Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

SMUGGLER: Barry Seal

Early Influences

David Ferrie
David Ferrie
After the Kennedy assassination, David Ferrie, the one-time head of the Civil Air Patrol unit at New Orleans's Lakefront Airport, denied having ever known Lee Harvey Oswald, but in 1993decades after Oswald's and Ferrie's deathsthe PBS program Frontline aired a well-documented photograph of Ferrie and Oswald together at a CAP cookout.

Ferrie was a fervent anti-communist who worked in New Orleans with a CIA-sponsored anti-Castro group called the Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front.

According to the 1979 report of U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations, David Ferrie constructed two miniature submarines to use in an attack on Havana Harbor, stockpiled weapons, including mortars, for a proposed invasion of Cuba, was involved in a raid on a munitions dump in Houma, La., and took several of his CAP cadets along on flights to Cuba. U.S. Customs agents in Miami launched an investigation of Ferrie in 1959 for weapons smuggling, although the allegations were never proven.

A vacation Ferrie took from his job at Eastern Airlines in April 1961 coincided with the failed, CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion, in which some U.S. pilots were known to have participated.

President John F. Kennedy
President John F. Kennedy
In July 1961, Ferrie gave a speech to a New Orleans veterans group about the ill-fated Cuban invasion. During the speech, Ferrie blasted President Kennedy for failing to provide the air support he had promised the Cuban fighters. Ferrie's rhetoric was indeed so critical of the president that members of the group cut short his speech and forced him from the lectern.

Under the tutelage of David Ferrie, it's not surprising that a young, impressionable and patriotic Barry Seal was deeply immersed in the anti-communist sentiment that swept post-World War II America.

The Soviet Union occupation of eastern Europe and imposition of the Berlin Blockade and Iron Curtain, the Communist victory in China and intervention in the Korean War, the McCarthy-Army hearings and the trials of Alger Hiss and of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Castro's revolution, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the early days of the Vietnam Wareach seemed to reinforce the notion that the United States was locked in a death struggle with a ruthless, totalitarian enemy committed to America's destruction. For a natural born adventurer and gifted pilot like Barry Seal, talk in this environment was no substitute for action.

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