The Man Who Paid the Men Who Stare at Goats

DuBainMyronThe man who owned the flight school that taught Mohamed Atta to fly got rich selling his insurance company, we have learned, to the man who PAID “The Men Who Stare at Goats.”

Wally Hilliard’s links to American intelligence go back (at least) to November of 1981, when his insurance company, Wisconsin Employer’s Group, was bought out byMyron Du Bain, a World War II OSS/CIA operative and the Chairman of Fireman's Fund of San Francisco.

We discovered the connection in a trip to Green Bay several years ago.

But only recently did we learn that Myron Du Bain’s life-long ties to the CIA included two stints at the helm of the Stanford Research Institute (SRI),  famous for its classified research into psychic viewing. the results of which are currently on display in “The Men Who Stare at Goats.”

Psychic Research with wartime applications

Feminine-RisingDuBain became chairman of SRI International in 1985, at a crucial time when the U.S. Defense Dept. was growing increasingly concerned with advances in psychic research behind what was then called the “Iron Curtain.”

A January 10, 1984 headline in the New York Times read “PENTAGON IS SAID TO FOCUS ON ESP FOR WARTIME USE.” 

“THE Pentagon has spent millions of dollars, according to three new reports, on secret projects to investigate extrasensory phenomena and to see if the sheer power of the human mind can be harnessed to perform various acts of espionage and war – penetrating secret files, for example, locating submarines or blowing up guided missiles in mid-flight.

“Further, one of the reports says concern about a psychic arms gap has reached as high as the White House in at least one instance. In 1977, by this account, President Carter ordered the Central Intelligence Agency to conduct a high-level review of psychic research behind the Iron Curtain in an attempt to assess a possible Soviet threat."

Columnist Jack Anderson followed the story closely for years. "U.S. intelligence agencies won't talk about it, but they are rushing to catch up to the Soviet Union in what one scientist called "The race for inner space–psychic research."

White knight talking backwards… and out of the side of his mouth

dubainaDu Bain’s first stint running SRI was also tumultuous.

 As President of SRI during the late 60’s,  he faced regular protests over the institute's controversial military contracts, including studies on chemical warfare and LSD.

The Stanford campus was up in arms over SRI’s involvement in LSD experiments being conducted at the Veterans Hospital in Redwood City (where author Ken Kesey first took LSD)  resulting in Stanford University issuing a statement in 1970 cutting it’s ties to the institute which bore its name.

"The university outlawed secret research in 1969 and there is no evidence that current faculty is involved," the statement said.

That wasn't the end of it, of course. In 1977, the University admitted a few (seven) experiments done for the CIA, with quaint names like "Project Knockout."

Residents of La Honda, CA who remember Kesey have told interesting stories to researchers. One who lived there in the early '70s worked for five years testing LSD on monkeys in experiments commissioned by SRI.

And writer Robert Stone, who won a Wallace Stegner Fellowship to Stanford University, has said, "TheStanford Research Institute was funding breakthrough research in circuitry at the same time as it was producing CIA-funded lovely liberating drugs."

Myron, We Hardly Knew Ye

lv-taverna13_ph1_0500570248With oilman Gordon Getty and Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz, DuBain founded an exclusive private San Francisco supper club.

He was also influential at the Pacific Institute, which kept former Bush Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld from starving while Clinton was President in the 90’s.

In addition to belonging to the exclusive Bohemian Club, whose annual retreats provide grist for innumerable conspiracy mills worldwide,  Du Bain served as chairman of the United Way of the Bay Area,  a director of the San Francisco Opera, and a governor of the San Francisco Symphony.

In a quote in his obituary, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, characterized as “Du Bain's longtime friend,” calls him a man of "boundless optimism, tremendous buoyancy and patriotism."

Du Bain’s importance in American geo-politics was reflected in several early initiative in China with which he was involved. Du Bain was into China before being into China was cool.

"Insurer, China Sign Agreement" read a press release from May 14, 1980. "Fireman's Fund Insurance Companies and the People's Insurance Company of China have established a working business relationship and a joint commitment to "explore other areas of mutual interest."

“The Stanford Research Institute, a noted research organization of the United states, has been invited to conduct a comprehensive study on the Hong Kong,” read a Chinese wire service report from the early 1980’s.  “A contract was signed here today by Myron Du Bain, Chairman of the board of the U.S. institute, and Peter Wrangham, Executive Director of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.”

A portal into the abyss

Wally Hilliard’s connection with Myron Du Bain  may shed light on Hilliard’s curious metamorphosis after retiring to Florida in 1996.

Hilliard went from being a wealthy Green Bay WI insurance executive whose official corporate slogan was “Love God & Back the Pack” to fronting for clandestine operations bearing the almost unmistakable mark of the CIA.

His two flight schools trained dozens of Arabs, several later made infamous for having killed thousands in New York and Washington D.C., and others less well known but who are today nonetheless considered terror suspects.

Hilliard also served duty as the “paper” owner of record on FAA registrations for dozens of airplanes. that some of them were used in CIA renditions and international drug trafficking.

On July 25, 2000, Wally Hilliard’s LearJet was surrounded by machine-gun-toting DEA agents at Orlando Executive Airport. They found 43 lbs. of heroin aboard.

Although Hilliard claimed innocence, saying the plane had been leased to others, DEA Agents testified that Hilliard's planes made 39 weekly trips to Venezuela before being busted, and Federal prosecutors argued Hilliard was not an “innocent owner,” and therefore should get back the plane.

A federal judge agreed; and, as court documents show,  Hilliard lost the LearJet in government forfeiture proceedings.

"Being connected means never having to say you're sorry."

certificate_farhad_azimaNeither Hilliard nor his business partner in American Jet Charters, who was also the pilot on the flight that got busted, were ever charged with any crime.  A third partner in the venture, Venezuelan Edgar Valles-Diaz, did go to prison, however.

The list of individuals that Wallace J. Hilliard is associated with who are involved in America's "Clandestine Services" and who can fairly be described as "covert operatives"  is a long one.

Another example is Farhad Azima, who leased his plane to Ollie North so he could go to Iran, was implicated in the S & L scandal ( specifically Indian Springs S & L out of Kansas City), named in the Lincoln Bedroom scandal, and has run CIA affiliated airlines going all the way back to the 70's with Egyptian-American Air Transport.

He and Hilliard are partners in a venture called Spatialight. See an SEC filing here.

Almost eight years had passed since terrorists practiced ‘touch & go’s’ on the airport’s runways.

It is an open secret in aviation circles in Southwest Florida that the two men who had had direct business dealings with terrorist ringleader Mohamed Atta—Dutch national Rudi Dekkers and American financier Wally Hilliard—have personal and business histories that cannot withstand close scrutiny. 

At least we're doing our part.

Stay tuned.

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Daniel Hopsicker

Daniel Hopsicker is an investigative journalist and the author of two books on transnational crime, Welcome to Terrorland and Barry & the Boys.