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PRESS RELEASE


The Question That Must Be Asked
On the Porter Goss Nomination

Sept. 13, 2004 (EIRNS)—The Lyndon LaRouche Political Action Committee released the following question, on the eve of hearings scheduled on the nomination of Florida Congressman Porter Goss as head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

During the early 1980s, a Federal task force from the Tampa-based U.S. Attorney's office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs, and the Internal Revenue Service investigated leading personnel of the Lee County, Florida Sheriff's Department. Undersheriff David Wilson was among the top officials of the approximately 1,000-member sheriff's department who were being reportedly probed by the task force and a grand jury, on charges of international narcotics trafficking and related financial and other crimes. Cocaine planes were landing in Lee County, while sheriff's deputies were reportedly being deployed away from the landing sites.

This was the take-off time for the crimes of "Iran-Contra"—the audacious cocaine-running, gun-running, money-laundering geopolitical enterprise led by then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and identified with Oliver North.

According to many reliable accounts, the Lee County investigation was squelched. U.S. Attorney Robert W. Merkle reportedly said that people from the "intelligence industry" were putting obstacles in the way of the probe. Law enforcement personnel were fired and moved out of the way. Over years, legal attacks and other forms of extreme pressure hit the Fort Myers News Press and other local news agencies, countering the exposure and potential prosecutions. Local reporters still express outright fear of discussing the matter. Law enforcement and other local public officials were repeatedly warned, you must stay away from this matter, this is off-limits.

Even now, over 20 years after this explosive case went off the tracks, veteran law enforcement officials, on both the Federal and local levels, still speak of being baffled, and express their shock and bitterness about this miscarriage of justice, under the pressure of higher-ups. They emphasize that the evidence of the cocaine and marijuana shipments, of their protection and supervision by Sheriff's Department personnel, was known to them directly, and was known to sheriff's deputies who complained.

Who aborted the case? What was "the intelligence industry" in that area, in that Iran-Contra era? Ask Porter Goss.

Porter Goss came to live in Lee County in 1971 after officially retiring from the Central Intelligence Agency. Several sites in the county, on nearby islands, and in the swamps to the east of Fort Meyers, had been reportedly used for training CIA people involved in the anti-Castro Cuban adventures during the 1960s.

From the 1960s into the 1970s, Porter Goss and several other CIA veterans reportedly acquired, for their own use and profit, some of the Agency's Florida land bases and nearby areas. Backed by two of his old CIA colleagues, Goss became the political manager (and the Mayor, etc.) of Sanibel Island, in Lee County. CIA operatives Al Johns and Wilbur "Bud" Cole emerged as owners of the Punta Gorda Isles development in neighboring Charlotte County. Other operatives from CIA, from the Defense Intelligence Agency and other intelligence sections, figured as among the new "land barons" in the area.

In 1982, at the height of the Federal probe into the Sheriff's Department personnel, then-Gov. Bob Graham appointed Goss a Commissioner of Lee County.

Goss was the wealthy, socially-connected leader among those intelligence community barons then occupying the islands and swamps — the "intelligence industry" in that time and place. He must be asked, who squelched the investigation of these crimes?