Today, in Southern California, two newspapers, The Press-Enterprise and The Desert Sun (Click.) carried announcements about the death of the former head of the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, "Dr." John Philip Nichols. Nichols suffered a heart attack on Saturday, March 17, 2001 and died at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio, California. The two newspapers carried the traditional background information respectfully skirting the more sensational details of Nichols' life as a lifelong CIA operative who admittedly wrought death and destruction around the globe.
It is appropriate that when good men die, the deeds that they accomplished during their lifetime should live on after them. It is also just that when bad men die, their history should live on after them. It is, after all, only by learning from history that those who survive can hope to never repeat the evil deeds that marked much of Nichols' life.
When this writer remembers the 76-year-old man whose iron hand ruled the Cabazon nation until his death, I will remember his contribution to political assassinations, his alleged involvement in the 1981 torture and execution murder of Cabazon Indian Fred Alvarez and his two friends in the backyard of their home, the 1985 murder-for-hire trial of Nichols that was curtailed in the interests of "National Security", the unaccounted for gaming money used to buy powerful politicians, and the legacy of CIA control of the Cabazons that still exists today under the iron fist of his son, Mark Nichols.
The arrogance of John Philip Nichols was best demonstrated in the book Inside Job by Stephen Pizzo, Mary Fricker and Paul Muolo. The book described the tip of the iceberg involving the Savings and Loan scandal. Page 304 contains the following paragraph:
"At San Marino Savings in Southern California, we heard about a major borrower, G. Wayne Reeder (who also attempted a couple of failed ventures with Herman Beebe), meeting in late 1981 at an arms demonstration with Raul Arana and Eden Pastora, Contra leaders who were considering buying military equipment from Reeder's Indian bingo-parlor partner, Dr. John Nichols. Among the equipment were night-vision goggles manufactures by Litton Industries and a light machine gun. Nichols, according to former Reeder employees and published accounts, had a plan in the early 1980's to build a munitions plant on the Cabazon Indian reservation near Palm Springs in partnership with Wackenhut, a Florida security firm. The plan fell through. Nichols was a self-described CIA veteran of assassination attempts against Castro in Cuba and Allende in Chile. He was later convicted in an abortive murder-for-hire scheme and sentenced to prison."
Of course, the official company line about Nichols' involvement in South America is contained in the March 21, 2001 Press-Enterprise article by Mark Henry and Mike Kataoka: "Born in 1924, Mr. Nichols was active at an early age as a student and labor organizer in Wisconsin. He went to South America in 1959 and for the next decade helped Indians in Bolivia and Peru become self-sufficient."
It is common practice in the "legitimate" press to praise the dead and allow them to be buried surrounded in myth. In the case of "Dr." John Philip Nichols it is the evil life that the man lived that should be remembered.
by Virginia McCullough © 2000