STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE GEORGE MILLER
CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
OVERSIGHT HEARINGS ON ALYESKA COVERT OPERATIONS
NOVEMBER 4, 1991
This is the first of two days of hearings before the House Interior Committee on the subject of covert surveillance authorized by the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company and conducted by The Wackenhut Corporation.
On August 7 of this year, the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs filed a written request for documents from Wackenhut and Alyeska in connection with allegations that the Wackenhut Corporation conducted undercover surveillance of Charles Hamel on behalf of Alyeska and its owner companies. In letters to both Wackenhut and Alyeska, I expressed concern that the surveillance of Mr. Hamel was for the purpose of obtaining information on and/or interfering with Mr. Hamel's communications with this Committee.
Charles Hamel has been a source of information for Congress, state and federal regulatory agencies, and the media, concerning environmental, health and safety violations by Alyeska and its oil company owners. Mr. Hamel has served as a conduit for whistleblowers, including Alyeska employees, to make public information on oil industry practices. At the same time, Mr. Hamel has at least two significant business disputes with Alyeska and Exxon.
I want to make very clear that it is not the purpose of these hearings to determine whether Mr. Hamel, Alyeska or Exxon are correct in the matter of their lawsuits and business disputes. Nor is it the purpose of these hearings to examine whether Mr. Hamel's various allegations about oil company environmental violations are true or not. These are matters for another day and other forums.
While the validity of Mr. Hamel's environmental allegations is not the focus of these hearings, the fact that Mr. Hamel was an important source of information for this Committee's ongoing investigation of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and Alyeska operations is very relevant.
In the next two days, we will explore the issue of whether Alyeska's use of a "bogus" environmental group formed by Wackenhut spies was an effort to disrupt and compromise a source of information for this Committee's continuing investigation of oil industry practices in Alaska.
These hearings are intended to lay bear the full story of what happened during the covert surveillance of Mr. Hamel and others. We also will seek to determine why the spy operation was initiated and, equally important, why it was terminated.
In my view, it is important to find out why some of the largest and most powerful corporations in this country would resort to such elaborate "sting" tactics to invade and destroy the privacy of Mr. Hamel, federal and state officials, environmentalists and ordinary citizens.
It has been suggested that the sole purpose of Alyeska's spying on Mr. Hamel was simply to recover "stolen documents." However, if the explanation was that simple, this Committee would not be involved in these hearings. If Alyeska's sole concern was "stolen documents," the laws of this country provide an adequate means of redress in the courts.
We believe that the testimony and the evidence presented in these hearings during the next two days will show that the covert surveillance operation involved the much more sinister and disturbing motives of silencing environmental critics and intimidating whistleblowers.
In the course of the Committee's investigation, we have received large numbers of documents, electronic recordings and other materials. At various times, the Committee members have authorized by unanimous votes the issuance of subpoenas and the use of certain documents for which attorney-client privilege was claimed.
Our goal has been to conduct a thorough and fair investigation. We have attempted to accommodate a number of concerns raised by the witnesses. In conclusion, I especially want to express my appreciation for the cooperation that I have received from Congressman Young in this endeavor.
TESTIMONY OF SHERREE RICH
BEFORE THE UNITED STATES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES
CONGRESS COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS
2226 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C.
November 4 & 5, 1991
Good afternoon, Chairman Miller and Members of this Subcommittee-
My name is Sherree Rich. I am testifying today in response to a subpoena about my employment with Wackenhut. I am currently a Child Abuse Investigator with the State of Florida. Prior to that, I worked for six months for the Wackenhut Corporation.
Prior to accepting employment with Wackenhut I had worked for the Tallahassee Police Department for two and a half years, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office for three and a half months on a special undercover operation.
I accepted employment with the Wackenhut Corporation in August 1990, after applying and being interviewed at the Tampa office of the Wackenhut Corporation. Since I was interested in becoming an investigator I was referred to Wayne Black, of the Miami Special Investigations Division (hereinafter "SID). Several weeks after my initial interview I was contacted by Wayne Black for an interview. Wackenhut arranged to fly me to Miami for an interview at the SID offices. During that interview I advised Mr. Black that I was interested in becoming an investigator. He agreed to train me as an investigator. Because of recent undercover experience in my previous job, he requested that I begin work on an undercover operation that Wackenhut was conducting in the Washington, D.C. area.
After completion of my background investigation I was hired, and went to Miami for final processing and preparation for the operation. The final preparation for leaving to conduct the activity was to get a large amount of cash for use in setting up the undercover office.
Mr. Wayne Black and I flew up to Washington on or about August 11, 1990. On the flight to Washington, D.C., I was provided a number of articles to read about Exxon's activities in Alaska, environmental issues about oil spills, and the Alaska pipeline from Alaska newspapers. We were joined later by Rick Lund and Vern Johnson. We checked into the Crystal City Marriott Hotel, where I stayed for approximately 4-5 weeks. All of my hotel expenses for were covered by Wackenhut.
During the first few days after arriving in Virginia I was briefed on what my duties were to be in connection with the undercover operation. Initially I was told very little about what the real purpose of the investigation was. I was directed to open and set up and office, posing as "The Ecolit Group," which I knew to be a false identity standing for "ecological litigation." This included opening a personal bank account in my name, with ECOLIT on the check. I deposited several thousand dollars. It also included ordering cards with my name on the ECOLIT card identifying myself as a "staff researcher." I also ordered cards for Wayne Black, identifying him as Dr. Wayne Jenkins. As part of my cover I also joined the Library of Congress as a researcher. I ordered the Anchorage Daily News as part of the cover so that the office looked legitimate. I also purchased several books about environmental issues and several environmental posters, such as "SAVE THE WHALES" and "SAVE THE EARTH" as props.
The bogus office was located at 2341 Jefferson Davis Highway, Suite 525, in the Century Building, Arlington, Virginia. The office was in a suite of offices that shared common secretarial answering and reception services, and a common lobby. In order to appear legitimate I also received daily telephone calls from Miami, posing as if it was the Miami ECOLIT office, as well as faxes and occasional letters.
At about the same time, Mr. Richard Lund, posing as Mr. John Fox, rented a suite in the same location called Overseas Trading Company. Although we were working together in this undercover operation, we pretended only to know Mr. Fox casually because he assisted in getting our computers. In fact, Mr. Rick Lund, and another gentleman named Vern Johnson, wired the offices with video and audio microphones and cameras for the purpose of recording all of the communications and transactions between Hamel and Black. This included putting in a video camera inside a portable stereo which was wired to Rick Lund's office where it was picked up on a receiver and recorded. The sound system was also wired through the ceiling panels to the office two or three offices down the hallway. I was present when all the wiring was done in these offices.
I was present during the time when Rick Lund and Vern Johnson wired Ecolit's office in Arlington, Virginia. We arrived at the QRC offices (where we rented the Ecolit office) at night. Rick and Vern ran wires from John Fox's office, International Overseas Trading, through the ceiling into the Ecolit office. Rick had attached the wires to a remote controlled, toy dune buggy. He used this vehicle to drive across the inside of the ceiling from his office, across the intervening office to the Ecolit office so he could get the wires to the Ecolit office. He ran the wire from the ceiling through a stanchion in the wall, cut a hole in the wall to bring the wire out and ran the wire under the carpet.
Up until the opening of the office all I had been told was that we were conducting the investigation into a person named Charles Hamel. According to Wayne Black, Mr. Hamel had spent about ten years trying to seek revenge on Exxon for receiving a raw deal on oil brokering. Throughout the entire course of my involvement with the undercover operation, Exxon and Alyeska were used interchangeably by all of my superiors. I came to understand that Alyeska was a company formed by seven oil companies, and assumed that it was the Exxon portion of Alyeska that was requesting the investigation.
As I became more familiar with the investigation I learned that Mr. Hamel was receiving documents and information, allegedly illegally, from sources within Alyeska. Wayne Black and Rick Lund told me that Hamel would receive Exxon and Alyeska information and then turn it over to Congressman Miller, and also get the Environmental Protection Agency involved, and that by doing so Hamel was causing Alyeska and Exxon a great deal of financial hardship and negative publicity. It was my understanding that the purpose of the investigation was to find out who the sources of information were and let Alyeska know who they were, so that they could handle the leaks. I believed that as soon as an employee was identified he or she would be terminated. In fact, I believe that one employee was identified and terminated during this time frame.
It was my understanding that the investigation would last for six months to a year. In order to staff the office I was told to rent an apartment in Crystal City, Virginia. I did so; all of the expenses and costs for the apartment were paid by Wackenhut, including a rental car, gas, food, and utilities. The only thing I was responsible for was personal telephone calls and personal items. I was not aware of any State of Virginia or local authority license to conduct this activity.
My job was to appear to be researching environmental causes in and around the Washington, D.C. area, and to convince Mr. Hamel of the legitimacy of the operation. Throughout the course of the investigation, when Wayne "Jenkins" Black received documents from Hamel, I was to scan those documents into a computer. I was responsible for paying all of the bills for the office.
While the operation was going on someone from the Miami office drove up a Recreational Vehicle Camper fully equipped with living quarters and electronic surveillance equipment, such as portable telephones, two way radios, and other equipment that I did not recognize but understood to be used for picking up telephone calls. The RV was parked near Mr. Hamel's condo and the park for one night.
I was aware that Wackenhut had someone pick up Mr. Hamel's trash to go through it for information, and also knew that while Mr. Black was at Mr. Hamel's house he was wired to pick up all of their conversations, and that during his visit there he went through a bunch of Hamel's documents that were lying around and read from those documents into the "wire" so that the information could be transmitted back to Rick Lund. On one occasion I was also wired to go to Hamel's house, when I gave him a check for $2,000.
It was my understanding that Hamel was having personal financial problems, and that part of the plan was to "hook" him into working with Wackenhut's undercover operations was to make funds available to help him support his environmental causes. I presented two checks to Mr. Hamel, one in the office and one at his house.
I was never present at any meetings in the office or the hotel room, and never went to dinner with Mr. Hamel, but I know that Mr. Black met with him in the office and that those meetings were video-taped by Mr. Lund in his office down the hall.
The operation lasted about three months, during which time Mr. Black came from Miami on a number of occasions. At the end of that time frame I was told that the operation was closing down. I was told that it was closing down because Alyeska attorneys wanted to stop the operation. I believe that one of the concerns that led to closing down the operation was because Wackenhut was confirming that Hamel did, in fact, have information on environmental wrongdoing which Wackenhut had no way to handle.
For the last few weeks of the operations it was unclear to me how long it would actually last. Comments were made about closing it down early. Then Mr. Black stopped talking to Mr. Hamel entirely , and directed me to "cover" for him by saying he was in a meeting or not in his office in Miami. To the best of my knowledge Mr. Black never called him back. Then Mr. Black returned to Miami, and I was instructed to close down the office and load the computer equipment, files, posters, and all of the props and papers we had collected into a rental van, and drive it to Miami, which I did.
I continued to work at Wackenhut until January, 1991. During that time I had one further follow up involvement with the Hamel investigation. Sometime in October or November, I was briefly interviewed by two attorneys regarding my activities in the Virginia office. I was only asked by them "why" I was hired, and what my function was in Virginia. Prior to the interview I had been told by Wayne Black to just answer the questions that they asked very briefly, and not to add anything.
On my last day of work I was directed by Gill Mugarra to pick up the trash for one of the other investigator's assignments. This involved getting up at about 3:00 a.m. in order to insure that you were able to pick up the trash without being seen and before the garbage pick up. I questioned this assignment since it was not my case, and discussed it with other investigators and with Mr. Mugarra. Following these conversations I believed that the assignment had been returned to the original investigator. No one ever told me that the trash assignment was to be my last. The next day, Black called me into his office and asked me what had happened. He advised me that I was being put on suspension because I had "refused" to pick up the trash. That was not true. He told me that he would call me the next morning around 8:30 a.m., instead he called me around noon the next day and advised me that I could quit or be fired. I asked him if he would give me a good reference if I quit, and he said that the only thing that would be on my personnel file would be that I quit, so I resigned.
I hope that this information is helpful to the Committee investigating this matter. I will be pleased to try and answer any questions that you may have.
TESTIMONY OF CHARLES HAMEL
BEFORE THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS
COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS
2226 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, D.C.
November 4 & 5, 1991
Chairman Miller, Members of the Committee, Good Afternoon.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify on the Alyeska investigation conducted into my business activities and my private life.
My name is Charles Hamel, of Alexandria, Virginia. May I introduce my wife, Kathleen Morgan Hamel and my son Chuck, Jr., Prince William Sound commercial salmon fisherman of Cordova, Alaska. Accompanying me this afternoon is my friend and counsel, Billie Pirner Garde.
I grew up in Watertown, Connecticut, attending Assumption Prep School and a year at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. My sophomore year was at the Universite de Montpellier in France, after which I was drafted into the United States Army in Europe during the Korean War. I served in Military Intelligence on loan to the French Army in Koblenz, Germany. Upon my honorable discharge, I remained in Europe as Administrative Officer, Off-Shore Procurement Program, United States Embassy, in Brussels, Belgium, in support of the U.S. forces in Korea. In 1954 I returned home to continue my studies in foreign trade here at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Senator Hubert Humphrey helped me gain an elevator operator job in the Capitol. Thereafter I was a student staff member in the offices of Senator Ralph Yarborough and Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson.
In 1958 I became the Administrative Assistant to the late Senator Thomas J. Dodd of Connecticut. Following years in foreign trade, I again returned to the Capitol for two years as Executive Assistant to my former prep school roommate, Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska. Among my duties, as his assistant, I worked relentlessly to convince Alaska residents, commercial fishermen, Natives and the public that the oil industry would be good for Alaska and would surely build an environmentally sound pipeline and port terminal. Prior to construction, I traveled the 800 mile right-of-way from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez.
In the foreign trade business, I worked mainly as a management consultant, and commodities, ship and cargo broker/agent. In this capacity, I had the opportunity to represent foreign countries and arrange purchases of grain and other commodities on their behalf. Once I negotiated the purchase, I would arrange the ocean transportation of those commodities to other parts of the world. I also brokered the sale of oil and arranged long term crude tanker contracts. Eventually, I became an independent oil and shipping broker. In addition I acquired partial ownership in oil leases in Alaska and the lower U.S. I worked very hard and was fortunate enough to be very successful for a period of years.
In 1980, all my hard work and success began to fall apart when my clients discovered that they were not getting the crude that they were paying for, but were instead receiving oil that was significantly diluted with water. I could not cover the losses and by 1982 I had lost my clients, my source of income, and my credibility in the eyes of the business community I represented. From that point forward I began to lose everything I had worked for over the years.
At first, Exxon executives led me to believe the dilution problem was caused by malfeasance at the Panama Canal trans-shipment point. My investigations in Panama proved otherwise. I brought my discoveries to the attention of Exxon and other oil company executives who I had come to know personally over the years. However, soon I realized that the water in the oil was no mistake and it was, by no means, limited to me or my clients. In fact, I was provided Exxon documents that proved that Exxon, Arco and British Petroleum were quite aware of the water problem.
I had sincerely believed that the Alaska oil executives and Owners of the Alyeska Pipeline would take prompt corrective action. Nothing was done. Instead they denied the truth, and apparently hoped that I would forget about my business, the damage to my credibility and reputation, and my lost income. I could not do that then, or now. I built my business not only on hard work but also on the honesty of my word. When the Alyeska owners cheated my clients, they were, in effect, making me out as a dishonest businessman before my own clients.
In 1985, I decided to expose the dishonesty of the oil industry in regards to the water in the oil issue, and attempted to insure that there was some accountability of the industry in connection with their business practices. By this time I had also come to the conclusion that the oil industry was turning Alaska into an environmental disaster. Employees I talked to in Valdez, friends I knew in the industry, people I had worked with for years were all discussing the dismal performance of Alyeska in regards to their commitment to environmental and worker safety.
I realized that I was not the only victim of the dishonesty of the oil industry in Alaska - we were all victims, and no one was doing anything about it. We were living in a conspiracy of silence waiting for an environmental disaster to occur and, as you know, it did. I decided that I had to do something to prove to the public that the oil industry had violated their legal and moral obligations to Alaska. The more I heard, the angrier I got about what was going on. Alyeska was polluting the water by introducing toxic sludge, including cancer-causing benzene, into the pristine waters of Port Valdez and Prince William Sound. Alyeska was poisoning the Valdez fjord's air by venting extremely hazardous hydrocarbon vapors directly into the atmosphere. There was no regulatory oversight, and thus no regulatory violations. It was as if the environmental regulations of the United States did not even apply north of the Canadian border -- no regulators, no oversight, no enforcement -- nothing. In fact, the oil industry wasn't putting out anything but poison and lies.
In order to pursue the excessive water in the oil matter, I filed an administrative complaint with the Alaska Public Utilities Commission ("APUC"). At the hearing, former Alyeska employee, Erlene Blake, at great risk, testified that, as senior laboratory technician responsible for testing the amount of water in the oil, she continually discovered excessive water in the oil, but had been directed by her supervisors to falsify the log entries to show only acceptable levels in the samples. During this same period, she was required to falsify laboratory analysis with regard to water quality. The reports to the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") were false. Because she was so troubled by those instructions, as suggested by an assistant lab tech, she secretly maintained log books of duplicate entries, recording the true lab analysis beside the falsified data -- a red book for the water in oil and a yellow log book for the EPA violations.
Alyeska adamantly denied her allegations and discredited her testimony by claiming she couldn't produce the notebooks with the double entries of oil and water. In fact, Ms. Blake could not produce the logs because an Alyeska supervisor broke open her personal locker and stole them. She couldn't prove her allegations, and neither could , but we knew it was true. So did Alyeska.
Not long after the hearing I was contacted by an Alyeska employee - Bob Scott. Two Alyeska supervisors boasted to Mr. Scott and several fellow technicians that the log books had been removed from her locker, had not been destroyed and were not produced as required by the APUC subpoena. He was ashamed of Alyeska management's illegal actions. He knew that Alyeska had cheated me, had deceived the APUC, and had discredited one of their own honest employees. He also knew that Alyeska was violating numerous environmental and worker safety regulations.
Bob Scott was among the first of many employees that provided me information about violations of environmental regulations by Alyeska. As I learned of these abuses, I in turn, provided the information to the appropriate government agencies responsible for investigating these matters, including EPA, the General Accounting Office and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. In the beginning it was very difficult to get any government action on the employee's allegations. I then turned the information over to the press and, sometimes, to members of Congress. There was a profound skepticism everywhere that the oil industry would knowingly pollute the environment and harm their own employees in Alaska. The Alyeska public relations campaign was working. Few newspapers would print the facts. Few regulators would even listen.
Alyeska tried hard to discredit me by attacking my motives, my sources of information, my credibility, and attempting to portray me as a vengeful - if not slightly insane - opponent of the oil industry. But their "kill the messenger approach" backfired. It seemed that the harder Alyeska tried to discredit me publicly, the more their employees came to me with information privately. In fact, frequently the public denial of facts, known to be true to Alyeska employees, led those employees to my doorstep.
By the end of 1985, I had provided substantial documentary evidence to the EPA about environmental wrongdoing by Alyeska. Rather than deal honestly with these facts, Alyeska sued the EPA to force disclosure of the documents. The United States District Court, and the U.S. Court of Appeals, I am grateful to say, denied Alyeska access to the documents because to do so could have identified my sources, who feared retaliation.
In 1985 the oil industry attempted to find out what it would take to make me go away. As requested, I calculated my actual business losses at $12 million dollars. I also insisted that actions be taken to clean up the environmental issues I had raised, including an audit of the Valdez terminal, a pollution monitoring program funded by Alyeska and run by an independent group not accountable to the oil industry, and a medical monitoring fund for the Alyeska technicians who had been needlessly exposed to toxic vapors. The industry obviously was not prepared to meet those demands to get rid of me.
I continued to receive information from employees -- horror stories of poison and pollution, which I conveyed to the media, Congress and government agencies. Alyeska had to be dragged kicking and screaming through each corrective action. However, it was apparent to fishing community leaders like Dr. Riki Ott and Rick Steiner of Cordova, my loyal supporters throughout the years, that a major disaster was imminent. Early in 1989 the severity of the problems demanded congressional intervention and your Committee's Majority staff agreed. But within weeks the Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred, and everything in Alaska changed forever. The allegations I had been pointing out to the EPA for years to no avail were suddenly "high priority," and even the public began to doubt the public relations departments of the oil industry.
The day after the spill, leaders of the fishing community and fish processors telephoned for my help. I immediately flew to Valdez to do what I could. In addition to helping the fishermen, I assisted this Committee with housing and support services during their on site investigation, and also provided a network of information to members of the media who were attempting to provide accurate coverage. As with most disasters, even the oil spill brought out the best of people in Alaska trying to help. I made numerous new friends, and put old friends together with new ones. The evidence continued to mount.
The more information I was provided, the more disgusted I became. The more disgusted I became, the harder it was to ignore the information that employees provided me. What I perceived as the "Sovereign State" of Alyeska, continued to operate as a company without accountability, beyond regulation, absent a corporate conscience. I desperately wanted to go on with my life, to leave behind me the disillusionment that I felt, to do what other men at my age are doing -- walking on the beach with their wife, enjoying the hard earned fruits of their labor. Instead, the fruits of my labor were stolen from me, and the peace and contentment I tried to achieve were replaced by worrying and concern for those people who turned to me for help. Personally, these were terrible, dark nights for Kathy and me. And it went on for years.
One day in April, 1990, a Dr. Wayne Jenkins came to me. He described his company, Ecolit Group, as a well funded group of attorneys who wanted to help me. They would provide me the tools to protect those workers who had turned to me for help, Ecolit could help protect their jobs, and supply me support staff and assistance to manage what had become a full time, financially costly, job of protecting whistleblowers and coordinating government investigations. I thought it was too good to be true.
As I wrote in a note to my Anchorage attorney and faithful supporter, Julian Mason, Ecolit was "the stuff that dreams are made of." This Ecolit Group showed up in answer to a dilemma that seemed to have no end for me. I was tired, almost broke, and broken in spirit. I wanted to be able to turn the reins of these responsibilities over to someone else. My wife had been caring for her invalid parents in Washington State without my help. It seemed as if we had spent a decade fighting to keep what we had, losing our assets, and becoming the only hope for many Alaskans who turned to us for help, for no one else was there for them to turn to.
The Ecolit Group seemed such a perfect answer. Dr. Jenkins was anxious to learn all about my Congressional contacts, my informants, interested media, and my plans. He expressed moral outrage at the environmental wrongs being committed by the oil industry, and was anxious to provide legal support to stop the polluting, the dumping and other wrongs that I revealed to him. Now that I have had the opportunity to review the transcripts and tapes of my meetings with Wayne Black, I am embarrassed at many of the things that I said trying to get him interested in helping to do the right things without compromising my sources.
Obviously I did compromise many of them. Inadvertently, of course, but nonetheless, I let them down and I will always have to deal with that. I also let this Committee down. In my zeal to find an answer to the problems I was facing - no resources and increasing obligations to more and more people - I exaggerated my influence with this Committee and I exposed information that I had been entrusted with by Committee staffers. In my business activities I knew that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true. In this instance, I failed to recognize the warnings that should have tipped me off to Ecolit's true purpose.
Yet, I could never have known nor little imagined the extent of the betrayal of my trust. The details of the Wackenhut surveillance are now well known. Alyeska authorized the stealing of our trash, monitoring and taping our telephone calls, concealing video cameras in hotel rooms, stealing our mail, and illegally obtaining our personal and financial information. Alyeska successfully launched an internal "witch hunt" to target everyone who had communications with me. By illicitly obtaining AT&T telephone records they identified the people who we called nationwide and people who called us, and - worst of all - violated my confidences with people who trusted me. Bob Scott was fired, lost his home, lost his retirement. Others have lost their jobs, become suspected of being sources of information and now live in fear of being monitored by their employer. All that I tried to do to help stop Alyeska's wrongdoing was being turned upside down by them.
I am repeatedly asked how all this makes me feel. When I first learned of the surveillance activities I was afraid for my family and friends. Next I became angry, furious that Alyeska would stoop to dishonesty, deception and theft out of paranoia that the truth would somehow find its way to the public. It is the classic psychological projection when Alyeska justifies their elaborate sting operation by claiming that I had "stolen" documents. I never picked through Alyeska's trash, broke into its offices, taped their phone calls. I never posed as one of their own. I never attempted to destroy their careers, or worse, invade their families' privacy. I have always done exactly as I said I was going to do -- insist on responsible environmental management of the oil industry in Alaska. Today I am simply saddened and disgusted; but, in a strange way, grateful and relieved that this entire incident has come to light because it demonstrates better than I could ever do that Alyeska, and its owners, cannot be trusted.
The last ten years of my life have been spent trying to warn the public that Alyeska and Exxon cannot be trusted with our natural resources, they cannot be trusted as business partners, and they cannot be trusted about their alleged claim that we desperately need more oil. It is now up to the Congress to sort out the truth from all the lies. In 1988, ARCO, Exxon and British Petroleum failed to tell this Committee about the existence of the Pt. McIntyre billion barrel oil field directly under the West Dock, virtually within sight of the Alyeska Pipeline, while they were testifying that Prudhoe Bay was running dry. In fact, both ARCO and Exxon knew that they had discovered the Pt. McIntyre field years earlier. In 1989, my General Partner, Exxon, told me that our Pt. McIntyre leases were dry. I sold my interest in the leases for what Exxon told me was a fair price. Several weeks after selling Exxon my interests, the major discovery was announced. Once again, they lied to you, they lied to the Congress, they lied to the public, and they defrauded us all.
The public relations departments of the oil industry, their lawyers and lobbyists desperately want this Committee and the public to believe that I attempted to humiliate the oil industry in retaliation for the economic losses I suffered. Alyeska and the oil industry have tried desperately for years to convince themselves and the public that I am an extortionist - a businessman motivated to expose environmental wrongs for personal profit. The truth is that the oil companies were and continue to be motivated to ignore environmental wrongs to increase corporate assets. Do not misunderstand me, I believe that responsible oil development is necessary to our national interest. However, Alyeska and its oil company owners believe that in order for someone to be "for" the oil business, one must also be "against" environmental protections that might stand in the way of corporate profits. I refuse to believe that fallacy, and I certainly refuse to conduct myself and my activities in a manner that these members of the oil industry find acceptable.
I refuse to believe that the only way to advocate for a clean environment and regulatory compliance is to take a vow of poverty and join a not-for-profit environmental organization. I also refuse to believe that I must choose between pursuing the economic damage that I have been caused by Exxon and the other Alyeska owners and insisting that they clean up their environmental act.
Most importantly, I refuse to believe that any citizen of this country has to tolerate the invasion of privacy that I have been subjected to simply because I have exercised my Constitutional rights and responsibilities as a citizen to petition Congress, and to assist the news media in the presentation of facts and evidence that certain members of the oil industry have chosen to ignore. I may not ever be able to walk on the beach with my wife in peace or to recoup the money that I have been cheated out of, but both my wife and I will know that we have done everything within our power to keep the beaches clean for our children and grandchildren.
As a final note I want to state publicly how deeply my wife and I appreciate the courage and honesty of the former Wackenhut employees and investigators who came forward and told the truth. The nation and Alaska are better because of the integrity of these people. Had it not been for Rafael "Gus" Castillo, Ana Contreras, Sherree Rich, Ricki Jacobson, Adriana Caputti, Mercedez Cruz, and others, none of this would have come to light. These are brave individuals, who had nothing to gain by coming forward, but had much to lose. Each of these employees, like the many Alyeska employees who took similar risks to bring forward the truth about Exxon and Alyeska's activities, have more integrity than the oil industry could ever buy and more courage than Alyeska could ever defeat. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify and I will be glad to answer any questions that you may have.
SUPPLEMENTAL STATEMENT OF
RICKI SUE JACOBSON
BEFORE THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS
COMMITTEE ON INTERIOR AND INSULAR AFFAIRS
November 4 and 5, 1991
Committee On Interior and Insular Affairs
United States House of Representatives
1324 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C.
Good afternoon, Chairman Miller and Members of this Committee. My name is Ricki Sue Jacobson. I am here today in response to the Committee's subpoena regarding my employment with Wackenhut Corporation. I reside in Miami, Florida with my three children and I am currently training to be an executive secretary.
I accepted employment with the Wackenhut Corporation in November of 1989. I had no previous investigative experience. Until that time, I had worked as a realtor since approximately 1976. However, in early fall of 1989, a friend of mine suggested to me that I would make a good investigator and recommended that I contact an acquaintance of hers if I were interested. Her acquaintance was Mr. Wayne Black. At that time, Mr. Black was not with Wackenhut Corporation, but was operating his own practice. I contacted Mr. Black and he explained that his firm was being bought out by Wackenhut and that he would soon be employed there. After several meetings and discussions, and once Mr. Black had joined Wackenhut, I was hired as an entry level trainee. For licensing purposes, my position was known as "private investigator intern".
At the time my employment began, Mr. Black told me that my duties would basically involve property and asset searches, especially since I had a good real estate background. He also indicated that I would occasionally be doing "witness locates". In the initial weeks of my employment, I worked with more experienced investigators. During this period, I also worked on some surveillance assignments. In approximately February or March, 1990, Mr. Black asked if I would like to travel to Alaska on an assignment. Originally, I hesitated because I do not like being away from my children for long periods of time. However, after being assured by Mr. Black that I would be gone only briefly, I agreed. I was not told the name of the client or the nature of the operation. I was given only the case number, which was 427.
Mr. Black briefed me for my assignment during March of 1990 and I was due to leave around March 20, 1990. In my briefing, Mr. Black told me I would be attending an environmental conference in Anchorage, that I would be travelling under an assumed name, and that I was to have no public contact with Mr. Black or Mr. Rick Lund while in Anchorage. Mr. Lund was an investigator under contract with Wackenhut who often worked with Mr. Black. My assumed name was "Ricki Eidelson". Eidelson is my maiden name and Mr. Black suggested I use it since it would be easy to remember. In the course of my briefing, I was also instructed by Mr. Black to become generally familiar with various ecological groups because I would be attending the conference pretending to be an ecological researcher for an environmental group in Miami. The environmental group I would be representing was called "Ecolit" and was a fictitious organization created by Wackenhut for the purpose of this assignment. After preparing in accordance with my instructions, I Pago travelled to Anchorage on or about March 20, 1990. Prior to my departure I was given false identification documents to support my assumed name. These documents included a Florida driver's license issued in my fictitious name, business cards from Ecolit, and luggage tags. Mr. Black and Mr. Lund travelled on board the same plane, but we had no contact with each other, as per the instructions I had received. Mr. Black's assumed name was Wayne Jenkins, also supposedly with the Ecolit group. I believe Mr. Lund's assumed name was John Fox, though I am not certain. At this time I still had no knowledge of the client's name, the nature of the operation or effort of which I was a part, or the name of any persons who might be the subject of any investigation to be conducted by Wackenhut.
After my arrival in Alaska, I travelled to my hotel, the Captain Cook, and registered. Mr. Black and Mr. Lund also travelled to the hotel, though separately from me. Shortly after we arrived at the hotel, Mr. Black and Mr. Lund met with me in my room and discussed various details of my assignment. The essence of their instructions was that I was simply to attend, and take notes at, the environmental conference scheduled to begin the next morning. However, in the course of this meeting, Mr. Lund also asked that I attempt to see the conference registration list and to let him know if the name "Charles Hamel" appeared on that list. This was the first time I ever heard the name "Charles Hamel", and nothing further was said about him. When I inquired later about the list, I was told that a registration list was not available and I therefore reported to Mr. Black and Mr. Lund that I was unable to determine whether Mr. Hamel had registered at the conference.
On March 22, 1990, the third day of the conference, while I was seated with other conference attendees in the dining room of the hotel, Mr. Black approached me and whispered "the guy we want you to eyeball is in the lobby." I believe these were Mr. Black's exact words. He then motioned for me to follow him. I was surprised because I did not know anything was expected of me beyond my attendance at the environmental conference. However, I walked to the doorway of the dining room and Mr. Black pointed out Mr. Hamel standing in the lobby. Mr. Hamel was speaking with a man and a woman. I observed them for a few moments, but did not overhear their conversation. When they left the lobby, I returned to the dining room and later reported my observation to Mr. Black.
During the evening of March 22, 1991, the day the conference ended, I visited a local restaurant and bar with a fellow conference attendee. Upon my return to the hotel, I noticed Charles Hamel standing in the lobby area. Believing that Mr. Black and Mr. Lund would be interested in Mr. Hamel's whereabouts, I contacted one of them (I do not remember which) and advised him of Mr. Hamel's presence in the lobby. I was instructed to keep Mr. Hamel under observation and, if he left the lobby area, to follow him. After a short time, I followed Mr. Hamel into the hotel bar. He was in the company of another gentleman and I learned later that his name was Rick Steiner. I sat a few stools away from Mr. Hamel and Mr. Steiner and, after a few moments, I used the phone in the bar and called Mr. Black or Mr. Lund (I do not remember which), and notified him of my whereabouts. A few moments later, Mr. Black and Mr. Lund entered the bar separately, as if they did not know one another, and took separate seats. After approximately twenty to thirty minutes, Mr. Hamel and Mr. Steiner left the bar. My observation terminated at that time. However, I believe either Mr. Black or Mr. Lund followed Mr. Hamel and Mr. Steiner out of the bar. During the time I was in the bar, I do not recall engaging in any direct conversation with Mr. Steiner or Mr. Hamel, and I do not believe I did. However, I recall having brief eye contact with one or both of them in the course of various comments I was exchanging with the bartender.
Sometime after I returned to my room that evening, Mr. Black and Mr. Lund came to my room and we discussed the events of that evening and our travel arrangements home, now that the conference had ended.
I left Alaska on the morning of March 24, 1991. While waiting to board my flight in the Anchorage Airport, I noticed Mr. Hamel in the concourse area. I was very surprised that I happened to be booked on the same flight. After being seated in the coach section, Mr. Hamel noticed me and apparently recognized me. After exchanging a few words, he invited me to sit with him and I did. I was very nervous because my assignment was over and I did not know how to handle this particular situation. Since Mr. Hamel had just been the subject of our surveillance in the bar, and because I wanted to be very careful, I introduced myself using my assumed identity and purpose.
Mr. Hamel's destination was Seattle, the first stop on my flight to Miami. During the time we sat together, Mr. Hamel very candidly discussed many things of concern to him, including a lawsuit with Exxon, his own oil leases and problems he encountered with water being mixed with his oil. He also mentioned that he had various sources inside Alyeska Corporation feeding him various types of sensitive information. He discussed secret meetings and even the suicide of one person involved. I did not understand much of what he was saying and felt very astonished and uncomfortable at the great degree of trust he was showing a complete stranger. In addition to these discussions, Mr. Hamel asked me a lot about myself and about Ecolit. In the course of that part of our discussion he mentioned that he would be coming to Miami and that, when he did, he would visit Ecolit. After I returned to Miami, I reported my experience with Mr. Hamel to Mr. Lund and then to Mr. Black and subsequently dictated a memorandum to Mr. Black containing the same information. I maintained no activity logs during my stay in Alaska because I was told by Mr. Black that none of the usually required activity logs were to be maintained in connection with the Alaska trip. Several days after my return to Miami, at the direction of Mr. Black, I contacted Charles Hamel one or two times at the number Mr. Hamel gave me on the airplane. The purpose of my phone call was to attempt to arrange an introduction between Mr. Hamel and Wayne Black (posing as Wayne Jenkins of the Ecolit Group). Mr. Black was present during my calls to Mr. Hamel and spoke with Mr. Hamel himself once the introduction had been made. Subsequently, it is my understanding that he made several additional phone calls to Mr. Hamel. I witnessed approximately two of the calls made by Mr. Black (Jenkins) to Mr. Hamel. I observed at least one of these telephone calls being recorded by Mr. Black. The device used was a wire with a suction cup attached to the receiver and the other end attached to a small tape recorder on Mr. Black's desk. I know other phone calls to Mr. Hamel were recorded because Mr. Black played for me the tape of at least one of the phone calls, which he made to Mr. Hamel.
In the days immediately following my return to Miami, Wayne Black arranged to establish an official Ecolit office in Miami, in the Coconut Grove area. This was done because Mr. Hamel had stated to me on the airplane that he would be coming to Miami and would come by to see Ecolit's offices and get to know more about the group. However, within a few weeks after my return, Mr. Hamel had indicated that he would not be coming to Miami. Therefore, Mr. Black determined that we would have to travel to Washington, D.C. in order for him to meet Mr. Hamel. At that point, Mr. Black directed me to travel to Washington with him to make the introduction. I did not really want to go, and I did not want to be a part of any further deception of Mr. Hamel. In fact, on April 30, 1990, I wrote a letter to Mr. Black explaining this and I have provided that letter to this committee in response to the subpoena served upon me. Nevertheless, after much discussion, Mr. Black did succeed in convincing me to travel to Washington with him and to introduce him (as Wayne Jenkins) to Mr. Hamel with the understanding that I would not again be asked to have contact with Mr. Hamel or to engage in any further deceit pertaining to Mr. Hamel. I wrote Mr. Black an additional letter, on May 6, 1990, which he received on Monday, May 7, 1990, confirming my earlier statements to him that I was uncomfortable about my role in the Hamel matter, that I was above my head in terms of my experience as an investigator, and that I wanted no further contact with Hamel or this case. I would add, however, that at this point in time, May 6, 1990, I still had received no information from Wackenhut regarding the identity of the client or the nature or purpose of the operation. My letter of May 6, 1990 was provided to this committee in response to the subpoena served upon me.
I arrived in Washington, with Wayne Black, on approximately May 9, 1990. Mr. Hamel picked us up at a restaurant in downtown Washington and drove us to his office. Wayne Black was introduced as Wayne Jenkins of the Ecolit Group, and Mr. Hamel introduced Mr. Black and myself to several other persons present at Mr. Hamel's offices. Mr. Hamel picked up his mail at his offices and placed the mail and several other items, such as newspapers, in the back seat of his car. He then drove us to his home in Alexandria, Virginia. During the time we were riding to Mr. Hamel's home, Wayne Black was seated in the back seat and I was seated in the front passenger seat. At one point during our trip, I looked back and observed Mr. Black going through Mr. Hamel's mail. I did not see Mr. Black actually take any of the mail. After we arrived at Mr. Hamel's home, Mr. Hamel took the mail and other items into his home and placed them on his desk in the living-room of his home. Nearby, on the floor, were many other stacks of papers. Mr. Hamel left the room twice while we were there. During each of his absences, I observed Mr. Black leafing through Mr. Hamel's mail and the numerous papers stacked on the floor. Mr. Black was very happy about the opportunity to observe Mr. Hamel's mail and papers and commented to that effect several times. I became extremely nervous and apprehensive and very much regretted being there.
After a while, Mr. Hamel reappeared with his wife and we all chatted for awhile, primarily about Ecolit. Mr. Hamel seemed quite suspicious about Ecolit and asked many questions of Mr. Black. After awhile, Mr. Hamel and his wife invited us to join them for dinner at a nearby restaurant. Just prior to departing for dinner, Mr. Black used the bathroom in the Hamel home. A short time later, while walking to the restaurant with Mr. and Mrs. Hamel, Mr. Black quietly stated to me that he intended to tape the dinner conversation. Specifically, he advised me not to talk too much so that the tape would not contain too much unnecessary chatter. Sometime after we reached the restaurant, Mr. Black went to the restroom and after he returned he whispered that the tape had not worked, that the conversation did not record. Based on this, I concluded that Mr. Black had wired himself at the Hamel home and attempted at the restaurant to tape the dinner conversation with the Hamels.
After dinner, we walked back to the Hamel home and Mr. Hamel drove Mr. Black and me around Alexandria and then to the airport. on the flight back to Miami, Mr. Black removed from his brief case two long envelopes, bearing metered postage, which he indicated he had taken from Mr. Hamel, although I cannot recall whether he stated the items were taken from Mr. Hamel's car or his home. I reacted with surprise and asked how he could have taken the items and he responded that "they were stolen anyway" and that they did not really belong to Mr. Hamel.
After returning to Miami, I discontinued all contact with Mr. Hamel. I resigned Wackenhut on or about June 25, 1990. Between the time of my return and my resignation, among other duties, I continued to man the undercover Ecolit office and, on one occasion, I was asked to -- and did -- examine trash which I was told had been taken from Mr. Hamel's residence. I resigned in writing and my resignation letter has been provided to this committee in response to the subpoena served upon me. I have had no further contact with the investigation pertaining to Mr. Hamel, or with the Wackenhut Corporation except in connection with these proceedings.
I hope that this information is helpful to the Committee and I will be happy to try and answer any questions which you may have.
/s RICKI SUE JACOBSON
SWORN TO AND SUBSCRIBED before me the 1st day of November, 1991 in the County and State aforesaid.
/s JACK B. GERBER NOTARY PUBLIC My Comm. expires April 26, 1992
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