Last month, a team led by Tom Colbert claimed a Vietnam vet now in his 70s named Robert Rackstraw was DB Cooper, the bandit who hijacked a plane in the Pacific Northwest in November 1971, then parachuted out over southern Washington state with $200,000 in ransom cash. On Thursday outside of the FBI's DC headquarters, they announced their newest theory, per the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: that DB Cooper (aka Rackstraw) was a Black Ops CIA operative who may have been tied to the Iran-Contra scandal, and whom the FBI may have helped keep hidden. What spurred their speculation: the deciphering of code on five letters DB Cooper sent after the hijacking. Some of the broken code led back to military units Rackstraw served in in Vietnam, but new decryptions include "a startling claim" that "if captured, he expects a get-out-of-jail card from a federal spy agency," Colbert said in a release, per the New York Daily News.
Per Colbert, one decryption read: "IF CATCH I AM CIA...RWR," the last set of letters being Rackstraw's initials. Colbert also put together a timeline of what he believes to have been Rackstraw's CIA missions, running from 1969 and possibly up through the '80s, when the Iran-Contra affair took place, and notes other CIA ties to Rackstraw. Backing him are FOIA records from the Pentagon that show Rackstraw received 400 hours of Green Beret training in special forces and psychological operations. Colbert thinks the FBI has been stifling the story. "It's more than a bunch of old guys chasing another old guy over forgotten history," he says in an email to the New York Daily News. "This is about current FBI agents stonewalling, covering up, and flat-out lying for mentors and G-men long gone, over decades—all because of an unholy deal to hide and protect a valuable CIA Black Ops pilot known as DB Cooper." Rackstraw, meanwhile, has issued cryptic non-denials that he's the long-lost Cooper. (Read more DB Cooper stories.)