True Lies?

Ken Bucchi says he was a drug-running spook. The CIA says hes an impostor

Is Ken Bucchi a nutbar? He admits he has no hard evidence that he worked for the CIA. Apparently, the Agency does not give pay stubs to spooks. No one involved in Pseudo Miranda knew their colleagues' real names (Ken Bucchi was Anthony Vesbucci). Wouldn't the Air Force notice Captain Bucchi missing from his post? He explained he often worked at a base in San Antonio, Texas, for days at a time. He says that, from there, he would be ferried by Air Force planes to his CIA missions, which would last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. "If I had to do anything that would take longer, I'd be put on 'temporary duty.' Everything was done so above board, I didn't think anything of it." Don't ask, don't tell.

So finally you have the crux of this spy tale: the same secrecy that the CIA uses to protect itself from scrutiny makes Bucchi's claims no more outlandish than your average political assassination, toppled government or inner-city crack cocaine operation.

"If you look at [whistleblowers] who've been on Primetime Live, 60 Minutes, all these shows, the military always uses 'delusional' to describe the person," Bucchi says. "It's very effective. Once they label you delusional and a reporter hears that, the media backs away. That's why you never see stories on the CIA. If I was on that side, I would use the same thing. If those DEA documents came out, you'd see a million stories on the CIA."

Bucchi takes pride that his story elicited an unprecedented response from Spy Central. "The fact that the CIA violated its own policy of not responding to whether someone was a contract agent compels them to respond to all such inquiries in the future lest they be asked what difference the present question poses vs. mine. That is how badly they wanted to shut me up. That establishes more clearly than I ever could the gravity of their role in the Drug War," he said. "Has the CIA ever done anything on par with Operation Pseudo Miranda that was unethical, illegal or immoral? If so, show me where they admitted to it. Does the fact that they have never willingly admitted to any such operation mean they've never conducted one? Can anyone make up a CIA story and get Langley to comment on record about its falsehood? I've seen all kinds of people on TV claiming to have worked for the CIA and claiming that the CIA was involved in the Kennedy assassination, but not once have I heard the CIA defend themselves and call assassination theorists liars or quacks. Is that because claiming the CIA-killed-Kennedy story has not 'gone too far?' Boy, do they have a false sense of priorities."

He's come up with several reasons why his case so spooked the spooks. CNN is on in bars and lounges and hotel rooms the world over. Maxine Waters apparently went back to Washington and raised holy hell. Then there was the biggest threat of all, the message Bucchi was trying to get across to viewers. This is it: the CIA makes pacts with government leaders and drug lords to control who is in power—and who is not—in Central and South America. Whoever has the arms has the power. The CIA gets to decide who gets the arms under the guise of the Drug War. America would not have even known of a CIA role down there had it not been for the missionary plane mishap. "There are probably other Peruvian families who have been shot down over the years that we do not hear about," Bucchi said. "We don't do that within our own borders because Americans would be outraged over people being mistakenly shot down, so we fight our battles on other borders."

He pitched this opinion to CNN's van Susteren: "We could save a lot of money if the government just went to Colombia and asked, 'How much for all the cocaine?' It's not that farcical. The cost would be tremendous, but it would still be less than what we are spending now for the Drug War. But then we would not be able to justify giving weapons to governments. If we bought it all, the drug dealers would have the same amount of money as the people in power. The CIA doesn't want leftist guerrillas or Pablo Escobars having the same power as the people they help put in power."

He's unsure whether that message will ever get through. "The media is mostly to blame," he said. "They shouldn't put their tails between their legs so quickly. They dismissed me so easily, but they won't be able to dismiss those people who were shot down as easily. If the media just believed me for a second, it would be easier to understand what happened in Peru."

Bucchi lives in the shadow of the Tustin air base hangers. He's got a wife and a couple of kids. His 40th birthday is just around the corner. Life's not so bad. He gets 50 percent of his military pay for the rest of his life. "I should for the shit they put me through," he interjected. He would even have all his medical and dental bills paid were he not afraid to return to a military base to visit a clinic. If put under anesthesia, "I probably wouldn't leave alive," he figured. He'd surrender all the pay and benefits "the moment they admitted I'm not delusional and, subsequently, confessed the truth about Pseudo Miranda."

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