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The Casolaro murder – tip of the Octopus

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* * * * * MORNING EDITION * * * * *

EDITOR: John DiNardo
Part 12, THE CASOLARO MURDER: Tip of the Octopus

The following excerpts are selected from a lengthy article
published in The VILLAGE VOICE (New York City) October 15, 1991.
The article glances upon many diverse and intriguing facets
of the story surrounding the murder of an intrepid reporter
named Danny Casolaro.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

by James Ridgeway and Doug Vaughan

At about 12:30 in the afternoon of Saturday, August 10, a maid
knocked on the door of room 517 at the Sheraton Martinsburg Inn,
just off Interstate 81 on the outskirts of this old mill town.
Nobody answered, so she used her passkey to open the door; though
it had both a security bolt and a chain lock on the inside,
neither one was attached. The bed didn’t appear slept in, though
it was turned down, and clothes had been laid out neatly at it’s
foot. Then the maid glanced into the bathroom. She saw a lot of
blood on the tile floor and screamed.

Another hotel maid came rushing in to help. When she peaked inside
the bathroom, she saw a man’s nude body lying in the blood-filled
tub. There was blood not only on the tile floor but spattered up
onto the wall above as well; she nearly fainted at the sight. One
of the maids called the desk on the room phone and, after sending
up a maintenance man, the desk immediately dialed 911.

Within five minutes, three Martinsburg city police officers were
threading their way past the horrified maids and maintenance man
clustered in the hallway and into Room 517. A team of paramedics
from the local fire department joined them a few minutes later.
Squeezing into the tiny bathroom, they found a white male in his
early forties with deep cuts on both wrists: three or four wounds
on the right and seven or eight on the left, made with a sharp,
bladed object.

There was no other trauma to the body that would indicate any sort
of struggle; there was a half-empty, corked bottle of red wine on
the floor by the tub and a broken hotel glass beside it. When they
lifted the body out, they found a single-edge razor blade — the
kind used to scrape windows or slice open packages — at the
bottom of the bloody water in the bath, along with an empty can
of Milwaukee beer, a paper hotel glass coaster, and two white
plastic garbage bags, the kind used in wastepaper baskets.

On the desk in the bedroom the cops found an empty Mead composition
notebook and a legal pad from which a single page had been removed.
The page lay near a plastic Bic pen, and in its ink there was a note:

To those who I love the most,
Please forgive me for the worst
possible thing I could have done.
Most of all I’m sorry to my son.
I know deep down inside that God
will let me in.

There were no other papers, folders, documents of any sort, nor
any briefcase in the room, only the man’s wallet, stuffed with
credit cards. According to the driver’s license, the man’s name
was J. Daniel Casolaro of Fairfax, Virginia.

Although his death was tentatively ruled a suicide, back in
Washington, D.C., his friends and family quickly protested that
decision, and reports in the media were soon suggesting that Danny
Casolaro had been murdered. For in this, the year of conspiracies,
Danny Casolaro happened to be one of a small army of freelance
journalists exploring the possibility that the powers of the
national security state had been used to manipulate domestic
politics. In particular, Casolaro was interested in what he called
the “Octopus,” a network of individuals and institutions that he
believed had secretly masterminded a whole series of scandals,
from the Iran-Contra affair and the S&L debacle to the BCCI
collapse and the 1980 October Surprise deal.

In the weeks before his death Casolaro had spoken frequently about
threats on his life, and just before he left for Martinsburg he
had told his brother, “If anything happens to me, don’t believe
it’s an accident.” Many of the friends and sources who spoke to
him in the last days of his life recalled that he seemed euphoric
and quite certain that he was on the brink of proving the existence
of his Octopus; he did not sound like a candidate for suicide to
them. More suspicious, before the family could be told of Casolaro’s
death or an autopsy performed, the body was embalmed by a local
funeral home; early press reports added that the hotel room had
been quickly cleaned, perhaps to obscure any trace of a crime. The
wildest story even suggested that the undertaker was an employee
of the C.I.A., hired to clean up after agency assassinations.

Even at Casolaro’s funeral, the family felt engulfed by mysteries.
As his mother, brothers, sisters and close friends watched from
beneath a canopy, a man in a tan raincoat and a beribboned black
soldier in Army dress uniform walked up to the casket. the soldier
laid a medal on the lid, saluted and both men quickly walked away.
No one recognized either man; Danny had never served in or covered
the military. The medal was buried with the coffin.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Subject: Part 13, THE CASOLARO MURDER: Tip of the Octopus

The following excerpts are selected from a lengthy article
published in The VILLAGE VOICE (New York City) October 15, 1991.
The article glances upon many diverse and intriguing facets
of the story surrounding the murder of an intrepid reporter
named Danny Casolaro.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
by James Ridgeway and Doug Vaughan

Riconosciuto told Hamilton that Ed Meese had taken PROMIS and
allegedly given it to one of his cronies, Earl W. Brian, who
served as Reagan’s Secretary of Health while he was Governor of
California, and later became head of United Press International.
According to Riconosciuto, Brian then sold PROMIS to police forces
— including secret police — around the world, from South Korea
to Israel to Iraq. The same qualities that made PROMIS ideal for
tracking criminals in the U.S. courts made it perfect for keeping
tabs on terrorists or, needless to say, political dissidents. As
Riconosciuto claimed to have adapted it, the software could then
operate as a kind of computer network bug — anything the security
apparatus that used PROMIS knew, the U.S. could know, simply by
linking up over the telephone.

Almost at once, Hamilton says, he told Casolaro about Riconosciuto.
Casolaro’s phone records indicate he spent many hours in
conversation with Riconosciuto, and Casolaro’s friends say that
for several months in late 1990, Casolaro talked of little else.

The 44-year-old Riconosciuto is — to put it mildly — a colorful
character, wilder than anything in “The Falcon and the Snowman”.
He was a gifted child: When he was just 10 years old, Michael
wired his parents’ neighborhood with a working private telephone
system that undercut Ma Bell; in the eighth grade, he won a science
fair with a model for a three-dimensional sonar system. By the
time he was a teenager, he had won so many science fairs with
exhibits of laser technology that he was invited to be a summer
research assistant at Stanford’s prestigious Cooper Vapor Laser
Laboratory. Dr. Arthur Schalow, a Nobel laureate, remembers him
even now. “You don’t forget a 16-year-old youngster who shows up
with his own argon laser,” he told Casolaro.

In 1973, Riconosciuto had been sentenced by a federal judge in
Seattle to two years in prison for the manufacture of psychedelic
drugs and jumping bail. At the time, his father testified that
Michael was engaged in “underwater research” and had discussed
“using electronic means to clean up pollutants in water.” The
narcotics agents who arrested the young Riconosciuto said they’d
had him under surveillance off and on since 1968.

Riconosciuto told Casolaro, as he had told numerous other reporters
before him, that after his release he had become research director
for a joint venture between Wackenhut, the Coral Gables [Florida]
private security outfit, and the Cabazon Indian band of Indio,
California, that was developing and manufacturing arms and other
military materiel — including night-vision goggles, machine guns,
and biological and chemical weapons — for export.

Riconosciuto claimed that he had invented the fuel-air explosive;
he also said that he had encountered a variety of famous people
who dropped by the Cabazon reservation from time to time. For
example, he claimed that he had met the Jackal, the famous
assassin; talked on the phone with Admiral Bobby Inman of the
C.I.A.; and even tape-recorded a secret meeting with William Casey
at a Washington, D.C. country club (according to Riconosciuto,
that tape was his insurance policy against getting bumped off by
the big boys in the spook world).

Riconosciuto went on to “reveal” that he was the man who had
“pulled the plug” on the Nugan Hand Bank, the Australian bank
with C.I.A. ties that collapsed in 1980; he also claimed to be an
effective lobbyist on Capitol Hill, responsible for swinging five
key votes to free up $100 million for the secret contra war against
the Sandinistas. Once, after lunch with then F.B.I. Director
William Webster, he had laid plans to launder spook money throuyh

This was all a bit much for the Hamiltons to take in, but the
computer company owners listened with fascination and deep
suspicion to his tales involving PROMIS. In an affidavit presented
in federal court, Riconosciuto told them that Casey — who had
been outside counsel to Wackenhut before joining the Reagan White
House — had hired him and Brian, as employees of Wackenhut, to
carry out the October Surprise deal. Riconosciuto described how a
Justice Department official had allegedly ordered him to modify
PROMIS for use by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.


Written by nuganhand

September 2, 2008 at 2:05 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

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