MICHAEL C RUPPERT - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
(From chapter 16 of an upcoming book on the leaders of Peak Oil by Colin Campbell)
© Copyright 2010 CollapseNet, Inc. – All Rights Reserved
Michael C. Ruppert
B.A., UCLA (1973), Political Science (With Honors)
Born : Washington, D.C. - 1951
Nationality : U.S.
Residence : United States
Profession : Journalist, Author, Activist
Books: “Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil”, (New Society, 2004); “Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World”, (Chelsea Green, 2009)
Subject: “Collapse”, a 2009 theatrical documentary by Bluemark Films directed by Chris Smith
Position: CEO, CollapseNet, Inc. (http://www.collapsenet.com )
The first thing that I want to say is that I am honored to be included as a part of this book. It contains biographies of the giants of the Peak Oil movement who taught and led me into a deep understanding of the subject. Not the least of these was Colin Campbell, starting in 2002, who has been a consistent and prolific teacher. Readers may recognize me from the 2009 theatrical documentary Collapse, which became and remains an internationally acclaimed film at this writing. More than 20 hours of footage were shot over five separate sessions in 2009 to produce a final product of 82 minutes. Those who were there, especially Chris Smith, the Director, will remember that almost all of my statements constantly mentioned names like Campbell, Hubbert, Simmons, Aleklett, Deffeyes, Laherrère, Skrebowski, Bartlett (x2), Hansen, Hirsch, Bakhtiari, Heinberg, Duncan, Youngquist and Pimentel. I was trying not to take credit for the work of others but to honor them and tell the story, showing the clarity and power of their work. But Smith was looking for something different, namely a character study of myself, including the passion with which I have carried the Peak Oil message and the teachings given to me by these great men.
The race to alert the world to Peak Oil has been a relay, rather than a sprint, or even a marathon. I hope that my film, my extensive reportage of Peak Oil issues and efforts between 2002 and 2006 via From The Wilderness and my books have done the work of these great men justice.
Arriving Early Is In My Genes
On February 3, 1951, in a delivery room at Georgetown Hospital in the heart of Washington, D.C., my mother Madelyn Ruppert was in great pain and receiving yet another transfusion as doctors tried to stop hemorrhaging. All she wanted was to stay alive long enough to successfully deliver her first child. She had lain in bed for two months with this, her second pregnancy, on strict doctor’s orders to prevent another stillbirth. Her first pregnancy had lasted only five months. Now, she was back just fourteen months later. She had made it to seven months with me, but I was having no more of this waiting business. As my mother went into labor, there was little hope. In those days, Premies had little chance if born before eight months
When Dr. Sheffrey, a respected Obstetrician, finally held the 3-pound fetus in his hands, he spent long minutes doing everything he could to get me to breathe… but to no avail. He
handed me to a nurse asking her to take me to the morgue. That was the first official assessment of me by an expert and, like others that were to come, it was incorrect. I cried just as the nurse carried me out of the delivery room, my face and head covered. It startled everybody, including my mother.
It seems I had both a sense of purpose and an obvious disrespect for authority from the start. Not only that, but I came to this world earlier than I was supposed to. I suppose one might say that these traits have continued throughout my life. I know the story of my birth because Dr. Sheffrey never forgot it, and he told me of it personally 26 years later when I attended a holiday party at my Uncle Bill’s house in Bethesda, Maryland. In my wallet at the time were a badge and identity card indicating that I was a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Bill Colliton, M.D. – who had married my father’s sister Peggy, was also a respected obstetrician and gynecologist, with nine children of his own. According to both, my survival was an exceptionally rare occurrence given the state of medical technology at the time.
My mother was a Cryptanalyst, or code breaker, at the recently renamed National Security Agency. Like so many Americans at the outbreak of World War II, she had quit her job as an elementary school teacher in West Virginia and rushed to Washington, D.C. with her Bachelor’s Degree; applying immediately for a job in the war effort. It was her facility with New York Times crossword puzzles that brought her to the attention of America’s premier code-breaking unit, the Army Security Agency (as it was called then). It was there that she became part of the most-secret unit that had broken the Japanese naval codes. Just before her death in late 2001, she told me that the Japanese naval codes had actually been broken before the attacks of December 7th, 1941. At the time of my birth – although I was not to learn this until she was near death – she was working in a unit breaking Soviet codes and tracking Russian nuclear physicists, who were rushing to develop the Hydrogen Bomb. She had started with the agency, working on Japanese codes in early 1942. There was a different enemy now. Throughout World War II the results of her work were intended only for the eyes of the her Section Commander, the Army Chief of Staff, the Secretaries of War and State, and the President himself.
At the time of my birth, my father, who bore the unbearably long and ostentatious name of Ernest Charles Edward Ruppert, III (known as Ed in retaliation), had been reactivated by the U.S. Air Force for the Korean War. Whereas my mother, who was of Irish and English descent, had been raised in rural West Virginia, Dad was the second generation of our family born in Washington, D.C., and I was now the third. His grandfather had migrated from Ruppertsburg (near Heidelberg in Germany) in the 1890s, and opened a successful restaurant (Ruppert’s Restaurant) at 1716 Pennsylvania Ave, across the street from the White House. A large photo of the restaurant, taken around 1903, hangs in my living room today. I still have the same silverware that Presidents T. Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson ate from on an occasion in the restaurant’s private dining room. The restaurant was noted for its authentic German cuisine. I could saysauerbraten long before I could say mashed potatoes.
One great gift my father gave me was to not saddle me with a name that required the entire alphabet to utter, saying: We’ll call him Mike. Thank you, Dad.
During World War II, my father was a gunnery instructor and relief gunner in B17 bombers with the 91st Bomber Group (Heavy) based at Bassingbourne, England. He had flown a number of missions dropping bombs on the same country his grandfather had left fifty years before, having enlisted in the U.S. Army in the First World War. My father’s B 17 was downed by German flak on December 24th 1944 while returning from a raid on Mershaussen. This was during the height of the Battle of the Bulge, but his pilot was able to successfully crash-land just inside Allied lines in Belgium as the German advance was stalling. He was awarded the Air Medal for his conduct on that mission. I never learned exactly what he had done that day, but that was not unusual. There was a lot my parents never talked about. Relatives of my father had worked for the CIA’s forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), and were now employed at the newly-created Central Intelligence Agency. It was a standing joke between my parents and me when I would come home from school and ask what was for dinner. They would always respond, “We can’t tell you. It’s a secret.”
My father was reactivated with the coming of the Korean War in 1950 and became a mustang, namely a non-commissioned officer who was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, and was undergoing training to become a radar intercept officer (RIO) in F89D Scorpions, then America’s top jet interceptor.
When people ask me where I grew up, I usually offer one of two answers. One is: Who says I grew up? and the other is: Everywhere. I was to move fourteen times through seven States before I finally landed at Venice High School in Los Angeles in 1968. I graduated in 1969 and went straight into the University of California (UCLA), where I was to graduate with Honors in Political Science in 1973. These were some of the most turbulent years in American history as protests and riots rocked the nation over a war in faraway Vietnam as well as the issue of civil rights. After being stationed in Maine, waiting for the duration of the Korean War for Soviet bombers to come over the North Pole,my father remained active with the Air Force Reserve until about 1963, flying a number of clandestine missions as a navigator in SA16 Albatross Air-Sea rescue planes. One of those missions was for the aborted Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1960.
About three years after the Korean conflict, my father found a high-level job with Martin Marietta (now Lockheed-Martin) as a liaison between the CIA, the US Air Force and Martin for booster programs that would eventually include the Titan IIIC, which put most of America’s Keyhole spy satellites into orbit for the CIA.
In the summer of 1967, which was known as the Summer of Love in America, I discovered police work and the joy of solving mysteries. I was soon to be of draft age, and the Vietnam War loomed large in every American’s life. My father insisted that I would never go to Vietnam because that war was “really fouled up”. He was in a position to know. I personally opposed the war deeply… but silently. I wanted to be a cop, and knew that open protest would ruin my chances. I was taken by a desire to follow in the family tradition and place myself in harm’s way for a good cause – a rite of passage and an initiation.
Beginning with my very first quarter of classes at UCLA, I applied for and was accepted into an internship program, called Police Student Workers (or PSWs), at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), where undergraduate college students worked part-time during the school year and full-time each summer as a way of preparing them for careers in law enforcement. I
spent more than three and a half years in that program until my 21st birthday came, and I could no longer stay under civil service rules. There was a bright spot in that I was selected in my sophomore year to intern for the Chief of Police, Ed Davis
What I didn’t know was that, when I had applied for the PSW program, a background check on me had revealed something that even I didn’t know: namely that I held a “Q”, which was a secret compartmentalized clearance above Top Secret in the American Defense establishment. The letter “Q” meant that I was cleared to handle or see material related to atomic warfare in case my father left his briefcase open. It had been a customary practice to obtain clearances for family members of those involved in the most-sensitive government work. This was the first time I had heard of it.
At the same time that I was selected to intern for the Police Chief, Ed Davis, my closest friend at UCLA, Craig L. Fuller,was chosen to intern for then California Governor, Ronald Reagan. Fuller would go on to become Assistant to the President for Cabinet Affairs in Reagan’s first term of office, and Chief of Staff to George H.W. Bush, who was the Vice-President in Reagan’s second term.
About a year after being hired as a Police Student (PSW), I was transferred into the Chief’s Office as an intern. It was there, that the Commander, Carol Kirby, had disclosed to me that I held a “Q” clearance. I went home and asked my father what it meant and he explained it to me. He added that he wasn’t surprised that the Chief’s Office had been drawn to me.
The clearance caused some automatic assumptions about my belief systems. I was exposed to secret intelligence operations involving the government, its military and the police department. I kept my mouth shut and didn’t fully comprehend that what I was seeing were elements of a program, known as COINTELPRO. It was an anti-subversive operation run jointly by the FBI and CIA from the 1960s. It had no significance for me until I was to feel its sting directed toward me, starting in early 1979. That was to last until 2007 because I have had a habit – as some have called it – of thrusting sticks into hornet’s nests to see what would happen. I was certainly to do that with Peak Oil and the plethora of government scandals of the Bush-Cheney era.
In the spring quarter of 1973, I was flown back to Washington, D.C. where the CIA attempted to recruit me officially. Their offer was that I would become a CIA case officer, and then go back through the Los Angeles Police Department’s academy to be a police officer as a cover. At the time, that was illegal, and did not appeal to me in the least. In fact, it made me feel very uncomfortable. I never followed up on the stack of papers the CIA man in the Old Executive Office Building had given me. I was too full of a desire to crush crime. By December of 1975, when I had more than two years on the job as a badge-and-gun police officer, I thought the CIA meeting had been long forgotten... I was mistaken.
Many of the details of my life from then through 2007 are difficult to recount, and have been abundantly documented and verified by both the press and eventually investigators from the intelligence committees of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate in 1997.
No one in the media, or in government, even dares to challenge me on the subject anymore. I don’t relish reliving these painful experiences. So, I will be happily brief with these events here.
In December of 1975, I “met” a very beautiful woman, who was a career contract agent for the CIA. She kept this secret from me for five months. Her name was Teddy, and she had been sent to meet and recruit me by unconventional means. We became engaged and shortly after that she revealed that her people wanted me to work for them, and that they were the U.S. Government. What they wanted me to do was to be promoted to detective, which would happen soon anyway, and I would eventually be placed into a special position acting as a clearing officer for the Narcotics Intelligence Network (NIN) as part of my duties. This was a unit that had to authorize the service of any search warrant by Los Angeles Police Department officers to make sure that it did not interfere with the operations of other law enforcement of government agencies. I had been loaned to the Wilshire Division narcotics unit twice for a total of four months, and had also been loaned from uniformed service into detective positions where I was trained in automobile theft, burglary, and robbery-homicide investigations for shorter periods. But it was in narcotics where I had shown the most aptitude and zeal.
Teddy had made it clear that her people were focused entirely on a guns-for-drugs trade, and that they had no interest in stopping or seizing certain narcotics shipments. She had received letters from Iran at our apartment and even been taken out to dinner by an Iranian Prince, by the name of Shariar, whom I met in the fall of 1976. This was before the 1978 Revolution that overthrew the Shah. Shariar was assassinated in Paris in 1980 after the Revolution. Teddy, who was an American, had grown up in Los Angeles as a childhood friend of one of the Shah’s nieces.
Once it became clear to me that I would be asked to allow narcotics to be delivered to the street, I flatly and categorically refused. It would have been a violation of a code of honor which had been deeply instilled in me. Within short order my fiancée disappeared, and I was to spend the last two years of my five-year tenure at the Police Department in constant fear. It had been revealed, and was to be confirmed years later, that, throughout its history, the CIA had routinely contracted key personnel in major police departments around the country and also placed CIA officers under cover as a standard procedure, even though it was illegal. Of course, with the passage of the Patriot Act after the attacks of September, 11th 2001, all these things were made legal…. But I digress.
I kept copious records of everything. It was evidence. I used the skills and discipline of a detective to build and maintain a record that could not be disputed. It would be eighteen years, however, before I finally got a chance to use it.
I will let what I wrote in Crossing the Rubicon speak for how my career at the Police Department ended. At the time of my resignation, I was earning the highest-possible evaluations within it, had no pending disciplinary actions, and had just been certified for promotion to the rank of Detective. I had received thirteen citations for bravery, investigative skills, tactics and attention to duty. This was contrary to what government apologists, like the American journalist David Corn, were to write about me in publications like The Nation many years later. In 2003,Corn wrote that I had been fired from the Police Department as a mental case.
Although officially on staff at the LAPD Academy, I had been unofficially loaned to OCID (Organized Crime Intelligence Division) since shortly after January 1977 when Teddy, announcing the start of a new operation, had suddenly disappeared. She left many people, including me, baffled and twisting in the breeze. I became the regular recipient of harassing phone calls, burglaries, surveillances, and threats. The OCID detectives had been
pressuring me hard for information about her and her activities. It was information I couldn’t have given them even if I had known it. Hoping against hope that I would find some way to understand her involvement with the CIA, the LAPD, the royal family of Iran, the Mafia, and drugs, I set out alone into eight days of Dantean revelations that have determined the course of my life ever since.
… Arriving in New Orleans [July 1977]I found her living in an apartment across the river in Gretna. Equipped with a scrambler phone and night vision devices, and working from sealed communiqués delivered by Naval and Air Force personnel from nearby Belle Chasse Naval Air Station, she was involved in something truly ugly.
She was arranging for large quantities of weapons to be loaded onto ships leaving for Iran. The ships were owned by a company that is today a subsidiary of Halliburton — Brown and Root. She was working with Mafia associates of New Orleans Mafia boss Carlos Marcello to coordinate the movement of service boats that were bringing large quantities of heroin into the city. The boats arrived regularly at Marcello-controlled docks, unmolested by the New Orleans police she introduced me to. Through her I also met hard-hat divers, military men, Brown and Root employees, former Green Berets, and CIA personnel.
The service boats were retrieving heroin from oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and international waters, oil rigs built and serviced by Brown and Root. More than once during the eight days I spent in New Orleans, I met and ate at restaurants with Brown and Root employees who were boarding those ships and leaving for Iran within days. Once, while leaving a bar and apparently having asked the wrong question, I was shot at in an attempt to scare me off. It was not the last time I was to be shot at, nor was it the last punishment I would ever suffer for asking questions.
Disgusted and heartbroken at witnessing my fiancée and my government smuggling drugs, I ended the relationship. Then I returned to Los Angeles and reported all the activity I had seen — including the connections between Brown and Root and the CIA — to LAPD intelligence officers. They promptly told me that I was crazy and needed to see a psychiatrist they would gladly provide.
One of the smartest things I ever did was to avoid the offered “friendly” psychiatrist and find my own while securing a much needed rest at an LA-area psychiatric hospital. The psychiatrist there correctly diagnosed me with combat fatigue and reported that I was not crazy, just battered. Aside from a dozen tests which all showed that I was both sane and stable, the opinion of one psychiatrist was heavily influenced by a secret tape recording I had made of my fiancée discussing her operations. Upon learning of that tape, OCID promptly seized and destroyed it. Only the integrity of the psychiatrist in a written record saved me when he reported that I had played the tape for him.
I was returned to full duty, without restrictions, in the late fall of 1977. In my remaining fourteen months with LAPD, I earned the highest rating reports possible, was certified for promotion to detective, and assigned to a month-long school for those about to be promoted. As far as LAPD was concerned I could walk on water. More importantly, as a result of a meticulous paper trail I had compiled with the help of my attorney, Tim Callahan, the City of Los Angeles ultimately ruled that my hospital time had “Injured on Duty” status: it had arisen from what the OCID detectives had subjected me to, and what they had asked me to do. I had been following orders and not acting on my own.
The impending fall of the Shah of Iran in the late autumn of 1978 prompted me to renew my efforts to find out what had happened to my life. Forced out of LAPD under threat of death at the end of 1978, with no pending disciplinary actions, and just days away from promotion, I resigned and made complaints to LAPD’s Internal Affairs Division and to the LA office of the FBI. My decision to resign had been made for me when, after delivering a tape-recorded death threat to an aide to Chief Daryl F. Gates and asking for a meeting, I
was told, “The Chief is busy. He can give you five or ten minutes in a week to ten days if you’re still alive.”
I, and my attorney, wrote to politicians; we wrote to the Department of Justice and the CIA; we contacted the LA Times. The result was less than satisfactory.
Both the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, then under the command of the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Ted Gunderson, and the LAPD subsequently made official statements that I was crazy. History has come to my defense in spades.
According to a 1981 two-part feature story in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, it was revealed that the FBI in New Orleans had taken my ex-fiancée into custody and then released her before classifying their investigation without further action.
Former New Orleans Crime Commissioner Aaron Cohen told reporter Randall Sullivan that he found my description of events perfectly plausible after his 30 years of studying Louisiana’s organized crime operations and their intelligence connections.
To this day a 1986 CIA report prepared as a result of my complaint remains classified and exempt from release, pursuant to Executive Order of the President in the interests of national security, and because it would reveal the identities of CIA agents. I filed a Freedom of Information Act appeal for its release, without success. A copy of the Agency’s letter of refusal is posted [on the archival]website. [www.fromthewilderness.com]
On October 26, 1981, while in the basement of the West Wing of the White House, I reported what I had seen in New Orleans to my then friend and UCLA classmate Craig Fuller, who was serving as Assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs. Again there was no substantive official response. Fuller went on to become chief of staff to Vice President Bush from 1981 to 1985.
Even as my old college friend invited me into the White House, a Marine Lt. Colonel, named Oliver North, was just setting up secret operations to aid to so-called Contra rebels in Central America. That operation, lasting for seven years, was to become what the world would know as Iran-Contra. And during the period from 1981 through 1987, U.S. domestic cocaine consumption was to increase from 60 to 600 metric tons a year. What did I say in that meeting to my old friend? I said that the CIA was involved in bringing drugs into the country, and that it was wrong to do so. Again, I was a little too early. What did he say in response? - absolutely nothing.
All of us who have labored to bring Peak Oil to the table of public discussion understand what it is like to be called crazy and dismissed. What I found was that my experience at dealing with such epithets and tactics prepared me well for what was to come later.
The first four years after my resignation from the Police Department in 1979 were ones of intense struggle. Being a whistleblower, I found it extremely difficult to find employment. And yet I remained obsessed with finding an explanation for what I had seen, and obtaining some form of vindication. In late 1979, I stumbled across an article in the back pages of The L.A. Times headlined Guns for Drugs Trade Booming Reports Disclose.
That article, written by a reporter named Tom Renner from Newsday, contained a host of corroborations for my allegations… allegations which had been dismissed as pure psychotic fantasy by Police Department, the FBI and the press. I learned two important lessons from that. The first was that one becomes much more credible if one can find corroboration for one’s allegation in a reputable news source. The second was that buried within mainstream news sources were precious nuggets of information that if located, understood and pursued, could reveal the actual intent and direction of government actions, as opposed the glossy, slick and sterile patina of government and media spin.
I was near-destitute at the time that I found Renner’s article, having been laid off from my first writing and research job. With my own documents and Renner’s article, along with now-open lines to Congressional investigators thanks to Renner, I was a much more substantial threat. It was then that full-scale economic pressure was brought to bear. Within the intelligence community it has long been a standard practice to cut whistleblowers, who were gaining traction, from all means of financial sustenance.
I could not find a job anywhere. Reference checks from my job applications always resulted in either a visit, or a phone call from the Police Department’s intelligence detectives to prospective employers who would say something like. Well, he wasn’t fired but he is definitely mentally unstable. I was even arrested on my second day on the job as a convenience-store clerk for selling alcohol to a 6’1” bearded minor who was 20 years and eleven months old. I was fired from that job the same day in mid 1980, and was forced to file bankruptcy in December of that year.
It became necessary to adapt. So, while working whatever menial jobs I could find between 1980 and 1987, I became a freelance writer. In doing so, I combined the investigative skills I had acquired as a policeman to writing. It paid off. I was, over the course of those years, to be published in The Los Angeles Times, The Los Angeles Daily News, several national magazines, and I spent several years as the West Coast Correspondent for a Journal on drug and alcohol dependence. Even though the pay was meager, it was valuable on-the-job training.
From 1988 through about 1992, I tried to forget and leave behind what I had learned. For the first two years of this period, I was an executive with a private security firm running contracts for government agencies in Los Angeles, including the City of Los Angeles and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It was good money, and life became easier, but I could never completely shed my obsession for finding out what was so corrupt in my government. 1992 and 1993 were pivotal years for me. The American business tycoon, Ross Perot, announced that he would run for thePresidency in 1992, and I instantly volunteered in the campaign. Perot had been outspoken about CIA drug trafficking, even saying that America had become more addicted to drug money than to the drugs themselves. I had spoken to Perot twice on the phone. His long dedication to finding and repatriating American prisoners of war and MIAs from the Vietnam era had also marked him as a man of integrity.
Because I had been a freelance writer, I was named as the Los Angeles County press spokesman for the campaign. Since Los Angeles was the second-largest media market in the world, I was effectively the State press spokesman at a time when Perot was edging ahead of both Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush in the polls. I was on CNN regularly, and even made the pages of the People Magazine. But our hopes for a real and honest redemption of integrity in Washington were dashed when Perot suddenly withdrew from the race in July, 1992. My compensation was that I was asked to appear in a theatrical documentary called The Last Party, starring Robert Downey, Jr. I was filmed with Downey and actor/director, Sean Penn, discussing the CIA’s role in drug trafficking.
It was in 1993 that I became aware of the murder of Marine Colonel, Jim Sabow,at El Toro Marine Air Station (California) in 1991, which had been officially (and absurdly) ruled a suicide. Sabow’s crime was that he had discovered and complained about CIA-owned C130 aircraft flying as much as 2,000 kilos of cocaine into the base at a time. I became involved with
the Sabow family and congressional staffers investigating the mysterious deaths and suicides of what were to eventually number 109 military personnel. Many of them occurred in connection with various covert operations, and a significant number (around 15) were connected in one way or another to drug smuggling.
The families of murdered servicemen and women came to call themselves Until We Have Answers group. Over the course of 18 months, I met with maybe fifteen different families, and reviewed the files, medical reports and autopsy photographs. As I have found with most government cover-ups since, the investigative reports were shoddy and didn’t pass even the most superficial sniff tests. The group put relentless pressure on Congress to reopen the cases. Eventually, it obtained the backing of several hundred members of the House of Representatives and more than fifty Senators, calling for the reopening of every single case by the Pentagon. The families were overjoyed and expected a fairy tale ending.
What happened? During a Congressional recess at the end of 1994, the Department of Defense did reopen all of the cases, but within a matter of weeks closed them all and reached exactly the same conclusions as before. When those reports were released in January of 1995, there was an entirely new Congress, and so there was no one to challenge the insult. The new Congress had no obligation to the families, and no resolution passed by the old Congress was binding on the new one. All that had happened was that the wills, pocketbooks and emotional resources of the families had been spent.
In July of 1994, I was married for the first and only time at the home of Mrs. Francis Gary Powers, widow of the famed U2 pilot, who had been shot down over the USSR in 1960. For about 18 months in 1994 and 1995, my wife and I lived near Washington, D.C. and I began to make my first serious connections with congressional staff and members of Congress. But I returned to Los Angeles in late 1995 to rebuild my life after a separation and divorce.
In August of 1996, an international uproar exploded after Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Gary Webb, of The San Jose Mercury News published a series called Dark Alliance, which confirmed, using actual government documents, that throughout the Iran-Contra era from roughly 1982 through 1989, the CIA had smuggled thousands of tons of cocaine into the United States, specifically directing and protecting huge shipments to a drug dealer in California. Nowhere was the uproar greater than in Los Angeles, where Freeway Ricky Ross had built an empire throughout the minority neighborhoods of the south-central part of the town.
Webb became an overnight global sensation. Prominent members of Congress held boisterous public town-hall meetings,and the outrage neared boiling point. As more revelations came in, the situation was threatening to get out of hand. What Webb had discovered in his series was no less than the same network of covert operatives that I had encountered so many years before. What few understood was that this network, far from being rogue, was an institutional part of the American economic paradigm, and that a complete, thorough and fearless investigation would never happen.
The national furor over Webb’s material in a book (Dark Alliance) was to rock the country. In November of 1996, it forced then CIA Director, John Deutch, to make a public appearance at a Town Hall meeting at Locke High School in South-Central Los Angeles. I had raised my head immediately after Webb’s stories broke, and was laying in ambush.
On November 15, 1996, in a gymnasium filled with perhaps a thousand angry local residents, Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald called on The man in the leather jacket to speak, and a microphone was handed to me. Live cameras from C-SPAN and ABC network news recorded what followed.
“I am a former Los Angeles Police officer. I worked narcotics in South Central Los Angeles, and I can tell you, Director Deutch, emphatically and without equivocation that the CIA has been smuggling drugs into this country for a long time…” I was interrupted as the room exploded into cheers and shouts of protests that took Congresswoman McDonald several minutes to quell before I could continue.
“I will refer you to three specific Agency operations, known as Amadeus, Pegasus and Watchtower… “, I continued, with only a focus that eighteen years of going unheard could produce and challenged the CIA Director to examine my material and the documents I possessed. Deutch absolutely wilted on live television, and was later to be passed over for his long-coveted appointment as Secretary of Defense. It was this incident that propelled me to a position from which, in 1998, I could launch my newsletter From The Wilderness, and to be dulyled to the uglier truth of Peak Oil.
Investigators from both the House and Senate intelligence committees were flown to Los Angeles. The records, which I had so meticulously kept and catalogued, were copied, and I was promised a full and impartial hearing. I was promised that I would finally be allowed to testify. My hopes did get raised when I was asked to submit a written testimony for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, but the damning nature of my case, and the care I had taken to keep myself and my research from being contaminated or tainted with bad or inaccurate information was too explosive. Open public hearings were never held, and I was never called. My written testimony had proven too hot to handle.
The Congress delayed and stalled through 1997 and 1998, and never openly addressed the issue. The CIA’s Inspector General’s office did release two exceptionally damning volumes of documents, which absolutely vindicated Gary Webb. But, coming almost two years after Webb’s series and book, the mainstream media and Congress largely ignored the findings, choosing instead to focus on a stain on Monica Lewinski’s blue dress, as President Bill Clinton faced impeachment charges in Congress.
Life became hell for Gary Webb, who was my friend and a courageous journalist. Under pressure from the government and corporate-owned media, Webb’s paper retreated from his stories, and Webb himself became a pariah. He could not find employment anywhere as a journalist, even for local throwaway newspapers, in spite of having a Pulitzer Prize. Though nothing concrete ever surfaced to discredit either him or his work, in December 2004, as my first book Crossing the Rubicon became a national bestseller, Gary took his own life in Sacramento California. I delivered a eulogy at his services.
All that had come before in my life was to be excellent training and preparation for what I was to learn and do after I discovered Peak Oil in late 2001.
As the CIA-drugs scandal played out in 1997-8, it became clear that most people had very little understanding of how government worked or what they could expect. In early 1998, I wrote an eight-page newsletter which I called From The Wilderness (FTW) and mailed it to 68 names that I had a acquired since my confrontation with CIA Director Deutch. I asked that those who liked it send me $25, stating that I would do the same thing the next month. I did that for more than eight years. By the time that FTW ceased operations in late 2006, we had more than 20,000 subscribers in forty countries, including academics from universities worldwide and 60 members of the U.S. Congress. By that time, FTW had done more original reporting (from seven countries) on Peak Oil than any other publication in existence. What I had learned by then was that Peak Oil was the one common thread that linked everything together and made it understandable.
All of more than 100 original Peak Oil stories remain archived at
Between 1998 and late 2001, FTW had published many detailed investigations and exposés, some of which had been picked up by mainstream press. We had looked in detail at CIA drug-smuggling and broken a story about 28 C130 aircraft that had been smuggled into the drug trade by the CIA through the U.S. Forest Service. The aircraft were supposed to be used to fight forest fires but had turned up all over the world full of cocaine. One, operated by Aeropostale in Mexico had been seized with a billion dollars worth of cocaine onboard. I began to focus deeply on the economy, and received excellent instruction from former insiders from U.S. Army Special Forces, the CIA, and even the banking system. Great knowledge about how the economy really worked was gained from former Assistant Secretary of Housing and investment banker, Catherine Austin Fitts. In 1999 and 2000, I did a series of investigative pieces, looking into how the U.S. banking system systematically had looted Russia after the collapse of the Soviet empire. It earned me an invitation to attend a conference sponsored by the Russian Ministry of Finance outside Moscow in the spring of 2001. That was my first trip to any country other than Mexico or Canada in my life. Since then, I have been to twelve other countries; lectured in eight, and reported from five, all on the subject of Peak Oil.
Other stories we did involved the publishing of accidentally discovered documents, showing how the convicted CIA spy, Edwin Wilson, had been convicted on the basis of perjured testimony from a CIA Executive Director. Our investigation and reportage helped secure his release from Federal prison. One of the most memorable stories I did with a researcher named Dan Hopsicker was to reveal that Governor George W. Bush of Texas had a State airplane for personal use that had once been owned by the legendary drug dealer, Barry Seal. That story was picked up by the Associated Press.
Throughout 2000 and the first part of 2001, I focused on the highly-controversial 2000 election campaign and fledgling presidency. In January, as Bush announced his new cabinet, I recognized immediately that it was a war cabinet. And, although I had not yet learned about Peak Oil, I did note the urgency with which former Halliburton CEO, Dick Cheney, was named to head the controversially-secret National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG), whose minutes and proceedings remain classified to this day after two U.S. Supreme Court rulings. One of the advisers to that body was our much-missed friend and colleague, the late Matthew Simmons.
For most of the year, continuing with a focus on economic reporting, I and the FTW staff concentrated on what was increasingly becoming an unsustainable and totally corrupt economic model – a criminal pyramid scheme. I became so concerned about the levels of corruption and unsustainability of it that I issued my first-ever economic alert, warning of an imminent stock market crash on September 9th 2001. That crash did occur but it was blamed on the attacks that were to take place two days later.
As I watched the second plane strike the World Trade Center on September 11th every part of me reacted. I was raised in an Air Force family, and I knew that such an event was impossible under the NORAD operating rules and procedures in place since the 1950s. There
had been too long a delay between the hijackings and the second strike. I was on a radio show that day saying that something was wrong. I opened a file and started gathering press reports and official statements that were laden with conflicting and contradictory official statements. That launched an investigation and a series of investigative stories that resulted in the publication of my book Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil in September, 2004 (New Society). In that book, I was to irrefutably link the attacks of 9-11 to Peak Oil, and both to a hopelessly corrupt economic paradigm that was doomed to fail because of globally declining stocks of fossil fuel energy, ridiculously cooked books and the explosion of financial derivatives. That book, 600 pages long with a thousand footnotes, was placed in the Harvard Business School library in 2005.
Rubicon has never been acknowledged or rebutted by the US Government or mainstream media. I focused my 9-11 research on a key set of demonstrable and (to this day) unchallenged and irrefutable facts, showing that in May of 2001 Vice-President Cheney had been placed in charge of all war game exercises for the entire U.S. military (contravening 50 years of accepted practice). Following that, Cheney had scheduled a series of US Air Force war game exercises (now known to total five), which had transferred the bulk of American fighter aircraft out of the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS), where the attacks had occurred, to bases in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Iceland in a drill for a Russian over-the-pole strategic bomber attack… the kind of attack my father had trained for fifty years earlier.
This was preposterous for two reasons. First, the Soviet Union had ceased to exist years before, and Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles had become the current threat. Second, as was to be shown in spades, the United States was awash in memoranda warning that terrorists were planning to hijack aircraft and crash them into the World Trade Center at exactly the same time that Cheney deliberately moved most of the USAF fighter response aircraft, needed to prevent such an event, out of the region. Cheney had also been placed in charge of terrorism-response by President Bush.
Over the next three years, I played the role of detective, and was to establish conclusively that during the attacks, war games directly and personally controlled by Cheney had not only inserted 22 false radar blips onto air traffic controllers’ radar screens, but the USAF was even conducting a live-fly hijack drill (Vigilant Warrior) with an airliner actually posing as a hijacked aircraft in the area, at the exact same time as the attacks occurred. Confirmation for some of this came directly in the form of an email from an Air Force spokesman, Major Don Arias, whose brother, a New York City firefighter, was at that moment inside the World Trade Center. Frustrated beyond belief at the lack of warning to occupants of the South Tower, Arias actually used his cell phone to call his brother, and tell him to get the hell out because a second plane was on the way.
The first hijacking (American Airlines Flight 11) had been confirmed at 8:14 AM. That should have brought the whole region to readiness, and put fighters in the air,providing the Twin Towers with air cover in less than ten minutes. The second hijacking (AA Flight 175) was confirmed at 8:42 AM. There were only 17 minutes in between the first impact and the second, but it had been 49 minutes since the first hijacking had been confirmed and the time American Flt 175 finally hit the South Tower.
Since I was also able to confirm that a number of foreign intelligence services had been screaming at the U.S. Government for months that hijacked aircraft would be crashed into the World Trade Center in the week of September 9th this was inconceivable. The indications that
the U.S. Government knew well what was coming were also confirmed by massive insider trades on global financial markets in the week prior, betting that the stocks of American and United Airlines were going to plummet. My reportage on the insider trading caused a global stir, which has never been adequately explained.
Someone had opened the door and laid out a red carpet. The Air Force was totally paralyzed for almost an hour. The net effect of the war games was that, when the attacks occurred, there were only an estimated eight fighters in the region (flying in pairs), and as many as 27 possible hijacked aircraft on FAA and USAF radar screens to chose from.
Crossing the Rubicon provided a detailed and historical look at all the events leading up to and immediately following the attacks. But its first chapter was called Petroleum Man. The book analyzed, investigated and documented the events leading to 9/11, the attacks themselves, and what would happen over the ensuing three years, It drew a map, which accurately depicts the world we are living in today.
I deliberately chose not to focus on what are commonly perceived as the two biggest arguments offered by so-called 9-11 Truthers, building collapse and an argument that no plane hit the Pentagon. I eliminated the first because of the fact that all physical evidence that might legally prove either demolition of the towers and WTC 7 (a building that nothing had hit) had been destroyed. No argument dealing with building collapse would be admissible in court. Rubicon was and remains a legally prosecutable court case with admissible evidence. And since there were an estimated 400 motorists on Interstate 395, the freeway going around the Pentagon who had seen American Flight 77 strike the building, it was pointless to pursue that thread.
The 9-11 Truth Movement has devolved into a three-ring circus, filled with government initiated disinformation, circus barker profiteers and snake oil salesmen. Choosing to preserve the integrity of my work, I completely disassociated myself from the movement in late 2004 and stopped talking about it altogether in 2005. I concluded then, correctly, that even if the will was mustered to pursue 9/11, circumstances would soon present us with a far more daunting and imminent challenge… the collapse of human industrial civilization.
About a month after the attacks, I was contacted by geologist Dale Allen Pfeiffer. He wanted to talk to me about something called Peak Oil. He sent me large amounts of data, charts and graphs, compiled by Colin Campbell, Jean Laherrère, and M. King Hubbert
But the thing that he sent me that unnerved me the most was a link to Richard Duncan’s The Peak of World Oil Production and the Road to the Olduvai Gorge. It was the first Peak Oil document I ever read, and it changed everything for me overnight. Immediately thereafter, I was led to Jay Hanson’s Dieoff web-site, and it was game over. Peak Oil was the Rosetta Stone, which for me made it possible to integrate and fully comprehend the work I had been doing on covert operations, the economy, and geopolitics. It has not given me a bad translation yet.
A quote from that 2000 scientific paper rings much truer today than it did then. Perhaps the most widespread evil is the Western view of man and nature. Among us, it is widely believed that man is apart from nature, superior to it; indeed, evolution is a process to create man and seat him on the apex of the cosmic pinnacle. He views the Earth as a treasury that he can plunder at will. And, indeed, the behavior of Western people, notably since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, gives incontrovertible evidence to support this assertion.
It was all so obvious and became clear almost in an instant. Not only that, but less than a month after the attacks, it was clear that the Bush Administration had decided to make Saddam Hussein’s Iraq its number-one enemy. Iraq possessed the second-largest known oil reserves on the planet, and I was already aware from my previous writings that Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with Al Qaeda or the attacks.
Within short order, Dale Allen Pfeiffer became FTW’s Energy Editor, and his writings for us in from 2001 through 2003 proved to be prophetic in the extreme. He wrote one article, Eating Fossil Fuels, which remains the most distressing article I have ever read. It showed that in the industrialized world of to-day, ten calories of hydrocarbon energy are required for every calorie of food we consume. He was truly my first Peak Oil teacher, and I and those who have followed my work all these years, owe him more than I can ever measure. Unfortunately, as has happened with so many who have labored on the field of Peak Oil, the emotional toll of seeing the future burned him out. I have lost touch with him but am grateful that his was the one name that Director Chris Smith did not cut out of my monologues in “Collapse”. Pfeiffer has a well-earned a place in our hall of unsung heroes. It was he who led me to Colin Campbell, Matthew Simmons, and an organization called ASPO, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil.
My second great teacher was Colin Campbell. I contacted him in January of 2002, and found him to be a most-genial, patient and skilled tutor. FTW had published its first Peak Oil story The Background is Oil by Pfeiffer on December 18th of 2001, not quite a month since I had filmed my lecture at Portland State University, which became The Truth and Lies of 9/11. In that video, I interviewed US Representatives Cynthia McKinney, Barbara Lee, and Ron Paul of Texas; the same man who will soon challenge the Federal Reserve as Chairman of a U.S. House Subcommittee responsible for oversight of monetary policy. (This is not at all a separate subject.)
Between 2002 and 2006 I hammered on the parallel themes of Peak Oil and economic corruption. My understanding of both issues offered a unique and very useful perspective, which allowed me to accurately predict a great many events accurately. Not the least of them was the collapse of the US housing market.
My first ASPO conference was in Paris in May of 2003. It was there that I first shook hands with Colin Campbell and his wife Bobbins (aka The General), Jean Laherrère, Kjell Aleklett, Ali Samsam Bakhtiari, Chris Skrebowski, Ken Deffeyes and a man who was to become an exceptionally good friend until his death, Matthew Simmons. Between 2003 and 2006, I was to report on ASPO events in Paris, Berlin and Edinburgh and from all over the U.S. In 2005, FTW dispatched correspondent Jamey Hecht to Lisbon to cover the annual ASPO Conference there. Our reporting was always well-received by the movement’s leaders, and Jamey did a terrific job.
Our reporting endeared FTW to the movement. We were able to clearly articulate the key issues and expose efforts by established government and business leaders to hide or deny the facts. FTW was being taken quite seriously as our congressional subscriber-base expanded and professors at universities in more than 40 countries became subscribers.
There were many high-points during these years but perhaps the most memorable for me was a June 2005 private meeting with Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R) of Maryland. He was a lawmaker and a scientist by training, who had taken on the subject of Peak oil, and had been making regular speeches into the Congressional record on its significance. When I met with Bartlett in his office, I saw that he had made enlargements of two maps that I had recently made and published at FTW. He indicated that he was taking those maps, along with other key research on Peak Oil, into a private meeting with President Bush. That meeting took place on June 30, 2005 and was reported on in The Energy Bulletin.
For reasons I quite understand, I was not told what, if anything, the President had to say about my work.
Throughout its history, FTW had never stopped doing investigative exposés of government corruption. We issued a total of four economic alerts, all of which had proved remarkably accurate when compared to later events. Perhaps none was more prophetic than our final alert of June 16, 2006 entitled “The Abyss Awaits”, which warned in detail of the housing market collapse and ubiquitous fraud that was to be partially exposed in 2008. I specifically warned our readers to get out of debt as much as possible, avoid exposure to the housing bubble, buy precious metals and liquidate investments in the stock market. At the time, FTW was also hip-deep in the biggest exposé of our history, the cover up, or the friendly-fire killing, of American football hero Pat Tillman in Afghanistan.
In April of 2006, Mary Tillman, mother of the NFL star, who had left his multi-million dollar contract to enlist in the US Army after 9-11, contacted me. She was trying to reach FTW’s military Affairs Editor, retired U.S. Army Special Forces Master Sergeant, Stan Goff. She was convinced that the government was lying to her. I visited Mrs. Tillman almost immediately and copied more than 2,000 pages of heavily-redacted military records. I took the copies to FTW’s new offices in Ashland, Oregon. I flew Goff out, and we began to decipher the cover up. Goff’s painstaking work resulted in a seven-part series, which almost completely unraveled a host of crimes as a desperate Bush administration sought to control the damage from the killing at a time when anti-war sentiment in the U.S. and globally was at fever pitch.
As editor and publisher, I threw the full weight of our resources behind Goff’s amazingly detailed deconstruction of the official version. In doing so, I was to put FTW and my own life on the line. In late June of 2006, our offices were burglarized and all seven of our computers smashed beyond recognition. The computers had been opened and the hard drives removed, so that sledge hammers could be more readily applied.
Aware that my death could prevent the full publication of the series, and having other reasons to suspect that my life was in danger, I opted to leave the country immediately… so that the publication could continue. My death would have effectively shut FTW down. I chose Venezuela because its President, Hugo Chavez, had, more than any other world leader, opposed the crimes of the Bush Administration openly and defiantly for many years. That decision proved fateful. All seven parts of the series were published, and they became the backbone of a congressional investigation headed by Representative Henry Waxman, which resulted in the disciplining of nine senior officers (three of them generals) and what many believed was the ultimate resignation of Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, almost immediately after the November 2006 election.
My four months in Venezuela were to come at great personal cost. The people who I left in charge fought valiantly to hold things together. But others who had control over the finances effectively looted the business. Allegations had been made against me that I had smashed my own computers and been guilty of sexual harassment against a female employee, who was later determined to have been directly linked to the sabotage effort. In the meantime, I was poisoned in Venezuela while awaiting help from the Chavez Government – which was never to come. Those who have followed the travails of Julian Assange of Wikileaks understand the mechanism. I stayed in Venezuela until my health forced a return to the United States, after the Tillman series and congressional hearings had run their course.
I was poisoned twice. Once with a native drug called burundanga, the root drug of scopolamine and also – according to an intelligence source – with a form of methyl mercury, which was causing all of my glandular and lymph systems to shut down.
From the Wilderness ceased operations at the end of 2006, but great pains were taken by many loyal followers to see that all of its work was forever archived on the internet.
Those matters are still not closed. But after three years and the expenditure of more than $100,000, my name stands untarnished. As I started making my first public appearances after the release of Collapse in September 2009, I went from city to city, begging anyone from the mainstream media to investigate what had happened in Oregon. They would have had to acknowledge a criminally (and admittedly) falsified police report, multiple counts of perjury, a series of newspaper stories used to tarnish my reputation planted by a local editor later convicted of multiple counts of fraud and unlawful sex with a minor, and particularly odious judicial and legal misconduct. There have been no takers. Political persecutions are as real as Peak Oil.
The years 2007 and the first half of 2008 were all about regaining my health (which is now excellent) and restoring my reputation. But in June of 2008, an old friend, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, who was to be the Green Party’s Presidential nominee that year, suggested that I might be a good running mate. Though I had not the slightest interest in public office, it became clear that what was needed, as Peak Oil, resource depletion, and economic collapse were moving to center stage, was a detailed presidential energy policy – a platform. I spent the months from June through January of 2009 feverishly writing my second book, determined to use nothing more than simple arithmetic to establish that mankind was on the brink of a potential extermination event. I believe that event is now well underway.
I still had enemies however. The first two attempts to see the book published were sabotaged, eventually necessitating a re-titling and updating of the book under its current and permanent title, Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World” (Chelsea Green, 2009). I dedicated the book jointly to M. King Hubbert and to former President Jimmy Carter, who had spoken so forcefully when there was still time to do something significant. I sent Carter a copy, and a thank-you letter he sent me personally is proudly displayed to this day in my office.
It was in late January of 2009 that Director Chris Smith approached me wanting to do a film about my various and sundry escapades over the years. I told him that everything I had done paled in comparison to the imminent collapse of industrial civilization. I asked him and producer Kate Noble to sit down in my living room for that first meeting, because I had another story to tell them that was far more important.
The rest is history.
There are two seminal quotes which linger with me now as I continue my efforts at a new web venture, Collapsenet, (http://www.collapsenet.com) which is focused on preparing as many as possible around the world for what is to come. We began operations in June of 2010 and, as of this writing, now have active members in 57 countries.
The first quote is from Colin Campbell. -- “The species homo sapiens might not become extinct, but the sub species of Petroleum Man most certainly will.”
The second quote is from Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. -- “Nature which governs the whole will soon change all things which thou seest, and out of their substance will make other things, and again other things from the substance of them, in order that the world may be ever new.” Marcus Aurelius Verus - "Meditations" ca. 167 A.D.