Sunday, December 21, 2014

Who Wanted Waterpower?

Among the more notorious of practices that have come to light in the recently released Senate torture report is that of "rectal hydration" (covered in our post, The Anal Americans). In the ensuing media spin cycles, we have been treated to the embarrassment of former CIA directors and agents along with other Bush Administration officials, including Dick Cheney, defending rectal hydration and feeding as legitimate medical procedures...

The Hill: Ex-CIA director defends rectal rehydration

Rove defends CIA's use of rectal feeding tubes

Guardian: Cheney insists 'rectal feeding' was for medical reasons, not torture

Daily Beast: CIA Interrogation Chief - ‘Rectal Feeding,’ Broken Limbs Are News to Me

“Rectal hydration thing sounds like a medical procedure, but it was not part of the approved and sanctioned techniques that were given to us by our guys and approved” by the Justice Department, he said.

Since these procedures were conducted outside of the interrogation sessions proper, and as M.D.'s say they  have no medical value, the motivation for them can only be attributed to the sadism and voyeurism of the officials who approved of and conducted them...

Physicians for Human Rights: Medical Professionals Denounce “Rectal Feeding” as “Sexual Assault Masquerading as Medical Treatment”

Amidst the flurry of recriminations and "no apology" defenses, certain allegations revisited in the December 10-11 Wayne Madsen Report, Senate Torture Report exposes bizarre sexual voyeurism of Cheney, others, tend to support this thesis. When Cheney said on FOX, CIA Report 'Is Full of Crap', he was making a Freudian slip. He would have a good idea of what crap looks like - indeed, from a perspective beneath "the dark side". According to an April 11, 2008 Madsen report during the "D.C. Madam" Deborah Jeanne Palfrey trial, Cheney's predilection for water-sports - of the "number two" variety - was first brought to light...

Cheney, according to knowledgeable sources involved in the Palfrey trial, paid at least one escort to straddle a glass top table and defecate on it while Cheney peered at the bowel "evacuation" from underneath.

Suggestive of Cheney's voyeurism, Madsen recounts the curious timing of both the destruction of some of the CIA torture videotapes and a suspicious fire near Cheney's office in the Eisenhower Old Executive Office Building...

After the Senate Intelligence Committee expressed interest in the torture videotapes, the CIA destroyed them on November 9, 2005, according to the report. The number of videotapes held by the CIA and destroyed is not disclosed. The report indicates that other videotapes of torture were destroyed by the CIA beginning in December 2007.

WMR previously reported that live video streaming equipment used by Vice President Cheney and his aides to view torture sessions in his Old Executive Building office was destroyed by a suspicious fire.

The fire occurred on December 19, 2007. Citing May 28, 2009 and December 21, 2008 reports, Madsen continues...

"WMR reported on the high-tech support provided the Bush-Cheney White House by Mike Connell's GovTech Solutions and his close colleague Jeff Averbeck's firm SmarTech. Connell died last December when the plane he was piloting crashed short of landing in Akron, Ohio. We have now learned that Connell and Averbeck may have been behind the installation of live streaming black boxes in the White House and the Eisenhower Old Executive Office Building used to stream live video of torture sessions in Guantanamo, Cuba and Abu Ghraib to the Old Executive Office Building office of Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief Counsel David Addington and into the White House, itself."

Addington is mentioned a number of times in the Senate report as being a key player in the torture program.  WMR's May 28, 2009 report continued: "The fire that broke out in an 'electrical closet' in the Old Executive Office Building on December 19, 2007, near Cheney's ceremonial office likely contained the live streaming boxes used to stream torture sessions from Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, according to our sources who added that SmartTech and Airnet have been in the live streaming video business since 2002..."

These allegations further raise an admittedly speculative and seemingly improbable but quite plausible possibility. While we do not have a smoking gun, we have evidence of both motive and opportunity to suggest that Dick Cheney may have requested the making of Waterpower, a 1977 hardcore "high colonics" specialty film, a remake of Taxi Driver but loosely based on the true story of the "enema bandit," Michael Kenyon.

With lines in the Senate report quoted from internal emails being practically lifted out of the screenplay of Waterpower...

"[w]hat I infer is that you get a tube up as far as you can, then open the IV wide. No need to squeeze the bag - let gravity do the work."

...and given Cheney's peculiar kink, some have pondered whether he might have had something to do with the film. We have contacted Shaun Costello, the director of Waterpower, about this question; while he has no knowledge of Cheney's involvement, we wondered about a brief encounter in '74 - when Cheney was the Deputy Assistant to President Ford following Nixon's Watergate resignation - that suggests this possibility cannot be ruled out. Costello has an autobiographical blog where he recounts the hey-day of "The Deuce" - the area around Times Square where the adult cinema thrived in the '70s and early '80s before it became an industry and before Times Square was "Disney-fied". The post that peaked our interest on this matter concerns his mother's wedding reception in Washington D.C...

The Third Hand

Both the ceremony and the reception were to be held at the townhouse of Michael Gill, a close friend of my mother’s new victim, and a man who had made a  lifetime career out of being the nephew of Mamie Eisenhower. He was one of those Washington political parasites who lived on the perks when his party was in power. The republicans still held the Whitehouse so Michael Gill was on the dole. It was never made clear to me exactly what Gill did, but from the look of him, I was certain that not all of it was legal. 

Perhaps not, but he had been on the staff of Charles S. Rhyne (NYT obit) during the '68 Nixon-Agnew Presidential Campaign (CQ AlmanacSpecial assistant to Rhyne is Michael Gill, a Washington, D.C., resident and nephew of former President Eisenhower.) Rhyne was a long time Nixon supporter who eventually became council for his Oval Office secretary, Rose Mary Woods, in the inquiry concerning the missing 18 minutes of White House recordings during Watergate.

Back to Costello: 

The ceremony was to be presided over by a Seventh Circuit Appellate Judge, and attended by a collection of Washington’s best and worst characters. My mother’s new husband had owned restaurants in the Washington area for years, and seemed well liked. Bob Dole was there, as was Dick Cheney, Ed Musky, and what seemed like every lobbyist in the capital.

On the other side of the reception was a delegation of boys from the Bonnano family in New York, some of whom looked familiar. What an amazing gathering. Some of them had gone to law school to learn how to defend criminals, and some of them had attended “The University of the Streets” to learn the subtle nuances of the import/export business, but all of them were gangsters. I hadn’t seen this many republicans in one room since the televised coverage of the 1972 Convention.

Costello describes his exploration of Gill's townhouse, particularly of the basement which he describes as "a wood paneled wonderland of adult entertainment," including a home theater...

The shelves in the projection room contained 16MM prints of feature films, all pornographic. As I went through the titles I was horrified to find several little movies that I had made for Sid Levine the previous year, and I was in about half of them. So Michael Gill had seen me in action. But how could he have gotten his hands on theatrical films that I had made for the DeCavalcante crime family? Then I remembered the boys from the Bonnano family who were upstairs for the wedding.

Costello then recounts his meeting Dick Cheney...

Gill, who’s constantly filling my glass, was telling me a series of bizarre stories about the sexual capabilities of his insatiable, nymphomaniac girlfriend. She was a mousy little thing, who I’m sure no one at the reception  suspected of having a third hand located in her vagina, yet Gill maintained that this was the case. Now I knew that he recognized me from the movies. Why else would he be constantly whispering in my ear about his girlfriend’s sexual exploits? If he knew, did his pal who was in the midst of marrying my mother also know? Did Cheney? Dole? Musky? Just how many members of the United States Senate had watched, in the comfy confines of Michael Gill’s underground pleasure chamber, the movies I had made for the Mob? Gill was still relentlessly whispering. “I guarantee you young man, the slippery grasp, the velvety fingers, your zorch will be the happiest little guy on planet Earth.” Zorch? I hadn’t heard that word since I was twelve. At this point Gill decided that I should meet his pal Dick Cheney who, for the past few months, had been running Gerry Ford’s transition team, working just under his buddy Don Rumsfeld. “Dick, I’d like you meet the bride’s son Shaun. He’s a film maker you know.” Cheney turned with an outstretched hand, “A real pleasure Shaun. They make quite a handsome couple. A film maker, huh. Not a member of the press are you?” “No sir, not at all.” Cheney was sizing me up. “What kind of films do you make?” He was peering at me over the top of his glasses. “Golf sir, my last film was about the British Open.” Cheney smiled, “Golf. That’s the ticket. The great American common denominator. Everybody loves golf. Did you know that President Ford is quite an accomplished golfer? Plays with the pros all the time.”

Wink wink? Fast forward a couple of years, to an odd request from Costello's mafia patrons, recounted in his blog entry on the making of Waterpower, of his meeting with Sid Levine in the Fall of '76...

Sid was looking grim when I got to his office, and he didn’t waste any time. “Look, I’m a grandfather and I’m ashamed to have to ask you this, but they need an enema movie.”

We wondered, who is this "they"? Mr. Costello insists that "they" are Robert "DiBi" DiBernardo (see the Mafia Wikia entry for background). He thought money could be made on this film because of the notoriety of the true story of the "enema bandit". Listen however to the words of DiBi that Costello quotes:

“Look, I don’t want to know about this thing. You just do whatever Sid tells you. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to know about it. I don’t want to talk about it. OK? Understand? I don’t want anybody to know I was involved in this thing. OK? Got it?”

Does this sound like someone who thinks he's going to make a bundle? In fact, as Costello recounts, Waterpower languished in the American theaters, finding no success until years later, when Reuben Sturman's operation distributed it to the European and Japanese markets. DiBi's tone however suggests that perhaps this film was to be made as a favor for someone. But who? The players in the crime syndicates of the time were quite conservative in their sexual tastes. Politicians however were and are another matter. Given the confluence of "connections" that were present together at Michael Gill's townhouse, we are thus presented with the opportunity for the request to eventually be made. Though the Bonannos did not handle porn distribution on the East Coast, they were friendly with the Gambino interests who did. As we read on pg. 175 of The Other Hollywood:

Operation "Amore" Report: Michael Zaffarano: Subject is an old capo in the Bonanno crime family. Information has been received that Zaffarano has been working very closely with Gambino interests in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami. Los Angeles Police Department states that the Bonanno family through Zaffarano is the controlling porno power in California.

From Cheney to Gill to Zaffarano to DiBi to Costello? The question remains: for what in exchange of which would this favor have been done? We can only speculate, but the history of government collusion in the drug trade - particularly in order to fund CIA operations unapproved by Congress - is well documented, from Alfred McCoy's The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia to Daniel Hopsicker's Barry and the Boys to Gary Webb's Dark Alliance series. Could Cheney have offered "most favored status" to the Bonanno and/or Gambino interests in the drug trade? Here we veer into the nether regions of deep politics, one might say, "where the sun doesn't shine"...

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