From over the transom, with the following introduction by the author:
AUTHOR’S NOTE: 1997
After I had given the manuscript of the original draft of this book to my editor at Prentice-Hall, in 1972; and had received the galley proof of the first edition back from him, he called me to suggest that I keep it in a safe place at all times. He told me that his home had been broken into the night before, and he suspected it was an attempt to steal his copy of that galley proof. He said, “They didn’t get it. It was under the seat of the Volkswagon.”
A few days later a nationwide release by the well-known Washington columnist, Jack Anderson, appeared across the country, “Book Bares CIA’s Dirty Tricks”. In that column, Anderson reported that the CIA had contacted a well-known bookstore in Washington and asked one of the employees to see if he could get a copy of the galley from me, and agreed to pay him $500, if he did. I agreed to meet him at my home that evening.
I suspected his call, but invited him anyway. In the meantime I set up a tape recorder in the umbrella stand near my front door and arranged for it to turn on when I switched on the overhead light on the front porch. With that arrangement, I recorded the whole visit including his final burst, “They promised me $500.00, if I got that galley proof.” I took that tape to Anderson, and it was the basis of his March 6, 1973 column. The underground attack didn’t quit there.
After excellent early sales of The Secret Team during which Prentice-Hall printed three editions of the book, and it had received more than 100 favorable reviews, I was invited to meet Ian Ballantine, the founder of Ballantine Books. He told me that he liked the book and would publish 100,000 copies in paperback as soon as he could complete the deal with Prentice-Hall. Soon there were 100,000 paperbacks in bookstores all around the country.
Then one day a business associate in Seattle called to tell me that the bookstore next to his office building had had a window full of books the day before, and none the day of his call. They claimed they had never had the book. I called other associates around the country. I got the same story from all over the country. The paperback had vanished. At the same time I learned that Mr. Ballantine had sold his company. I traveled to New York to visit the new “Ballantine Books” president. He professed to know nothing about me, and my book. That was the end of that surge of publication. For some unknown reason Prentice-Hall was out of my book also. It became an extinct species.
Coincidental to that, I received a letter from a Member of Parliament in Canberra, Australia, who wrote that he had been in England recently visiting in the home of a friend who was a Member of the British Parliament. While there, he discovered The Secret Team on a coffee table and during odd hours had begun to read it.
Upon return to Canberra he sent his clerk to get him a copy of the book. Not finding it in the stores, the clerk had gone to the Customs Office where he learned that 3,500 copies of The Secret Team had arrived, and on that same date had been purchased by a Colonel from the Royal Australian Army. The book was dead everywhere.
The campaign to kill the book was nationwide and world-wide. It was removed from the Library of Congress and from College libraries as letters I received attested all too frequently.
That was twenty years ago. Today I have been asked to rewrite the book and bring it up to date. Those who have the book speak highly of it, and those who do not have it have been asking for it. With that incentive, I have begun from page one to bring it up to date and to provide information that I have learned since my first manuscript.
In the beginning, this book was based upon my unusual experience in the Pentagon during 1955-1964 and the concept of the book itself was the outgrowth of a series of luncheon conversations, 1969-1970, with my friends Bob Myers, Publisher of the New Republic, Charlie Peters, founder of The Washington Monthly, and Ben Schemmer, editor and publisher of the Armed Forces Journal, and Derek Shearer. They were all experienced in the ways and games played in Washington, and they tagged my stories those of a “Secret Team.” This idea grew and was polished during many subsequent luncheons.
After my retirement from the Air Force, 1964, I moved from an office in the Joint Chiefs of Staff area of the Pentagon to become Manager of the Branch Bank on the Concourse of that great building. This was an interesting move for many reasons, not the least of which was that it kept me in business and social contact with many of the men I had met and worked with during my nine years of Air Force duties in that building. It kept me up-to-date with the old “fun-and-games” gang.
After graduating from the Graduate School of Banking, University of Wisconsin, I transfered to a bank in Washington where in the course of business I met Ben Schemmer. He needed a loan that would enable him to acquire the old Armed Forces Journal. During that business process I met two of Ben’s friends Bob Myers and Charlie Peters. We spent many most enjoyable business luncheons together. This is where “The Secret Team” emerged from a pattern of ideas to a manuscript.
As they heard my stories about my work with the CIA, and especially about the role of the military in support of the world-wide, clandestine operations of the CIA, they urged me to write about those fascinating nine years of a 23-year military career. During the Spring of 1970 I put an article together that we agreed to call “The Secret Team”, and Charlie Peters published it in the May 1970 issue of The Washington Monthly.
Before I had seen the published article myself, two editors of major publishers in New York called me and asked for appointments. I met with both, and agreed to accept the offer to write a book of the same name, and same concept of The Secret Team from Bram Cavin, Senior Editor with Prentice-Hall.
After all but finishing the manuscript, with my inexperienced typing of some 440 pages, I sat down to a Sunday breakfast on June 13, 1971 and saw the headlines of the New York Times with its publication of the “purloined” Pentagon Papers. One of the first excerpts from those papers was a TOP SECRET document that I had worked on in late 1963. Then I found more of the same. With that, I knew that I could vastly improve what I had been writing by making use of that hoard of classified material that “Daniel Ellsberg had left on the doorstep of the Times,” and other papers. Up until that time I had deliberately avoided the use of some of my old records and copies of highly classified documents. The publication of the Pentagon Papers changed all that. They were now in the public domain. I decided to call my editor and tell him what we had with the “Pentagon Papers” and to ask for more time to re-write my manuscript. He agreed without hesitation. From that time on I began my “Doctorate” course in, a) book publishing and, b) book annihilation.
As we see, by some time in 1975 The Secret Team was extinct; but unlike the dinosaur and others, it did not even leave its footprints in the sands of time. There may be some forty to fifty thousand copies on private book shelves. A letter from a professor informed me that his department had ordered more than forty of the books to be kept on the shelves of his university library for assignment purposes. At the start of the new school year his students reported that the books were not on the shelves and the registry cards were not in the master file. The librarians informed them that the book did not exist.
With that letter in mind, I dropped into the Library of Congress to see if The Secret Team was on the shelves where I had seen it earlier. It was not, and it was not even in that library’s master file. It is now an official non-book.
I was a writer whose book had been cancelled by a major publisher and a major paperback publisher under the persuasive hand of the CIA. Now, after more than twenty years the flames of censorship still sweep across the land. Despite that, here we go again with a new revised edition of The Secret Team.
Any reader of the “Pentagon Papers” should be warned that although they were commissioned on June 17, 1967, by the Secretary of Defense as “the history of United States involvement in Vietnam from World War II [Sept 2, 1945] to the present” , they are unreliable, inaccurate and marred by serious omissions. They are a contrived history, at best, even though they were written by a selected Task Force under Pentagon leadership…