The P-I's story today on Edwin Wilson, the onetime smuggler, spy and Seattle merchant mariner, is more sympathetic than Peter Maas' account of Wilson in

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Tinkerer, Traitor, Spy?

Edwin Wilson wants to clear up that terrorism charge.

The P-I's story today on Edwin Wilson, the onetime smuggler, spy and Seattle merchant mariner, is more sympathetic than Peter Maas' account of Wilson in his book "Manhunt," about the CIA agent-turned-terrorist. Idaho-born, Wilson made his first overseas trips as a Seattle-based mariner in the 1950s, then became a CIA agent and eventually an international arms merchant who supplied Libya and other terrorist states in the 1970s.  As Maas told me in the late 1980s about Wilson, "The man is amoral, and putting him in prison only made him angry." But that was all before a judge, in 2003, ruled the government had in fact lied and withheld evidence in Wilson's trial for selling 21 tons of plastic explosives to Lybian terrorists. While in federal custody, Wilson also ordered failed hits on the U.S. attorneys and six witnesses who put him away (one of the plots failed when the designated hit man/inmate was squashed to death by a bigger inmate who fell on him going over the prison wall). Still, the judge's ruling in 2003 allowed Wilson to be paroled a year later; he now lives in Seattle and has mega-attorney Steve Berman at his side, suing the government to clear his name. Wilson served 21 years of a 52-year term at the hard-time federal pen in Marion, Ill., where he shared the tiers with another accused traitor and convicted spy, Christopher Boyce ("The Falcon and the Snowman" figure who was arrested at a drive-in eatery in Port Angeles in 1981 with the memorable words, "Drop that cheeseburger!").  Wilson told the P-I "I can't think of one thing I did that I have any guilt about...I didn't hurt anybody. I didn't get anyone killed." But, Maas told me in 1986, he believed terrorists that year used some of the C-4 Wilson peddled to Lybia to kill four Americans aboard a TWA jetliner flying from Rome to Athens.

 
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