Treachery – Forward

“TREACHERY” by Bob O’Dowd

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The murder of Marine Colonel E. Sabow and the murder of hundreds of US 101st Airborne troops and government cover-up had to affect the families struggling with the emotional pain of the loss of loved ones, searching for answers on what, how and why it happened. The US government had a hand in these murders, ignored the pleas of families for justice and instead went about the dirty business of covering-up the tracks of murder.

The murder of Colonel Sabow involves numerous forensic scientists (resulting in expert v. expert), the FBI, the US Attorney General, the South Dakota State Crime Laboratory, numerous US senators and congressmen (especially Congressman Duncan Hunter Sr., Chairman of the Armed Services Committee at the time) and twice instructions in the House DOD Appropriations Bill to investigate the death (which has been skillfully subverted both times). There is no question that the most powerful organization in the world does not want the true nature of Colonel Sabow’s death revealed.

Colonel James E. Sabow was assigned to Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA, in 1990. El Toro was the premier Marine Corps air station. He was in charge of air operations of Marine Air, Western Area. Colonel Sabow soon discovered undocumented CIA proprietary C-130 operations at El Toro, but was apparently told by both the Chief of Staff and El Toro’s Commanding General that he was not to be concerned with these flights. Sabow later learned, the day before his murder, that these planes were bringing cocaine into the US from Central America (Iran/Contra was still going on – perhaps the weapons part was dropped – but, somebody was making a lot of money on illegal cocaine shipments). The parties responsible for the illegal flights knew before Colonel Sabow was assigned to El Toro, that this no nonsense Marine officer could not be bought or even intimidated. He would reveal what was going on at El Toro if he found out. Colonel Sabow was relieved of duty by the El Toro’s Commanding General on January 17th for an alleged misuse of military aircraft (allegations were not supportable and charges were not filed).

Colonel Sabow told several people including Brigadier General Adams, Colonel Joseph Underwood and General J.K. Davis (retired Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps) that he would accept absolutely no responsibility for any misuse of aircraft and that if they persisted he, “Would demand a courts marshal and would divulge all of what he had learned and suspected of illegal and criminal use of government aircraft.” That same night, Colonel Joseph Underwood who lived next door to the Sabows, threatened Colonel Sabow if he revealed what he knew. The threat was overheard by Sabow’s wife, Sara.

The following morning, January 22nd, life in the Sabow household was as normal as it could be considering the events of the previous day. Colonel Sabow was described by his wife as being relaxed and after breakfast was watching TV coverage of Desert Storm. At about 0830, Sara, upset by the many phone calls that morning (to and from the Marine attorney assigned to Colonel Sabow) and Colonel Underwood’s threat the previous night (“You’ll never go to court martial, and I mean never!”), decided to attend the morning Mass at the nearby Catholic Church. Unbeknownst to the Sabows, a Marine helicopter from Camp Pendleton landed on a seldom used portion of the El Toro airfield that bordered a field adjacent to the backyards of both Underwood and Sabow.

Colonel Sabow was lured into his backyard by a telephone call, struck unconscious by a blow with a formidable bat like weapon. The blow crushed his skull. While he laid unconscious on his backyard patio, the killers took Colonel Sabow’s shogun, inserted into his mouth, and pulled the trigger. This set the stage for the false suicide scenario. The assailants waited for the return of Sara. Sara had left for church only seconds before the killers arrived. She would soon return and they could complete the planned double homicide. However, Sara decided to do some grocery shopping after church.

An operation that was supposed to take only a few minutes extended to almost a half hour and Sara never returned – their plan was never completed. The killers waited in the Sabows’ quarters, expecting her arrival at any moment. However, Lt. Colonel Gary Albin, carrying several manuals he wanted to return, arrived at the Sabow home, knocked on the front door, and waited for a response. Since the Colonel’s distinctive Corvette was parked at the curb, he thought that he may have been in the shower and waited 10-15 minutes outside. This posed a serious problem for the killers. If Sara arrived home at this time, she would have invited Albin into the house. What then would have ensued is anybody’s guess. Colonel Underwood came out of his quarters next door with a cup of coffee in one hand and told Albin that Colonel Sabow was not home, taking the manuals from him. When Sara arrived home, she discovered their TV on mute, the dogs locked in the garage and the body of her dead husband in the backyard patio. Running next door, she screamed that, “Jimmy’s dead.” Colonel Underwood walked to his patio, looked over the privacy fence, and called Brigadier General Adams, reporting the suicide of Colonel Sabow.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NIS) bungled a crime scene investigation and set out to prove suicide when the NIS team leader gave in to the demands of three individuals (probably part of the kill team) who flashed government badges and ordered most of the NIS team to wait across Fifth Street while the crime scene was cleaned-up.

The NIS called Colonel Sabow’s death a suicide, but a crime scene analysis of the Colonel’s death leaves no doubt he was murdered. The bloodstain/spatter patterns, gunshot residue (hands and clothing), backspatter residue, pathology, body position, position of the clothing on the body all support the homicide scenario.

The years following the homicide there were a number of suspicious deaths of individuals involved in the investigation of the Colonel’s murder or the transport of illegal drugs into the United States on former US military planes: Staff Sergeant Thomas Wade, gunshot to head, execution style; Colonel Jerry Agenbroad, who was in charge of El Toro’s MWR where the records of the CIA proprietary flights were stored (the data purged prior to official examination by the Marine Corps Inspector General in January 1991), by hanging; “Kevin” who retired from the Army was mistaken for a retired Marine who took part in the transport of illegal drugs while at El Toro found hanged in his parents barn; Jack Chisom, who owned T&G Aviation that supplied C-130s & DC-7s for clandestine operations, death by hit and run driver in the desert in the middle of the night; Danny Casolaro investigative reporter working on the DOD clandestine drug operation and the Sabow murder, death by wrist slashes in a hotel room – his notes , contacts and manuscript gone. An enlisted Marine who supplied information about the killers and the helicopter records on the January 22nd helicopter flight to El Toro was forced off a cliff and killed. Gary Webb, Pulitzer Prize winner for his series on Dark Alliance, which chronicled the CIA involvement in the import of cocaine and the Iran/Contra scandal, was found dead of two gunshots to the head (Webb had been in touch with Dr. Sabow on several occasions while researching his articles – although in the case of Webb, suicide could well have occurred, it is yet another death associated with this story).

Dr. David Sabow was devastated upon hearing of his brother’s death the morning of January 22, 1991. The notion that Jimmy committed suicide was totally alien to him – he knew, of course, Jimmy well enough that this was impossible. Dr. Sabow immediately left for El Toro. In the days following Jimmy’s death it was quite clear to him that Jimmy was murdered, even with the scant evidence he uncovered at this time.

The years that followed can only be described as a well-written murder/spy mystery. Dr. Sabow hired several investigators whose investigative skills were second to none. Also a number of individuals came forward with information which not only allowed for a reconstruction of the circumstances of the Sabow murder, but also of the covert operation which transported drugs on C-130 aircraft into El Toro and other military airfields.

David and Sara Sabow were invited to a meeting at El Toro six weeks after Jimmy’s death. Those in attendance included Brigadier General Adams, crime scene investigators from the NIS, two other generals and a lawyer from the United States Attorney General’s office, Colonel Wayne Rich, who happened to be a Marine Reservist called to active duty you run the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to convince Dr. Sabow and Sara Sabow that Colonel Sabow had committed a number of criminal felonies and took his own life to avoid prosecution. The meeting lasted five hours with no breaks. Dr. Sabow would have none of this and challenged Adams and the Rich the entire time.

Several months later, Dr. Sabow received a package from an anonymous source with copies of the handwritten notes of Colonel Rich describing the “game plan” for the meeting. It was obvious from these notes that Colonel Rich was not concerned with truth or fact finding, but was there to perpetrate lies, slandering Colonel Sabow’s integrity and reputation hoping that this would intimidate Dr. Sabow from going to the media. Also in that package were two letters by Brigadier General Adams to the South Dakota Board of Medicine requesting that Dr. David Sabow’s medical license be revoked.

Later Dr. Sabow and his attorney, Danny Sheehan, filed suit in Federal Court against the Marine Corps and the US Government. The government persuaded the Federal Court to deny much of the evidence Dr. Sabow had accumulated, which essentially gutted the case. The case was dismissed.

Dr. Sabow refused to give up. From 2003 to 2011 a number of other suspicious instances that can only point to cover up occurred. Two of those require recounting.

In 2003, Congressman Duncan Hunter, Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, became aware of the suspicious nature of the Sabow death. The DOD Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2004 provided specific instructions to the DOD for the reinvestigation of the Colonel Sabow case. All those instructions were ignored by the DOD. In addition, forensic expert Bryan Burnett, who was hired by David Sabow, produced a detailed analysis of the crime scene which convinced Hunter that the Colonel was murdered.

In 2010, NCIS Special Agent Julie Haney, who specialized in cold cases, began an investigation. She started out with good intentions and with an affidavit from noted forensic pathologist, Dr. Werner Spitz, which claimed in no uncertain terms— murder, crime scene tampering and the body was manipulated, launched her investigation. Haney obviously did not understand what she was getting into. Within several days after she received Dr. Spitz’s notarized affidavit, Dr. Spitz verbally (nothing was written) reversed his opinion to suicide, upon which Haney embarked on a route to extricate herself from the case. This culminated in a bizarre conference with the Medical Examiner of San Diego, Dr. Glenn Wagner, who spent most of his career in the military. Bryan Burnett, who is a court accepted expert in crime scene reconstruction and gunshot residue even though a resident of San Diego County, was excluded from the meeting. Dr. Wagner, who supported the suicide scenario for the Sabow death to Haney, refused to allow a talk by Bryan Burnett in a “brown bag” presentation at the Medical Examiner’s facility.

There are many more instances such as described above. Taken in their entirety there is no doubt that a very powerful entity has actively subverted an honest investigation into the Colonel Sabow death. This subversion occurred at all levels of government from the United States Congress to city and state investigative organizations in southern California and South Dakota.

Several years before Colonel Sabow’s murder, a mass murder of 250 American soldiers returning from a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai occurred. Arrow Air 1285 was deliberately destroyed in Gander, Newfoundland in December 1985 with the loss of 258 Americans, including 250 troops from the 101st Airborne Division and 8 crew members. Evidence supports fire and explosion, not icing as claimed by the Canadian Air Safety Board (CASB). There was no credible evidence of icing as the cause of the crash. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the crash; both Washington and Ottawa dismissed terrorist involvement while the plane burned on the ground. There was no attempt to reconstruct the aircraft; a US Army general at Gander pushed for burial of the aircraft debris; the Canadians complied. Congress in 1990 was stonewalled by the Bush Administration with requests for a clear FBI (not redacted) report. The news media was caught up in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986, and the coverage of the Arrow Air 1285 crash faded as the CASB hearings labored on.

The Arrow Air 1285 (DC-8-63CF) flight originated in Cairo, stopped in Cologne to change crews and refuel and landed at Gander. Fort Campbell, KY, was the flight’s destination. Arrow Air Captain Art Schoppaul and Mona Ogelsby, senior flight attendant, of the flight from Cairo to Cologne (the first leg of the passage) gave sworn testimony that there were 250 soldiers on board; the Army claimed there were 248 soldiers; two Egyptair 737s flew 242 soldiers from the Sinai to Cairo, it’s presumed that 8 soldiers rode with the trucks carrying the hold baggage (mostly 481 duffel bags) from the Sinai; 41duffel were off-loaded in Cairo to make room for 6 sealed wooden boxes—the contents are unknown but may have contained the bodies of dead soldier killed in an aborted covert operation.

The Arrow Air 1285 aircraft loaded with 45,000 liters of jet fuel at Gander, never reached more than 700 or so feet in altitude before incendiary devices and napalm planted in soda cans on the aircraft were remotely detonated with the loss of 258 Americans. Witnesses on the ground testified that they saw the aircraft on fire while airborne.

Both the Canadian and US governments denied any terrorist activity while the fires still raged in Gander, made no attempts to investigate terrorist activity, even though the Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the crash. Both governments agreed with the CASB majority report that the crash was caused by icing on the wings and fuselage. But, icing was not involved and both governments knew it.

The four professionals on the CASB, who included three aeronautical engineers and pilots with thousands of hours in the air, reported that the aircraft was destroyed by fire and explosion while in the air, not by icing. The CASB final report was a 5 to 4 split decision. Not exactly a confidence builder.

The motive for terrorists may have been revenge for older HAWK missiles sold to Iran at inflated prices that the Iranians complained about or simply an opportunity to kill Americans. The motive for US operatives may have been to prevent the troops on the aircraft from blowing-the-whistle on an ill-conceived covert operation to use a nuclear weapon in the Middle East that cost American lives.
The Canadian government had the responsibility for determining the cause of the crash, including the involvement of terrorists or US operatives. Like Colonel Sabow, their deaths were attributed to a make believe ‘fairy tale’ of icing but there is no statute of limitations on murder. Even at this late date, it’s still possible for the Canadians. with or without the cooperation of the US government, to conduct a terrorist/criminal investigation. To simply walk away from the worst Canadian air disaster with a shrug and “sorry for your loss,” is totally unacceptable.

Robert O’Dowd

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