The payoffs were reported last year to President Ford as an impropriety by the Intelligence Oversight Board, a three-member panel set up by Ford to curb CIA abuses.
President Ford took no steps to stop the covert payments. Last hear Hussein was paid approximately $750,000 by the CIA.
President Carter learned of the payoffs earlier this week after this newspaper began its investigation. He ordered that the payments be stopped.
The secret arrangement with Hussein had not been disclosed to Carter by the CIA or by any member of the previous administration, including President Ford, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, or former CIA Director George Bush.
Carter was “distressed” that he had not been told, according to well-placed sources, and sees the solution to CIA abuses as quick confirmation of his nominee as CIA director, Navy Adm. Stansfield Turner.
In addition, the Senate Intelligence Committee created last year to oversee the CIA apparently was not given the full story by the Ford administration of the secret payments to Hussein.
One of the most closely held and sensitive of all CIA covert activities, the payments to Hussein were made under the codeword project name of “No Beef.” They were usually delivered in cash to the king by the CIA station chief in Amman.
As justification for the direct cash payments to Hussein, the CIA claimed that Hussein was allowing U.S. intelligence agencies to operate freely in his strategically placed Middle Eastern country.
Hussein himself provided intelligence to the CIA and forwarded money from the payments to other government officials who provided intelligence or cooperated with the CIA.
Nonetheless, some CIA officials considered the payments nothing more than “bribes” and reported the matter to President Ford’s oversight panel.
Hussein, according to sources, considers the payments simply another form of U.S. assistance.
Within the CIA, the “No Beef” project has been considered one of its most successful operations, giving the United States great leverage and unusual access to the leader of a sovereign state.
The payments were first made to Hussein in 1957 during the Eisenhower administration. The initial payments apparently ran in the millions of dollars but they were sharply curtailed to the $750,000 level last year.
Hussein was only 21 when he first became a beneficiary of CIA funds. It was a time when Jordan was virtually a ward of the United States and Hussein had little money to support his lifestyle, which earned him the reputation as a “playboy prince.”
Hussein has a well-publicized taste for sports cars and airplanes. As once previously reported, the CIA has provided Hussein with female companions. The agency also provided bodyguards for Hussein’s children when they were abroad in…