by George LoBuono © 2001

Is Richard Helms a case of double identity? 

The biographies of Richard Helms cite no verifiable proof for his early life. Research indicates that "Helms" made public appearances only when Howard Hughes disappeared from public view. The two men are look-alikes. For similar perspectives, compare various photos of the two men, i.e. compare the following: p. 262a lower right Hughes (in Empire; the Life, Legend and Madness of Howard Hughes) with p. 42 photo of Helms (in The Watergate File); compare Hughes photo p. 147 (in Howard Hughes in Las Vegas) with Helms p. 156 (in They Could Not Trust the King); compare Hughes on page 262e upper right photo (in Empire; the Life, Legend...) with leaning over Helms profile on p. 2412 of A Political Education. The two men look exactly alike!                            

Was the public hoodwinked? Did Howard Hughes disappear from public life in order to assume a second identity--as "Richard Helms" the CIA man? As is suggested in photo-similarities above, something is clearly amiss. The following report looks at suspicious irregularities in the lives of both men. Read carefully; the Howard Hughes case may be the Rosetta stone, the roadmap that pieces together the worst political crimes committed in the United States during the post-war era.

The public has long thought that Howard Hughes became depressed and obsessive about 45 years ago, at which time he supposedly disappeared from public view. Were that true, it would have been an unprecedented feat. Hughes had long been a public figure, a man who had weathered hard times and repeated airplane crashes yet had survived each time and had run large, complex businesses. To have cracked up and then to have completely escaped public scrutiny for so many decades is unlikely.

More unlikely still is the idea that long after he suffered nervous breakdowns and became a compulsive recluse who hid in dark rooms, where he urinated against the walls and feared contagion, the federal government would have entrusted Hughes, a near-lunatic, to build the Glomar Explorer in order to raise a sunken Soviet submarine. It would have been a first--allowing a borderline mental case to know key details about the project, then to build it in order to raise an enemy sub containing nuclear warheads, missile launch codes and Soviet communication keys. In those days it would have been unthinkable to entrust a dangerously unstable man with a matter that involved possible nuclear confrontation with the USSR. Imagine the fate of the earth, a possible nuclear holocaust, in the hands of a man who babbled confusedly and feared death by bacterial contamination. No one would have risked his or her career, let alone the fate of the nation, with such a person. What, then, was actually happening?

Did Howard Hughes quietly disappear from public view in order to assume a second identity? An abundance of evidence suggests the possibility. Prior to disappearing, Hughes had nearly been drummed out of the large aircraft business after having failed to duly complete defense aircraft projects such as the "Spruce Goose," the D-2 plane, and so on. At the time, Hughes had a history of secretive behavior: he was a loner who tended to work on his own, his company hid the oil drilling bit (that his father had designed) in cloth sacks while they were put onto drilling rigs, and Robert Maheu, his chief executive, was involved in various CIA activities, including the plan to use heroin-related mobsters to murder Castro.

Hughes was known to use false identities, i.e. "Charles Howard" when he piloted some airline flights, and he used an assumed name in one marriage. At some point, Hughes may have arranged a second identity for use in his CIA activities, which increased after he disappeared from public view. The false identity that may, in fact, correlate most closely with the evidence is that of Richard Helms - shown in comparisons above. Richard Helms may, in fact, be Howard Hughes.

Audiotapes of the two men's voices evidence the same vocal pitch, the same slightly whistling "s" sound, the same intonations, and the same trace accent. The only difference is that Helms' voice is more mature, more imposing--with a slightly watered-down accent, which might be expected after having spent decades in Washington D.C. Hughes was born in 1905; Helms supposedly in 1912. Photos show that the two men have the same slicked back hair, the same hairline, nose structure, ears, height, jaw, facial lines, bearing, posture, and the same habit of tilting the head to the left when unaware. Only the upper crests of Hughes' eyebrows would have been plucked for later appearances.

The biographies of Richard McGarrah Helms and Howard Hughes indicate that Hughes disappeared from public view at roughly the same time that Richard Helms became a public figure. Thomas Powers' biography of Helms, the lengthiest to date, lists no single source for any of the early life of Richard Helms. As any historian knows, Powers made critical errors. Only extensive primary evidence can substantiate a person's life, yet Powers apparently failed to check any of Helms' early sources, his family photos, the school yearbooks, old personal friends, etc.

Friends in the oil industry

The supposed "Helms" grandfather, Gates White McGarrah, was the chairman of the executive committee of Chase National Bank up until 1927. (See Dictionary of American Biography Vol. XXII, Suppl. 2). A Rockefeller family corporation (Rockefellers were Hughes oil industry-related in many ways) bought Chase in 1930 and McGarrah continued his association with Rockefeller businesses, i.e. as director of Rockefeller executive Albert Wiggins' Shermar Corp. (which was scandalized in 1932 Senate banking investigations). Hughes may have relied on the Hughes family's oil industry connections to facilitate a false "Helms" identity. For example, McGarrah's daughter Marion Lavinia McGarrah married Herman Henry Helms, who, according to the NY Times magazine (Apr 18 '71), was an Alcoa executive. Alcoa was 33% owned (and effectively controlled) at the time by the Mellon family of Pennsylvania (also known for their Gulf Oil, GE and Westinghouse interests---Hughes got his first big start in aviation and satellite electronics when Simon Ramo Ph.D. went from GE to organize electronics work for Hughes).

In short, "Helms'" supposed mother was raised in a Rockefeller businessman's household, and his father worked for a Mellon family business. Taken together, the Rockefellers and the Mellons would easily have had enough pull to arrange a double identity, especially during wartime. During the war years, many sons of wealthy families used pseudonyms, or double identities, to protect themselves from unwanted attention when they circulated in dangerous places. The irony, of course, is that the Helms identity continued onward, while both Rockefellers and Mellons profited directly from the relationship.

While Gates White McGarrah (the supposed "Helms" grandfather) was head of the Chase National Bank, he was also on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. Later, when Rockefellers took ownership in Chase National Bank, McGarrah was working full-time at the Fed. Given that he'd previously been the head of Chase, it is both obvious and logical to assume that the Rockefellers (and Chase) would have had an important silent friend in McGarrah at the Fed. Perhaps, in the early days of a plan to afford Hughes a cover identity, one of the Rockefellers (David? who, like "Helms," served in naval intelligence during WWII) looked for a silent, family-related cover for Hughes' second identity. Hughes' drill bits were predominant in the oil industry. Rockefellers would have gone to great lengths to accommodate Howard. A secure cover identity would have been necessary, for example, when "Richard Helms" made one of his first public appearances (as "a journalist") snooping around in Nazi Germany on one occasion.

As a favor to Howard Hughes, Rockefellers may have settled on the McGarrah family for two basic reasons: 1) Gates White McGarrah had been a silent "asset," so to speak - at the Fed, and, 2) after World War I, McGarrah had been head of the Bank of International Settlements (incorporated in Switzerland), which was charged with collecting and distributing post-war German reparations (no doubt involving Chase accounts at various junctures). As such, McGarrah had a sensitive post involving high-priority intelligence information (from the U.S. perspective), i.e. what-German-money-went-where, etc. Germany's moratorium on its debts in 1932 resulted in reduction of the reparations bill, another critical concern from an intelligence perspective. In sum, Rockefellers may have simply relied on an old, silent friend with obvious intelligence implications. From the Hughes perspective, another plus was the fact that McGarrah, the grandfather (dead by 1944 when Hughes would have fully needed the "Helms" identity), had been a member of the Pilgrims of the United States, a clean, white-bread image of sorts.

When Howard Hughes was thirteen, he suffered a strange kind of paralysis, according to Bartlett and Steele, his most authoritative biographers. Hughes' father phoned the Rockefeller Institute in New York and a specialist was sent, personally, to Houston to examine Howard. Not much later, Hughes' father, intent on preparing Howard for his alma mater--Harvard, sent Howard to the exclusive Fessenden School, in the Boston vicinity. Howard was fairly good in languages, notably French, presumably also German. "Richard Helms" was later known for his ability to speak two languages - French and German. In his Fessenden yearbook, young Howard Hughes listed his ambition: to be a "yegg," slang for a thug or a criminal.

Not surprisingly, we find that the rest of "Richard Helms'" life fits neatly into the Rockefeller glove. Where did "Helms" go to prep school? Believe it or not, he joined that other famous Rockefeller favorite, the Shah of Iran, at Le Rosey academy in Switzerland. Ironically, "Helms" simply disappeared into Europe with his father for most of his boyhood and went to Le Rosey--a boys school thick with European nobility and the sons of Europe's wealthy (also the Shah). In ways, the Helms biography seems to have been sloppily contrived: it is always Rockefeller, Rockefeller, Rockefeller. There are no convincing primary sources, only Rockefeller family-related excuses for substantiation. Normally we would look for an abundant, larger pattern of evidence; in "Helms'" case we find none.

The young "Helms" supposedly disappeared into Europe for a full decade, and then, later as an adult, suddenly appeared in the U.S. and in Europe at the same time that Howard Hughes disappeared from public view. In the double identity scenario, the Who's Who among European nobility (and the Shah) would have known all along that Hughes was "Helms," while 99.99% of U.S. taxpayers did not.

As the reader might know, Franklin Roosevelt signed off on Operation Underworld, a plan to utilize Lucky Luciano and other Mafioso to do some work along the U.S. waterfront and elsewhere during WWII for the government. It was clearly a mistake, given the limited results obtained. Worse yet, it set a dangerous precedent. With that in mind, we should leave open the possibility that Hughes may have had some vague Roosevelt authorization for a double identity (at least during wartime), given Hughes' obvious intelligence-related aviation work (the flying boat, and the D-2 --a fast photographic plane that was never used much).

During the 1940's professional ethics weren't as evolved as they are today. For example, Howard Hughes personally paid the hotel bills for Elliott Roosevelt (FDR's son) in 1943 when Elliott went out west to look at the D-2 to see if it was worth a government contract. A 1974 book by Art Kunkin reports that Hughes borrowed money from organized crime-related sources during the Depression, when money was tight, which further clouded the picture. In LA, Hughes toured with, and entertained Elliott Roosevelt lavishly. Hughes introduced Elliott to a woman Elliott later married. To say the least, President Roosevelt may, in some ways, have been partial to Hughes.

This occurred several years after Gen. Smedley Butler reported to Congress that he had been asked to head a literally "fascist" move against President Roosevelt in 1934. Congressman John McCormack's committee investigated and largely confirmed what Butler alleged (Butler may have averted the move by exposing it). Butler was told that Du Pont family persons had offered to provide weapons to disgruntled veterans for the plot, and that a Morgan-related executive would help to finance it. The publicity resulted in bitter feelings among the Du Ponts named, especially during WWII, when the basic question of loyalties arose. This is relevant because Du Ponts later supported Joe McCarthy, in turn, and were bitter rivals of Hughes during later years; and also because Col. Phillip Corso later told William J. Birnes that Corso saved the life of then-Speaker of the House John McCormack in the hours after the Kennedy assassination (from the Stig Amerose interview with Birnes---printed at jun/a19-002.shtml). If what Col. Corso said is true, the same persons who plotted fascism in 1934 may have moved against JFK in 1963, hence the desire to kill McCormack because of the trouble he had caused them 28 years earlier.

During the 1940's, "Richard Helms," according to biographical materials now available, is reported to have been working for naval intelligence on a special basis (involving unusual concessions, privileges and secrecy re: his records). Meanwhile, at the same time, Howard Hughes failed to show up in his Culver City, CA factory to correct critical "flying boat" production snafus and other disputes that would embarrass Hughes severely later. (Bartlett and Steele) Time and again, high defense officials cancelled unfilled Hughes plane orders, only to find that Hughes had pulled official strings to continue at least some profitable level of work on the projects. Bartlett and Steele show that Hughes sometimes pulled strings to get high-value defense contracts for which he produced little but prototypes of questionable value.

Finally, according to his biographers, Hughes suffered a nervous breakdown and vanished for seven months straight, beginning in late August of 1944 - the critical months at the end of WWII, precisely when Richard Helms was making important high-level appearances, i.e. his presence at the German signing of an armistice in 1945. Supposedly, at the time, no one, not even Hughes' top corporate executive Noah Dietrich knew where Hughes had disappeared to. Doesn't that seem unlikely in the case of a man (Hughes) who later, in 1947, faced down aggressive Senate hearings with a smile and a cool, humorous counterstrategy? During the week of the 1947 hearings, Hughes penned front-page articles in the Hearst papers saying that the Senate hearings were just a Pan Am airways scheme to prevent Hughes-owned TWA from challenging Pan Am's monopoly on transatlantic flights. Hughes talked down to the senators coolly, and he won in the court of public sympathy. However, his behavior was condescending, if not disrespectful. For example, one exchange went as follows: ---Sen. Homer Ferguson: "Will you see that Mr. Meyer comes in at 2 o'clock?" Hughes: "What? Today" Sen. Ferguson: "Yes. " Hughes: "No. I don't think I will." (Bartlett and Steele)

In the hearings, Hughes spoke with an imperious indifference, the confidence that he could get away with behaviors that others would not dare before an official hearing. But why did he assume that he was an exception? Perhaps it was because Hughes owned important oil industry technology. He also owned TWA, an aircraft co., and Hollywood film interests. He'd used other people in various schemes. He'd directed Hollywood films, he'd tried to corrupt the president's son, and he'd survived a number of test-pilot plane crashes, i.e. in July of 1947 he test-piloted the D-2 for the Air Force and was critically injured when it crashed, but was up flying again (and vacationing with Cary Grant) within three months (this was three years after the supposed nervous breakdown).

How could it be that, during the seven most critical months of the Allied victory over the Nazis, the A-bomb project and more, Howard Hughes, a rugged and manipulative man, simply cracked up and hid in his hotel room in Nevada--attended by a former mechanic as his only witness? A nervous breakdown is inconsistent with his character, his previous constitution. How could such a man face down a panel of senators so easily, so deftly and confidently, only three years later? For a man to have cracked up during wartime, when, unlike so many of his contemporaries, he didn't even face combat, would have been fatal to a career, most certainly to his part-time role as an Air Force test-pilot. People would have both shunned and distrusted him. Nonetheless, the Air Force authorized his test flights subsequently!

The above-noted "Hughes-Kaiser hearings" of 1947 in the Senate investigated the following: Why had Hughes failed to deliver on plane contracts during the war? How and why had Hughes courted Elliott Roosevelt's favor? Why did Hughes have a number of attractive women on-scene when he tried to curry official favor? Why had he defied Air Force instructions about various planes? And, why was his production staff so fractious and uncoordinated? Due to his confident and carefully-staged behavior, plus his counter-charges about the inquiry, Hughes is said to have triumphed in the eyes of the press and in the eyes of the 1500 gallery-watchers who laughed and cheered the famous aviator on.

However, Hughes was weakened in terms of his potential for getting defense aviation contracts later. Sen. Homer Ferguson, R-Michigan, tried to bar him from all future government contracts. (Ferguson is portrayed as GM's white-haired senator in the movie Turner.) After the hearings, Hughes apparently decided that his future lay not in large aircraft production but in the use of high-level government connections to get special niche contracts. For such a strategy, a role in intelligence would have been more than useful. From such a perspective, the continuation of a wartime Hughes-"Helms" double identity would not have been out of character. Instead, it would have fit neatly within the pattern of Hughes' previous doings: the use of double identities, the use of official connections to get what he wanted, the revolving-door hiring of such officials, the play upon the Roosevelts for favor, etc. In those days, the OSS (and later the CIA) was the domain of what CIA persons sometimes call "the gray circle"--wealthy East Coast families who tried to control it to their advantage.

After WWII, press accounts of Hughes' life may have been biased by a conflict of interest. For example, on Nov. 1, 1947 Hughes offered to pay for the flight out and hotel accommodations of reporters from every major newspaper in the U.S so that they could view the first, brief flight of the Spruce Goose. Suffice it to say he was taken up on the offer, which typifies the corruption and lack of objectivity in reporting of the time.

Why, we must ask, might Hughes have decided to continue a WWII-related cover identity into the Cold War period? The answer is obvious. Working for intelligence, he could have easily maintained personal control of his assets (Hughes disappeared forever from public view shortly thereafter) while he gained invaluable aviation and other information on a highly privileged basis. Critical former Nazi and Soviet aviation technology was being studied at the time - Hughes' entire fortune depended on anticipating exactly how he might counter them. At the time, Hughes relied on former Mellon-related employee Simon Ramo Ph.D. to help him win contracts for missiles and an electronic weapon and navigational system for the F-102 supersonic interceptor. (Bartlett and Steele). He continued an extensive use of Mellon-Alcoa aluminum in such projects. In addition, as owner of the Hughes drill bit technology, he was a lifelong Rockefeller favorite.

But what possible motives might there have been in a Rockefeller-Mellon role in the Hughes-"Helms" double identity? Rockefeller interests used Hughes drilling bits when they drilled oil wells (as did the Mellons' Gulf Oil), and the Mellons had a near monopoly (90% of primary aluminum) in the U.S., no doubt of use in Hughes' aviation doings. Remember the Mellon role in the above; years later "Helms" stayed with his good friends, the Mellon family, during the weeks prior to the Watergate break-in, a critical event in the double-identity scenario.

According to the New York Times, CIA chief "Helms" once said to a reporter he'd advised to check several sources for an article, "After those, you'll find you're not sucking any oil." (NYT 4-18-71) Was Hughes' old oil industry jargon resurfacing? Another Rockefeller-related irony is that "Helms'" only employment of duration before the war was for The Indianapolis Times, one of Dan Quayle's family newspapers in Indianapolis. From the earliest days of J. D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil monopoly until well past 1950, the Rockefeller influence in Indianapolis was clear. Although Rockefeller assets are now much less than those of more wealthy families (David is the last Rockefeller prince, so to speak), since the death of John D., the Rockefeller influence has been in the form of finance capitalism, rather than industrial capitalism. The Rockefeller percentage of stock in any corporation wasn't much, but the family's influence through interconnected holdings and political ties was considerable.

For example, from the 1930's through the 1940's (the period of "Helms'" supposed work for Dan Quayle's family), Rockefeller fingers were in Standard Oil of Indiana, the University of Chicago endowment stock in Standard of Indiana, various Indiana stock owned by old Standard Oil families, and more. Danny Quayle's grandfather would have listened carefully had a Rockefeller asked for his newspaper's help in concocting a wartime cover identity for Howard Hughes. In his autobiography, Dan Quayle admits that, even in 1988, his election campaign managers "were pretty much Rockefeller people." The supposed "Helms" work for the Pulliam-Quayle family began during WWII and lasted one or two years, varying. Ironically, during part of that time, Hughes had his mysterious nervous breakdown and disappeared from public view for the better part of a year.

Laurence Rockefeller was crucial in the early propagation of the Hughes-as-obsessive hermit story. In Bartlett and Steele's biography, the first mention of Hughes as an obsessive-compulsive hermit comes in relation to, and witnessed by, Laurance Rockefeller. Manhattan real estate tycoon William Zeckendorf's autobiography says that, in 1954, Hughes asked former 20th Century Fox head Spyros Skouros to find a buyer for Hughes' vast holdings. Skouros contacted Zeckendorf, who called Laurance Rockefeller. Zeckendorf says that he and Rockefeller flew to LA for a meeting with Hughes, and, at that time, Hughes manifested what may be his first "publicly"-witnessed shabby hermit behavior.

Ironically, in what may be the use of double entendre, Zeckendorf hints thinly that the whole scene was dubious: "In any event, we found ourselves programmed into a script that only the members of various undergrounds, portions of the CIA, the NKVD, and perhaps the Minutemen would normally take seriously." (Zeckendorf p. 156) Is this Zeckendorf's way of hinting, tongue-in-cheek, that the whole Hughes-as-hermit story was contrived, "a script" of sorts? Zeckendorf says that, as instructed, he, his son, and Rockefeller followed a run-down jalopy into a seedy section of LA to a building that looked like a flophouse. When the guards finally let them in, Hughes stood, unshaven, in dirty pants and dirty tennis shoes. Hughes sat, slouched and nervous, then turned down a Rockefeller bid of $500 million for his holdings. Zeckendorf says later negotiations for a sale included the chairman of General Electric, a substantial Mellon family holding.

Zeckendorf says the bankers then backing Hughes' TWA, Irving Trust (a favorite creditor of Edmond Du Pont - who was important in later years of Hughes' life), were over-extended in terms of their loans to TWA. To secure their investment, they were pushing for changes at TWA. Ironically, the Du Ponts of Delaware were among Hughes' biggest creditors, i.e. in a $40 million loan to TWA by the Biderman Du Pont-owned Equitable Life Assurance Society in 1946. In ways, to the extent that he used Du Pont credit, Hughes was rich on paper--like Donald Trump, who relied on Equitable loans also. However, there was a catch: if necessary, Du Ponts could call his debts (as happened in the case of Trump's Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta). To persons in the Du Pont family, Hughes was always an industrial and financial lesser. Apparently, Hughes grew to resent the power they had over him.

During the 1950's, Hughes used CIA-style security clearances at his company's Romaine St. (LA) nerve center. His corporate papers were classified Restricted, Confidential, and Secret. In typical CIA fashion, various branches of Hughes' corporations were compartmentalized to prevent any one executive from knowing too much about the others. Also unusual was Hughes' marriage to Jean Peters in 1956 in Tonopah, Nevada--site of a top-secret military installation. Hughes used an assumed name on the marriage certificate: "G. A. Johnson." (Bartlett & Steele) It is important to note that fake names and identities were legal in Nevada during the years when "Helms" first came to public attention.

Hughes began to disappear from public view for long stretches of time during the early 1940's. Did he do so because he realized that if he were to have a future in the defense industry, he had to work to coordinate his designs with larger organizations? He had to work with military intelligence persons in order to be apprised of aircraft trends and future business prospects. During the time of Hughes' supposed 7-month nervous breakdown, "Richard Helms" reportedly did work for the OSS in both Scandinavia and London, plus some work on the European continent as the war ended. Helms' biography says he took a 60-day Navy intelligence training course at Harvard (the alma mater of both Hughes' father and David Rockefeller) during WWII. To say the least, as owner of TWA plus oil technology and a defense aviation plant, Howard Hughes (then 37 years old and known to Harry Truman) would have had special privileges within intelligence circles because he needed access to secrets for wartime manufacturing purposes.

By then, it was obvious that the OSS (and later the CIA) would become the special province of America's wealthy, with hidden powers and an official impunity that allowed them to work with mobsters, narcotics kingpins, and the world's most corrupt moneymen. As noted above, Hughes was no stranger to such circles.

Apart from the stint working for Danny Quayle's family newspaper, which would have been relatively easy to fake, there are no other extended "Helms" activities noted in Helms' biography that either conflict in terms of Howard Hughes' public appearances, or that could not have been conveniently faked for the record. Again, from the perspective of a man who leased secret drill-bits for use across the globe (including by possible future enemies & others with money), and, given his secret military contracts work, Hughes had a need for intelligence contacts/credentials and a cover identity.

A conflict of interest?

The conflicts of interest inherent in Hughes having possibly worked at the CIA as "Richard Helms" would have been enormous, and, at the time, would have jeopardized the functional integrity of information and security within the U.S. government. To begin with, from the perspective of a double-identity, the Kennedy assassination would have to be seen in different terms. Hughes/"Helms" (to continue the scenario) would have been closely involved with many of the persons cited as suspect in assassination studies. For further example, on Hughes' instructions, Hughes employee Robert Maheu worked closely with S. Giancana, Johnny Rosselli, and other mobsters on plans to murder Castro, starting in 1960.

Why would the CIA have relied on Howard Hughes for such doings? Mob bosses Santos Trafficante and Carlos Marcello's ties to the Kennedy assassination are the subject of lengthy discussion in the best-researched assassination studies. Both Hughes and "Helms" CIA links to Gen. Ed Lansdale are well known---Lansdale is cited in ret. Col. Fletcher Prouty's works as having been photographed in Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22, 1963. (Prouty says that numerous of his military colleagues clearly recognize Lansdale in the photos).

The assassination of JFK materially benefited Hughes in terms of Hughes products later sold for use in Vietnam and in terms of Hughes' move into the gambling industry in Las Vegas. From a solely Hughes perspective, it also secured his corrupt, ongoing involvement with CIA persons (famous, from a solely Hughes perspective, in: the Watergate break-in's targeting of Hughes-lawyer Lawrence O'Brien, in numerous CIA operations, and in various mob-CIA doings). Any Hughes/CIA involvement in the assassination would have further compromised Hughes re envious competitors and antagonists (i.e. Du Pont family persons, about whom much more will be said shortly). Most of Hughes' casino purchases in Las Vegas involved syndicate man Mo Dalitz, who used mob-related Teamsters money to build casinos later sold to Hughes on favorable terms.

Secondly, Hughes' conflict of interest in reporting (as "Richard Helms") on both the prospects and the disposition of forces in Vietnam would have been one of U.S. history's more peculiar ironies. As "Helms" at CIA, Hughes would also have been in a position to favor new and previously dismissed reports that the war could be won in a matter of months, had he chosen to do so. CIA estimates (1963-68) of Vietcong and North Vietnamese troops troop counts were dangerously low, as became woefully evident after the Tet offensive of 1967. Early CIA reports on the Tonkin incident and on the discovery of a supposed Communist weapons cache in Vietnam (arms reportedly taken from CIA stores of E. bloc weapons) must be re-considered in light of the Hughes/"Helms" case. Also, (in this scenario) the use of Hughes missiles and Hughes-built helicopters during the war would have been further conflict of interest. Hughes satellites were being sold to U.S. intelligence while Hughes, as "Helms," may have sat as director of the CIA, which would have been a drastic conflict of interest. One not-so-subtle irony in all of this is that Hughes completed little more than one year of college. However, in the Hughes-as-"Helms" scenario, Hughes could conceivably have received a correspondence, or intelligence-work degree-equivalence circa the war years.

Above Top Secret

Why, in this scenario, would Hughes have given up a life of fame and elegance, to work within the CIA? Did Hughes finally find a kind of father figure in the men who had bested him during WWII, in the more disciplined and well-educated officers, the "gray circle" intelligence millionaires who were able to railroad Harry Truman, a former drugstore owner with no college education, into setting up a secret "covert operations" apparatus that would allow them to exercise foreign policy directly--with little more than token intermediaries? Did Howard Hughes sense that the coups of the future (including the one that killed JFK) would be directed by wealthy men almost entirely obscured from public view--free to pursue their secret schemes for power and control of the majestic new technologies?

The answer to such questions may, in fact, be seen in the strange disposition of Hughes' assets and their distribution after Hughes's supposed death in 1974. From 1968 until 1974, many millions of Hughes' money were funneled into Bahamas banks by a Hughes employee named Johnny Meier at a time when Robert Vesco (and Meyer Lansky, organized crime's main money-man) owned much of the business and banking on the Bahamas islands. [Vesco was then doing business with Henry B. Du Pont and Richard C. Du Pont in a company called All American Aviation. Yes, both are of the Delaware Du Pont family... The same Henry B. Du Pont had sold TWA to Hughes and had long been a direct competitor to Hughes through large Du Pont (General Motors) investments in North American Aviation, which later merged with Rockwell.] Howard Hughes' ties to the Du Pont family were life-long, ranging from TWA to CIA, aerospace tech, finance & Vesco, and, of course, to mutual interactions with the mobsters who worked off of United Fruit Company properties (it was then a Du Pont family co.) during the Bay of Pigs invasion. Gen. Ed Lansdale, greatly favored by CIA director Allen Dulles, was also a common link. Allen Dulles worked for the Du Ponts' United Fruit before moving to CIA. (Numerous persons who figure prominently in studies of the Kennedy assassination worked with, or received money from the Du Ponts' United Fruit Company at times.)

By funneling Hughes money to the Bahamas, Hughes' employee Johnny Meier may have laundered money in order to provide "Helms" with a sizeable reserve account for use in the event that he couldn't reclaim the old Hughes estate due to legal complications. According to Hughes biographers Bartlett and Steele, a man named Anthony Hatsis helped Meier make falsely-inflated mine and real estate purchases in Nevada from 1967-1974, using Hughes' money to do so. For example, to buy a desert mining property, Johnny Meier paid about $300,000 when it was actually appraised at a value of about $70,000.

The question is whether Meier then laundered the difference in cash values. Bartlett and Steele report that through such arrangements, many millions of Hughes' money were secreted by Meier into Hughes' bank accounts in the Bahamas. Meanwhile, in the Bahamas, Robert Vesco's big blowout in the Investor's Overseas Service (IOS) loss of $224 million in 1972 may, in fact, have related to the Hughes stash, which was then parked in Bahamas accounts. IOS, which was then run by Bernie Cornfeld, had long been used to channel Lansky-related (mob) gambling receipts into offshore investments.

Vesco's notorious takeover and subsequent "looting" of IOS occurred during a time when Vesco also bought the majority interest in All American Aviation from Henry B. Du Pont and both Richard C. Du Pont (Edmond Du Pont's first cousin) and Richard D. Du Pont. Vesco reportedly bought All American "in exchange for badly needed capital," according to Gerald Colby, biographer of the Du Pont family. The $13.5 million in capital that Vesco got from All American helped to keep him afloat at a time when biographers say he was desperate for cash to keep him going from 1971 to 1973. Some months earlier, Vesco had tried but had failed to take over another company in order to get its $6 million cash reserve, which he needed to prop up his crude pyramid of buyout schemes.

In other words, if Vesco biographer Arthur Herzog's figures are correct, Du Pont family money provided the critical financial lift needed by Vesco in order to move abroad and loot the IOS money. In later exploits, Vesco used his Du Pont-gained aviation foothold to set up what grew to become a small airforce, which he reportedly used to smuggle Carlos Lehder-related cocaine from Norman's Cay (Bahamas) into the U.S., as was noted in numerous news reports of 1983.

The Hughes-Meier money flow (1967-1974) was highly suspicious. It occurred at a time when money laundering was relatively primitive, compared to that of more recent years involving cocaine and computers. The Bahamas was little more than 200,000 people at the time; Lansky money and that of other Bahamas banks tended to overlap noticeably. Under such circumstances, Hughes may have lost sizeable sums of money when Robert Vesco fled the U.S. to escape indictment. Herzog's biography notes that Vesco's first objective in looting IOS was to run away with IOS' millions in "hot money," or untraceable (hence tax-free) funds that IOS specialized in. IOS founder Bernie Cornfeld once estimated that another 10% of IOS' money (10% would have upwards of $250 million) was organized crime profits. Hence, on the surface, it might have appeared that Vesco was directly menacing mob money by looting IOS.

However, only days before escaping the U.S. and looting IOS, Vesco conferred in Rome with the Cellini brothers, Dino and Eddie--one of whom had been described as the late mob-financier Meyer Lansky's right-hand man, his most-trusted gambling receipts person. The other Cellini brother worked at Paradise Island casino, where the supposedly lunatic & obsessive Howard Hughes took up residence during the time of Vesco's move to the Bahamas. Vesco reportedly discussed his impending heist with Lansky's top man in order to both coordinate his action and to protect himself from mob troubles subsequently. According to Vesco's personal pilot, Vesco and Lansky's top man shook hands "on a deal you couldn't possibly imagine." (See Spooks by Jim Hougan.) Obviously, it was important, but what kind of deal was it?

A number of indicators point to the fact that Howard Hughes himself may have been duped into a huge cash loss in the IOS case. They are as follows: 1) the long history of Hughes and CIA involvement in mob-related money matters and in Cornfeld's kind of IOS "hot money" accounts in the Bahamas; 2) Howard Hughes' background of involvement with Meyer Lansky and Kirk Kerkorian (Kerkorian was Hughes' biggest casino competitor in Las Vegas, and is reported as having met with Lansky people, thus the association with Lansky); 3) the heavy Lansky presence both in IOS money and in the Bahamas; 4) the fact that Howard Hughes is reported as having been directly thwarted by Robert Vesco in Hughes' attempt to purchase Resorts International (a Lansky-related gambling and real estate co. in the Bahamas). Hughes and his entourage are oft-reported as literally escaping through the back door of Resorts International's Paradise Island casino at exactly the same moment when Vesco arrived in the front door to top Hughes' bid. Vesco was formally targeted by the SEC two days later, coincidentally, which prevented him from completing the purchase. 5) a strange overlap of Hughes and Vesco implications in the burglaries of Hughes' Romaine St. and other offices in 1974 (see Spooks); and 6) former CIA man Larry Jividen's report that the money loaned to Hughes for his purchase of his 707 jet was mob money laundered through the Edmond Du Pont-related bank, the Irving Trust Company (Spooks). Lou Chesler, a Lansky and Vito Genovese (mob) business partner in the Bahamas, reportedly used an Irving Trust account to pay-off Bahamas officials in 1963-4 (Kunkin, Organized Crime Behind Nixon)

So, who was Edmond Du Pont? Edmond Du Pont was the brother of Emile Du Pont, whose in-law (Judge William Marvel) rendered final judgment on the Hughes estate after Hughes supposedly died. Edmond was also the first cousin of Richard C. Du Pont, who sold All American Aviation to Vesco. Du Ponts participated directly in Hughes' career, indirectly in some of his episodic setbacks, and may have acted personally in the subsequent taking of the Hughes aerospace assets by General Motors, which was 17-19% Du Pont-owned at the time. In 1984 Du Pont corp. Chairman Irving Shapiro was a director of the Hughes Medical Institute, a tax-sheltered foundation that controlled the bulk of Hughes' assets. Get the picture?

There are other ironies. In 1975 a shady private investigator in LA named Bobby Hall made an offer to the FBI: Hall would kidnap the fugitive Vesco from Costa Rica and bring him to the U.S. in exchange for a reduced prison sentence for Thomas Richardson, a stock broker who had hired Hall. (See Spooks by Jim Hougan.) Richardson had previously done dirty work for Vesco but had turned against him after Vesco left Richardson to twist in the wind over embezzlement charges. Fearing jail, Richardson offered the FBI information for use in getting Vesco extradited from Costa Rica. The irony is that Bobby Hall, the man who wanted to kidnap Vesco back to the U.S., had done contract work for Howard Hughes' Summa Corporation. In other words, a Hughes-related spook was out to get Vesco, as was Richard Helms' CIA, also.

Hughes and Vesco money overlapped in numerous places, but why, in this scenario, would anyone have tried to sabotage or loot Hughes' then-secret millions in Bahamas "hot money" accounts? Considerable evidence points to the fact that it may have been done in order to trap Hughes' secret stash and shoot down any possibility that he could secretly retain enough money to have a substantial role in the ultimate disposition of Hughes aerospace assets.

As for the Hughes money loss, the question remains whether Du Pont family persons acted in a planned and deliberate manner when, in fact, they did the following: 1) they effectively provided Vesco with a desperately-needed $13.5 million through All American Aviation, which Vesco used to sustain himself during the critical months of his move to the Bahamas in order to steal the IOS "hot money," and 2) they ceded the assets of All American Aviation to Vesco, thereby giving him their own kind of personal entrée into aviation. Was this done as a quid pro quo for his agreeing to disappear with (Lansky-related ) IOS money, thereby conceivably eliminating the bulk of the Hughes money that Johnny Meier had squirreled away? This is a critical consideration; the entire Hughes estate may have hung in the balance.

Vesco was an aggressive, albeit shady, multi-millionaire on paper at the time. If indeed he were compelled to participate in destroying the financial independence of Howard Hughes (then head of the CIA in this scenario), he would no doubt have expected financial compensation. By looting IOS, Vesco gained access to hundreds of millions of dollars. Later, as a wealthy fugitive he participated in various narcotics-smuggling schemes in countries where "hot money" fortunes are often secreted.

Such activities raise a number of important questions. Just beneath the surface of a major financial scandal may lie a yet more-important story. Given the suspicious nature of the Hughes activities, the deep animosities involved in an aborted fascist move (reportedly Du Pont-related) against Roosevelt in 1934, plus Du Pont-related participation in the bizarre case of Howard Hughes, we have to ask whether the concession of All American Aviation to Vesco was crucial in some Du Ponts' strategy, eventually successful, to trap and take Hughes aerospace for themselves. What really happened to the IOS millions?

All totaled, about $500 million in funds reportedly disappeared from Hughes' Summa Corp. during the late 60's and early 70's, according to Bartlett and Steele. Ironically, Bernie Cornfeld (IOS chief) later said that the total loss in the Vesco looting of IOS was probably about $500 million also. Hughes may have ordered the laundering of the Summa millions in order to move his money to discreetly-accessible Bahamas accounts for his later use, yet (in this scenario) the return of "Richard Helms" to the Hughes identity would, by then, have been impossible. Hughes' inability to appear for a variety of legal proceedings from the early 1950's until 1974 caused him to suffer large cash losses due to legal rulings and other defaults. Why was Hughes unable to appear in such cases? Previously he'd known the importance of such critical responsibilities.

Certain persons in the Du Pont family appear to have tracked Hughes closely (i.e. the cases of: Henry B. Du Pont who sold the TWA corp. to Hughes, Du Pont-related loans to Hughes, the shared CIA & United Fruit-Trafficante/Giancana/Roselli/mob interactions, the Dulles-Lansdale implications, the ongoing CIA & other Du Pont-related financial tracking of Lansky and Vesco, etc.) all with a possible intent to prevent any Hughes attempt to reclaim his old identity & assets and to eventually put Hughes Aerospace into Du Pont family (GM) hands. Judge William Marvel in Delaware (his immediate family was married into that of Emile Du Pont, brother of Edmond Du Pont--who did extensive business with Hughes) was the person who presided in Delaware court proceedings over the disposition of the supposedly deceased Hughes' estate. Here again, the Hughes-Du Pont interactions are clearly obvious.

The Hughes Corp. was later taken over by General Motors, which was 17-19% owned by the Du Pont family at the time. In fact, Henry B. Du Pont's role at North American Aviation came about through General Motors' purchase of North American Aviation previously. [An obvious possibility is that Du Ponts tracked Hughes, fearing a competitor, then co-opted him and were easily able to take advantage of his role at the CIA, in part for their own purposes, which (like reported CIA and Lansdale implications in the JFK assassination, for example) may have deeply compromised Hughes and left him effectively cut-off from his own company. Du Pont family involvement in the financial areas of Hughes' move from aviation to gambling (and the related construction), then to aerospace are easy to discern and may have been used to manipulate Hughes until, in the end, Judge William Marvel (Du Pont in-law) ran the faked hearing that disposed of the Hughes estate, allowing Du Ponts to move in on Hughes'/"Helms'" weakened Hughes Aircraft in order to take it for themselves. An aerospace coup of sorts...] The big question would be why would Du Ponts take such great and obvious risks to acquire Hughes? It's almost as though the Hughes assets gave them critical mass, or representation, in some majestic, secret scheme of aerospace technology.

Hughes may simply have become too powerful in the eyes of those who had manipulated him previously. Hughes had long resented the way his businesses had been under assault by competitors and by persons like Michigan Sen. Homer Ferguson, a General Motors favorite. [Ferguson tried to bar Hughes from all government contracts in 1947, a critical moment in eliminating Hughes as a Boeing (Pierre Du Pont investment) competitor in the large aircraft industry]. Du Pont family persons had unmistakably tracked Hughes and appear to have helped handle his (herein-hypothesized) double identity. A Du Pont family in-law appears to have played a role in his (herein-hypothesized) faked death/final estate settlement in 1974.

Henry B. Du Pont would no doubt have feared Hughes' success as a business competitor and would likely have coveted the Hughes aerospace assets. However, there is an obvious and crucial irony in the scenario outlined above: Hughes, at the CIA, would have learned to be more systematically effective in gathering information and arranging his own fallback ways of compromising those who wanted to gain advantage over him. In other words, as a professional spy he should have been able to run wide and easy circles around persons (like the given Du Ponts) who may have tried to compromise him for their own purposes over matters ranging from the Kennedy assassination to the use of the CIA and CIA-gathered information for private purposes. There was also the matter of the coup plot in 1934 and Phillip Corso's remarks to William J. Birnes--about Corso having saved Speaker McCormack's life in the hours after the (conceivably Lansdale-related) JFK assassination. Needless to say, "Helms" would have had his own files and witnesses to counter with.

Any of the most criminal compromises that Hughes (as "Helms" in this scenario) was pressured to participate in after the Kennedy assassination would, for him, have involved gut-wrenching and deeply conflicting sentiments because of fears that he might have been permanently separated from the from the Hughes assets as a result. Hughes may have feared being used for his own destruction. He may have seen that more corrupt parties than he wanted to compromise him for obvious reasons. If such were the case, he probably would have hated such persons by the early 1970's. He might have tried to compromise them better than they did he. Imagine what he could have accomplished along such lines from 1963 to 1974 whenever such persons tried to implicate him in activities that he might otherwise have distanced himself from. Hughes, despite his obvious failings, was a man of formal bearing, yet other may have tried to use him like a dog at the CIA. Du Pont-related persons had long hectored him for seemingly selfish reasons, and, in the end Du Ponts finally grabbed his company for themselves.

At this juncture, it may be important to note the case of Theodore House, the sole full-time Christiana holding co. accountant (the Du Pont family's Du Pont Corp. holding co.) who was bludgeoned to death on his porch in 1977 when the Du Ponts were in the process of dissolving their Christiana holding co. to relinquish direct Du Pont family control of the Du Pont chemical corp. As is noted in Colby's Du Pont Dynasty, attempts were made shortly afterward to murder Theodore House's wife also, which suggests that she, too, may have known too much. A larger pattern of suspicious activities surrounding such crimes raises the obvious question: Were there diversions of Christiana monies from 1953 until 1977 (period of House's employment) for illegal purposes? Ironically, Du Pont family persons suffered excruciating exposures, albeit indirectly, during Watergate, plus the related investigations and renewed attention to the assassinations and ultra-right wing Du Ponts (as is noted in the first version of Colby's ground-breaking book on the Du Ponts in 1974).

Meanwhile, "Helms" (also Hughes in this scenario) crept off to an ambassadorship in the Shah's Iran. (Hughes' lifelong closeness to Rockefellers may have been critical in this, as in other parts of "Helms'" life.) Was Hughes the CIA person who Jim Hougan (in Secret Agenda) suggests may have shepherded James McCord into tipping the Watergate burglary into the arms of the police? Was Hughes/"Helms," or Hughes' employee Robert Bennett, the real Deep Throat--as Frank Sturgis alleged in 1977? (SF Chronicle 5/5/77) There would be ample motives in the Hughes/"Helms" scenario. In Watergate's Democratic headquarters, the burglars planted a bug on Hughes lawyer Lawrence O'Brien's phone (worried about a vengeful Hughes discussing his "dirt" on Nixon after the IOS heist?). "Helms" coolly declined to help Nixon cover up the Watergate matter subsequently, despite the fact that it opened "a whole can of worms" that proved extremely embarrassing to the CIA. "Helms"-CIA fingerprints were all over Watergate and the leaking of information about Watergate to the press.

And Howard Hughes? Hughes' Summa Corp. security chief was in on the dry-run for Watergate - the burglary of Las Vegas editor Hank Greenspun's safe just weeks before the Watergate break-in. Nixon's men discussed the plan to break into Greenspun's office with Hughes' chief of security, hence Howard Hughes himself probably knew of it. (See Nightmare by A. Lukas) Supposedly, the Nixon men were looking to see what kind of dirt Greenspun had on Hughes and what Greenspun knew about Hughes' $100,000 donation to Nixon's 1972 campaign, money that came from Hughes' Silver Slipper casino receipts. In other words, Hughes had explicit, advanced knowledge of the break-in and theft of Hughes info from Greenspun's safe by the Watergate burglars. To have known that they would soon break into Watergate, also, would have been easy for Hughes. In addition, E.H. Hunt told "Helms" everything. Hughes clearly saw Watergate coming; he'd even arranged a sloppy-looking $100,000 donation to Nixon, CIA style, apparently in order to compromise Nixon, as he'd done previously (the "Checkers" case). It was a typical intelligence strategy: get something on those who know too much about you. Hughes/"Helms" was poised to get revenge against those who had betrayed him (in this scenario). The Watergate plan was just the right moment. Those who appear to have handled the Hughes/"Helms" identity and all its criminal implications over the years paid a heavy price in the end.

The stakes in the Hughes/"Helms" scenario were not small. Hughes had tried to compete with Boeing, which Pierre Du Pont had invested in during the 1930's. Hughes' move into the CIA would have put him in a position to handle information easily used to advance the Hughes satellite and missile business beyond that of Henry B. and other Du Ponts (notably Richard C. and Richard D.). As such, he would also have had access to new and secretive technology finds then-unavailable to his Du Pont competitors (especially after 1963). In any case, the futures of aviation and of satellite aerospace were being stiffly contested. The implications for the future of U.S. government defense contracts and for the direction of NASA, NSA, and other intelligence programs were obvious (see black-budget craft and the private use of sensitive intelligence in the Echelon case of 1999--which put info into the hands of Du Pont-related companies, incidentally). Hughes Aircraft had excelled in satellite electronics far in advance of his competitors. In that respect, he left the Du Ponts in the dust, yet the destruction of Hughes' ability to return to his old identity would, in this scenario, have cut him off from a return to a normal business life.

Hughes had hired former General Electric Ph.D. Simon Ramo and Bell Telephone's Dean Woolridge to develop Hughes Aircraft's electronics. In the process, and through mutual business involvements mentioned above, he may have gained allies in the Mellon family, i.e. through Mellon ownership/interest in GE. Remember, "Richard Helms'" father worked for the Mellons… One irony in this case is that Mellons, along with Rockefeller and Morgan interests, were competitors of the Du Pont family in supporting JFK’s attempt to reduce Du Pont ownership of GM from a 23% interest to a 19% interest. Mellons, presumably close to Rockefellers in various ways, were competitors of Du Ponts through Mellons' Chrysler and other holdings. Despite some consanguinity, Mellons clashed with Du Ponts, i.e. in the Penn Central debacle in 1971 (contributed to Edmond Du Pont’s business failure), in T. Boone Pickens’ hostile attempt to take over Gulf Oil (a Mellon family investment---Pickens used Biderman-Du Pont’s Equitable-related junk bond money to do so); and, apparently, during the time of Watergate---Helms stayed in Pennsylvania with Mellon family persons (like JFK, Irish Roman Catholics) during the weeks prior to Watergate… Watergate helped to place the whole "Bay of Pigs thing" before the public (also the case of Gen. Ed Lansdale at Dealey Plaza--as Fletcher Prouty and his colleagues allege; Lansdale was a favorite of Allen Dulles, a Du Pont employee while at United Fruit).

Such strains no doubt deepened in 1990-1 when Kirk Kerkorian (FBI reports show that he had an ambiguous relationship with a Lansky lieutenant) made a hostile run at Chrysler, a Mellon family interest. *Du Pont-related persons have mingled with Kerkorian interests over the years. For example, a 1993 news item noted that a director of the Du Pont-owned Equitable/Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, J. Barkakow, was previously the head of MGM (then Kerkorian's property), where Barbakow engineered the brief but bizarre sale of MGM to Pathe Entertainment in 1991. Pathe Entertainment was an unusual cobble of Italian assets and finance that failed to complete the purchase circa the time of the junk-bond market's collapse. The collapse of the junk market whalloped the bottom line of the Biderman/Du Pont-owned Equitable, of which Richard Jenrette was CEO. Was junk finance part of the equation (i.e. through Pathe) in Kerkorian's challenge to Chrysler, as it clearly was in T. Boone Pickens' hostile takeover attempts at Gulf Oil?

William Mellon Hitchcock had invested millions in Resorts International, which owned the Paradise Island casino that Vesco tried to buy just before the SEC busted Vesco. IOS had also invested four million into Resorts International stock by then. In other words, a Mellon was positioned to know about the Hughes-Vesco tensions during the time when Vesco was positioning for his move against IOS.

To reiterate, Du Pont family-related involvement in the Hughes double-identity scenario is obvious: Judge William Marvel ruled on the Hughes estate, which sealed Hughes' fate, thus averting potentially harsh scrutiny of any peculiarities or criminality in the case. In sum, a Du Pont family in-law may have participated directly in Hughes' (herein-hypothesized) double identity, and then, subsequently, a Du Pont-related company took possession of Hughes' aerospace assets. From the perspective of the double-identity scenario, there would have been an air of desperation in the attempt to render final judgement and thus seal off the Hughes matter from public scrutiny. *One can only imagine what the U.S. public would have learned had it been studied more closely.

Henry B. Du Pont's North American Aviation merged with the Rockwell family's Rockwell Aviation in 1967. At the time, the Rockwells were assured that, although the value of their assets in the merger were substantially less than those of North American, the Rockwell family would continue to dominate the combined company. However, in 1978, the Rockwells were removed from active directorship and made mere observers, another Du Pont (Henry) aerospace coup. The company was a prime contractor on the space shuttle, the B-1 bomber, and also made the Bronco bombers used by Suharto to kill E. Timorese opposed to invasion of E. Timor by Suharto's dictatorship. *Henry B. Du Pont was the business competitor who no doubt followed Hughes closely over the years and who (along with Edmond Du Pont's cousin) sold All American Aviation to Robert Vesco (the transfer included the company's cash pool of $13.5 million, which gave Vesco a critical boost toward his looting of IOS).

Why would normally-secretive Du Pont family persons have made the grotesquely-obvious mistake of dealing directly with Robert Vesco, then clearly known as having Lansky gambling money ties? Didn't the given Du Ponts anticipate that Vesco, given his Lansky ties, might ultimately loot and smuggle as a fugitive abroad? Vesco's famous attempt to buy off a Nixon SEC investigation of his IOS "looting" with a $250,000 contribution to CREEP (a 1972 Nixon campaign fund) went through Maurice Stans (then a business associate of Edmond Du Pont). Vesco also provided part of the Watergate money--as did George H. W. Bush's business partner William C. Liedtke (one of "the Texans" referred to by a worried Nixon on his famous tapes; another of "the Texans" may have been George Bush himself.) Of course, Bush's friends tried to explain away the fact that they provided money sent to the Watergate burglars shortly before the break-in, yet the explanation has always seemed dubious. The obvious congruence of Vesco, Watergate, and the Hughes/"Helms" case suggests just how much may have been riding on the Watergate exposures: the Hughes story, the Vesco caper, the "Bay of Pigs thing" (Lansdale and all), tensions dating back to the millionaires' fascist plot in 1934, and more.

The key question, at this point, is whether Vesco's "looting" of IOS was actually a carefully-planned theft, in conjunction with Lansky, of the Hughes millions that Johnny Meier had secreted to the Bahamas. In addition to profiting by the elimination of Howard Hughes from the Las Vegas gambling landscape, Lansky (in this scenario) would no doubt have expected further compensation for having helped destroy Hughes' economic viability. Involvement in the move against Hughes would have brought Lansky into direct conflict with a formidable element of the CIA. If such were the case, there should be a clear and unmistakable pattern in Lansky's subsequent behavior, or in his use of his assets, that would point to what Lansky might have hoped to gain by taking so huge and fateful a risk. Did it involve Kirk Kerkorian in Las Vegas or his relationship to junk money (i.e. Pathe)? Did it involve the fact that J. Edgar Hoover was then manifesting signs of senility or that Nixon might pressure Hoover out of the FBI, thereby opening the way for possible FBI targeting of all of Lansky's boys? Sometimes it seems as though Hoover's death precipitated the crisis in the old regime.

Also--why didn't Lansky have Vesco killed, in typical fashion, when Vesco stole IOS funds that should otherwise have included Lansky's gambling receipts? Exactly what kind of "deal" did Lansky's main man make with Vesco shortly before Vesco looted IOS?

Future researchers will do well to look into whether Du Pont-related money overlapped with Lansky money in Florida (i.e. in the Miami National Bank--which laundered Lansky money to Switzerland, or in Switzerland itself.). Ed Ball, Alfred I. Du Pont's brother-in-law and controller of Florida National Bank, was the man who sponsored George Smathers' move into Florida politics. Smathers later bought an interest in Resorts International in the Bahamas, and also invested money in Lansky-funded businesses in Florida. *Smathers personally helped Frank Sturgis get his U.S. citizenship back after Sturgis fled his post as Cuban casino director during the 1950's. (Du Pont Dynasty, p. 535).

After looting IOS and fleeing the U.S., Vesco frequently complained that the CIA was trying to kill him. In the Hughes/"Helms" scenario, there would, of course, be a direct CIA interest in going after Vesco. Arthur Herzog's biography of Robert Vesco notes that in late 1973, then-fugitive Vesco went on national television in Costa Rica (then his refuge) and said that the persons who were after him in the U.S. "represent the same forces that took care of first eliminating President Kennedy because of his internal politics… and President Nixon because of his external politics and independence of judgement."

More to the point, Howard Hughes' casino businesses in Las Vegas were eventually challenged and then eclipsed by Kirk Kerkorian, a man oft-noted for his Lansky ties. (Kerkorian is the spitting image of Lansky, a physical resemblance so close that he could be his son, so to speak.) As a result, Hughes' economic viability in Las Vegas was defeated by organized crime-related parties. Was this merely coincidental, or was it part of a larger quid pro quo relating to arrangements like Bobby Vesco and IOS, or the Miami National Bank's laundering of Lansky-Trafficante heroin money through Switzerland, a web of moneys that in numerous ways involved the businesses and the politics of Du Pont-related persons in Florida? In terms of the above scenario, this is clearly a related possibility.

The Hughes/"Helms" double-identity scenario poses one critical irony. While Hughes (as "Helms" in the scenario) was at CIA watching the Kuomintang heroin army in the Golden Triangle and other CIA-related heroin trafficking, a huge part of the profits derived thereby would have gone to persons like Santos Trafficante and Meyer Lansky, which would, ironically, have bolstered the casino business of Lansky-related Kirk Kerkorian in Las Vegas to the detriment of Howard Hughes. The possibility emerges that Lansky people could have been skimming the gambling receipts of Hughes casinos while, at the same time, Hughes (at CIA in this scenario) was forced to watch, either helpless or coldly complicit, as a booming SE Asian heroin trade enriched Lansky and further eroded Hughes' position in Las Vegas. Added to other compromises running from 1963 onward, Hughes may have felt as if he was being buried alive… Did Hughes, in turn, do anything at CIA to curb the heroin flow? To have done so would have provided Lansky with further motive to use Vesco (a little fish, compared to Lansky) in order to help trap or steal Hughes' secret "dirty money" stash in the Bahamas.

Howard Hughes would have had numerous motives for using the CIA against Nixon during Watergate. As revenge for the sabotage and loss of all that Hughes had ever worked to own and control, Hughes would have been able to "bring down every tree in the forest." It would have been fitting revenge against Nixon (for having accepted Vesco money and for not having pursued Vesco aggressively), revenge against Du Ponts (for years of antagonism and complicity in thwarting Hughes), and revenge against those who had maneuvered Hughes into the compromises of "the whole Bay of Pigs thing," which, as H.R. Haldeman suggested, was cryptic reference to the JFK assassination. The Hughes/"Helms" motives are strong in this case.

The ambiguities of the Helms identity, added to the Rockefeller interest in it and the disappearance of Helms into Europe for ten years are disturbing. Taken together, they may simply be what one might expect in such cases---self-interested, privileged manipulations by wealthy oil industry families. Despite the original intentions of its authors, the ironies in the McGarrah aspects of the Helms identity may go more toward discrediting the "Helms" identity than to substantiate it. Rockefeller motives in the double identity are both obvious and consistent with the behavior of a family known for its brutal and self-interested manipulations of government(s). The uncanny similarities between Hughes and Helms, the congruity of Hughes and Helms CIA activities, and the dundering Rockefeller hand in the Helms case (typically high-bourgeoisie Rockefeller) suggest that the Helms biography may have been cooked--for obvious reasons.

Where is the documentation, the larger pattern of friends, anecdotes, photos, and testimony to substantiate "Helms'" early life? How could Hughes have possibly disappeared for thirty years in a row? And what did Bob Woodward mean, when, in a 1999 public radio interview in the Bay Area, he said that when the identity of Deep Throat is finally known it will lead people to check other related information, which will reveal a larger pattern of "fantastic" ironies that few would ever have suspected?

For many, the idea that Hughes could have dropped out to lead a life within the CIA seems weird, contrary to what they would expect of their government. However, at this point in time, given the assassinations, the CIA’s involvement in narcotics, the black budget doings of late, the Hoover case, the Army 111th in Memphis, and Col. Fletcher Prouty's (and colleagues) observations about Lansdale, what would be weird - under the current regime of campaign finance and corrupted officialdom - would be to have an honest government.

There was a coup d’etat in 1963, as was openly feared by Eisenhower in 1960. A private regime, partly-founded on disgruntled corporate elements known for former-fascist sympathies, simply overleaped their bounds. There were disgruntled military factions acting in the JFK assassination, yet they appear to have had wealthy sponsors, the promise of revolving-door security and a refuge within a corrupted security apparatus.

There are starkly dynamic tensions within the Hughes-"Helms" double identity scenario. They are ugly, yet they fit the facts cleanly, precisely. As is outlined above, they point toward further complications---an ongoing, largely unresolved pattern of crimes and abuses. For example, there are developments within the black budget apparatus that require immediate, active scrutiny. The perpetrators have become used to simply doing what they please, without consequence, without public scrutiny. If we neglect the Hughes case, assuming there is evidence within it, we may never see how easy it was to dupe the people of the U.S.

Millions of dollars can be laundered in 20 minutes, but it takes law enforcement years to retrace but one such single transaction. If the Hughes-Helms case holds water, yet is neglected, it may allow further deceptions of the sort. Send this URL to a friend. Better yet, if you can, please help out in the researching of it. Although we don't currently have a Richard Helms hair or saliva sample for genetic comparison to that of Hughes' son Kato Kailyn, for example, there may be many aging people who know about, yet were once afraid to talk about this case, i.e. in Hollywood and elsewhere. Richard Helms is 93 years old now; most of the above-noted persons are also quite old, at present. The Hughes/"Helms" case may be the Rosetta stone of our time, in a sense.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (Santanya)

[Mr. LoBuono is a writer who does investigative reporting in Northern California.  He is a graduate of San Francisco's States Master Degree program in United States history. Contact:    1310 Fulton #304 San Francisco CA 94117  (415) 567-1427.] 

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