Written By: R. G. BLAIR
(Written in 1991) In August of 1989, Raye Allan married Navy Captain Gunther "Russ" Russbacher. Captain Russbacher is in Navy Intelligence. The two had first met in 1976 at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey where Ms. Allan's first husband, the late John Dyer, was Dean of Science and Engineering. In the summer of 1989, when they decided they wanted to marry, Captain Russbacher told Ms. Allan that he had signed an agreement stating that he would not marry for two years. Such agreements are common in the Intelligence Community, especially after divorces.
Captain Russbacher requested permission to marry despite the agreement he had signed. Permission was denied. It was further stated that he would be immediately reassigned to Europe or even Moscow. He was ordered to have no contact with Ms. Allan for two years, and if, at the end of that time, they still wished to marry, then permission would be granted.
This edict was not acceptable to either Ms. Allan or Captain Russbacher. After discussing their options, they decided to marry immediately, before anyone found out their plans and could stop them. They would deal with the consequences later. Captain Russbacher felt that the worst thing that could happen to him was to be thrown out of his clandestine world. This was acceptable to him, because for the first time in his life, he had fallen in love. He wanted to leave the shadow world and lead a normal life.
Within six hours of making the decision to marry, they were aboard a Learjet named The Blackbird, heading to Reno. They married, returned to the Blackbird and headed home. But a funny thing happened about fifteen minutes outside of Reno. The pilot of the Learjet turned around to Captain Russbacher and said: "Chief, our airspace has been violated. We've been ordered to arm." Mrs. Russbacher paled as she looked out the windows at what she thought were fuel tanks on the ends of the wings. The front of the fuel tanks opened up and missiles extended. The pilot spoke again, "A small prop job has exceeded his limit. Nellis has scrambled fighters to force him down and take us home."
Mrs. Russbacher was mute. Her eyes searched her husband's for an answer. One can only guess what thoughts were going through her head as she sat on board a fully armed and lethal government jet. The Captain was probably thinking that he should have told her the whole truth before they married. Maybe if they had waited until they knew each other better incidents like this wouldn't have happened. If they had known a few more seemingly innocent facts about each other maybe they would have realized why the government had denied them permission to marry.
Would Captain Russbacher have married Ms. Allan if he had known that she had sworn to destroy the CIA and throw all the drug smuggling crooks in jail? Would Ms. Allan have married Captain Russbacher if she had known that he had been attached to the covert side of the CIA for over twenty years? Finally words returned to her. "What kind of a plane is this?" Her eyes were full with worry. Her voice was soft but edged with a demand for truth. Captain Russbacher could not lie to her. He loved her. If he lied, he was afraid he would lose her.
""This is why they teach us not to fall in love."" He thought as he looked at her. ""To keep her with me, I'll tell her everything."" And he probably would have, if he had had the time. But all he could say at that moment was, ""This is the blackbird. It was William Casey's plane. It's been mine since he died. Until 1986 I was the number three man in the CIA.""
Captain and Mrs. Russbacher didn't have the time for him to bare the rest of his innermost secrets or the dark secrets of national security. They had two days together after they were married. But they didn't spend it talking. They spent it doing what newlyweds do.
Maybe if they had talked more and played less, they could have prevented what was about to happen to them. If they had probed each other's pasts deeply enough to discover the dark thread that connected them, maybe they could have cut it before it entangled them in two years of lies, deceit, death threats and murder. After the incident in the Learjet they tried to quickly fill in the pieces of their personal puzzles so that they would each have some idea of who they had married. But the incredible irony of what had just happened to them was too much to digest in a short period of time.
Mrs. Russbacher was an investigative researcher whose particular field of study was the CIA. She was currently working with Ms. Barbara Honegger who was considered a real pain in the...side to the Intelligence community as well as the Reagan/Bush administrations. Ms. Honegger had resigned in protest from the Reagan administration in 1983. She and Ms. Allan began collaborating in 1984. Ms. Allan stayed in the background while collaborating on projects such as the Carter briefing book scandal, the so-called Debategate; Armageddon literalism and Ronald Reagan's plan to bomb Syria; and the Challenger Disaster. But even so, her activities were well known to the intelligence community.
Just three weeks before her marriage to Captain Russbacher she had been in Washington D.C. having dinner with Senator Claiborne Pell. Senator Pell was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This is the committee that investigates the backgrounds of persons who have been named for ambassador posts. She had gone to Washington with the intention of preventing a career CIA operative named Donald Gregg from being confirmed as Ambassador to Korea. In the research she and Ms. Honegger were doing on the October Surprise, (the 1980 Reagan campaign deal to delay the release of the 52 American hostages in the Tehran Embassy to defeat Jimmy Carter.), she had discovered that Donald Gregg was aboard an airplane that carried George Bush to Paris on October 19, 1980 to finalize the deal. She told Senator Pell that Donald Gregg was guilty of treason and did not deserve to be confirmed.
Many people would have felt that this detail was important enough to discuss with a new husband that she had just discovered was a career CIA operative, but for some reason that little piece of information slipped her mind. She was more inclined to slap her forehead every few minutes and exclaim in absolute amazement, "I can't believe I've married a CIA operative." With an equal amount of shock and amazement her new husband lay on his side of the bed slapping his own forehead with identical gestures of disbelief, "I can't believe I married Barbara Honegger's best friend."
Barbara Honegger was not considered a major threat to the CIA, but she had just published a book titled "October Surprise". In it she had revealed the stories of three CIA Operatives who claimed that they had participated in the 1980 Reagan campaign deal to delay the release of the hostages in Iran. One of the CIA informants was a contract arms dealer named Richard Brenneke. Mr. Brenneke had just been charged with perjury by the US Attorney's office out of Denver.
Mr. Brenneke claimed that Donald Gregg had been on board the plane that he had flown to Paris so George Bush could finalize the deal. The US Attorney had supenaed Donald Gregg who would try to prove to the jury that he was somewhere else on that day.
Captain Russbacher was aware that his bride knew Richard Brenneke. Mrs. Russbacher knew that her husband knew Richard well enough to consider him a friend. In fact it was their mutual friendship with Richard Brenneke that had thrown them together in the first place. One can only wonder how those precious hours could have slipped away without either of them sharing the missing pieces of the puzzle which would have alerted the other of the eminent danger.
Captain and Mrs. Russbacher enjoyed a two day honeymoon. On September 1, 1989, the third day of their married life, Captain Russbacher was arrested by the FBI. Mrs. Russbacher was told that he was a conman on a crime spree marrying and defrauding widows. She was advised to annul the marriage immediately. He was led away in handcuffs. She protested that he was a Naval officer that she had known for years. The FBI told her that he was a pathological liar with a photographic memory who could weave bits and pieces of information into a believable story. She told them about the Learjet. They told her he stole it.
For three months she searched for answers. From Washington, D.C. to St. Louis to Portland...she interviewed and interrogated every government official and intelligence operative she knew. Finally she convinced herself that the FBI had lied and her husband was a deep cover CIA operative. But still she didn't know why he was in jail. Even though Captain Russbacher knew more of the picture than did his bride, he was now unable to tell her anymore information that might help her in her search because every piece of information that he shared with her was monitored by the jail.
It would be one year before he would be released and the two of them would be together. It would be one year before Raye Russbacher would understand that you don't mess with the career of a CIA operative and get away with it. You don't use your friendship with the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to try to sabotage the nomination of an ambassador. Donald Gregg must have been overjoyed when he heard about the marriage of Captain Russbacher to Raye Allan. There was no love loss between Mr. Gregg and Captain Russbacher. Mr. Gregg had tried on numerous occasions to derail Captain Russbacher's career, and now he finally had him. Captain Russbacher had disobeyed orders and violated an internal security contract when he married Raye Allan. He could punish them anyway he saw fit. Fate deals strange hands, and there was no hand stranger than the one that had been dealt on this occasion.
At the time the Captain and his lady married, Donald Gregg was the head of the CIA discipline committee. It was Donald Gregg who was in charge of the investigation into the Russbacher affair, and it was Donald Gregg who decided their punishment.
It would take one full year for them to figure out what had really happened to them. It would not be until Captain Russbacher was forced to plead guilty to four counts of securities fraud and be placed on five years probation. It was a choice between a guilty plea and staying in a county jail for an indeterminable amount of time. Captain Russbacher learned the hard way that there is no justice for a CIA operative who violates the rules of the Company.
But it was not until he was released and they were together that they were finally able to discover that Donald Gregg was the man responsible for the hell they had endured. But it was over and they were together. They had taken their punishment and now they could get on with their lives. The Captain took his new bride to a top secret meeting on Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. He took her there to meet his bosses and his friends.
William Webster, the Director of Central Intelligence invited them to lunch. When the Captain introduced his bride to the Director Raye finally felt that at last she knew the truth about her husband.
This feeling was not to last for long. Her husband was ordered to an Air Force Base in California. He was told that it was for a promotion ceremony and press conference. The Navy had to come up with a story to explain why one of their officers had just spent a year in jail. The story was a good one, but the papers never saw it.
Captain Russbacher, in full Navy uniform, was arrested by the same FBI agents who had arrested him one year before. This time he was arrested for impersonating a Naval officer. Within a week that charge was dropped and he was charged with misuse of a government airplane, namely the one he had used to fly the love of his life to Reno to marry.
Captain Russbacher is still in prison. It has now been two years and three months. Mrs. Russbacher no longer wonders about who her husband is. Now she wonders if he will be murdered before they have a chance to live together. The story and the reason for him being in jail has changed dramatically.
In May of 1991 an attempt was made on the life of Navy Captain Gunther Russbacher. That attempt took the lives of three Navy Intelligence officers. When Captain Russbacher realized that a contract had been put out on him, he felt it was necessary to let people know who wanted him dead and why.
He made a telephone call to a friend who transcribed the information and released it to many different newspapers. The story that was finally told reads as follows:
(Reprinted with permission from the Napa Sentinel)
BUSH MADE DEAL WITH IRANIANS, PILOT SAYS
Navy flier testifies he flew Bush to Paris for deal
to block release of hostages
A BAC 111 aircraft, which had been reconfigured to carry a sufficient amount of fuel to travel 3,600 miles, left Andrews Air Force Base in the late afternoon of October 19, 1980. The aircraft's destination: Paris, France. The passengers aboard the aircraft included the command pilot U.S. Navy Captain Gunther Russbacher, Richard Brenneke as the co-pilot. In the cabin was William Casey, soon to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Donald Gregg, soon to be the vice-president's National Security Advisor and eventually Ambassador to Korea; and George Bush, soon to be the vice president of the United States and eventually the president.
This is the weekend, three weeks before the November 1980 Presidential Election, an election so close that the outcome hung on the 52 embassy hostages held by Iranian militants. If Jimmy Carter could free them before the election, he would win. The Reagan campaign worried about that possibility more than any other in the crucial weeks before the election. If Carter was successful in arranging an "October Surprise" and bringing the hostages home in time for the election, then Carter would win. The only way a Reagan victory could be assured was to make sure the hostages were held until after the election.
Testifying to this flight is Russbacher, the command pilot."
When Raye finally heard the full story her two year descent into hell made sense. The pilot who flew George Bush to Paris to finalize the "October Surprise" deal had married an investigative researcher who had worked to expose the deal since 1986.
Captain Russbacher's love for his wife forced him to admit to himself that he had been part of a well orchestrated coup d'etat. He had kept his mouth shut for eleven years even though he knew that the scandals, drugs and corruption that were rampant in the country were directly related to the cover-up of the October Suprise. The attempt on his life killed a woman he had worked with for years. He wondered how many more people would die because of this treasonous deal? He had to come forward. He had to tell his story. His love for his wife had given him back his soul. But the only thing that could save it was for him to tell the truth.
Captain Russbacher is scheduled to testify before the House and Senate Committees which are investigating the "October Surprise." He is scheduled to be released from federal custody December 23rd, 1991. However, his five year probation has been revoked and he will return to the county jail where he pled guilty in 1990. At this point, the prosecutor in that case is trying to put him in jail for twenty eight years for violation of his probation.
For two years the United States government has persecuted two people because they fell in love. Intelligence operatives are taught not to feel emotion. This case is a perfect example of why that precedent exists. Men talk when they are in love. And when a high ranking operative falls in love with an investigative researcher it is only a matter of time before all the secrets of the government are exposed.
COPYRIGHT (c) R.G. BLAIR