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In 1985, the Rainbow Warrior, a vessel operated by Greenpeace, was blown up in Auckland harbor. It had been sent there to protest French nuclear testing in the Pacific. It subsequently emerged that the bombing—which killed a photographer on board—was a French government operation. The man who ran it, according to French press accounts, was Louis-Pierre Dillais, a lieutenant-colonel in the General Directorate for External Security.
Today Dillais is a senior executive at FNH USA (Motto: “The place where legends are made.”), a McLean, Virginia-based subsidiary of a Belgian arms maker. FNH USA, it turns out, has contracts to supply weapons to a number of American government agencies, including the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI.
In Eyes of Fire: The Last Voyage of the Rainbow Warrior, David Robie reports that in early July 1985 Dillais checked into the Hyatt Kingsgate Hotel which overlooked Auckland Harbor. He checked out on July 10, the day of the bombing, and left New Zealand two weeks later. By Robie’s account, Dillais drove the inflatable craft that delivered the two bombers to their deployment spot in the harbor.
The New Zealand authorities issued a warrant for the arrest of Dillais but he was never detained (only two of the conspirators, Alain Mafart and Dominique Prieur, in the bombing were ever convicted.) Dillais was reportedly protected due to his high-level political connections.
In the years following the bombing, Dillais turned up in news stories as the head of an espionage unit that worked directly for the French defense ministry. According to a 1996 account in the Times of London, was suspected of diverting cash from Saudi arms sales to presidential candidate Edouard Balladur. It’s not clear when he arrived in McLean, but two years ago a documentary film crew from New Zealand’s TVNZ tracked him down there and asked him about Rainbow Warrior incident. “”I’m sorry for the loss of life,” he reportedly said. “It was an unfortunate accident. I’m sorry for the family, but what can you do?”
A search at FedSpending.org shows that FN Herstal, the Belgian parent company, received $8.6 million in U.S. federal contracts in 2005, the last year for which data is available. FNH USA received $118,000 in contracts that same year.
Last September, Greenpeace send a letter to the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, Julie Myers, and asked that Dillais be deported due to his role in Rainbow Warrior’s bombing. Thomas Wetterer, Greenpeace’s general counsel, noted that FNH USA had been awarded a contract the year prior to provide combat rifles to the Special Operations Command. “The press release announcing the contract points out that. ‘The United States Special Operations Command plans, directs, and executes special operations in the conduct of the War on Terrorism’,” he wrote. The irony of this could hardly be clearer.”
On 9 Nov 2006, Greenpeace received a reply stating that the request had been forwarded to the DHS Office of Investigations and to the FBI for “appropriate action.” Since then, there’s been no further word about whether an investigation has formally been launched. “The Bush Administration should be setting a much higher standard for the people they’re doing business with,” Mark Floegel, a Greenpeace investigator, told me. “They shouldn’t be buying arms from state-sponsored terrorists.”
I left a message for Dillais at his office at FNH USA. He failed to return my request for comment.
Deportation Sought by Greenpeace
More from Ken Silverstein:
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”