THE DEATH OF MY FRIEND PAUL WILCHERThu Aug 16, 2012 11:3422.214.171.124MCCLENDON: THE DEATH OF MY FRIEND PAUL WILCHER
Paul Wilcher & Gunther Russbacher, by Rayelan Allan Russbacher ...
I met Paul Wilcher in early 1992. A mutual friend in Chicago, Sherman Skolnick, told Paul about my husband, Gunther Russbacher. Gunther was a CIA/ONI operative who, at the time, was incarcerated in Jefferson City, Missouri. When Paul first called me, I thought he was just another investigator or reporter who was interested in doing a story on Gunther's case. It never occurred to me how entwined our lives would become in the next few years.
In the two and half years that Gunther and I had been married, I had spent hundreds of hours telling our story to any reporter who would listen. It was no different with Paul. Each time he called, I went into more detail about what had happened to Gunther and me since we had married.
I can't even begin to remember how many times I have told the story. Gunther had been arrested two days after we had married. The FBI told me that "Gunther was a conman, on a crime spree, marrying and defrauding wealthy widows." When the FBI left my home that night, not only did they take my new husband, but they took everything that was his. His clothes, his papers, his briefcase... everything. They didn't even leave me a picture! All I had to prove that it had actually happened was our marriage license from Reno, Nevada.
Gunther was held in various county jails and prisons for 11 months. During that time, I was working for a friend who was a film producer. He was making a film that everyone in Hollywood felt would be the big hit of the year. He was fascinated with what was happening to us, and finally offered to buy the rights to our story for $40,000. The county prosecutor heard about my film deal and agreed to release Gunther for $40,000.
Gunther pled the Alford plea, which means he neither pled guilty nor not guilty. He was released on probation with the agreement that he would live with my friend until the script was done and the money had been paid to the prosecutor.
The only problem with this scenario, is the moment Gunther was released from prison, his boss in Navy Intelligence ordered him to Offutt Air Force Base. Shortly after Gunther was released from the county jail near St. Louis, Missouri, we drove to Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska. Offutt was the home of the Looking Glass Command. Gunther and I were on the base from July 19 to July 22 of 1990. At the time, a top secret meeting was going on. Many Congressmen and Senators were in attendance. The only one I recognized was Congressman Pete Stark from California. If anyone ever wants to check that this meeting actually took place, they should try to see his daily calendar for these dates in 1990.
While I was on base, no one discussed the meeting because it was still top secret. But several days after the meeting had concluded, it was in every paper in the world. The top secret meeting had been held to close the Looking Glass Command.
From the Sacramento Union, Saturday, July 28, 1990:
"WASHINGTON--With President Bush's approval, the Air Force this week quietly ended its 29-year-old practice of keeping a "Looking Glass" emergency command plane in the air at all times in case of a surprise nuclear attack.
"With no fanfare or advance public notice, the last in an uninterrupted string of flights named "Looking Glass" landed at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Neb., at 2:28 p.m. CDT Tuesday, July 24.
"The United States began the flights from Offutt on Feb. 3. 1961, shortly after the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy and at the height of the Cold War."
Offutt Air Force Base was one of the most secure military installations in the country. At the time Gunther and I were on Offutt Air Force Base, one of the most top secret meetings in Cold War History was going on.
Gunther and I stayed in V.I.P. quarters at the Malmstrom Inn. In the suite to our right was the Director of Central Intelligence, William Webster. In the suite on our left was the National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft. On Saturday, July 21st, for a few short hours, Barbara Bush was in the suite directly across the hall.
President and Mrs. Bush had been in California attending the opening on the Reagan Library. On their trip back to Washington, they stopped off in Wyoming to fish with Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney. After the fishing photo ops, Cheney and Bush flew directly to Offutt Air Force Base where another highly classified, "above" top secret meeting was taking place. Ostensibly, they were there to oversee the closing of the "Looking Glass Command."
However, the Looking Glass Command's top secret meeting was only the cover for another, even more secret meeting. Gunther Russbacher had been ordered to Offutt Air Force Base to be briefed on a top secret mission for which he would be the command pilot.
Gunther had just spent 11 months in a county jail. For that eleven months, Gunther and I were both being disciplined by the CIA discipline officer. We had broken the rules. When Gunther had requested permission to marry me, it had been denied. Instead of waiting the two years he was told to wait, we chose to marry immediately and face the consequences later. If I had known that the CIA discipline officer was the same man I had lobbied against before the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I think I would have thought twice about disobeying CIA rules.
At the time of our marriage I was working with a group of loose knit group of investigative reporters who were working to expose the treasonous October Surprise hostage delay. In 1979, Iranian revolutionaries stormed the United States embassy in Tehran and held the embassy personnel hostage. The October Surprise is the theory that the Reagan/Bush Campaign made a deal with the Iranians to hold the hostages until after the election.
The polls showed that the margin between President Carter and Candidate Reagan was so narrow that the election hinged on whether or not Jimmy Carter could free the 52 hostages before the election. He if did, he would win. If he was too "weak" to free our hostages, then Candidate Reagan would become the President. Needless to say, the hostages were not released before the election, and Reagan won. In an usual move, that I still remember vividly, the Iranian Ayatollah released the 52 hostages at the very moment Reagan was sworn in as President.
In early 1986, my best friend, former Reagan campaign worker, Barbara Honegger, and I started investigating the October Surprise. In July of 1989, Barbara asked me to hand carry documents to my friend, Senator Claiborne Pell. Pell was the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. At that moment, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was doing a confirmation hearing on a long time CIA operative named Donald Gregg.
Mr. Gregg had been George Bush's National Security Advisor while Mr. Bush was Vice President. President Bush had just nominated Donald Gregg to be the Ambassador to South Korea.
The packet I carried to Senator Pell contained detailed affidavits implicating Donald Gregg in the October Surprise negotiations. At the time I hand carried these documents to Senator Pell, I did not know that Donald Gregg was the chairman of the CIA discipline committee!
Two days after I married Gunther, he was arrested for the first time by the FBI. It took me many months before I figured out that he and I were both being disciplined for disobeying orders. Donald Gregg didn't like either one of us.
After eleven months of discipline, we were assured that we had paid the price and the CIA was going to allow Gunther to return to active duty in the Navy. We were told that he would be promoted to Admiral and in two years we would be allowed to retire and leave the country. Gunther was an Austrian and he wanted to return to his country. With this assurance from his immediate superior, Gunther and I drove from St. Louis to Offutt Air Force Base, in Omaha.
On Offutt, I met the four star Admiral who was Gunther's immediate superior. He introduced himself to me as "Vilhelm Johann". He quickly dropped his thick German accent and said I could call him William. I never did. He has always been Admiral J. To me.
Gunther also took me to lunch with his friend, Bill Webster, who happened to be the Director of Central Intelligence at the time. As three Air Force Generals stood, Gunther and Bill carried on a conversation while we waited for our lunch to be served.
Gunther and I left Offutt on July 22nd. We were not scheduled to leave. We did so because I had been drugged the night before. They had drugged me so Gunther could attend a top secret meeting while I slept. When I realized they had put something in my water, I thought they had poisoned me. Gunther flew out of his chair and threw the Club manager, a man named Al Harris, up against the wall.
Al quickly told him that Admiral Johann had given him some Valium to put in my drink. Since I didn't drink anything but water, it was put in my water. Al told Gunther the Admiral wanted me to get a good night's sleep.
I did not have a good night's sleep. I knew they had done something to me. When you have the Director of Central Intelligence on one side, and the National Security Advisor on the other side, you realize that anything could happen to you. Even though Gunther had assured me that they had only given me Valium, I lay in bed, going in and out of consciousness, thinking that they had given me a slow acting poison. When the effects of the drug wore off, I packed my bags and left. I didn't know where I was going, I only knew I was getting off Offutt.
Gunther asked me if I wanted him to come with me. I told him that was his choice. He quickly grabbed his things and threw them in the car. William Webster, wearing red shorts and a red Hawaiian shirt, watched from his window as we packed our car and left.
Gunther and I drove straight through to Winnemucca, Nevada where we stopped at the Red Lion Inn. Gunther requested a specific room. When we walked in, he told me to turn on the television and turn to channel 13. I did. We watched a black and white CIA training film that starred George Bush, William Webster, Jean Kirkpatrick and several other well known people. The film had been made in the early 60's.
I had only watched the film for a few minutes when I was suddenly so tired I could not keep my eyes open. Gunther and I both woke up 10 hours later, feeling drugged. The story of the missing ten hours is told in an article titled, "Rayelan Russbacher Meets the King of the World."
From Winnemucca, we drove to Sparks, Nevada and checked into the Western Motel and Casino. The first thing Gunther did was teach me how to find certain slot machines that were designed to fund covert operatives who were in need of funds. After winning about $600.00 Gunther and I ran some errands.
This trip was my first experience living life on a "need to know" basis. Gunther never told me anything until it was time for me to know it. On the afternoon of July 25th, Gunther told me we had to go down to the local CIA shop, which was located in a Quonset hut, surplus store.
He told me to drop him off in front of the store and to keep driving around the block. As he got out of the car, a younger man was approaching the store. He was carrying a Navy flight suit. When Gunther came out of the store, he had the flight suit with him. It had his patches sewn on it, and Navy Eagles on the collar. I asked him what he was going to do with that. He replied, "I have to fly a mission to Moscow tomorrow. That is why I was on Offutt. I had to spend time in a flight simulator."
The next day, July 26th, 1990, I took Gunther to the Reno Municipal Airport. We pulled into a side parking lot. Gunther and I waited until we saw a small Learjet approaching. The Lear was the same plane we had "borrowed" to go to Reno one year before to get married.
Gunther ran through a gate and onto the tarmac. The Lear stopped, the side door dropped down. Gunther got in. I watched the Lear as it taxied around and assumed a take off position on the runway.
Then I heard the sound of a larger plane approaching. I didn't recognize the sound of its engine. I looked up and saw a military plane that looked like a large fighter. It was painted desert camouflage. Its nose had a needle like point that was turned downward. It almost looked like a huge insect.
I had been married to a civilian employee of the Navy for 16 years. My husband, Dr. John Dyer, had been the Dean of Science and Engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. That was where I had first met Gunther.
Because of being married to John, I had seen many Navy fighters. But this plane didn't look like any fighter I had ever seen. I kept looking at it. The drag chute popped and slowed the plane down. Even the drag chute was too big for a fighter.
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