TBR News October 2, 2010

Oct 02 2010

The Voice of the White House


Washington, D.C., October 2, 2010: “ I note with some glee that the vile BofA is now piously “reviewing” a huge number of foreclosures! Wail until the victims, and there are over two millions of them, discover that they were illegally ousted from their homes and, bitter irony, the crooked mortgage gang then resold these foreclosed homes to others. And the joy becomes manifest when, in the end, the new purchasers do not have (nor can ever get) a clear title. One must realize the impact when the “financial packages’ are nullified and the holders of their bits and pieces are SOL? The Saudi royal family and the PRC people will start to howl. Who cares about the Saudis? They are running out of oil fast and soon enough, there will be popular revolt when the public well runs dry..

But back to the mortgage mess. I wondered when the surface would crack. This has  its roots in the very nature of uncontrolled capitalism and I can point to the Republican removals of market controls and state, with some accuracy, that this was to help them all make money when the upswing came. Of course what goes up, always comes down. Do recall the ‘dot-com’ scam. Well, there won’t be another ‘bubble’ for quite a while. No one has any money and when the immense mortgage rip-off starts to crawl, roaring, from its cave, more than a few will either end up in a Federal prison, eating cold beans off a tin plate or wondering why they are hanging up in trees with crows pecking out their sightless eyes.”

Forged Documents, Fake Titles: Is The Florida Mortgage Mess Only The Tip of The Iceberg?

September 30, 2010

by Susie Madrak


This is so damned disheartening. While the FBI is out chasing anti-war activists, banker barons and their mortgage minions run wild, completely ignoring the law:

Given that the IMF and others believe a large part of the “structural unemployment” in our country is related to the struggling housing market and underwater and barely-hanging on homeowners, what is to be done? One option is to allow for options like lien-stripping in bankruptcy courts, reseting mortgages by zip code, etc. Another option is for courts to accelerate foreclosures by ignoring due process, proper documentation and legal process in order to kick people out of their homes and preserve the value of senior tranches of RMBS while giving mortgage servicers a nice kickback.

What option do you think our country is taking?

We should all be very concerned about the foreclosure situation in Florida. If you are a homeowner or potential homeowner, you should find it offensive that people’s property rights are being violated in such a flagrant way. If you are an investor, either as “bond vigilante” or someone with a generic 401(k), you should be worried that servicers have gone rogue and the incentive structure to maximize value instead of fees associated with foreclosures has broken down.

[…] The short problem is that banks are foreclosing without showing clear ownership of the property. In addition, “foreclosure mills” are processing 100,000s of foreclosures a month without doing any of the actual due diligence or legal legwork required for the state to justify the taking of property and putting people on the street. Even worse, many are faking documentation and committing other fraud in the process. The government is allowing this to happen both by not having courts block it from going forward, but also through purchasing the services of these mills. As Barney Frank noted: “Why is Fannie Mae using lawyers that are accused of regularly engaging in fraud to kick people out of their homes?”

And the worst part is the lack of conversation about this. Thanks to Yves Smith at naked capitalism for following this story from the get-go; her blog has become the place for anyone interested in this topic (that link is a catch-up post).

The rest of the media is starting to catch up to where she was weeks ago. Here’s the Washington Post with the story of an individual caught in one of these nets.Also Dean Baker just wrote a good summary of the situation for the Guardian:

As a number of news reports have shown in recent weeks, banks have been carrying through foreclosures at a breakneck pace and freely ignoring the legal niceties required under the law, such as demonstrating clear ownership to the property being foreclosed.

The problem is that when mortgages got sliced and diced into various mortgage-backed securities, it became difficult to follow who actually held the title to the home. Often the bank that was servicing the mortgage did not actually have the title and may not even know where the title is. As a result, if a homeowner stopped paying their mortgage, the servicer may not be able to prove they actually have a claim to the property.

If the servicer followed the law on carrying through foreclosures then it would have to go through a costly and time-consuming process of getting its paperwork in order and ensuring that it actually did have possession of the title before going to a judge and getting a judgment that would allow them to take possession of the property. Instead, banks got in the habit of skirting the proper procedures and filling in forms inaccurately and improperly in order to take possession of properties.

And the situation in Florida is worse than most assume. The specially-created courts see it as their purpose to clear out the foreclosures, as Yves Smith covers here (must read).
The most obvious takeaway is that homeowners aren’t being given the chance to have their documents properly viewed, have the challenges and proper legal hurdles to putting someone on the street vetted by the courts, and instead are being bribed with an additional month of house time if they don’t ask too many questions. And the biggest fear is that the fraud uncovered at GMAC is the tip of the iceberg for what is going on nationwide. Keep your eye on this situation.



JPMorgan Suspending Foreclosures

September 29, 2010
by David Streitfeld
New York Times

            In a sign that the entire foreclosure process is coming under pressure, a second major mortgage lender said that it was suspending court cases against defaulting homeowners so it could review its legal procedures.

The lender, JPMorgan Chase, said on Wednesday that it was halting 56,000 foreclosures because some of its employees might have improperly prepared the necessary documents. All of the suspensions are in the 23 states where foreclosures must be approved by a court, including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida and Illinois.

The bank, which lends through its Chase Mortgage unit, has begun to “systematically re-examine” its filings to verify that they meet legal standards, a spokesman, Tom Kelly, said.

Last week, GMAC Mortgage said it was suspending an undisclosed number of foreclosures to give it time to take a closer look at its own procedures. GMAC simultaneously began withdrawing affidavits in pending court cases, throwing their future into doubt.

Chase and GMAC, in their zeal to process hundreds of thousands of foreclosures as quickly as possible and get those properties on the market, employed people who could sign documents so quickly they popularized a new term for them: “robo-signer.”

In depositions taken by lawyers for embattled homeowners, the robo-signers said they or their team had signed 10,000 or more foreclosure affidavits a month.

Now that haste has come back to haunt them. The affidavits in foreclosures attest that the preparer personally reviewed the files, which those workers acknowledge they had no time to do.

GMAC and Chase say that their lapses were technical and will soon be remedied with new filings. But defense lawyers are seizing on these revelations and say they will now work to have their cases thrown out.

Beyond the relative handful of foreclosure cases being contested are many more in which the homeowner did not have legal counsel. Potentially, hundreds of thousands of cases could be in doubt.

GMAC’s initial disclosures prompted challenges or investigations from attorneys general in Iowa, Illinois, Colorado, California and North Carolina. The Treasury Department, which became the majority owner of GMAC after providing $17 billion in bailout money, has directed the lender to correct its procedures.

The pressure on the lender, which began as the auto financing arm of General Motors, is continuing to increase. Senator Al Franken, Democrat of Minnesota, asked Wednesday for the Treasury, the Justice Department and other regulators to collaborate on “a thorough investigation into the alleged misconduct.”

Defense lawyers have consistently complained that the lenders’ law firms were sending through cases that were at best sloppy. The Florida attorney general’s office says it is investigating four so-called foreclosure mills.

“The GMAC announcement was the mushroom cloud,” said one Florida defense lawyer, Matthew Weidner. “The fallout will burn through the entire mortgage servicing industry.”

Judges who oversee a lot of foreclosure cases increasingly agree that there is a serious problem.

“I don’t want to say that every one of these cases is wrong and a fraud on the court, but it is a big concern for us,” J. Thomas McGrady, chief judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit in Florida, said in an interview last week after GMAC’s announcement.

Judge McGrady predicted that the foreclosure process in Florida, which the Legislature has been trying to speed up, would have to slow down.

“Everyone is going to have to look at these cases more closely,” said Judge McGrady, whose circuit includes St. Petersburg.

The foreclosure process in many states is already torpid. This benefits delinquent homeowners, who can live in their properties free for years, as well as lenders who do not have to write down the value of the original loan. But it also threatens to prolong the housing crisis for many years.

Chase said that unlike GMAC, it had not withdrawn any affidavits in pending cases. It also said that if foreclosures were completed, it was allowing its agents to proceed with the sale of the properties. GMAC has stopped its sales.

Chase followed the lead of GMAC in playing down the impact of the situation. “Affidavits were prepared by appropriate personnel with knowledge of the relevant facts based on their review of the company’s books and records,” the spokesman, Mr. Kelly, said.

But many questions are unresolved. One is whether completed foreclosures will be vulnerable to what GMAC is calling “corrective action.” If those former homeowners press their claims, they could conceivably dislodge the new buyers.

Such cases are probably not imminent. The more immediate consequences for the lenders using robo-signers will be determined by the homeowners who are fighting their cases in court.

Lilliana DeCoursy, a real estate agent in Safety Harbor, Fla., has a rental property in foreclosure with GMAC. Now that the lender has withdrawn the affidavit in her case, Ms. DeCoursy said she was determined to press every advantage.

“I think they should have to answer for this,” she said.

William Neuman contributed reporting.

Bank of America delays foreclosures in 23 states

October 2, 2010

by Alan Zibel

Associated Press

            WASHINGTON (AP) — Bank of America is delaying foreclosures in 23 states as it examines whether it rushed the foreclosure process for thousands of homeowners without reading the documents.

The move adds the nation’s largest bank to a growing list of mortgage companies whose employees signed documents in foreclosure cases without verifying the information in them.

Bank of America isn’t able to estimate how many homeowners’ cases will be affected, Dan Frahm, a spokesman for the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank, said Friday. He said the bank plans to resubmit corrected documents within several weeks.

Two other companies, Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC Mortgage unit and JPMorgan Chase, have halted tens of thousands of foreclosure cases after similar problems became public.

The document problems could cause thousands of homeowners to contest foreclosures that are in the works or have been completed. If the problems turn up at other lenders, a foreclosure crisis that’s already likely to drag on for several more years could persist even longer. Analysts caution that most homeowners facing foreclosure are still likely to lose their homes.

State attorneys general, who enforce foreclosure laws, are stepping up pressure on the industry.

On Friday, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal asked a state court to freeze all home foreclosures for 60 days. Doing so “should stop a foreclosure steamroller based on defective documents,” he said.

And California Attorney General Jerry Brown called on JPMorgan to suspend foreclosures unless it could show it complied with a state consumer protection law. The law requires lenders to contact borrowers at risk of foreclosure to determine whether they qualify for mortgage assistance.

In Florida, the state attorney general is investigating four law firms, two with ties to GMAC, for allegedly providing fraudulent documents in foreclosure cases. The Ohio attorney general asked judges this week to review GMAC foreclosure cases.

In New York, State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is reviewing the matter “to prevent homeowners from being improperly removed from their homes,” according to a spokesman, Richard Bamberger, who said Friday that Cuomo’s office has been in contact with several of the financial institutions.

Mark Paustenbach, a Treasury Department spokesman, said the Treasury has asked federal regulators “to look into these troubling developments.” And the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates national banks, has asked seven big banks to examine their foreclosure processes.

“We both want to see that they fix the processing problems, but also to look to see whether there is specific harm” to homeowners, John Walsh, the agency’s acting director told lawmakers Thursday.

A document obtained Friday by the Associated Press showed a Bank of America official acknowledging in a legal proceeding that she signed up to 8,000 foreclosure documents a month and typically didn’t read them.

The official, Renee Hertzler, said in a February deposition that she signed 7,000 to 8,000 foreclosure documents a month.

“I typically don’t read them because of the volume that we sign,” Hertzler said.

She also acknowledged identifying herself as a representative of a different bank, Bank of New York Mellon, that she didn’t work for. Bank of New York Mellon served as a trustee for the investors holding the homeowner’s loan.

Hertzler could not be reached for comment.

A lawyer for the homeowner in the case, James O’Connor of Fitchburg, Mass., said such problems are rampant throughout the industry.

“We have had thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of foreclosures around the country by entities that did not have the right to foreclose,” O’Connor said.

The disclosure comes two days after JPMorgan said it would temporarily stop foreclosing on more than 50,000 homes so it could review documents that might contain errors. Last week, GMAC halted certain evictions and sales of foreclosed homes in 23 states to review those cases after finding procedural errors in some foreclosure affidavits.

Consumer advocates say the problems are widespread across the lending industry.

“The general level of sloppiness is pervasive around the industry,” said Diane Thompson, counsel at the National Consumer Law Center.

Vickee Adams, a spokeswoman for Wells Fargo & Co., said Wells’ “policies, procedures and practices satisfy us that the affidavits we sign are accurate.”

Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Citigroup Inc., said the bank “reviews document handling processes in our foreclosure group on an ongoing basis, and we have strong training to ensure that appropriate employees are fully aware of the proper procedures.”

Mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac said Friday they’re directing companies they work with that collect loan payments to follow proper procedures.

In some states, lenders can foreclose quickly on delinquent mortgage borrowers. By contrast, the 23 states in which Bank of America is delaying foreclosures use a lengthy court process. They require documents to verify information on the mortgage, including who owns it.

Those states are:

Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin.


AP Business Writer Christopher S. Rugaber contributed to this report.




The looting of America continues

September 30, 2010

by Brad Reed


            Our financial overlords have come up with an ingenious new way to loot the American economy: Forging foreclosure documents. Here’s Exhibit A:

            When Jason Grodensky bought his modest Fort Lauderdale home in December, he paid cash. But seven months later, he was surprised to learn that Bank of America had foreclosed on the house, even though Grodensky did not have a mortgage.

            Grodensky knew nothing about the foreclosure until July, when he learned that the title to his home had been transferred to a government-backed lender. “I feel like I’m hanging in the wind and I’m scared to death,” said Grodensky. “How did some attorney put through a foreclosure illegally?”

            Bank of America has acknowledged the error and will correct it at its own expense, said spokeswoman Jumana Bauwens.

            Mr. Gordensky is actually fairly lucky, since he had a pretty easy case to make that the bank couldn’t foreclose on a mortgage that never existed. Others aren’t quite so fortunate:

            Luis Fernandez’s foreclosure documents never looked quite right. Critical papers regarding his Orlando home were missing dates, and some signatures appeared to him to be forged. The mortgage had been sold so often – including once in the middle of the foreclosure process – that at times it was hard to tell which company was trying to seize the house. He challenged the foreclosure in court but failed.

            Now, as Fernandez seeks to appeal his eviction and get his home back, he has learned that the law firm representing the banks is under investigation for fabricating foreclosure documents.

            For those wondering why the banks are resorting to forging documents to foreclose on peoples’ homes, let’s review what happened over the last decade

  • Mortgages typically aren’t held by the original lenders. Instead, they’re sold off to Wall Street so they can be thrown into mortgage-backed securities. From there, they’re thrown into special purpose entities like collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). And then maybe they’re diced up again and thrown into a CDO squared, which is a CDO backed by pieces of other CDOs. Or if they’re really lucky, a CDO cubed, which is a CDO backed by pieces of other CDOs that are backed by pieces of other CDOs.


  • OK, I’ll try to explain it in English: imagine the mortgage is a berry that gets eaten by a worm that gets eaten by a bird that gets eaten by a cat, and then gets crapped out. If you were the person assigned to find the remnants of berry within the mound of cat poop, could you even attempt it?


  • So the lenders have absolutely no idea if the original mortgage is anywhere on their books — or, for that matter, if it’s been sent through a rift in the space-time continuum and is now held by the Rang’ar Interplanetary Fifth Dimensional Bank of the Gamma Quardrant. They have no idea what loans they are and are not exposed to. Oh noes! What are they to do?


  • The answer, it seems, has been to make stuff up. Forge foreclosure documents, send them out and hope that the people getting screwed aren’t smart enough to raise hell about it.

Dean Baker explains this better than I can, and without resorting to crude metaphors involving cat poop:

            If the servicer followed the law on carrying through foreclosures then it would have to go through a costly and time-consuming process of getting its paperwork in order and ensuring that it actually did have possession of the title before going to a judge and getting a judgment that would allow them to take possession of the property. Instead, banks got in the habit of skirting the proper procedures and filling in forms inaccurately and improperly in order to take possession of properties.

            GMAC, the former financing arm of General Motors and now called Ally Financial, has become the poster-child for these sorts of practices. Jeffrey Stephan, a leader of one of its foreclosure units, acknowledged that he had signed thousands of affidavits claiming that he had reviewed documents he had never seen.

            Here’s a fun thought: What happens if your mortgage was part of a synthetic CDO? That is, some bank synthesized a security based partly on your mortgage utilizing credit default swaps? Does this mean that if the bank foreclosed on you you’d not only lose you home but would be required to also hand over a duplicate home that’s never been built? The mind boggles. I’ll have more to say on this in the future when I debut my own creative financial innovation: The four-dimensional collateralized synthetic obligation cubed! Stay tuned.

Distrust in Government Skyrockets, Survey Finds

Pew Research Center Finds Less Than a Quarter of Americans Trust Federal Government

September 23, 2010

ABC News

With economic woes persisting and bitter partisan battles brewing in Washington, D.C., the number of Americans who trust the government has fallen to one of the lowest levels in half a century, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Only 18 percent of those surveyed said they can trust the federal government “almost always or most of the time,”19 percent said they are “basically content” with the government, a number unchanged from recent years, while 72 percent said they are frustrated.

About 58 percent said that government had a negative effect on their daily lives, a startling jump from 13 years ago when only 31 percent expressed similar sentiments in the poll.

The number of people who felt the federal government threatened their personal freedom also rose to 30 percent, up from 18 percent in a 2003 ABC News/Washington Post poll.

With mid-term elections just around the corner, the numbers illustrate a potential problem for President Obama and the Democrats.

“It’s a huge huge problem for any president that’s trying to make change the way Obama is,” Matt Bennett, co-founder and vice president of think tank Third Way, said on ABC News’ “Top Line” today of the survey numbers. “I think the one explanation is trust in government always goes down with Democratic presidents because Democrats believe in governing. … That’s what you’re seeing now, that’s what you saw with Bill Clinton in ’93.”

The survey reflects the polarized political climate in Washington, D.C. Even on issues where Democrats and Republicans have worked together in the past — such as climate change and immigration reform – bi-partisan cooperation has vanished because of the charged partisan atmosphere.

The health care bill, which did not garner one single Republican vote in Congress, became the epitome of this political divide and further fueled movements such as the Tea Party, which has emerged as a strong force even though it remains fragmented and has yet to find either direction or competent leadership.

According to the survey, the Tea Party could be the wild card in this election and have a significant impact on the Republican Party. The survey found that only about 32 percent of all Republicans said that GOP is the party that best reflected their views while about 39 percent cited the tea party. Among independents, 48 percent said the Tea Party is in line with their political views while only 19 percent cited the GOP.

Tea Party protestors have been highly vocal since their origins as an arm of a right-wing Evangeliocal religious group based in northern Mississippi and have fielded one of the strangest slate of political candidates since the Depression. Around the country, different arms of the tea party movement have been organizing to pressure their lawmakers, many of whom are up for reelection this year.

Only 20 percent of those surveyed expressed a favorable opinion of Congress, the lowest favorable rating in this survey in well over a quarter century.

Considerably less than half, or 31 percent, said the administration is doing a good job. Only 13 percent said the same about Congress.

According to Pew, the numbers were driven by overall unhappiness about the state of the nation, presidential politics, financially pressed independents and dim views of elected officials.

“Large majorities across partisan lines see elected officials as not careful with the government’s money, influenced by special interest money, overly concerned about their own careers, unwilling to compromise and out of touch with regular Americans,” Pew researchers wrote.

Distressed Homes Sell at 26% Discount in U.S. as Supply Swells

September 29, 2010

by Dan Levy


Homes in the foreclosure process sold at an average 26 percent discount in the second quarter as almost one-fourth of all U.S. transactions involved properties in some stage of mortgage distress, according to RealtyTrac Inc.

A total of 248,534 homes that sold in the period had received a default or auction notice or been seized by banks, RealtyTrac said in a report today. The number was up 5 percent from the first quarter and down 20 percent from a year earlier, according to the Irvine, California-based data seller.

“We’re still clearly building up more distressed inventory,” Rick Sharga, RealtyTrac’s senior vice president, said in a telephone interview. “That will either put downward pressure on prices or keep them from going up.”

The discount reflects the average sales price of homes in the foreclosure process compared with properties not in distress, according to RealtyTrac. About 24 percent of all homes sold were in some stage of foreclosure, down from 31 percent in the first quarter. The average price of a distressed property was $174,198, up from $171,971, the company said.

Foreclosures are adding to a swelling U.S. housing supply as an unemployment rate of 9.6 percent and the end of a federal homebuyer tax credit dampen purchases. Home seizures in August reached a record for the third time in five months, with more than 95,000 repossessions, RealtyTrac said earlier this month. Home prices dropped in July, the eighth consecutive year-over- year decline, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said Sept. 22.

‘Extraordinary’ Spike

Distressed sales dropped as a portion of total transactions because the homebuyer tax credit of as much as $8,000 spurred an “extraordinary sales spike,” Sharga said. The benefit expired April 30.

Sales of homes with mortgage distress probably will account for a quarter to a third of all transactions through 2011, up from 1 to 3 percent before the housing crisis, Sharga said.

“Many people elected to use the $8,000 credit as their discount, rather than buy a house that needed $8,000 worth of work,” Sharga said.

Bank-owned properties sold for an average discount of almost 35 percent in the second quarter, little changed from both the previous quarter and a year earlier. Such properties accounted for 15 percent of all U.S. home sales, down from almost 19 percent in the first quarter and 20 percent a year earlier, RealtyTrac data show.

Short Sales

Properties in default or scheduled for auction sold for an average discount of almost 13 percent, down from 16 percent in the previous quarter and 19 percent a year earlier. These homes are often sold in short sales, where lenders accept less than the outstanding loan amount for the property, RealtyTrac said. Sales of properties either in default or headed for auction accounted for 9 percent of all transactions.

The average price was $154,147 for bank-owned properties and $204,932 for homes in default or scheduled for auction, RealtyTrac said.

Nevada had the highest proportion of distressed sales of any U.S. state in the second quarter, with 56 percent of all transactions involving properties seized by banks or at risk of foreclosure. Arizona ranked second at 47 percent, while California was third at 43 percent.

Distressed sales accounted for at least a quarter of total sales in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, Idaho and Oregon, RealtyTrac said.

Ohio had the highest average price discount for foreclosed homes at almost 43 percent. Kentucky followed at 41 percent and California was third at 39 percent.

Michigan, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa and the District of Columbia all had average distress discounts of at least 35 percent, RealtyTrac said. The company sells default data from more than 2,200 counties representing 90 percent of the U.S. population.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Levy in San Francisco at dlevy13@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kara Wetzel at kwetzel@bloomberg.net

The Political Scene

Frat House for Jesus

The entity behind C Street.


by Peter J. Boyer

One midwinter night in 2008, Senator John Ensign, of Nevada, the chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, was roused from bed when six men entered his room and ordered him to get up. Ensign knew the men intimately; a few hours earlier, he had eaten dinner with them, as he had nearly every Tuesday evening since he’d come to Washington. Now they were rebuking him for his recklessness. They told him he was endangering his career, ruining lives, and offending God.

The men leading this intervention considered themselves Ensign’s closest friends in Washington. Four of those who confronted Ensign—Senator Tom Coburn and Representatives Bart Stupak, Mike Doyle, and Zach Wamp—lived with him in an eighteenth-century brick row house on C Street, in southeast Washington, a short walk from the Capitol. The men regarded themselves in part as an accountability group. Despite their political differences—Coburn and Wamp are Republicans, Stupak and Doyle are Democrats—they had pledged to hold one another to a life lived by the principles of Jesus, and they considered the Tuesday supper gatherings at C Street an inviolable ritual.

The regulars at the dinner included the nine men who lived at the house, along with half a dozen colleagues and friends who were non-residents. Every Tuesday evening, they would convene in the first-floor living room of the C Street house, a large space furnished with a long leather sofa and stuffed chairs. A bookshelf was filled with political biographies and James Patterson novels, and paintings of hunting scenes and sailing vessels hung on the walls, suggesting the atmosphere of a men’s club, or, as Coburn put it, a fraternity house. (Some of the private bedrooms upstairs, including his, were usually in a state of collegiate disarray.) After some small talk and friendly ribbing, the group broke up, and the men took their places in two narrow, adjoining dining rooms down the hall.

The meals were prepared by a volunteer host couple who lived in the house, and were served by a team of silent young men, also volunteers, who were part of the group’s mentoring program. At mealtime, the tone turned more serious, but the subject of conversation was rarely politics. Spiritual issues and the most intimate personal matters were discussed, with the assurance of absolute confidentiality.

Coburn, the senior man in the house, enjoyed these sessions, but at dinner that Tuesday night in 2008 he was plainly troubled. Finally, he spoke out. “Guys,” he said, “we’ve got a problem in the house.”

One day some weeks earlier, Coburn said, he had learned that John Ensign, who was married, was having an affair with Cynthia Hampton, the wife of one of his aides, Doug Hampton, and there had been an immediate intervention that same day. Meeting in an upstairs room at the C Street house (a room that was occasionally used for marriage counselling), Doug Hampton, accompanied by Coburn and three lay ministers who manage C Street, had confronted Ensign about the affair. The encounter was filled with recrimination and tears, and culminated in Ensign confessing and vowing to repent. Coburn returned to the Senate, but the others remained with Ensign, handing him a pen and paper and dictating a letter to Cynthia Hampton declaring his intention to end the affair.

“Cindy,” the letter began. “This is the most important letter that I’ve ever written. What I did with you was wrong. I was completely self-centered + only thinking of myself.” Ensign wrote that God wished for the two marriages to heal, and for the two lovers to “restore our relationships to Him.” The letter was put in a FedEx envelope, and addressed. The three ministers—Marty Sherman, Tim Coe, and David Coe—drove with Ensign to a FedEx station, and watched as he slipped the letter into the drop-box.

Hearing of this weeks later, the men at Coburn’s table were astonished. Ensign, a handsome, silver-haired conservative, was a Republican with national prospects. He and Doug Hampton had been extremely close, attending religious retreats together, and even buying houses in adjacent Las Vegas neighborhoods. Cindy Hampton had been Ensign’s campaign treasurer. Ensign’s Pentecostal faith, embraced when he was in graduate school, had been a central part of his public identity. An active member of the evangelical group Promise Keepers, he had publicly pledged himself to a life of “spiritual, moral, ethical, and sexual purity.”

According to Doug Hampton, Ensign, after mailing the letter and shaking his escorts, had telephoned Cindy Hampton and begged her to disregard the package he had just sent. He soon met her again, in Las Vegas, where they resumed the affair.

Coburn’s group lingered until well after the men in the adjoining dining room, including Ensign, had said their benediction and dispersed. Ensign had gone to his room, at the far end of the basement. At last, Steve Largent, a former Republican congressman and N.F.L. star—and one of the original C Street residents—spoke up. “Let’s go wake him up, right now,” he said.

Coburn, Largent, Stupak, Wamp, Doyle, and Sherman went downstairs and roused Ensign. This second intervention ended with Ensign sitting at the foot of his bed, weeping. “You’re right,” he told his friends. “I’m going to end this craziness.”

Some in the C Street group wanted Ensign out of the house, but the prevailing view was that he should stay. Dealing with the affair seemed to pose a test of the group’s very purpose: in the fevered atmosphere of an election year, could the men of C Street cope with the situation privately? Looking back, Coburn believed that the Ensign case was a C Street success story. A year after that midnight confrontation, word of Ensign’s affair had not leaked, and Ensign and his wife, Darlene, had reconciled.

Doug and Cindy Hampton were together, too, but Doug Hampton was still angry at Ensign. He believed that Ensign had destroyed his life, and, with the help of powerful friends, had got away with it. In June, 2009, after Ensign learned that Hampton intended to reveal the affair, he publicly confessed, and resigned his Republican leadership position. The tawdriness of the double betrayal, of wife and close friend, produced a wave of sex-scandal stories, but the damage was confined to Ensign. Then, a week later, the Republican governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, made his own public confession, a rambling tale of the “impossible love” that he had found with a woman in Argentina. Sanford spoke of an inner struggle over the betrayal of his marriage vows, and mentioned that he had sought the counsel of some of his old circle in Washington. “I was part of a group called C Street when I was in Washington,” he said. “It was, believe it or not, a Christian Bible study—some folks that asked members of Congress hard questions that I think were very, very important. And I’ve been working with them.”

The press soon discovered that John Ensign lived at the C Street house. A month later, in the circuit court of Hinds County, Mississippi, Leisha Pickering, the wife of the former Republican congressman Chip Pickering, another resident of the C Street house, filed an alienation-of-affection lawsuit suggesting that Pickering had committed adultery while living there. A picture began to emerge of a boys-gone-wild house of pleasure. The men of C Street, pledged to silence, declined to respond to press inquiries, which only heightened interest (“THE POLITICAL ENCLAVE THAT DARE NOT SPEAK ITS NAME,” a Washington Post headline read). Public records revealed little; the house was registered to an obscure evangelical youth group, and enjoyed the tax status of a registered church. Word spread that the tenants were paying below-market rents (about nine hundred dollars a month each), which prompted an inquiry by the Office of Congressional Ethics. Even if the residents had been inclined to talk about the house, some knew nothing more about it than the fact that they made out their monthly checks to “C Street Center.”

The C Street house was known to be associated with a ministry called the Fellowship, a nondenominational entity that sponsored the annual National Prayer Breakfast. But the Fellowship’s more significant work was its invisible ministry to political leaders, dating back to the New Deal era. Through the years, small Fellowship-inspired prayer groups have held weekly meetings in the Pentagon, in the Attorney General’s office, in various congressional hideaways inside the Capitol, and in the White House itself. The Fellowship has offered succor to Bill Clinton and Al Gore, to Dwight Eisenhower and Marion Barry, and to many of the Watergate felons. D. Michael Lindsay, a Rice University sociologist who has studied the ways in which evangelicals have become part of the American élite, was astonished by what he discovered about the Fellowship. “They are the most significant spiritual force in the lives of leaders—especially leaders in Washington—of any entity that I know,” he says. “They are mentioned more often in the interviews I’ve conducted than any other group. They have had a more sustained influence over the decades than any other entity. There is nothing comparable to them.”

The Fellowship avoids publicity for its activities. Heath Shuler, a two-term Democratic representative from North Carolina who lives in the house on C Street and has attended a weekly prayer session sponsored by the Fellowship since he arrived in Washington, recently said, “I’ve been here the whole time, and there’s talk about what the Fellowship is, but I honestly have no idea what they’re talking about. I honestly don’t know what it is.” Tom Coburn acknowledges that influence and secrecy, two of the chief attributes of the Fellowship, make a provocative combination. “Everybody in this town, and probably in the media world, says, Well, if you’re not out front, then you obviously have something to hide,” Coburn says. One view of the Fellowship, with some popularity on the secular left, is of a sort of theocratic Blackwater, advancing a conservative agenda in the councils of power throughout the world. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a friend of the Fellowship, might dispute that view—if she spoke about the group, which she does not.

The Fellowship’s participants (there is no official membership) describe themselves simply as followers of Jesus, an informal network of friends seeking harmony by modelling their lives after his. They are assertively nondoctrinal (eschewing even the term “Christian”) and nonecclesiastical (denominations tend to be divisive), and although the core figures are evangelicals, they do not believe in proselytizing. I have spoken to Buddhists, Muslims, and Jews who consider themselves part of this network. The group rejects anything resembling a formal structure—there is no titled executive team, and even the name “Fellowship” is unofficial, an informal convenience. The business cards of those leaders who carry them list the individual’s name at the top and addresses and telephone numbers at the bottom, with a blank space in between, where the name of the entity might go. A formal foundation does exist—a 501(c)(3) called the International Foundation, which oversees three hundred or so ministries associated with the Fellowship, and has a board of directors that approves a budget for the ministries (in the fifteen-million-dollar range) and the salaries of the parent entity’s relatively few employees. The Fellowship’s affiliated ministries vary widely in their missions, from operating a secondary school in Uganda to funding a program for inner-city youths in Washington, D.C. The core mission of the Fellowship, however, is interpersonal ministry to the powerful, meant “to turn their hearts to the poor.”

For the past forty years, this mission has been largely driven by one man, a layman from Oregon named Doug Coe. Coe insists that he is not the leader of anything. He sat in on the weekly House and Senate prayer groups for fifty years, speaking only once in all that time. Coe generally avoids interviews and photographers; a few years ago, when Time named him one of the nation’s most influential evangelicals, he tried to persuade the writer not to include him on the list, and, failing that, declined to provide a photograph of himself. His admirers describe him in terms that suggest a near-mystical visionary, with a powerful personal magnetism. “Almost everyone, from the moment they meet Doug Coe, they see he’s somebody special,” Don Bonker, a former Democratic congressman from Washington and a longtime associate of Coe’s, says. In Hillary Clinton’s memoir, “Living History,” she wrote that Coe was “a unique presence in Washington: a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship to God.”

In May, I travelled to Arlington, Virginia, where I met Doug Coe. The setting was a Revolutionary War-era mansion called the Cedars, which, since 1978, has served as the Fellowship’s home base. The house sits on seven acres, which rise to the high point of the Potomac palisade, near the Key Bridge, and is secluded by thick woodlands. The Cedars is used as a place for prayer meetings and meals (served by volunteers, as at the C Street house), and as a refuge for friends of the group. It was where William Aramony, the former director of United Way, went when he learned that he was about to be indicted as a swindler, and where Lee Atwater, the Republican political operative, retreated when he learned that he had a brain tumor. Michael Jackson and his family stayed at the Cedars when he came to Washington for a 9/11 memorial concert.

Coe greeted me in the front parlor, and escorted me to a side library. Coe is eighty-one now, and had recently undergone angioplasty, but he did not seem infirm. He was dressed in khaki trousers, a polo shirt, and a sport coat. Sliding into a leather chair, he said, “Tell me your story”—his standard opening with a stranger. Then, in a looping, elliptical narrative, he told me his.

Coe was reared in Salem, Oregon, in a home that valued education (his father was the state superintendent of schools) and the methods of John Wesley. His mother spent hours on her knees in daily prayer and fretted about the soul of her son. Coe, who preferred playing ball to practicing religion, parted from the Church at his earliest opportunity, when he left home for Willamette University to study math and physics. “For me to think that a baby born two thousand years ago to a fifteen-year-old girl in Bethlehem created the solar system—that didn’t make any sense to me,” he said. Other tenets of the faith gave him pause, too. “I just couldn’t figure out a God that would send everybody to Hell except a few of my friends, and my mom and my dad,” he says.

Then one night, alone in his room at Willamette, Coe had a religious experience. He describes it, as many born-again Christians do, as an almost corporeal encounter. He found himself promising to give his life to God’s work—as long as he didn’t have to evangelize, or spend too much time in prayer. He set out to test the efficacy of prayer by composing a list of desirable outcomes, having nothing to do directly with himself, and determined to try to pray them into reality by a certain date. One of the items on his list, he says, was that his favorite professor at school, a political-science instructor, would have a personal experience with Jesus. As the deadline neared, the professor, Mark Hatfield, told Coe that he had “met the Lord.” Coe and Hatfield became close friends and prayer partners, and remained so when Hatfield entered electoral politics, winning a seat in the state legislature, and eventually becoming governor and a U.S. senator. Coe travelled with Hatfield throughout the state, the two of them talking about Jesus as if he were present with them. (As one of the Senate’s most liberal Republicans, Hatfield opposed the Vietnam War, the Reagan tax cuts, and the Gulf War.)

When the big preachers came through Oregon in the early nineteen-fifties, Billy Graham among them, they all stopped by to visit Hatfield, and Coe began to develop a network of important connections. One who made a lasting impression was a Norwegian immigrant named Abraham Vereide, a Methodist preacher who had created a unique ministry that existed outside the organized churches and aimed to change the world by changing the hearts of leaders.

Vereide had arrived in America, which he called the “land of the unchained Bible,” in 1905, at the age of eighteen, with a burning zeal and uncommon drive. He soon made his way from preaching a horseback circuit to a prominent pulpit in downtown Seattle. On his recommendation, the city’s civic leaders created the program that came to be known as Goodwill Industries, putting people to work at reclaiming and reselling surplus goods. In 1934, in a meeting with nineteen of the city’s civic leaders, Vereide proposed that they try to order their lives according to the principles of Jesus. They met again the next week, and the next, with the understanding that the gatherings were utterly secret. “This was an intimate circle,” Vereide wrote, according to “Modern Viking,” a privately published authorized biography by Norman Grubb. “We didn’t dare tell anybody what was going on, or even include anyone else,” Vereide continued. “It was a sharing fellowship.” Vereide began to hear from men across the country (Fiorello LaGuardia sought him out on a trip West), and what had evolved into the prayer-breakfast idea became a national movement. At Vereide’s instigation, a prayer group was started in the House, and then in the Senate, and they continue today. In 1953, Vereide’s friend Senator Frank Carlson, of Kansas, invited the new President, Dwight Eisenhower, to attend a prayer breakfast. It was the first instance of what has become the National Prayer Breakfast, attended annually by every President since.

The real work of the movement, though, was in the small groups of top men (as Vereide described his mission field) which proliferated across the country. Sam Shoemaker, the New York Episcopal priest who helped to devise the Twelve Step program for Alcoholics Anonymous, in the nineteen-thirties, was Vereide’s close friend and adviser, and made key connections for him in New York and in Washington. Thomas Watson, of I.B.M., summoned Vereide to discuss his groups, as did Marvin Coyle, the president of Chevrolet, and J. C. Penney. Prayer groups were spreading overseas, and, by the end of the nineteen-fifties, with Vereide in his seventies, the core group of men around him decided to bring younger blood into the leadership circle. Doug Coe was recruited into the organization, which was then called International Christian Leadership, as field director, in 1959, and when Vereide died, a decade later, Coe effectively became his successor.

Coe’s flock consisted of a quarter of the members of the House and the Senate, and a wide international network of parliamentarians, potentates, military brass, and business executives. He had no pulpit and no title, and although he was called the “stealth Billy Graham,” he was no preacher. (A video of a talk he once gave to a group of evangelicals shows him prone to disjointed narrative and given to bizarre analogy, suggesting that Christians could use the sort of blind devotion that Maoists, Nazis, and the Mafia understood.) But Coe had a vision for the prayer-group movement that matched Vereide’s, and, in some ways, eclipsed it.

Under Coe, the Fellowship’s work became more focussed on an intensely personal, “relational” ministry to leaders, many of them public leaders, which made absolute trust paramount. What some saw as obsessive secrecy, Coe says, was a necessary privacy. “We’re not being secretive, it’s just that no one advertises that we’ve got a guy here who’s an atheist and is having a problem with his life, or maybe stole money from his country’s treasury,” he said.

The other change under Coe was a refining of the brand of faith that animated the Fellowship. Coe distilled that faith down to the raw teaching of Jesus, as presented in the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—and in the first few chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. This approach conformed with Coe’s youthful rebellion against the idea of a God who would condemn all but a particular brand of believer. “They tell Jewish friends, You can’t go to Heaven unless you’re a Christian,” Coe says. “Well, the facts are, if that is true, Isaiah could never go to Heaven, Mary could never go to Heaven, Jesus could never go to Heaven. It’s crazy.”

But there is also a strategic value to this insistently nondoctrinal approach: anybody, of any faith, can admire Coe’s Jesus. Rabbi Jack Bemporad, who works in the field of interreligious relations, met Coe on a trip to Iran several years ago. “He wants to have a way of presenting Jesus so that whoever he’s talking to will find a way of accepting it,” Bemporad says. “He’s not dogmatic and saying, ‘You’ve got to believe in the Trinity,’ or ‘He’s the son of God.’ ” Bemporad became a friend of Coe’s, and has visited the Cedars to speak about Jesus as a teacher of Judaism.

Coe also finds spiritual communion with the Dalai Lama (“the Dalai Lama loves Jesus”), and recently sent me a book of the Dalai Lama’s meditations on the Gospels. Along with a note, Coe slipped in a small tract titled “A Follower of Jesus,” which amounted to a summation of the Fellowship’s creed. The Followers of Jesus, it said, seek “a ‘revolution of love’ so powerful that the division and animosity separating people and nations will be greatly eliminated or replaced by the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation as modeled by Jesus of Nazareth.”

“I can tell you that critics to his right think that Doug is just doctrinally soft and confused,” Michael Cromartie, the vice-president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, and a friend of Coe’s, says. “It’s one thing to be an admirer of Jesus the man, but there are people in the more orthodox world who want to say that Jesus did more than just walk around and teach; he actually did something in history, on the Cross, that is crucial to everything.”

Coe shrinks at the thought of trying to convert anyone. His gift, those close to him say, is for acting as a sort of spiritual adviser. In 1982, when Ed Meese, the White House counsellor, was inconsolable after his son, Scott, was killed in an automobile wreck, a friend in the White House, Herb Ellingwood, suggested that Meese consider trying a small prayer group. The next morning, at six-thirty, Ellingwood and Meese met on the steps of the Pentagon, where they were joined by Doug Coe, whom Meese did not know. They went inside, into the office of another member of their group, General Jack Vessey, who was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Meese was surprised; he had sat across from Vessey at national-security meetings, and had no idea that he was even a Christian. The group met every week at the Pentagon, until Vessey’s retirement, when the prayer sessions moved to the Department of Justice, where Meese was by then presiding as Attorney General. When Meese left the government, the prayer group relocated to the Cedars, where it meets every Tuesday morning.

It has meant a great deal to me,” Meese told me. “All of us have had family problems, personal problems. It’s a place where you can discuss these problems. You come together in the name of Jesus, so you have a natural kind of bond. And the group dynamics are such that you have total confidence that nothing you are going to say is going to make you vulnerable through your colleagues, which is rare in Washington.”

Meese later got an idea of the Fellowship’s pervasiveness while on a trip to Japan. Coe had told him that a prayer group was meeting at a particular hotel, and Meese, searching the lobby billboard’s long list of events and meetings, finally found a listing for “Small Group,” giving a room number. Meese went to the room, and found the prayer group he was looking for—a group begun years earlier, according to Doug Coe, at the suggestion of Al Gore and James Baker.

In the Coe era, the Fellowship’s international outreach intensified, with an emphasis on a private, faith-based diplomacy that scored several quiet triumphs but also invited a darker interpretation of the Fellowship’s motivations. The prevalent critique of the prayer movement’s overseas involvement was chiefly advanced by the journalist Jeff Sharlet, whose 2008 book, “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power,” painted an evocative portrait of a cultlike vanguard movement that “recasts theology in the language of empire,” and facilitated a right-wing American foreign policy. (A second book, “C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy,” will appear later this month.)

Those involved in the Fellowship’s activities abroad insist that this critique vastly overstates the group’s influence, and misrepresents its motivation. One practitioner of the Fellowship’s private diplomacy is a former federal bureaucrat named Bob Hunter, who was an official in the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Jimmy Carter.

Hunter was a consumer advocate in the Ralph Nader mold. (Indeed, Nader was a friend and colleague, and Hunter marched against the Iraq war carrying a sign reading “The Emperor Has No Clues.”) When he met Doug Coe, in 1978, he had experienced a midlife religious conversion that he credited with saving his marriage, and he was looking for some way to channel his new zeal when a minister friend arranged a visit to the Cedars. Hunter had a liberal’s take on the Gospels. “I was new, I was a blank slate, I didn’t have any biases,” he recalls. “Jesus basically says that helping the poor is the goal. Reach out and help the least among us. I took that seriously. I wanted to know what Jesus was calling me to do.” Coe gave Hunter the prayer test. He urged him to meet in a small group with his new friends in faith, and to start to pray. “He said, ‘You need to try to find something to pray for that’s bigger than yourself. Something that you guys can’t do, because then you can’t take the credit for it, when you start to see these things happen. And they will happen. I would suggest you pray for a place. You can pray for a place, or an idea, something. Places are easier, somehow. Maybe you ought to pray for the District of Columbia—they could use it—or the state of Virginia, or Brazil. Or even a whole continent, like Africa.’ ”

Hunter had no particular interest in foreign affairs at the time, but he and his friends began to pray for Uganda, a place that came to mind, he told me, because Idi Amin was in the news at the time. Soon, they met an Anglican missionary from Uganda, and launched a fund-raising campaign for the Mengo Hospital, in Kampala. Hunter continued to pray, and one day, at an airport, he met a young woman who turned out to be the daughter of Andrew Young, then the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She introduced him to Young, who helped open many doors in Africa, and eventually Hunter was so well connected that he became an intermediary in getting Nelson Mandela to preside over peace talks for Burundi in 2000.

Hunter brought Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the former African rebel who became Uganda’s President, and other key Ugandan leaders into prayer groups. When Uganda’s Parliament took up a bill last year that would have punished some homosexual acts with death, Hunter and his friends in the Fellowship felt they had the standing to urge the proposed measure’s defeat. Museveni appointed a commission that studied the matter and then recommended that the bill be withdrawn. Using similar connections, in 2001 the Fellowship arranged a secret meeting at the Cedars between the warring leaders Joseph Kabila, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda, who later signed a peace agreement.

Even friends of the Fellowship, however, acknowledge that the group has made itself vulnerable to unfriendly assessments, because its insistent secrecy and Coe’s indiscriminate outreach to leaders of all kinds raise legitimate questions of accountability. An old friend of Coe’s, the late Washington lawyer Jim Bell, a key figure in the early Fellowship, once said of Coe’s willful political naïveté, “Doug has chosen to be a political eunuch,” a posture that enabled him to befriend, in the name of Jesus, such men as the Somalian dictator Siad Barre.

Coe met Barre in 1980, and in 1983, when he arranged a multi-nation Africa trip for several Fellowship associates, he put Somalia on the itinerary. Coe thought it would be helpful to include a member of Congress in the entourage, and, at the last minute, he asked Chuck Grassley, then a new Republican senator from Iowa, to join. Kent Hotaling, a Coe associate who was on the trip, says that Grassley asked Coe, “What do you want me to do when I get there?”

“Just talk about the Senate group that you’re part of, and how people meeting around Jesus, it helps them work out their differences, and that we’re coming in the name of Jesus for friendship,” Coe told Grassley. Hotaling says that Grassley said just that, and nothing more. “There was nothing from Doug that instructed him to talk politics. He didn’t talk politics.” But Hotaling acknowledges that Barre almost certainly inferred a political meaning in the visit. Somalia had been a client state of the Soviet Union, until a Soviet-backed coup in neighboring Ethiopia shifted the East-West balance in the Horn of Africa and left Somalia without a patron. No U.S. senator had ever visited Somalia, and the fact that Grassley had been sent by Doug Coe rather than by Ronald Reagan was a distinction Barre was unlikely to make. History hardly required Doug Coe’s intervention—Somalia and the United States believed they needed each other at the time—but Coe cannot be surprised at the accusation of complicity in the devastation that Barre later brought to the country. “Somalia wanted guns,” Sharlet wrote, and the Fellowship “helped it get guns.”

In 1997, Coe travelled to Sudan with a former Republican congressman named Mark Siljander, and met with the country’s notorious President, Omar al-Bashir. The Clinton Administration had broken diplomatic ties with Bashir, who had declared Sharia law and undertaken a program of religious cleansing which killed two million Christians and animists, and made refugees of four million more. According to the evangelical magazine World, Siljander may have taken Coe’s Jesus-only, no-questions-asked ecumenism too seriously. Siljander wrote a book called “A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman’s Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide,” in which he asserted that Bashir was “a bad man” in the eyes of the West, but “in the eyes of God, as near as I could understand it, he was just another human being, with frailties and failings like the rest of us.” In 2005, the F.B.I. began to investigate Siljander’s work for a Sudan-based Islamic charity with terrorist ties, and this July Siljander pleaded guilty to felony counts of acting as an unregistered foreign agent and of obstruction of justice. He faces a possible fifteen-year prison sentence.

Just a few minutes after I met Coe that first evening at the Cedars, he told me, “Most of my friends are bad people. They all broke the Ten Commandments, as far as I can tell.” He went on to cite the crimes of such Biblical leaders as King David and the apostle Paul, which was his way of saying that judgment is God’s work, not his. That is his explanation, or rationalization, for the spiritual friendships that he and others in the Fellowship have formed over the years with such men as Indonesia’s Suharto, or General Gustavo Álvarez Martínez, the Honduran strongman. On one occasion, the Fellowship decided to invite Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the President of Equatorial Guinea, to the annual National Prayer Breakfast. Obiang, who came to power in 1979 by leading a coup that resulted in the execution of his tyrannical uncle, has been called the worst dictator in Africa. When a State Department official asked why the Fellowship would be inviting such a tyrant to a prayer breakfast, Coe says, the answer was “That’s why we invited him.” In the event, Obiang did come to the breakfast, but little in his record suggests that his association with the Fellowship has moderated his authoritarian style. Holding others accountable for their actions is a tenet of Christian duty as old as the Church, but Coe says that he does not judge. “Jesus even met with the Devil,” he said.

            Members of the group concede that some people may seek their fellowship for reasons other than a wish to grow in Jesus. In the early nineteen-nineties, a Russian media entrepreneur named Vladimir Gusinsky, who’d had a falling-out with Vladimir Putin, was looking West for new opportunities. He hired the public-relations firm APCO, which specializes in crisis management, to help introduce him in the United States. One of the APCO executives handling Gusinsky was Don Bonker, the former Democratic congressman, and an established figure within the Fellowship. Bonker brought Gusinsky, a secular Jew, to the Cedars to meet Doug Coe. “We emerged from that meeting, and we were walking to the limo, and Gusinsky stopped me,” Bonker recalls. “He said, ‘That is an amazing man. I want to come back here and see him again.’ ”

Gusinsky attended the Prayer Breakfast the next year, and has missed only one of the events in the years since. In 1998, when Coe and a group of his close associates made a whirlwind trip through the former republics of the Soviet Union, meeting with leaders introduced by friends in the international network, Gusinsky provided a 727 with a full crew to transport them. It is impossible, ultimately, to know the motivation of someone like Gusinsky, who comes from a political culture in which proximity to power is everything. The Fellowship meant entrée to a rarefied circle, and the prospect of shaking hands with a President. “There’s this whole Washington phenomenon, related to access to power and the aphrodisiac of power,” Michael Cromartie, of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, says. “You bring an oligarch over to the Cedars and he says, ‘Ah, these are my kind of people. They have pictures on the wall of all these Presidents, they seem to be in touch with power, they know people with money, this will help my business.’ ”

If international dignitaries view the Prayer Breakfast as a reliable means of unofficial access, some Presidents—most notably, Bill Clinton—have been more accommodating than others. “Bill and Hillary got it,” says Doug Burleigh, who is Coe’s son-in-law, and a key figure in the Fellowship. “They came early, they’d meet with the groups early and do a photo op with ’em, hug ’em. They got what this was about.” George W. Bush, on the other hand, made it clear to Coe and the others from the start that he’d show up at the Prayer Breakfast but not to expect much more. “George came late, and left early—he did every year,” Burleigh says. “Now, I appreciate his honesty. He told Doug, ‘You know, this isn’t my thing.’ ”After Bush’s first, perfunctory appearance, Clinton telephoned Coe to console him. “He didn’t badmouth Bush, he gave it the best spin,” Burleigh recalls. “He said, ‘Hey, Bush’ll get it. He doesn’t understand what this thing’s about.’ ”

In 1984, Coe was introduced to a man named Michael Timmis, a wealthy recent convert, eager to do God’s work, who had heard that Doug Coe was the man to see. Timmis was a hard-charging overachiever from a working-class Irish Catholic family in Detroit, who had made a fortune in high-risk business transactions. Along the way, he had alienated his wife and two children, and his born-again experience had not helped matters at home. Coe told him that he needed to go back to Detroit and learn how to love his family. Timmis was a bit put off, but the two men stayed in touch, and Coe eventually offered to “disciple” Timmis—to become his spiritual mentor.

One morning a year later, Timmis found his seventeen-year-old daughter, Laura, dead in the garage of the family’s Grosse Pointe home. She had committed suicide, after an argument with her parents about skipping school. Timmis’s grief was compounded by his fear of also losing his son, Mike, Jr., a troubled college senior whose estrangement seemed irreparable. Coe met the young man during an Easter visit to Grosse Pointe, and got him to promise to visit the Cedars and help to computerize the Fellowship’s records. After graduation, his parents held him to his promise, and Mike, Jr., reluctantly headed to Arlington for a week’s stay. Four days later, Coe telephoned Timmis to tell him that Mike, Jr., had found the Lord, and was determined to become a missionary in Africa. Timmis and his son reconciled, and Timmis offered Coe any sum he named. No need for that, Coe said, but he added that there was a ministry in Washington that could use some help. “Why don’t you help those guys?” Coe asked.

“Those guys” were Coe’s sons, David and Tim, and their friend Marty Sherman. The Coe brothers and Sherman had been schoolmates at James Madison University, where they were part of a fraternity for believers, and tried to model themselves after the early Christians described in the Book of Acts. After graduating, they apprenticed with the Fellowship, and saw a chance to branch out when the house on C Street became available.

The place had been built as a convent for St. Peter’s Catholic Church, in 1880, and had taken on many incarnations since, most recently as an outreach center for a Hawaii-based ministry called Youth with a Mission (known as Y-WAM), which was looking for a buyer. The house was technically owned by a Y-WAM entity-of-convenience foundation called the C Street Center, and Timmis acquired the house by purchasing the foundation. The District of Columbia allowed the new owner to keep the C Street Center name on the city records, which is why, when the scandal broke, reporters couldn’t determine the property’s real owner.

The lay ministers used the place as a base for their contact work on the Hill, which became a significantly richer mission field when the Republican revolution of 1994 brought a huge crop of Christian conservatives to town. Among them was Steve Largent, the new congressman from Oklahoma, who was greeted by Tim Coe and Sherman soon after he moved into his office in the Cannon Building. A friendship developed, and, when Largent heard about Sherman’s frat house for Jesus, he was curious. When the rules governing congressional travel allowance were changed, enabling weekly commutes to the home district, senators and congressmen scrambled for part-time quarters in Washington, some sharing apartments with other members, some bunking in their offices. The C Street house, with its dormlike rooms upstairs, suggested itself as an obvious option.

Largent, Coburn, Wamp, and Doyle were the first to move in, and they were soon joined by Bart Stupak. (Over the years, the roster of residents included Republican Senators Sam Brownback, John Thune, and Jim DeMint, and Kansas Representative Jerry Moran, as well as John Ensign.) Prospective housemates were usually recruited from the prayer groups. Until the recent scandals, wives of the C Street residents were generally enthusiastic supporters of the living arrangement. “My wife doesn’t live here in Washington, she lives at home, and she loves the fact that I’m surrounded by a group of men that know her,” Coburn says. “She knows that if I start wandering, Marty or Mike Doyle or Bart Stupak or Heath, they’re gonna say, ‘Hey, what’s the deal?’ ”

The Tuesday supper was the only formal meal served to the residents, although Jim DeMint could be found most mornings making his way downstairs, in pajama bottoms and T-shirt, to fetch his breakfast of tea, Oreos, and dried cranberries. The men’s private quarters were strikingly modest. Stupak had one of the better rooms, a corner space on the third floor, with a private bath, but DeMint slept in a space just big enough for his bed, and hung his clothes in a closet down the hall.

There was shoptalk, but politicking was avoided, a custom that proved useful during moments of peak partisanship on the Hill, such as Bill Clinton’s impeachment or last year’s health-care debate. “It’s hard to hate somebody that you’re praying with,” Coburn says. Heath Shuler says, “This is really the only time that I see the barriers completely knocked down between the two political parties. They love one another, they care about one another. Now, sometimes, that changes. They’ll walk out the door and get on C-SPAN and try to win an Emmy, and that changes. But, truly and sincerely, there is that love there.”

Much of the talk in the house was deeply personal. Chip Pickering spoke of his unhappy marriage, and made it clear that he meant to end it, even as he was reminded (vainly) of his marriage vows. Mark Sanford never lived at the house but did pray with the group often enough that his wife, Jenny, sought the group’s counsel when she learned of her husband’s affair. Those cases became famous failures, but the men at C Street contend that their support group has mostly worked, as on the morning in the spring of 2000 when each of them received an urgent summons to Stupak’s home in Menominee, Michigan. Stupak’s youngest son, Bart, Jr., had shot and killed himself after a high-school graduation party at the family’s home. “There was no decision to be made. I mean, we had to get to Bart and just be there to support him as soon as we could,” Largent says. Tom Coburn was at Stupak’s side when he viewed his son’s body, in the mortuary, and other C Street men helped to repair the damage to the wall caused by the bullet. “We had a contingent of ninety members of Congress come to that funeral,” Coburn recalls. “And what they got to see was something that they hadn’t seen in a long time: Here’s three Republicans and two Democrats lovin’ a brother through a problem. They came because they knew what we had.”

Soon after the Pickering story broke, an exodus from the C Street house began. John Thune, the Republican from South Dakota, who is said to have Presidential aspirations, was the first to leave, in July of 2009. A group of congresswomen who used the house for a Wednesday-morning prayer session found a new venue, and a moderate Democrat who had been considering a move into the house pulled back. John Ensign asked his housemates’ forgiveness, and left, but the taint remained. Stupak and Doyle, pressured by constituents and the press, had moved out by the end of the year. That left only Coburn, DeMint, Wamp, Shuler, and Moran—conservatives who were in little danger of being punished by voters for staying. The Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee were said to be scrutinizing Ensign’s dealings with Doug Hampton for possible impropriety. The House Office of Congressional Ethics, however, had decided that the residents’ rental rates were appropriate for the boarding-house arrangement, and did not recommend that any action be taken. District officials revised the house’s tax status, removing much of its exemption.

This spring, a group of core associates gathered at the Cedars and debated whether the time had come to alter the Fellowship’s rigid policy of secretiveness. Some in the group had long argued for greater transparency and accountability, if for no other reason than to counter the darker conjectures about the movement. By most accounts, this view prevailed, despite Coe’s reservations. Change will almost certainly be minor, and come slowly. A Web site has been designed, and is scheduled to be launched this month.

Marty Sherman and the Coe brothers attended the meeting, and began by apologizing for the embarrassment their program had caused. There has been talk of closing down the C Street house, and even of selling it. “If it has reached the point where the reporting on C Street has been so negative that it becomes how people identify what we do, and what we stand for, then, yeah, it should shut down,” Don Bonker, the former Democratic congressman, says. “I’ve just never thought it was a good idea for people to take up residence. And now, with the negative reporting, I think that is having an injurious effect on the whole movement, on the Fellowship, and what it represents.” Closing the place would be easy enough to do, given that Mike Timmis and Marty Sherman sit on the board of the foundation that owns it.

In the meantime, when Congress is in session the Tuesday-night gatherings continue, still attended by members who no longer live in the house. During the supper accountability session, according to Tom Coburn, “a question that’ll be asked about every four weeks is, Is anybody here having an affair?” ♦

The Conversations with the Crow


            When the CIA discovered that their former Deputy Director of Clandestine Affairs, Robert  T. Crowley, had been talking with author Gregory Douglas, they became fearful (because of what Crowley knew) and outraged (because they knew Douglas would publish eventually) and made many efforts to silence Crowley, mostly by having dozens of FBI agents call or visit him at his Washington home and try to convince him to stop talking to Douglas, whom they considered to be an evil, loose cannon.

            Crowley did not listen to them (no one else ever does, either) and Douglas made through shorthand notes of each and every one of their many conversation. TBR News published most of these (some of the really vile ones were left out of the book but will be included on this site as a later addendum ) and the entire collection was later produced as an Ebook.

            Now, we reliably learn, various Washington alphabet agencies are trying to find a way to block the circulation of this highly negative, entertaining and dangerous work, so to show our solidarity with our beloved leaders and protectors, and our sincere appreciation for their corrupt and coercive actions, we are going to reprint the entire work, chapter by chapter. (The complete book can be obtained by going to:



Here is the thirty-second  chapter

Conversation No. 32

Date: Monday, August 19, 1996

Commenced: 9:37 AM CST

Concluded: 10:15 AM CST

GD: I hear conversations there, Robert. Am I calling at a wrong time for you?

RTC: No, nothing at all. They’ll leave in a minute or so.

GD: Thank you for the material on ZIPPER, Robert. Very, very interesting but not unexpected.

RTC: But we do not speak of specifics, do we?

GD: No, not necessary. Is there an original of the Driscoll [1]report?
RTC: Somewhere, no doubt, but I never had one.

GD: Did you know him?

RTC: Met professionally. I understand he died some time ago.

GD: I could check with a Russian friend about the original of their report unless you objected.

RTC: Why not just wait? Unless your connection might retire.

GD: I’ll think about it.

RTC: You mentioned one James Atwood a while ago as I recall.

GD: I know I did.

RTC: Mr. Atwood is very unhappy with you, Gregory. He accuses you of stealing money meant for us and in removing two loyal subjects of the Queen.

GD: The money was never intended for your people, in spite of what Atwood says and as far as the SAS types are concerned, I was as shocked as anyone when they vanished.

RTC: Vanished off of your boat in the middle of the Caribbean one dark night, as I was told.

GD: That’s as may be, Robert. Perhaps they decided to swim in the warm water. Who knows? You can’t believe anything Atwood says. Did you know that he worked for your people, the STASI and the KGB all at the same time while he was in Berlin?

RTC: Atwood is not an honest person, Gregory. But as to his accusations, they are private comments. I wouldn’t worry about them getting out.

GD: If it weren’t for Mueller’s tips, I would never have found the money and Atwood would still be contemplating another facelift. And I wouldn’t believe that your people would see a penny of it. When my Russian friend tipped me that Jimmy was going to detour to New Orleans and off-load our cargo, I was very upset as you can imagine. On the other hand, the next day, he was very upset when his two friends turned up missing. I never believed they were broke British tourists, stranded in Italy and willing to work their way back. Military types with shined shoes and sidewall haircuts. Atwood was about as subtle as a fart in a space suit.

RTC: (Laughter)

GD: Well, it’s true. He made such a fuss in the morning when he found we were still headed for the Panama Canal that I had to convince him he would be much more relaxed spending his time locked in his cabin. There was some expressed unhappiness there but he saw my point. We let him out off Mexico because there was nothing he could do at that point. Besides, I had tossed his piece over the side along with a few other things I found in his cabin. He was very fortunate he didn’t join the gun.

RTC: But the gold? There was trouble about that as you might have guessed.

GD: Well, probably when we docked in California and he called his chums to get his trunk full of gold, he lied to them. Imagine their chagrin when they looked inside and found what they thought were bars of gold but were really paving stones from the hotel’s parking lot. A spray can full of gold paint covers many sins, including paving bricks, Robert. Did it ever occur to the men with the pointed heads that Jimmy might have been ripping them off? I always get blamed for the dirty work of others. They weren’t too mad because he’s still alive and up to his old tricks in Savannah, at least the last I heard.

RTC: ‘In the midst of life…’ Gregory.

GD: In the midst of life, we’re in peanut butter, Robert, or something else that looks like it. Memories, Robert, memories. I would assume you have a few of your own, don’t you?

RTC: And your gold?

GD: I know nothing about Nazi gold, Robert. A dream, nothing more. If I had any, it wouldn’t be in the Bank of America. They would have run, panting with news of it, to the government years ago, eager for that thrilling pat on the head. I had quite a problem with them once, when I lived in Santa Monica. They put my paycheck into someone else’s account and it took two weeks to get the dim bulbs to put it back. And to add injury to insult, they bounced my rent check, and others, and had the testicles to charge me for each and every check.

RTC: Banks do things like that.

GD: Not to me, they don’t. I simply went down and drew out all my money, including the overdraft charges, by going to a teller I knew that was a heavy pot smoker and confused sometimes. And then I did something very entertaining. I went to the fish market and bought two very large, cooked Dungeness crabs, froze them in my freezer and put them into my briefcase along with some really gross animal pornography. I had a safe deposit box at the local branch and I opened the box, took out various objects of value and replaced them with the crabs. Oh, and of course the lovely, instructional pictures. Robert, have you ever smelt shellfish when it goes off?

RTC: I can’t say as I have.

GD: It smells worse than someone pissing on a hot stove. Believe me, that’s a smell that really stands out. And in time, the crabs thawed and began the process of filling the bank with lovely odors. Of course no one could go into the vault without vomiting so they had to find out which box had the treasures. Most local box holders were on vacation, it being July and very hot down there, so they had to drill open about ten boxes to find the prize in mine. I was moving anyway and I heard later from my old landlord that the bank was greatly upset and wanted to charge me thousands of dollars for expenses. Not that they ever got any of it.

RTC: If you could only channel your creative energy, Gregory, you could be a formidable operator.

GD: I’m aware of that but I do enjoy having fun and listening to all the methane leaking out of the bloated idiots that the people in this country think are actually protecting them. Who will protect us from the agencies? God? I have my fun and sometimes I make my point. And gathering intelligence material, and I have had my own experiences with this, is sometimes such a waste of time, Robert. No matter how true or valuable it is, it always has to be passed up the ladder where it ends up in the hands of those who rule us. And if your information, accurate or not, doesn’t please them or reflect their idiot views, then into the trash basket with it. Are you with me, Robert? Does this ring a bell with you?

RTC: Oh yes, many bells. I recall, for example, a report by Joe Hovey, our station chief in Saigon, very accurately pinpointing the coming VC Tet offensive as early as November in 1967. This was about two months before the actual attack. I mean, Gregory, Joe was spot on. And, you would say, if we knew, why did we let it happen? Why because the leadership both at the Company and in the White House and the Pentagon didn’t want to believe it. Oh, Joe’s accurate report wasn’t the only one, believe me, but it was all ignored. Johnson may have been a great politician but he was worthless as a military leader and Westmoreland was only a sycophant who always did what his bosses wanted.

GD: I’ve noticed that weak leaders want weaker men around them because subconsciously they are aware that they are poor specimens of humanity and they want no one around who might show them up. A strong leader, on the other hand, will have strong and competent men around him. This is an entirely predictable happening. And Vietnam was a mess. From both a political and a military point of view, we walked right into a bog, got stuck and lost whatever it was we started out to do. And no one ever thinks about the dead their stupidity caused. A dead soldier is a piece off the board and a wounded one can’t fight so they forget them.

RTC: Well, I have quit a bit of background on Vietnam, Gregory and in one sense, you’re right but this is hindsight and hindsight is always right. We got into Vietnam a little bit at a time and for reasons that seemed to be correct at the time. The French ran their Indo-China for years and had a lucrative trade, especially in rubber. The war came, France was beaten by the Germans and the Vichy French government was controlled by the Germans. When the Japanese, who were allied with Germany, wanted to get into Indo-China, they asked the Germans who told the French to let them in. It was the rubber they were all after. It couldn’t do Germany any good so they forced Vichy to help the Japs for political reasons. During the war over there, a local resistance group started up, anti-Japanese of course. The problem was that it was run by local Communists but as FDR loved to cooperate with Communists, it was partially supplied by us. War was over, Japan defeated and the country reoccupied by the French. Political dissent and the French began to lose effective control over the rubber. We wanted DeGaulle to join NATO and his price was for us to assist France in their colony. Little by little, we did. And there was another element. JFK was Catholic and South Vietnam was filled with Catholics who wanted to be protected from the Communists and Buddhists. Cushing [2]put on the heat and Kennedy then began to send some support units over there. The French had suffered a major propaganda defeat at Dien Bien Phu and French popular opinion demanded a withdrawal. The French got us to substitute our people for theirs with an agreement to share the rubber revenues with us. And it went on from there. Ho had little to work with but he conducted guerrilla warfare that was very effective. To counter it, we had to pour huge numbers of troops and equipment into the country. We did terrible damage to their infrastructure but they kept coming back. We set Colby up with ‘Phoenix’ to neutralize VC supporters in the south and of course they launched a program of terror, as the press called it, against practically all the civilian population outside of Saigon.

GD: That sort of thing never works, Robert. The Communists are real experts at that game. The more innocent civilians that are tortured or killed, the more recruits the movement gets. They win always, you know, in the end, they win.

RTC: The Tet offensive was a huge political victory for the VC but from a military sense, they lost. Their real victory was to focus domestic anger and force a demarche. McNamara was booted out, Johnson just gave up and eventually, we got out. I mean, Gregory, it was not a military defeat but a political one.

GD: When the French pulled out, they were not defeated in the field, except for one very public battle, but as you said, it was a political victory. Once the public gets its wind up, the politicians are forced to heed the noise or they will be torn to pieces.

RTC: You do understand that we were not defeated in Vietnam, don’t you? It was the intrusive and self-serving press coupled with the perception of a useless and very destructive war from the civilians that forced us our. Not a military defeat.

GD: Call it what you wish, it was a defeat. You can parse it until the cows come home, Robert, but it was a defeat. I read that there are large untapped oil fields offshore there. Give it a few years and we will be back, cultivating the former enemy, hat in hand and money in bags for their leaders. Oh yes, and contracts for the development of the oil. Unless, of course, the Chinese beat us to it. Marx was right when he said the basis of wars was economic and Clausewitz said that war was just an extension of politics. Of course, that doesn’t do much for destroyed cities and huge civilian casualties, does it? I don’t suppose something like that matters in the long run. The victor always writes the history and it takes hundreds of years and the death of everyone connected with it before the objective truth ever comes out. And concerning the policy of torture, it is totally unnecessary and to me, the hallmark of a stupid sadistic type. Mueller, who was one of the best, used to discuss techniques with me. I’ve done my own work in this area at times and never, ever had to torture anyone. Besides, if you torture someone, they will tell you anything you want to hear just to make you stop. I recall hearing about a certain Dr. Black and Decker. Am I ringing any bells there?

RTC: Go on.

GD: One of your people, sent down from the cultural office in our embassy in Tokyo. Used to interrogate suspected VC by running an electric drill into one eye. If they wouldn’t talk then, in went the drill, right into the brain. Of course, then the victims couldn’t tell them anything because they were dead. I was told by my source, who got violently sick once viewing the messes he created, that the good man kept putting in slips for new shoes. He kept ruining them with a slurry of blood and brains. I understand after we pulled out, he left your employ and is now working at a very respectable establishment university on the East Coast, teaching comparative religion to the daughters of the wealthy.

RTC: These things happen in war, Gregory.

GD: He’s fortunate I wasn’t running his operation. I would have hanged him from the nearest tree, Robert. When he prates about the perfect love of Jesus, does he think about his ruined shoes?

RTC: I knew the man you’re talking about and I can assure you, he feels great remorse for some of his actions…

GD: He should feel the rope around his neck, Robert. Things like that always come out. Talleyrand said to Napoleon once, over the shooting of the Duc d’Enghein, ‘Sire, it is worse than a crime: it is a mistake.’ And not necessary. And all of us pay for such things. I know Colby authorized and encouraged this filthiness and, Robert, I’m glad your people put him into the river.

RTC: These things must be taken in context, Gregory. I spoke about hindsight, didn’t I?

GD: If these things never happened, we wouldn’t need hindsight at all. I recall reading a comment Bismarck once said to a German politician bent on some mischief. He said, in essence, are you prepared to carry your ideas through with cannon? If not, forget them. You know, Bismarck was the greatest and most pragmatic political leader of his time and a very great man. Can you imagine Johnson even thinking that way? Or Reagan? What did the grunts say in Vietnam? Kill them all and let God sort it out? Isn’t that a wonderful monument on the road to perfection? Oh well, read Malthus and pray.

RTC: You’re far too liberal in your views, Gregory. If you want to be successful, you have to be more realistic.

GD: I am realistic in practice but not in theory.

(Concluded 10:15 AM CST)

Dramatis personae:


James Jesus Angleton: Once head of the CIA’s Counterintelligence division, later fired because of his obsessive and illegal behavior, tapping the phones of many important government officials in search of elusive Soviet spies. A good friend of Robert Crowley and a co-conspirator with him in the assassination of President Kennedy


James P. Atwood: (April 16, 1930-April 20, 1997) A CIA employee, located in Berlin, Atwood had a most interesting career. He worked for any other intelligence agency, domestic or foreign, that would pay him, was involved in selling surplus Russian atomic artillery shells to the Pakistan government and was also most successful in the manufacturing of counterfeit German dress daggers. Too talkative, Atwood eventually had a sudden, and fatal, “seizure” while lunching with CIA associates.


William Corson: A Marine Corps Colonel and President Carter’s representative to the CIA. A friend of Crowley and Kimmel, Corson was an intelligent man whose main failing was a frantic desire to be seen as an important person. This led to his making fictional or highly exaggerated claims.


John Costello: A British historian who was popular with revisionist circles. Died of AIDS on a trans-Atlantic flight to the United States.


James Critchfield: Former U.S. Army Colonel who worked for the CIA and organizaed the Cehlen Org. at Pullach, Germany. This organization was filled to the Plimsoll line with former Gestapo and SD personnel, many of whom were wanted for various purported crimes. He hired Heinrich Müller in 1948 and went on to represent the CIA in the Persian Gulf.


Robert T. Crowley: Once the deputy director of Clandestine Operations and head of the group that interacted with corporate America. A former West Point football player who was one of the founders of the original CIA. Crowley was involved at a very high level with many of the machinations of the CIA.


Gregory Douglas: A retired newspaperman, onetime friend of Heinrich Müller and latterly, of Robert Crowley. Inherited stacks of files from the former (along with many interesting works of art acquired during the war and even more papers from Robert Crowley.) Lives comfortably in a nice house overlooking the Mediterranean.


Reinhard Gehlen: A retired German general who had once been in charge of the intelligence for the German high command on Russian military activities. Fired by Hitler for incompetence, he was therefore naturally hired by first, the U.S. Army and then, as his level of incompetence rose, with the CIA. His Nazi-stuffed organizaion eventually became the current German Bundes Nachrichten Dienst.


Thomas K. Kimmel, Jr: A grandson of Admiral Husband Kimmel, Naval commander at Pearl Harbor who was scapegoated after the Japanese attack. Kimmel was a senior FBI official who knew both Gregory Douglas and Robert Crowley and made a number of attempts to discourage Crowley from talking with Douglas. He was singularly unsuccessful. Kimmel subsequently retired and lives in retirement in Florida


Willi Krichbaum: A Senior Colonel (Oberführer) in the SS, head of the wartime Secret Field Police of the German Army and Heinrich Müller’s standing deputy in the Gestapo. After the war, Krichbaum went to work for the Critchfield organization and was their chief recruiter and hired many of his former SS friends. Krichbaum put Critchfield in touch with Müller in 1948.


Heinrich Müller: A former military pilot in the Bavarian Army in WWI, Müller  became a political police officer in Munich and was later made the head of the Secret State Police or Gestapo. After the war, Müller escaped to Switzerland where he worked for Swiss intelligence as a specialist on Communist espionage and was hired by James Critchfield, head of the Gehlen Organization, in 1948. Müller subsequently was moved to Washington where he worked for the CIA until he retired.


Joseph Trento: A writer on intelligence subjects, Trento and his wife “assisted” both Crowley and Corson in writing a book on the Russian KGB. Trento believed that he would inherit all of Crowley’s extensive files but after Crowley’s death, he discovered that the files had been gutted and the most important, and sensitive, ones given to Gregory Douglas. Trento was not happy about this. Neither were his employers.


Frank Wisner: A Founding Father of the CIA who promised much to the Hungarian and then failed them. First, a raging lunatic who was removed from Langley, screaming, in a strait jacket and later, blowing off the top of his head with a shotgun.


Robert Wolfe: A retired librarian from the National Archives who worked closely with the CIA on covering up embarrassing historical material in the files of the Archives. A strong supporter of holocaust writers.

Note: We understand that a large collection of documents, assembled by Robert T. Crowley, will be offered to the public in the near future. Here is a listing of some of the documents which will be included:



Catalog Number                     Description of Contents                                             __________________________________________________________________________________

1000 BH Extensive file (1,205 pages) of reports on Operation PHOENIX. Final paper dated January, 1971, first document dated  October, 1967. Covers the setting up of Regional Interrogation Centers, staffing, torture techniques including electric shock, beatings, chemical injections. CIA agents involved and includes a listing of U.S. military units to include Military Police, CIC and Special Forces groups involved. After-action reports from various military units to include 9th Infantry, showing the deliberate killing of all unarmed civilians located in areas suspected of harboring or supplying Viet Cong units. *

1002 BH Medium file (223 pages)  concerning the fomenting of civil disobedience in Chile as the result of the Allende election in 1970. Included are pay vouchers for CIA bribery efforts with Chilean labor organization and student activist groups, U.S. military units involved in the final revolt, letter from  T. Karamessines, CIA Operations Director to Chile CIA Station Chief Paul Wimert, passing along a specific order from Nixon via Kissinger to kill Allende when the coup was successful. Communications to Pinochet with Nixon instructions to root out by force any remaining left wing leaders.

1003 BH Medium file (187 pages) of reports of CIA assets containing photographs of Soviet missile sites, airfields and other strategic sites taken from commercial aircraft. Detailed descriptions of targets attached to each picture or pictures.

1004 BH Large file (1560 pages) of CIA reports on Canadian radio intelligence intercepts from the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa (1958) and a list of suspected and identified Soviet agents or sympathizers in Canada, to include members of the Canadian Parliament and military.

1005 BH Medium file (219 pages) of members of the German Bundeswehr in the employ of the CIA. The report covers the Innere Führung group plus members of the signals intelligence service. Another report, attached, covers CIA assets in German Foreign Office positions, in Germany and in diplomatic missions abroad.

1006:BH Long file (1,287 pages) of events leading up to the killing of Josef Stalin in 1953 to include reports on contacts with L.P. Beria who planned to kill Stalin, believing himself to be the target for removal. Names of cut outs, CIA personnel in Finland and Denmark are noted as are original communications from Beria and agreements as to his standing down in the DDR and a list of MVD/KGB files on American informants from 1933 to present. A report on a blood-thinning agent to be made available to Beria to put into Stalin’s food plus twenty two reports from Soviet doctors on Stalin’s health, high blood pressure etc. A report on areas of cooperation between Beria’s people and CIA controllers in the event of a successful coup. *

1007 BH Short list (125 pages) of CIA contacts with members of the American media to include press and television and book publishers. Names of contacts with bios are included as are a list of payments made and specific leaked material supplied. Also appended is a shorter list of foreign publications. Under date of August, 1989 with updates to 1992. Walter Pincus of the Washington Post, Bradlee of the same paper, Ted Koppel, Sam Donaldson and others are included.

1008 BH A file of eighteen reports (total of 899 pages) documenting illegal activities on the part of members of the U.S. Congress. First report dated July 29, 1950 and final one September 15, 1992. Of especial note is a long file on Senator McCarthy dealing with homosexuality and alcoholism. Also an attached note concerning the Truman Administration’s use of McCarthy to remove targeted Communists. These reports contain copies of FBI surveillance reports, to include photographs and reference to tape recordings, dealing with sexual events with male and female prostitutes, drug use, bribery, and other matters.

1009 BH A long multiple file (1,564 pages) dealing with the CIA part (Kermit Roosevelt) in overthrowing the populist Persian prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh. Report from Dulles (John Foster) concerning a replacement, by force if necessary and to include a full copy of AJAX operation. Letters from AIOC on million dollar bribe paid directly to J.Angleton, head of SOG. Support of Shah requires exclusive contracts with specified western oil companies. Reports dated from May 1951 through August, 1953.

1010 BH Medium file (419 pages) of telephone intercepts made by order of J.J. Angleton of the telephone conversations between RFK and one G.N. Bolshakov. Phone calls between 1962-1963 inclusive. Also copies of intercepted and inspected mail from RFK containing classified U.S. documents and sent to a cut-out identified as one used by Bolshakov, a Russian press (TASS) employee. Report on Bolshakov’s GRU connections.

1011 BH Large file (988 pages) on 1961 Korean revolt of Kwangju revolt led by General Park Chung-hee and General Kin-Jong-pil. Reports on contacts maintained by CIA station in Japan to include payments made to both men, plans for the coup, lists of “undesirables” to be liquidated  Additional material on CIA connections with KCIA personnel and an agreement with them  to assassinate South Korean chief of state, Park, in 1979.

1012 BH Small file (12 pages) of homosexual activities between FBI Director Hoover and his aide, Tolson. Surveillance pictures taken in San Francisco hotel and report by CIA agents involved. Report analyzed in 1962.

1013 BH  Long file (1,699 pages) on General Edward Lansdale. First report a study signed by DCI Dulles in  September of 1954 concerning a growing situation in former French Indo-China. There are reports by and about Lansdale starting with his attachment to the OPC in 1949-50 where he and Frank Wisner coordinated policy in neutralizing Communist influence in the Philippines.. Landsale was then sent to Saigon under diplomatic cover and many copies of his period reports are copied here. Very interesting background material including strong connections with the Catholic Church concerning Catholic Vietnamese and exchanges of intelligence information between the two entities.

1014 BH Short file (78 pages) concerning  a Dr. Frank Olson. Olson was at the U.S. Army chemical warfare base at Ft. Detrick in Maryland and was involved with a Dr. Gottleib. Gottleib was working on a plan to introduce psychotic-inducing drugs into the water supply of the Soviet Embassy. Apparently he tested the drugs on CIA personnel first. Reports of psychotic behavior by Olson and more police and official reports on his defenstration by Gottleib’s associates. A cover-up was instituted and a number of in-house CIA memoranda attest to this. Also a discussion by Gottleib on various poisons and drugs he was experimenting with and another report of people who had died as a result of Gottleib’s various experiments and CIA efforts to neutralize any public knowledge of these. *

1015 BH Medium file (457 pages) on CIA connections with the Columbian-based Medellín drug ring. Eight CIA internal reports, three DoS reports, one FBI report on CIA operative Milan Rodríguez and his connections with this drug ring. Receipts for CIA payments to Rodríguez of over $3 million in CIA funds,showing the routings of the money, cut-outs and payments. CIA reports on sabotaging  DEA investigations. A three-part study of the Nicaraguan Contras, also a CIA-organized and paid for organization.

1016 BH A small file (159 pages) containing lists of known Nazi intelligence and scientific people recruited in Germany from 1946 onwards, initially by the U.S. Army and later by the CIA. A detailed list of the original names and positions of the persons involved plus their relocation information. Has three U.S. Army and one FBI report on the subject.

1017 BH A small list (54 pages) of American business entities with “significant” connections to the CIA. Each business is listed along with relevant information on its owners/operators, previous and on going contacts with the CIA’s Robert Crowley, also a list of national advertising agencies with similar information. Much information about suppressed news stories and planted stories. *

[1] Colonel Vedder B. Driscoll,   Employee of the National Security Agency, in charge of the East Bloc department and author of the Driscoll report on the Kennedy assassination.

[2] Richard James Cardinal Cushing August 24, 1895 — November 2, 1970 was Archbishop of Boston from 1944 to 1970, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1958. He was a good friend of the Kennedy family and a supporter of the president.

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