We may be tempted to believe that Mrs. Spindel's search for her husband's "real" identity, and her efforts to understand the "real reasons'' for his incarceration, are merely the delusions of a widow who can't face the truth. But I don't think so. Bernard Spindel
was was arrested and indicted 207 times
. And the only conviction he suffered in all his forty-seven years was the one alleging that he intended
to provide information that others intended to use
in the commission of a crime. It's obvious that someone wanted Spindel badly.
When I wrote that Spindel's conviction was ironic, I did so because he was responsible for eliminating more bugs and wiretaps than anyone in history. Trained by the Army Signal Corps as a wireman extraordinaire during World War II, he served as an intelligence officer until the end of the conflict. Turned down in his application for employment with the CIA, he became a private detective. In 1955 he joined the New York City Anti-Crime Commission as a technical advisor and quickly infuriated New York City police.
The commission, established in the wake of sensational revelation about police shakedowns and protected rackets, was an ad hoc citizens organization established to fight corruption. Spindel contributed in two areas. First, he showed how corrupt police were making private purchases of eavesdropping equipment and using it during off-duty hours to extort money and services from prostitutes, pimps, bookies, and heroin traffickers. Secondly, Spindel led an investigation that established the existence of a massive wiretapping operation that blanketed the entire East Side of the city; and that, moreover, police and special agents of the telephone were selling the information obtained from it. More than 125,000 subscribers were involved, including the United Nations, various consulates, socialites, corporations and businessmen (although the actual purpose behind the meta-tap was never fathomed.)
Having become the Serpico of both the NYPD and Bell Telephone company -- a dangerous move for a wireman -- Spindel plunged into the intrigues of the Dominican Republic. In the late 1950s, when Spindel arrived on the scene, the island had been ruled for more than twenty-five years by General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, a dictator of such perverse and monstrous proportions that State Department officials, notorious for their circumspection, saw fit to compare him to Dracula in their communications. A vain and vicious mulatto who affected blond face powder and resorted to "conking" his hair, Trujillo was the acknowledged inventor of the pornographic "snuff flick."
Until his assassination in 1961, he was reputed to be the world;s most barbaric torturer, a connoisseur of other people's agonies. It was not enough to execute those who plotted against him: their eyelids must first be sewn to their brows, electric wires inserted into their ureters and colon and then pushed together so that an arc of flame passed between them. Even his sensual inclinations tended towards the bizarre and sadistic: a place procurer was responsible for delivering groups of forty women to his bed room three nights a week, receiving 10 percent of all public-works projects for his efforts -- while other couriers roamed the country in search of virgins to be deflowered. In the wake of his assassination, heart-shaking films were found in the palace by rebels.
...excessive description of contents follows
...The films, made at the expense of politicial prisoners and their families, ad been a source of entertainment for Trujillo and selected guests at palace soirees.
Nor was Trujillo said to have been the works of his regime: that honor goes to Johnny Abbes Garcia, chief of the island's Servicio Intelligensia Militar
(the Military Intelligence Service, or SIM).