Monday, October 22, 2012

‘ARGO’, Iran –Contra and What Bob Schieffer Needs To Ask Romney Tonight

Seeing the excellent movie ‘ARGO’ (produced by George Clooney & Ben Affleck) brought back the tense period (over 1979-80) of the 52 American hostages, held 444 days by Shi’ite zealots at the U.S. Embassy in Iran. It also brought back memories of what led to that dire standoff, and what nasty deals followed in its wake.

Rather than delve into the movie, which I won’t do because I think many more people need to see this superb film, let me offer some perspectives on the Iran –Contra conspiracy which was implemented by Reagan cronies such as Oliver North, John Poindexter, Albert Hakim and Caspar Weinberger. All the charges against these characters and others are listed on page xiv of the Introduction to the Iran –Contra Report (1994) published by Random House at the behest of Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh. (Note: Weinberger – “charged with four counts of false statements and perjury was pardoned by George Bush” That would be George Senior).

The basic facts to take away concerning the conspiracy were these

- Shipping Israeli Hawk and TOW missiles to Iran from 1985-86 to obtain the release of American hostages held in the Middle East. This was despite an embargo on such sales.

- The money from the sales of these arms was to be funneled into Nicaragua to support the Rightist “Contras’, a violation of the then Boland Amendment, and basically exposing the Reagan administration’s covert support for paramilitary activities conducted against the Sandinista government.

As noted in Walsh’s Introduction (p. xv):

“The Iran and Contra operations were merged when funds generated from the sale of weapons to Iran were diverted to support the Contra mission in Nicaragua.  Although this diversion may be the most dramatic aspect of Iran-contra, it is important to emphasize that both the Iran and contra operations, separately, violated United States policy and the law.”

Violation of policy was via the Boland Amendment. Named for Rep. Edward Boland (D-MA) The amendment restricted U.S. aid to the contras and “prohibited the use of U.S. funds for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua.”

But even Rep. Boland likely couldn’t conceive of the dastardly lengths to which the Reaganites would go even before his amendment was in the public domain. I am referring, of course, to the “October Surprise” whereby Reaganites (known at the time also to be strongly supported by the Republican Heritage Council with Nazi links- see, e.g. Russ Bellant’s book: ‘Old Nazis, The New Right and the Republican Party’, 1991, pp. 41-44)) used back channels to make a secret deal with Iran to postpone release of the 52 American hostages in return for arms sales after the election.

Corroborating this, on July 18, 1981 the then USSR's TASS news agency reported the emergency landing near the USSR-Turkish border of an Argentine-registered transport aircraft leased and flown by Israelis, carrying a full load of US weaponry and military spare parts. The US Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East, Nicholas Veliotes, subsequently investigated this occurrence and concluded that the downed aircraft was on its third such flight in a series of shipments of US weapons to Iran which had been authorized by high officials in the Reagan Administration

The claims to the effect of a Reagan “October Surprise” were also made by former Iranian President Abulhassan Banisadr, former Naval intelligence officer and National Security Council member Gary Sick; and former Reagan/Bush campaign and White House staffer Barbara Honegger—and all have stood by the allegation despite efforts to naysay their credibility or the facts.

There have been connected allegations that the plane crash that killed the Portuguese Prime Minister, Francisco de Sá Carneiro, in 1980 was in fact an assassination of the Defence Minister, Adelino Amaro da Costa, who had said that he had documents concerning the October surprise conspiracy theory and was planning on taking them to the United Nations General Assembly.

Before people start talking “tinfoil hats” let’s examine what was at stake and in particular the federal conspiracy law as it would relate to the later arms-for-hostages dealings of Iran-Contra. As noted on p. 56 of The Iran –Contra Report:

“The federal conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 371, states that ‘it is a crime to conspire to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose’”

This would have been violated under three criminal actions by the perpetators (ibid.):

1) “Using government resources, the conspirators conducted an unauthorized covert program in support of the contras.”

2) “North and Poindexter used their Government positions to create a hidden slush fund under the exclusive control of the conspirators”

3) “By secretly pursuing their own ends, the conspirators outraged the Iranians they were attempting to persuade and thus jeopardized the success of the Iran initiative.”

In terms of the scale and scope of the deal, on p. 338 of the Iran-Contra Report we see “3300 TOWs for hostages”, then on p. 339, we note: “In fact, 1,000 TOW missiles had been delivered to Iran between February 15 and 17, 1986.”

These facts are germane and important because they disclose that if such back doors channels were available over 1985-86 they also likely were available 5 years earlier to secure the October Surprise deal and Reagan’s election. Imagine then, before you scowl in disbelief, what likely would have unfolded before the 1980 election had those hostages been released then- as opposed to exactly TWENTY minutes after Reagan was inaugurated!

Past is Prologue, dear readers, and in terms of the Repuke betrayal of our nation and violation of its security and international dealings, they have shown themselves to be willing to do so again and again. Thus, Reagan’s October Surprise to secure for himself the election – which turned this nation into a debtor – and then five years later using arms sold to the Iranians to jeopardize security again even as he destabilized Nicaragua via the use of the contras. Then again on Sept. 12, 13 as Romney tried to use the Benghazi incident for political gain. (And which I believe he likely will try to do tonight, unless Schieffer puts the hammer down.)

And then today, we beheld Chief House Whore Darryl Issa releasing a document “dump” to try to embarrass Obama at tonight’s debate - but which has had the unintended effect of compromising our relations with Libya, as well as Turkey and other nations in the Middle East.

Anyway, the question (actually 2) Bob Schieffer needs to ask Romney tonight is:

“Where are you going to get $2 TRILLION to add to the Pentagon budget without massively adding to the deficit? And how do you intend to use it?”

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