THE SECRET TEAM
If there was one single most significant event in connection with
this story that took place in 1954, it was the creation of the 5412
Committee -- later known as the “Forty Committee” and more
colloquially as “The Secret Team” -- under authorisation of National
Security Council Directive NSC 5412/2 of 15 March 1954.
I note a curiosity in regard to “Operation 40,” a secretive “wet
ops” team formed in 1959 by then US Vice President Richard Nixon.
Members of “Operation 40” are now believed to have been behind the
assassination of John F. Kennedy. Another term for assassinations
conducted by Operation 40 is “Room 222.” In this case, however, the
“hit” is carried out “against members of one's own team who are no
longer useful or have become an embarrassment to the ‘agency’ or
have or will become a security risk.” This follows on from “Room
40,” which was a term for assassinations conducted by the British
during World War II. [i]
Whether or not there is any significance in the fact that that JFK
was killed on the “22” of November 1963 remains to be seen. My own
investigations over the last four years suggest to me that numbers
and dates do possess a special “message sending” significance.
Research I have collected on this front has yet to be collated but
will form another “dossier” in the near future.
Meanwhile, the involvement of Nazis in the assassination of JFK has
been spelled out by the indefatigable Mae Brussel in a lengthy essay
published on 22 November 1983 in The Rebel magazine. This insightful
essay is available via Virginia McCullough, who has formed a
detailed archive of Mae Brussel’s important work, at
On 18 November 1963, just four days before the assassination of
President John F. Kennedy, the Argentine government issued a Special
Order No. CF-S01365 O.J.P., which initiated the only period in
Argentina’s recent history when Nazi fugitives were in jeopardy.
This resulted in the formation of special Nazi-hunting squads of
Argentine secret police.
Until then and, in fact, also soon after this brief and curious
interlude, any and all Nazis on the run - including the so called
“Gran Fugitivos” (Grand Fugitives) like Bormann, Mengele, Gestapo
Heinrich Muller and others -- were more protected in Argentina than
in any other country in the world. Is it possible that the
government of Argentina, because of its deep and abiding connections
with Nazis, learned of the forthcoming “hit” on JFK? Could the
curious and dramatic (but not long lasting) anti-Nazi action have
been little more than a PR exercise to exonerate themselves in
advance of their closeness to certain Nazis associated with the
Kennedy death, which members knew would result in a major worldwide
news story of unparalleled proportions?
One individual knowledgeable about group “forty” is L. Fletcher
Prouty, who was Chief of Special Operations (i.e., clandestine
activities) for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. His duties involved
the military support of the clandestine activities of the CIA.
Prouty was the real life representation of Mr. X, played by Donald
Sutherland in Oliver Stone’s movie JFK. Prouty resigned his
commission following the assassination of President John Kennedy and
later wrote an enormously powerful book titled The Secret Team,
which sheds a tremendous amount of light on the secret activities of
the CIA and Pentagon during the early years of the Cold War.
The 5412 Committee, which met in Room 40 at the CIA headquarters in
Langley, Virginia, became the de facto parallel government of the
United States, a fact that was later acknowledged by President
Eisenhower in his speech regarding the dangers of the “military
industrial complex.” At the heart of the US secret government lay a
doctrine that was “driven by the twin goals of reinforcing the
private interests that largely control the state and maintaining an
international environment in which they can prosper.” [ii] The
broader interests of the people are not permitted to enter the
equation, which is reserved entirely for men of wealth and power.
The Dulles brothers fit into this subterranean power complex with
Prouty says this of the 5412 Committee:
“As time passed and as the DCI [of the CIA] exploited his position,
it might have seemed to be rather reasonable to suggest the
establishment of a small special group to take this 'burden' from
these senior officials and to provide men who could more readily
attend to such matters, minor as they were, in the place of the busy
Council principals. Thus the establishment of the first Special
“As things progressed, the Special Group 5412/2 became not just the
working group of the NSC but rather a select group that had assumed
the responsibility for clandestine activity. Certainly, each
designated Special Group member reported back to his principal but
by that time it was not so much for direction as it was for
'informational approval;' in the language of bureaucracy this meant,
‘if he doesn't say a clear NO, it's O.K.’”
“By that time in the course of events a new process had evolved and
the DCI felt perfectly at liberty to prepare all the clandestine
operations his intelligence sources would support and to present
them to the Special Group for nothing more than approval. But even
this was not enough. The next step was to have Agency-affiliated men
in the Special Group itself, or at least to have them working with
the Group as special advisers. This is why the President's appointee
has always been so important to the DCI. Since the appointment of
Maxwell Taylor in that position after the Bay of Pigs, the DCI has
had men in that position whom he could count upon as a two-way
conduit. When the DCI wanted to get information to the President he
would use this man and when he wanted the President's approval on
something, he would use him for that too. The same has been true
with the representatives in State and Defense. During much of the
crucial build-up years in Indochina, men such as Bill Bundy and Ed
Lansdale have represented State and Defense on this committee. Of
course, both of these men were CIA alumni and as a result the DCI
could always count upon them to grease the way for any of his
proposals to the NSC."
“This has been a significant evolution away from the language and
the intent of the law. It has meant that the sole authority
established as a final resort to oversee and control the CIA has
become no more than a rubber stamp for all clandestine operations.
And throughout all of this the ST [Secret Team] has been able to
carry out its desires under a cloak of secrecy that has kept its
moves shielded from the highest officials of this Government. For
example, in those crucial early years of Vietnam, did McNamara and
Rusk look upon Lansdale and Bill Bundy as Defense and State men
under their command and control, or did they recognize them as CIA
agents under the direction of the DCI? Or when the Special Assistant
for Counterinsurgency and Special Activities from the Joint Staff
was called to the White House, did President Kennedy and others look
upon this man, General Krulak, as a member of the military
establishment because he was wearing a uniform, or did they
recognize him as a key spokesman for the interests and activities of
"This shift of command control over the Agency from under the
direction of the NSC was undoubtedly as important a move as has
occurred in any part of the Government since the passage of the
National Security Act of 1947. It explains why the CIA has operated
so free of effective and ironclad control during the past ten to
Fletcher Prouty also recounts in
The Secret Team his personal
encounters with then Major General Edward G. Lansdale, who became
McNamara’s special assistant for all matters involving the CIA and
special operations. Earlier in his career, Lansdale had been a key
operative for the 5412 Committee and, as I outlined earlier,
possessed absolute knowledge of the vast quantities of gold bullion
buried in the Philippine islands by the Japanese treasure teams
known as the Golden Lily. Under Lansdale’s direction, Severino
Garcia Romano commenced recovery of gold bullion and other plundered
loot beginning in 1945.
Whether the true facts regarding the Secret Treaty are ever released
for historians to review remains questionable. My own view is that
from a Cold War perspective there is little on this subject that
requires ongoing secrecy. However, from a financial perspective
there is much that demands obscurity. The staggering amounts of
funds then and now available to the national security powers of the
United States as a consequence of secretive Philippine plunder
recovery efforts remains as sensitive as ever. Who actually has
control of these sums? I doubt that the US government, per se, is in
control of them, but believe rather that a network of private
concerns holds the power.
Likewise, the full story of the nature of gold has yet to be told,
and my guess is that it will remain hermetically sealed amongst the
few for a very long time to come. Two things are certain, however.
The historical official mining figures for gold are patently false
and have been knowingly fabricated and thrust on an unsuspecting
public. Second, and leading on from this, it is, therefore, evident
that gold is not at all rare. Current statistics show above- ground
stocks of the metal to total about 140,000 metric tonnes. The
reality is far, far higher and, in all probability, is well in
excess of one million tonnes. I doubt anyone really knows for
certain, owing to the fact that so much is still buried in the
Philippines and elsewhere in Southeast Asia that tallying it all up
is impossible - even to this day.
A brief mention needs to be made of Carmel Offie, a State Department
flunky and contemporary of the Dulles brothers, Frank Wisner and
others intimately involved with the machinations of the Secret Team.
Later believed to be a KGB “plant” by the FBI’s Edgar Hoover.[iii]
Offie’s career began to follow a downward trajectory, but not before
Hoover had raised serious questions concerning the source of his
income. Employed on a mid-level government salary, Offie had dollars
to burn around Washington.
The CIA’s first DCI, Beedel Smith, tried to placate Hoover by saying
that Offie had received a “pay-off” of $10,000 for taking the blame
when several people in Paris had almost been caught abusing their
diplomatic pouch privileges. Hoover added that one of those involved
in the pouch affair might have been General Lucius Clay, formerly
the Governor of the US Zone in post-war Germany and a member of the
Board of Directors of Newmont Mining, one of the leading gold mining
companies. [iv] According to Hoover, Offie was “either given or
allowed to buy at a very favourable option price some stock in the
Newmont holdings in North Africa, which gave a fabulous payoff…”
thereby making Offie “semi-independent.” [v]
Is it possible that Newmont Mining might have acted with or on
behalf of those members of the OSS/CIA/Secret Team engaged in
recovering gold bullion from the Philippine treasure troves, by
re-smelting (in effect, laundering) war loot? The connection between
Newmont Mining and Philippine gold stores is, of course, very
tenuous. However, this story is all about tenuous connections that
become increasingly firmer as more facts emerge from the shadows.
That being so, another fact that has emerged from the shadows is the
location of one of Newmont’s offices up country in Thailand at Chang
Mai. This city sits slap in the middle of the Golden Triangle opium
region and was chosen by the CIA-Mafia owned and Australian
domiciled Nugan Hand Bank for a branch office because of this
proximity. In addition to laundering drug money on behalf of its
owners, the CIA, Nugan Hand Bank is believed to have been heavily
involved in the transfer of large quantities of so-called "Marcos"
gold flown by CIA pilots from Clark AFB in the Philippines to the
secret US Pine Gap facility located at Alice Springs, Australia. It
is, therefore, of some interest that Michael Hand, the joint founder
of Nugan Hand Bank, was at one time one of five aids to General
Edward Lansdale. [vi]
Historically suspicious of paper money, Southeast Asian warlords --
amongst other Asian peoples - have always preferred payment for
goods and services in gold and silver. General Khun Sa, (but born
Chiang Chi-Fu) was, as warlord of the Shan States of Burma, known as
the “biggest heroin dealer in the world,” [vii] because, as leader
of the Shan States, he was in control of most of the Golden
Triangle. A two-part feature article I wrote in 1997, titled "Deep
Black" provides an insight to this subject.
The foregoing suggests the strong probability that plundered gold
hidden in the Philippines by the Japanese Golden Lily teams later
found its way to the Golden Triangle to be exchanged for opium,
thanks to the efforts of the Nugan Hand Bank and the CIA. Such a
gold laundering scenario would have made a great deal of sense,
because sale of stores of this magnitude on the open market would
have certainly forced the world price lower, thereby causing acute
visibility. Exchanging gold in secrecy for Chinese heroin that would
later be sold in Europe and the US at many thousands' percent profit
over purchase cost can only have represented a most appealing
financial strategy to those devoid of principles and ethics.
The Cold War was not so cold as it was profitable and profits
increasingly became the name of the game. This process received a
considerable fillip when President Richard Nixon disconnected gold
from the US currency in 1971. Eliminating the gold standard would
soon lead to the long-planned global hegemony of the Almighty
Dollar, which unofficially became a narcotics-backed currency. Along
the way, oil shocks would be witnessed, odd goings-on at the
Department of Treasury would come to light and Wall Street
investment banks would learn ever more ingenious ways to engineer
ever greater profits at their whim. As usual, the taxpayer generally
picked up the tab.
[i] I am grateful to Mr. J.P. Viken, who provided this information.
[ii] Cited by Noam Chomsky in his book Deterring Democracy - available free in electronic form on
www.ZNET.com (Chapter One:
“Cold War Fact and Fancy”).
[iii] See Hersh, Burton, The Old Boys, (New York: Scribners, 1992)
[iv] Clay was the predecessor of John McCloy and the man in charge
when substantial quantities of Nazi gold went missing from the
Reichsbank vaults. For a detailed telling of the Nazi Gold Robbery,
see Sayer, Ian and Botting, Douglas, Nazi Gold (London: Mainstream
[v] Hersh at 444-445.
[vi] This interesting tidbit provided courtesy of Kris Millegan.
[vii] Kwitny, Jonathan, The Crimes of Patriots (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1987) at 228.
PART 3.2 -
As often is the case, there is an interesting twist to the secret
In a newspaper article published in the Philippines on
29 October 1999, a former Roman Catholic priest and director of
Caritas, Manila - the Catholic charity -- told the Manila based
newspaper, The Inquirer, that he once served as “an adviser to the
late President Ferdinand Marcos.” The Ex-priest, Marcelino Tagle,
also stated he was an “administrator for the estate of another man,”
whom he claimed was the source of the Marcos gold.
He went on to identify this person as “Fr. Jose Antonio Diaz,” and
to say that Father Diaz was entrusted by the Vatican to take charge
of Vatican gold buried on the Philippines. The “Vatican gold” was
identified as bullion that had been “captured by Hitler” and that
had belonged to the royal families of Europe and been placed under
the trusteeship of the Vatican. Also included was gold plundered by
the Japanese, Tagle claimed. A copy of a newspaper article exposing
Sta. Romana’s Vatican connection is reproduced in the Appendix.
Tagle added that Fr. Diaz had “assumed several names when he moved
to the Philippines.” One of these was “Col. Severino Sta. Romana.”
Placing a value on the Sta. Romana gold as $50 trillion, Tagle noted
that Sta. Romana had “hired the young Marcos as his lawyer and
trustee.” This is none other than Severino Garcia Sta. Romana,
formerly of the OSS and CIA, who has been discussed earlier.
Giving evidence to the Philippine Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on 14
October 1999, Tagle noted that Marcos, in his capacity as lawyer and
chief trustee of Sta. Romana,
“succeeded in isolating the nominees
or trustees of the gold certificates from the physical assets - so
much so, that it is almost impossible to recover them without
piecing the various pieces like a mosaic.” By abusing his position
of trustee, Marcos effectively gained control of Sta. Romana’s gold
and, later, when he had become President, used the “Central Bank to
transact the gold.” [i]
The web of control that Tagle claims Marcos spun involved the
appointment of a diverse group of additional trustees over the gold
and other plunder.
Today, these trustees are known as the
"Umbrella.” According to a Bob Curtis, the Umbrella is mostly
controlled by the Sicilian Mafia. Curtis had this to say about them:
“Yes, the mafia name I gave is one of those I changed. But this
mafia is not US related. The head is a Don in Sicily. I don't want
to say more here.60% of the umbrella are mafia.” [ii]
is intimately aware of transactions with Madame Pineda and other
members of the Marcos Umbrella one must conclude that he knows what
he is speaking about.
Tagle’s testimony is certainly interesting and on the face of it
fits many of the facts gathered to date. For example, it snugly
explains why Ferdinand Marcos appears on the earliest, 1956, gold
certificate held by Johnston. This was many years before Marcos
became President but at a time when his influence as a senator was
growing. During his 1949 campaign for election to the legislature,
Marcos told supporters “Look, I have a lot of money because I got
all my war benefits. If you want to receive all your benefits, vote
for me.” [iii]
One of the more interesting possibilities is that Santa Romana may
have been -- in addition to his OSS/CIA position, and his status of
a Catholic priest - operating on behalf of the ultra-right wing and
fantastically wealthy Catholic secret society OPUS DEI , which was
founded in 1928 in Spain and was closely connected to Generalissimo
Franco. There is very little known about this group, even today,
except that members have been accused of complicity in the
assassination of Pope John Paul I, who died in mysterious
circumstances in September 1978. The strange death of the “Smiling
Pope” was, by all accounts, connected to the sinister activities of
the secretive Masonic Lodge “Propaganda Due” (P2) which was involved
with Vatican banker, Roberto Calvi - Chairman of Banco Ambrosiano.
Calvi was also a close associate of Mafia financier Michele Sindona.
The history of Opus Dei is instructive. Opus Dei became a registered
charitable trust, in London, in of all years,1954, when it
registered the Sacerdotal Society of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei
Charitable Trust. It did not officially apply for tax-exempt status
until 1965 by which point it had become a major player in the
evolving Eurodollar market. As author Robert Hutchison points out in
his book Their Kingdom Come, the sight of an apparent highly
religious and doctrinaire order “speculating in overnight francs and
next weeks dollars” was sufficient to raise eyebrows and interest--
and indeed, the profile of Opus Dei -- in London City. One question
that springs to mind is where did Opus Dei gain the wealth it
appears to have possessed in sufficient quantity to elevate it to
the ranks of a significant player in this market? It is doubtful
that, at that point in time, it had control of the IOR - the Vatican
bank. Could it be that Opus Dei had access to some of the gold and
other assets plundered in World War II?
The Spanish connection to the Marcos gold story is of interest
because amongst Johnston’s other bullion transactions with Imelda
Marcos was one that related to a very large transaction that came
from the estate of Don Franco Miguel de Avila and Dona Trinidad Asis
de Villarba de Avila. It concerned gold, cash and gems “located in
thirty three (33) countries and deposited in fifty seven (57)
banks.” This included bullion belonging to the estate of the late
Pedro Palafox Laurel - one of the former henchmen of Ferdinand
Marcos who was reportedly murdered by Marcos. [iv] Laurel’s assets
in the form of “gold certificates, cash and ownership certificates
of various properties” were stashed in a safety deposit box at the
Overseas Trust Bank, Hong Kong, and formed part of Ferdinand
Marcos’s vast web of foreign holdings held by trusted nominees. [v]
Interestingly, a portion of the Laurel estate was stashed in the LIPPO bank in Jakarta.
That Marcos operated as a cat's-paw for the Vatican - as suggested
earlier by Marcelino Tagle, is confirmed in documents relating to
the estate of Don de Avila that reference 47,500 metric tonnes of
gold belonging to the Vatican. [vi] This metal was held in Westpac,
head office, Melbourne, under the codename FLAT. [vii]
What we haven’t spoken of in any detail is the huge quantities of
gold, platinum, gemstones and priceless religious treasures that are
still stashed on Indonesia. This piece of information has been held
back until last for a very telling reason. Earlier, I mentioned the
1955 meeting in the Indonesian town of Bangdung, where the world’s
“non-aligned” nations met for the first time as a group. Virtually
unknown to contemporary history is the suggestion that Indonesia’s
then President Achmed Sukarno along with a number of other Third
World leaders had secretly planned to establish an international
non-aligned bank, to be headquartered in Jakarta and backed by gold
reserves recovered from World War II treasure stashed in
Indonesia. [viii] This represented, apparently, trillions of dollars
in gold reserves - making the bank a serious force to be reckoned
with and one, moreover, that undoubtedly was viewed as a grave
threat to US interests. [ix]
We now know that Allen Dulles and company at the CIA began planning
Sukarno’s downfall at this same time. For example, during the 1955
elections in Indonesia, a “million dollars US got converted to
rupiahs to prop up the Moslem-oriented Masjuni party and give
Sukarno competition.” [x]
By 1956, the Dulles brothers were fit to burst with Sukarno’s
grandiose plans, and Frank Wisner - the CIA’s Deputy Director of
Plans (for covert operations) -- typified the prevalent feeling when
he said “I think it’s time we held Sukarno’s feet to the fire.” [xi]
Holding Sukarno’s feet to the fire was, apparently, a droll
euphemism for assassination. Despite this, the CIA’s early covert
efforts against “Bungkarno” resembled the antics of a Keystone Cops
re-enactment society more than anything else, but success was
eventually achieved and Sukarno was deposed in 1965.
With him went the idea of an independent and alternative world bank
answerable to the interests of those participating non-aligned
nations that had no desire to continue to be exploited by
Anglo-American interests. Today, the gold that was to be used as
reserves for Sukarno’s bank remains stashed in various parts of
Indonesia under armed guard.
Yet this is by no means the end of the story. Amongst the various
certificates handed to Peter Johnston by the late Dr. Damanik was
one headed “Obligation.” Immediately below this the words “Treasure
Note” appear. It is dated 14 March 1981 on Barclays Bank
International. As is normal, Karmal's name is misspelled as
Kermel, along with other apparently purposeful typographical errors
(for example, one person’s Christian name "John" is spelled "Jhon" a
mistake that seems to have been favoured by those who appear to have
composed these errors). Also as usual, there is an IMF reference.
The sum referenced is US$500,000,000.
Since there is a Swiss
"deposit code" and named Swiss individuals, I imagine funds were
deposited in Switzerland, possibly with one of Barclays’ private
Swiss - domiciled banks.
Two curious seals are repeatedly printed on
the Treasure Note and accompanying papers.
One is a seal of a crown
above the word "BUCENGHAM" surrounded in a double circle bearing the
words "Barclays Commercial Bank"
The other seal has an icon that
is indescribable (but rather like a wine press or something
similar) that is circled with the words "The Department of
One question is what "department of treasure" was around in 1789?
Nonplussed at this, I decided to discover what significant events,
if any, took place in 1789. The most famous occurrence was the
French Revolution. However, another event that transpired had more
immediate relevance to this story. When I first looked the Barclays
note over in detail, I thought it likely that the seal stating “The
Department of Treasure 1789” was just another purposeful
typographical error, but I was wrong.
The Department of Treasure is
an accurate historical rendering and style for what is now known as
the U.S. Department of Treasury. Moreover, the date 1789 does indeed
seem to have a reference to the US Treasury for the simple fact that
in 1789, the 1st US Congress enacted a Bill to establish the US
Customs Service - the first ever Federal law enforcement agency. The
latter has always been answerable to the US Treasury Department and
back in 1789, when the US was an infant sovereign state, the only
means of revenue (taxation had not yet been introduced) to that
state was via excise and tariff duty collected by customs men. This
income was passed on to the US Treasury.
The foregoing appears to indicate - if very loosely - that the
Barclays Obligation Note is, in fact, a de facto obligation on the
US Treasury Department that was issued through a major international
bank as an “arms length” device for purposes of deniability. This is
further supported by the words “International Deposit,” which appear
immediately below the words “Treasure Note,” suggesting that funds
have been deposited at Barclays, thus making them an intermediary
and not the principal.
Another question that also needs to be asked is why the US Treasury
(providing my assumption of their primary responsibility for this
Note is correct) parted with half a billion dollars to a Soviet
puppet placed in power as a result of a Soviet military invasion of
its “client” state, Afghanistan.
Not least, who or what is “BUCENGHAM?” (BUCKINGHAM...???)
[i] Tagle also said that the gold included “royal gold” that the
British reportedly shipped to Singapore for safekeeping in the event
that Hitler would conquer all of Europe. The story that British gold
was secretly shipped to Singapore - rather than Canada-- for safety
and was then captured by Japanese forces when they overran the
island is often whispered. However, I have seen no reliable evidence
(at least thus far) that this is true.
[ii] Personal correspondence with this writer.
[iii] Seagrave, Sterling, The Marcos Dynasty (London, MacMillan,
1988) at 133.
[iv] Ibid at 349.
[v] Confidential documents in my possession state that the safety
deposit box was held in the name of LEE KING KWOK and included, in
total, eleven gold certificates.
[vi] Documents in this writers possession from Peter Johnston's
[vii] FLAT is an acronym for “Francorita, Lolita, Avila, Trinidad.”
[viii] This information comes from a new source who is providing
some telling and significant information.
[ix] In fact, the level of interest generated can be judged by fact
that the Bandung meeting was the second item on the agenda during
the March 1955 Bilderberg conference.
[x] Hersh, Burton, The Old Boys (New York: Scribners, 1992) at
[xi] Blum, William, Killing Hope (Common Courage Press, 1995) at 99.