Thomas Clines

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Person.png Thomas Clines   SpartacusRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(soldier, spook)
Thomas Clines.jpg
BornAugust 18, 1928
Washington DC, USA
DiedJuly 30, 2013 (Age 84)
Middleburg, Virginia, USA
Founder ofSystems Services International
Member ofOperation 40, US/Deep state
Perpetrator ofArms for Libya
"Ted Shackley's career-long deputy and sidekick"

Thomas Clines, as summarised by Michael Ruppert, was Ted Shackley's "career-long deputy and sidekick".[1] After joining Operation 40 he appears to have spent the rest of his life in various activities with Operation 40 members. He was involved in the JFK assassination and Iran-Contra.


Tom Clines fought in the Korean War.

In the 1950s Clines worked at the CIA's Technical Services Division in Frankfurt.[2]

As a CIA agent, between 1961–1962, Clines was involved in covert operations in Cuba and was a member of Operation 40. Here he started a long association with Ted Shackley, station chief of JM WAVE, the CIA's operational headquarters in Miami. He became close to other members of the group including Rafael Quintero, David Atlee Phillips and David Sanchez Morales.

During this period, beginning shortly after the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, Clines developed a personal friendship with Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza Debayle, after his father, Anastasio Somoza Garcia, allowed the CIA to train anti-Cuban rebels in the country.[3]

JFK assassination

In a 1994 letter, Bradley E. Ayers claimed that Clines was one of 9 people based at JM/WAVE who "have intimate operational knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the assassination" of John F. Kennedy. the others were Edward Roderick, Gordon Campbell, Grayston Lynch, Theodore Shackley, Felix Rodriguez, David Morales, Rip Robertson and Tony Sforza.[4]

Vietnam War

Between 1966-1970, during the Vietnam War, Clines worked as Ted Shackley's deputy in charge of the CIA's secret war in Laos.[2]

Clines left Laos in 1970 and spent a year at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

In 1972, Clines was put in charge of CIA operations in Chile, and in 1973, he helped Augusto Pinochet overthrow Chile's democratically elected president, Salvador Allende.

When he was given responsibility for Nicaragua in 1978, Thomas Clines recruited Quintero to help the CIA in its efforts against the socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) that governed Nicaragua. This included helping Anastasio Somoza Debayle to develop a counter-subversion program in the country.

CIA investigation

After Jimmy Carter was elected, he appointed an outsider, Stansfield Turner as CIA Director. Turner carried out an investigation into CIA covert activities, and eventually found out about Shackley’s "Secret Team". He was especially worried about the activities of Edwin Wilson and the Nugan Hand Bank.[5]

Corrupt Arms Dealing

In January 1984, Clines paid a $10,000 fine on behalf of Systems Services International Inc., a firm he founded in 1978 with a loan from Edwin P. Wilson. This was after a guilty plea in a charge of filing false invoices with the Pentagon to mask illegal profits for transporting U.S. arms to Egypt from 1979 to 1981. He also agreed to pay the government an additional $100,000 to settle civil claims arising from the false billing. [6]

The Brill Memo

In 1988, Shirley Brill, a former CIA official who had lived with Clines in 1977, published an affidavit claiming that Clines was involved in illegal activities with "Rafael Quintero" and a drug dealer living in Miami.[7]

Brill claimed that after Clines retired from the CIA in 1978, Clines had partnered with Ted Shackley, Richard Secord and Edwin P. Wilson to gain Pentagon contracts. Brill also argued that she heard Clines, Secord, Quintero and Shackley plotting to frame Wilson. Wilson was indeed arrested for arms dealing (the "Arms for Libya affair") and the CIA perjured testimony that they knew nothing about the matter.


Full article: Iran-Contra affair

Clines was working with Richard Secord and Ted Shackley in the summer of 1984, when Oliver North sought out Secord to seek help in obtaining arms for the "Contras," a group of armed rebels trying to overthrow the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua.[8]

On July 27, 1986, the first article on the Iran-Contra scandal appeared in the San Francisco Examiner after Gene Wheaton told a lawyer Daniel Sheehan and two Washington journalists that he had been recruited to use National Air to transport $27 million worth of weapons to Nicaragua (money that Congress had funded for non-lethal aid for the Contras in Nicaragua), and that Thomas Clines and Ted Shackley had been running a top-secret assassination unit since the early 1960s.[citation needed] According to Wheaton, it had begun with an assassination training program for Cuban exiles and the original target had been Fidel Castro.[citation needed]

On October 5, 1986, a C-123K cargo plane, Corporate Air Services HPF821, which was supplying the Contras, was shot down by a Sandinista patrol. Eugene Hasenfus (a CIA Air America veteran) survived the crash and told his captors that he believed the CIA was behind the operation. It eventually emerged that Clines, as well as Oliver North, Edwin Wilson and Richard Secord, were involved in the conspiracy to provide arms to the Contras, and Clines himself as a key player[9] in the web of business operations founded by Secord and Iranian arms dealer Albert Hakim known as "The Enterprise".


An event carried out

Arms for LibyaLibya
Around 20 tonnes of C-4 plastic explosive, training in bomb making, together with thousands of rifles, handguns & other weapons sold by a CIA operative to Muammar Gaddaffi's Libya in the late 1970s - early 1980s. Then "the biggest arms-dealing case in U.S. history", still lacking its own page on Wikipedia as of 2020.
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  1. Document:Ed Wilson's Revenge‎
  2. a b Joseph J. Trento, Prelude to Terror: Edwin P. Wilson and the Legacy of America's Private Intelligence Networks (Carroll and Graf, 2005), p34
  3. Trento (2005:134)
  7. It is unclear who is referred to here: (Operation 40, Iran-Contra, but unknown drug career) Rafael Quintero or (known big time drug dealer) Rafael Caro Quintero
  8. "Jane Mayer and Doyle McManus, Landslide: The Unmaking of the President 1984-1988 (Houghton Mifflin Co.: Boston, 1988) p. 142."
  9. Walsh Chapter 11: United States v. Thomas G. Clines, a.k.a. ``C. Tea - Lawrence Walsh's Iran-Contra report, 1993