Monday, August 29, 2011

COUSINS AND FRIENDS






This appeared in The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) in 1986


Britain's SIS Operates Hand-in-Glove With the CIA


LONDON—Unlike America's CIA, the British Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6, does not officially exist.
Its address and telephone are state secrets, as is the name of its current chief.
The SIS occupies a 20-story building called Century House in south London, not far from Westminster. It is said to employ a staff of between 1,000 and 1,500.
The extensive filing system used by SIS analysts is known as “The Registry.” (The CIA's central computer is called “The Spider”).
The SIS director-general is known simply as “C.”
OFFICERS are organized geographically into regional “desks”--the United Kingdom (concerned with recruitment and the monitoring of foreign diplomats), the Soviet bloc, Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East.
The SIS maintains only one station in the whole of Latin America, so is largely dependent upon the CIA for intelligence reports from that part of the world. It is said that the SIS station in South America reported Argentina's aggressive intention two weeks before the invasion of Falkland/Malvinas Islands.
The SIS is generally thought to be smaller than the CIA and therefore its officers more broadly trained. While they lack specialization, they are said to be strong on good political analysis.
Americans tend to have an image of British agents, whether or not deserved, as “class acts,” as characters out of spy thrillers: good at their jobs, urbane dashing, polished, in the mold of James Bo
THE SECRET Intelligence Service was created in 1907 as the Secret Service Bureau. In the 1930s it was split into MI5 and MI6. “Five,” as the former is known, is also officially secret.
Attached to the Home Office, the SIS is a sort of British equivalent of the FBI, although MI5 officers do not have powers of arrest. This function is left to the Special Branch, a department of the police which works in conjunction with MI5.
A SPECIAL relationship exists between the CIA and MI5.
They have close liaison in Washington and London, as indeed throughout the globe, sharing both secrets and defectors. They run a joint defector program.
CIA people are called the “cousins,” in the parlance of the secret world; SIS people are called the “friends.” They have jointly mounted operations including:
  • An unsuccessful attempt in 1950 to topple Enver Hoxha's Stalinist regime in Albania. Their sponsorship of Albanian freedom fighters ended in tragedy, betrayed by the notorious traitor, Kim Philby, who was at that time the senior SIS liaison officer in Washington.
  • A successful CIA-SIS cooperative operation in 1953 deposed the Iranian prime minister, Mohammed Mossadeq, and installed Mohammed Reza Pahlavi as the Shah of Iran.
In theory, the cousins and friends do not spy on each others. It is assumed that both the SIS and CIA keeps check on everybody, friendly or not.

The CIA tends to use Britain as a home base for operations in Africa and the Middle East. On the occasion when CIA mounts operations inside Britain, such as reported infiltration of labor unions in the 1960s, it is with the knowledge and blessing of the SIS.
In 1975, Harold Wilson, then the prime minister, said in the House of Commons that everything the CIA does in Britain is known to the government.
CIA operatives abroad are probably closer to their British “friends” than to their own colleagues in the State Department.
UNLIKE the CIA, the SIS does not possess a portfolio for paramilitary operations. These missions are undertaken by the Special Air Service, an elite counterinsurgency force. The size and structure of the three SAS regiments are, of course, secret. The nearest U.S. Equivalent of SAS is the Delta Force, based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
The most important element of the British and American special intelligence alliance is the Government Communications Headquarters, which works hand-in-hand with the supersecret National Security Agency, its America counterpart. Their function is signals intelligence and decoding.
BRITISH newspapers are banned from printing details about British intelligence. A system known as the “D Notice,” which critics call official censorship, makes the naming of names illegal and subject to public prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.
Much of the information available today on SIS is that obtained in the United States under the Freedom of Information Act.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

FOR SALE: PARAGUAYAN CITIZENSHIP








This appeared in The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) in 1986
Can He Buy Paraguyan Citizenship?

LONDON—Psst....want to buy Paraguayan citizenship?
A “business consultants” firm named MATRAS based in Hamburg, West Germany, is offering a complete package—a genuine Paraguayan passport, driver's license and, at extra cost, a Bolivian birth certificate in a new name.
Posing as a prospective client, I answered MATRAS' tiny classified in the International Herald Tribune. The promotional bumf arrived by return mail: “In a crisis you can fall back on your emergency passport.” Paraguay is described as “one of the last places of refuge in the world.”
It certainly has been a haven for Nazi war criminals, including the notorious Dr. Mengele.
The material from MATRAS is clearly geared for someone who may one day have to make a quick getaway; the service offered is that of an escape route for persons engaged in tax evasion or other criminal activity.
CURIOUS about how the Paraguayans might feel about such assistance, I spoke with Mr. Alvarienta, the consul-general at Paraguay's embassy in London.
“Come again?” he asked, when I informed him of MATRA'S offer. “Ha, ha, ha. They must be out of their minds.”
Or very well-organized. I put it to Mr. Alvarienta that perhaps this German agency had useful connections in South America.
“Why not?” the consul-general replied. “I can't say we are all saints.”
On one point he was adamant: “Five years' physical presence in Paraguay is compulsory to obtain nationality by residence. There is no way around that.”
The Bolivian consulate was equally vehement.
THE PROPIETOR of MATRAS, Karsten K. Niemann, comfirmed by telephone that the price for Paraguayan nationality and passport would be $6,500—more if I required a whole new identity complete with phony birth certificate.
Would I have to visit Paraguay? “No, no, no,” he replied. I would not even have to set foot in what he called the “Switzerland of South America.”
Mr. Niemann said he would be visiting London and suggested a meeting: “This is no subject to be done by letter.”
Several weeks later I met him in a London hotel. He is in his late 30's, 5-foot-3-inches tall and has rugged American-Indian features.
Over a pot of tea in the hotel's lounge, he reiterated his offer: $12,000 for the whole Paraguayan package.
Mr. Niemann explained enthusiastically that he has been in the business of peddling Paraguayan nationality for six years to people “who may need to escape.”
HE BOASTED of being busy with many clients internationally. He spends half his time in Paraguay, which he first visited in 1973 while working in real estate.
I told him that I wished to move to Paraguay, under a different name, as a Paraguayan citizen.
Mr. Niemann smiled and said this was no problem, claiming that with his bona-fide documents I could “disappear” to Paraguay without a trace—many of his clients had done just that, “but, most wait a few years.”
He told me he has dealt with many clients from Britain and the United States. Most of his customers have tax problems and need new names and nationalities with which they can travel freely, he said.
Lowering his voice to barely a whisper, he explained that he had to be especially careful because Italian terrorists had acquired Paraguayan passports through the same procedure.
“We had a lot of trouble from some criminals, very bad criminals—one who killed Aldo Moro, the Italian president, the other who blew up the [Bologna] train station.”
Dr. Paul Wilkinson, a leading expert on terrorism, later confirmed that neo-fascist terrorists in Italy, called “Black Terrorists,” are known to carry Paraguayan passports.
Mr. Niemann said I would have to get a letter of good conduct from the British police to “cover” is Paraguayan contacts.
“The Paraguayan government has been blackmailed to crack down on criminals,” Mr. Niemann said with a sigh. “And therefore the letter of good conduct is most important.”
A London contact of his could arrange to get me a letter of good conduct from the police under a different name, he promised.
The whole procedure would take six to eight weeks, following which I would be a new person—and a full-fledged citizen of Paraguay.
I have passed my file on MATRAS to the American consul-general and the Internal Revenue Service, which is taking more than a passing interest.


Friday, August 26, 2011

THEY DON'T DEBATE IN ALBANIA




This appeared in The Blade (Toledo, Ohio) in 1984

LONDON—A Frenchman made a fatal mistake this summer. He surrendered to an Albanian border patrol.
Jean-Marie Masselin, 29, an employee of the French Club Mediteranee on the island of Corfu, was on a fishing trip with two colleagues. They strayed into Albanian waters, and their inflatable dinghy with outboard motor soon came under fire by Albanian guards.
They dived into the water. Two of them swam off to a Greek boat nearby, but Mr. Masselin decided to take a chance with the border patrol and swam ashore. He climbed up some rocks and was apprehended by the Albanians. Simon Periatinos, a Greek eye-witness watched as Mr. Masselin was marched away.
Three days later, his body was discovered floating in the sea, a bullet wound in his head.
THE MOST surprising part of all this is that nobody is surprised—this is the sort of behavior the world has come to expect from the Albanians, not a people renowned for their tolerance of foreigners.
Albania is a country of 2 ½ million people. Some 25,000 Albanians, mostly descendants of Illyrian tribes, belong to the secret police.
The official language, an Indo-European tongue, contains Latin, Greek, Italian and Turkish words.
Albania is the only country in the world where the memory of Stalin is invoked with admiration. Enver Hoxha, Albania's iron-fisted leader for four decades, has written of the man under whose tyrannical rule millions perished: “Our beloved friend, the glorious leader, Stalin...”

RELATIONS between Albania and the Soviet Union stiffened considerably after Stalin's death in 1953. Mr. Hoxha staunchly disapproved of Nikita Khrushchev's “revisionism.”
When Khrushchev requested that Albania not spoil its seaside landscape with industry, Mr. Hoxha's reply was terse: “We have no intention of becoming a spa for Soviet functionaries.”
His opposition to the Soviet Union increased when, in 1960, Khrushchev broke with the Chinese Communists and demanded, at a party congress in Romania, that all Communist delegations offer their support.
Mr. Hoxha responded by allying Albania with Communist China, a relationship that remained until Mao Tse-tung's death, but terminated in 1978 when Mr. Hoxha decided that China, too, had become “revisionist.”
HIS LAST STRAW with Moscow came in 1968 when the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia. He abruptly withdrew Albania from the Warsaw Pact, making it the only country to ever pull off such a maneuver.
Albanian soldiers were dispatched to take up positions in the mountains for fear of Soviet reprisals. Weapons were distributed to every village throughout the country as Albanians braced themselves for an invasion. The Soviets never came.
Villagers are still armed to the teeth, a policy encouraged by Mr. Hoxha. (One wonders how the Communist parties of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Poland would fare if its citizens were permitted weapons.)
Mr. Hoxha, 75, rules supreme in Tirana, the capital. His features adorn most public places, invoking a “Big Brother” style personality cult. His birthplace is a national shrine.
He was elected secretary-general of the Communist party in 1943. For many years he ruled through Mehmet Shehu, the prime minister, and Beqir Balluku, the defense minister.
Khrushchev wrote in his memoirs: “Hoxha and Shehu would sentence the accused to death. Balluku would personally carry out the execution.”
But Beqir Balluku was executed as part of a Hoxha-inspired purge in the mid-1970's, during which eight senior ministers vanished.
Mehmet Shehu suffered a similar, albeit more public, purge in a bizarre incident in 1982. Many eyebrows were raised when his “suicide” was announced. Sources say that a raging argument between him and Mr. Hoxha ended with cabinet-room shoot-out in which Mr. Shehu was gunned down. Known as “the butcher,” he was said to have shot and killed a colleague who dared argue with him during a 1950 cabinet meeting.

ALBANIA is the only country where Marxism truly works, the propaganda machine claims. Propagandists say Albanians are treated badly by both the western and Communist press because (1) the Pentagon doesn't want anyone to know that Marxism can work and (2) the Russians don't wish to acknowledge that Marxism doesn't work in the Soviet Union.
Albania is self-supporting in food. The staple diet consists of rice, bread, paprika and a little goat meat.
The country is also self-supporting in oil and is the fourth largest producer of chromium ore (900,000 tons per year). Natural resources include asphalt, coal, copper and iron.
There is no tax. Medical and dental services are free. Only a half percent of wages are paid in rent.
Churches and mosques were outlawed in 1967. So were beards.
A small travel agency in Britain offers “a chance to have a non-Christmas or non-Easter” in Albania.
There are no foreign books or newspapers.
The last time western countries attempted to interfere was in 1945. A Committee of Free Albanians was financed by the American and British intelligence services, and 300 “Free Albanians” parachuted into Albania and were never seen again. Kim Philby, the British spy, had betrayed the operation.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

CHANNELING: VOICES FROM BEYOND






This article was published May 17-23, 1987, in Toledo Magazine (The Blade)


FORGET COCAINE. The craze that's turning on Hollywood stars these days in “channeling.” This is the chic new term for old-fashioned seancing. But it isn't only the dead who are being drudged up for messages from beyond. “Entities” from other planets and dimensions are being “channeled” by today's medium's, who prefer to be known as “channels.”
Some of the biggest names in showbiz are reaching to the stars for spiritual guidance. Michael York, Richard Chamberlain, and “Dynasty” beauty Linda Evans are only a few of the Hollywood heavyweights involved with channeling. Other reportedly include George Lazenby, Leslie Ann Warren, Goldie Hawn, and Telly Savalas of “Kojak” fame.
“The drug of the 60's was LSD and marijuana,” says one disenchanted follower. “I think the drug of the 80's is cosmic consciousness.”
It's a small metaphysical world in Southern California, where it's said that you can't get a glass water without whipped cream. Everyone in this New School of Seancing knows each other—and the ranks of followers and actual channelers are swelling.
There are now said to be about 1,000 channelers—mostly based in the film capital of the world, but spreading across America. They believe they are the chosen spokesmen for the “New Transformational Age.”
This is how channeling works:
A channel, or medium, puts him or herself into a trance—this takes only a minute or less—and invites a specific “discarnate entity” to use his or her body to transmit information. These modern mediums don't use props like darkened lights or crystal balls. They say they can channel anywhere, anytime, and under any conditions.
One channel told me has gone into a trance on horseback.
America's best known channel is J.Z. Knight, a 40 year-old Bo Derek-lookalike. Ms. Knight claims to channel “Ramtha,” a 35,000 year-old man who has used her body to dispense wisdom since 1977.
Ms. Knight says she first saw Ramtha while she was playing with pyramids at her home. She placed a a pyramid on her head and Ramtha stepped into her life.
Ramtha now has a devoted cult following, mostly middle-aged women. Through Mr. Knight's “vehicle,” Ramtha claims to be warrior who created the first war, before ascending into higher consciousness.
Hundreds of devoted Ramtha supporters, including actress Shirley MacLaine, have moved to Washington state to live near Ms. Knight. This was after Ramtha announced that within three years death and destruction will come to America's less rural regions. Ramtha has advised his disciples to stock a two-year supply of food and other needs and to become self-sufficient by planting gardens.
Richard Chamberlain, star of “Shogun” and “The Thorn Birds,” used to host Ramtha's day-long sessions in his Beverly Hills mansion.
These days, followers pay $400 each for weekend group session with Ramtha.
And the profits don't stop there. Ms. Knight has become a multi-millionaire though the sale of Ramtha videotapes and other materials.
ANOTHER POPULAR channel is Darryl Anka, a 34 year-old special-effects designer who channels “Beshar.” Mr. Anka says that Beshar is “a non-physical entity from planet Essassani, which forms a triangle with Earth and the star Sirius.”
Mr. Anka used to do his channeling at the homes of followers, with mabe six or eight persons present. He had grown so popular that he now uses the Encino Women's Club in the valley, near some of Hollywood's largest film studios.
I went to see Mr. Anka's Thursday-night session. About 150 followers had assembled to either seek advice or for a learning experience. Each had paid a “donation” of $12.
I watched as Mr. Anka, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, put himself into a trance. He sat in a simple wooden chair on a well-lighted stage.
Mr. Anka closed his eyes and his head began to twitch. He grunted a few times. He settled back in his chair, his eyes still closed, and a strange, powerful voice erupted from his mouth. It carried an unusual accent.
He was in what enthusiasts call an “altered state.” In the course of 2 ½ hours, Beshar dispensed his wisdom and answered questions from the audience. One follower asked about a friend who had recently died of cancer.
Came Beshar's reply:
“She is still here and now, fourth dimension physical. There is orientation going on—assistance that is necessary to acclimate the being to the new understanding of what you call the astral realm. There is also the opportunity being presented this individual that she can function for a while as spiritual guides for her own children. There may be—for this not yet decided—but there may be an opportunity for this individual to reincarnate as one of her own children's children.
The audience oohed and aahed. They were begging to believe. But it was higher intelligence from outer space or metaphysical mumbo-jumbo?
BESHAR SOON pronounced it was time for a coffee break. The hall grew quiet as he twitched and turned and grunted, and within 30 seconds re-opened his eyes and became plain old Darryl again.
The applause was deafening. There are believers.
Darryl told me that Beshar first came to him 12 years ago in a spaceship. He channels Beshar in private sessions, and he's booked up two months in advance.
I am not convinced that Darryl was in a trance. Anyone who studies the numerous books on UFOs, reincarnation, spiritual growth, and self-healing could spill out the same material as “Beshar.'' The essence of Beshar's guidance was “lighten up.”
One Beshar follower is David Rapkin, a psychotherapist. Dr. Rapkin told me that channeling sessions provide him with practical instruction for his patients.
He is not certain that the messenger is really from outer space, but thinks that is unimportant. It is possible, Dr. Rapkin speculates, that the channel “accesses” into his own unconscious throuh self-induced hypnosis.
“But it doesn't matter who or what the messenger is,” he says, “it is the message that counts.”
Dr. Rapkin claims that he can now channel himself. He told me that his spiritual guide is called “Monocles.”
A grand session of channeling was recently staged at the Pasadena Convention Center in Los Angeles. It was billed as the main attraction of a three-day Whole Life Expo.
The channeling event was sold out weeks in advance—3,000 people at $35 each, packed the large hall to see American television celebrity Joyce DeWitt introduce two of the most popular channels in the business.
They are:
Jack Pursel, a former insurance salesman who channels an entity called “Lazaris,” and Kevin Ryerson, from the Midwest, who was featured on Shirley MacLaine's recently broadcast television movie, “Out On A Limb.” Mr. Ryerson channels two entities: “John,” a scholar from the year 46 B.C., and “Tom McPherson,” an Irish-Scottish pickpocket from Shakespearian times.
Mr. Pursel's Lazaris sounds like a Billy Graham-style evangelist. He preaches love and inner peace.
Actor Michael York is a big supporter of Lazaris. He has accompanied and promoted Mr. Pursel on several American television talk shows.
Along with J.Z. Knight, Pursel and Ryerson make up the Big Three in the channeling movement.
Mr. Pursel says that “the majority of Lazaris followers are college graduates, and a good number of these are post-graduates. Lots of doctors, lots of lawyers, psychologists—successful, upper-middle income people.”
It takes 12 to 18 months to get a private consultation with Lazaris.
AND LAZARIS is big business. Mr. Pursel sells videos and cassettes and runs two New Age galleries, Illuminaria and Isis Unlimited.
He charms his audience by saying that many of them are former residents of Atlantis. He says they have come back to get a second chance at preventing world destruction.
Pursel bills Lazaris as “the Consummate Friend.”
Next to me in the audience at Pasadena sat Naville Rowe, a New Zealander who lived in London for 12 years before settling in West Hollywood.
Mr. Rowe told me that he can transform himself into a dolphin, and he teaches other how to turn into dolphins through channeling.
“I couldn't believe it,” says Mr. Rowe. “My mouth began to suck air and my forehead made squeaky noises. Next thing I knew, I was one of the dolphins, swimming with them.”
Mr. Rowe says that he channels “Kachuba,” which he describes as the consciousness of six dolphins scattered around the oceans.
THE CHANNELING movement is a real social whirl.
Susan Levin has organized a forum for channels called Conscious Connection. This evolved out of a “metaphysical singles” dating service called Mix and Match.
She is also involved in a series of cable television programs on channeling.
Conscious Connection publishes a 24-page magazine of the same name every two months. Its circulation has grown to an astonishing 25,000 over the last six months.
There are skeptics to spoil the fun. They try to bring the stars back down to Earth.
“Channels give simplistic answers, and they give you that touch of magic and the esoteric,” says Gerald Larue, professor emeritus of religion at the University of Southern California.
“It's a typical religious experience, and there are benefits,” Professor Larue says. “It's uplifting, but it's not real. You have to come back for another fix, like a drug addiction.”
Reginald Alev, executive director of the Cult Awareness Network in Chicago, also takes a dim view.
“It's very sad what's going on,” says Mr. Alev. “Most of the people who get involved in these New Age groups want to know the meaning of life, and someone comes along and tells them they have the answer.
“Then they're told they're the master of their own destiny, but they don't know they are being subjected to mind control.”