March 01, 1987
|DOYLE McMANUS | Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — In July, 1985, as Lewis A. Tambs moved into his new job as U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica, he told colleagues: “I really have only one mission: to open a southern front for the contras ,” the rebels fighting Nicaragua’s leftist government.
At the time, Congress had prohibited all U.S. material aid to the contras. But Tambs, a fiercely conservative San Diegan who worked at the National Security Council before becoming an ambassador, believed his job was to find a way to help the rebels despite the law.
Tambs’ orders to help the contras came not only from then-White House aide Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, he later told the Tower Commission investigating the Iran-contra scandal. They came, he said, from Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams and the CIA as well.
“Before I went, Ollie said, ‘When you get down there, you should open the southern front,’ ” the commission’s report quoted Tambs as saying. “In the subsequent meetings and conversations, that was confirmed by Abrams and (a CIA official). That was sort of our mission . . . . The idea was that we would encourage them to fight.”
But in practical terms, according to the report and accounts from other officials, Abrams, North, Tambs and the CIA went well beyond mere encouragement.
Through the private network of bank accounts and companies that they dubbed Project Democracy, North and retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Richard V. Secord built a secret Costa Rican airstrip for the contras’ use, with communications supplied by the CIA and diplomatic aid from the State Department.
The airfield, a 6,250-foot dirt strip with barracks and service buildings near Cape Santa Elena in northwestern Costa Rica, was intended to be a key part of the contras’ military effort during 1986. But as North’s network unravels, the project has instead helped implicate the CIA and the State Department as partial accomplices in his work.
The case of the airstrip, more than any other of Oliver North’s Central American adventures, has brought the CIA and the State Department under as much scrutiny as the already tainted NSC staff.
The CIA’s station chief in Costa Rica, a man who used the pseudonym Tomas Castillo, was forced to retire after his role in helping Secord’s airdrop operations became known. Castillo reportedly told the Tower Commission that he had his superiors’ approval for his actions, but those officials are not known to have been disciplined.
The following Google Map entry was challenged by one of the site’s “experts” as an unverified site and subsequently moved and renamed as a map coordinate.
Ultimately, the secret airstrip was constructed at Santa Elena, Costa Rica, by one of Secord’s companies, Udall Corporation, and was known as “Point West.’‘ It became a matter of public focus in September 1986. When Monge’s successor, Oscar Arias, became president of Costa Rica in the spring of 1986, he was briefed about the airstrip. He was outraged and directed that it not be used for contra resupply. On September 6, 1986, in a series of late night telephone calls, Fernandez informed North and Fiers that the Costa Rican security minister planned to hold a press conference the following day and make public the Udall Corporation’s role with the Point West airstrip, alleging violations of Costa Rican laws by Udall, North, Secord, and others.53 North discussed this impending crisis in conference calls with Abrams, Tambs and Fiers. They discussed whether to tell Arias that he would never set foot in the White House and that he would never get five cents of the $80 million promised to him by the U.S. Agency for International Development if the airstrip were revealed.54
53 North Notebook, 9/6/86, AMX 001458.
After Tambs interceded with the Arias administration, the Costa Rican press conference was cancelled. Fiers acknowledged that he, Abrams and North were concerned that public revelation of the airstrip would expose the linkage of North and the White House to the contra-resupply operation.55 Two weeks later, in spite of Tambs’s intervention, on September 24, 1986, the Costa Rican public security minister held a press conference and announced the discovery of a secret airstrip in Costa Rica, which had been built and used by Udall for support to the contras.56 False guidance for the press regarding the Costa Rican airstrip was prepared by North and coordinated with Fiers and Abrams. The press guidance was consistent with a previously concocted cover story regarding the airstrip. The press guidance was intentionally misleading, denying U.S. Government knowledge of the origins and purpose of the airstrip. It was clear to Fiers that Abrams was aware of North’s connection to the airstrip.57 Following the Costa Rican announcement of the airstrip, Abrams drafted a harshly worded cable to be sent to the Costa Rican government. A cable containing Abrams’ message was stopped by Shultz aide Hill before it was sent.58
55 Fiers, FBI 302, 8/1/91, p. 6. Abrams testified that the consternation over the public revelation of the airstrip only had to do with the embarrassment of the previous Costa Rican administration. (Abrams, Select Committees Testimony, 6/2/87, p. 65.)
What follows is documentation of the Google cover-up.
Notice the dark square areas over top of the airstrip location; that was not there when I first located the site—This was the first layer of the attempted cover-up. The next step was to move my map marker.–
Closer aerial view shows large staging area on nearby beach. Again, the large concrete vegetation free concrete pads gives the location away. They never worried about Google Earth when the Costa Rican shut the illegal site down.
The end of the concrete airstrip.
Beach and staging area.
Gen. Richard Secord’s Udall Corp. should have paid the extra fee to get the old concrete demolished.
That’s what the site on Google Maps used to look like–the screenshots below are of the location now, after more creative cartography from the “experts” at Goog. Maps—-
The first shot is low magnification–
One click more and masses of strange looking clouds appear–
The more that you zoom in, the less that you see–
This is the goofy looking way that they finished the edges, where land and sea meet. This fuzzy blue haze seems to be confined to Costa Rica and southern Nicaragua–