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Nov-30-2011 20:05printcommentsVideo

The Shadow Government

What is different today, is the Internet, and the crimes committed in those shadowy halls are all being clearly exposed.

Tattered flag
Photos courtesy: Manageable Ants


Murdered Marine Col Jim Sabow

Independent experts question the ‘official suicide death’ of decorated Marine Corps Colonel James E. Sabow at MCAS El Toro, California. A number of unsolved ‘suicides’ and more likely outright murders followed the violent death of this straight arrow Marine. Narcotrafficing and a ‘shadow government’ in the Iran/Contra Affair are linked to the murders, categorized as ‘suicides’ by the government.

You don’t have to believe in conspiracies to understand the threat to freedom of a small but powerful group of people in and outside of government subverting the Constitution, effectively executing a coup d'état. Not in the United States, this is a free country, you must be paranoid, we’re the good guys, you say. It is not hyperbole to say that thousands of Americans have fought and died for the right to remain free. 

Just walk through Arlington Cemetery or for that matter any cemetery on Veterans Day and notice the American flags placed beside graves. Life was too often short for those who served and died to preserve our freedom to ignore the threats of a ‘shadow government.’

Senator Daniel Inouye photo: heluhelu.com

Senator Daniel Inouye referred to the covert and illegal activities of a shadow government involved in the Iran-Contra Affair of the 1980s. The sale of arms to Iran and the transfer of weapons to the Contras were activities not approved by Congress and in violation of Federal laws. A few of the key players of Iran-Contra Affair include William Casey, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, Admiral John Poindexter, Robert McFarlane, Elliott Abrams, Duane Clarridge, Alan Fiers, Clair George, and Caspar Weinberger.

If this were a play, top billing would go to Oliver North, who with his Marine Corps dress greens and boyish charms, claimed the attention of millions of Americans in 1987 during the Iran-Contra hearings.

Vice President George H. Bush claimed that he was “out of the loop,” but his diaries not released to investigators until after the 1988 Presidential election revealed that he was aware of many if not all of the details.

Even though it was a violation of law to sell arms to the Iranians, few Americans at the time objected to the excessive mark-up of sales of TOWs and Hawk missiles to Iran. After the taking of hostages from the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, very few Americans held fond memories of this strategic Middle Eastern country and the Grand Ayatollah Khomeini.

The diversion of funds from the sales of weapons to support the Contra War in Nicaragua and the prospect of the U.S. entanglement in a war in Central America were illegal and, even if it were not, had no chance of approval by Congress and the American public.

The Reagan administration painted the picture of Contras as “freedom fighters,” good guys riding into town with their white hats taking on the gang of Communists that had forcefully taking over Nicaragua and were a threat to the hemisphere.

Marine Lt Col Oliver North

After the Boland Amendments prohibited the use of appropriated funds to support the Contras, this pitch was an effective tool used by Lieutenant Colonel North in briefings to right wing millionaires willing to write checks to fund the ‘cause.’ Had they known about the sale of illegal drugs to fund the Contras and the use of CIA proprietary airlines to transport the weapons from the U.S. to Central America and the drugs into the U.S., the source of funds from private donors would have dried up quickly.

Those in the administration who knowingly turned the other eye to the illegal drugs would have faced serious jail terms and not just ‘slaps on the wrists’ handed out by the judicial system.

The revelation that U.S. military bases and personnel were used to support the Contras’ supply of weapons and drugs is not widely known and disputed by those who served in the Reagan administration. Using FOIA, the National Security Archive obtained copies of Lt Col North’s diaries that show knowledge of drug trafficking.

“In a July 12, 1985 entry, North noted a call from retired Air Force general Richard Secord in which the two discussed a Honduran arms warehouse from which the contras planned to purchase weapons. (The contras did eventually buy the arms, using money the Reagan administration secretly raised from Saudi Arabia.) According to the notebook, Secord told North that "14 M to finance [the arms in the warehouse] came from drugs." This was not just an isolated incident.


As one of the civilian pilots who ran guns for the U.S. government in the 1980s, Tosh Plumlee explains that he made numerous operationally approved trips to Latin America; trips that were described as "sanctioned drug interdiction operations."

Tosh Plumlee, Santa Elena, Costa Rica, mid-1980s.
Former CIA Pilot Tells of Guns and Drugs Shipments

"These trips were approved by military intelligence personnel attached to the Pentagon, with CIA logistical support. They were made in total secrecy to the extent that other government agencies were not aware of the existence of these flights, or of the operation. The pilots were given a specific coded transponder number to squawk so their aircraft would not be challenged by U.S. Customs aircraft when patrolling the U.S. border."

He says it began in the 1980s, when the U.S. Army's 82nd and 101st Airborne were sent to Costa Rica for maneuvers. A large number of weapons were sent with them.

"However, some of the weapons did not return to the United States and were later taken off the books by the military, marked as either lost or destroyed and reported to the Government Accounting Office as such".

Plumlee and other pilots have testified to Congress that they were working for a secret U.S. military intelligence operation that clandestinely sent them from the United States to bring back the so-called damaged and disappeared weapons for retrofitting and repair.

"When the weapons were repaired and tested at China Lake and Twentynine Palms, in California, they were staged and once again flown back from El Toro Marine Air Base to Latin America, via Mexico, to be supplied to the Contras, the American-financed rebel group seeking to overthrow the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua".

Plumlee says the aircraft used by this group were designated as “cutouts” and certified as belonging to the U.S. Forest Service’s aircraft fleet. They were, however, controlled by U.S. military intelligence, and contracted by civilian operators for whom Plumlee and other pilots worked.

These pilots used secret air bases in Costa Rica, as well as on the notorious John Hall Ranch, Plumlee says, as unloading and staging areas for the illegal weapons. They also used hidden runways in Costa Rica and El Salvador, controlled by the drug cartel, which then allowed them to bring drugs into the United States on the return trips.

"These flyways and airstrips were secretly recorded by undercover flight crews and reported to various government interdiction agencies in the United States. In 1986, an early operation known by the code name, 'Penetrate,' was shut down because of the politically explosive Iran-Contra matter."

Plumlee goes on to say that in 1990, there was still a covert weapons operation continuing to fly weapons to Latin America, mostly to Bogota, Colombia, which allowed the group to bring back illegal drugs into the United States via Mexico.

"These flyways and staging areas in Mexico were duly noted by undercover pilots and passed on to CIA and DEA personnel."

According to Plumlee, an American DEA agent from Guadalajara, Mexico, by the name of Kiki Camarena, was killed because of his knowledge concerning the “CIA-Mexico” thing, as it was widely known among the covert civilian pilots.

         Senator John Kerry                   Senator Gary Hart

Tosh Plumlee emailed a copy of a February 1991 letter from former Senator Gary Hart to Senator John Kerry, Chairman, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Communications and a redacted summary transcript of his testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from August 1991. The Senate report shows that Plumlee was a "former deep-cover military and CIA asset from 1956 to 1987 with a long history of CIA activities in Central America, Cuba, and Mexico."

A little less than a month before Gary Hart’s letter to Senator Kerry, Marine Colonel James Sabow was found dead by his wife in his backyard at MCAS El Toro. Although there’s no connection to his death, the letter does describe in some detail the illegal arms and narcotic shipments made to fund the Contra war.

Gary Hart served as a Democratic Senator representing Colorado (1975–1987), and ran in the U.S. presidential elections in 1984 and again in 1988. An extramarital affair reported by the media ended his bid for the Democratic nomination for President in 1988.

In his letter to Senator John Kerry, Hart noted that Robert “Tosh” Plumlee met with his Denver Senate staff during the period 1983 through 1985.

Plumlee provided Hart’s staff with maps and names of covert landing strips in Mexico, Costa Rica, Louisiana, Arizona, Florida, and California.

Plumlee said he was involved in covert military activities in Central and South American starting in February 1978. He “had personally flown U.S. sponsored covert missions into Nicaragua… that Nicaragua was receiving assistance from Cuba with nearly 6,000 Cuban military advisors and large quantities of military supplies were being stockpiled at various staging areas inside Nicaragua and the Costa Rica border."

In contacting Senator Hart in 1983, Plumlee’s purpose was to initiate a congressional investigation on illegal arms and narcotic shipments “which were not being acted upon by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.”

According to Plumlee, these operations were not under the control of the CIA but were directed by the White House, Pentagon, and NSC.

Gary Hart in 1991 noted that Plumlee’s allegations were brought “to the attention of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time [1983], but no action was initiated by either committee.”

El Toro Marines were not involved in the shipment of cocaine into the U.S. and the offloading of drugs, but were caught in the web surrounding this illegal activity. Colonel James E. Sabow was murdered to keep him from talking about what he knew or what others thought he might know about the ‘guns for drugs’ operations.

Instead of accepting non-judicial punishment from the El Toro’s Commanding General for alleged personal misuse of government aircraft, Colonel Sabow requested a court martial. Other who met untimely and suspected deaths linked to the use of the base in narcotrafficing include Marine Colonel Jerry Agenbroad, Marine GySgt Tom Wade, and Kevin Garneau, a Native American and Army veteran who was found hanged in his father’s barn on a Sioux reservation. According to Dr. Sabow, Garneau’s death was a tragic case of mistaken identity.

Suicide is the official cause of death for all except for Gunnery Sergeant Tom Wade, whose tragic murder remains a cold case today. If you’re skeptical about the suicides, there are good reasons to think that all were murdered to keep them from talking about what they knew or others thought they knew about the use of El Toro to support the Contra War weapons/drug logistical supply train.

It was also reported in The Strange Death of Colonel Sabow by Gary Null, that "Sergeant Felix Segovia is awaiting court-martial. He was a close friend of Tom Wade's, and had filed a "wholesale theft of computer equipment" report after having found that hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of computers, hardware, and software were missing from the El Toro base." This apparently dated to 1994.


Dr. Sabow told me the story of Marine Kevin Smith, a Native American, who watched the Connie Chung show, “Eye to Eye” with another Sioux friend, a civilian engineer, on July l7, l993. This Connie Chung show included the segment on the death of Colonel Sabow and the information about C-l30s ferrying drugs onto military bases.

Kevin’s civilian friends couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Kevin told them that what they saw was factual. He had been taken to Northern Mexico with several other Marines to load cocaine onto planes. The Marine were told the drugs were part of sting operations to be used as evidence. All were forbidden to discuss this with anyone.

Dr. Sabow said that, “information was passed on to me by the couple who were with Kevin viewing the program. I tried unsuccessfully to interview him before he left the Corps. I was finally able to track him down, but again he resisted my efforts to meet with him. He was literally worried for his life.”

While being interviewed in 1994 by Larry Swails, a DOD IG special investigator, at his home in Rapid City, South Dakota, Dr. Sabow passed some of this information to Swails and offered to accompanied him to the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation, the land-base for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

He didn’t have Kevin’s last name but was confident that he could get help from other Native Americans on the reservation; a number whom he had served in his medical practice. The idea was to locate Kevin and Swails would have further proof of the narcotrafficing using El Toro Marines, even innocent ones that were fed lies about the use of cocaine in sting operations.

“I had that telephone conversation with Swails on May l8, l994,” said Sabow. “I then contacted my sources to find out where Kevin worked and if we could obtain his unlisted phone number.”

On May 23rd, Dr. Sabow’s source informed him that he had obtained the information, but that Kevin was dead. He was found hanging from a rafter in his parent’s barn, in a manner similar to Colonel Agenbroad, on Sunday morning, May 22nd.

Dr. Sabow told me that during his 20 year investigation, he learned that hanging was one of the favorite techniques used in covert operations. This can’t be a pleasant way of dying.

Colonel Jerry Agenbroad was found hanged in his BOQ at El Toro. Colonel Agenbroad was in charge of Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWF) activities at El Toro. The MWR was in charge of El Toro Air Museum, which had supplied a C-130 and P3-A to Aero Union, a CIA proprietary airline in Chico, CA.

Later Dr. Sabow called Kevin’s father, offered his condolence and asked if there any sign leading to his son’s suicide. Other than breaking-up with girlfriend, his father had no answers to this question. During this conversation, Dr. Sabow mentioned that Kevin, who had retired from the service, had been stationed at the MCAS El Toro, as Col Sabow had.

Kevin’s father said that his son had retired from the Army though, not the Marines. Dr. Sabow thought, Oh, my God, they’ve killed the wrong Kevin. And, I may be responsible for this man’s tragic death!

During a two day interview at Dr. Sabow’s home, Larry Swalis and another agent were focused on Dr. Sabow’s sources of covert information. There was no interest in the evidence collected by Dr. Sabow on the murder of his brother.

Time and time again, Dr. Sabow attempted to redirect the interview to his brother’s death. Finally, in frustration, he gave us and asked Swalis and the other investigator to lead. As agreed, the interview had been taped by the DOD investigators. To be sure that accurate records was kept, Dr. Sabow also taped the interview (without the knowledge of the DOD investigators). A transcript of the interview was then made and kept by Dr. Sabow.

Because he provided medical services to Native Americans, Dr. Sabow had developed close relationships with several tribal members. One of these confirmed the name of the retired Marine who was involved in the loading of cocaine in Northern Mexico. It was Kevin Smith. Kevin Smith knew of Dr. Sabow’s interest in interviewing him. He was definitely not interested and Dr. Sabow said his contact told him that the tribe knew of what happened; his life and any others trying to make contact with Kevin Smith would be at risk.


The shadow government can be traced to the Cold War and the concomitant growth of the intelligence community, covert operations and their inherent abuses. The Pike and Church committee hearings in the 1970s and the Iran/Contra hearings in the 1980s disclosed some of these abuses.

From the Wiki page on Project MKULTRA

MKULTRA, a covert CIA interrogation and mind control program began in 1953, continued for twenty years and involved hundreds of experiments on human subjects at eighty different institutions.

One of MKULTRA’s projects “consisted of a web of CIA-run safehouses in San Francisco, Marin, and New York which were established in order to study the effects of LSD on unconsenting individuals.

Prostitutes on the CIA payroll were instructed to lure clients back to the safehouses, where they were surreptitiously plied with a wide range of substances, including LSD, and monitored behind one-way glass.

Several significant operational techniques were developed in this theater, including extensive research into sexual blackmail, surveillance technology, and the possible use of mind-altering drugs in field operations.”

A number of subprojects were funded under MKULTRA involving research on drugs and behavioral modification. CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MKULTRA projects terminated in 1973 and the records destroyed. Not all of the records were destroyed.

The public outcry that Helms sought to prevent was caused when MKULTRA records were released to an investigatory journalist under FOIA.3

The allegations of intelligence abuse are not the tirades of some left-wing fanatics, but the confessions of the CIA as reported by CIA Director Michael Hayden and others.

In June 2007, Hayden admitted that the agency violated its charter for 25 years by conducting illegal wiretapping, domestic surveillance, assassination plots, and human experimentation.

Our government is imperfect but our system of checks and balances with no one branch of the government exercising absolute control has worked well to preserve the freedoms all Americans cherished. The Iran Contra Hearings showed what can happen when one branch of the government decides it can operate out of the rule of law.

Senator Daniel Inouye at the Iran Contra Hearings in 1987 commenting on the operations of the National Security Council with Lt Col Oliver North at point, the CIA and other federal government agencies operating outside the rule of law during the Reagan administration said, "There exists a shadowy government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself."


Lt Col North was charged with 16 felonies, convicted on 3 felonies all overturned on appeal. As a staff member of President Reagan’s NSC, he was point for Iran-contra, involved in negotiations with the Iranians, shipments of TOWs and Hawk missiles to Iran used in the trade of arms-for-hostages and diversion of funds from the sale of arms (marked up over costs) to the Contras, keeping the Contras supplied with weapons in violation of the Boland Amendments.

His testimony to Congress was riveting, drawing millions of views away from the “Soaps” on TV. Some Marines were angry because he wore his Marine Corps greens when as an aide on the NSC staff, he was on assignment from the Corps and not taking orders from them. Was he the ‘fall guy’? North’s fingerprints were all over the Iran-contra cover-up. He didn’t have the authority to pull this off on his own.

If he was the “fall guy,” it didn’t hurt him financially; he didn’t go to jail; he’s drawing his Marine Corps retirement pay; making bucks from book sales and TV appearances and life has been good to him. Not bad for an LtCol who could have spent much of his life in Federal prison. You can argue whether supporting the Contras was good or bad for the U.S.

However, no one would disagree that the shipment of drugs (cocaine, the drug of choice) into the U.S. on the same aircraft that delivered weapons to the Contras was anything but destructive. The influx of cocaine during the 80s lead to the crack epidemic and unknown numbers of deaths, including those of innocent babies born to addicted mothers.

North had to know about the illegal drugs transported on CIA proprietary airlines but looked the other way. No one in the administration involved in Iran-contra was charged with drug violations. North’s total concentration was supporting the Contras; the means to that end didn’t matter.

The National Security Archive notes “entries in the North Notebooks which discernibly concern narcotics or terrorism” are:

May 12, 1984…contract indicates that Gustavo is involved w/ drugs. (Q0266)
June 26, 1984. DEA- (followed by two blocks of text deleted by North) (Q0349)
June 27, 1984. Drug Case - DEA program on controlling cocaine- Ether cutoff- Colombians readjusting- possible negotiations to move on refining effort to Nicaragua- Pablo Escobar-Colombian drug czar- Informant (Pilot) is indicted criminal- Carlos Ledher- Freddy Vaughn (Q0354)
July 9, 1984. [NOTE: Portions transcribed in Kerry Report but deleted from declassified version] Call from Clarridge- Call Michel re Narco Issue- RIG at 1000 Tomorrow (Q0384)- DEA Miami- Pilot went talked to Vaughn- wanted A/C to go to Bolivia to p/u paste- want A/C to p/u 1500 kilos- Bud to meet w/ Group (Q0385)
July 12, 1984. [NOTE: Portions transcribed in Kerry Report but deleted from declassified version] Gen. Gorman-*Include Drug Case (Q0400) Call from Johnstone- (White House deletion) leak on Drug (0402)
July 17, 1984. Call to Frank M- Bud Mullins Re- leak on DEA piece- Carlton Turner (Q0418) Call from Johnstone- McManus, LA Times-says/NSC source claims W.H. has pictures of Borge loading cocaine in Nic. (Q0416)
July 20, 1984. Call from Clarridge:-Alfredo Cesar Re Drugs-Borge/Owen leave Hull alone (Deletions)/Los Brasiles Air Field-Owen off Hull (Q0426)
July 27, 1984. Clarridge:-(Block of White House deleted text follows)-Arturo Cruz, Jr.-Get Alfredo Cesar on Drugs (Q0450)
July 31, 1984. -Finance: Libya- Cuba/Bloc Countries-Drugs. . . Pablo Escobar/Federic Vaughn (Q0460)
July 31, 1984. [NOTE: Portions transcribed in the Kerry Report but deleted from declassified version] Staff queries re (White House deletion) role in DEA operations in Nicaragua (Q0461)
December 21, 1984. Call from Clarridge: Ferch (White House deletion)- Tambs- Costa Rica- Felix Rodriguez close to (White House deletion)- not assoc. W/Villoldo- Bay of Pigs- No drugs (Q0922)
January 14, 1985. $14 million to finance came from drugs (Q1039)
July 12, 1985. $14 million to finance came from drugs
August 10, 1985. Mtg w/ A.C.- name of DEA person in New Orleans re Bust on Mario/ DC-6 (Q1140)
February 27, 1986. Mtg w/ Lew Tambs- DEA Auction A/C seized as drug runners.- $250-260K fee (Q2027).”4


See: Marine Corps Communique Becomes
Smoking Gun in Colonel Sabow Murder

The Contra War ended officially in 1990. The New York Times on June 29, 1990, reported:

30,000 Nicaraguans were killed, many more wounded, the economy shattered and Washington ensnared in horrors like assassination manuals, the clandestine mining of Nicaraguan harbors and the still-reverberating Iran-contra scandal.

A little more than six months later in January 1991, Marine Colonel James E. Sabow’s life ended violently.

The unexpected blow to the right side of the head was violent, resulting in unconsciousness. The blow caused a massive depressed occipital skull fracture along with one or more fractures extending through the base of his skull (basilar skull fractures). Occipital skull fragments penetrated into the back of Col. Sabow’s brain.

He was near death due to the massive brainstem trauma in which agonal hyperventilation characteristic of this type of injury occurs. Sabow was aspirating blood from a wound in his pharynx that resulted from a basilar skull fracture.

In fact, the tracheae, bronchi, bronchioles and alveoli were filled with blood, doubling the weight of the right lung. There was swelling behind the right ear covering the back of the skull.

A twenty year investigation conducted by Dr. David Sabow, a court-certified neurologist and younger brother of Colonel James Sabow, provides convincing support that a government cover-up of Colonel Sabow’s murder continues today, the guilty remain unpunished.

A government operation committed this heinous crime, and those who attempt to expose them are in danger of lost of liberty and life.

The government conveniently labeled his death a suicide. The MISHAP message from the Commanding General to the Commandant of the Marine Corps sent on the day of his death stated that, “PMO and medical responded immediately and confirmed the report that Col Sabow apparently committed suicide by shotgun.”


The message from BG Adams, Commanding General, MCAS El Toro, to General Al Grey, Commandant of the Marine Corps reporting the death of Colonel Sabow was dated 220745Z Jan 91 or 11:45 P.M. PST. The date/time group assigned on every military communication is automatically set by the autodin-saralite system, according to Dr. Sabow.

The time on these communications is always ZULU time. The military, as well as civil aviation uses the letter "Z" (phonetically "Zulu") to refer to the time at the prime meridian, which is zero degrees longitude and runs through the Royal Greenwich Observatory, in Greenwich, England.

The problem is that this particular message reports Colonel Sabow’s death over eight hours before he died. Correction to PST requires an eight hour subtraction from the ZULU designation, placing BG Adams in his office at 2345 or 11:45 PM on Monday night of the Martin Luther King Holiday, over eight hours before Colonel Sabow’s death.

To see the full original document, visit this link.

The scenario proposed by Dr. Sabow is that BG Adams initiated the communiqué from his office at 2345 or 11:45 P.M. January 21, 1991, the night before Colonel Sabow was killed. The message couldn’t be completed until the death occurred. Why draft a message to CMC that connects you to a conspiracy to commit murder?

Dr. Sabow believes that BG Adams didn’t kill his brother but he’s convinced that he was given a heads-up the night before the murder and in a panic rushed across the street to his Headquarters’ building and composed a draft message on the autodin-saralite system.

I talked with a Marine veteran who worked in Communications during 1990s. The integrity of this anonymous source was vouched by Bob Romaine, a retired Marine Sergeant Major and criminal investigator for the Orange County Sheriff, who contacted the COM expert and let him use his home phone to tell me what he knew about the Marine Corps COM environment in the 1990s. I agreed to talk with the veteran on a non-attribution basis.

The Marine veteran told me that the Marine Corps didn’t have the capability to compose draft messages on a PC and save the drafts until much later in time. He seriously doubted that a general grade officer had the necessary skill sets to type a message in a communication format without the software and help. Having worked for senior officers in DLA, this seemed reasonable to me.

However, I suggested could he have made a note on a yellow pad as a reminder to send a MISHAP report to CMC, dated the note and told someone on staff to type the MILSTAP report after confirmation of the death of Colonel Sabow? The person (civilian or Marine) who typed the message to CMC could have converted the local time on the ‘yellow pad note’ to ZULU time without realizing the significance of the early date.

The Marine veteran said that in his opinion a better explanation for the questionable date on the message was a simple typing error by the person who typed it. That is, instead of typing 230745Z Jan 91, the clerk typed 220745Z Jan 91. The “2” is next to the “3” on the keyboard so at first this explanation sounded reasonable. This would mean that the message to CMC was not sent until 11:45 P.M. on January 22nd, over 12 hours after the report of death was called to BG Adams.

I pointed out that a courtesy copy of the message showed a date of 022/21:18Z printed in the same font as the message, below the body followed by the words “COURTESY COPY.” I interpreted this as 222118Z or 1:18 P.M. PST, January 22, 1991, the date the message was sent to CMC. The Marine veteran disagreed that this was a ‘correct’ configuration of a ZULU date. I thanked him for his help and we left it at that. You can make your own call on the questionable early date. The one thing for certain is that no DOD investigator will ever follow-up to investigate this matter as long as the official DOD position is that Colonel Sabow’s death was a suicide.


Bob Romaine told me that all violent deaths have to be investigated for homicide before any ruling of suicide can be made. That’s not how it worked in Orange County in January 1991. The autopsy was conducted by the Orange County Medical Examiner.

The death certificate stated suicide. According to Romaine, the crime scene was not secured and the NIS investigation did not meet acceptable performance standards. In 2010 another forensic expert agreed with this conclusion.

Dr. Werner Spitz, an internationally recognized pathologist, in September 2010 reviewed the autopsy report and other evidence as part of an NCIS cold case review, reporting in a sworn affidavit that Colonel Sabow’s death was a homicide and the crime scene was tampered with. Several days later, Dr. Spitz orally withdrew his affidavit, citing new X-rays to Dr. Sabow as his rationale.

No mention was made of the crime scene tampering.

Dr. Sabow, the younger brother of Col. Sabow and a court-certified forensic neurologist, said there are no new X-rays. He believes that Dr. Spitz was pressured by the government to withdrawal from the case. NCIS dropped the cold case investigation. Navy regulations required that the autopsy be performed or observed by military personnel.

Independent reviews by medical experts, forensic specialists, several FBI agents, Michael A. Jacobs, attorney and retired supervisor of the Orange County District Attorney’s Homicide Trials Division, Orange County District Attorney, and many others support homicide as the cause of death. There’s no evidence that the CIA was involved in Colonel Sabow’s, but Dr. Sabow said the killers were government assassins.

According to Dr. Sabow, the motive for murder was to prevent Colonel Sabow from telling all he knew about the use of former military aircraft to transport guns to Central and South America and bring cocaine into the U.S. These aircraft were ‘cut-outs’ transferred on paper to the Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Service but used by private airlines with links to the CIA.

The active cooperation of the government was required to allow unmarked C-130s flowed by non-military personnel to transit the borders without interference from U.S. Customs. The refueling of these aircraft at El Toro and other military bases was done by military personnel but the loading of weapons and offloading of illegal drugs in the early morning hours was done by civilians with long hair who were definitely not Marines but who would have never been able to access El Toro without the active cooperation of military authorities.

For those who say, this is not a new story, you’re absolutely correct. Gary Webb (1955-2004) won a Pulitzer Prize in the 1990s for writing about the Contras and the crack epidemic in Dark Alliance: The CIA, The Contras and The Crack Cocaine Explosion. Webb never made the connection to Colonel Sabow’s death and use of El Toro or unmarked C-130s flying drugs into the U.S. to fund the Contra War when Congress cut off appropriated funds to the Contras.

Webb’s Dark Alliance provided evidence that the Reagan administration shielded Contra narco-traffickers (drug dealers and drug lords) from prosecution to fund the Contra War. The Sacramento Bee reported on December 15, 2004, that Webb committed suicide from two gunshots to the head, according to the Sacramento County Coroner.

What has not been written about in any depth is the story of Dr. David Sabow’s twenty year fight with our government to bring those responsible for the murder of his brother to justice to bring into full view the ‘shadow government’ that authorized his and other murders and continues to operate with impunity today.

Who were the killers? Members of the military? Kay Griggs, former wife of Marine Colonel George Raymond Griggs, first went public in 1998 with stories of military assassin squads, drug running, illegal weapon deals and sexual perversion deep within the highest levels of U.S. military and government.

Dr. Sabow told me that after his brother’s death, he learned that a Marine helicopter from Camp Pendleton landed in the field behind Colonel Sabow’s quarters and off-loaded 4 men. We don’t know their identities, but Dr. Sabow had confirmation from a former Naval Investigative Service (NIS) agent who observed their activities in cleaning-up the crime scene. Couldn’t happen in this country, you say. How soon we forget.

During the Vietnam War, the CIA ran the Phoenix Program, responsible for killing thousands of civilians suspected of belonging or aiding the National Liberation Front (NLF). Special operations forces participated in the Phoenix Program, despite the prohibition of the Geneva Conventions, which forbid waging war on civilians.


One person with inside knowledge of the intelligence community and the ‘shadow government’ is Gene Wheaton. Born in Oklahoma in 1936, he's a former military criminal investigator and Iran-Contra whistle-blower. Gene Wheaton served tours in the Marine Corps, the Air Force, and the Army, as criminal investigator and counter-intelligence agent; retiring from the Army in 1975 as a Warrant Officer.

After hos military service, Wheaton was “executive assistant to one of the vice presidents of the Rockwell Corporation, and director of security for the billion-dollar IBEX airborne electronic intelligence program. This program was being funded by the Iranian government and the Central Intelligence Agency. It was during this period Wheaton became very friendly with Carl Jenkins, a former senior CIA officer.”

In a radio interview with Matt Ehling, Declassified Radio/Indymedia, in 2002, Wheaton said he was:

...in Washington trying to drum up business for this little cargo airline, and Carl [Jenkins] agreed to be my Washington representative, uh, for marketing purposes to open doors for me in Washington, D.C. ... to see if I could get some cargo contracts. It was in that vein that Carl told me it was time ... that the guys in the national Security Council wanted to bring me into the inner circle.

And that’s where I sort of got at the very national level of this. I had previously attended some black-tie functions with Bill Casey and the veterans of the OSS; had been invited to a party where the guest of honor was Vice President Bush. My wife and I were invited. We were running with a fairly high-level crowd.

In December of, uh, ’85 was the scheduled time for me to actually meet with Ollie North, so they had a black-tie dinner at the Palm Restaurant in Washington D. C. on the 4th of December. It was the day that Bud McFarland resigned as national security advisor.

At that black tie party at the Palm Restaurant on the 4th of December in 1985, I was specifically invited by Neil Livingston and to come in and meet Ollie North, and it was a party to promote Neil Livingston’s book, called 'Fighting Back', and the subtitle was 'The War on Terrorism'.

He and a State Department/CIA spook by the name of Terry Arnold wrote that book together and this was the coming-out party for the book, and all the covert operations community, the real snake eaters, was going to be there with black ties.

Ollie North was there and Bud McFarland and I don’t know... 75 or 100 people in black ties, having drinks and dinner and hobnobbing and they felt like ... the atmosphere at that party was one of ‘We are the shadow government running the United States.’ It was almost like a diplomatic party or a State Department coming out party for a regime. These guys were in charge, and that was how they presented it.

At the end of the Matt Ehling radio interview, Gene Wheaton, to his credit, summed up the way to respond to the threat of the shadow government:

I have sat on the banks of the Potomac in restaurants with 75 and 80-year-old retired CIA people and retired generals, West Point graduates, honorable people ... these old men have sat with tears in their eyes and told me that, ‘Gene, what you’re into, you understand it more than we did, and it’s absolutely true, but it’s just so big you can’t do anything about it.’

I guess if I believed that, I’d go off to some South Sea island and drink a few Cuba Libres laying in the sand or something, but somebody has to keep charging in there, you know. The biggest chink in their armor – and it would take somebody smarter than me to figure out how to exploit it -- is their insecurity. They are afraid of a peasant with a pitchfork. And the reason they react so strongly and violently against anybody who opposes them, is because they’re afraid someone will grab a thread and unravel it, and their whole uniform will come unraveled.


In an interview with the DOD IG in 19967 who were investigating the death of Colonel Sabow, Gene Wheaton provided information on the use El Toro for covert operations including the smuggling of money and narcotics into the country:

    Mr. Wheaton alleged that MCAS El Toro was being used in support of a legal covert activity that had been undertaken by a U.S. intelligence agency under the cover of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program named "Screw Worm," allegedly a program to eradicate the screw worm in Mexico. Mr. Wheaton also alleged that the covert operation was actually legitimately providing weapons, ammunition and other material to the Government of Peru in their struggle against guerrilla forces known as the "Shining Path." Mr. Wheaton further alleged that a number of individuals involved in this covert operation were concurrently conducting an illegal covert operation whereby they were smuggling additional weapons, ammunition and material to Peru.

    The individuals were allegedly selling the weapons, ammunition and material to the Shining Path as well as to the Government of Peru, for money and narcotics. The money and narcotics were then allegedly smuggled back into the United States and air dropped at remote locations on military installations in the western part of the United States. Mr. Wheaton claimed that he had identified and interviewed two pilots15 who had been engaged in this operation. Mr. Wheaton further alleged that this operation continued until approximately the time of Col Sabow's death. At about that time the operation was then moved to the country of Libya as a training mission in support of Muammar Gaddafi, leader of that country, in return for oil from Libya. Mr. Wheaton alleged that his investigation had disclosed that the covert operation at MCAS El Toro was under the control of Col Underwood.

    Mr. Wheaton alleged that his investigation had developed witnesses who stated that during the period of time from 1989 to about the time of Col Sabow's death, C-130 aircraft landed at MCAS El Toro in the middle of the night, unannounced and unknown to anyone on the installation other than Col Underwood. Mr. Wheaton told us that, according to his witnesses, the aircraft were unmarked or marked with logos of civilian companies, and were flown by nonmilitary type crews, i.e., long hair and bluejeans. The C-130s would go to a remote part of the airfield, described as "Spook Corner," where unidentified material and equipment was loaded or unloaded as part of the illegal covert operation or for some sort of servicing of the aircraft. The aircraft would then depart El Toro. Mr. Wheaton stated that he had MP witnesses who had provided testimony to this effect. Mr. Wheaton identified one such witness as Mr. Robinson, but he refused to identify any other member of the military who possessed knowledge of these alleged covert operations. Mr. Wheaton alleged that Mr. Robinson had informed him that Col Underwood had directed the Provost Marshal, Capt Betsy Harries, to keep all military policemen away from the unidentified aircraft while they were on the airfield.

View of El Toro more or less as it appears today, recorded through the Google Earth flight simulator and heads up display.


Nick Schou, writing for the Orange County Weekly in September 2006, described an encounter in the desert in 1996 with a mysterious source who claimed to have top secret documentation showing the use of U.S. military base to fly drugs in the country in the 1980s.

Gene Wheaton accompanied Schou to the rendezvous:

...the man pulled a folder from his pocket and handed it to me. Inside was a piece of paper stamped with the logo of the U.S. Department of Defense. It looked like an uncensored version of what had been faxed to my office a week or so earlier: instructions from the Pentagon to El Toro Marine Corps Air Station and March Air Force Base not to record landings or takeoffs by two civilian airlines.

This time, the names of the airlines weren't blacked out: Southern Air Transport and Evergreen International Airlines. The man with the walkie-talkie didn't demand anything—except that I take the paper from his hands. But the document wasn't stamped 'declassified.' It could be stolen, Wheaton warned, and if I accepted it, I could go to federal prison for violating national security laws.

To his regret, Schou decided not to accept the document, asked the source to mail it to him, but never heard from him again.


DOD disagrees that any unmarked C-130s ever flew into El Toro to ferry weapons to Central and South American and return north with illegal drugs; that Marines were ever assigned to working parties to load/offload weapons and drugs in Mexico; and that the deaths of Colonels Sabow and Agenbroad were suicides while the murder of GySgt Wade remains an unsolved cold case unrelated to any military activity. They contend that the suicide of Kevin Garneau was a tragedy for his family but had nothing to do with a case of mistaken identity and former Marine Kevin Smith never was assigned to any working party dealing with narcotrafficing.

As far as the communiqué from BG Tom Adams to CMC reporting the death of Colonel Sabow, the government obviously wants people to believe that the ZULU date is a case of human error in typing the message. They have the audacity to cling to the corrupted theory that the evidence supports suicide and that there is no justification for a conspiracy to murder a senior Marine Corps officer.

And, of course, we all know that our government never lies.

A quarter of a century after Senator Daniel Inouye referred to a ‘shadow government’ involved in illegal covert activities to sell arms to the Iranians at a profit and using the proceeds to fund a war in Central America, Senator Daniel Ron Paul, the Congressman from Texas, spoke out in February 2010 against the administration’s policy to assassinate any American citizen determined to be a threat to the country.

Congressman Paul correctly pointed out how this was contrary to the rights granted citizens in the Constitution to a fair trial.

There were no public protests or media protestations of the lost of habeas corpus; a right going back centuries and preserved in our Constitution to safeguard individual freedom against arbitrary state action.

Was Congressman Paul’s speech on the House floor hyperbole? If they could come back from the dead, my guess is that Colonel James Sabow, Colonel Jerry Agenbroad, Gy Sgt Tom Wade, and Kevin Garneau would willingly speak out against the state’s right to take the life of an American citizen without a fair trial.

Editing and photo layout by Tim King, Salem-News.com

Bob O’Dowd is a former U.S. Marine with thirty years of experience on the east coast as an auditor, accountant, and financial manager with the Federal government. Half of that time was spent with the Defense Logistics Agency in Philadelphia. Originally from Pennsylvania, he enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 19, served in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Marine Aircraft Wings in 52 months of active duty in the 1960s. A graduate of Temple University, Bob has been married to Grace for 31 years. He is the father of two adult children and the grandfather of two boys. Bob has a blog site on former MCAS El Toro at mwsg37.com. This subject is where Bob intersected with Salem-News.com. Bob served in the exact same Marine Aviation Squadron that Salem-News founder Tim King served in, twenty years earlier. With their combined on-site knowledge and research ability, Bob and Tim and a handful of other ex-Marines, have put the contamination of MCAS El Toro on the map. The base is highly contaminated with TCE, trichloroethelyne

You can email Bob O’Dowd, Salem-News.com Environmental and Military Reporter, at this address: consults03@comcast.net

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Mordecai February 7, 2016 11:37 am (Pacific time)

Let us not forget Barry Seal and the black C-130 flying in and out of Mena, Arkansas with cocaine and money. Thats how Clinton financed Arkansas when he was Governor.

Anonymous December 2, 2011 3:07 pm (Pacific time)

Giving "Miranda Rights" to our battlefield enemies is insane, as any seasoned combat veteran who actually has had close quarters combat will quickly tell you. That's not akin to slavery as a below poster suggested, but real life.

Editor: Right, well you must have talked to a combat vet?  I have news for you, anyone who opens a line with that type of claim is pulling your leg, people who actually participate in military conflict generally have a degree of humility that accompanies their persona, sounds like your friend is blowing smoke.  Time to put away the crack pipe, kapish?.

December 1, 2011 12:22 pm (Pacific time)

Miranda rights and due process rights should be given to every person on this planet. Once you take it away from one person, you take it away from all.. I suppose, as long as you dont mind being a slave, you can go along..Some of us dont like being slaves.

Anonymous December 1, 2011 12:20 pm (Pacific time)

Just explain how it is that O is still out running around, making money off America, Americans, how morally bankrupt is this nation that it would extend harbour to a fugitive of this magnitude, responsible for this much damage, for the drug running, the lies! God help us all.

Anonymous December 1, 2011 12:10 pm (Pacific time)

funny...I spoke of many of these things over ten years ago, and all I got was comments about how I needed a tin foil hat. Thinking its too late now. Legislation passed by the obama admin, can take anyone into custody for no reason, no attorney, no due process, and detain them indefinately...Welcome to Amerikka...hitler would have been proud..And Daniel Johnson? have ya read the news? Just as I told ya, Canada is now nothing more than a U.S. 51st state..I told ya. But you laughed at me. Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are now 100% agreed on a north american union...Mainstream news my friend..I TOLD YA!!! They own everything! They have their central banks in most every country, and the military to back them up...They own the media, they have owned our health and education system for over a century...As mentioned many times..I think its time for those that have ears and eyes to friggin wake up. How ironic, while the Euro union is alling apart, the obama admin with mexico and canada are making a north american union....fun fun fun coming...

Anonymous December 1, 2011 8:23 am (Pacific time)

Miranda rights are essentially designed for American citizens. Terrorists are not afforded these rights because they are not citizens (even domestic terrorists for they do not recognize our laws), thus they are akin to POW's, and must remain under confinement until hostilities are over. Then again to take a page out of FDR's playbook, if they are in America, and not in uniform, they will be treated as enemy spies and executed. That's a big 10-4 in terms of getting rid of domestic enemies, and in time, that is how we will proceed. We know who many of them are. The geographical area will also include all of Canada, just watch it happen. Thank God for Harper.

Former Marine December 1, 2011 12:44 am (Pacific time)

This is a time of intense discovery and revelation, nice work on this, it is amazing what comes up when you examine the different parts,  There are few words to meet the level of the tragedy of James Sabow.  I see reading it again and will be forwarding to many, thank you and Semper Fi Robert O'Dowd.

Jubei December 1, 2011 12:16 am (Pacific time)

As an Oregon veteran, this country is just going to shambles and that is scary. Mr. Daniel Inouye is quoted as saying that a shadow government not only exists but in the armed forces! Just today he also voted to detain "terrorists" indefinitely without any regard to Miranda rights. Way to play both sides of the fence, Mr Senator. Is there nobody left who has some sanity?


Editor: Roger that Jubei, he's on both sides of the road.

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