"When 12 bodies were found buried in the garden of a Mexican house, it seemed like a case of drug-linked killings. But the trail led to Washington and a cover-up that went right to the top.... a gruesome scandal, a web of connivance and cover-up stretching from the wild Texas borderland to top Washington officials close to President Bush.
The House Of Death suddenly seemed set to become a major national scandal. Bill Conroy, a reporter who works for an investigative website, Narconews.com, was about to publish an article about it. On 24 February, Sandy Gonzalez, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA office in El Paso, one of the most senior and highly decorated Hispanic law enforcement officers in America, wrote to his Ice counterpart, John Gaudioso.
'I am writing to express to you my frustration and outrage at the mishandling of investigation that has resulted in unnecessary loss of human life,' he began, 'and endangered the lives of special agents of the DEA and their immediate families. There is no excuse for the events that culminated during the evening of 14 January... and I have no choice but to hold you responsible.' Ice, Gonzalez wrote, had gone to 'extreme lengths' to protect an informant who was, in reality, a 'homicidal maniac... this situation is so bizarre that, even as I'm writing to you, it is difficult for me to believe it'.
But Ice and its allies in the DoJ were covering up their actions, helped by the US media - aside from the Dallas Morning News, not one major newspaper or TV network has covered the story. The first signs came in the response to Gonzalez's letter to Gaudioso - not from Ice, but from Johnny Sutton.
He reacted not to the discovery of corpses at Calle Parsonieros, but with concern Gonzalez might talk to the media. He communicated his fears to a senior official in Washington - Catherine O'Neil, director of the DoJ's Organised Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Describing Gonzalez's letter as 'inflammatory,' she passed on Sutton's fears to the then Attorney General, John Ashcroft, and to Karen Tandy, the head of the DEA, another Texan lawyer.
Gonzalez, who had enjoyed glittering appraisals throughout his 30-year career, was told he would be downgraded. On 4 May, DEA managers in Washington sent him a letter. It said that, if he quietly retired before 30 June, he would be given a 'positive' reference for future employers. If he refused, a reference would dwell on his 'lapse'. Gonzalez resigned, and launched a lawsuit - part of which is due to come to court tomorrow.
'I've been written off,' he says. 'They dismiss my complaints, saying I'm just a disgruntled employee. But once they knew about the carne asadas, they were legally and morally obligated to do something. They already had a solid case against Santillan for drugs and murder. What the fuck else did they need? As for the DEA, they held my feet to the fire and joined the cover-up.'
'If Congress and the media start to look at this properly, they will be horrified,' Sandy Gonzalez says. 'It needs a special prosecutor, as with the case of Valerie Plame [the CIA agent whose name was leaked to the media when her diplomat husband criticised Bush over Iraq's missing weapons of mass destruction]. But Valerie is a nice-looking white person and the victims here are brown. Nobody gives a shit.'"
Monday, December 04, 2006
House of Death case hits the (foreign) media.
* David Rose (yes, that David Rose) has a great piece in the Guardian about the House of Death case that we occasionally mention in these parts (it's one of Sibel's groups cases):
Posted by lukery at 12/04/2006 12:28:00 PM