The Carver ranch was also linked to Dan Lassater
and Barry Seal. This information is far from exculpatory where Clinton and
Arkansas are concerned, as anyone who has followed the trail of this case
can tell you.
If Ganis failed to get a smoking gun on Clinton, a la the Watergate Tapes,
he certainly did not exonerate Bill Clinton of the charge that he protected
the operations at Mena.
There is evidence in the report linking Barry Seal to the Contra support
movement in Miami Florida, and also that Barry Seal was recruiting pilots
for the "Enterprise" of Secord, and North, et. al.
The Mena report also contains information on events at the Mena airstrip
after the death of Barry Seal. Included in the report is information on the
C130's at Mena and operations in Angola, Africa.
And the report has something in it on the mysterious transaction between
ADFA and AIG, the international insurance company.
Ganis said that though he didn't know why, Leach had insisted on putting the
AIG/Coral reinsurance information in the Mena report.
Perhaps now there is some reason to understand Leach's insistence.
The Mena report is quite simply, political dynamite, and it has the name
BUSH written all over it.
I wonder what the payoff for Jim Leach is going to be for burying the Mena
investigation results.
So there you have it folks, and as it stands right now, Steve Ganis is
He has disappeared and is in the wind, as they say on the outlaw trail.
For anyone who has been paying attention, the crucial questions are as
Where is the report of the Mena investigation?
And where is Steve Ganis?
Mark Swaney is one of the founders of the "Arkansas Committee," a grassroots
investigative group which has been digging into the Mena, Arkansas and ADFA
mystery since 1990.
Swaney's article called "Grey Money" reveals the connections between the
Arkansas Development and Finance Authority (ADFA), American International
Group (AIG)and its shady offshore subsidiary Coral Reinsurance Company, an
alleged Barbados-based money laundry.
For the complete story, click here

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