Joseph Daniel Casolaro (June 16, 1947 – August 10, 1991) was an American freelance writer who came to public attention in 1991, when he was found
dead, his wrists slashed 10-12 times, in a bathtub in room 517 of the Sheraton Hotel in Martinsburg, West Virginia. A note was found, and the medical
examiner ruled the death a suicide.
His death became controversial because his notes suggested he had traveled to Martinsburg to meet a source in connection with a story he had dubbed
"the Octopus." This centered around a sprawling conspiracy theory involving an international cabal, and featuring a number of stories familiar to
journalists working in Washington, D.C. in the 1990s: the Inslaw case, about a software manufacturer whose owner had accused the Justice Department of
having stolen its work product; the so-called October Surprise theory that alleged Iran had deliberately held back the American hostages to help
Ronald Reagan secure the 1980 presidential election; the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International; and Iran-Contra.
Casolaro's family argued that he had been killed; he had apparently told his brother that, if something were to happen to him, it would not be an
accident. A number of law-enforcement officials also argued that his death deserved further scrutiny, and his notes were passed by his family to ABC
News and Time Magazine, both of which investigated the case, but no evidence of murder was ever found. Casolaro's death and "the Octopus" have
since entered conspiracy-theory folklore.
Shortly before his death, Casolaro told people that he was nearly ready to reveal a wide-ranging conspiracy spanning the Inslaw case, Iran-Contra, the
alleged October Surprise conspiracy, and the closure of BCCI. David Corn writes in The Nation that the papers Casolaro left behind reveal few clues,
except that he was in over his head, but was tenacious.
His papers included old clippings, handwritten notes that were hard to read, and the names of former CIA officers and arms dealers. Corn writes that
the notes show Casolaro was influenced by the Christic Institute and that he had pursued material fed to him by a reporter who worked for Lyndon
LaRouche. Richard Fricker writes in Wired that Casolaro had been led into a "Bermuda Triangle of spooks, guns, drugs and organized crime."
A very interesting story that everyone on ATS should be familiar with.
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