connection between Mohamed Atta and ‘The Godfather’ of
Today he is all but
forgotten, but David B. Lindsay Jr., long-time owner and
publisher of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, intimate of
Presidents, and arms merchant to some of the most repressive regimes
on the planet, left an indelible mark on life in his
former fiefdom of Sarasota County.
And nowhere is his
stamp more visible than at the newspaper monopoly he created
and ran for three decades, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Coincidentally (or not), the paper's coverage area—from
Sarasota through Venice and down into Charlotte County—
happens to be exactly where Mohamed Atta spent most of his
time in the U.S.
David Lindsay was a
powerful force upholding a 70 year-old tradition of allowing covert operations to be carried out in secrecy
under strict media blackout on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
implications of this policy, especially when discussing the
9/11 terrorist cadre’s choice of flight schools in the U.S.,
Tribune's tradition, which we call "Spook Omerta," is
completely at odds with America’s traditional ideas about a
free press supporting the people’s right to know.
being a newspaper publisher and a
merchant of death—David B. Lindsay’s two chosen
professions—has a few internal contradictions.
Lindsay's Legacy: The
B. Lindsay was the “Boss Hawg” of Sarasota County.
Lindsay was known
man behind the scenes”
in Sarasota County aviation. Officials routinely
called legislation affecting the
Sarasota-Bradenton Airport "Lindsay's bill."
"I’m tired of being
the object of the power-mad desires of David Lindsay,”
Sarasota Airport manager Dick Wolf lashed
“He elects five out
of five city commissioners, five out of five county
commissioners. He affects 95% of all appointments. He
controls this community. He controls both political
parties. Nobody dares oppose him.”
Legacy” persists to this day in Sarasota County, a fact
clearly visible in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune's active
complicity in suppressing a huge international story about
the 9/11 attack which occurred right in the
Had the paper
reported the seizure of 43 lbs of heroin aboard the
Lear-jet of Wally Hilliard, owner of Huffman Aviation,
where three weeks earlier Mohamed Atta began flight
training, there would have been an international outcry demanding
investigation. It would have changed history.
But no such
headline exists. The story is still being kept from
the paper’s readers. And the American people
remain in the dark about an incident
say the least—to
any true understanding of the circumstances surrounding the
the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attack approaches,
big question is:
What’s to prevent it from happening again?
"Something fishy this way comes"
father of Sarasota Herald-Tribine publisher David Lindsay
Jr. was also a pilot.
Major David Lindsay
Sr. flew in World War I. Later, between 1925 and
1955, he was the owner and publisher of the Lindsay
family-owned Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
Linsay Sr. has
another distinction which reverberates across Southwest
Florida. At first, all we knew about his service during WWII
was what we read in the newspapers.
According to the
Dec 18 1942 Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Major David
Lindsay Sr. had been “assigned to duties abroad.”
He would be
“debarking soon,” the paper reported, before the end
of the year.
“Assigned to duties
abroad” is a tad vague. Not to mention that we can't in living memory
ever recall seeing
Perhaps we were
overly-suspicious because of the active disinformation—lies,
embedded right in the damn historical plaque out at the
Venice Municipal Airport. It was supposed to
be a joke, said the Venice Historical Society. But how it
might be funny eluded comprehension.
What the historical
plaque did do was hide the primary function of the
Venice Army Air Field—training squadrons of pilots, both
American and Chinese, for General Claire Chennault’s Flying
The Sarasota Air
Field and the St. Petersburg Airport did the same thing.
still pulling that “need to know’ business some 60 years after the fact, our
considered professional opinion is that, to use a technical term:
fishy's going on."
A Tempest in Every Teapot
Katherine Harris and Mohamed Atta became famous, Sarasota
was an unusual place. So we kept out ears open for any future hints about what “assigned
to duties abroad” really means.
There was a
“tempest in a teapot” regularly in Sarasota, like during the Teapot Dome
Famous front page detective William
Burns of the Burns Detective Agency came to Sarasota to lie
low after getting cross-wise with somebody he shouldn have during
the simmering scandal
which inaugurated the Warren Harding Administration
into the Roaring 20’s.
And John Ringling
North, whose Ringling Circus wintered at the Venice Airport
(while Ringling himself wintered in a huge mansion in Sarasota) was
usually good for a scandal worthy of center ring.
North was the OSS
Agent in WWII who cut
a deal with the Sicilian Mafia to allow the U.S.
invasion to cut through Sicily like... well, like butter. In
return, we gave them Cuba....and a player to be named later.
Actually his name was already known. It was Lucky Luciano.
Then during the
new recruits in the CIA were sent from Langley
to Ringling’s Clown College in Venice. Why, we wondered,
when we first learned this news, would the CIA send
its recruits to Clown College?
After someone told us the
answer, it seemed obvious: Why CIA recruits went to
Clown College was to learn sleight-of-hand.
"Wipe that froth off your face, freak-loon. We’ve got an
election to steal!"
biggest recent Sarasota “scandalette” (don’t go to the
dictionary; its a made up word) was how Florida Secretary of
State Katherine Harris single-handedly revived the stock of Maybelline
cosmetics while making George W. Bush President of the
United States at he same time.
multi-tasking... And yet we all sold her short.
For that bit of
sleight-of-hand, meanies like Alan Dershkowitz called her “corrupt”
and a “crook.”
While poking into
more serious matters, like why young Arab men were hanging
out in a town that looks like Sun City Arizona without the
hard-hitting nightlife, we'd heard her called worse.
In the steamier
precincts of Sarasota, citrus heiress Katherine Harris
was uncharitably known as the “town pump.”
A local doctor told
us Harris had come close to breaking up his marriage at a
party one night, when she'd sauntered over to him and sat
down on his lap uninvited, just as his wife entered the
We didn't want to believe it.
We felt a
catch in our throat. "Oh
sure," we felt like saying. "They call her the
town pump now. But she just has a really big heart."
That's the problem with Sarasota.
It's hard to take seriously.
Proving once again that fact is
stranger than fiction,
in an earlier
incarnation Katherine Harris had been the second
banana in a third-rate lounge act. Her job was to get
nightclub patrons to “jump out on the dance floor, and dance
Such is the state
of our American Republic. "You can't make this s-t up," as
rumor after the 2000 election? The one about Katherine
Harris having an affair with George W Bush?
It wasn’t true. It
But back to our
Mohamed Atta & the deep history of Sarasota County
"Assigned to duties abroad."
Why had the
Sarasota Herald-Tribune been so cagey about
what publisher David Lindsay Sr. did during WWII? Was it
case of someone who'd seen too many WWII posters reading
“Loose lips sink ships?”
We poked around.
Here's what we learned: Nope. It's worse that that. Much worse.
How much worse?
David Lindsay Sr.
was a top aide to a man repeatedly identified as the
individual responsible for creating America’s first
officially-sanctioned drug trafficking pipeline, General
Claire Chennault of the famous Flying Tigers.
In a book called
“Sarasota: a history,” Jeff LaHurd writes, "David Lindsay Sr.
served as a Major during World War II, and was stationed
for two years with the Flying Tigers in China before
commanding the Kunming Air Base, terminus of the "Hump"
supply route from India."
Chennault has the
dubious distinction of having been the pathblazer in heroin
trafficking by the American military and intelligence, using
the filthy lucre to fund anti-communist operations.
At least, that used to be the rationale.
Today there are no
more commies. But intel agency involvement in drug
trafficking is growing faster all the time.
Something hinky this way comes.
Herald-Tribune's post-9/11 coverage of the terrorist's
living in our midst was distinguished only for being
But what can you
expect from a publishing family seemingly flirting with the
worst faintly-fascistic tendencies in American life?
And we haven’t even
gotten to David Lindsay Jr. yet.
If there's a
tin-pot General with a yen for mowing down peasants who felt
thwarted, weapons-wise, during David Lindsay Jr.'s go-go
counterinsurgency years in the late '60’s and 70’s, we
haven't come across him.
In Bolivia. In Paraguay. El Salvador. Guatemala. Indonesia.
Every place in the world where poor people demanding basic
services can be painted as card-carrying members of the
international communist conspiracy, for fun and profit.
Indiana-born Lindsay was there to help.
How sure are we
about our impressions of David Lindsay Jr?
We’d bet the farm
Lindsay knew Rev. Moon. And we'd be right.
American Patriot... American Heroin
Chennault's involvement in Southwest
outlined in a previous story.
During WWII (and
even later) Chennault's Flying Tigers trained at the airport
in Venice; trained at the airport in Sarasota; and trained
airport in St. Petersburg,
known today as the Clearwater-St Petersburg
In fact all three airports
which once trained Flying Tiger squadrons for Chennault have subsequent histories of
involvement in drug trafficking.
It is, no doubt,
ghost-like presence is especially strong at Clearwater-St.
Pete-International Airport, which has been
much in the news for an aircraft broker who runs one of the
front companies there, both of which are named SkyWay Aircraft.
It is a major
failure of tradecraft.
But these days the
only place you can go to see heads roll is on Mexico's mean
Even in paradise the dark side gets really really dark
a travel essay called “China Sojourn,” Christopher Ryan of
the St. Petersburg Times wrote about Kunming, where David
Lindsay Sr. commanded base operations.
scenic mountains, Kunming, at 6,200 feet, is nicknamed "the
city of eternal spring" for its almost year-round pleasant
weather. In World War II this intriguing city was headquarters for Gen. Claire
Chennault's Flying Tigers."
"It is a city of contrasts, with
a dark side, where illegal drugs stain the memory of the
In the April 28 2008 Los Angeles Times, Robert Schriebman
wrote “The covert U.S. effort in China "makes the
Iran-Contra affair look like a small-scale operation."
Tribune publisher David Lindsay Sr., who commanded the
Flying Tiger base of operations in Kunming, China, home to
heroin trafficking on behalf of Chennault's boss,
Nationalist Chinese warlord Chaing Kai-Shek, brought...
something back to Sarasota County, but we're not
prepared yet to say just what.
But when 43 lbs of
Central Florida record, according
the Orlando Sentinel) were
discovered in July 2000 aboard Wally Hilliard's Lear-jet,
owner of the flight school that Atta began
training at just three weeks earlier. it was business as usual in the drug trafficking
industry, in the town of Venice, in the County of
Sarasota, and on and along Florida's Gulf Coast.
Except for this:
the presence of lieutenants from Osama bin Laden's Islamic
drug cartel, men who will soon murder 3000
today are Americans in high places who have skin in that game.