in the most enlightened Hollywood films (not to mention
Transylvanian folklore) it is perfectly justifiable
to execute vampires summarily-or even their victims,
when they're transformed into vampires-without the benefit
of any legal process, presumably because they embody
an evil so easily transmittable to others and destructive
to society that there is no time for a fair trial. For
similar reasons It is generally accepted in more contemporary
dramas for heroin pushers (often cast as updated versions
of Dracula) to be disposed of summarily by extralegal
means. In the early seventies a number of films and
television dramas centered around the execution of pushers
by vigilantes reenacting the role of crusaders against
the vampire. For example, in the movie Hit a former
CIA agent puts together an assassination team for the
express purpose of murdering a dozen or so heroin dealers
in France, which the film justifies as appropriate action.
The unconventional liquidation
of those suspected of participating in the narcotics
business was not limited to films or fiction. When Ingersoll
continued to report that "our enforcement agencies
are not getting the top traffickers," Krogh demanded
an explanation. Ingersoll replied that although his
agency was able to identify the top traffickers in foreign
nations, the local police in those countries were unwilling
to move against these wholesale dealers, apparently
because they had their protection. The only way to get
immediate results, he suggested defensively, was to
assassinate the traffickers. He assumed, at the time,
that such an alternative would be "completely unthinkable"-at
least, that is how he explained it to me two years later.
Unknown to Ingersoll, the Ad
Hoc Committee on Narcotics, also under the aegis of
Egil Krogh, was receiving information that made such
an alternative "less unthinkable." The CIA
reported that there were only a handful of kingpin traffickers
in Latin America, who could be eliminated very swiftly.
Two new advisors to Krogh, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon
Liddy, were also pressing for unconventional actions.
Liddy told William Handley, then our ambassador to Turkey,
that he was for liquidating top traffickers by any means
available. By mid-May, Ingersoll was asked by the White
House to prepare a plan for "clandestine law enforcement"-as
if law enforcement could be clandestine. What Ingersoll
suggested was a fund which could be used for various
clandestine activities and "which would be set
up along the lines of the CIA," meaning that only
a few Congressmen-the majority and minority members
of the appropriate subcommittees-would know the actual
details of the expenditures of this fund. Ingersoll
subsequently explained to me that he intended to use
this fund mainly for "disruptive tactics,"
such as planting misinformation among various drug-dealing
factions and purposely misidentifying informants in
the hope of inciting some kind of gang warfare. But
at the time, at the White House, at least, assassination
was "a very definite part of the plan," according
to Jeffrey Donfeld, who drew up most of the memoranda
concerning the "clandestine law enforcement"
The fund also grew in White
House planning to assume proportions far beyond the
original plans, according to Ingersoll. A May 27 memorandum
for the president from John Ehrlichman (written by Krogh)
noted that one decision the president would be required
to make would concern -$50 million for overseas operations
in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, for
such clandestine enforcement." Later that week,
John Ehrlichman met with President Nixon. According
to Krogh's detailed "Outline of Discussion with
the President on Drugs," the president agreed to
"forceful action in [stopping] international trafficking
of heroin at the host country." Specifically, the
memorandum of the meeting noted, "It is anticipated
that a material reduction in the supply of heroin in
the U.S. can be accomplished through a $100 million
(over three years) fund which can be used for clandestine
law enforcement activities abroad and for which BNDD
would not be accountable. This decisive action is our
only hope for destroying or immobilizing the highest
level of drug traffickers." (Emphases added.) Though
the word "assassination" was never used by
the president, it is clear from the context of the "Outline
of Discussion" that clandestine operations in the
host country could accomplish the destruction of drug
traffickers, who were assumed to be under the protection
of police and politicians abroad. As one of Krogh's
young assistants facetiously explained when I showed
him the outline of the presidential discussion, "one
hundred million dollars would buy a lot of contracts
on a lot of major heroin dealers." Ingersoll doubted
that such a "staggering sum" was ever intended
to be used for any sort of narcotics enforcement, but
was possibly some sort of clandestine slush fund. In
any case, it was clear that this fund was not meant
to be controlled by the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous
Drugs. (indeed, the $100 million proposed for unaccountable
clandestine activities abroad was more than the bureau
had received in its entire budget in 1970 for overt
and legal law-enforcement activities.) Ehrlichman suggested
that an executive order be issued establishing a "Domestic
Council-National Security Council Joint Action Group"
on drugs which, among other things, would "set
policies which relate international considerations to
domestic considerations," In the accompanying decision
paper the president tentatively approved the "flexible
law enforcement fund ... for clandestine activities,"
for which there would be no accountability. According
to Krogh, this would be used for Underworld contacts
and disruptive tactics, with the eventual goal of destroying
those deemed to be heroin traffickers.
Whatever happened to this clandestine
fund is not entirely clear. Ingersoll recalls that the
amount appropriated "without accountability"
was far less than the $100 million, three-year program,
and was used mainly to buy informants and information
abroad. Egli Krogh recalled in 1973 that after the secret
fund was approved by the president, Ingersoll, who by
then had lost favor with the White House, was no longer
trusted to disburse it. Krogh claimed that the only
narcotics assassinations actually carried out were in
Southeast Asia, where the CIA arranged to have various
traffickers lured into traps by their enemies. Krogh's
assistants, however, strongly intimated that a great
deal more was done with the program and that it resulted
directly in disrupting the Latin American connection.
At the suggestion of Howard Hunt, a part-time consultant
to Krogh on narcotics, Lucien Conein, a CIA colonel
of Corsican origin who had been deeply involved in the
coup that resulted in the assassination of Premier Diem
of South Vietnam, was brought into the BNDD as the head
of its strategic intelligence.* That fall, Hunt also
approached the Cuban exile leader Manuel Artimes in
Miami and, according to Artimes, asked him about the
possibility of forming a team Of Cuban exile hit men
to assassinate Latin American traffickers still operating
outside the bailiwick of United States law. The idea
of assassinations also became quite popularly applied
to the French connection in Marseilles. In September,
1972, for example, the idea was broached to members
of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse
during their "heroin trip" through Europe.
Dr. J. Thomas Ungerleider, a member of that commission,
reported in a memorandum of his conversations with BNDD
There was some talk about establishing
hit squads (assassination teams), as they are said to
have in a South American country. It was stated that
with 150 key assassinations, the entire heroin refining
operation can be thrown into chaos. "Officials"
say it is known exactly who is involved in these operations
but can't prove it.
* Ingersoll believed that Conein
had access to the files and modus operandi of Corsicans
involved in heroin traffic. At the time he did not suspect
that the White House had placed Conein there for a purpose
of its own-although he considered this a possibility
If "150 key assassinations"
were actually being considered by the BNDD or others
in the Nixon administration. then the $100 million fund
would be more easily explained. (At the time, Professor
Ungerleider and other members of the commission were
being shepherded through Marseilles by BNDD and embassy
officials in what became a regular packaged tour for
Congressmen, journalists, and other VIPs interested
Meanwhile, back at the BNDD,
Colonel Conein was being briefed on assassination equipment.
The now-defunct B. R. Fox Company, which was then
incorporated in Virginia and which provided such lethal
equipment, sent a salesman to see Colonel Conein and
demonstrate a wide range of devices.* Colonel Conein
subsequently denied that any of this equipment was used
for narcotics assassinations, saying, "That stuff
is only good a war and who's got a war?"
* On January 23, 1975, the
New York Times printed excerpts from a photostat of
one of the company's spring, 1974, catalogues. Available
Telephone handset insert. Miniature
activator with time delay ... use inside telephone handset.
Automatic charge fired at-SEC following lifting of instrument
explosive. Electronics and explosive module packed inside
cigarette pack. When the pack is lifted or moved in
any manner, the explosive is set off.
Modified flashlight ... antidisturbance
unit. Standard Everready 2D cell flashlight has antidisturbance
electronics concealed inside where batteries have been
removed. Remainder of the batteries have been removed.
Remainder of the battery space is packed with explosive.
sensor. Unit delivers a predetermined charge from a
remote location according to its pre-set code. Use with
explosive for firing upon the occurrence of certain
conditions relating to light intensity.
Booby--trapped, M-16 explosive
clip. Use: A mechanically activated electronic charge
circuit is built into a common military item. Upon removal
of the single round in the magazine, either by firing
or by hand removal, the explosive concealed in the magazine
unit. Unit is similar in its operation as the anti-disturbance
flashlight, BRF model FD-2. The exception is in the
type of explosive charge....
Explosive black box modules.
. - ' . Flat black finish on metal rectangular modules.
One screw at each end secures top on unit. Top is removed
to pack inside with explosive.
** Colonel Conein was
used in a character assassination. E. Howard Hunt, after
forging a State Department telegram implicating President
Kennedy in the murder of Diem, showed the forged document
to Conein, who then appeared on an NBC documentary and
divulged its contents. (Hunt also briefed the producer
of the program, Fred Freed, on the secret telegram,
which shaped the program in such a way as to imply Kennedy's
complicity in the murder.)
However, in an interview
with the Washington Post on June 13, 1976, Conein acknowledged
that he had been brought to the Bureau of Narcotics
and Dangerous Drugs to superintend a special unit which
would have the capacity to assassinate selected targets
in the narcotics business.