This is a request for aid in a possible research project. For years, I've heard dark whispers that the CIA helped Rupert Murdoch become who he is today. Rumors abound -- but where are the facts?
Of course, any
important and powerful figure will eventually stand accused of being a creature of one or more intelligence agencies. I'm not interested in the mindless accusations offered by the shoddier conspira-blogs. We need some actual evidence.
So far, the most intriguing avenue of inquiry concerns CIA operative Michael Hand, co-founder of the Nugan-Hand bank. Nugan-Hand was the CIA's bank for a while (after Castle Bank collapsed and before the advent of BCCI).
In 1965, Michael Hand compiled an astounding record as a Special Forces "super soldier" in Vietnam. In 1966, he seems to have been recruited into the Operation Phoenix by the CIA's William Colby.
How does Murdoch come into this story? Well, in this same period, Murdoch was establishing himself as an up-and-coming news baron in both Australia and the U.K. In 1967, Michael Hand transferred his operations to Australia, where he became involved with a firm called Ocean Shores Development. This company was run by a senior executive for Sir Peter Abeles, who was then a business partner of...ta dah!
Pretty much every enterprise that Hand ever joined or ran was actually a front for covert operations. Most spy-watchers think that Ocean Shores (allegedly in the land development business) was a front for something spooky. Alas, I don't know what that "something spooky" might be. I have guesses
, but I don't know
If you follow the trail of Michael Hand (start here
), you'll come across a mighty impressive cast of spooked-up vagabonds: Paul Helliwell! Ted Shackley! Mitch WerBell! Ed Wilson! Richard Secord!
And on and on; name after name after name. (One of those names is Pat Boone. Seriously.) You'll also come across some very credible evidence indicating that heroin smuggling was the main point of Hand's whole operation.
So, yeah, you can quickly find enough info about Hand and his pals to fill a book. But right now, I'm not interested in Michael Hand per se
. I'm interested in Rupert Murdoch.
And Murdoch's connection to this world is tenuous. Suggestive, but tenuous -- based on the current state of our evidence.
Anyone out there know of a way to make the linkage stronger?
I've been reading The Man Who Owns the News
, a biography of Murdoch. It doesn't give a terribly clear picture of how Murdoch originally made his fortune, except to note that his father was a news baron in his own right (albeit on a much smaller scale) and that Rupert learned early on how to "work" the banks. I think that something more was going on.
If you want to sneer at this line of inquiry, and possibly even offer a few ever-so-clever references to tin-foil chapeaus, feel free. I may not publish your insults, but I would never deny your right to make them. But before you cackle, note this: People used to pooh-pooh the rumors that Robert Maxwell (Murdoch's one-time great competitor) worked for Mossad. This is now an uncontroversial assertion, judging from Maxwell's Wikipedia entry.