by Virginia McCullough, Curator

2) BERKELEY BARB Footnotes to article "Is SLA's Cinque the First Black Lee Harvey Oswald?"


2) Click. BERKELEY BARB Footnotes to article "Is SLA's Cinque the First Black Lee Harvey Oswald?"
3) Click. Stephanie Caruana's "Introduction" to her book "Bruce Roberts' Gemstone File" and introductions to several chapters which contain information about her work with Mae Brussel, and also the introduction to her comments on her taped radio programs.


2) BERKELEY BARB Footnotes to article "Is SLA's Cinque the First Black Lee Harvey Oswald?"

3) Stephanie Caruana's "Introduction" to her book "Bruce Roberts' Gemstone File" and introductions to several chapters which contain information about her work with Mae Brussel, and also the introduction to her comments on her taped radio programs.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, October 27, 2001 6:07 AM
Subject: Re: Mae Brussell archive

Dear Kate,

In accordance with your letter appended below, I am forwarding the Introduction to my forthcoming book, "Bruce Roberts' Gemstone File."  For your added interest, I have also included the introductions to several chapters which contain information about my work with Mae, and also the introduction to my comments on her taped radio programs.  This is in essence most if not all of what I have said about Mae in the book.  The comments (which follow the chapter introduction) on her taped programs contain my negative statements about Mae; that is, my replies to her radio-broadcast statements.
Of course the main portion of the book is devoted to a transcript of Bruce Roberts' letter, which occupy probably 2/3 of the book.  (This is a long book.  On my computer, it is set up as 350 pages, single-spaced.  On the CD version, it  runs to over 500 pages.)
You are welcome to read it, and I would appreciate any comments.  Since the preliminary version will be available on CD-Rom within the week, I can now make portions available as "samplers" on my web site, and I expect to do so....

INTRODUCTION by Stephanie Caruana © 2002

"Rochefort said: 'Presidents fear one thing: An historian, who writes with
knowledge of events; who writes of current history-and traces it back. This
man has the power to change the inscriptions on tombstones, and shape the
course of the history he writes about.'"

Bruce Roberts liked that quote; it may have been his favorite. If you think
about it, it is a tall order. Who dreams of changing current history through
his writing? And yet he set about it, like a scientist. In fact, he
dedicated his life to doing just that. His "history" was written from day to
day, in the form of letters, or papers. And he never stopped living,
investigating, and "pushing the weight further out," long enough to
rearrange and organize it into book form.

But he may have accomplished his aim, or at least some of it. At the very
least, his writing reflects a point of view that is uniquely his own, quite
different from any other account of the time he wrote about. For many, even
in the brief, truncated version presented in the Skeleton Key, it has
aroused fascinated curiosity.

He left behind huge stacks of disorganized writing, none of which have been
published before this.

He gave away, or sold to interested buyers, numerous copies of various parts
of his work, which he referred to at one time in 1971 as "about the
thickness of four telephone books." Many of these copies have been destroyed
or lost. Others exist in carefully guarded archives, here and around the

When I knew him, he was frequently broke; his copying bills at San
Francisco's xerox machines were enormous. Several times I had the distinct
honor of buying him a beer at one of his favorite San Francisco bars.
And yet - in his letter to President Anwar Sadat, of Egypt, in 1975, he
refers to "a solid performance record."

What record? The man died broke, and unknown. Biographical facts about his
life are hard to come by. A complete stack of his writing-which he began in
1968, and which I estimate would have been about seven telephone books thick
by the time of his death in 1976-is not known to exist anywhere. From his
brother, Dayle Roberts, who worked for National General Corporation and
hated everything Bruce tried to do, one can only expect that he destroyed
all of the Gemstone papers that he could find.

According to Bruce Roberts, Dayle Roberts had been married to Marina
Iglesias, sister of Antonio Iglesias. Antonio Iglesias was one of the
CIA-Cuban mob involved in the Bay of Pigs Operation. Bruce Roberts said he
was also present at the JFK assassination, with a camera, taking photos.
Some of the photos were of Eugene Brading; one showed him stuffing his rifle
under his coat after shooting at JFK. I have included one here showing
Brading in his X-marked leather sombrero.

 Roberts also referred to his CIA-connected uncle, C. J. Kimball, and a
Kimball cousin who was apparently busy destabilizing Nigeria for the CIA at
the time the family black sheep, Bruce, was writing his Gemstone papers.
And yet for all of his obscurity he seems to have pushed history around,
deliberately, quite a bit during his lifetime. He claims that his writing,
and the evidence that he collected to support it, were used by Richard Nixon
to gain the Presidency, and later forced him to resign it. Roberts also
claims that he used his writing to change the national composition of the
United Nations, and to drive the various U.S. Intelligence groups crazy.
 From studying his writing, I conclude that what he said was a true account.
However, even if it is exaggerated, or even tragically limited because it is
from his own point of view, perhaps too self-centered, and does not take
enough account of other factors to be called "history", it is still the most
astonishing story I have ever read, far beyond the most daring derring-do of
fictional spies and adventure heroes. But I will add that research efforts
by others, recent publications and historical developments have confirmed
many if not all of Roberts' statements.

The pale fractional 20-to-30-odd page shadow of his story that I wrote in a
hurry and distributed free, urgently and out of what I deemed to be a
necessity, early in 1975, which I called "A Skeleton Key to the Gemstone
File," was too brief and fragile to hold Roberts' entire story of the huge
net of conspiracy that surrounds us and robs us of our freedom every day.
Looking at a battered, lop-eared "original" copy that has survived all these
years, I am amazed at its longevity and its brashness. It certain doesn't
look strong enough to make it on its own. But like the Flying Dutchman, it
has drifted, rudderless, around the world many times over, inspiring fear,
ridicule, belief, disbelief-and research, to prove or disprove its claims.
 On the way, it has engendered millions of copies, many in formats and
languages that I know nothing about. And at least six books, several movies,
and countless TV episodes. Not bad for 22 pages! I'm proud of it. It has
served its purpose well.

On the negative side, its unchaperoned, uncopyrighted state has led to its
being "claimed" and distorted by the CIA and a couple of "Skeleton Key"
wanna-be writers, co-opted for causes which it was never meant to serve, and
sliced, diced and served up in formats which are nearly unrecognizable. I
regret this, but I had no control over it.

Today, twenty-six years later, it is available on the Internet, in a variety
of languages, in hundreds of copies and references, none of which were
posted by me. It has been reprinted innumerable times, in newspapers
including the Boston Globe, and magazines including Penthouse and Hustler,
"others, whose names I know not"; and most of all, in the "conspiracy
magazines." Frequently with a disclaimer: "We don't believe a word of this,
but here it is, anyway. You decide."

Though it has been called an incredible, notorious rant, it has outlived
many other "theories" and a loud, persistent chorus of nay-sayers. In fact,
it is sometimes termed the "granddaddy of all conspiracy theories." A
generation of Americans has grown up with it. Its statements, though
shocking to many when it was first released, are now relatively commonplace.
The world has changed around it. Most people now recognize and understand
that we live in a society dominated by the Mafia, by whatever name you
choose to call it: High Society, the moneyed elite, the military-industrial
complex, the Company, the Organization, the Outfit, the CIA, the Good Guys,
the Wise Guys, Big Business, the New World Order, etc. Bruce Roberts, who
hated it with a passion, referred to it as "MMORDIS," which stood for
"Moldering Mass Of Rotten Dribbling Infectious Shit." But then, he always
did have a way with a phrase.

During all this time since the Key's first appearance, readers have clamored
to see the original Bruce Roberts letters-for many reasons. First, they
wanted assurance that there really was such a person. Second, they wanted to
know whether the Key was an accurate reflection of the original. Third, they
were interested in learning more about the events described.

Unfortunately, I was not in a position to do much about that. I had only a
small sampling of [copies of] the original letters. Most of the contents of
the Key were based on notes I took, early in 1975, from several of Roberts'
letters dated in 1975, that were in the possession of a foreign embassy in
San Francisco. My notes were amplified by personal contacts and
conversations I had with him at that time.

The first release of the Key, dated April 1, 1975, actually started going
out on March 22. At that time, Bruce Roberts was in a hospital in San
Francisco. When I visited him, he told me X-rays showed a "tumor the size of
a grapefruit" in his chest, and that his doctors were assuming it was cancer
and were treating it that way. The full story appears later in the book. But
I will say here that I believed the CIA was trying to kill him, and that his
father had died under strange circumstances while in a hospital three years
earlier. I felt the only thing I could do about it was to release my notes
immediately, in a succinct and dramatic form, to get the basic story out,
hoping that it would give the CIA something different to think about and
that maybe they wouldn't kill him.

So-imperfect as it was-the Skeleton Key was launched on its long journey.
I never anticipated that the Key would be the only representation of
Roberts' work to emerge over the intervening years.

Mae Brussell suppressed her 360-page cache of Roberts' letters, dated
1970-1972, for many years-until her death in 1988.After her death in 1988,
the few copies she left were kept hidden by those who had them. About one
year ago, I was able to acquire a copy. I set out to prepare this book,
adding these earlier files to the information I had from 1974-5.

From 1968, when Bruce Roberts began to circulate his writings about the
Mafia's role in, and rule of, the United States, until his death in 1976 at
the age of 56, he seems to have written steadily. He was a keen observer
with a photographic memory. He wrote by hand with a ball-point pen, usually
on cheap yellow lined legal pads, 8-1/2"x14", ignoring the margins and
filling each page from top to bottom. He would write at home, or sitting at
a quiet table in the Library, a coffee shop or a favorite bar. He never
rewrote anything, and only rarely corrected a word of what he had written.
He was able to reel his complex, detailed story off from memory, varying
only occasionally in minor details, again and again, each time focusing on a
different aspect, or taking off from a current TV, newspaper or magazine
story or interview that carried the story forward in time.

The first time I met him, in September of 1974, he told me the tale of our
U.S. Mafia history from August, 1972 to the then-present, in about an hour
and a half, without stopping. He was standing in the doorway of his
apartment in the Sunset District of San Francisco, wearing a white
terry-cloth bathrobe. He was tall and blue-eyed; his close-cropped dark grey
hair was still wet from the shower. He looked like a retired Marine drill
sergeant who kept himself in shape. He told me a tale of horror, filled with
murders, bribery, and criminal betrayals of a nation's trust. The reason he
was telling me all this was because I had asked him to.

I had spent the spring and summer bouncing back and forth from Berkeley to
the Carmel Valley, then to Big Sur and Carmel. It had been a fascinating and
productive summer. For part of the time, I lived in the tiny spare bedroom
of Mae Brussell's house in the Carmel Valley. Mae was a well-known
"conspiracy researcher", who had written the first articles to appear with
real information about the Watergate "burglars", which had been published in
Paul Krassner's The Realist. Her filing cabinets were irresistible, and she
knew a lot.

Mae and I collaborated on an article about the Patty Hearst kidnapping,
Donald DeFreeze, known as "Cinque", and the Symbionese Liberation Army
("S.L.A."), which was published in the Berkeley Barb, a small local
newspaper. A week after it was published, Cinque and the rest of the
CIA-inspired, created and managed "Symbionese Liberation Army" of freed
prisoners and hapless stooges (all six of them) were barbecued, stapled and
mutilated by a Los Angeles SWAT Team.

This well-planned slaughter happened in broad daylight, with a TV crew
conveniently on hand, for the edification of the Nation, with Patty Hearst
posted at a nearby window by her CIA handlers to watch the action. The
message, for the Rest of Us, was clear enough: "See what happens when you
mess with a CIA-staged 'national terrorist media event'?"
Yes; it was clear enough. And yet, for some reason, Mae and I bumbled on,
instead of taking up safer pursuits like knitting, gardening, or trying to
save the few surviving sea otters who bobbed cheerfully in the long kelp
beds just offshore chewing on sea urchins and abalone.

I wrote an interview with Mae for Playgirl magazine's "About Women" section.
We didn't know it, but we were about to bumble into the hottest, most
secret, and most dangerous story of the 70's, and we had no idea what we
were getting into. This was the story of the 1957 kidnap and takeover of
Howard Hughes, by Aristotle Onassis. The article was published in December
1974, in Playgirl, under the title: Is Howard Hughes Dead and Buried off a
Greek Island? We didn't know how important the story was, but the
CIA/Mob/Money boys did. Marin Milam, the editor of Playgirl, told me she had
been in Times Square, New York City, when the first copies were delivered to
the newsstand.

"I have never seen so many men in black overcoats running up to buy Playgirl
in all my life," she said.
The articles on Patty Hearst and the SLA, and Howard Hughes and Onassis, are
included here, together with an account of why they are important for this

In April, 1975, a small group of Native Americans and others had gathered
somewhere in New Mexico for a "Third World Conference," abruptly canceled.
But someone had brought along a copy of the Skeleton Key. So, with no
meeting space available, they drove out into the desert night, parked their
cars in a circle, and read their single copy of the Skeleton Key in the glow
of the headlights, passing the pages around the circle, one by one. Then
they drove for an hour across the desert to the nearest copying machine. One
came to see me later in San Francisco. He told me about their desert reading
session, and asked me for a fresh copy, since their single copy had been
re-copied so many times as to be almost illegible.

He told me that his group had friends in every Bureau of Indian Affairs
office in the country, and that copies would be made and circulated from
every office. I gave him 10 fresh copies of the newest "edition," dated May
1, and this is the edition which has received the greatest circulation.
The Skeleton Key has been praised, denounced, purloined, imitated, and
satirized; it has been turned into comic strips, and so on. But it has never
gone away.

 At least six books that I know of have been written that were based
directly on it. This will be the seventh-but the first to include any of the
original Gemstone File material itself. In addition, it has been the
sometimes undeclared subject and source of innumerable novels, TV shows, and

During the course of wholesale anonymous copying and recopying of Xerox
copies, my name and address in San Francisco disappeared and reappeared in
its original place at the top corner of the "original" copies. These copies
appeared in at least 3 "issues," with minor variations, ranging in length
from 22 to 35 pages, and variously dated in April, May and June of 1975.
Typos, omissions, additions, misinterpretations and distortions, some of
them deliberate, have crept into many of the published and unpublished
versions. For this reason, I have included an updated and corrected Skeleton
Key here. It will serve as a useful guide to the events described by Bruce
Roberts, clarifying the sequence, because his letters frequently cover the
same events from a slightly different point of view and at a slightly
different time. I suggest that readers unfamiliar with the Gemstone thesis
read the Skeleton Key first, before tackling the File itself.

At least two men have claimed credit for authoring the Skeleton Key. One,
apparently a CIA flack writing under the name "Peter Renzo", came out with a
paperback book called Beyond the Gemstone File back in 1976. He took my
Skeleton Key and to it added a thick wadding of unbelievable hogwash
"adventures" featuring "himself" as hero. I seem to recall a swashbuckling
picture on the back cover which was supposed to be of him waving a sword or
rifle around. The idea was clearly to suggest that the Skeleton Key was a
figment of the imagination of a complete loony, so that no one would ever
take it seriously. (Some of his fantastic additions were apparently used
later as a springboard for the Indiana Jones movies.)

But there was no way the CIA, or anyone else, could prevent the inexorable
duplication and march of these little Skeleton Keys around the globe.
Whenever I need a laugh, I think of the "Sorcerer's Apprentice" scene in the
movie Fantasia, where Mickey Mouse steals the Magician's cap and wand and
puts a spell on an old broom, which comes to life, splits in half and begins
carrying buckets of water for him. The rapidly multiplying brooms and
buckets soon fill the screen.

 The newly corrected, expanded and updated Skeleton Key provides a useful
simplified time line, with comments, of the events and personalities
described in the original writing of Bruce Roberts.

I think that Roberts will eventually emerge as the best historian of our
troubled times. Yes, I know: this is history written in the vernacular;
street speech. How dare I call it "history"? But you, the reader, will judge
for yourself.

I want to emphasize that this is Bruce Roberts' own personal story, based on
his own experiences and discoveries. As such, it is unique. He was an
educated, literate man, who read books and newspapers and watched
television, like the rest of us. And he refers to these sources from time to
time. But he also did a lot of "research" from unfamiliar sources that were
never published, as well as his own experiences.

Many researchers have attempted to analyze his "sources", and have drawn a
variety of conclusions. For some, Roberts' statements that can not be
verified from published sources "prove" that his story is unsubstantiated.
On the other hand, if they discover a book or source that contains some bit
of the information he provides, they claim that he is only repeating
information available to anyone, and that this too lessens his credibility.
I wish to remind readers that no one else has developed a coherent version
of the traumatic events that shaped our history from the mid-fifties to the
mid-seventies. Once the basic story is understood, it provides us with
background information by means of which we can better understand current

This book contains edited transcripts of all of the Roberts source material
that I have. Repetitious material has been omitted. None of the Roberts
material has ever been published before. I believe it will be as startling
and informative to the reader as the Skeleton Key has been over the years.
And I hope it will provide a better understanding of our past history, which
sheds a harsh but steady light on our present reality.

I have included a partial transcript of two radio broadcasts on the
"Gemstone File" from 1977-8 by Mae Brussell, together with my comments on
Mae's comments. I hope to clear up some of the persistent confusion and
erroneous beliefs regarding Bruce Roberts, his personality, and his writing,
the File itself, and my own role in providing this information via the
Skeleton Key, that have resulted over the years from these two broadcasts.
After all, why shouldn't our history be written in the style of James Joyce's
Finnegan's Wake? Fragmented, shimmering, like a faceted gemstone
that you can turn from one side to another, each time seeing more depths and
connections than you ever thought possible? And why shouldn't there be a
Skeleton Key to guide you in your explorations, like a thread through the
labyrinth of an enormous deep red ruby? With James Joyce, all you ever got
was a guided tour of Joyce's brain-interesting, but inconclusive; and, in
the long run, perhaps, so what?

For the millions of Americans who spend their lives actively involved in
this ruthless worldwide oligarchy, ripping off the rest of us through
deliberately created scams, wars, stock market crashes, bribes, CIA
assassinations of world leaders, planned "revolutions" setting up
dictatorships, mass and individual murders, training and releasing
brain-washed and manipulated killers, media cover-ups, and the rest of the
mess, much of this will not be news. They will collect their checks, and
I am thinking of one such "friend" from Virginia who took to calling me
during the preparation of this book. He preferred, as many do, to pooh-pooh
these matters as "crackpot conspiracy theories." When I pointed out some
undeniable realities to him, he shifted his ground abruptly and began
talking about a $20,000 check he had just received. He seemed to be
suggesting that I would be better off, at least financially, if I would just
shut up and get on the gravy train with the rest of the "Mob."

But this book is for everyone else-the three hundred million victims, in
this country, and the billions elsewhere in the world. The conflict between
our stated national ideals and the reality of our national actions and our
own lives has led to a long Civil War which has split our families,
devalued, destroyed and impoverished many of our people, and causes grave
concern about our nation's and the world's future.

I write this shortly after the inauguration of George W. Bush, son of ex-CIA
Chief George Bush and Barbara Walker Bush, who recently expressed her
enthusiasm over the idea of eight years of "Dubya" Presidency, followed by
eight more years of Jeb Bush. The public awareness of the "Banana Republic"
reality of our present government is apparent in one of the signs which
appeared along the inaugural route: "Now the People Have Spoken-All Five of
Them," a reference to the Supreme Court's decision in the Florida election
case, Jeb Bush, Governor, where thousands of people were disenfranchised and
the vote count was halted by the Supreme Court. Then, Supreme Court Justice
Rehnquist, a Republican appointee, administered the oath of office to Dubya,
Party Animal and honored member of the Bush family swindling group,
emphasizing the clubby and exclusive aspect of our present government.
On the other side of the political aisle, Bill Clinton's parting blow to the
Democratic Party was the sale of pardons. David Letterman commented on the
"Tonight Show" that it reminded him of someone selling steaks out of the
trunk of his car. Tom Brokaw replied that such a steak sale had more

Such is the state of the Union, no matter what they are saying in Washington
or on your TV.

Knowledge is power, it is said. Gemstone plus Key plus some mental effort
may give many people a better understanding of our lives and the way we live
now, than they have ever had.

And besides, it's the only real history of our time that I know about.
So hang on; it may be a bumpy ride.


From Chapter 22. 1974: Mae Brussell and Me: Patty Hearst, "Cinque" and the

I had been living in Los Angeles for several years, and was a contributing
editor at Playgirl magazine. Regular writing assignments from Playgirl and
interesting friends and contacts in the Bay area encouraged me to relocate
to Berkeley in 1973.

Patty Hearst's kidnapping in February, 1974, sent shock waves through the
Berkeley community, and riveted national media attention on the puzzling
events which followed. There were long, pompous headline-grabbing
"communiques" from the mysterious self-proclaimed "Symbionese Liberation
Army" and its revolutionary black leader, "Cinque." These culminated in
elaborately staged and publicized phony "food give-aways" in the rather
embarrassed community of Oakland.

Within a couple of months, sweet wealthy white girl student Patty Hearst had
inexplicably metamorphosed into gun-toting revolutionary "Tanya," who
obligingly posed for pictures while participating in a bank robbery with her
"brothers and sisters in the struggle." It was enough to turn any wealthy
capitalist pig parent's hair white. What in hell was going on?
Was this "reality", or the playing out of a carefully planned political
charade? And if so, for what unfathomable end?

Eventually my friends tired of hearing me as questions that no one seemed
able to answer. The news director of a Sacramento radio station told me,
"Ask Mae Brussell. If anyone knows what's going on, it will be Mae."
She told me that Mae had a weekly half-hour radio broadcast coming out of
KLRB-FM in Carmel, which was syndicated to a network of non-profit radio
stations throughout the country. It was called "Dialogue Conspiracy."
A few days later I was in Carmel. I called Mae at her home in Carmel Valley,
told her I was a journalist writing for Playgirl, and asked whether I could
come and talk to her about Patty Hearst. She promised me ten minutes; it
turned into three hours.

I offered to work with her on an article about Patty Hearst and the SLA, and
she agreed. I moved temporarily into her guest bedroom, sat down with Mae,
and turned on my tape recorder. The next day I began transcribing,
organizing and editing. The resulting article, reprinted below, was
published shortly after in the Berkeley Barb. [Cut slightly because of space

(Copyright (c) 1974 by Stephanie Caruana and Mae Brussell)
From the Berkeley Barb, 1974 (Number 18)


Mae Brussell is a researcher who has spent ten years studying political
assassinations and conspiracies in the United States. On July 11, 1972, she
wrote the first and so far the only article to give a reasonable explanation
for the break-in and arrest at the Watergate - three weeks after the event.
The article, "Why Was Martha Mitchell Kidnapped?" and a long companion
piece, "The Senate Select Committee is Part of the Cover-Up," were published
in Paul Krassner's The Realist.

Stephanie Caruana is a Contributing Editor at Playgirl. Her articles include
interviews with poet Maya Angelou and civil rights leader Florynce Kennedy.
Her writing has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times and Publishers'

[During the week that followed the publication of this article the
"Symbionese Liberation Army" was hastily moved from the Bay area to a "safe
house" in Los Angeles. Patty Hearst was taken out of the house by two of her
CIA "handlers" to a place of safety, and Cinque and the rest of the SLA
patsies were shot and burned to a crisp by a Los Angeles "Swat Team." I
watched this happen, live, in the middle of the day, on a TV set in a
laundromat window in Berkeley. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that our
article nipped the "SLA" saga in the bud, and that the people who had
planned and carried out the kidnapping and dramatic use of Patty Hearst in
this hideous scenario decided to cut the drama short and thus end any
investigation into the reality behind the "terrorist" plot.-sc]


23. Mae Brussell, Bruce Roberts and Me: Onassis, Howard Hughes and JFK

At this time, I was writing a monthly column for Playgirl called "About
Women." I suggested to Playgirl Editor-in-Chief Marin Milam that Mae
Brussell might be an interesting subject for the next column. She agreed,
and I wrote the article. It appeared in the August 1974 issue. [I have
omitted it due to lack of space.]

 Milam was pleased with the column and interested in Mae Brussell. She was
intrigued by Mae's roomful of filing cabinets, filled to overflowing with
carefully sorted and filed copies of news articles, books and other papers
on a wide variety of political events going back to the JFK assassination in
1963. She felt, as I did, that this was a potential mine of information for
articles or books. And since I had been providing major articles for the
magazine for over a year, she felt confident of my ability to write articles
that were well-written and interesting.

Mae was intrigued at the prospect of substantially increasing the size of
her readership. Her earliest and best-known articles, on Watergate, had
appeared in Paul Krassner's Realist, shortly after the break-in in May,
1972. Because of her voluminous files, she was able to put together
background information on all of the people arrested or implicated in what
was still being called in the establishment media a "third-rate burglary."
In effect, she had "scooped" the whole country. Because the major media was
generally so involved in covering up the reality of Watergate, they were
glacially slow to follow.

The Realist was well-known as an avant garde satirical "underground"
magazine entertaining a relatively small but fairly sophisticated audience.
But Playgirl had zoomed within the space of a year to a circulation of

I was excited at the prospect of moving into the area of politically
oriented writing. I had already written a number of research-based articles.
For each of these, I had a tendency to do enough research to write a book. I
greatly appreciated the depth and thoroughness of Mae's well-stuffed file
folders, accumulated over a 10-year period. In return for access to them, I
was quite willing to split writing credits and payment with Mae. However, it
was clearly understood by all of us that I would do the actual writing.
All that remained was to settle on a topic.

I was staying temporarily in Mae's guest room. I got on the phone with
Marin, and we began to kick around various ideas for articles.
Marin said, "Ask Mae whether she knows anything about Howard Hughes."
It was an interesting topic. At the time, which was mid-1974, the media
often speculated on Howard Hughes, his where-abouts, the state of his health
and that of his vast business enterprises, and the strange goings-on among
his "friends" and employees-most of whom, supposedly, had never seen him.
Mae replied immediately: "Howard Hughes is dead. Onassis kidnapped him."
 She said this had happened in 1957, and that he had died in 1971 and was
buried at sea, off Skorpios, Onassis's island.

Marin was excited. This would indeed be a hot story-IF Mae had information
to back it up, and if I could complete the article in time. On this premise
she committed to the article, and to making it the lead article for the
December, 1974 issue.

I had already written a number of excellent articles for Playgirl before
this, and Marin had by this time no doubt that I would be able to write a
successful article. On my part, I had no doubt that Mae had some definite
proof, or at least, strong indications that the bizarre scenario she had
outlined was true. I wish to add that Mae and I were indeed a "team", but
the team members had very different functions. Mae's function was to supply
the research materials; my function was to do the writing and organizing.
We set to work at once; it was a rush job, with little time before the
deadline. Mae pulled out a thick file folder of clippings on Howard Hughes,
and another thick file folder on Onassis, with other clipping, and handed
them to me.

I started reading and taking notes. But after several days of intensely
searching through the files, I saw no evidence of Mae's statement that
Onassis had kidnapped Howard Hughes, and the rest of it.
Finally I said, "Mae, I don't see it. I see articles about Hughes and about
Onassis, but I don't see any cross between them. So where are you getting
this idea from?"

I explained to Mae that while her files on each man contained many
interesting details, if she didn't have anything more definite that tied
them together in the relationship she had suggested, I couldn't write the
article. I wasn't willing to write the article if I didn't have something
substantial to say. I was distressed, because it would leave Marin without
her major article. I would have disappointed her, and myself, as well as
wasting all the time and effort I had already put in on reading the filed

Many people have remarked on Mae's rambling, disjointed and frequently
incoherent style, evident in many of her radio broadcasts and also in some
of her articles which were not carefully edited. I knew this style wouldn't
fly at Playgirl.

Mae was clearly disappointed. She had just watched me produce two excellent,
salable articles: one, an interview with her, for Playgirl; the other, the
"Cinque-Patty Hearst-SLA-CIA" piece published in the Berkeley Barb. (Rolling
Stone had turned it down, saying they were too scared to publish it.) She
saw herself reaching a relatively large national audience for the first
time; all she had to do was give me the research materials and then shut up
and leave me alone. And she saw it all going away, because I couldn't, and
wouldn't, pretend to have a story if I didn't really have one.

At this point, Mae very reluctantly told me about a (nameless) file she had.
She said, "Well, I have these other letters from a man named Bruce Roberts.
He gave me these letters back in 1972. I read them, and I thought he might
be just a crazy person. I didn't know anything about him, and I had no
corroboration for the things he was saying. But I have since then received
some confirmation of his statements from a couple of other sources. So I
tend to put more credence in it than I did originally."

[The second source she had was a Canadian tabloid called Midnight, which had
a story about an unknown man, big, confined to a wheelchair, the back of
whose head was covered with scars over a terrible injury, who never moved or
spoke, but who had lived in the "hospital" on Onassis's Island of Skorpios
for a number of years, and then had disappeared in 1971. The article had
some pictures, and speculated on whether the silent crippled man had been
JFK himself. Quotes from this article are contained in the Onassis-Hughes
article I ultimately wrote for Playgirl, which follows this introduction.]
Mae had a strong reluctance to show me the file of letters at all. She gave
me bizarre instructions as to how I should read the file. She ordered me to
skim each page visually, but not to stop to read or comprehend anything
unless there was a mention of Onassis or Hughes. She also gave me strict
orders not to make copies of any of this material. And she said I was not to
read this file during the day, but to continue reading and taking notes from
the materials in her other files. I was only to read this last file at night, after
a full day's work on the Playgirl article. I agreed to everything, and I followed her instructions as best I could.

After all these preliminary instructions, she pulled out a legal-sized file
folder. It was stuffed with 360 legal-sized xerox copies of handwritten
pages. The originals had apparently been hand-written, on yellow legal-sized
pads, from margin to margin and top to bottom.

At midnight, exhausted after a long hard day of reading and writing, I
started to read this new material. The first page was chock full of murders,
poison, and profanity. My immediate reaction was: Hey, this guy must be a
paranoid schizophrenic. I've been told all my life about them.
 Thinking about my strong negative reaction, I realized that I had been
brainwashed to automatically reject anyone who talked as he did. I had to
pull back and take a look at my reactions. I decided that I would read the
material with an open mind. I read all that night, and into the second

There was more information in that file about our current and past history
than I had ever encountered. But Mae was right in one sense: if I had
allowed myself to think about anything other than Onassis and Hughes, I
would never have been able to write the article I had to write. From what I
could see, the basic story held together-from first to last page.

We have all been taught to dismiss statements like Roberts' as
insane-because the oligarchs and spooks who tyrannize over us would prefer
that we automatically disbelieve anyone who tells us unwelcome bits of
information that might wake us up from our fatal trance.
The article that follows drew its information from a wide variety of
sources, chosen from Mae's thick file folders on Hughes and Onassis. But the
connecting thread that determined which information was selected came from
Bruce Roberts' letters.

25. September 1974-June 1975: Bruce Roberts and Me

There was a 3-month lead time between my submission of the Hughes article to
Playgirl and its publication. In the meantime, my situation had changed.
I had just completed the "Onassis and Hughes" article for Playgirl when Mae
announced that I would have to move out of her spare bedroom because someone
else would be moving in. He was a prisoner at Soledad Prison, with whom Mae
had been corresponding during the SLA murder of Dr. Marcus Foster and the
brief reign of the SLA during Patty Hearst's captivity. He had known Remiro
and Little at Soledad, where they had been placed without benefit of a trial
after the murder of Dr. Foster. He also knew Donald DeFreeze, the SLA's
leader, "Cinque," and had spoken to him the day before DeFreeze's arranged
"walk-away" escape from Soledad. He had subsequently been granted parole,
and Mae agreed to sponsor his reentry into society and provide a home for
him. (Some interesting quotes from this prison correspondence appear in the
Berkeley Barb article.)

Mae added that she hoped to be able to continue our collaboration, and that
a friend of hers had a trailer in Big Sur which I could rent for the rest of
the summer. In that way, we could continue our work together.
 Nothing loath, I moved into the trailer with the tools of my trade:
typewriter, tape recorder, and a few books.

For my next article, I approached Marin Milam on the subject of Teddy
Kennedy, Mary Jo Kopechne, and Chappaquiddick. She agreed. I began by
telephoning John Farrar, the diver who had gone down to the car in Poucha
Pond and discovered Mary Jo's body, stretched upward to the air bubble, in
rigor mortis, just as Roberts had described the scene. Farrar gave me a
wonderful interview over the phone. He has always been honest and open in
his description of what he saw. I wrote the article and sent it in to
Playgirl. They told me the lawyers were going over it.

I spent the rest of the summer waiting for Mae to resume our work. While
waiting, I enjoyed the special ambiance of Big Sur, particularly nightly
excursions to the bubbling hot springs at the Esalen Institute, emerging in
cliff-side caves open to the night sky and the mists rolling in from the

Several months later, I awoke with a start to realize that summer was
definitely over, and with it my summer trailer rental.

Mae showed no signs of wishing to resume our work together. She seemed
preoccupied with her new tenant.

So I said farewell, put my typewriter and suitcase into the trunk of my
trusty old VW, and drove up Highway 1, along the beautiful coastline to San
Francisco. There I moved into the parlor floor of a gorgeous pre-earthquake
Victorian house on Prosper Street.

Those familiar with the geographical peculiarities of San Francisco are
aware that it is exposed on the west to the chilly fog and mist of the
Pacific.  But inland, steep hills and valleys, create mini-climates with
characteristic weather patterns. Prosper Street was in the Castro Street
area, also known as the "Banana Belt" because it was generally warm and

Bruce Roberts' address, written with his phone number at the top of the
letters I had read at Mae's, was located in the cold, rainy Sunset district.
It was the only information I had copied from Mae's file.

While I was staying at Mae's house, her family life had continued on its
normal course. Mae had two daughters living at home, along with a variety of
pets. Eight newspapers and a stack of magazines would arrive each day in the
mail. Every morning, she spent several hours reading through this material,
underlining important points, clipping articles, making copies on her
copying machine if necessary, and filing the copies in appropriate folders.
 Mae's daughter, Bonnie Brussell, who died in 1972 in a tragic auto
"accident", is mentioned 2 or 3 times at the very end. Bruce was very
sympathetic about Bonnie Brussell's death, and the file he gave Mae had some
specific information about it. He also gave her the earlier pages of this
series, probably to give her some context and demonstrate that he knew a lot
of things, and because this also might help Mae. He may well have listened
to her program from time to time.

 The first time I met him, in September of 1974, he told me the tale of our
U.S. Mafia history, from August, 1972, to the then-present, in about an hour
and a half, without stopping. He was standing in the doorway of his
apartment in the Sunset District of San Francisco, wearing a white
terry-cloth bathrobe. He was tall and blue-eyed; his close-cropped dark grey
hair was still wet from the shower. He looked like a retired Marine drill
sergeant who kept himself in shape. He told me a tale of horror, filled with
murders, bribery, and criminal betrayals of a nation's trust. The reason he
was telling me all this was because I had asked him to.

28. 1977-78: "Dialogue: Conspiracy", the Skeleton Key, Mae Brussell and Me
From 1971 through 1985, Mae Brussell did a weekly half-hour radio broadcast
from KLRB-FM in Carmel, California. It was eventually syndicated across the
country to more than 30 public radio stations. At a time when challenges to
the "official" version of many important news events were effectively
blocked in the media, Mae's broadcasts offered a rare alternative view.
Before meeting Mae in 1974, I had not been aware of her radio programs,
although I had read and been impressed by her articles in the Realist after
Watergate: The Warren Commission is Part of the Cover-Up" and "Why Was
Martha Mitchell Kidnapped?"

Our first attempt at working together was when I sat down with her and taped
the interview which later became the Berkeley Barb Article, originally
titled: "Is Cinque the first Black Lee Harvey Oswald?" At the time, I had no
idea where this article might be published. I did not even consider it for
Playgirl. It was obviously volatile news, not suitable for a monthly
magazine with a long lead time.

I was extremely impressed by Mae's knowledge and insight into Donald De
Freeze's life story, prison experiences and "training," staged escape, and
experience outside of prison, living in the Bay area for a year; and how all
this related to the political milieu and prison system in California. It
made more sense to me than anything else I had heard, seen or experienced.
The Playgirl article was written differently. There was no time for a taped
interview with Mae. I worked directly with the articles in her "Onassis" and
"Hughes" file folders, plus the mysterious "Bruce Roberts" file.

Mae did two programs on material which she called "the Gemstone File,' on
December 25, 1977, and January 1, 1978. Unfortunately, her description of
this material was inaccurate. Since she did not make the original file
available for study, her characterization has shaped many people's opinions
regarding the nature and value of Bruce Roberts' writing. Aside from making
several back-up copies for protection and safe-keeping, she did not release
any of the material she had during her lifetime. After her death in 1988,
the material remained unavailable.

In October, 2000, I was able to locate a copy and acquire it. For the first
time since I had seen this file in the summer of 1974, I was able to compare
Mae's file copy with what she had said about it in the two radio broadcasts.
In order to clear up some of Mae's puzzling statements, I transcribed both
tapes, and commented on them. Due to space limitations in this book, I have
had to omit most of her comments (and mine as well). But I have kept the
gist of Mae's major objections to the Key, and responded. I have also kept
her description of her meeting with Bruce Roberts as a matter of interest,
and also regarding a book which confirmed one of Gemstone's statements.
If you would like tapes of Mae's 2 original broadcasts, please see ordering
information below. My comments appear in bold-faced type.

Stephanie Caruana
Author, Bruce Roberts' Gemstone File