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The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA Paperback – September, 1988


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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone Books (September 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671666371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671666378
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,741,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kwitny, a Wall Street Journal reporter who now also conducts a very unorthodox TV-interview show, has become one of our most important investigative journalists. He is endlessly thorough, eminently fair but appropriately skeptical and writes with welcome touches of humor. His last book, Endless Enemies, remains the best-researched critical account of current U.S. foreign policy. This time his subject, loaded with topical significance in the wake of the Iran-contra scandal, is the Nugan Hand Bank, an Australia-based institution top-heavy with high-ranking retired U.S. military men and CIA operatives, which failed spectacularly in 1980, leaving one of its cofounders dead (whether by suicide or murder is still unclear) while the other vanished. With remarkable patience and industry, Kwitny has pieced together the whole sordid story, involving an institution clearly designed to facilitate the laundering and rapid movement of dubious money (much of it originating in arms deals and dope smuggling) around the Far East and even the Middle East. Lured by the big names on the masthead, many Australian and American citizens, including numbers of U.S. servicemen, were bilked out of their life savings when the bank failed and it was discovered that the entire edifice was largely a masterly exercise in shuffling paper; a few large and aggressive customers got paid, several officers got rich, most depositors lost everything. Australian investigators were either respectfully inclined to accept absurd explanations or the more energetic of them were stonewalled by American authorities. The bank's chief executive, retired U.S. Navy Adm. Earl Yates, having ducked Kwitny's attempts to interview him, is allowed to contribute his own rebuttal to the author's findings as an afterword. It suggests either an inconceivable degree of naivete on the part of such a senior officer or complete duplicity, and the flag-waving in which he indulges (his Nugan Hand associatesincluding names like William Colby, Guy Pauker and Gen. Edwin Blackare "the True Patriots," and Kwitny is merely serving "the interests of the Soviet Union") fails to impress. Much of the book was being written as the Iran-contra scandal began to unravel, but Kwitny is able to point up many fascinating correspondences, in both methods and personnel. One can only hope that in time he will turn his formidable talents to a book on that debacle.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

When the Tower Commission concluded that the Iran-contra affair was an aberration, it was wrong. Those who doubt the existence of what David Wise and Thomas Ross in 1964 called the " Invisible Government" should read Kwitny's detailed, chilling expose of the network of current and former military men and intelligence operatives who conducted a far-reaching "covert" operation behind the cover of an Australian bank. After the Nugan Hand bank collapsed in 1980, what emerged (according to this book, not the official investigation) is a web of crime, corruption, drugs, and CIA complicity in undermining a friendly nation's politics and defrauding ordinary people that makes Watergate, if not Contra-gate, look like a Sunday school picnic. Wall Street Journal correspondent Kwitny is the author of Endless Enemies . H. Steck, Political Science Dept., SUNY Coll. at Cortland
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
As an Australian I was both surprised and gratified that an American journalist should want to trace the extraordinary history of the Nugan Hand Bank's Australian operations. This great document decribes the most cut-throat, heroin dealing, crime syndicate ever to have sullied our shores, and all under the covert auspices of the C.I.A. Kwitny's research is exhaustive and his even handed way of presenting his findings is exemplary of fine journalism. The implications hatched in this veritable can of worms will have net-sleuths busy for years tracing the myriad references to the numerous associates of Nugan Hand who vanished into the night only to surface again in the Irangate scandal. Essential reading for anyone trying to come to terms with the scourge of heroin, the world arms trade and those members of the U.S.'s covert agencies that spread misery in their own and other countries...Read it if you dare!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J.L. Populist on June 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is an expose' into the Nugan Hand international bank and it's connections to the CIA.
Jonathan Kwitny is a top-notch investigative journalist and he doesn't disappoint with "The Crimes of Patriots".

Among the topics in the book:
The origin of the "French Connection".

Fraudulent enterprises such as Ocean Shores.

The CIA's involvement in the overthrow of Australian Prime Minister Whitlam.

A shared office building and secretary used by both Nugan Hand and the D.E.A.

The work C.I.A. agents did for Muammar Qaddafi.

Mr. Kwitny cites the work of Alfred McCoy on the "the Golden Triangle" and international heroin trade.
He also covers money laundering operations, particularly for drug traffickers. Nugan Hand had to ba a C.I.A. asset!
The author has frequent footnotes documenting the sources for specific information.

The cast of characters includes some famous intelligence operatives, high ranking military officers, con artists, Air America pilots, and just about any other type of people you would expect in a best seller spy novel. But "The Crimes of Patriots" is nonfiction and very well done at that!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. R. ZOGLIO on December 31, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On the advice of a friend who knows one of the "Cast Of Characters" (a "Yank In The Bank"), I ordered a used copy of this long out of print book. What an eye opener. It's amazing what a group of "former" senior military officers and spooks can get up to when allowed to run amok overseas. You name it and they got away with it. Even though some of the principals are dead, nobody has been held accountable for the myriad of crimes that have occurred abroad. With the lack of support rendered by the U.S. government (especially the F.B.I.), it makes one wonder how "former" some of these players really were. It's also amazing how many of these same people reared their ugly heads years later during "Iran-Contra". Read the book and then decide for yourself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By TLR on October 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Michael John Hand was a Green Beret war hero, CIA operative in Laos and Vietnam, vice-chairman and half-owner of Nugan Hand bank (which he formed with Frank Nugan in Australia in 1973), and friend of drug runners and military officials. He and many of his associates were closely connected with Air America.

Their bank was very close to criminals, dictators and their dirty money. After Nugan's death, Hand testified that it was all Nugan's fault, but he believed that his partner had been murdered. Hand revealed that the formerly wealthy business was now insolvent. After Nugan's death, Hand and "a team of former US military operatives in Southeast Asia" ransacked his office looking for incriminating files.

Nugan joined up with Hand around 1970. During this period Hand spent a lot of time in Southeast Asia; he was known as a devout anti-communist. The Nugan Hand Bank was started in 6/1973, and was a prominent operation by 1975. Nugan Hand routinely violated Australia's laws restricting the export of capital from the country. The bank had great references from respectable firms, such as the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., and even the US Commerce Dept.

Their were four major official investigations of Nugan Hand in Australia; "a royal commission that had been appointed to investigate drug trafficking, but that kept running into Nugan Hand and lacked authority and manpower on its own to open that huge can of worms." They faced stonewalling by US authorities as well. William Colby, through his law firm Reid & Priest, did work for Nugan Hand and was apparently friendly with both men. The Bank never seemed to operate like a real bank, instead sucking in peoples' money and making it disappear.
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