|Edwin P. Wilson|
|Birth name||Edwin Paul Wilson|
May 3, 1928 |
September 10, 2012 (aged 84) |
|Allegiance||22x20px United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps (USMC)|
|Years of service||1953-1956|
|Other work||For the Central Intelligence Agency|
Edwin Paul Wilson (May 3, 1928 - September 10, 2012) is a former CIA officer who was convicted of illegally selling weapons to Libya. It was later found that the United States Department of Justice and the CIA had covered up evidence in the case.
Early life[edit | edit source]
Wilson was born to a poor farming family in Nampa, Idaho. He worked as a merchant seaman, then earned a psychology degree from the University of Portland in 1953. In 1953, he joined the Marines and fought in the last days of the Korean War. He was impressive in the Marines and, when he was discharged in 1956, went to work for the Central Intelligence Agency.
CIA career[edit | edit source]
His main role for the CIA was setting up front companies, like Consultants International, used to covertly ship supplies around the world for the CIA. As director of these firms, which also conducted legitimate business, he amassed a great deal of money. In 1971 after 15 years with the CIA, he moved to Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and at the request of the ONI, offered the assistance of the front companies. He retired on paper from ONI in 1976, continuing to run the businesses he had built under the guidance of the CIA, the largest of which was Consultants International. He amassed a fortune of 20 million dollars through these businesses, and continued to offer covert shipping services at the request of the CIA long after his official retirement.
Arms for Libya controversy[edit | edit source]
In the 1970s, he became involved in dealings with Libya. Wilson claims that a high ranking CIA official Theodore "Blond Ghost" Shackley asked him to go to Libya to keep an eye on Carlos the Jackal, the infamous terrorist, who was living there. At the time, a strict sanctions regime was in place against Libya and the country was willing to pay a great deal for weapons and material. Wilson began conducting elaborate dealings and guns and military uniforms were smuggled into the country. Wilson also recruited a group of retired Green Berets – decorated Vietnam veteran Billy Waugh among them – to go to Libya and train its military and intelligence officers. The Libyans used Wilson's provisions to advance their interests around the world, including training terrorist cells to build explosive devices inside radios. One cell trained by Wilson's operatives was the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLF-GC) under the command of Ahmad Jibril. Jibril was suspected of being behind the bombing of Pan Am 103 in Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. In 1979, a gun that Wilson had arranged to be delivered to the Libyan embassy in Bonn was used to assassinate a prominent dissident. The next year, one of the Green Berets assassinated another dissident in Colorado. Wilson states that he regrets these incidents and had no prior knowledge of them. He states that he was still working for the CIA and his supplying of weapon to the Libyans was an attempt to get close to them and gain valuable intelligence.
The most dramatic deal, and the one that brought Wilson to the attention from the U.S. government, was for some twenty tons of military grade C-4 plastic explosives. This was a massive quantity that was equal to the entire US domestic stockpile. Most of Wilson's connections were still under the impression that he was working for the CIA and a wide network in the United States supported his actions. The explosives were presumed assembled by a California company and hidden in barrels of oil drilling mud. They were presumed flown to Libya aboard a chartered jet.
Another scandal broke out around Wilson when a company he had formed to ship United State military aid to Egypt was convicted of overcharging the United States Department of Defense by $8 million dollars. A partner with Edwin P. Wilson in this company was another former CIA officer, Thomas G. Clines. Wilson also maintained that Major General Richard V. Secord was also a "silent partner" in this company, though Secord denied this allegation. Nonetheless, Wilson, Clines and Theodore Shackley (another former CIA officer) were all working together with Secord in the summer of 1984 when Oliver North approached Secord to ask for help in buying arms for the "Contras", a group of armed rebels then trying to overturn the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua.
Investigation and conviction[edit | edit source]
After a lengthy investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (then part of the US Department of the Treasury), Wilson was indicted by the US Justice Department for firearms and explosives violations. However, he was in Libya, which would not extradite him. Wilson was very unhappy in Libya, and the Libyans were suspicious of him and he feared for his safety. The prosecutors knew this and they sent a con-man with links to the CIA named Ernest Keiser to convince Wilson that he would be safe in the Dominican Republic. Wilson flew to the Caribbean, but upon arrival was arrested and flown to New York.
He was put on trial four separate times. He was found not guilty of trying to hire a group of Cubans to kill a Libyan dissident. He was found guilty of exporting guns, including the one used in the Bonn assassination, and of shipping the explosives and sentenced to 15 years in prison for the former and 17 years for the latter. While awaiting trial, he allegedly approached a fellow prisoner and attempted to hire him to kill the federal prosecutors. This prisoner was never questioned by anyone outside the CIA. The prisoner instead went to the authorities and they set Wilson up with an undercover agent. The agent taped Wilson hiring him to kill the prosecutors, six witnesses and his ex-wife. In a subsequent trial, he was sentenced to an added twenty-four years in jail for conspiracy to murder. The voice in the recording was never solidly identified as Wilson's.
Legal defense[edit | edit source]
Wilson's defence to the Libyan charges was that he was working at the behest of the CIA. The CIA gave the DOJ an affidavit stating that after his retirement he had not been employed directly or indirectly by the agency. The CIA later informed the DOJ that it should not use the affidavit at trial, but the prosecutor Ted Greenberg decided to use it anyway.
While in prison, Wilson campaigned vigorously for his innocence and repeatedly filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the government. Eventually he found information linked to the memo and hired a new lawyer. His lawyer was David Adler, a former CIA officer who had clearance to view classified documents. Adler spent long hours poring through thousands of files and eventually found eighty incidents where Wilson met on a professional basis with the CIA and proof that the CIA had indirectly used Wilson after his retirement.
A federal judge ruled that the prosecution had acted improperly. In October 2003, Wilson's conviction on the explosives charge was overturned. Wilson was released from prison on September 14, 2004, after being incarcerated for 22 years.
Civil Action[edit | edit source]
Wilson filed a civil suit against seven former federal prosecutors, two of whom are now federal judges, and a past executive director of the CIA. On 29 March 2007, U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal dismissed his case on the ground that all eight had immunity covering their actions.
References[edit | edit source]
- Peter Carlson (June 22, 2004; Page C01). "International Man of Mystery". washington post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A59212-2004Jun21?language=printer. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- Michael C. Ruppert (2008). "Ed Wilson's Revenge:The Biggest CIA Scandal in History Has Its Feet in the Starting Blocks in a Houston Court House". pub. http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ciadrugs/Ed_Wilson_1.html. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- Waugh, Billy; Tim Keown (2005). Hunting the Jackal. Avon Books. pp. 133–154.
- Keith Plocek (May 3, 2007). "Spy Stories". houstonpress. http://www.houstonpress.com/2007-05-03/news/spy-stories/full. Retrieved 2008-06-08. "In particular, Barcella, the former Assistant U.S. Attorney who tracked down Wilson and put him behind bars, pondered the 40,000 pounds of C-4 plastic explosive that Wilson, well schooled by the agency in intrigue and arms dealing, sold to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in 1977"
- "Jane Mayer and Doyle McManus Landslide: The Unmaking of the President 1984-1988 (Houghton Mifflin Co.: Boston, 1988) p. 142."
- Eric Margolis (November 10, 2003). "EDWIN WILSON: AMERICA'S MAN IN THE IRON MASK". ericmargolis. http://www.bigeye.com/111003.htm. Retrieved 2011-09-29.