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This interview with Rodney Stich, originally published in Drug Money Times, occurred in 1998 soon after publication of the 3rd edition of his book Defrauding America. The book reveals in intricate detail the corruption pervading the Department of Justice, the federal courts, and many federal agencies.
The Drug Money
ďKingpinĒ Interview

with Rodney Stich

Rodney Stichís American Gulag

QUESTION:  Defrauding America [1]  is considered a research classic. How did you come to write it?

STICH:  It evolved from what I discovered as a federal investigator when I was with the Federal Aviation Administration. I was asked to volunteer for a program where there was a major air disaster occurring every six months. I was warned, ďitís very difficult,Ē and that didnít bother me.

It was difficult. I found a lot of corruption going on. Other inspectors had found it too. Inside the FAA there is so much corruption that one individual simply canít fight it. When I considered all of the brutalities Ė people being cremated alive and dismembered alive in fraud related crashes Ė I ignored caution and went after it.

I found out that government was heavily involved, and I found out, also, that I couldnít keep silent about it. So I went to federal grand juries, published books, trying to accomplish something.

Eventually I also began researching other areas of corruption; in the last ten years or so Iíd say Iíve become friends with at least three dozen sources Ė FBI people and CIA people who headed CIA airlines and CIA financial institutions Ė and since the government has already retaliated against me they canít do too much more. [2]  So I keep plugging away, and hoping somewhere along the line it will break open.

QUESTION:  Here is a proposition for you: It is impossible for any large-scale drug operation to exist in the United States without cooperation at some level from corrupt law enforcement officials. Do you agree?

STICH:  Oh, absolutely, and itís endemic. Itís at the local, county, and state level. I know it mostly at the federal level, where the Justice Department has repeatedly covered it up and blocked prosecutions. Where they do prosecute as, letís say, in the Pizza Connection drug cases, they were going after one segment of the Mafia involved in drugs, while simultaneously protecting another segment of the Mafia that was closely aligned with the CIA. The basis for this, and other statements I make are always my sources, the FBI agents who were involved in the case, for example.

QUESTION:  Do you think Maxine Waters will emerge as a national leader as a result of her investigation and inquiry into CIA drug operations?

STICH:  Iím glad sheís being vocal. However, the problem I have with her is her refusal to even respond to a number of CIA agents and other people, who either discovered drug operations or were part of them, and have written her letters and offered to provide testimony to her. My feeling is she has the power to conduct her own hearing and give it publicity by bringing all these people in who have information, and force the issue.

There was, for example, a member of Congress from Arkansas, I think his name was Alexander ...

QUESTION:  Bill Alexander?

STICH:  Yes, and he accumulated some information from (pilot Gary) Brenneke. [3]  Nobody has ever prosecuted Brenneke for lying. He went into great detail about the drug trafficking, the Gotti crime family being involved, and how the CIA laundered money for the group. Representative Waters should be doing what Alexander did.

QUESTION:  The operation you are referring to now is, of course, Mena, Arkansas ...

STICH:  I have gathered information for the last ten years about Mena. I have interviewed CIA operatives who say they helped set up the operation. I have had lots of documents presented to me by the group in Arkansas, which had been investigating it for quite a few years. [4]

Plus, Iím talking to a lot of people like one fellow who was the head of a CIA airline, Crittenden. Heís given me bills of sale from Lockheed to his company, Crittenden Air Transport, showing the transfer of C-130 aircraft. Heís shown me the aircraft operating certificate where he was based in Bangkok. And heís given me affidavits describing CIA drug trafficking in Mena and other places, and the inter-relationship between Evergreen Airlines and Southern Air Transport.

So Mena has been mentioned to me quite a few times by my contacts in the last ten years.

QUESTION:  Some people have come forward to question the credibility of Terry Reed, who wrote the book Compromised. Are you familiar with the book?

STICH:  Yes. I talked to Terry Reed even before the book came out. I think that what he said certainly is plausible. The way he described it to me, as a former trained federal investigator, I would give great credibility to it. No matter whom I talk to, Iím always aware they may exaggerate a little somewhere. And that I assume with all of my sources. But basically I think he is legit.

QUESTION:  Do you think the Mena story will ever be made public by Congress? Will they ever do an investigation in which the truth comes out?

STICH:  Congress has been involved for so many years in the cover up on Mena and other drug trafficking, that if they were to come out now and admit it, what would they do about the evidence showing they knew about it decades ago? I have never seen one congressional investigation that got to the heart of the issues.

In Iran-contra, for example, they skirted all the drug-trafficking, even though Walsh had boxes of evidence presented to him by law enforcement officers in Mena and elsewhere. I would think it will come out sometime, but itís not going to be, in my opinion, by Congress.

QUESTION:  I have been receiving information from intelligence sources that a storm is brewing between factions in U.S. intelligence. Do you have any knowledge or opinions on this?

STICH:  The only thing I know is my CIA sources have said there has always been friction between three factions within the CIA with contradictory interests. But whether there is anything new, I donít know.

QUESTION:  One source has characterized the three factions as Office of Naval Intelligence, Department of Justice, and OSS. Is that accurate?

STICH:  I think that is the way it was described to me years ago by my sources. [5]

QUESTION:  Which one of these groups would have been running the drug operations?

STICH:  That I donít believe I would have any information on. I would presume itís all three of them.

QUESTION:  The third edition of Defrauding America discusses the claims of Chip Tatum, who claims to be a former CIA agent. Can you briefly tell me ... [6]

STICH:  A certain segment of the book does. The book is 753 pages, and I have a tremendous amount of sources in there. I believe I have one chapter out of 30 on Chip Tatum. And Iíve talked to him quite a bit over a period of two years. Heís provided me with a lot of data Ė military flight plans and such.

QUESTION:  What is the gist of his claims?

STICH:  He described how he at first unknowingly hauled drugs, in containers marked medical supplies, from remote areas to staging areas where planes would take them into the United States.

QUESTION:  What is your opinion of his credibility?

STICH:  Well, his military flight plans certainly appeared authentic to me as a former military pilot. As far as his piloting activity, when he discussed it, I have no question about any of it.

QUESTION:  You have said that the U.S. has hundreds of political prisoners. Is that correct?

STICH:  Yes. I first learned this when I was incarcerated for criminal contempt of court. In the book I list many people Ė this includes FBI, IRS, INS agents and others Ė who tried to do their job by exposing government corruption, and suddenly they end up being falsely charged with some criminal offense. And they end up in prison, and Justice Department officials and federal judges aid and abet this.

One of my sources was the head of a CIA operation in Honolulu, Ron Rewald. He ended up with an 80-year prison sentence as a result of his cover on the operation being blown by a television reporter. The reporter didnít know it was a CIA operation, he simply thought something was fishy about it. The CIA working with the Justice Department suddenly charged Rewald with various federal offenses. During the trial the judge refused to allow Melvin Belli to represent Rewald. Instead, they appointed an attorney that just came out of law school with no practice. Then they would not allow Rewald to bring in CIA witnesses and refused to allow him to present CIA documents, which I have boxes of here. So the jury found him guilty, and the judge sentenced him to 81 years in prison. I consider him to be a political prisoner, since he went to jail as part of a cover up of CIA activities.

QUESTION:  What was the purpose of that operation?

STICH:  To carry out various CIA functions. There was drug money laundering there Ė something Rewald says he doesnít know much about. There were so many CIA people in the operation and they were more or less in charge of that.

QUESTION:  On the subject of CIA drug trafficking, when did you first hear of it?

STICH:  I first discovered the CIA drug trafficking while I was flying for Japan Airlines out of Tokyo. This was in the early í50ís. The reason I found out about it was I was talking to pilots, and we discussed what we were doing. Pilots were telling me they were flying drugs for the CIA, which was no big secret then, because Air America and its predecessor, Civil Air Transport, was doing that. Also in the early í50ís I was flying Muslim pilgrims to Mecca from Beirut, Baghdad, and various places. And I was talking to pilots off duty who were also telling me about the drug trafficking.

And in the next 40 or 50 years I would hear about it occasionally. In those days there was little thought about drug trafficking, and it went in one ear and out the other with me. But in the last ten years I am now talking to lots of people who flew the drugs in CIA or DEA provided aircraft. So I would say I have enough information that clearly establishes that the CIA has been involved in these criminal and subversive activities.

QUESTION:  Letís discuss, if we may, Pan Am flight 103 which exploded over Lockerbie. I saw a program on television a few nights ago that claimed this was a drug sting operation. It said government agencies allowed the drugs to be loaded on the planes so they could track the movement of the drugs. In the process, they were not checking all of the baggage, and the terrorists were able to smuggle Semtec into the airplane, and thatís how the explosion took place. Is that an accurate account of what happened?

STICH:  Well hereís my data on it. Lester Coleman is renouncing his U.S. citizenship and going to South Africa. The reason heís doing this is he was an agent of the Defense Intelligence Agency working out of Nicosia and Beirut under cover of the Christian Broadcast Network. While he was there, especially in Nicosia, he found out about this drug pipeline using Pan Am aircraft out of Frankfort, that involved CIA, DEA, Lebanese and Syrian drug trafficking. The way that was being accomplished made it easy to put another bag containing a bomb on the plane. The baggage handlers were involved in the drug smuggling. They were paid to put an extra bag on board.

The reason for blowing it up was that the United States shot down an Iranian airliner killing 290 people, and Iran contracted the Ahmed Jibril group to get revenge. And they were paid, I believe it was, $10 million, and the information in my book supports that. So they put the bomb on the plane and the plane blew up. About a year and a half later the U.S. needed Syriaís help in the Gulf War, so we couldnít go blaming Syria for harboring the people who put the bomb on the plane. So we blamed two Libyans.

Several of the people who have tried to expose this have been indicted by the Justice Department, including Lester Coleman. The reason they indicted him was, first of all, he was co-author of a book printed in Great Britain, concerning the Lockerbie disaster. He also put an affidavit into the Pan Am litigation, to defend Pan Am, showing they had no control of this operation, but rather the CIA and the DEA did.

QUESTION:  Was it a sting operation by the CIA and DEA, or were they just running drugs?

STICH:  Well, they say it was a continuing sting operation, but there were a lot of drugs going through there, because this was a long-running operation.

One of the people I relied on for my information was Lester Coleman. Another was a Mossad agent, Juval Aviv, who has an international investigative firm in New York. He was asked to investigate by Pan Amís insurance companyís attorneys. He was asked by the attorneys to find out how the bomb got put on the plane. He found out the same thing. He was also indicted and falsely prosecuted, but the jury acquitted him in less than an hour.

QUESTION:  What happened to Lester Coleman?

STICH:  First he fled to Sweden, and had political asylum there for two or three years. Then, about a year ago he figured he might as well come back and get this over with. And the governor of Alabama, an old friend of his, paid for him and his family to come back to the United States, where they were promptly arrested and held without bail. There were two charges. The main one claimed he used a forged passport, but this was a passport given to him by the DIA, which he had used before on operations. The other charge was falsifying an affidavit, saying he worked with the DIA in Beirut and Nicosia.

He finally got bail, and the Justice Department did not want this to come to trial, so he signed a plea agreement recanting the affidavit about working with the DEA. As he told me, ďLook, with a court-appointed attorney, and me with a wife and two children, I just got tired of fighting the system.Ē He was a radio talk-show host on a radio station in Lexington Kentucky, and he quit his job. He has a very respectable journalist background, with contacts in Europe in Africa, so he got a job in Africa. He doesnít want anything else to do with the United States. [7]

QUESTION:  Allow me to change the subject. What really happened to TWA Flight 800?

STICH:  I was a professional air safety and accident investigator with the FAA, and Iíve been at this for a long time. I look at this professionally.

Prior to TWA going down, I had received documentation and data that caused me to send an urgent letter to Senator Specter and other members of Congress. I warned them of a surface-to-air missile attack on commercial aircraft. That letter is on the internet and you can find it at the Defrauding America web site. [8]  The reason I wrote the letter was Afghan rebels contacted CIA and Justice Department officials in the Los Angeles area to negotiate. They offered to give 30 to 40 surface-to-air missiles to the United States at no charge. All they wanted was the release of the son of one of the rebel leaders from federal prison at Terminal Island in Long Beach, there on a relatively minor drug-related charge.

It was known at the time that terrorists were bidding on these missiles. So if the United States rejected the negotiations, terrorists would get them. The Justice Department and CIA officials were dragging their feet on this, and finally rejected it. My CIA source was very apprehensive about what was going to happen, so he turned the material over to me. That is why I wrote the letter to the members of Congress, urging them to immediately contact me and my CIA source to see about preventing the terrorists from getting the missiles. None of them, of course, responded. Iíd hate for them to break their record now. So some months later, over 200 people see a missile trail, including one individual, Fred Meyer, whom I would call a missile trail expert.

QUESTION:  Was he the pilot on a helicopter?

STICH:  He was the captain on the helicopter. Meyer had seen many missiles in Vietnam. Heís seen many explode, he knows what a missile explosion looks like. It looks different from a fuel tank explosion. He described to me and to other people seeing this thin missile trail. He was taking off from Long Island, facing out over the water. He saw the first explosion, which he described as a typical missile explosion. The color is different, and itís more rapid than a fuel tank explosion. That was followed a couple of seconds later by a fuel explosion. Then he saw the plane rolling over and plunging to the water. The CIA and the FBI came out with that, that ...

QUESTION:  The cartoon?

STICH:  (Laughs) And they are saying this is what happened: a fuel tank exploded due to a problem for which there is not the slightest bit of evidence. So the front falls off, and you have a wide-open aircraft meeting the on-rushing air. The plane then supposedly climbs 3000 feet, without the nose of the aircraft. And they say that what people really saw was the fuel falling from the plane and burning. First of all, when that fuel burns, it causes a fireball, not a trail like a missile. Second, Iíve flown aircraft for over 50 years, including some pretty big planes. With the nose of the aircraft off, youíre not going to climb 3000 feet, youíre going to descend 3000 feet, immediately.

The NTSB, which I discuss in my book Unfriendly Skies, has for 30 years engaged in cover ups for sensitive matters that caused or contributed to air crashes. It is in character for them to cover up. I feel thereís a massive cover up Ė normal, but unprecedented in its scope.

QUESTION:  To boil this down, you believe the plane was shot down by a missile that originally was in the hands of the Afghanis?

STICH:  Let me quickly clarify that. We donít know if one of those missiles that came from the Afghanis was the missile that shot the plane down. [9]  But the mere fact that missiles got into the hands of terrorists as a result of the conduct of Justice Department and CIA personnel, is in itself quite a scandal, and certainly merits exposure.

Another question is, when will one of those missiles be used on a commercial aircraft? But I think a missile shot down TWA Flight 800. I definitely donít think the Navy is so stupid as to be firing missiles in that area. I used to be a captain myself flying that route. Iíd hate to think the Navy was shooting missiles around me.

QUESTION:  Do you have information that the Navy recovered part of the remains of a missile?

STICH:  No, I donít have anything on that. Unless I had had an insider commenting on this, all I would have would be the data on the internet. And thereís so much garbage on the internet, just like the Ron Brown deal. They start out with some premises that are totally false, and then build on them.

QUESTION:  What false premises?

STICH:  I remember one magazine article, I forget who wrote it. They started out talking about the two VOR navigational beacons. Unless youíre a pilot, you donít realize the significance of that. But thereís a tremendous difference between a VOR navigation facility and a radio beacon. Then they build on that, and everything is all wrong.

I have conducted many check flights in my life. Based upon the hard evidence which was recovered Ė Iím referring here to which radio beacon the pilot had tuned in when they crashed and the radar plot of the aircraft by the high flying AWACs plane Ė it was such a poor approach by the pilots that if I had been a check pilot and if we hadnít crashed, I would have grounded the guy and required him to have extra training. He made a lot of mistakes.

QUESTION:  How about the hole in Brownís head?

STICH:  Well, when youíre hitting the ground at that speed, youíre going to have holes all over you.

QUESTION:  Letís talk about October Surprise.

STICH:  What October Surprise was, it was a scheme to delay the release of the American hostages in Iran so as to alter the outcome of the 1980 presidential election. President Carter was up for reelection and the CIA definitely wanted him out. They thought that if the hostages were released prior to the election, Carter would probably get reelected. So this scheme involved paying $40 million to some Iranians and promising them billions of dollars of military equipment if they did not release the hostages until after the election.

That was really the start of the Iran-Contra affair, because arms started flowing to the Iranians almost immediately. That was even before the election.

QUESTION:  (missing)

STICH:  I recently sent a very sensitive letter to the President of Mexico, bringing to his attention a report prepared by an INS agent who Iím in touch with. This agent was at the port of entry at Hildalgo, Texas, near Brownsville. He made a report based on information given to him of a major DEA drug trafficking operation at a remote mountainous airfield just to the east of Los Nochas, Mexico.

At this airfield large planes were coming in from Columbia with drugs. Planes were coming in from the U.S. with money and fifty-five gallon barrels of chemicals for processing the drugs. It seemed to be under the control of a DEA agent based in Yuma, Arizona. The agent dropped his wallet, and one of the Mexican cargo handlers accidentally discovered the agentís identity. The agent pulled his gun and murdered him. The brother of the fellow who was murdered, who was also a cargo handler, made his way to the border and gave information there.

Thereafter, when the INS agent followed up on the report, everybody told him to drop the matter. When he did not drop it, they went after him and charged him with a criminal offense.

The reason I sent the registered letter to the President of Mexico was to tell him, ďWe have agents of the U.S. government conducting a smuggling operation in Mexico, and even killing one of your own citizens. This agent is aided and abetted by other agents of the U.S. government. I feel you should investigate this matter.Ē I thought this would be one way to force exposure of the CIA drug trafficking, but so far they have not responded. I think both governments are so heavily involved in drug running that it is something neither of them will act on.

QUESTION:  Do you want to divulge the names of either of the agents?

STICH:  The INS agent is Rumaldo Solis. The DEA agent is George Cons.

QUESTION:  Do you think Bill Clinton is coming down?

STICH:  I would not count on that. They are not going after the heavy stuff, like the drug trafficking. They are not going after the Dan Lasater connection, or the Arkansas Development Finance Authority.

And all the people who were murdered or beat up in Arkansas who had information detrimental to Clinton Ė they are still covering up for all that.

QUESTION:  30 years as an activist against government corruption, would you do it again?

STICH:  I was a multi-millionaire leading a good life. If I had said nothing and played along, I still would be. Today Iíve been to prison, Iím 75 years old, and Iíve had all my assets taken away.

Would you do that again? Would anyone?


[1]  Defrauding America: Encyclopedia of Secret Operations by the CIA, DEA, and other Covert Agencies, third edition, by Rodney Stich (Diablo Western Press).

[2]  Chapters 2-6 of Defrauding America describe how the government retaliated against Stich for his whistle-blowing activities.

[3]  The deposition of Richard Brenneke is available at  www.idfiles.com/rbdepo.htm.

[4]  The Arkansas Citizensí Committee is discussed on pp. 402 and 415 of Defrauding America.

[5]  See p. 364 of Defrauding America for a brief discussion of this topic.

[6]  See chapter 19, specifically pages 448-461, of Defrauding America. Terry Reed, in his book Compromised, corroborates many aspects of Tatumís account.

[7]  Lester Colemanís story is told at length in chapter 29 of Defrauding America.

[8]  www.defraudingamerica.com  (Mr. Stich passed away November 29, 2015. This website may contain a virus.)

[9]  [Added] See First Strike by Jack Cashill and James Sanders.

Archived for educational purposes only, under U.S.C. Title 17 Section 107.