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Context of 'August 1990: Doomsday Project Member Implies Whistleblower Soviet Spy'

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Longtime US Army intelligence officer Tom Golden, who is assigned to a watchdog position within the highly classified Continuity of Government (COG) program (see January 1984) and who recently reported irregularities inside the program (see After July 1987), is targeted by a lengthy and deliberate smear campaign. The effort to discredit Golden is organized by members of the secret COG project in retaliation for the whistleblower reporting instances of waste, fraud, and abuse to the Army Inspector General’s Office (see July 1987). Federal agents go door-to-door telling Golden’s neighbors they are investigating him for drinking and other embarrassing personal behaviors. Rumors are spread within the government about Golden having personal issues and spying for the Soviet Union. Those responsible for spreading the allegations include Brigadier General Eugene Renzi, who was exposed by Golden for awarding a no-bid contract to a company that employed the general’s son (see July 1987); Army intelligence officer Robert Rendon, an admitted black-marketer hired by the COG project in 1983 (see July 28, 1983); and Army Colonel Ned Bacheldor, who formally worked for the Army Inspector General’s Office and leaked Golden’s whistleblower status to members of the COG program. Rendon is ordered by his superior, Bacheldor, to spread insulting gossip about Golden. A classified document depicting Golden as a security risk is drawn up by Rendon and other members of the COG project and sent to the Justice Department in January 1990, leading to an official investigation of Golden’s background (see January-November 1990). In August 1990, Rendon insinuates to a fellow Army officer that Golden is a Soviet spy (see August 1990). “It leads people to believe you are in trouble,” Golden tells CNN in 1991, “and it damages your credibility, it damages your standing in the intelligence community, it really boils down to a smear campaign.” Separate investigations by the Army (see Summer 1987), the House Armed Services Committee (see Summer 1988-1989), and the FBI (see January-November 1990) conclude that Golden is guilty of no wrongdoing and is the target of a lengthy effort to intimidate whistleblowers inside the highly secretive COG program. “It cost myself and my family three years of living in absolute hell,” Golden says as he tears up during an interview with CNN, “my family paid a high price.” When asked if he would do it all over again, Golden nods and says, “Probably.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/16/1990; Knight Ridder, 12/18/1990; CNN Special Assignment, 11/17/1991]

Entity Tags: Eugene Renzi, Tom Golden, Ned Bacheldor, Robert Rendon

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Army Warrant Officer Robert Rendon, an admitted black-marketer once assigned to the highly secretive Continuity of Government (COG) program (see July 28, 1983) who is currently working in an Army unit known as the Foreign Counterintelligence Activity at Fort Meade, Maryland, suggests to a fellow unidentified officer that Tom Golden, an Army intelligence veteran and whistleblower, is a security risk and possible Soviet spy. Golden has been the target of a smear campaign led by Rendon since alerting Army investigators to several instances of waste, fraud, and abuse within the clandestine COG project, commonly referred to as the Doomsday program (see July 1987 and After July 1987). Rendon makes several disparaging remarks regarding Golden to the officer, who will later report the conversation to his superior. “Rendon made a lot of derogatory comments about Tom Golden,” the superior will say, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. According to this officer, Rendon “was just bad-mouthing him, making a lot of innuendoes and implications—that Golden fit the profile of John Walker,” referring to the naval intelligence officer convicted in 1985 of spying for the Soviet Union. “That’s pretty low, a guy with a very good reputation is being smeared,” he says. Three other Army intelligence officers will tell the Inquirer that the conversation fits a pattern going back three years. “Rendon has cast doubts on Tom and others for a long time,” one officer will say. The Army Inspector General’s Office (see Summer 1987), the House Armed Services Committee (see Summer 1988-1989), and the Justice Department (see January-November 1990) have all investigated Golden’s case and concluded he is guilty of no wrongdoing and has been targeted for retaliation by members of the secret program. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/16/1990]

Entity Tags: Fort Meade, Robert Rendon, Foreign Counterintelligence Activity, Tom Golden

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

Army intelligence officer Robert Rendon, a convicted drug dealer and admitted black-marketer (see July 28, 1983) who led a retaliatory smear campaign against whistleblower Tom Golden (see After July 1987 and August 1990), is still working a highly sensitive counterespionage post in a unit known as the Foreign Counterintelligence Activity. As recently as August 1990, Rendon was spreading false rumors within the counterintelligence unit about veteran officer Tom Golden, who exposed corruption within the ultra-clandestine Continuity of Government program (see July 1987), of which Rendon was once a part. “It is amazing to me that the man has the position he does,” says one Army intelligence officer familiar with Rendon’s background. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/16/1990; Knight Ridder, 12/18/1990]

Entity Tags: Robert Rendon, Fort Meade, Foreign Counterintelligence Activity

Timeline Tags: Civil Liberties

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