The seemingly mundane insurance business is, in fact, one of the primary weapons of intelligence gathering around the world. And the founder of AIG, Cornelius Starr, was an architect of its use in World War II. Consider these
quotes from a September 22, 2000 story by Los Angeles Times reporter Mark Fritz entitled, "The Secret (Insurance) Agent Men."
"COLLEGE PARK, Md.ÑThey knew which factories to burn, which bridges to blow up, which cargo ships could be sunk in good conscience. They had pothole counts for roads used for invasion and head counts for city blocks marked for incineration.
"They werenÕt just secret agents. They were secret insurance agents. These undercover underwriters gave their World War II spymasters access to a global industry that both bankrolled and, ultimately, helped bring down Adolf HitlerÕs Third Reich.
"Newly declassified U.S. intelligence files tell the remarkable story of the ultra-secret Insurance Intelligence Unit, a component of the Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the CIA, and its elite counterintelligence branch X-2.
"Though rarely numbering more than a half dozen agents, the unit gathered intelligence on the enemyÕs insurance industry, Nazi insurance titans and suspected collaborators in the insurance business. But, more significantly, the unit mined standard insurance records for blueprints of bomb plants, timetables of tide changes and thousands of other details about targets, from a brewery in Bangkok to a candy company in Bergedorf. 'They used insurance information as a weapon of war,' said Greg Bradsher, a historian and National Archives expert on the declassified records. That insurance information was critical to Allied strategists, who were seeking to cripple the enemyÕs industrial base and batter morale by burning citiesÉ
"Germany had 45% of the worldwide wholesale insurance industry before the war began and managed to actually expand its business as it conquered continental Europe. As wholesalers, or 'reinsurers,' these companies covered other insurers against a catastrophic loss that could wipe out a single company. In the process, the wholesaler learned everything about the lives and property they were reinsuring [emphasis, mine]É
"The men behind the insurance unit were OSS head William "Wild Bill" Donovan and California-born insurance magnate Cornelius V. Starr. Starr had started out selling insurance to Chinese in Shanghai in 1919 and, over the next 50 years, would build what is now American International Group, one of the biggest insurance companies in the world. He was forced to move his operation to New York in 1939, when Japan invaded China. In the early years of the war, the German insurance industry expanded its business as it conquered continental Europe. Nazi insurance brokers who traveled with combat troops during invasions also scoured local insurance files for strategic dataÉ"
On the special value of reinsurance as a vehicle for intelligence gathering Fritz wrote:
"Such convoluted business dealings were traced largely through the work of Ernest Stiefel, a member of the intelligence unit who diagrammed the way insurance companies pooled their risks, invested in and insured each other and, as a result, willfully or witlessly shared data about nations at war. 'Stiefel mapped the entire system, said [Timothy] Naftali, a historian at the University of VirginiaÕs Miller Center of Public Affairs. "Each time I take a piece of your risk, youÕve got to give me information. I am not going to reinsure your company unless you give me all the documents. ThatÕs great intelligence informationÉ"
Later in the story Fritz confirmed the value of reinsurance as a vehicle for money laundering:
"With the Axis defeat imminent, U.S. intelligence officials focused greater attention on ways the Nazis would try to use insurance to hide and launder their assets so they could be used to rebuild the war machine..."
And how did Starr benefit from his service? Fritz writes:
"Starr sent insurance agents into Asia and Europe even before the bombs stopped falling and built what eventually became AIG, which today has its world headquarters in the same downtown New York building where the tiny OSS unit toiled in the deepest secrecy.
Starr died in 1968, but his empire endures. AIG is the biggest foreign insurance company in Japan. More than a third of its $40 billion in revenue last year came from the Far East theater that Starr helped carpet bomb and liberate.
"In The Shadow Warriors: OSS and the Origins of the CIA (Basic Books, 1983) author Bradley F. Smith shed more light on Cornelius Starr and the OSS.
"It [a secret intelligence operation in China] was formed in April 1942, when [Bill] Donovan persuaded British insurance magnate C.V. Starr to let C.O.I. (Covert Operations Intelligence) use his commercial and insurance connections in occupied China and Formosa to create a deep cover intelligence network. Although the State Department was nervous about the operation, Donovan went ahead and, with the cooperation of the U.S. Army, bypassed the diplomats in operating the communications system. Starr's people handled their own internal communication, then turned over their intelligence findings to [General Richard] Stillwell's headquarters for dispatch to the U.S. Starr, who was residing in the U.S. at the time, provided these services to the Allied cause. Later Starr became disgusted with what he considered Donovan's inefficiency and transferred his services to the British S.I.S. But the Starr-Donovan connection worked in China at least until the winter of 1943-44.
"The establishment of the Starr intelligence network, an operation so secret that it even escaped the attention of Chiang's [Kai Shek] security police (and of historians heretofore), was a major accomplishment for an intelligence operation barely six months old" [p.133]
The War Conspiracy (Bobbs-Merrill, 1972) by Peter Dale Scott, Ph.D. of UC Berkeley is a book few Americans have seen. The compelling and meticulously documented history of the creation of the Vietnam War was rushed from bookstores and shelves almost as soon as it was published. Scott, author of Deep Politics and the Assassination of JFK, The Iran-Contra Connection and Cocaine Politics is an expert on the interface between covert operations and the international drug trade. In Chapter Six of The War Conspiracy, entitled "Opium, the China Lobby, and the CIA," Scott traces the connections between drug trafficking in Southeast Asia and American intelligence operations. There are detailed references to C.V. Starr and connections with some figures, like CIA veteran Paul Helliwell, who have been irrevocably and blatantly tied to the drug trade. Those connections also lead directly into the so-called "China Lobby" and firms identified as either CIA proprietaries or "affiliates" such as Sea Supply, Inc. (run by Helliwell), Civil Air Transport (CAT), a CIA proprietary, Civil Air Transport Co., Ltd. (CATCL) -- a separate firm not owned by but affiliated with the CIA through CAT-- and Air America, an evolution of Civil Air Transport. In 1957 the Airdale Corporation which owned 100 per cent of Air America changed its name to Pacific Corp. In 1976 CIA General Counsel Lawrence Houston testified before the Senate's Church Committee looking into intelligence abuses about CIA Air operations. When asked what the one single holding company, above all others, was at the top of CIA proprietary and contract air operations, he identified Pacific Corporation. According to published reports, Houston also testified that the CIA also had interests in investment and insurance companies.
Pacific Corp -- which one source has told me is currently insured by AIG -- and the CIA have, in the 1990s, been connected with the "laundering" of some 28 C-130 military transport aircraft into the hands of private, forest fire, air tanker contractors in the U.S. Subsequently, many of those C-130s turned up all over the world. Some were directly involved in drug trafficking and one in particular, operated by Aero-Postale de Mexico, was seized with a billion dollars in cocaine aboard in Mexico City in 1996. [See FTW, Vol I, No 10 - Dec, 1998]
A key figure in the post-war operations was lawyer Tommy Corcoran, a legendary "fixer" in the Roosevelt Administration, who went on to represent Nationalist Chinese financial interests after the Communists took power in 1949. Corcoran and Helliwell worked closely together in Asia. One of the critical and well-documented U.S. responses to the Communist takeover was to fund remnants of the Chinese Nationalist army -- who had fled into Burma, Thailand and Laos -- with opium. Much of that money, along with the drugs, found its way into the U.S. As noted by writers like the late Jonathan Kwitny of The Wall Street Journal in The Crimes of Patriots (Penguin, 1987) and by Professor Alfred McCoy of the University of Wisconsin in The Politics of Heroin (1972, 1991, Lawrence Hill Books), Helliwell paid the troops using five-pound "sticky" bars of heroin. Helliwell later went on to head Castle Bank and Trust in Florida and the Bahamas and then was heavily involved with The Nugan Hand Bank in Australia and the U.S. Both banks have been heavily linked in official investigations to both drug trafficking and money laundering while also moving money for the CIA.
In The War Conspiracy Scott writes:
"For it is a striking fact that the law firm of Tommy Corcoran, the Washington lawyer for CATCL and [China Lobbyist] T.V. Soong, had its own links to the interlocking worlds of the China Lobby and of organized crime. His partner W.S. Youngman joined the board of U.S. Life and other insurance companies, controlled by C.V. Starr (OSS China) with the help of Philippine and other Asian capital. Youngman's fellow-directors of Starr's companies have included John S. Woodbridge of Pan Am, Francis F. Randolph of J. and W. Seligman, W. Palmer Dixon of Loeb Rhoades, Charles Edison of the postwar China Lobby, and Alfred B. Jones of the Nationalist Chinese government's registered agency, the Universal Trading Corporation. The [Senate] McClellan Committee heard that in 1950 U.S. Life [later part of AIG] (with Edison as a director) and a much smaller company (Union Casualty of New York) were allotted a major Teamsters insurance contract, after a lower bid from a larger and safer company had been rejected, [Jimmy] Hoffa was accused by a fellow trustee, testifying under oath before another committee, of intervening on behalf of US Life and Union Casualty, whose agents were Hoffa's close business associates Paul and Allen DorfmanÉ
"We find the same network linking CIA proprietaries, war lobbies, and organized crime, when we turn our attention from CAT to the other identified supporter of opium activities, Sea Supply, Inc. Sea Supply, Inc. was organized in Miami, Florida, where its counsel, Paul E. Helliwell, doubled after 1951 as the counsel for C.V. Starr insurance interests, and also as the Thai consul in Miami..."
The historical connections to CIA covert or proprietary air operations are interesting in light of the fact that AIG proudly announces in its 2000 annual report that with 494 full-sized jets -- 89 of which it manages itself -- it owns "the world's most modern fleet of aircraft." AIG customers include major airlines and a number of air transport companies. AIG also reported that in 2000 it leased additional aircraft "to a number of established customers" in South America.
CIA proprietary ownership or interest in companies is very difficult to detect. But, it has been proven by writers like Scott and many other researchers who combed through the paperwork that surfaced during the Iran-Contra scandals of the 1980s, where Air America assets were laundered into companies like Southern Air Transport and Evergreen Air. The single largest stockholder in AIG, the Starr International Company (SICO), holds 13.62% of AIG stock. Aside from knowing that Maurice Greenberg owns 21.86% of SICO (source, SEC) we may never be able to find out who, or what, owns the rest.
AIG, CIA, 9 11, DRUGS
Jack Blood on AIG
"AIG, in league with Warren Buffett, were key participants in the 9/11 covert operation." (Alex Constantine's Anti-Fascist Research Bin: COMAIR CRASH..)
"Maurice 'Hank' Greenburg, the CEO of AIG insurance... was floated as a possible CIA Director in 1995." (SUPPRESSED DETAILS OF CRIMINAL INSIDER TRADING.)
"From The Wilderness exposed Greenberg's and AIG's long connection to CIA drug trafficking and covert operations in a two-part series that was interrupted just prior to the attacks of September 11." http://www.fromthewilderness.com/free/ciadrugs/part_2.html.