Hinckley & Company
By Bill Kelly and John Judge
“Minds are malleable, but not self-malleable, a condition politicians and PR men use to sinister advantage.” -William S. Burroughs.
After John Hinckley shot President Reagan, he said, “The movie isn’t over yet!”
And indeed it isn’t. Political assassinations and coup d’etats are the most frequently used methods of changing governments and controlling power, and we shouldn’t expect that to change.
Now we hear from Hinckley every few years or so when he exercises his right to seek release from St. Elizabeth’s hospital, where he is incarcerated. Hinckley is in a hospital, rather than a prison, because of a quirk in our judicial system that says he is not responsible for his actions. If that is the case, then who is responsible for Hinckley’s actions?
After the assassination of President Kennedy the murder of a president was made a Federal, rather than a local crime, so a Federal investigation would take precedence over local police, courts and authorities. Unlike the Hinckley-Reagan affair, the assassination of President Kennedy was successful and the government changed hands, minds and policy, while Hinckley’s attempt on Reagan failed and the constitutional powers did not change.
Because we still haven’t determined exactly who was responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy, or the attack on Reagan, we certainly haven’t seen the last of political assassinations in our society. We haven’t heard the last of John Hinckley, Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan B. Sirhan or Mark David Chapman, the seemingly unimportant people who unexpectedly rise from the masses to take a monumental action that makes a mark on history and changes the course of our times.
As Hinckley said, the movie isn’t over yet. Hinckley failed in his mission, but created an important case study that helps us understand the ongoing implications of assassination in our society.
War dawns slowly as a political hot spot becomes unmanageable and a limited conventional war gets out of hand, though we know the crisis is coming, but assassination, as a political incident, happens suddenly and often unexpectedly, except to those who intend it to happen. Since Hinckley shot Reagan, Sadat of Egypt, Aquillo of the Philippines, Ghandi of Inida, and dozens of other world leaders have become victim of assassins. Of all political avenues, assassination is the most likely, but least expected to happen.
“Well, it seems, you know, that there was this…there was this thing I had to do, the moment I had been heading for all my life, like going through that door, as I say, the door to someplace.” – Taxi Driver
John Hinckley came crashing through that door on a lazy springtime afternoon in March, 1981, just outside a side door of the Washington Hilton Hotel. It’s now nicknamed the Hinckley Hilton since Hinckley jumped out of a crowd of newsmen to shoot President Reagan, his press secretary James Brady, a secret service agent and a security guard.
Hinckley’s alleged motive, a psychological, rather than political one, is that he shot the President to impress movie actress Jody Foster. Hinckley had repeatedly seen the movie, “Taxi Driver” in which Foster plays the role of a prostitute protected by a crazed taxi driver who stalks a politician with the intent to kill him, but then kills a pimp and a drug pusher. Rather than being sent to prison, he is declared a hero.
While the facts of Hinckley’s life were being investigated and disseminated by the news media shortly after the attack, John Wright of Lansing, Michigan was arrested and charged with threatening the life of then Vice President George Bush. Wright had bragged, “that he could be more famous than Sirhan Sirhan or Lee Harvey Oswald.”
As news of Hinckley’s actions spread through the media, Edward Michael Richardson, Michael Vandewehe and possibly other “copycat” assassins, as they came to be called, went through the Taxi Driver door on the heels of Hinckley. And like Hinckley and Wright, they found themselves in jail, charged with threatening the life of or attempting to assassinate the President of the United States.
On April 9, 1981, less than two weeks after the shooting at the Hinckley Hilton, Edward Michael Richardson was charged with two counts of threatening the life of the President. The first count stemmed from a letter Richardson wrote and delivered to Jody Foster Yale dormitory, while the second charge related to a letter found in Richardson’s hotel room in which he stated that he was going to Washington D.C. “to bring completion to Hinckley’s reality.” Richardson was arrested in New York City with a loaded pistol while getting on a D.C. bound bus.
From Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia suburb, Richardson had spent some time in the military and was once a student of the Reverend Carl McIntire’s Shelton College, a fundamentalist religious school with campuses located in Cape Canaveral, Florida and Cape May, New Jersey.
Within days of Richardson’s arrest, the Secret Service charged Michael VandeWehe of Wildwood, New Jersey, with threatening the life of the President. VandeWehe was considered a threat even though he was then incarcerated in the Cape May County jail at the time. The Secret Service said that he wrote and mailed a letter from the jail that made a “direct threat against the life of the President.”
Before Reagan was shot, the Secret Service had commissioned a study by a panel of 27 experts to prepare a report on the methods of predicting violent acts. The Secret Service also compiles files on thousands of citizens that are potential threats to the President, and some 400 individuals are considered a serious enough threat to be kept under periodic surveillance. Neither Hinckley, Wright nor VandeWehe were considered to be a threat to the President before March, 1981.
Hinckley’s case also made its mark in the legal journals as a precedent to be cited because of Hinckley’s insanity plea, and attempts by the victim’s attorneys to make Hinckley’s psychologists responsible for his actions if he was not.
If Hinckley and the copy-cats were acting on psychological impulses, rather than on political, ideological or mercenary motives, then someone else could be held responsible for their behavior if it can be shown that they were conditioned or acting as an agent of others.
Rather than acting as a deranged lone-nuts on primitive instincts, perhaps one or even some of these assassins were psychologically conditioned or brainwashed by scientists with a more sophisticated motive – and fit the archetypal Manchurian Candidate model.
If Hinckley was conditioned by the film “Taxi Driver,” it might not have been just be environmental and social circumstances, but rather by design. Using drugs, hypnosis and multimedia programming techniques, individual subjects have been programmed to kill with a high degree of predictable response, so it is a possibility that deserves further investigation.
THE ANCIENT ORDER OF THE ASSASSINS
The U.S. Government, the military in particular, conducted psychological experiments on human subjects years, decades ago, and today, anyone with the knowledge and the tools could be in the business of privately programming and training assassins and terrorists.
We know coup d’etats and political assassinations occur routinely in third world countries and so-called “Banana Republics,” but our own system of government is equally vulnerable and more likely targeted for such manipulation. Until President Reagan, who survived the attempt on his life in the first weeks of his presidency, none of the previous five presidents actually served out their full two terms, eight years of office, since President Kennedy was assassinated.
Men with pistols, rifles, bombs and even samurai swords have been arrested at the White House gates, where guards have been on the lookout for suicide bomb trucks and remote control kamikaze airplanes.
The Secret Service, a branch of the Treasury Department, is responsible for the security of the president and thus keeps the files on thousands of people who are potential threats. Some are violent prone suspects, others religious fanatics, ideological demagogues, professional hit men, espionage agents and trained terrorists. Others are just plain nuts.
Their common name – assassins, comes from the Arabic word Hashshishin, which means, “users of hashish,” the euphoric drug, but their legend stems from a secret society that began in the 11th century Persia as a religious order. Their leader, it is said, “carries the death of kings in his hand.”
Most of Western civilization first learned the tales of the Assassins from Marco Polo, who passed through Persia in 1273 enroute to China. Polo reported that the Sheik of the Assassins lived in a fortified valley between two mountains, which is probably the fabled, impenetrable fortress at Alamut. There the Sheik had a beautiful fruit bearing garden “watered with streams of wine, milk and honey.” Drugged and taken to the hidden garden, young impressionable recruits were courted by dancers, musicians, magicians and beautiful women. They were inebriated in ecstasy, then drugged again and brought before the Sheik. Having experienced paradise, they became slaves to its pleasures, and the Sheik’s whim. “Away they went,” Polo said, “and did all that they were commanded. Thus it happened that no man escaped when the Sheik of the mountains desired his death.”
The role of the order of the Assassins, while they have passed into mythology, is still relevant, not only linguistically, but in regards to a contemporary understanding of assassination as a political weapon in our own society. In the 1000 years the term assassins has been used, assassins are still programmed and conditioned in ways similar to their ancient counterparts, but by much more sophisticated and predictable ways.
As the victim of an assassin President Lincoln became the last casualty of the Civil War. In 1900 Theodore Roosevelt assumed power when President McKinley was shot and killed by a “glassy-eyed anarchist.” Assassins sparked Word War I by killing Archduke Ferdinand as he rode in a motorcade, and the Reichstag fire that herald Hitler’s rise to power was allegedly started by a “lone-nut.” French Admiral Darlin was assassinated by a British trained assassin in North Africa, while Hitler was the target of a failed assassination-coup attempt in 1944. After the war Leon Trotsky was targeted, stalked and eventually assassinated in Mexico City by Soviet agents.
The assassination of President Kennedy precipitated two decades of political unrest that included the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy and the wounding of Presidential candidate George Wallace, all by assassins who fit the archetypal assassin prototype – James Earl Ray, Sihran Sihran and Arthur Bremer. Richard Nixon’s handpicked successor, Michigan congressman Gerald Ford, served on the Warren Commission inquiry into President Kennedy’s assassination before assuming that office himself. As President he dodged bullets from two attacks, one from Sara Jane Moore, and FBI informant, and the other from Squeaky Frome, one of Charles Manson’s disciples.
Assassins in the United States have not confined themselves to presidents and presidential contenders, but have also killed Union officials, foreign diplomats, journalists and cultural figures. United Mine Workers union president Tony Boyle was convicted of ordering the murder of his union rival Jock Yablonski, Chilean secret police agent Michael Townley turned states’ evidence in admitting his participation with renegade Cubans in the Dupont Circle bombing assassination of former Chilean ambassador Leitter in downtown Washington D.C., and one-time fan, Mark David Chapman shot and killed former Beatle John Lennon.
By March, 1981 America and the world had been numbed by the accustomed ring of the assassin’s gun when Hinckley opened fire on the President’s entourage. Had he been successful, Hinckley would have made George Bush president of the United States with the flick of his finger and altering the course of history. The possibility that Hinckley was programmed or conditioned to shoot the President may have been privately evaluated, but has not been analyzed in a public forum.
The U.S. government has learned much about the psychological makeup of assassins, not by studying the profiles of subjects, but by attempting to create them. The state-of-the-art of conditioning assassins has advanced considerably since the days of the Hashshishin and the garden fortress at Alamut.
From 1949 until 1974 the U.S. CIA and the U.S. Department of Defense conducted sophisticated mind and behavior control research, using students, agents, soldiers and prisoners as human guinea pigs in a number of experiments that used drugs, hypnosis, audio-visional and electronic programming techniques.
One such project, called ARTICHOKE, began using drugs for investigating interrogation techniques, which stemmed from attempts to understand brainwashing procedures used on American prisoners of war by the Chinese in North Korea. Eventually the program became directed towards finding “whether a person could be secretly induced to commit an assassination against his will.”
One CIA contract agent, Jessica Wilcox (aka Candy Jones), a model and radio personality, was programmed to commit suicide by her CIA psychiatrist (See: “Candy Jones,” by Donald Bain, Playboy Press).
Although both the CIA and the military claim that their research ended in 1974, there are indications that the mind control programs merely became “operational” when the “experimental” stage ended, and techniques for programming assassins were secretly blended in with the normal routine of clandestine and military affairs.
The discovery of a CIA handbook in Central America that gave guidelines on developing criminals as agents to eliminate selected government officials is evidence of this, along with the fact that it was used in Vietnam, supports the contention that the U.S. government uses assassination as a tool of foreign policy.
OSLO NATO CONFERENCE & THE NAVY NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL LAB
In the summer of 1975, a year after the government claimed it halted such research, Dr. Irwin Sarason organized a conference in Oslo, Norway for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which addressed the topic of “The Dimensions of Stress and Anxiety.”
Dr. Sarason had produced a film which showed the success of school students who asked questions, and presented the film to a group of juvenile delinquents, who learned how to ask questions and showed marked improvement in their studies.
The U.S. Office of Naval Research offered to fund Sarason’s work, provided it was classified, so it could be used by the Navy psychiatric lab in San Diego, California, where “spies were being trained to resist interrogation.”
Peter Watson, a former psychologist and a reporter for the London Sunday Times attended the Oslo conference and participated in a seminar conducted by U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Thomas Narut, a psychologist then assigned to the U.S. Navy Regional Medical Center in Naples, Italy.
Lt. Commander Narut gave a talk on “The Use of Symbolic Models and Verbal Intervention in Inducing and Reducing Stress.” He claimed his work involved teaching “combat readiness units” to cope with the stress of killing.
After his general discourse, Watson talked privately with Narut, who told the London Times correspondent that he had done his doctoral dissertation on whether certain films provoke anxiety. Narut said that he studied whether forcing men to do irrelevant tasks while watching violent films made them cope better with anxiety associated with violence.
Narut also told Watson that the U.S. Navy programmed assassins on an assembly line basis, and that he personally worked with men whom he referred to as “hit men and assassins,” who were involved in commando type operations and placed in U.S. embassies abroad. These men, Narut told Watson, were on call to kill selected victims when necessary. The U.S. Marine Corps, which is in charge of protecting embassies abroad, comes under the Department of Navy, and much of the advanced training for the Marines takes place at its bases in San Diego, California.
Narut said that drugs and hypnosis were no longer necessary, and that such conditioning was accomplished by a standardized behavior modification process called audio-visual desensitation. Subjects were desensitized to mayhem and carnage by viewing films of people being injured and killed in different ways, with mild bloodshed being succeeded by progressively violent scenes. They became acclimated to the brutality and eventually dissociated their feelings from the violence.
Narut was quoted as saying the best killers were classified as having “passive-aggressive” personalities, or men “with strong drives that were usually kept under tight control.” These types he said, “were usually calm, but from time to time would exhibit outbursts of temper during which they could literally kill without remorse.” Men with these “qualities” could be identified through psychological testing, using the Minnesota Multi-Phasic Personality Inventory test, which is used in schools, businesses and corporations, as well as the military, and can measure hostility, depression and psychopathy.
After subjects with the right psychological qualities were selected and recruited they were sent either to the Naples Medical Center or the Navy Neuropsychological Lab in San Diego, California, where according to Narut, they were audio-visually desensitized by being strapped into a chair with their head clamped in such a way that they couldn’t look away from the screen and their eyelids prevented from closing.
After Watson’s story about the conversation with Narut was published in the London Sunday Times, Narut called a press conference to say that he had been talking only in “theoretical” and not “practical” terms.
“You see, I had this plan to make myself somebody at last, a celebrity. To go down in history. Had this plan I was working on, though, in the meantime, I needed to stay as real with myself as I could. Because when you think of all those other guys, Oswald, Booth and Arty Bremer, the lot, if it’s one thing about them marks them out as real losers is they got a little unreal sometimes…” – Taxi Driver
There has been much discussion on the effects the media has on people and whether it can instigate action, but the question shouldn’t be whether or not the film “Taxi Driver” had a mental impact on John Hinckley, but whether the conditioning was coincidental or deliberate. Are Hinckley, Richardson and VandeWehe really “lone-nuts” acting on their own perverted psychological motives, or were they deliberately programmed by the government, military, the CIA or some sinister psychologists who specializes in such behavior modification?
John Hinckley’s father was a wealthy oil man from Dallas, Texas, where Hinckley grew up and went to school. Hinckley bought his gun at a shop on Elm Street, not far from the Dealey Plaza intersection where President Kennedy was ambushed.
Hinckley’s family moved to Evergreen, Colorado, where they were living in March, 1981. John W. Hinckley Sr. owned Vanderbilt Oil Company, and was active in a number of religious and charitable organizations, although he has more recently been devoting his time to promoting a foundation for mental health research.
Although Hinckley’s main problem seemed to simply be finding direction in his life, his parents recognized some mental disturbance in him, and Hinckley saw no less than three doctors about his mental condition in the year before the shooting. In Lubock, Texas, Hinckley saw a Dr. Rosen, who prescribed an anti-depressant called Serentil, and valium, a tranquilizer.
Hinckley also saw Dr. John Hooper, who gave him biofeedback treatments. His father is also quoted as saying, “I made arrangements with a psychologist by the name of Durrell Benjamin, our company psychologist, to see John.”
This doctor told Hinckley’s father that, “John was immature and that we needed to work out a long-range plan to make John self-sufficient.” Hinckley wanted to attend a writer’s school at Yale, and Benjamin recommended that he do so. Yale is where Jody Foster was attending school at the time.
They had Hinckley draw up a written agreement – contract that read: “I will receive the sum of $3,000 in checks, taken from my stock,… to last from September 17 to February 1st… and I do pledge to try to make the coming weeks and months as productive as possible. It is now or never. Thanks for the money and one more chance. John Hinckley, Jr.” The next day he left for New Haven, Connecticut and Yale, but he never enrolled in the writer’s school.
“I worked so hard for it. Swallowed pill after pill, wrote all night long,... making calculations and learned to make myself comfortable to the feel of these guns.” – Taxi Driver
Hinckley had seen a number of films with Jody Foster in them, some repeatedly, and in the month of August that year, he saw some on television. According to one report, “It was his feeling that the movies had been put no TV to excite him into action.”
Returning to his parent’s home in Colorado briefly, Hinckley went back to Lubbock, Texas where he purchased some weapons, the same caliber pistols bought by “Travis,” the hero of “Taxi Driver,” who he emulated. From Texas Hinckley went to Washington, D.C., Columbus, Ohio, and then to Dayton, Ohio, where he stalked then President Carter, who was making a campaign stop. Hinckley then went back to New Haven to see Jody Foster, then went to New York City where he sought out young prostitutes.
Traveling to Lincoln, Nebraska, Hinckley contacted one of the leading activists in the American Nazi party, and fraternized with rightwing military types, before going to Nashville, Tenn., where Carter was campaigning. Picked up at the Nashville airport where his guns had registered on a metal detector, Hinckley was arrested with unregistered weapons in a city where the President was visiting, yet he was never considered a threat to the President and placed on the “watch” list, as thousands of other Americans routinely are “red flagged.”
After paying a fine Hinckley went back to New Haven where he checked into the Colony Inn Hotel before moving to the Sheraton Park Plaza, never in need of money. Returning to Texas, Hinckley purchased two more handguns and then traveled to New Haven, Washington and Colorado, where he saw Evergreen psychologist Dr. John Hooper.
In an effort to make Hinckley relax, Hooper prescribed a series of biofeedback treatments. According to an account in Rolling Stone Magazine, “He was given earphones similar to those he wore in the nearby pistol range when he was practicing shooting at human silhouettes. An electrode was attached to his forehead. But while he was supposed to be relaxing, he was actually fantasizing about assassination and Jody Foster.” Dr. Hooper however, said at the time he had never even heard of Jody Foster.
Towards the end of 1980 Hinckley went to Washington D.C. where he was on December 8, when Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon. Hinckley then began stalking Ronald Reagan, and posed for pictures in front of the Ford Theater, where Lincoln was assassinated.
After seeing Dr. Hooper again in January, 1981, Hinckley went to New Hampshire in February, then to D.C. where he got a room at the Capitol Hill Quality Inn and visited the offices of Sen. Edward Kennedy, but Kennedy wasn’t in. He then visited the White House before going to New York where he planned to commit suicide at the Dakota, where Lennon was killed.
Returning to Colorado once again, on February 19th he left his parents a note saying, “Dear Mom and Dad; Your prodigal son has left again to exorcise some more demons.”
In New Haven, Conn. Hinckley stalked Jody Foster, delivered her a note, and then traveled to New York, from where he called home at 4:30 a.m. on March 6th. Hinckley’s father contacted Dr. Hooper, who advised him to give his son $100 and say goodbye. A friend of Hinckley’s father gave him the money to fly home, and on Saturday, March 7, Hinckley’s father picked him up at the Denver airport.
Staying at the Golden Hours Motel in Lakewood for a week, Hinckley moved to the Motel 6 in Lakewood rather than stay at home. He registered under the name of “Travis,” like his “Taxi Driver” hero. On March 25th his mother drove him to the airport and put him on a plane to Hollywood, California, where he stayed for less than a day. After four days on a bus, Hinckley arrived in New Haven, via D.C., then went back to D.C. and got a room at the Park Central Hotel, less than two blocks from the White House. There he watched TV, ate fast foods and read a Washington Star newspaper that contained the President’s itinerary.
After writing a letter Hinckley picked up a John Lennon button, which he put into his left coat pocket, then put his .22 in his right pocket and proceeded to the Hilton Hotel where the President was making an appearance.
As Hinckley was shooting the president, quite by coincidence, his brother Scott Hinckley was at the White House with his good friend, the son of Vice President George Bush. Bush’s daughter reportedly arranged dates for Scott Hinckley, and Ms. Maureen Bush, a niece of George Bush, is said to have been photographed at a Nazi rally with John Hinckley. The ironies were compounded however, when Michael Richardson was arrested in New York.
In the two weeks after Hinckley’s attack on Reagan, the Secret Service investigated over 300 threats against the life of the President, and Richardson was the most interesting of the copy-cat assassins.
From Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania, Richardson was arrested on April 7, 1981 at the New York City bus terminal with a loaded .32 cal. Pistol. He had been in New Haven, where he left a note in his hotel room saying he was leaving for Washington “to bring completion to Hinckley’s reality.”
“Our duel realities merged into a single vision,” wrote Richardson, and indeed their trails had previously crossed. Unlike Hinckley, Richardson had briefly served in the military. He was trained at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, from January 4 to March 31, 1977, and received an early honorable discharge after three months of basic training, but the reasons for his discharge were not disclosed. At his arrangement in New York however, U.S. Attorney John Martin said Richardson stabbed someone during his brief military stint.
After attending Delaware Community College in Pennsylvania in 1979, Richardson started school at the Rev. Carl McIntire’s fundamentalist bible school, Shelton College, near Coca Beach, Florida. He also reportedly went to Cape May, New Jersey, where he spent the summer at McIntire’s school there, earning extra money by helping to paint McIntire’s Christian Admiral Hotel on the beach. After two semesters, Richardson left Shelton and moved to Lakewood, Colorado, where he move in with his two sisters in December1980.
Hinckley’s parents lived in Evergreen, Colorado, near Lakewood, and Hinckley had stayed at the Golden Hours motel in Lakewood in March 1981.
Richardson left Colorado in mid-March, Hinckley on March 25. In a letter mailed from Grand Junction, Colorado on March 25, and received by the Evangelist Magazine the day Reagan was shot, someone warned, or mysteriously predicted that Reagan would be shot and the country “turned to the left.”
Richardson’s family attorney, Joseph F. Moore, Jr. said that the connections were only “cosmic,” and not evidence of conspiracy. No one however, inquired as to whether Richardson underwent any psychiatric treatment while in Colorado, or looked into whether or not Hinckley’s doctors, particularly Dr. Hooper, also treated Richardson.
Besides their joint fixation with Jody Foster and guns, and their “cosmic” Lakewood, Colorado connections, Hinckley and Richardson were both affiliated with evangelical ministries. Richardson, a student of the Rev. Carl McIntire, pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church in Collingswood, N.J. and Cape May, and president of Shelton College, was the founder of the International Council of Christian Churches (ICCC).
McIntire was also a close, personal friend of J. Edgar Hoover, who shared McIntire’s fanatic anti-communist fervor. McIntire has frequently condemned the competing World Council of Christian Churches (WCCC), which includes parishes from Communist countries. McIntire’s radio show, the 20th Century Reformation Hour, was broadcast behind the Iron Curtain and called for a Christian crusade against communism.
John Hinckley’s father, who sponsored a philanthropic foundation that ran a Denver soup kitchen for the poor and homeless, and where his son sometimes dined, was also on the board of directors of World Vision, and ran the World Vision center in Denver.
Both MacIntire’s ICCC and Hinckley’s World Vision are members of the ecumenical federation called the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association (EFMA) of Evanston, Illinois. One of the main functions of both ICCC and World Vision, which has its headquarters in Redwood Valley, California, is to operate refugee camps, especially refugee camps that attend to those who have fled communist countries.
According to John Judge, in the June-July issue of The Continuing Inquiry magazine, “World Vision is an evangelical, anti-communist missionary operation that works around the globe…and administers refugee camps in Ghana (where the Jonestown massacre occurred), and at Sabra and Shatilla camps in Lebanon where the Israeli massacre occurred.” Judge says that World Vision also operated along the Honduran border where CIA mercenaries fought Nicaraguan Sandinistas and El Salvadorian revolutionaries and that Alpha 66 and Omega 7 anti-Castro Cubans terrorists were hired to run some of the camps. One such camp also employed Lennon’s killer Mark David Chapman, who worked at the Haitian refugee camp at Ft. Chaffee, Arkansas.
The CIA first began interviewing refugees from communist countries in East Europe in the late 1940s and early 1950s as part of Reinhard Gehlen’s Operation Wringer, and the practice continued through the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and religious organizations like the ICCC and World Vision. Providing food and shelter in exchange for intelligence information is only the basis for the cooperation, and CIA evaluation of the refugee intelligence indicated that children were the most reliable of sources. Some of the foreign missionaries not only accepted money and assistance in exchange for intelligence information, but provided access to select refugees so they could be recruited and trained as assets, operatives and agents.
It is purely speculative whether or not Chapman, Hinckley or Richardson were targeted, recruited, trained or conditioned because of their association with these ministries, but the possibility is there.
Besides these associations, there is Hinckley’s bizarre association with the Islamic Guerilla Army (IGA). On December 16, 1981, Jack Anderson reported, “…Hinckley is widely believed to have acted out a crazy desire to impress actress Jody Foster. It’s an explanation that has gained credence by its very absurdity… But there is a possibility that Hinckley became associated with some Iranian terrorists who call themselves the Islamic Guerrilla Army (IGA)…In January 1981 an informant told the FBI and Secret Service that the IGA planned to assassinate Reagan sometime between Mid-March and early April, and that one of the assassination teams had the code name of ‘Hicks’ – a student who had been arrested in Nashville in October for illegal possession of firearms…Another informant, a government undercover agent, identified Hinckley as the man he saw at the Denver airport in 1979 with leaders of the Earth Liberation Movement (ELM), a communist backed group with ties to the IGA.”
John Hinckley’s father said that, “(Conspiracy) is one of the first things we looked at. The government looked into it and didn’t find anything. There’s absolutely no truth, no substance to conspiracy. John is very ill; he is a sick person. He did this for a vary pathetic reason.”
Like Richardson, Michael VandeWehe also served in the military, where something strange happened to him. VandeWehe was charged with threatening the life of the president after Hinckley’s attack on Reagan even though he was already incarcerated in the Cape May County jail at Cape May Court House, New Jersey.
Born in Cooperstown, New York, VandeWehe grew up in the Chelsea section of Atlantic City. His brother Richard died in a motorcycle accident in 1975 while stationed in Okinawa as a Marine. Michael joined the Marines in 1978. His father noted, “He felt he had to take his brother’s place.”
After basic training Michael was transferred to Iceland, where he was stationed for two years. But something happened there that forced him to be sent to Bethesda Naval Hospital in Washington, where he was treated in the psychiatric wing in May, 1980.
As for his stay in Iceland, his father said, “Something happened there, but we’re not sure what.” Released from the hospital in June of 1980, VandeWehe was discharged from the Service and returned to his parent’s home in Wildwood, New Jersey. Not permitted to move in with his parents, who stayed at the Sandman Towers senior citizen complex, named after former Congressman Charles Sandman, Michael got a room at a local boarding house.
When he missed a rent payment, he was locked out of his room and his belongings confiscated by his landlord. Arrested for burglary, theft and criminal mischief for taking merchandise from a burnt out Wildwood bar, VandeWehe was released and then rearrested and charged with aggravated assault for striking his landlord, who attempted to prevent him from removing his clothes from his room.
“You can’t take a young boy like this right from the hospital and put him out on the street,” his father said at the time. A week after Hinckley shot Reagan, VandeWehe wrote a letter from the Crest Haven jail that the Secret Service said, “made a direct threat against the life of the President.”
Although VandeWehe’s home in Wildwood is only a few miles from the Rev. Carl McIntire’s Christian Admiral Hotel and Shelton College in Cape May, there does not appear to be any known association between VandeWehe and McIntire or Richardson and their proximity seems only a coincidence. Much like the Lakewood, Colorado proximity between Hinckley and Richardson.
What is interesting however, is the last chapter of the book “The Parallax View,” a novel about a reporter who investigates and penetrates a private network of programmed assassins for hire. Although the screenplay of the movie based on the book, which stars Warren Beatty, was altered to provide for a different ending, the suspense novel ends on the two mile long coastal road that runs between VandeWehe’s Wildwood and Cape May, where McIntire and Richardson were at the Christian Admiral.
Also unlike the movie, in which a commission concludes there was no conspiracy in a political assassination, the book ends with a suspicious local policeman investigating an automobile accident, and concluding it is a murder.
“The movie isn’t over yet” – John Hinckley, Jr.