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655 Washington St.
Ashland, OR 97520
(541) 201-0090

[Since Mike Ruppert’s departure from the United States, a few negative articles have raised a variety of absurd questions, not the least of which is, “Did Mike Ruppert really leave America, or is he hiding out somewhere in this country?” Here, Ken Levine, the last person to be with Mike the day he left the U.S., tells his story.—CB]


By Ken Levine


© Copyright 2006, From The Wilderness Publications,  All Rights Reserved. This story may NOT be posted on any Internet web site without express written permission. Contact May be circulated, distributed or transmitted for non-profit purposes only.

September 18th 2006, 2:23 PM [PST] - It was Monday, July 17th, late in the morning when the phone rang in my office. I answered it as I always do with “More Than News”. The voice on the other end was Mike Ruppert. He said he had been driving since three in the morning and that he needed me to do something for him. I of course said “What is it?”  You never know what it is when Mike asks you for something. It’s not like Mike asks for simple, normal things like “can you get me a newspaper?” This has never been a problem, just an observation over the years. He said he needed to get to Caracas, Venezuela and that he needed to get there immediately.  Oh, OK, no problem.  I asked why? He said “because it’s time”. I knew exactly what that meant. I had visited the offices in Ashland, Oregon a few weeks earlier and knew Mike was spending his last days here in this country.
After I got off the phone, I called my wonderful travel agent who had done many trips for Mike, FTW and myself in the past, AND has read cover to cover, “Crossing The Rubicon”, which I know changed his life a bit. This was the same travel agent who took care of us on trips to Toronto, Seattle, Montana, New York and Mike on trips to Germany, England, and last minute jaunts to Washington D.C. among others. Now I was asking him to pull a rabbit out of a hat for us. You see, Mike needed to leave on this journey from another country. No red flags. No credit cards. No personal cell phone calls. It was Tijuana, not Los Angeles International that Mike needed to leave from.

So, after an evening alone at the local Marriot Hotel, Mike came to my home the next morning, walked right in, was greeted by a barking dog, Molly, and by my two offspring (I can’t call someone 15 and someone 19 children any longer), hugged them both, and we were off to rent a car, to begin the journey down to Tijuana, Mexico, where Mike’s new life was going to begin.

We spoke about a lot of things on the drive south. We spoke about why he was leaving his country he could no longer believe in. We spoke about his company, From The Wilderness and how important it was to keep it alive. We spoke about what we could say and couldn’t say about his whereabouts. We spoke about all the events that had plagued FTW over the past several years. We spoke about some of the landmark, ground-breaking stories FTW had broken over the past few years. He spoke fondly of his writers, mentioning Mike Kane, Stan Goff, Carolyn Baker, and of his dear friends, Catherine Austin Fitts and Rep. Cynthia McKinney. He went through several moments of just spacing out—looking at the scenery on Interstate 5, watching everything as it passed us by and occasionally talking about how he had to leave this country. I could tell Mike was tired, the kind of tired that makes it hard to think. It seemed he had already thought about this. No need to continue. Mike and I have always had an interesting relationship. We would argue a lot, mainly because I still believed in the tooth fairy, and of course Mike didn’t, and he enjoyed proving to me why I shouldn’t. We were opposites in so many areas but the same in many others, especially music, Mike’s real passion.  It was always difficult for me to believe as he did, that people could be so cruel and underhanded—that it wasn’t always as it seemed.

We stopped in San Juan Capistrano to get a bite to eat. Walked around the town and stepped into a local 50’s diner with approximately 10 children under the age of 6 for every adult, including one who had a scream that seemed it would have shattered glass.  Mike thoroughly enjoyed his Kobe beef burger and milkshake.  We filled the car with gas and hit the road. We were not sure about driving the rental car over the border, and we were not comfortable about having Mike take a shuttle to the Tijuana airport either. I wanted to see Mike off at the airport for myself so we decided to head straight to the airport. A sign said ‘aeropuerto’ 6 Km. It took an hour to find it, even though Mike used his Spanish speaking abilities and sign reading prowess to the max. It was a victorious moment when we finally stumbled on to the sign “Tijuana International Airport”.

I pulled into a small lot at the corner of the front of the terminal. I stopped the car and opened up the trunk.  I saw Mike grab his very heavy suitcase and his carry-on with his laptop. For one quick moment I thought of things that should have taken twenty minutes to think of. Where’s all his other stuff, I thought to myself. Mike never really lived, at least since I’ve known him, with some of the luxuries and niceties a lot of us live with. But now, he was living in a home in Ashland he was quite proud of. Nice view, nice furnishings, and all the appliances and items necessary to enjoy a home life. And he was leaving it all behind. What was going to happen to all his possessions? Not enough time to think about this and ask him. Although we were early, it was easy to see Mike wanted to just get this first leg of his journey over with. It was on to Mexico City before leaving for Caracas.

We said goodbye, not a big scene, and I watched him lug his stuff until he disappeared into the terminal. Of course, not before he lit up a cigarette.  I got back into the car, and made it back to the border, only to see there was at least a two-hour delay and wait to cross. Remembering what Mike had told me earlier in the day, I turned my cell phone off, and for the first time in a long time, I had some time to think. A lot of time. Thanks Mike.

Ken Levine has been Mike Ruppert’s agent and publicist for several years and continues to serve FTW in the same capacity in Mike’s absence.

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