Interview by Joan d’Arc
Self-professed “barfly” Robert Eringer has been a private intelligence consultant, undercover operative, journalist, novelist, editor and literary agent. His latest book RUSE, tells of his assignment to lure CIA-turned-KGB agent Edward Lee Howard to capture for the FBI’s foreign counterintelligence division. Before that, Eringer wrote “a cluster of absurdist comic novels” (five of them published) – including Crinkum Crankum, Lo Mein, andSpookaroonie – and before that he infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in South Carolina for the British tabloid, Sunday People. Before that, Eringer studied with Professor Carroll Quigley and wrote the Bilderberg exposé, The Global Manipulators. And in between he drank a lot of his favorite health beverage squashed from the pinot noir grape. There’s no shortage of stuff on the Internet written about Robert Eringer, but let’s get inside the head of a true-life Spookaroonie, shall we?
Joan d’Arc: Robert, as I recall, we became acquainted as pen pals around 1994 when I had the anarchist/conspiracy book store Newspeak in Providence. I was trying to locate copies of your book, The Global Manipulators, which was one of the best books written on the Bilderberg Group at the time and is still being published by Sisyphus Press. When did you write this book? Was it your first book or were you writing fiction before that? Tell me how this book came about.
Robert Eringer: I’ve never heard of Sisyphus Press and it is news to me they have published The Global Manipulators. I wrote this book in 1980, the same year it was published by Pentacle Books of Bristol, UK. This was my first book; the fiction came much later. I wrote a term paper on Bilderberg for a World Politics course at American University in Washington DC. (I got an A.) The following year, in London, I submitted my revised story to Penthouse magazine and they gave it to a new magazine they had just created called Verdict, which bought the story and published it in their November 1976 issue. I continued to write about Bilderberg and the Trilateral Commission, leading to an investigative series in the (UK) Daily Mirror. It was noticed by a publisher and I was asked to write it up as a book. It’s more of a booklet, actually. And it was sabotaged along the way by cheap binding glue. If you open The Global Manipulators more than three times it disintegrates in your hands, part of a Bilderberg plot no doubt.
Joan d’Arc: I’ve ordered the book from Sisyphus and I’ll let you know if it’s got a white and red cover as I remember it. Somehow, and this amazes me now because it was obviously before email and websites, I was looking for the book, which at the time was hard to find, and your letter arrived from Monaco. You sent me copies of the book and it sold well. Now, tell me, what were you doing in Monaco at that time? How did you begin spending so much time there?
Robert Eringer: In 1994-95 I was based in Monaco doing private-sector intelligence work for a client. I had first lived in Monaco in 1988-89-90 and found it then, as now, to be a veritable nest of intrigue. I even wrote a nonfiction book about my first year there, attempting survival in the world’s swankiest neighborhood. The title was Monaco Cool, and it was published by Enigma Books under the pseudonym Robert Westgate. Thereafter, Monaco became a magnet of sorts for me.
Joan d’Arc: So, wait, you went from trying to “survive” in the world’s swankiest neighborhood in Monaco to director of an intelligence service for Prince Albert II? Now, when did Prince Albert get out of the can? Ooops, I’m sorry. That’s leftover from my prank phonecall days. What do you do exactly – or what did you do – for the Prince? Are you still running that show? Can you tell me about that or is it a secret?
Robert Eringer: Calculated serendipity. I cannot address this now. Perhaps one day it will be a book and truth shall prevail.
Joan d’Arc: You began your writing career as an investigative reporter for London-based newspapers, the Toronto Star and the Toledo Blade. Your most infamous journalistic escapade was infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan for the British tabloid, Sunday People. In your new book Ruse, you write that you flew to South Carolina with two other reporters, and you were picked up in a van that contained weapons and driven to the home of Grand Dragon Robert Scoggins to be “naturalized” into the Klan. Was this your first infiltration of a neo-Nazi group? You weren’t armed at all, er, oh, well, I guess you were.
Robert Eringer: The KKK was my first infiltration of any extremist group. I was armed only with my senses.
Joan d’Arc: One thing I’m wondering, wouldn’t you need intelligence clearance to pull a ruse like that or was this strictly for the newspaper?
Robert Eringer: My infiltration of the KKK was strictly for a newspaper. There is a difference. Security clearances govern the use of classified material generated by government agencies; newspapers do not have access to classified material, except when it is leaked to them, after which it becomes a legal issue. But if you mean did Iclear what I was doing with an intelligence service, no, I never cleared anything I did journalistically with any intelligence service.
Joan d’Arc: Interesting. Now, you claim you were actually measured for a robe and hood at your initiation in Spartanburg, SC. You have a fantastic memory… do you recall what your head size was for the hood? What was the robe like? Did you ever actually get the outfit and wear it?
Robert Eringer: It was a red satin robe and hood with a purple sash. It was red, not white, because they initiated me as a Kleagle, Klanspeak for officer. It was delivered to me at a KKK rally in North Carolina and I wore it on that occasion. I still have it, along with my KKK “Citizenship” certificate and an inscribed gavel the Grand Dragon gave me to conduct KKK meetings. I keep it next to my Bilderberg gavel.
Joan d’Arc: In Ruse, you explain that you attended Klan meetings, handled illegal weapons, learned secret code words, and attended a cross-burning rally. Did they actually burn crosses at the rally and teach you how to do it? What else can you tell me about these rallies and Klan meetings? Approximately how scared were you?
Robert Eringer: They actually call it a cross lighting ceremony, because they like to think they are celebrating the cross by setting it alight. Yes, they lit a large cross at the rally I attended. I got nervous only once, at a roadblock manned by state troopers heading into the rally site. This was because I was using an alias for the purpose of infiltrating the KKK, but my driver’s license (I was driving a rental car) was in my real name, and Grand Dragon Scoggins was sitting right next to me at the time.
Joan d’Arc: You write that you almost got ID’d by the cops at the roadblock – you had a British ID at the time – but Bob Scoggins got out and introduced himself to the cop and the van got waved through. You were shitting your pants, eh? So, I’m confused, are you British or American?
Robert Eringer: Sometimes I get confused about this, too.
Joan d’Arc: Your expose of the Klan ran on the front page of two consecutive issues of the Sunday People on what dates? What was the response? This led to your infiltration of other cult groups, neo-Nazi’s, violent anarchist groups, and other “sleazeballs and scumbags” as you refer to them in Ruse. Did you have a moral impetus for going after people like this? What in your background caused you to want to do this? Get on the psychiatrist’s couch please.
Robert Eringer: The story appeared February 17 and 24, 1980. We blew them apart. Bottom line: The KKK never successfully organized a Klavern in the UK. The morality of this kind of investigation – infiltrations or “insertions” – is rather complex. But to boil it down, the definition for the moral right for a journalist to infiltrate is this: Is there no other way to get the information needed for the public good? Since the KKK, like Skull & Bones, prides itself on keeping non-members in the dark, the only way to find out what they’re doing is to infiltrate. In my mind this is a fine justification, though the journalist/infiltrator must always strive not to entice and goad, because that could be perceived as entrapment. Hand them the rope by listening and observing. I’ve always wanted to expose bad guys. If I were on a psychiatrist’s couch, I suppose I would blame (or credit) Mighty Mouse cartoons from when I was a toddler. I like to see the Oil Can Harrys of the world get their comeuppance.
Joan d’Arc: OK, well enough. You describe in Ruse that during these infiltrations you felt like you were an actor. Did you have an acting background in school or something? Someone in your family was an actor? Or do you just have a general crazy streak?
Robert Eringer: I’ll opt for general crazy streak. Ruse aside, for the past six years I have traveled with a nocturnal artist named Thomas Van Stein to Iceland (whose only contribution to the English language is the word berserk), St-Remy in Provence (where we found the bit of ear Van Gogh severed), Gheel, Belgium (home to the relics of St. Dymphna, the patron saint of lunatics), San Crasciano, Italy (to which Machiavelli was banished, wrote The Prince – and went mad), Marfa, Texas (the lights, and our discovery of Whocarism), Sedona, Arizona (where Nietzsche summoned me through metaphysical electric shock therapy), Sils Maria, Switzerland (to which Nietzsche had summoned us), and most recently Homer, Alaska (where the joy of aloneness was my self-realization) always beneath a full moon, in search of creativity and madness.
Joan d’Arc: OK, I’m reading the Spookaroonie book jacket now, and it states “he inhabits a fantasy world of master spies, billionaires, and delusional schizophrenics” and “in reality he keeps the same company.” I wondered if this was simply a Hunteresque Thompson marketing blurb. So you really do run around bare ass in the woods with insane people?
Robert Eringer: I think, generally, everyone is insane to some degree – including, no,especially some billionaires and royalty I know. I tend to be drawn to the wilder end of the humankind’s spectrum. But I prefer doing crazy over good food and fine wine in an excellent restaurant to frolicking in the woods bare-assed. That said, Thomas the artist and I are planning a Madhouse Road Trip as a sequel to our creativity and madness odyssey. The tag I’ve truly lived by in my novels (and my nonfiction!) is “intrigue and lunacy,” though Thompson’s “fear and loathing” is definitely an influence, along with Bukowski and Fante.
Joan d’Arc: You have written “a cluster of absurdist comic novels” including Zubrick’s Rock and Crinkum Crankum – and the two you sent me years ago, which I enjoyed – Lo Mein, which features a detective named Jeff Dalkin who has Tourette’s Syndrome, andSpookaroonie, which reintroduces Dalkin and brings in a billionaire offering money for the real story behind UFOs and the JFK assassination. How many books of fiction have you written? Do the stories usually contain conspiracy and intelligence themes and crazy characters? Are these characters based somewhat on your own associates, then?
Robert Eringer: Five novels published; another few under lock and key. Lo Mein deals with art versus humanity rather than intelligence and conspiracy. Zubrick’s Rock is a comedy adventure. Parallel Truths and Spookaroonie indeed deal with intelligence and conspiracy. And Crinkum Crankum… well, that was borne out of a sciatic nerve attack. Some characters are based on real people, some are composites of real people, and others are imaginary friends.
Joan d’Arc: You told me once, perhaps jokingly, that you mainly write “for your friends.” What did you mean by that? Do you mean your friends find your books entertaining and you don’t really care who else does? Or that in general authors really do address their books to their friends, as Jack Kerouac admitted to doing?
Robert Eringer: I actually write for myself; for my own amusement, and as a therapeutic exercise. I have a bunch of friends who seem to like what I write, so I imagine writing for them, at least, with a view to provoking them to laugh out loud. The only reason to write for people you don’t know is for money, and I don’t write for money.
Joan d’Arc: I’m wondering though, do these books reflect what might actually happen in the world of intelligence? Do your books explore possible ways to lure or catch someone for the Justice Department or another agency of the government?
Robert Eringer: Depends which book you are talking about. Ruse is nonfiction, every word of it true, and it is mostly about luring bad guys to capture. Parallel Truths, a novel, is a fictional version of such renditioning, but it is based on genuine tactics and strategy as practiced by government agencies such as the U.S. Marshals and the FBI.
Joan d’Arc: Robert, I asked a number of people this question in issue 42 of Paranoia, so why not you, judging from the number of books you have written and your intelligence activities, and the fact that you’ve been reading Paranoia for a number of years, Are you a conspiracy geek? And can you back up that answer, whatever it is?
Robert Eringer: I think you mean conspiracy theory geek, and I probably am. Doing the work I have, with the people I have, I realize (sadly) that most conspiracy theories are nonsense. The intelligence services paid to protect us cannot even do their jobs properly, let alone participate in a conspiracy. Nonetheless I love hearing new conspiracy theories, even better to find out where they’re coming from and why. It’s been said, a paranoid is someone in command of all the facts. So I think it’s important to digest information from many places, not just the mainstream. That said, the Russian mainstream is a great source of conspiracy theory. As one discovers reading Ruse, the old KGB seems to believe that JFK was murdered by LBJ and Princess Diana was murdered by MI6. One has history, her-story, your-story and my-story. Truth exists somewhere in between and only in the moment. Who really knows the real truth about anything?
Joan d’Arc: Funny, I was just going to ask you where you stand on the JFK assassination. You surely cannot believe this one is nonsense or even a theory at this point? Give me your personal opinion. Was Oswald a triggerman at all? Were there others there? Was it a CIA hit, mafia hit, FBI hit, other, all of the above, none of the above?
Robert Eringer: Who didn’t have a motive? But here’s what I think: The JFK assassination was conceived by two mafia godfathers: Santo Trafficante of Miami and Carlos Marcello of New Orleans. It was coordinated by top mobsters Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana. (As you know, both were murdered after receiving subpoenas to testify before an investigating congressional committee, which ultimately concluded that the assassination of JFK was probably a conspiracy. Roselli was sawn into pieces and stuffed into an oil canister, then dumped into the Atlantic Ocean; Giancana was shot at close range as he prepared a late-night sausage and pepper sandwich in the basement kitchen of his home.)
The actual trigger-men (two) were Cuban; both part of an earlier mafia contract on Castro’s head. (The mob used some of CIA’s anti-Castro funding to pay them off.) Anti-Castro-Cubans, concentrated in the Miami area, hated JFK almost as much as they detested Castro after Kennedy left Cuban troops stranded at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. Motive: Old-fashioned revenge mixed with self-preservation.
The mafia helped elect Joe the Bootlegger’s Boy to the White House. They stole Chicago for Kennedy, arranging for a number of long-dead people to vote, edging out Richard Nixon, the genuine winner. And what was their reward? A ferocious Robert Kennedy as attorney general who, inexplicably, embarked on a determined crusade to jail or deport top mafia figures. Perhaps RFK was out to prove his manhood (as the runt of a highly competitive family), along with trying to erase family connections to the mob. An anti-mafia campaign became RFK’s obsession, to the chagrin of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who, for his own reasons, refused to even acknowledge the existence of a cosa nostra.
The mob bosses were outraged. How dare these Kennedys bite the hand that fed them so generously? RFK went too far when he orchestrated the deportation of Carlos Marcello to Sicily, his homeland. Humiliated and outraged, Marcello snuck back into the United States and began plotting. At a mob pow-wow, Santo Trafficante proposed that they put a contract on Robert Kennedy. Marcello would have none of it – only the top enchilada would suffice. “If you cut off the dog’s tail, the dog will only keep biting,” Marcello told Trafficante. “But if you cut off its head, the dog will die.”
When the deed was done, RFK knew very well what had happened, and this compounded his inconsolable grief. RFK blamed himself, for it was he who personally spearheaded CIA’s attempts to get Castro, cementing an otherwise tenuous agency relationship with the mafia. Under President Johnson, RFK became a lame attorney general. His spirit for the job was all but snuffed out. LBJ, who had referred to JFK in the late 1950s as “that spavined hunchback,” had grown weary of the Kennedy insider sobriquet for him, “Uncle Cornpone.”
J. Edgar Hoover shed no tears either. He loathed the Kennedy brothers; Robert, especially. He was relieved to have them off his back. Significantly, the venerable FBI director maintained good relations with mob bosses; he even traded horseracing tips with top New York mobster Frank Costello. So the FBI investigation evaded every lead that pointed to the mafia.
As for Lee Harvey Oswald: He was a fiery young idealist who drifted from one cause to the next, ultimately allowing himself to be strung into the wrong place at the wrong time by the wrong crowd under the wrong set of circumstances.
Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner and mob associate from way back, was chosen to hit Oswald. The deal to break him out of prison and set him up a millionaire in Mexico went unfulfilled. A few years later Ruby was dead from cancer.
The Warren Commission whitewashed the event for reasons of national security (the Castro connection) – and the mafia became alarmed by RFK’s rise to popularity. They knew if he got to be president, their long-running situation comedy would be cancelled.
By the way, all of the above is classified. Don’t tell anyone I told you.
Joan d’Arc: Oh sure, safe with me (blabbermouth). Also, as we’re talking on February 22, 2008, an article has circulated describing a secret meeting at the UN in New York which discussed disclosure of UFOs and extraterrestrials. Do you think ET disclosure will occur at any time soon? Do you think disclosure of extraterrestrial life should occur? Or do you think this is all made-up shit? I’d like to know where you really stand on this issue.
Robert Eringer: Okay, now you’re really trying to get me into trouble. Most people are familiar with the Roswell Incident. It has become ingrained within our popular culture, studied and commercialized. But for those who need a primer: An “alien” craft crashed into the desert near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. Inside the craft were three beings. Two were dead; one was barely alive. The U.S. Air Force didn’t know what to do. So they took the whole kaboosh to their nearest base and locked it up in a hangar. Central Intelligence took over. The lone survivor was transported to Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, on the basis that he might have some kind of germs that would be dangerous to humans. For almost three months, the creature was comatose. One day, he woke up. He told CIA interrogators, in the weirdest English they’d ever heard, where he was from.
He said he was from Planet Earth. From Atlantis? No. From beneath the North Pole? No. He wasn’t from Earth as we know it. This guy was (or shall I say we will be) born in the year 2522. He and his craft-mates had come from the future of our own planet. Apparently, in the 25th century our descendants finally figure out how to negotiate time warps. Something like, if you can travel faster than the speed of light, time runs backward, somehow relating to Einstein’s theory of relativity and the pioneering of a scientist named Tipler.
At first, the interrogators did not believe this guy. They thought he should have been from Mars. He said he was from Nomerico, which he claimed was one of five nations on Earth. He was terrified to find himself in their hands, held captive. To get him to talk, they injected him with Sodium Pentothol. He became delirious and incoherent, but he talked. After two weeks he went into a coma – and died a week later. The agency still did not believe what he had told them – until events he talked about actually started to happen. The document resulting from that three-day interrogation is the U.S. Government’s biggest secret: A fifty-four page Future History Book. It was transcribed from a reel-to-reel tape (since destroyed) by a CIA typist (since terminated), and locked in a CIA vault. Humans from Earth’s future continue to visit but will never make contact with us (the present) because of the cause and effect such contact could have on their own lives. Just kidding. (Or maybe not.)
If/when occupants of UFOs identify themselves, the intelligence community will be as surprised as anyone else, maybe more so.
Joan d’Arc: HA! You had me going for a minute there. And the ET’s word for time running backward was translated as “swamp gas”? Well, my admittedly vague understanding is that there isn’t one uniform intelligence community. There are different factions; some working on ET disclosure and some maintaining the wall of silence. You mean the regular stiffs will be surprised, as compared to the flakes who man the “Weird Desk” right?
Robert Eringer: Ah, yes. I wish I had Men in Black stalking me. All I’ve got is Carol Burnett showing up at the next table incessantly at three different restaurants. (Maybe she’s a Man in Black in disguise?) Anyway, it all leads to Tract 33, a parcel of land in northwest Washington.
Joan d’Arc: I’m sorry to hear that Carol Burnett is stalking you. Perhaps I should know this, but is Tract 33 a reference to the X-Files?
Robert Eringer: No. It is a parcel of land that abuts the backyard of a legendary DCI and can only be accessed by climbing over his fence or through a secret tunnel from Battery Kemble Park. Property taxes are paid by the obscure Momus Association from a PO Box in Intercourse, Pennsylvania. The two Cuban assassins of JFK are buried six feet under, along with JFK’s missing brain, and Jimmy Hoffa. So is the syringe used to inject Marilyn Monroe with pure nicotine. And the missing eight and a half minutes of Nixon’s tape. And the real black box of TWA 800. And the alien corpses from Roswell. Also: James Andanson’s negatives and John Millis’s diary. JD Salinger visits every December 8th to commemorate the assassination of John Lennon, having programmed Mark David Chapman through subliminal passages in Catcher in the Rye. And Jim Morrison cultivates black roses in time for Halloween, when the Illuminati’s “Circle of Initiates” congregate to see Elvis perform. This place is supposed to be very secret, so please leave it out of this interview.
Joan d’Arc: Will do. OK, so let’s get to the subject of your new book, Ruse: Undercover with FBI Counterintelligence. I had not heard from you in many years until you contacted me recently about your new book. The jacket says, beginning around 1993 you “lived a clandestine life of intrigue, conducting a spectrum of covert operations for the FBI’s foreign counterintelligence division.” I read online a few years back that some people suspected you were a spook. But I was surprised that you came out with this. You said you don’t write for money, so why did you really write this book? Are you dying?
Robert Eringer: There’s not much money in it, in book publishing in general – unless it somehow becomes a bestseller and someone turns it into a movie and we merchandiseRuse widgets. It is a story that I felt should be told.
Joan d’Arc: So your primary assignment was to lure CIA-defector to the KGB, Edward Lee Howard. You presented your idea to the FBI counter-intel, or was it the Justice Department, to lure Howard using your primary cover – or modus operandi – as a book publisher, right? So talk about how you invent yourself. You work as an independent contractor and you come up with your own ideas? This is a little confusing. Do most spooks nowadays work as indie contractors as opposed to employees?
Robert Eringer. The good ones do. The employed ones get neutered early on and practice risk-aversion as a religion, when they’re not fighting amongst themselves.
Joan d’Arc: I see. Your book uses the terms “traitor” and “turncoat” quite freely, for instance, “senior CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames” and “FBI traitor Robert Hanssen.” I haven’t heard these terms since high school history class. They’re a bit outdated, aren’t they? What is meant by these terms in today’s intelligence circles?
Robert Eringer: If someone possessing a security clearance gives or sells classified information to representatives of a foreign government, they have engaged in treasonous behavior and committed a capital offense, which means if found guilty they face the death penalty. These words are as appropriate today as in the day of Benedict Arnold.
Joan d’Arc: In Ruse you explain the circumstances of why you wanted so badly to lure this “American traitor.” Why did you want to get this guy so badly? What’s it to you?
Robert Eringer: A challenge. Our country needs to recruit foreign spies. Traitors like Edward Lee Howard discourage spies from joining our side because it puts their lives at risk. And at least one of our spies was executed because of Howard.
Joan d’Arc: One of our spies? Are you speaking of the execution of Adolf Tolkachev? How did Edward Lee Howard cause this? Can you tell this story? This was a very important part of your impetus to go after him, correct?
Robert Eringer: Yes, Howard gave up Tolkachev to the KGB, and they executed him. The fact that Howard was the only CIA officer to ever successfully defect to Moscow made him a tantalizing target. That his treachery caused at least one execution and compromised some extremely important operations made him more so.
Joan d’Arc: Now, interestingly, as you explain in Ruse, after the Justice Department scrapped the plan in 2002, Edward Lee Howard died mysteriously at or near his home in Moscow; variously, as reported by Moscow: by falling down the stairs of his laundry room (which had no stairs); jumping out of his car while his wife was driving and running away; and then maybe drinking wine and falling down a mountainside, and what have you. The story is very confusing. There were possibly a total of five different stories coming from Moscow. So, do you think the KGB got him before the CIA did? Were you surprised when you got the email that he had died?
Robert Eringer: I was surprised to hear at the time that he had died, and was suspicious of the circumstances. At first I thought it was a ploy so that Howard could move to Phuket, Thailand, where he wished to settle without being pursued. But now I believe he was murdered by the FSB, the KGB’s successor service.
Joan d’Arc: So you didn’t get Howard, but you decided to write a book about it anyway. Does this book serve some other purpose for you personally? Does it explain who you are and what makes you tick? Who did you write it for this time?
Robert Eringer: It was therapeutic to write, it tells an interesting story and explains part of who I am. I wrote it for my high school U.S. history teacher, to whom it is dedicated. A few years ago he suggested I write an important book. I think this book makes a few important points, and serves a slice of intelligence history from the inside.
Joan d’Arc: Yes, it sure does. How long were you actually on Edward Lee Howard’s tail? You mention the last time you saw him was in 1999 during a trip to Havana. What were you two doing in Cuba together? You also hung out with him in Zurich. Where else did you hang with Howard?
Robert Eringer: I was on Howard’s tail from late 1993 until his death in July 2002. I did meet Howard in Havana, but the last time I saw him was in Geneva, Switzerland. I’d met Howard in Havana so that he could introduce me to his friends in Cuban Intelligence so that I would be able to penetrate that aspect of his life, in addition to creating a new operation from my contact with Cubans. All told, Howard and I met in Moscow, Zurich, Geneva, and Havana.
Joan d’Arc: You mention being awoken by synthesized voices in the night in Havana. Is this to be expected in your line of work? Has it ever happened before?
Robert Eringer: I certainly did not expect it. It had never happened before. And hasn’t happened since. Too bad, because I like hearing unexpected voices. As we used to say at the Bedlam Bar in London, The voices are real.
Joan d’Arc: Are you a little pissed off at the FBI for their non-interest in the Howard case? What exactly happened? They just dropped it? Do you feel like your book is a little vendetta perhaps? You stated earlier that the intelligence agencies paid to protect us cannot even do their jobs properly. Are you talking here about 9/11?
Robert Eringer: I’m not “pissed off” at the FBI. I feel, ultimately, the bureau did not fulfill its responsibility to the American people and that they should have captured Howard when they had the opportunity. But that decision, to scrap a rendition of Howard at the eleventh hour, was made by a highly politicized Justice Department, which was more concerned about maintaining the status quo with Russia than enforcing U.S. espionage laws. It is misleading to say the FBI was “non-interested.” When I first got involved with the FBI, the special agent tasked with the Howard case was very interested – and gung-ho about bringing this case to resolution and Howard to justice.
Interest petered out over time because the Justice Department kept raising the threshold of what they wanted from the FBI in the way of evidence (there was plenty) to successfully prosecute Howard. We’d bring them the witch’s broomstick, and they’d say, now we need the witch’s hat. We’d bring them the witch’s hat, and they’d dream up another few reasons to procrastinate – all based on risk aversion, because ultimately it came down to this, directly from an FBI special agent’s mouth: “Nobody’s going to get into trouble for not catching Howard, but somebody might get into trouble if we try and something goes wrong.”
My book is not a vendetta. Nor did I consult the FBI about writing Ruse, and I’m sure they would not have condoned my writing a book. It is simply the truth as I lived it, and if the FBI comes out looking a bit silly at times, well, that’s the way it happened. I think the FBI would appreciate that I stuck to historical cases. Howard has been dead for almost six years; Ira Einhorn has been in prison for almost as long. I could have included other operations in which I was involved, some of which may still be current, but I chose not to do that.
With regard to 9/11, it is well known that the FBI possessed many tips leading up to the Pearl Harbor of our time, but nobody at the bureau bothered to put the pieces together, not least because of the widespread disconnection within the FBI. Yet, this is precisely what intelligence services are created to do: collect pieces of information and put analysts to work assembling the puzzle and stave off sneak attacks.
Joan d’Arc: In Ruse you write about your attempts, using your modus operandi as a book publisher, to extradite Ira Einhorn from France so he could be tried for the murder of Holly Maddux. Did your efforts lead to his capture? Didn’t he try to commit suicide before being brought back? I’ve seen some letters online that he’s written about you and he doesn’t sound too happy. Can you describe what happened?
Robert Eringer: The plan wasn’t necessarily about hastening the extradition of Einhorn from France to face the music in the USA, but it ended that way. We – me and the Philly FBI – were certain that when Einhorn felt the French were about to hand him over, he would abscond from France and settle elsewhere. Our plan was this: If and when that happened, I would be one of the few people to whom Einhorn would reveal his new whereabouts. In fact, Einhorn did have a plan, hatched with his French lawyer, to flee to Cuba, where over a hundred American criminals roam free – if you can call Cuba free – under the guise of political asylum. He told me this himself. Learning this, the French abruptly surrounded Einhorn’s house, called a surprise hearing three months ahead of schedule and ordered his extradition.
Einhorn had also told me that if he ever faced imminent extradition, he intended to commit self-immolation, that is, douse himself with gasoline and set himself alight. Of course, like O.J., Einhorn is too much of a coward for that, so after the extradition ruling, with his escape route quashed, he made a very lame so-called “suicide attempt” by puncturing his neck with a butter knife. One week later the French ruled him good enough to go. Even after he was flown back to the United States and plunked in prison, Einhorn still did not realize he’d been stung by me. Only much later did he write his account of how he found out that I would not really publish his trashy novel. His spin was published on the Internet, in Conspiracy Planet, and is as lame as his suicide attempt. The thing you have to know about Ira is that he talks out of his ass and farts out of his mouth. Of course he wasn’t happy. The man who thought he could outsmart anyone, especially the FBI, was himself outsmarted, by the FBI.
Joan d’Arc: Robert, back in your days at Georgetown University you met Professor Carroll Quigley, author of Tragedy & Hope and The Anglo-American Establishment. How long did you know Professor Quigley and did he influence your writing of The Global Manipulators? What other influence did he have on you?
Robert Eringer: I met Carroll Quigley in early autumn 1975. I phoned him to explain my interest in the power elite and he invited me to his Georgetown University office. Quigley was not a conspiracy theorist, but a professor and historian who taught a popular Georgetown course called Western Civilization, for which he used his own Tragedy and Hope as a textbook. I still have the copy I bought at the campus bookstore, which Quigley signed for me. I wasn’t a student at Georgetown: I attended American University a few miles away. But I think Quigley saw in me a yearning to learn, and this was irresistible to an educator. So over the next seven months I was a regular visitor to Quigley’s office. He directed me in my research and, as I mentioned earlier in this interview, I wrote a term paper on Bilderberg.
Quigley did not like conspiracy theorists. He felt they were motivated by politics, not history, and that they misconstrued things, including his book, for their own purposes. He felt that the attention conspiracy theorists gave to some twenty pages of his 1,300-plus page book somehow blackened his name in professorial circles; he was so sensitive about this he made me put the books he gave me into brown paper bags before I left his office. Quigley told me that I should go into journalism or intelligence. I ended up doing both, which are pretty much the same anyway: the business of information acquisition.
I had the honor of attending Quigley’s last Western Civilization class, in April 1976, before he retired. He was an electrifying teacher. He loved history, and he was able to convey that passion. I once asked Quigley the meaning of his title Tragedy and Hope. He told me that Western civilization was tragic, and that when he’d written his textbook in the early 1960s he still had hope for its future; however by the time we met, ten years later, he’d lost all hope, he told me, so his title had become a fallacy. Sadly, less than one year after retiring, Quigley suffered a heart attack and died.
Joan d’Arc: You have been described as, or perhaps have described yourself as, a “barfly.” We met once in person when I was living in Washington, as your memory has it specifically, “on Saturday, January 8th, 2000 at 6:30 p.m. in the Daily Grill.” I’m not trained to remember such details. Was that in your brain or in your date book?
Robert Eringer: I don’t like offices, especially the ones you find all over Washington DC with white tube lighting – mercury vapor – that sucks creativity from your soul and dulls you into a butt-kiss. That’s why nothing ever gets done in Washington – they’re all addicted to mercury vapor meetings. I prefer to do business in bars, preferably over a martini, Beefeater, up, olives and/or a good bottle pinot noir. My business is loosening the tongues of others, and since lubrication helps, a good bar is my playground.
Joan d’Arc: The opening line of Spookaroonie is set at the Daily Grill on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. Is this the place? I do recall my then-boyfriend and I ordered expensive drinks on your tab, including a whole bottle of that fancy French Perriere water, which was his idea, not mine. At the time I was naïve about your intelligence status. Do you also remember what we talked about? Did you have a mini-camera in your tie pin? Did you slip anything into my drink? Did I blab?
Robert Eringer: I don’t like gadgets, and that includes mini-cameras. I never need to slip anything into anyone’s drink. People like to talk. I listen. Yeah, you blabbed, they all do, but I’ll go to my grave with your secrets. P
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