From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1998:

about suspected infiltration, disruption, and
possible use of international animal protection
organizations as cover for Central
Intelligence Agency projects surged on
October 1 when Carroll Cox of EnviroWatch
shared a set of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Law Enforcement conference
notes from a meeting of May 18-20, 1993,
in Reno, Nevada.
Cox obtained the notes through a
recent Freedom of Information Act request.
Twelve attendees, none below the
rank of assistant regional director for law
enforcement, were told that “CIA has
expressed an interest in working with the
Division at the national and international levels.
A CIA section chief,” they were told,
“will speak to the agents at this summer’s
undercover school and SABS.”

SABS is the USFWS acronym for
“Special Agent Briefing Session.”
The May 1993 meeting came soon
after the U.S. Senate confirmed the Interior
Department executive appointments of the
Bill Clinton/Albert Gore presidential administration,
inaugurated four months earlier.
The minutes imply that no formal
ties existed between the CIA and USFWS
under George Bush, who once headed the
CIA and reputedly kept a tight reign on
covert operations––especially on U.S. soil.
The USFWS minutes do not mention
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
However, USFWS international activities
often involve NGOs, chiefly charities,
which receive grants and other help from
USFWS––and cooperating agencies, notably
USAid––to do wildlife protection work.
CIA interests might interface with
those of USFWS and animal protection
NGOs in at least four areas:
• Since the mid-1993 success of
the film Free Willy!, marine mammal protection
resources have been heavily redirected
away from whaling and sealing, toward single-animal
domestic captivity issues––as
ANIMAL PEOPLE outlined in “Fixing for a
fight of Leviathans,” page one, September
1998, noting possible hints that this may
have involved covert influence.
• The Clinton/Gore administration
and USFWS worked together for five years
to undo a European Community ban on the
import of trapped fur, which was to have
started in 1997. This might have been
accomplished in part with advance knowledge
of animal protection NGO strategies.
• Some of the major elephant ivory
and rhino horn poaching cartels reportedly
support Islamic fundamentalist militias. In
addition, because treaties restrict the creation
of fortified no-man’s-land, Israel protects
some border regions as nature reserves.
USFWS and USAid have given considerable
equipment and advisory assistance to NGOs
which support African anti-poaching work
and assist the Israeli Nature Reserve system.
• Wildlife conservation NGOs
enjoy unique access to both Burma and
Venezuela, each ruled by military juntas.
The Burmese junta is reportedly involved in
the global heroin traffic. Venezuela is reputedly
among the top cocaine-producing
nations, along with Colombia and Peru,
which are more open to U.S. visitors.
Commented Cox, a former
USFWS special agent who repeatedly
clashed with superiors when he tried to
enforce wildlife laws against politically sensitive
alleged offenders, “From a law
enforcement perspective, I think it’s good if
the CIA has their eyes and ears in all kinds of
places where somebody might be scheming
to hurt U.S. citizens, and I know they can’t
tell us everything they do. But I would like
to know that they aren’t trading off our concern
for protecting wildlife to serve someone’s
political or economic agenda. I don’t
have confidence that either the CIA or
USFWS is immune or even protected against
that kind of influence.”

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