Meet Randy Tauss, Deep State Superstar
© Jack Cashill
As is becoming clear in the unraveling of the Russia collusion madness, certain elements within the Central Intelligence Agency – John Brennan comes quickly to mind – have shown themselves willing and able to use their resources for political ends.
If so, they are not the first. CIA veteran Randy Tauss could teach a course in this practice. In fact, Tauss claims to be doing something very much like that.
Now president and director of corporate strategy at Omnis, one of the thousands of Beltway “consulting” firms exploiting their principals’ government contacts, Tauss achieved something like superstar status within the CIA during his 37-year career.
On his Omnis bio page, Tauss boasts that he is the only CIA employee ever to have three articles published in the CIA’s “Studies in Intelligence.” A 2008 article of his was reportedly “selected as one of the 12 best in the past 50 years.”
The 2008 article that burnished his CIA star involved the crash of TWA Flight 800, the 747 blown out of the sky off the coast of Long Island in July 1996.
According to Tauss’ bio, “His work as TWA Flight 800 Project Director – featured on the NBC Nightly News and elsewhere – was used to close the largest criminal investigation in FBI history, and is the basis for one of the advanced analysis courses offered by Omnis.”
Better still, the CIA awarded Tauss its Intelligence Medal of Merit, an award given “for performance of especially meritorious service or for achievement conspicuously above normal duties.”
In a perverse way, Tauss deserved it. More through audacity than evidence, he and his colleagues managed to convince all relevant parties that 258 good citizens – pilots, surfers, fishermen, boaters, National Guard officers – could not tell up from down.
Readers of the New York Times can be forgiven for not knowing about Tauss. In its extensive coverage of TWA Flight 800, the Times never mentioned the “TWA Flight 800 Project Director” by name or title.
In fact, for the first 15 months after the crash, the Times never mentioned the CIA in regards to TWA 800. If its reporters knew the agency was involved, they kept their mouths shut.
The CIA made the story easy to miss. For a dozen years, the CIA took credit only for the production of the animation shown by the FBI in November 1997 to discredit the 258 eyewitnesses to a missile strike.
In my own conversation with Jim Kallstrom, the head of the FBI investigation, he insisted “the cartoon” was the limit of the CIA’s involvement. “We should never have let them get involved,” Kallstrom told me. In reality, there was no “letting them.”
Very quietly, as a treasure trove of recently unearthed CIA documents confirm, the agency was inserted into the investigation on Day 1 and ultimately seized real control.
To pull this off, Tauss and cronies had to breach the storied “wall” that prevented the nation’s intelligence arm from collaborating with its prosecutorial arm.
Conveniently, Jamie Gorelick, the deputy attorney general who authorized the wall in 1995, was chosen by the Clinton White House to oversee its violation. This was serious business. The president’s re-election hung in the balance.
In 2008, the CIA published Tauss’ award-winning analysis of the disaster. Those interested in seeing just how indifferent Tauss was to the facts and physics of the case might consult my 2016 book, “TWA 800: The Crash, The Cover-Up, The Conspiracy.”
In his essay, Tauss offered an explanation for the agency’s involvement. According to Tauss, the FBI immediately requested CIA assistance given “the possibility that international terrorists may have been involved.”
Tauss claimed the agency responded to the FBI’s request for help less than 24 hours after the plane’s destruction and cited Executive Order 12333 as justification.
A clause in that order authorizes the CIA to “conduct counterintelligence activities outside the United States and, without assuming or performing any internal security functions, conduct counterintelligence activities within the United States in coordination with the FBI.”
When President Ronald Reagan signed this order in 1981, he likely did not think “counterintelligence” would include the making of cartoons to discredit citizen testimony.
The FBI and CIA never did get their stories straight. In the FBI’s case-closing press conference from November 1997, Kallstrom said the FBI “looked throughout the government” to find the experts best able to answer the question, “What did the eyewitnesses see?”
Kallstrom appears to have echoed a talking point on this subject prepared for him by the CIA immediately before this press conference.
The relevant CIA memo reads as follows, “The FBI requested CIA technical assistance in analyzing more than 200 eyewitness reports to determine what those eyewitnesses saw.”
Tauss had no particular experience in this line of work. The people with the “best expertise” were on the ground in Long Island helping the FBI interview eyewitnesses in the first weeks of the investigation.
These were the representatives from the Missile and Space Intelligence Center (MSIC) in Alabama, a subset of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Missiles were their business.
Counterintelligence was the CIA’s. The shift in the CIA’s mission from hunting “international terrorists” to providing “technical assistance” on witness observations took place fully off stage.
The fact that the FBI fed the CIA the witness statements grudgingly and incompletely suggests the agency’s help was not welcome.
Once empowered, however, the CIA analysts bullied the MSIC reps and the FBI into accepting the CIA’s counterfeit thesis.
“We found the talent we were looking for in the CIA,” said Kallstrom in closing the criminal investigation. By that time, the investigation had been too compromised for too long for him to say otherwise.