Robert Parry's exclusive article at Consortiumnews.com about the October Surprise that propelled Reagan into the White House, "Reagan-Bush Ties to Iran-Hostage Crisis," concludes with Part Two, "Getting Some Help."
"Getting Some Help
"Though Beach’s memo in November 1991 revealed the Bush-41 administration’s knowledge of the Casey trip to Madrid in 1980, the Republican cover-up was aided immensely that month by Newsweek and The New Republic, which published matching stories on their covers claiming to have debunked the October Surprise allegations by proving that Casey could not have made the trip to Madrid.
"Despite knowing the falsity of those magazine articles, Bush’s White House made no effort to correct the record or to inform congressional investigators. Yet, even without Beach’s memo, there was solid evidence at the time disproving the Newsweek/New Republic debunking articles. Both magazines had sloppily misread attendance records at a London historical conference that Casey had attended on July 28, 1980, the time frame when Iranian businessman (and CIA agent) Jamshid Hashemi had placed Casey in Madrid for a secret meeting with Iranian emissary Mehdi Karrubi.
"The two magazines insisted that the attendance records showed Casey in London for a morning session of the conference, thus negating the possibility that he could have made a side trip to Madrid. But the magazines had failed to do the necessary follow-up interviews, which would have revealed that Casey was not at the morning session on July 28. He didn’t arrive until that afternoon, leaving the 'window' open for Hashemi’s account.
"At PBS 'Frontline,' where I was involved in the October Surprise investigation, we talked to Americans and others who had participated in the London conference. Most significantly, we interviewed historian Robert Dallek who gave that morning’s presentation to a small gathering of attendees sitting in a conference room at the British Imperial War Museum.
"Dallek said he had been excited to learn that Casey, who was running Reagan’s presidential campaign, would be there. So, Dallek looked for Casey, only to be disappointed that Casey was a no-show. Other Americans also recalled Casey arriving later and the records actually indicate Casey showing up for the afternoon session.
"In other words, the high-profile Newsweek-New Republic debunking of the October Surprise story had itself been debunked. However, typical of the arrogance of those publications – and our inability to draw attention to their major screw-up – the magazines never acknowledged their gross error.
"Worse Than a Mistake
"I later learned that the journalistic malfeasance at Newsweek was even worse than sloppiness. Journalist Craig Unger, who had been hired by Newsweek to work on the October Surprise story, told me that he had spotted the misreading of the attendance records before Newsweek published its article. Unger said he alerted the investigative team, which was personally headed by executive editor Maynard Parker.
"'They told me, essentially, to fuck off,' Unger said.
"During my years at Newsweek, from 1987-90, Parker had been my chief nemesis. He was considered close to prominent neocons, including Iran-Contra figure Elliott Abrams, and to Establishment Republicans, such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Parker also was a member of banker David Rockefeller’s Council on Foreign Relations — and viewed the Iran-Contra scandal as something best shut down quickly. Jumping to a false conclusion that would protect his influential friends would fit perfectly with what I knew of Parker.
"The false articles in Newsweek and The New Republic gave the White House cover-up a key advantage: Washington’s conventional wisdom crowd now assumed that the October Surprise allegations were bogus. All that was necessary was to make sure no hard evidence to the contrary, such as the U.S. Embassy’s confirmation of a mysterious Casey trip to Madrid, reached the congressional investigation.
"A big part of the Bush-41 cover-up was to run out the clock on Hamilton’s inquiry, which was only authorized through the end of the congressional session in early January 1993. Delays of document production and evasion of a subpoena would prove crucial.
"For instance, on May 14, 1992, a CIA official ran proposed language past associate White House counsel Janet Rehnquist from then-CIA Director Robert Gates regarding the agency’s level of cooperation with Congress. By that point, the CIA, under Gates, was already months into a pattern of foot-dragging on congressional document requests.
"Bush had put Gates, who was also implicated in the October Surprise case, at the CIA’s helm in fall 1991, meaning that Gates was well-positioned to stymie congressional requests for sensitive information about secret initiatives involving Bush, Gates and Donald Gregg, another CIA veteran who was linked to the scandal.
"The records at the Bush library revealed that Gates and Gregg, indeed, were targets of the congressional October Surprise probe. On May 26, 1992, Rep. Hamilton wrote to the CIA asking for records regarding the whereabouts of Gregg and Gates from Jan. 1, 1980, through Jan. 31, 1981, including travel plans and leaves of absence.
"The persistent document-production delays finally drew a complaint from Lawrence Barcella, chief counsel to the House task force who wrote to the CIA on June 9, 1992, that the agency had not been responsive to three requests on Sept. 20, 1991; April 20, 1992; and May 26, 1992.
"A History of Lies
"Gregg and Gates also were implicated in the broader the Iran-Contra scandal. Both were suspected of lying about their knowledge of secret sales of military hardware to Iran and clandestine delivery of weapons to Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
"An ex-CIA director himself, Bush also had been caught lying in the Iran-Contra scandal when he insisted that a plane shot down over Nicaragua in 1986 while dropping weapons to the Contras had no connection to the U.S. government (when the weapons delivery had been organized by operatives close to Bush’s vice presidential office where Gregg served as national security adviser).
"And, Bush falsely claimed that he was out of the 'loop' on Iran-Contra decisions when later evidence showed that he was a major participant in the discussions. From the Bush library documents, it was apparent that the October Surprise cover-up was essentially an extension of the broader Republican effort to contain the Iran-Contra scandal, with Bush personally involved in orchestrating both efforts.
"For instance, Iran-Contra special prosecutor Walsh discovered in December 1992 that Bush’s White House counsel’s office, under Boyden Gray, had delayed production of Bush’s personal notes about the arms shipments to Iran in the 1985-86 time frame. Though Gray’s office insisted that the delay was unintentional, Walsh didn’t buy it.
"Beyond dragging its heels on producing documents, the Bush administration maneuvered to keep key witnesses out of timely reach of the investigators. For instance, Gregg used his stationing as U.S. Ambassador to South Korea in 1992 to evade a congressional subpoena.
"Like Gates and Bush, Gregg had been linked to secret meetings with Iranians during the 1980 campaign. When asked about those allegations by FBI polygraph operators working for Iran-Contra prosecutor Walsh, Gregg was judged to be deceptive in his denials. [See Final Report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters, Vol. I, p. 501]
"Dodging a Subpoena
"And, when it came to answering questions from Congress about the October Surprise matter, Gregg found excuses not to accept service of a subpoena.
"In a June 18, 1992, cable from the U.S. Embassy in Seoul to the State Department in Washington, Gregg wrote that he had learned that Senate investigators had “attempted to subpoena me to appear on 24 June in connection with their so-called ‘October Surprise’ investigation. The subpoena was sent to my lawyer, Judah Best, who returned it to the committee since he had no authority to accept service of a subpoena. …
"'If the October Surprise investigation contacts the [State] Department, I request that you tell them of my intention to cooperate fully when I return to the States, probably in September. Any other inquiries should be referred to my lawyer, Judah Best. Mr. Best asks that I specifically request you not to accept service of a subpoena if the committee attempts to deliver one to you.'
"That way Gregg ensured that he was not legally compelled to testify while running out the clock on the Senate inquiry and leaving little time for the House task force. His strategy of delay was endorsed by Janet Rehnquist after a meeting with Best and a State Department lawyer. In a June 24, 1992, letter to Gray, Rehnquist wrote that 'at your direction, I have looked into whether Don Gregg should return to Washington to testify before the Senate Subcommittee hearings next week. … I believe we should NOT request that Gregg testify next week.'
"The failure to effect service of the subpoena gave the Bush team an advantage, Rehnquist noted, because the Senate investigators then relented and merely 'submitted written questions to Gregg, through counsel, in lieu of an appearance. …. This development provides us an opportunity to manage Gregg’s participation in October Surprise long distance.' Rehnquist added hopefully that by the end of September 1992 “the issue may, by that time, even be dead for all practical purposes.”
"Asked about this strategy of delay, Hamilton told me that 'running out the clock is a very familiar tactic in any congressional investigation' since the Bush-41 administration would have known that the task force’s authorization expired at the end of the session. That deadline came into play when the floodgates on evidence of Republican guilt opened in December 1992.
"In 2010, shortly before his death to cancer, the task force’s former chief counsel Barcella told me that so much incriminating evidence against the Reagan campaign poured in during December 1992 that he asked Hamilton for a three-month extension, but was rebuffed. Hamilton said he had no recollection of such a specific request from Barcella, but added that he might have explained the problem of the task force’s authorization running out at end of the session.
"'All I could have done is go before the next Congress and request reauthorization,' Hamilton told me. However, with key evidence withheld – and facing fierce Republican resistance to extending the inquiry – Hamilton chose to simply wrap up the task force’s report with a judgment clearing Reagan, Bush, Casey and other alleged participants.
"Now, realizing that the White House was sitting on knowledge about a mysterious Casey trip to Madrid, Lee Hamilton is no longer so sure. [For a fuller account of the October Surprise evidence implicating Reagan’s 1980 campaign, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege and America’s Stolen Narrative, which also contains evidence of a precursor 'October Surprise' case, Richard Nixon’s sabotage of President Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968.]
"Yet, in April 2014, even as the U.S. government endlessly honors Ronald Reagan with his name attached to Washington’s National Airport and dozens of other government facilities – and as warm nostalgia envelopes the aging George H.W. Bush – there is outrage across Official Washington that Hamid Aboutalebi, who was 22 when the U.S. hostages were taken, has been named Iran’s ambassador to the UN."
(Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com. For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.)
Many of you may have spotted a familiar name in the story. Yes, Janet Rhenquist is the daughter of the former Chief Justice Rhenquist.
As we learned in shows like The Sopranos and with the actions of George W. Bush in the White House, criminality sometimes runs in families. Rehnquist's daughter was forced to resign in disgrace as we see by the Wikipedia entry, something her father should have done after Bush v. Gore, along with the remainder of the Fascist Five.
When Conservatism is made illegal much research must be done to root the Conservative criminals out, along with the poor Sheeplets who may also be Conservatives because of a mix of bad parenting and bad genes.
In the meantime, one of the important players in the October Surprise/Iran-Contra Affair is alive and kicking -- George H. W. Bush.
Can Poppy Bush be held accountable, or has the death of William Casey hidden yet another Conservative crime and cover-up?
Sadly it's "No" to the first question, and "Yes" to the second.
Sadly it's "No" to the first question, and "Yes" to the second.
"A crowd is a fool."