William Francis Buckley
Overview
 
William Francis Buckley (May 30, 1928 - June 3, 1985) was a United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 officer and a Paramilitary Operations Officer in the Special Activities Division
Special Activities Division
The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

 of the CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

. He died on or around June 3, 1985 while in the custody of Hezbollah. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

, and is commemorated with a star on the Wall of Honor at the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) headquarters in Langley, Virginia
Langley, Virginia
Langley is an unincorporated community in the census-designated place of McLean in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States.The community was essentially absorbed into McLean many years ago, although there is still a Langley High School...

.
William Francis Buckley was born in Medford, Massachusetts
Medford, Massachusetts
Medford is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, in the United States, on the Mystic River, five miles northwest of downtown Boston. In the 2010 U.S. Census, Medford's population was 56,173...

.
Encyclopedia
William Francis Buckley (May 30, 1928 - June 3, 1985) was a United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 officer and a Paramilitary Operations Officer in the Special Activities Division
Special Activities Division
The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

 of the CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

. He died on or around June 3, 1985 while in the custody of Hezbollah. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

, and is commemorated with a star on the Wall of Honor at the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 (CIA) headquarters in Langley, Virginia
Langley, Virginia
Langley is an unincorporated community in the census-designated place of McLean in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States.The community was essentially absorbed into McLean many years ago, although there is still a Langley High School...

.

Early life and career

William Francis Buckley was born in Medford, Massachusetts
Medford, Massachusetts
Medford is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, in the United States, on the Mystic River, five miles northwest of downtown Boston. In the 2010 U.S. Census, Medford's population was 56,173...

. After graduating from high school in 1947, he joined the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

. He began as a military police
Military police
Military police are police organisations connected with, or part of, the military of a state. The word can have different meanings in different countries, and may refer to:...

 (MP) officer and served in that capacity for two years, but then attended Officers Candidate School and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

 in Armor. He continued his military education at the Engineer Officer's Course at Fort Belvoir
Fort Belvoir
Fort Belvoir is a United States Army installation and a census-designated place in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. Originally, it was the site of the Belvoir plantation. Today, Fort Belvoir is home to a number of important United States military organizations...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, the Advanced Armor Officer's Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and the Intelligence School at Oberammergau
Oberammergau
Oberammergau is a municipality in the district of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in Bavaria, Germany. The town is famous for its production of a Passion Play, its woodcarvers, and the NATO School.-Passion Play:...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

.

During the Korean War, Buckley served as a company commander with the 1st Cavalry Division
1st Cavalry Division
1st Cavalry Division can refer to several cavalry units:* 1st Cavalry Division * 1st Cavalry Division * 1st Cavalry Division * 1st Cavalry Division * 1st Indian Cavalry Division...

. Next, he returned to Boston University
Boston University
Boston University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. With more than 4,000 faculty members and more than 31,000 students, Boston University is one of the largest private universities in the United States and one of Boston's largest employers...

 and completed his studies, graduating with a degree in Political Science. It was during this time that Buckley began his first employment with the Central Intelligence Agency, from 1955 to 1957. He was also employed as a librarian in the Concord, Winchester and Lexington public libraries. In 1960, Buckley joined the 320th Special Forces Detachment which became the 11th Special Forces Group and attended both Basic Airborne and the Special Forces Officers Course. He was assigned as an A-Detachment Commander and later as a B-Detachment Commander. Colonel Buckley served in Vietnam with the U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, or MACV, as a Senior Advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam
Army of the Republic of Vietnam
The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam , sometimes parsimoniously referred to as the South Vietnamese Army , was the land-based military forces of the Republic of Vietnam , which existed from October 26, 1955 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975...

.

Career at the CIA

In 1965 (or 1963, according to one source), Buckley rejoined the CIA in what is now called the Special Activities Division
Special Activities Division
The Special Activities Division is a division in the United States Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service responsible for covert operations known as "special activities"...

. He may have been recruited by Ted Shackley
Theodore Shackley
Theodore G. "Ted" Shackley, Jr. was an American CIA officer involved in many important and controversial CIA operations during the 1960s and 1970s. He is one of the most decorated CIA officers...

, joining his Secret Team that had been involved with Edwin Wilson
Edwin P. Wilson
Edwin P. Wilson was a former CIA officer who was convicted of illegally selling weapons to Libya. It was later found that the United States Department of Justice and the CIA had covered up evidence in the case.-Early life:...

, Thomas Clines
Thomas G. Clines
Thomas G. Clines was a Central Intelligence Agency covert operations agent who was a prominent figure in the Iran-Contra Affair.-CIA career:As a CIA agent, between 1961–1962, Clines was involved in covert operations in Cuba....

, Carl Jenkins
Carl Elmer Jenkins
Carl Elmer Jenkins is a retired Central Intelligence Agency officer.- Early background :Jenkins was born in Louisiana and joined the United States Marine Corps during World War II, becoming a commissioned officer in 1948....

, Raphael Quintero, Felix Rodriguez
Felix Rodriguez
Felix Rodriguez may refer to:* Félix Rodríguez , Major League Baseball pitcher* Félix Rodríguez , former CIA intelligence operative* Felix Rodriguez , guitar player in the Swedish band, The Sounds...

  and Luis Posada Carriles
Luis Posada Carriles
Luis Clemente Faustino Posada Carriles is a Cuban-born Venezuelan anti-communist and former Central Intelligence Agency agent....

, in the CIA “assassination” program. Leslie Cockburn pointed out in her book, Out of Control (1987), that Buckley had had to approve CIA assassinations undertaken by the Shackley organizations. In his book, Prelude to Terror (2005) Joseph Trento claims that Buckley was "one of Shackley's oldest and dearest friends."

Buckley may have been working for the CIA while in Mexico in 1963, but this is unconfirmed. His CIA employment kept him in Vietnam from 1965 to 1970, and he was promoted in his military capacity to Lieutenant Colonel in May 1969. After leaving Vietnam, he served in Zaire (1970–1972), Cambodia (1972), Egypt (1972–1978), and Pakistan (1978–1979). It is believed he worked with William Casey in the secret negotiations that had taken place with the Iranians on behalf of Ronald Reagan during the 1980 presidential elections. Other sources claim that in 1980 he was put in charge to monitor the safety of the Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat, who was killed the next year.

In 1983, Buckley succeeded Ken Haas as the Beirut Station Chief/Political Officer at the U.S. Embassy. Buckley was successfully rebuilding the network of agents lost in and due to the bombing of the U.S. Embassy
1983 United States Embassy bombing
The 1983 U.S. embassy bombing was a suicide bombing against the United States embassy in Beirut, Lebanon on April 18, 1983 that killed over 60 people, mostly embassy staff members and United States Marines and sailors. It was the deadliest attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission up to that time, and is...

; after the October 23, 1983 Marine Corps barracks bombing
1983 Beirut barracks bombing
The Beirut Barracks Bombing occurred during the Lebanese Civil War, when two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing United States and French military forces—members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon—killing 299 American and French servicemen...

, the Islamist group Hezbollah wrongly announced that they had also killed the CIA station chief (they didn't yet know the station chief was Buckley) in the blast; their announcement was the first real indication that he was on a Hezbollah "hit list."

Kidnapping

Buckley was kidnapped by Hezbollah on March 16, 1984 from his apartment building when he was leaving for work. It was thought that one of the reasons he was kidnapped (along with two other Americans at different times in Beirut) was because of the upcoming trial of 17 Iranian-backed militants was about to begin in Kuwait. Army Major General Carl Stiner
Carl Stiner
Carl Wade Stiner is a retired United States Army four-star general who served as Commander in Chief, United States Special Operations Command from 1990 to 1993.-Military career:...

 had warned Buckley that he was in danger, but Buckley told him that "I have a pretty good intelligence network...I think I'm secure." However, according to Stiner, Buckley continued to live in his apartment and travel the same route to and from work every day.

William Casey, who was by then the Director of Central Intelligence, asked Ted Shackley for help in securing Buckley’s release. Three weeks after Buckley’s abduction, President Ronald Reagan signed the National Security Decision Directive 138. This directive was drafted by Oliver North
Oliver North
Oliver Laurence North is a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer, political commentator, host of War Stories with Oliver North on Fox News Channel, a military historian, and a New York Times best-selling author....

 and outlined plans on how to get the American hostages released from Iran and to “neutralize” alleged "terrorist" threats from countries such as Nicaragua. This new secret counterterrorist task force was to be headed by Shackley’s old friend, General Richard Secord. This was the beginning of the Iran-Contra deal
Iran-Contra Affair
The Iran–Contra affair , also referred to as Irangate, Contragate or Iran-Contra-Gate, was a political scandal in the United States that came to light in November 1986. During the Reagan administration, senior Reagan administration officials and President Reagan secretly facilitated the sale of...

, which culminated in the exchange of missiles for the release of hostages.

On November 22, 1985, Ted Shackley, Buckley's friend and recruiter, traveled to the Atlantic Hotel in Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

, where he met General Manucher Hashemi, the former head of SAVAK’s counterintelligence division. Also at the meeting on 22 November was Manucher Ghorbanifar. According to the report of this meeting that Shackley sent to the CIA, Ghorbanifar had “fantastic” contacts with Iran, but the CIA had designated him one year earlier as a "fabricator". At the meeting Shackley told Hashemi and Ghorbanifar that the United States was willing to discuss arms shipments in exchange for the four Americans kidnapped in Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

. Buckley was already dead at this point.

Major General Carl Stiner stated that "Buckley's kidnapping had become a major CIA concern. Not long after his capture, his agents either vanished or were killed. It was clear that his captors had tortured him into revealing the network of agents he had established... ." According to the US, Buckley had undergone 15 months of torture by Hezbullah before his death. In a video taken approximately seven months after the kidnapping, his appearance was described as follows:
Buckley was close to a gibbering wretch. His words were often incoherent; he slobbered and drooled and, most unnerving of all, he would suddenly scream in terror, his eyes rolling helplessly and his body shaking. ... The CIA consensus was that he would be blindfolded and chained at the ankles and wrists and kept in a cell little bigger than a coffin.

Death and memorials

On October 4, 1985, Islamic Jihad
Islamic Jihad Organization
The Islamic Jihad Organization – IJO or Organisation du Jihad Islamique in French, but best known as ‘Islamic Jihad’ for short, was a fundamentalist Shia group known for its activities in the 1980s during the Lebanese Civil War...

 announced that it had executed William Buckley. The US National Security Council acknowledged in an unclassified note that Buckley probably died on June 3, 1985 of a heart attack. Buckley's remains were recovered by the late Major Jens Nielsen (Royal Danish Army) attached to the United Nations Observer Group Beirut on 27 December 1991. His body was returned to the United States on December 28, 1991, and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

An agency memorial service was held in August 1987 to commemorate his death. A public memorial service was held with full military honors at Arlington on May 13, 1988, just short of three years after his presumed death date. At the service, attended by more than 100 colleagues and friends, CIA Director William H. Webster eulogized Buckley, saying, "Bill's success in collecting information in situations of incredible danger was exceptional, even remarkable." He is buried in Section 59, Lot 346 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Among Colonel Buckley's Army awards are the Silver Star, Soldier's Medal, Bronze Star with "V", two Purple Hearts, Meritorious Service Medal, Combat Infantry Badge, and the Parachutist Badge. He also received the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/ Bronze Star from ARVN. Among his CIA awards are the Intelligence Star, Exceptional Service Medallion and Distinguished Intelligence Cross.

Among his civilian awards are the Freedom Foundation Award for Lexington Green Diorama, Collegium and Academy of Distinguished Alumni Boston University. A memorial park—The William F. Buckley Memorial Park in Stoneham, Massachusetts, is dedicated to his memory. The fifty-first star on the Wall of Honor at CIA headquarters represents him, surrounded by about 82 other stars (as of January 2005) representing CIA officers killed in the line of duty. Approximately 35 of the stars are for unnamed agents whose identities have not been revealed for national security reasons. His name and year of death are recorded in the "Book of Honor" at the wall.

According to the biographical information distributed by the CIA, Buckley was "an avid reader of politics and history" and "a collector and builder of miniature soldiers." The latter hobby enabled him to become a principal artisan in the creation of a panorama at the Lexington Battlefield Tourist Center near his native Bedford, Massachusetts. The press release also said he owned an antique shop and was an amateur artist and a collector of fine art. It called him "a very private and discreet individual." The CIA awarded him an Intelligence Star, an Exceptional Service Medallion and a Distinguished Intelligence Cross, but did not say whether any of these were issued posthumously.

External links


Further reading

  • Nigel West, Seven Spies Who Changed the World. London: Secker & Warburg, 1991 (hard cover). London: Mandarin, 1992 (paperback).
  • David Ignatius, Agents of Innocence, Avon, 1988 (paperback) This book contains a thinly disguised portrait of Buckley (as Tom Rogers)
  • Gordon Thomas, Journey Into Madness : The True Story of Secret CIA Mind Control and Medical Abuse, Bantam, 1989, ISBN 0-553-05357-4
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