Why I think the 1976 SC Mystery Couple are victims of Argentina's Dirty War, and how and why they may have rendered to the United States:
- Their manner of death matches a military execution.
- They look just like a specific pair of desaparecidos disappeared during the March 1976 coup: César Amadeo Lugones and his wife María Márta Vasquez Ocampo. (Someone on Websleuths noticed this around 2008.) Their height, weight, hair color match. While doppelgängers do exist in the world of missing persons and unidentified remains, I've never seen them come in pairs like this. In addition, a scar on Jacque Doe's shoulder would correspond with lung surgery that César had had.
- Pro forensic artists agree, it's a stunning resemblance. But why them and how did they get here?
- María Márta's mother, Márta Vasquez Ocampo, was a founder of the globally renowned Madres de la Plaza de Mayo; this kept details of her case alive in the public mind for decades.
- Mária Marta and the dozen Catholic activist colleagues who were detained by Argentine Navy forces around 14 May 1976 were politically active, and connected to places like the United States, Mexico (where her father was a diplomat), and Peru, making them targets for transnational counterterrorism.
- The Argentine ambassador to the United States specifically requested assistance from President Gerald Ford in dealing with transnational terrorism.
- There was a lot of political support for a coup from Southern politicians, particularly North Carolina senator Jesse Helms, when sent agents to Buenos Aires and financed paramilitary activities through private foundations. Another a Republican hawk, South Carolina's Strom Thurmond, was on the same page.
- The murder weapon was a ballistic match to a .357 Magnum pistol found in the possession of a North Carolina man who, I discovered, was a Fort Bragg army vet fresh from Vietnam.
- Notorious CIA rogues Edwin Wilson and Frank Terpil were known to have recruited current and former Green Berets from Fort Bragg during this time, as did the CIA itself, for assassinations and mercenary work in the Congo and elsewhere.
- An affidavit by another CIA agent, Shirley Brill, from an unrelated 1988 lawsuit revealed that an associate of Edwin Wilson, Thomas G. Clines, was running an "assassination ring" from his home in South Carolina.
- Thomas Clines had been some kind of targeting officer for the CIA's Theodore Shackley, the Blond Ghost, and enthusiastic proponent of covert action, and architect of the Phoenix Program in which at least 20,000 civilians were rounded up and killed in Vietnam as suspected Viet Cong sympathizers. His counterinsurgency team later visited Pakistan, South America, etc.; this model ultimately led to the "Salvadoran Option" in Iraq.
- Strom Thurmond is known to have visited Edwin Wilson's vast Virginia estate, Mount Airy.
- Wilson and Terpil were well connected among various world leaders; their association with Libya's Moammar Qaddafi proved their downfall.
- After leaving the CIA, Clines offered "search-and-destroy" services to the likes of Nicaragua's Somoza. (Helms aide, arms dealer, and DIA informant Nat Hamrick Jr. was also involved with Somoza. Hamrick had launched a business named after a 16th-century English "witchfinder" the day before the Operation Condor pact was officially signed in Chile amongst several military juntas.)
- Clines helped set up Pinochet's hitmen with members of the Cuban exile group CORU. They bombed dissident Orlando Letelier's car in Washington in September 1976, also killing American citizen Ronni Moffit.
- According to Brill, General Richard Secord of Iran-Contra fame used to visit Clines in South Carolina and fly them down to South Florida in Wilson's Beechcraft Baron.
- Secord had a pilot in Pennsylvania who would "fly anywhere."
- Per press reports, the C123 that crashed in Central America was connected to the Pennsylvania-based air service of Eduardo De Garay, a Peruvian-American who would disappear for weeks at a time on secret projects. A C123 is a military transport aircraft capable of operating from short grass fields.
- Oddly enough, when De Garay launched his own airfield, he named it "Tanglewood." That is the same name as the 19th-century plantation located 1/2 mile from where the SC Does were found. Coincidentally, Tanglewood Plantation was at one point owned by another military transport pilot.
- The "Secret Team" above stayed together more or less from Operation 40 anti-Castro operations of the 1960s to the Iran-Contra scandal and beyond.
... That is a start ... there are also more links to Miami, Cuban exile terrorists, Argentina's AAA death squad, Operation Condor, the Southwest ... at least one, maybe two Popes ... perhaps I will update this later.
More info elsewhere in this blog. Or read my book: The Chase of the Condor. I need to update that too, with the Brill/Clines revelations, which I only just discovered thanks to reading some Joseph Trento.
There really is a ridiculous amount of information out there, just waiting for someone to put the pieces together. A bizarre case, victims and perpetrators unknown for four decades who were, it appears, actually world famous. The Madres & the Mercenaries.
It's an amazing story; maybe that's why I feel compelled to tell it.