Information

Iran-Contra scandal unravels


Eugene Hasenfus is captured by troops of the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua after the plane in which he is flying is shot down; two others on the plane die in the crash. Under questioning, Hasenfus confessed that he was shipping military supplies into Nicaragua for use by the Contras, an anti-Sandinista force that had been created and funded by the United States. Most dramatically, he claimed that operation was really run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The news of Hasenfus’s revelations caused quite a stir in the United States. Congress, reacting to complaints about corruption and brutality against the Contras, had passed the Boland Amendment in 1984, specifically forbidding the CIA or any other U.S. agency from supporting the Contras. President Ronald Reagan, who saw the Sandinista government in Nicaragua as a puppet of the Soviet Union, had secured U.S. funding for the Contras in 1981 and signed off on the Boland Amendment reluctantly. If Hasenfus’s story was true, then the CIA and Reagan administration had broken the law.

Despite denials from the president, Vice President George Bush, and other Reagan officials that the CIA had nothing to do with the flight, persistent investigations by journalists and Congress began to unravel the so-called Iran-Contra scandal. The scandal involved the secret sale of U.S. weapons to Iran (which was supposed to help in the release of U.S. hostages in the Middle East). Some of the proceeds from these sales were used to covertly fund the Contra war in Nicaragua. A Congressional investigation, begun in December 1986, revealed the scheme to the public. Many figures from the Reagan administration were called to testify. These included Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, who was the action officer in charge of coordinating both the arms sales and funneling of money to the Contras. His testimony, in particular, demonstrated the cavalier attitude taken by the Reagan administration toward the flaunting of congressional resolutions and acts.

The resulting scandal rocked the Reagan administration and shook the public’s confidence in the U.S. government; 11 members of the President’s administration eventually were convicted of a variety of charges related to the scandal. Hasenfus was tried and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment by a Nicaraguan court, but was released just a few weeks later.


John Poindexter

John Marlan Poindexter (born August 12, 1936) is a retired United States naval officer and Department of Defense official. He was Deputy National Security Advisor and National Security Advisor for the Reagan administration. He was convicted in April 1990 of multiple felonies as a result of his actions in the Iran–Contra affair, but his convictions were reversed on appeal in 1991. More recently, he served a brief stint as the director of the DARPA Information Awareness Office for the George W. Bush administration. He is the father of NASA astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain Alan G. Poindexter.


What Does William Barr Have to Do With Iran Contra?

Jeffrey J. Matthews is a professor of leadership and American history at the University of Puget Sound and the author of &ldquoColin Powell: Imperfect Patriot&rdquo (University of Notre Dame, 2019).

Donald Trump&rsquos nomination of William Barr to become attorney general has recast the spotlight on the presidency of George H.W. Bush. Barr served as attorney general in the Bush administration from late 1991 to early 1993. Most notably, Barr railed publicly against a long running independent counsel investigation of the Reagan-Bush administration and he fully supported President Bush&rsquos last minute pardon of Caspar Weinberger, Reagan&rsquos former defense secretary. Weinberger had been indicted on five felony charges, including accusations that he obstructed federal investigations and lied to Congress about the Iran-Contra affair.

In the wake of Bush&rsquos recent death, innumerable editorials have heaped praise on the late president for his prudent and polite leadership. Far too little attention has been paid to his role in the Iran-Contra scandal.

No writer has been more generous to Bush than journalist Jon Meacham, the author of The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. In a New York Times editorial assessing Bush&rsquos legacy, Meacham lauded the nation&rsquos forty-third vice president and forty-first president for being especially principled and pragmatic a leader whose &ldquolife offers an object lesson in the best that politics&hellipcan be.&rdquo Bush, Meacham noted admiringly, saw politics as a noble pursuit, a means to faithfully serve the public, &ldquonot a vehicle for self-aggrandizement or self-enrichment.&rdquo

But the history of Bush&rsquos involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal is not one of nobility and virtue. The object lesson, in fact, is that even our most revered leaders are fallible human beings subject to making unethical decisions out of misdirected loyalties or self-preservation.

There is no doubt that Bush, as a loyal vice president, was aware of and endorsed the Reagan administration&rsquos covert policies in the Middle East and Central America. Specifically, he knew of the illicit program of selling arms to Iran, a U.S. designated terrorist state, in hopes of recovering American hostages in Lebanon. And, he knew of the illegal program of suppling aid to the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Years later when running for reelection as president, Bush admitted to his diary that, &ldquoI&rsquom one of the few people that know fully the details [of Iran-Contra]&hellip.It is not a subject we can talk about.&rdquo

It is also clear that Reagan and his senior staff, Bush included, understood that the Iran and Contra programs were illegal. At one point, in regard to the arms-for-hostages initiative, Reagan informed his advisers that he would risk going to prison because the American people would want him to break the law if it meant saving the lives of hostages. &ldquoThey can impeach me if they want,&rdquo Reagan said, and then he quipped &ldquovisiting days are Wednesday.&rdquo

Shortly after the Iranian weapons deals became public, Bush tried to distance himself from the Iran-Contra scandal by telling reporters that it was &ldquoridiculous to even consider selling arms to Iran.&rdquo Knowledge of Bush&rsquos involvement could jeopardize his plans to succeed Reagan. Such deceptive maneuvering was galling to Reagan&rsquos secretary of state, George Shultz, who knew all too well that Bush had supported the Iran project. Shultz told a friend: &ldquoWhat concerns me is Bush on TV,&rdquo because he risks &ldquogetting drawn into a web of lies&hellip.He should be very careful how he plays the loyal lieutenant.&rdquo

Bush did become president and his eventual pardon of Weinberger, just weeks before leaving office, was not an act of virtuous public service even Reagan had refused to grant pardons to those involved with Iran-Contra. Bush&rsquos decision was a self-serving one as a trial examining Weinberger&rsquos role in Iran-Contra, including the administration&rsquos orchestrated cover-up, risked exposing the outgoing president&rsquos complicity.

Hearing of Weinberger being pardoned, Judge Lawrence Walsh, the independent counsel investigating Iran-Contra, issued a statement of condemnation: &ldquoPresident Bush&rsquos pardon&hellipundermines the principle that no man is above the law. It demonstrates that powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office&mdashdeliberately abusing the public trust without consequence."

Among the lessons of Iran-Contra is that a healthy democracy must have robust checks on executive authority in order to minimize abuses of power. A quarter century ago, the president&rsquos attorney general, William Barr, staunchly opposed the independent counsel&rsquos investigation of wrongdoing in the White House, and he also firmly supported Bush&rsquos use of pardons as a means of self-protection. Are we to believe that Barr&rsquos relationship with President Trump will be any different?

If you enjoyed this piece, be sure to check out Dr. Matthews forthcoming book:


The Iran-Contra Affair

Use this narrative after students have read the introductory essay to introduce foreign policy milestones during Reagan’s presidency. This narrative can be used with the “Tear Down This Wall”: Ronald Reagan and the End of the Cold War Decision Point the Ronald Reagan, “Tear Down this Wall” Speech, June 12, 1987 Primary Source and the Cold War DBQ (1947-1989) Lesson.

The Iran-Contra affair, the most serious scandal of the Reagan administration, arose from the intersection of dubious or illegal U.S. efforts to deal with both terrorism in the Middle East and revolution in Central America during the Cold War. During the first hours of Reagan’s presidency, Iran released 52 U.S. hostages it had seized 444 days earlier when militants invaded the U.S. embassy in Tehran. In the aftermath of the hostage crisis, U.S. relations with Iran were tense and hostile. Reagan continued a ban on the provision of weapons to Iran begun by executive order during the Carter administration. The State Department encouraged other nations to join the embargo because Iran was a state sponsor of terrorism. The U.S. arms ban added to Iranian difficulties during a war with Iraq that began in 1980 and lasted until 1988.

Even while applying pressure against Iran, some of Reagan’s advisors hoped to enlist that nation’s cooperation in securing the release of U.S. hostages in Lebanon. Hezbollah, a fundamentalist Islamic group that had close ties to Iran, began seizing Americans in 1984 as a way of discouraging U.S. intervention in the Lebanese civil war. Reagan cared deeply about the plight of the hostages. National Security Advisor Robert MacFarlane proposed a plan to gain their release. In return for a supply of U.S. weapons, Iran would use its influence with Hezbollah to secure the freedom of the American captives in Lebanon. Secretary of State George Shultz and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger objected, citing the Reagan administration’s announced policy of not negotiating with terrorists. MacFarlane, however, maintained that arms sales could build U.S. influence with so-called Iranian moderates, who would eventually come to power after the death of the elderly leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, head of the radical government in Tehran. In July 1985, Reagan approved MacFarlane’s initiative, hoping that it would “get our hostages freed.”

With the help of Israel, deliveries of U.S. weapons to Iran began in August 1985. By the end of October 1986, Iran had received more than 2,000 TOW anti-tank missiles as well as spare parts for HAWK antiaircraft missiles. The results of these arms shipments were disappointing. Hezbollah released three U.S. hostages – Rev. Lawrence Jenco, a Catholic priest Rev. Benjamin Weir, a Presbyterian missionary and David Jacobsen, a hospital administrator – but seized three more. At the end of 1986, seven Americans remained in captivity.

In 1985, the United States sold military armaments like this TOW anti-tank missile to Iran in exchange for its help in pressuring Hezbollah to release U.S. hostages.

The Reagan administration also aided the Contras, a counter-revolutionary organization that fought against the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Reagan worried that the Sandinistas, a revolutionary group that received support from Cuba and the Soviet Union and seized power in Nicaragua in 1979, threatened to spread communism in Central America. In December 1981, he authorized the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to provide covert training and assistance to Contra forces, who waged guerrilla war against the Sandinista government and its supporters. This U.S. aid was supposed to be secret, and its purported goal was to pressure the Nicaraguan government to halt its assistance to leftist insurgents in El Salvador. The secret did not last. Front-page newspaper articles and magazine cover stories exposed the U.S. role in the Nicaraguan war and showed that the Contras’ goal was to topple the Sandinista government. The result was congressional passage in December 1982 of an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Edward Boland (D-MA), to a defense spending bill that prohibited the use of U.S. funds “for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua.”

Then, members of Congress, including those on intelligence committees who should have received confidential briefings about CIA covert activities, exploded in anger when they learned from newspapers that the CIA had secretly mined Nicaragua’s harbors, an act of war under international law. The result was a second Boland Amendment that barred the CIA and any other government agency “involved in intelligence activities” from using federal funds to support “military or paramilitary operations in Nicaragua.”

Reagan was determined to sustain the Contras “body and soul” despite the congressional cutoff of funding. With some exaggeration, he called the Contras “freedom fighters” who were “the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers” because they battled against communists. He made these assertions even though some Contras were involved in drug trafficking to fund their operations and political assassination.

MacFarlane assigned the task of sustaining the Contras to Lt. Col. Oliver North, a career Marine officer working for the National Security Council (NSC). North relied on assistance from the CIA, including from director William Casey, to construct an organization he called the Enterprise for the secret supply of military equipment to the Contras. Funding at first came from two main sources: contributions the Reagan administration solicited from other nations, primarily Saudi Arabia and donations North helped secure from private citizens who worried about the spread of communism in Central America. North added a third source when he used profits from the arms sales to Iran to help support the Contras. The use of these funds connected the two prongs of what became the Iran-Contra scandal.

The secret dealings of the Reagan administration in Central America and the Middle East became public knowledge in late 1986 when a plane carrying weapons to the Contras crashed in Nicaragua and a surviving crew member, Eugene Hasenfus, made statements about U.S. involvement in the supply operation. Shortly afterward, a Lebanese newspaper carried a report about the sales of U.S. weapons to Iran. North started shredding incriminating documents, but investigators from the attorney general’s office found proof of the diversion of funds from the arms sales to the Contras. After the disclosure of this shocking news, Reagan fired North, even while lauding him as an American hero, and accepted the resignation of John Poindexter, who had succeeded MacFarlane as national security advisor. Polls, however, showed widespread disbelief in Reagan’s denial that his administration had traded arms for hostages.

Several investigations followed. The first was by the Tower Commission, a panel appointed by Reagan and headed by former Senator John Tower of Texas. In a report released in February 1987, the commission blamed the NSC staff and other presidential aides for the scandal. The report, however, also concluded that “the NSC system will not work unless the President makes it work.” Reagan’s inability to recall basic facts about administration policies during meetings with commission members and his failure to prevent subordinates like North from engaging in illegal activities led some critics to wonder whether Reagan was still capable of meeting his presidential responsibilities.

John Tower (left) presenting the Tower Commission Report to President Reagan (center) in 1987. Edmund Muskie, Jimmy Carter’s secretary of state and a member of the Tower Commission, is at the right.

The president took additional steps to regain the public’s confidence. On March 4, 1987, he delivered a televised address in which he accepted responsibility for the scandal and recanted his previous assertion that his administration had not traded arms for hostages. Reagan also accepted the resignation of his chief of staff, Donald Regan, and named former Senator Howard Baker to that position. Baker tried to allay public concerns when he announced after his first day on the job that he was certain Reagan was completely engaged and fully in command of his presidency.

Select congressional committees also held televised hearings, and North was the star witness. He appeared in uniform with his service medals and insisted he was no loose cannon but a dedicated public servant who had full authorization from superiors for his actions. North blamed Congress for intruding into policy decisions on support for the Contras that properly belonged to the president. He and MacFarlane also claimed they had not violated the second Boland Amendment because the NSC was not “an intelligence gathering agency.” North gained enthusiastic public support, a phenomenon that political commentators called “Olliemania.”

Independent counsel Lawrence Walsh required almost seven years to complete his investigation. He secured a dozen indictments and eight convictions or guilty pleas on a variety of charges, including obstruction of justice, perjury, and withholding of evidence. The convictions of North and Poindexter, however, were overturned on appeal. In December 1992, President George H. W. Bush pardoned six figures in the scandal, including McFarlane and Weinberger.

Walsh decided not to seek an indictment of Reagan, even though he concluded that the president had “created the conditions which made possible the crimes committed by others.” By the end of his presidency, Reagan had regained the standing in job performance polls that he had lost during the scandal. However, his actions during Iran-Contra added to public mistrust of the presidency that had begun during the Vietnam War and deepened during the Watergate scandal. The affair also raised troubling questions about the accountability of presidential power and the means the Reagan administration used to achieve what it considered desirable ends.

Review Questions

1. The main purpose of the United States’ arms sales to Iran in 1985-1986 was to

  1. strengthen Iran in its war against Iraq
  2. provide Iranian moderates weapons to overthrow the radical Iranian government
  3. help secure the release of U.S. hostages in Lebanon
  4. strengthen Iran in its fight against terrorism

2. During the Iran-Contra scandal, the “diversion,” according to Oliver North, referred to

  1. the use of profits from arms sales to Iran to support the Contras
  2. the Reagan administration’s effort to divert attention away from its secret arms deal
  3. the transfer of weapons to Iran
  4. the shift in responsibility for aiding the Contras from the CIA to the NSC

3. The purpose of the Boland Amendment to a 1982 defense bill was to prohibit the Reagan Administration from

  1. negotiating with the Iranians to free hostages held in the Middle East
  2. developing antimissile defense technology
  3. selling nuclear arms to any Middle Eastern nation
  4. using government money to topple the government of Nicaragua

4. President Reagan was determined to aid the Nicaraguan Contras because he

  1. feared communism would spread in Latin America
  2. believed it would stop the spread of al-Qaeda into Latin America
  3. was assured the Contras would topple the Castro regime in Cuba
  4. wanted to end the massive influx of Nicaraguan refugees seeking asylum in the United States

5. Funding for the Nicaraguan Contras during the Reagan administration came from all the following except

  1. contributions solicited from other countries
  2. donations secured from private individuals
  3. profits from arms sales to Iran
  4. direct aid from Congress

6. The Iran-Contra scandal ended with

  1. a presidential impeachment
  2. failure of the investigators to find any wrongdoing
  3. the Iran hostage crisis
  4. deepening public mistrust of the presidency

Free Response Questions

  1. Explain why the Iran-Contra transactions during the Reagan administration were considered a scandal.
  2. Explain why the Iran-Contra scandal represented a struggle between the executive and legislative branches.

AP Practice Questions

“No appropriations or funds made available pursuant to this [authorization bill] to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, or any other agency or entity of the United States involved in intelligence activities may be obligated or expended for the purpose or which would have the effect of supporting, directly or indirectly, military or paramilitary operations in Nicaragua by any nation, group, organization, movement, or individual.”

Second Boland Amendment passed by the U.S. Congress on October 12, 1984

1. The excerpt most clearly reflects which continuity in U.S. history?

  1. Controversies regarding the limits of constitutional power
  2. The role of technology in shaping government policy
  3. The interplay between private enterprise and government authority
  4. Challenges to the individual rights of citizens

2. This excerpt was most directly shaped by

  1. the War on Terror
  2. the end of the Cold War
  3. continuing debates over the effectiveness of the United Nations
  4. President Reagan’s opposition to the spread of communism

3. A historian might use this excerpt to demonstrate

  1. widespread public support for presidential foreign policy decisions
  2. opposition to the buildup of nuclear stockpiles
  3. controversies surrounding President Reagan’s diplomatic initiatives in Eastern Europe
  4. the status of the Monroe Doctrine in the twentieth century

Primary Sources

Suggested Resources

Brands, H.W. Reagan: The Life. New York: Doubleday, 2015.

Byrne, Malcolm. Iran-Contra: Reagan’s Scandal and the Unchecked Abuse of Presidential Power. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2014.

Draper, Theodore. A Very Thin Line: The Iran-Contra Affairs. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

LeoGrande, William M. Our Own Backyard: The United States in Central America, 1977-1992. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.


By Larry Chin
Global Research

This article was originally published on December 12, 2018. The serious questions raised in the piece remain completely unanswered.

Why was Barr chosen, given his shocking and deeply criminal/cover-up kingpin background?

Was Trump duped by Deep State enemies, who have placed another predator into his administration with the power to destroy his presidency? Or has Trump co-opted and turned Barr, in the hopes that Barr will do Trump’s bidding? Why would Barr ever turn against his own Deep State cronies?

Does Trump have a plan? With Barr in place, is Trump signaling to his enemies that “I now own the Deep State”? Or is Barr the Deep State’s ultimate and final weapon against Trump, who remains surrounded by Bush/Clinton “swamp creatures” such as National Security Adviser John Bolton, who is one of Barr’s many fellow Iran-Contra co-conspirators, Vice President Mike Pence (who is in ideal position for a coup against Trump, and remains very cozy with the Clintons, dozens of Obama appointees that remain in place, and Republican “Never Trumpers”, all of whom continue to undermine Trump.

Pay careful attention to the confirmation “hearings”. How many of the senators “questioning” Barr are themselves connected to the Bush/Clinton era criminal operations that Barr supervised as George H.W. Bush’s attorney general?

Will anyone in Washington, or in the CIA asset-filled mainstream media, dare bring up Iran-Contra? Will anyone dare detail Barr’s corruption, and his longstanding ties to the Bush/Clinton network? What about the fact that Barr is best friends with Robert Mueller?

Even the alternative media, including the whistleblowing research-intensive pro-Trump anon community, has been virtually silent on Barr, despite the fact that his criminal history is glaringly obvious, lurid, and begging to be exposed.

Rumors abound that slippery Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to leave the Justice Department following Barr’s likely confirmation. This further clears the way for Barr to seize the power to determine the fate of the Mueller probe, the John Huber (Inspector General) report, FISAgate, Clinton emails, Uranium One, and other key investigations.

William Barr could well determine the course of the political war between President Donald Trump and his enemies, and decide the fate of Donald Trump’s presidency itself.

Larry Chin, January 14, 2019

Should William Barr serve as the highest law enforcement official of the country?

For a presidential administration whose mandate was the eradication of corruption, the “draining of the swamp”, and the restoration of law?

With the nomination of William Barr for attorney general, that is what President Donald Trump wants American citizens and the world to accept.

Fawning mainstream media coverage, and streams of puff pieces laud Barr as a “respected” establishment “legal scholar”, as do Donald Trump’s Twitter posts about Barr.

The fact is, there is nothing to “respect” and everything to condemn about Barr’s work as a key inner circle operative throughout George Herbert Walker Bush’s rise to power, from CIA Director to Vice President to President. These aspects of Barr’s resume remain whitewashed by mainstream coverage. They have been amply documented by whistleblowers and those who worked directly with Barr.

The issue at hand is not Barr’s “legal mind”, but the ruthless mind that he wielded with frightening authority and expertise as George H. W. Bush’s treasonous hatchet man in the Justice Department. William Barr distorted and corrupted the law, as grossly as anyone in modern history.

Barr: CIA operative

It is a sobering fact that American presidents (many of whom have been corrupt) have gone out of their way to hire fixers to be their attorney generals.

Consider recent history: Loretta Lynch (2015-2017), Eric Holder (2009-2015), Michael Mukasey (2007-2009), Alberto Gonzales (2005-2007), John Ashcroft (2001-2005),Janet Reno (1993-2001), Dick Thornburgh (1988-1991), Ed Meese (1985-1988), etc.

Barr, however, is a particularly spectacular and sordid case. As George H.W. Bush’s most notorious insider, and as the AG from 1991 to 1993, Barr wreaked havoc, flaunted the rule of law, and proved himself to be one of the CIA/Deep State’s greatest and most ruthless champions and protectors:

  • Barr was a full-time CIA operative, recruited by Langley out of high school, starting in 1971. Barr’s youth career goal was to head the CIA.
  • CIA operative assigned to the China directorate, where he became close to powerful CIA operative George H.W. Bush, whose accomplishments already included the CIA/Cuba Bay of Pigs, Asia CIA operations (Vietnam War, Golden Triangle narcotics), Nixon foreign policy (Henry Kissinger), and the Watergate operation.
  • When George H.W. Bush became CIA Director in 1976, Barr joined the CIA’s “legal office” and Bush’s inner circle, and worked alongside Bush’s longtime CIA enforcers Theodore “Ted” Shackley, Felix Rodriguez, Thomas Clines, and others, several of whom were likely involved with the Bay of Pigs/John F. Kennedy assassination, and numerous southeast Asian operations, from the Phoenix Program to Golden Triangle narco-trafficking.
  • Barr stonewalled and destroyed the Church Committee investigations into CIA abuses.
  • Barr stonewalled and stopped inquiries in the CIA bombing assassination of Chilean opposition leader Orlando Letelier.
  • Barr joined George H.W. Bush’s legal/intelligence team during Bush’s vice presidency (under President Ronald Reagan) Rose from assistant attorney general to Chief Legal Counsel to attorney general (1991) during the Bush 41 presidency.
  • Barr was a key player in the Iran-Contra operation, if not the most important member of the apparatus, simultaneously managing the operation while also “fixing” the legal end, ensuring that all of the operatives could do their jobs without fear of exposure or arrest.
  • In his attorney general confirmation, Barr vowed to “attack criminal organizations”, drug smugglers and money launderers. It was all hot air: as AG, Barr would preserve, protect, cover up, and nurture the apparatus that he helped create, and use Justice Department power to escape punishment.
  • Barr stonewalled and stopped investigations into all Bush/Clinton and CIA crimes, including BCCI and BNL CIA drug banking, the theft of Inslaw/PROMIS software, and all crimes of state committed by Bush
  • Barr provided legal cover for Bush’s illegal foreign policy and war crimes
  • Barr left Washington, and went through the “rotating door” to the corporate world, where he took on numerous directorships and counsel positions for major companies. In 2007 and again from 2017, Barr was counsel for politically-connected international law firm Kirkland & Ellis. Among its other notable attorneys and alumni are Kenneth Starr, John Bolton, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and numerous Trump administration attorneys. K&E’s clients include sex trafficker/pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital.

A strong case can be made that William Barr was as powerful and important a figure in the Bush apparatus as any other, besides Poppy Bush himself.

To understand the scope, scale, and gravity of William Barr’s central role working for George H.W. Bush, one must grasp the significance of Iran-Contra, the massive criminal operation that was the cornerstone of the Bush era, headed by the Bushes, with the Clintons as partners.

Originally coined “Iran-Contra” (in reference to illegal arms sales to Iran in exchange for American hostages in Lebanon and arms to the Contra “freedom fighters” in Nicaragua), the moniker hides the fact that it became a massive and permanent criminal business and political machine that went far beyond then-current political concerns.

In The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran-Contra Insider, Al Martin describes the Iran-Contra Enterprise that a vast operation that included (and was not limited to) drugs, weapons, terrorism, war, money laundering, criminal banking and securities fraud, currency fraud, real estate fraud, insurance fraud, blackmail, extortion, and political corruption that involved countless Washington politicians of both Republican and Democratic parties.

“Iran-Contra itself is a euphemism for the outrageous fraud perpetrated by government criminals for profit and control. Offhandedly, this inaccurate term entered history as shorthand for the public scandals of illicit arms sales to Iran coupled with illicit weapons deals for Nicaragua. The real story, however, is much more complex…When George Bush, [CIA Director] Bill Casey and Oliver North initiated their plan of government-sanctioned fraud and drug smuggling, they envisioned using 500 men to raise $35 billion….they ended up using about 5,000 operatives and making over $35 billion.” In addition, the operation became “a government within a government, comprising some thirty to forty thousand people the American government turns to, when it wishes certain illegal covert operations to be extant pursuant to a political objective” with George [H.W.] Bush “at the top of the pyramid”.

The operation’s insiders and whistleblowers place George H.W.Bush as one of its top architects, and its commander. It was carried out by CIA operatives close to Bush since his CIA directorship and even stretching back to the Bay of Pigs. These included Oliver North, Ted Shackley, Edwin Wilson, Felix Rodriguez, and others. Iran-Contra was a replication of the CIA’s Golden Triangle drug trafficking in Southeast Asia (operations also connected to Bush) but on a larger scale and sophistication, greater complexity, and far-reaching impact that remains palpable to this day.

In George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, Webster Tarpley wrote that, “many once-classified documents have come to light, which suggest that Bush organized and supervised many, or most, of the criminal aspects of the Iran-Contra adventures.”

Tarpley further points out that George H.W. Bush created new structures (“special situation group”, “terror incident working group” etc.) within the Reagan administration—and that

“all of these structures revolved around [creating] the secret command role of the then-Vice President, George Bush…The Bush apparatus, within and behind the government, was formed to carry out covert policies: to make war when the constitutional government had decided not to make war to support enemies of the nation (terrorists and drug runners) who are the friends and agents of the secret government.”

This suggests that George H.W.Bush not only ran Iran-Contra, but much of the Reagan presidency. Then-White House press secretary James Baker said in 1981,

“Bush is functioning much like a co-president. George is involved in all the national security stuff because of his special background as CIA director. All the budget working groups, he was there, the economic working groups, the Cabinet meetings. He is included in almost all the meetings.”

Hundreds of insiders, witnesses and investigators have blown the lid off of the Iran-Contra Enterprise in exhaustive fashion. These include the investigations of Mike Ruppert (From The Wilderness, Crossing the Rubicon), Al Martin (The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran-Contra Insider), Gary Webb (Dark Alliance), Rodney Stich (Defrauding America, Drugging America), Terry Reed (Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA), Stew Webb (and here), Dois “Chip” Tatum (The Tatum Chronicles) (summarized here), Pete Brewton (The Mafia, the CIA and George Bush), among others. The accounts of Barry Seal, Edward Cutolo, Albert Carone, Bradley Ayers, Tosh Plumley, Bill Tyree, Gunther Russbacher, Celerino Castillo, Michael Levine, Trenton Parker, Russell Bowen, Richard Brenneke, Larry Nichols, William Duncan, Russell Welch and dozens more implicate the Bushes, the Clintons and the CIA.

As described by Mike Ruppert (image left):

“It stood, and still stands today, isolated and immune from the operating principles of democracy. It is autonomous and it operates through self-funding via narcotics and weapons trafficking. To quote [former CIA director] William Casey it is ‘a completely self-funding, off-the-shelf operation.’ It, in fact, dictates a substantial portion of this country’s foreign, economic and military policy from a place not accessible to the will of a free people properly armed with facts.”

CIA deep cover agent pilot Chip Tatum, a key Iran-Contra player who flew drugs into Mena and Little Rock in Arkansas, worked alongside CIA pilot and drug smuggler Barry Seal. It is believed that Seal was subsequently murdered by the Medellin Cartel, on order of Oliver North and the Bushes, to prevent him from testifying about his activities. Before he was killed, Seal provided Tatum a list of Iran-Contra “Boss Hogs” who allegedly controlled the drug trade. The Pegasus File summaries Tatum’s activities, and features the “Boss Hog” list.

The Iran-Contra apparatus was byzantine, comprised of a network of connected government agencies, subsidiaries, and shell companies and corporations can be seen in the diagram provided by whistleblower Stew Webb:

Why is Iran-Contra still relevant today?

The Iran-Contra Enterprise’s overseers, criminal associates and beneficiaries, to this day, remain at large [including Barr], with most enjoying massive illegally-obtained wealth, privilege, and highest political and corporate positions. The imperial positions of the Bush and Clinton clans exemplify this.

The operation, in essence, evolved and metastasized into ever-more modern and sophisticated incarnation with even more global reach. New names, new banks, new drugs, new wars, same blueprint. It is not a “deep state” or a “shadow state” but a Criminal State that operates “in broad daylight”. It is the playbook of the New World Order. It is globalization at its finest.

All attempts to prosecute were largely unsuccessful—blocked, stalled, or given a “limited hangout” treatment. As written by Ruppert, one of many Iran-Contra whistleblowers, in Crossing the Rubicon:

“[In Congress] Iran-Contra was effectively ‘managed’ by Lee Hamilton in the House [of Representatives] and John Kerry (among others) in the Senate throughout the late 1980s to conceal the greatest crimes of the era, crimes committed by a litany of well-known government operatives.”

Iran-Contra was also managed on both the operational and all-important judicial “legal” end by none other than William Barr.

Barr: Iran-Contra insider alias “Robert Johnson”

In his books Drugging America: A Trojan Horse and Defrauding America: Dirty Secrets of the CIA and other Government Operations, whistleblower Rodney Stich exposed in exhaustive detail the firsthand accounts of whistleblowers and insiders, who participated in the many criminal operations that stretched across the Bush and Clinton presidencies.

Some of the shocking evidence exposes Barr acting simultaneously as a hands-on covert operative, and as Bush’s judicial/political fixer:

[CIA operative] Terry Reed had been in frequent telephone contact with the man he knew as Robert Johnson. Johnson directed the drug trafficking and drug money laundering, the training in Arkansas of Contra pilots and fighters, and authorized Reed to set up the CIA proprietary in Mexico. At a later date, Reed learned that Robert Johnson was really William Barr, appointed by President George Bush to be Attorney General of the United States.

Reed’s CIA contact, William Barr, known at that time by his alias Robert Johnson, told Reed that Attorney General Edwin Meese had appointed Michael Fitzhugh to be US Attorney in Western Arkansas, and that he would stonewall any investigation into the Mena, Arkansas drug-related activities. This obstruction of justice by Justice Department officials did occur.

William Barr, who Bush appointed to be the top law enforcement officer in the United States—US Attorney General—played a key role in the smuggling of drugs into the United States. [CIA pilot Chip] Tatum’s statements about reaching Barr at Southern Air Transport in Miami through the name of Robert Johnson confirmed what [CIA operative] Terry Reed, author of the book Compromised, had told me and had written. Nothing like having members of felony drug operations hold the position of US Attorney General—in control of the United States Department of Justice—and a vice president of the United States [Bush]. With this type of influence, no one needs fear being arrested. And don’t forget the Mafia groups working with the CIA who also receive Justice Department protection that is not available to US citizens.

According to Stich, Tatum also detailed to him meetings that took place in which he was present for meetings and telephone conversations between Bush, [NSC Colonel] Oliver North and Barr, discussing not only operations but the skimming of drug money by the Clintons.

The purpose of the meeting was to determine who was responsible for stealing over $100 million in drug money on the three routes from Panama to Colorado, Ohio, and Arkansas. This theft was draining the operation known as the “Enterprise”…The first call was made by [CIA agent Joseph] Fernandez to Oliver North, informing North that the theft was occurring on the Panama to Arkansas route, and “that means either [CIA pilot Barry] Seal, Clinton, or [Panamanian General Manuel] Noriega”…Fifteen minutes later, the portable phone rang, and Vice President George Bush was on the line, talking to William Barr. Barr said at one point, referring to the missing funds, “I would propose that no one source would be bold enough to siphon out that much money, but it is more plausible that each are siphoning a portion, causing a drastic loss.”..Barr told Bush that he and Fernandez were staying in Costa Rica until the following day after first visiting [CIA operative] John Hull’s ranch. Barr then handed the phone to Tatum, who was instructed by Bush to be sure that Noriega and [Mossad operative Michael] Harari boarded Seal’s plane and departed, and for Tatum to get the tail number of Seal’s plane….Tatum said that Barr dialed another number, immediately reaching then-governor Bill Clinton. Barr explained the missing money problem to Clinton…Barr suggested that Clinton investigate at the Arkansas end of the Panama to Arkansas route, and that he and North would continue investigating the Panama end of the connection, warning that the matter must be resolved or it could lead to “big problems”…(This description of missing drug money provided support to a subsequent meeting in Little Rock, described by Terry Reed, during which William Barr accused Clinton of siphoning drug money and that this had to stop.)

Tatum also described to Stich a March 15, 1985 flight, during which “Tatum met with Barr, Harari, and Buddy Young (head of Governor Bill Clinton’s security detail). Barr represented himself as an emissary of Vice President George Bush, who would be arriving soon. Tatum would note on his flight book “Bush visit/meet with Barr and had dinner at German restaurant”.

Cover-up of BCCI and BNL scandals

As attorney general, obviously still working for CIA/Bush purposes, Barr and Richard Thornburgh (George H.W. Bush’s previous attorney general) killed off investigations into BCCI, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, the notorious CIA drug bank. Barr also stonewalled investigations in the Banca Nationale del Lavoro (BNL), another CIA drug bank.

BCCI was a leading CIA bank used by the Bush/Clinton machine for a vast array of operations, including Iran-Contra drug money laundering.

Barr himself had a personal relationship with BCCI going back to the early 1980s.

William Barr is heading the drive in Virginia to turn prisons into slave labor camps. Here he is shown during a hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee, Nov. 12, 1991, on his nomination as Attorney General in the Bush administration. Left to right: Sen. Strom Thurmond, Sen. Joseph Biden, Barr, Sen. Patrick Leahy. (Source: EIR)


The Iran-Contra Affair

Reagan appointed a review board headed by former Republican senator John Tower. The Tower Commission's report in February 1987 criticized the president's passive management style. In a nationally televised address on March 4, Reagan accepted that judgment without serious disagreement. Reagan said:

Walsh Findings and Penalties
Following the hearings, Special Prosecutor Walsh continued his investigation. On March 11, 1988, Poindexter's predecessor as national security advisor, Robert McFarlane, pleaded guilty to criminal charges of withholding information from Congress on secret aid to the contras. A year later McFarlane was fined $20,000 and given two years' probation. On March 16, 1988, a federal grand jury indicted North, Poindexter, and two other persons on a number of charges including conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. The trials were delayed by legal maneuvering that in part involved questions of releasing secret information.

During North's Fawn Hall testified extensively about helping North alter, shred, and remove official United States NSC documents from the White House. According to The New York Times, enough documents were put into a government shredder to jam it. North's explanation for destroying some documents was to protect the lives of individuals involved in Iran and Contra operations. During the trial North testified that on November 21, 22, or 24, 1986, he witnessed Poindexter destroy what may have been the only signed copy of a presidential covert-action finding that sought to authorize CIA participation in the November 1985 Hawk missile shipment to Iran.

In May 1989 a jury convicted North of 3 of the 12 criminal counts he was ultimately tried on in July the court fined him $150,000 and gave him a three-year suspended sentence. On April 7, 1990, Poindexter was convicted on 5 counts of deceiving Congress and sentenced to 6 months in prison. Both the North and Poindexter convictions were subsequently set aside on the grounds that their immunized congressional testimony had been unfairly used against them. In July 1991, Alan D. Fiers, Jr., chief of CIA covert operations in Central America in 1984-86, admitted that he had lied to Congress concerning CIA involvement. Shortly thereafter, his CIA superior Clair E. George was indicted for perjury. George's first trial ended in a mistrial. In 1992 former defense secretary Caspar Weinberger was indicted on 5 counts of lying to Congress.


Iran-Contra and the Fall of Ronald Reagan

Wallace goes into a medically-induced coma since he is suffering from the strains of office plus the wounds from his assassination attempt and the cabinet votes via the 25th Amendment that he is medically unable to act as president, so Katzenbach (his VP) becomes acting president.

Once Wallace comes out of the coma, he sends the required letter to both the Speaker of the House & President pro tempore of the Senate saying that he is able to resume the presidency. However, Katzenbach and a majority of the cabinet write a second letter stating that Wallace is not fit to return to office. A panel convenes to review if Wallace can indeed return to office and Wallace, in order to make it impossible for Katzenbach to undermine him again, goes to the committee hearing (which is not necessary, since all the Constitution says is he has to submit his letter to Congress) and convinces them that he is fit enough to resume the office in a dramatic display (and then, once safely out of view, collapses in pain from his effort).

I don't see Reagan doing that, though his advisors might make a push for it, but Reagan isn't able-minded enough at this point to do maneuvering grandstanding like that.

So. already, we've got a difference from the Trollopian "Fear and Loathing"!

(By Trollopian. well, one commenter gave a better title to Can You Forgive Her?, Trollope's first Pallister novel, and which certainly applies to Drew's work: Can You Possibly Finish It? )

Pangur

Orville_third

April 10th, 1987: Acting President Bush accepts the resignations of Attorney General Edwin Meese, Secretary of the Interior Donald P. Hodel, Secretary of Labor William E. Brock, and Secretary of Education William J. Bennett. When asked by the press for answers they give short variations on, "Differences of opinion with the Acting President." The mass resignation is dubbed the "Friday Night Walkout" by reporter Mike Wallace and the name sticks.

April 11th, 1987: Senator Al Gore (D-TN) announces his candidacy for the Presidency. The handsome Gore, the youngest presidential candidate in history at 39 years old and now well-known thanks to his role on the Senate Select Committee, promises to reign in an out of control federal bureaucracy and restore, "trust and faith" in our government.

April 13th, 1987: President Ronald Reagan formally resigns from the Presidency in a letter submitted to Speaker Jim Wright and president pro tempore John Stennis. Now-President Bush is sworn in.(1)

April 14th, 1987: As mandated in the 25th Amendment President Bush nominates Senator Dan Quayle (R-IN) as his Vice President and Dick Cheney as his new Secretary of Defense. Both nominations sail through Congress with little opposition.

April 15th, 1987: Premier Mikhail Gorbachev makes his first public statement regarding the removal of Ronald Reagan from office. In it he expresses his hope the USSR's relationship with the United States will not suffer as a consequence of the change in government expressing his commitment to the agreements made at the Reykjavik Summit.(2) In a statement later that day President Bush affirms his support for the disarmament treaty negotiated between the Soviet Union and the United States.

April 20th, 1987: Governor Michael Dukakis (D-MA), made famous by the "Massachusetts Miracle", declares his candidacy for President of the United States. Dukakis positions himself as an outsider vowing to reform the, "Corrupt and broken system" in Washington DC.

May 1st, 1987: former Senator Gary Hart (D-CO) addresses a rally in Denver, Colorado where he condemns the "unaccountable Washington establishment" as responsible for the Iran-Contra scandal.(3)

May 4th, 1987: Congressman Dick Gephardt (D-MO) announces his candidacy for the presidency, declaring he will focus the efforts of the United States on, "Solving problems at home instead of creating new ones overseas."

May 5th, 1987: Perennial candidate Harold Stassen announces his intent to seek the Republican nomination for the Presidency, positioning himself as a reformer seeking to, "clean up the Washington excesses."

May 11th, 1987: Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig announces his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States, citing his extensive experience in government as what the country needs to, "Clean up the Executive Branch."

May 28th, 1987: Nineteen year-old West German Pilot Mathias Rust evades Soviet air defenses and lands a private plane on Red Square in Moscow. He is immediately detained.(4)

June 2nd, 1987: Congressman Jack Kemp (R-NY) announces his campaign for the Presidency, promising a return to, "traditional American values."

June 9th, 1987: Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), one of the stars of the Reagan impeachment hearings and Senate trial, formally announces his candidacy at Wilmington train station.

June 19th, 1987: Edwards v. Aguillard: The Supreme Court of the United States rules that a Louisiana law requiring that creation science be taught in public schools whenever evolution is taught is unconstitutional.

June 28th, 1987: Iraqi forces bomb the town of Sardasht with mustard gas. The atrocity makes headline news the following morning in the United States. The CBS News report notes Iraq received military aid from the United States under the Reagan administration.

June 29th, 1987: Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announces there will be a formal investigation into the sale of arms to overseas governments following the Sardasht bombing. (5)

June 30th, 1987: In a surprise press conference in Oakland, CA former Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) formally announces his intentions to seek the Democratic nomination for the Presidency. He promises to redirect Defense spending to domestic priorities, invest in solar energy, and propel America into the 21st century.

1. While dragging this out longer COULD be fun I think at this point Reagan would be too broken of a man to try. Nancy certainly prodded him into it but Reagan, thanks to a combination of Alzheimer's, the shocks of the scandal, and his isolation in the Western White House since February 27th, is simply in no position to try to fight. Certain other offers, including ensuring his presidential pension and Secret Service detail, helped sweeten the deal.

2. This went ahead as OTL, the negotiations and circumstances regarding the conference were already in motion and unlikely to be disrupted by Iran-Contra which was still unfolding when the summit took place in October of 1986.

3. On this day OTL the Donna Rice story hit the press. The impact of Iran-Contra butterflied away Hart meeting Rice earlier in 1987 averting the affair that destroyed his campaign.

4. As OTL. One thing I'm going to do include to help establish context will be some notable international events related to the fall of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc as well as other trends that will impact the TL going into the 90s. If a major event goes unmentioned assume it happened as OTL.

5. This is not as per OTL and is one of the butterflies from Iran-Contra. Congress has to look like it's serious about cleaning up the place so hard on the heels of the scandal. The media is paying closer attention to foreign affairs thanks to the recent scandal.

John Farson

MrHuman

Nofix

Turquoise Blue

MrHuman

Turquoise Blue

Orville_third

How is C. Everett Koop doing? Is he planning to issue a report on Abortion?* Could he do a report on Alzheimer's?

How is C. Everett Koop doing? Is he planning to issue a report on Abortion?* Could he do a report on Alzheimer's?

Stolengood

The House and Senate are both controlled by Democrats at this point so whomever Bush nominates has to get past them.

With regard to Quayle - they would probably fall over themselves laughing - though, to be serious, I can see someone raising an objection to having him that close to the Presidency (a confirmation is not an election, so the focus would be on Quayle's character and capabilities).

With regard to Cheney - that one only has to pass muster in the Senate, and at this point he would have former President Ford to endorse him. It might squeeze by if Cheney wasn't too contentious in his confirmation hearings.

I'd be interested in seeing what happens with the Supreme Court nomination in the fall.

1. While dragging this out longer COULD be fun I think at this point Reagan would be too broken of a man to try. Nancy certainly prodded him into it but Reagan, thanks to a combination of Alzheimer's, the shocks of the scandal, and his isolation in the Western White House since February 27th, is simply in no position to try to fight. Certain other offers, including ensuring his presidential pension and Secret Service detail, helped sweeten the deal.

5. This is not as per OTL and is one of the butterflies from Iran-Contra. Congress has to look like it's serious about cleaning up the place so hard on the heels of the scandal. The media is paying closer attention to foreign affairs thanks to the recent scandal.

It is not my intention to throw any stones at what is an excellent time-line, but I wrote my thoughts on these points this afternoon before I had seen this latest update. Just food for thought on this as Rod Serling used to say "offered for your consideration":

In the Fear Loathing and Gumbo TL I had Congress set-up a review panel of the medical evidence because a major hole in clause 4 of the 25th amendment is that it doesn’t clearly specify what to do if there is a disagreement between the President and the Vice President (and majority of Cabinet officers) about the President’s fitness. You could end-up with an endless cycle of letters and paralysis in the executive, so that Congress decided on a novel innovation to resolve a new situation. But there was no Constitutional requirement for it.

However, that was to address a physical disability – for which the objective evidence was relatively straight forward and Wallace did his performance to make his point. (Reagan can’t do this in this circumstance: if he proves he’s mentally fit he undermines his own case, and if he puts on a performance of being unfit he only serves to embarrass himself unnecessarily).

What you’ve got here though is far more complex, because now you are dealing with a mental disability which, unless there are very clear symptoms, is a subjective diagnosis. It can be argued in good faith by many different qualified specialists without reaching one conclusion (probably contradictory conclusions in fact), and whoever makes the decision has to accept one of many possible professional opinions, and discard any contrary opinions.

One thing to consider very carefully, though. The approach HW and the Cabinet have taken is to declare Reagan mentally incompetent to discharge the Presidency, with the still undetermined implication that he wasn’t “with it” completely during the critical decisions of the Iran-Contra matter. That whole narrative has to hang together, or it falls apart since, for the most part, there is no recovery from Alzheimer’s, which is the direction this is going in terms of Reagan’s diagnosis. (Drawing from OTL on that).

That being the case, can Reagan legally resign? Resignation from office is a conscious decision based on a rational evaluation of facts, or at the very least a considered reaction to circumstances in either case has to be considered the responsible act of a rational mind.

If Ronald Reagan is no longer mentally competent to discharge the office, is he competent to legally resign from it?

Consider the position of the Secretary of State in this situation. If he accepts a questionable resignation from Reagan, where does this put him and "President" Bush if at some point a recovered Reagan makes a justifiable claim that he has recovered and that he was forced – while in a state of disability or illness – to resign? What does that do to the legitimacy of George HW Bush’s tenure?

To put a blunter spin on it, does Bush not leave himself open to charges that he orchestrated a coup by taking advantage of Reagan in a weakened state? And if it was a coup – if Reagan was coerced or manipulated into a resignation because he was unfit to make a decision on his own – and therefore did not resign of his own free will from a term to which he was elected – then is anything that George HW Bush did as “President” valid?

This covers all executive orders and legislation George HW Bush signed under this circumstance for the rest of that term. It brings into question at least one Supreme Court appointment and it threatens to invalidate any pardon Bush would have issued.

What are the wider implications on U.S. policy in the world of such a situation? If George HW Bush signs an IMF Treaty with Gorbachev is the document valid? If George HW Bush sings the letters of credence for any Ambassador, does that Ambassador hold a valid office? Are any judicial appointments made by Bush valid? And if not, does that not mean that every case argued before an invalid judge would have to be re-tried? Does this vacate every conviction reached in a court presided over by a Bush appointed Judge? (And how does that affect the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights of the defendants involved?). What about any warrants signed by Bush appointed Judges? How about prosecutions by Bush appointed U.S. Attorneys? Etc. etc.

Even if George HW Bush survives the term without this being called into question, what happens if one appeals court in one case rules on this because a wily defence attorney dug through this and saw an avenue to an acquittal by making this argument. If one case ends with this being upheld, that’s the loose thread that could unwind the whole thing – even years after Bush has left office.

It has consequential impact if any executive action by any successor is premised on a decision or implementation ordered during Bush’s time in office, or a legal decision made by a judge Bush appointed. It could become a veritable sword of Damocles hanging over significant parts of the U.S. executive and judicial system for years to follow.

Personally, I could have a lot of fun with that, but on a realistic note I have to think that someone in the White House Counsel’s office or the State Department’s General Counsel is going to think of this. From a legal and Constitutional point of view George HW Bush may have to live with being an acting President for the rest of his term because that’s the legal bed he has made for himself. It’s a lot safer than having Reagan resign, when the validity of his ability to resign could be called into question.

Of course a disabled Reagan would be under medical care and not active, and for that reason unavailable for testimony. His term would end on Jan 20, 1989 and he would receive his full benefits as an ex-President.

The upside here is that since Reagan cannot participate in his own defence, there would be a serious due process question as to whether a Senate trial to remove him on the charges could proceed - and the Democrats in particular would look very bad if it appeared they were picking on a sick old man who couldn't defend himself just to score political points. In this situation I don't think a trial in the Senate for Reagan would be politically viable, not once the disability card has been laid out.

Could Nancy Reagan (presumably) as his legal guardian resign in his place? Probably from any other job, but neither the Constitution nor the 25th Amendment makes any provision for an executor acting on behalf of a President exercising an official act - even the last. As far as I can see the Constitution and the law are silent on such an eventuality.

IMO George Bush would be a fool to run for a full term after this came out – if he tried I think even George McGovern or Ralph Nader could defeat him (ok a little hyperbole). IMHO I think Bush would be defeated in the Republican primaries by Dole, or Kemp (the latter as a movement conservative reaction to the whole mess) A Dole-Kemp primary contest would be interesting. What happens next depends on whom the Democrats nominate.

On Jimmy Carter, one question – the October Surprise Conspiracy theory first gained traction in this time period, in part because there was a thread of similar people involved in both. If Reagan was forced into a kind early retirement like this, and a number of his officials were removed from office for their involvement in Iran-Contra, would this situation now give the October Surprise conspiracy much more traction? Personally, just as I think Watergate and the other Nixon horrors gave a big boost to Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories I think this outcome for Iran-Contra would also make fertile ground for the October Conspiracy.

Incidentally, if you’re a Democrat, here’s a political narrative for you. Herbert Hoover brought you the Depression. Richard Nixon brought you Watergate and Jerry Ford slammed the lid on it. Ronald Reagan lied to you about Iran-Contra and his health, and George HW Bush tried to cover that up. So unless his name is Ike, why would you trust a Republican in the White House?

Eisenhower and Carter come across here as shining examples of Presidential integrity, and both happen to be service academy graduates and career military men (Carter was until family circumstance compelled him to resign from the Navy, otherwise he might have been a lifer in the service). A candidate with a service background, and especially a service academy background, might make use of that after all of this. Just a thought.


Iran-Contra Scandal

An illegal, international arms deal involving drug trafficking (ignored by mainstream accounts) and defying US congress to supply weapons to the Nicaraguan &ldquoContras&rdquo. Professor Lance deHaven-Smith has suggested that the operation arose from Bill Casey&rsquos October Surprise conspiracy. Even the name, &ldquoIran-Contra&rdquo, is disingenuous, ignoring as it does the drug dealing, which was never fully exposed. The abundance of evidence of this has been obscured if not from the public record, then largely from public consciousness. Drawing a parallel with the Watergate Coup, Mark Gorton suggests that Iran-Contra was a limited hangout orchestrated by George H. W. Bush to try to get Ronald Reagan to resign, but that Reagan loyalists Edwin Meese and George Schulz were able to fight off the coup attempt. Tosh Plumlee, Bo Abbott and Edward Cutolo have all testified under oath to involvement in US government/CIA sanctioned drug trafficking.

Originally coined &ldquoIran-Contra&rdquo (in reference to illegal arms sales to Iran in exchange for American hostages in Lebanon and arms to the Contra &ldquofreedom fighters&rdquo in Nicaragua), the moniker hides the fact that it became a massive and permanent criminal business and political machine that went far beyond then-current political concerns.

In The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran-Contra Insider, Al Martin describes the Iran-Contra Enterprise that a vast operation that included (and was not limited to) drugs, weapons, terrorism, war, money laundering, criminal banking and securities fraud, currency fraud, real estate fraud, insurance fraud, blackmail, extortion, and political corruption that involved countless Washington politicians of both Republican and Democratic parties.

&ldquoIran-Contra itself is a euphemism for the outrageous fraud perpetrated by government criminals for profit and control. Offhandedly, this inaccurate term entered history as shorthand for the public scandals of illicit arms sales to Iran coupled with illicit weapons deals for Nicaragua. The real story, however, is much more complex&hellipWhen George Bush, [CIA Director] Bill Casey and Oliver North initiated their plan of government-sanctioned fraud and drug smuggling, they envisioned using 500 men to raise $35 billion&hellip.they ended up using about 5,000 operatives and making over $35 billion.&rdquo In addition, the operation became &ldquoa government within a government, comprising some thirty to forty thousand people the American government turns to, when it wishes certain illegal covert operations to be extant pursuant to a political objective&rdquo with George [H.W.] Bush &ldquoat the top of the pyramid&rdquo.

The operation&rsquos insiders and whistleblowers place George H.W.Bush as one of its top architects, and its commander. It was carried out by CIA operatives close to Bush since his CIA directorship and even stretching back to the Bay of Pigs. These included Oliver North, Ted Shackley, Edwin Wilson, Felix Rodriguez, and others. Iran-Contra was a replication of the CIA&rsquos Golden Triangle drug trafficking in Southeast Asia (operations also connected to Bush) but on a larger scale and sophistication, greater complexity, and far-reaching impact that remains palpable to this day.

In George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, Webster Tarpley wrote that, &ldquomany once-classified documents have come to light, which suggest that Bush organized and supervised many, or most, of the criminal aspects of the Iran-Contra adventures.&rdquo

Tarpley further points out that George H.W. Bush created new structures (&ldquospecial situation group&rdquo, &ldquoterror incident working group&rdquo etc.) within the Reagan administration&mdashand that

&ldquoall of these structures revolved around [creating] the secret command role of the then-Vice President, George Bush&hellipThe Bush apparatus, within and behind the government, was formed to carry out covert policies: to make war when the constitutional government had decided not to make war to support enemies of the nation (terrorists and drug runners) who are the friends and agents of the secret government.&rdquo

This suggests that George H.W.Bush not only ran Iran-Contra, but much of the Reagan presidency. Then-White House press secretary James Baker said in 1981,

&ldquoBush is functioning much like a co-president. George is involved in all the national security stuff because of his special background as CIA director. All the budget working groups, he was there, the economic working groups, the Cabinet meetings. He is included in almost all the meetings.&rdquo

Hundreds of insiders, witnesses and investigators have blown the lid off of the Iran-Contra Enterprise in exhaustive fashion. These include the investigations of Mike Ruppert (From The Wilderness, Crossing the Rubicon), Al Martin (The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran-Contra Insider), Gary Webb (Dark Alliance), Rodney Stich (Defrauding America, Drugging America), Terry Reed (Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA), Stew Webb (and here), Dois &ldquoChip&rdquo Tatum (The Tatum Chronicles) (summarized here), Pete Brewton (The Mafia, the CIA and George Bush), among others. The accounts of Barry Seal, Edward Cutolo, Albert Carone, Bradley Ayers, Tosh Plumley, Bill Tyree, Gunther Russbacher, Celerino Castillo, Michael Levine, Trenton Parker, Russell Bowen, Richard Brenneke, Larry Nichols, William Duncan, Russell Welch and dozens more implicate the Bushes, the Clintons and the CIA.

As described by Mike Ruppert (image left):

&ldquoIt stood, and still stands today, isolated and immune from the operating principles of democracy. It is autonomous and it operates through self-funding via narcotics and weapons trafficking. To quote [former CIA director] William Casey it is &lsquoa completely self-funding, off-the-shelf operation.&rsquo It, in fact, dictates a substantial portion of this country&rsquos foreign, economic and military policy from a place not accessible to the will of a free people properly armed with facts.&rdquo

CIA deep cover agent pilot Chip Tatum, a key Iran-Contra player who flew drugs into Mena and Little Rock in Arkansas, worked alongside CIA pilot and drug smuggler Barry Seal. It is believed that Seal was subsequently murdered by the Medellin Cartel, on order of Oliver North and the Bushes, to prevent him from testifying about his activities. Before he was killed, Seal provided Tatum a list of Iran-Contra &ldquoBoss Hogs&rdquo who allegedly controlled the drug trade. The Pegasus File summaries Tatum&rsquos activities, and features the &ldquoBoss Hog&rdquo list.

The Iran-Contra apparatus was byzantine, comprised of a network of connected government agencies, subsidiaries, and shell companies and corporations can be seen in the diagram provided by whistleblower Stew Webb:

Why is Iran-Contra still relevant today?

The Iran-Contra Enterprise&rsquos overseers, criminal associates and beneficiaries, to this day, remain at large, with most enjoying massive illegally-obtained wealth, privilege, and highest political and corporate positions. The imperial positions of the Bush and Clinton clans exemplify this.

The operation, in essence, evolved and metastasized into ever-more modern and sophisticated incarnation with even more global reach. New names, new banks, new drugs, new wars, same blueprint. It is not a &ldquodeep state&rdquo or a &ldquoshadow state&rdquo but a Criminal State that operates &ldquoin broad daylight&rdquo. It is the playbook of the New World Order. It is globalization at its finest.

All attempts to prosecute were largely unsuccessful&mdashblocked, stalled, or given a &ldquolimited hangout&rdquo treatment. As written by Ruppert, one of many Iran-Contra whistleblowers, in Crossing the Rubicon:

&ldquo[In Congress] Iran-Contra was effectively &lsquomanaged&rsquo by Lee Hamilton in the House [of Representatives] and John Kerry (among others) in the Senate throughout the late 1980s to conceal the greatest crimes of the era, crimes committed by a litany of well-known government operatives.&rdquo

Iran-Contra was also managed on both the operational and all-important judicial &ldquolegal&rdquo end by none other than William Barr. In his books Drugging America: A Trojan Horse and Defrauding America: Dirty Secrets of the CIA and other Government Operations, whistleblower Rodney Stich exposed in exhaustive detail the firsthand accounts of whistleblowers and insiders, who participated in the many criminal operations that stretched across the Bush and Clinton presidencies.

Some of the shocking evidence exposes Barr acting simultaneously as a hands-on covert operative, and as Bush&rsquos judicial/political fixer:

Reed&rsquos CIA contact, William Barr, known at that time by his alias Robert Johnson, told Reed that Attorney General Edwin Meese had appointed Michael Fitzhugh to be US Attorney in Western Arkansas, and that he would stonewall any investigation into the Mena, Arkansas drug-related activities. This obstruction of justice by Justice Department officials did occur.

William Barr, who Bush appointed to be the top law enforcement officer in the United States&mdashUS Attorney General&mdashplayed a key role in the smuggling of drugs into the United States. [CIA pilot Chip] Tatum&rsquos statements about reaching Barr at Southern Air Transport in Miami through the name of Robert Johnson confirmed what [CIA operative] Terry Reed, author of the book Compromised, had told me and had written. Nothing like having members of felony drug operations hold the position of US Attorney General&mdashin control of the United States Department of Justice&mdashand a vice president of the United States [Bush]. With this type of influence, no one needs fear being arrested. And don&rsquot forget the Mafia groups working with the CIA who also receive Justice Department protection that is not available to US citizens.

According to Stich, Tatum also detailed to him meetings that took place in which he was present for meetings and telephone conversations between Bush, [NSC Colonel] Oliver North and Barr, discussing not only operations but the skimming of drug money by the Clintons.

The purpose of the meeting was to determine who was responsible for stealing over $100 million in drug money on the three routes from Panama to Colorado, Ohio, and Arkansas. This theft was draining the operation known as the &ldquoEnterprise&rdquo&hellipThe first call was made by [CIA agent Joseph] Fernandez to Oliver North, informing North that the theft was occurring on the Panama to Arkansas route, and &ldquothat means either [CIA pilot Barry] Seal, Clinton, or [Panamanian General Manuel] Noriega&rdquo&hellipFifteen minutes later, the portable phone rang, and Vice President George Bush was on the line, talking to William Barr. Barr said at one point, referring to the missing funds, &ldquoI would propose that no one source would be bold enough to siphon out that much money, but it is more plausible that each are siphoning a portion, causing a drastic loss.&rdquo..Barr told Bush that he and Fernandez were staying in Costa Rica until the following day after first visiting [CIA operative] John Hull&rsquos ranch. Barr then handed the phone to Tatum, who was instructed by Bush to be sure that Noriega and [Mossad operative Michael] Harari boarded Seal&rsquos plane and departed, and for Tatum to get the tail number of Seal&rsquos plane&hellip.Tatum said that Barr dialed another number, immediately reaching then-governor Bill Clinton. Barr explained the missing money problem to Clinton&hellipBarr suggested that Clinton investigate at the Arkansas end of the Panama to Arkansas route, and that he and North would continue investigating the Panama end of the connection, warning that the matter must be resolved or it could lead to &ldquobig problems&rdquo&hellip(This description of missing drug money provided support to a subsequent meeting in Little Rock, described by Terry Reed, during which William Barr accused Clinton of siphoning drug money and that this had to stop.)

Tatum also described to Stich a March 15, 1985 flight, during which &ldquoTatum met with Barr, Harari, and Buddy Young (head of Governor Bill Clinton&rsquos security detail). Barr represented himself as an emissary of Vice President George Bush, who would be arriving soon. Tatum would note on his flight book &ldquoBush visit/meet with Barr and had dinner at German restaurant&rdquo.

Description: What happened in the 80s doesn&rsquot stay in the 80s. Iran-Contra was an historical moment that reaches forwards and backwards in time to connect some of the key political players of the past 50 years&hellipand exposes the shadow government that has been in operation for decades. The Corbett Report replaces the Orwellian con/text of history by putting Iran-Contra history in context. (Starts around 10:45 in the audio below):


Congressional Hearings: May-August 1987

Select Congressional committees conducted joint televised hearings from May to August. They heard evidence that a few members of the NSC staff set Iran and Nicaragua policies and carried them out with secret private operatives, that the few officials who knew about these policies lied to congress and others, and that the contras received only a small part of the diverted money. Former national security advisor John Poindexter stated that he personally authorized the diversion of money and withheld that information from the president. William J. Casey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, who died in May 1987, was implicated in some testimony, but the extent of his involvement remained unclear. Most interesting to American viewers of the televised congressional hearings was the testimony ofNational Security Council staffer Marine Lieutenant Cololonel Oliver North, and his secretary Fawn Hall. Hall testified on June 8 and 9, 1987, and North testified from July 7 to July 14. Both became nationally known. So many viewers considered North’s demeanor to be so professional and patriotic that he became somewhat of a national hero. Not all the popular culture about Oliver North, however, is supportive. Whenever President Reagan shows up in the Iran-Contra pop culture, it is always in the context of questioning the credibility of his stated knowledge of actions of his subordinates.


Oliver North

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Oliver North, in full Oliver Laurence North, (born October 7, 1943, San Antonio, Texas, U.S.), U.S. Marine Corps officer, conservative political commentator, and author who was involved in the Iran-Contra Affair in the 1980s.

North graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served in the Vietnam War. In 1981 he was assigned to the National Security Council, where his work focused on Central America. Embracing the cause of the Nicaraguan contras, he raised private donations for them. In 1986, after Congressional investigation of the Iran-Contra Affair, he was reluctantly dismissed by then president Ronald Reagan. In 1988 North was indicted for conspiracy to defraud the government and resigned from the Marine Corps. At his 1989 trial, he was found guilty of obstructing the U.S. Congress, destroying documents, and accepting an illegal gratuity and was sentenced to two years’ probation. In 1991, after a prosecution witness claimed that his testimony had been tainted, all charges against North were dropped.

North ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate seat in Virginia in 1994. In the mid-1990s he began hosting a conservative radio talk show. He also cowrote a number of books, including a thriller series. The memoir Under Fire: An American Story (cowritten with William Novak) was published in 1991. North was named president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) in 2018. He later became involved in a power struggle with NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre as regulators investigated the organization’s tax-exempt status amid allegations of financial improprieties. In 2019 North announced that he was resigning as president, noting that the NRA was in the midst of a “clear crisis.”

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.


The Contras, Cocaine, and Covert Operations

Washington, D.C. &ndash An August, 1996, series in the San Jose Mercury News by reporter Gary Webb linked the origins of crack cocaine in California to the contras, a guerrilla force backed by the Reagan administration that attacked Nicaragua's Sandinista government during the 1980s. Webb's series, "The Dark Alliance," has been the subject of intense media debate, and has focused attention on a foreign policy drug scandal that leaves many questions unanswered.

This electronic briefing book is compiled from declassified documents obtained by the National Security Archive, including the notebooks kept by NSC aide and Iran-contra figure Oliver North, electronic mail messages written by high-ranking Reagan administration officials, memos detailing the contra war effort, and FBI and DEA reports. The documents demonstrate official knowledge of drug operations, and collaboration with and protection of known drug traffickers. Court and hearing transcripts are also included.

Special thanks to the Arca Foundation, the Ruth Mott Fund, the Samuel Rubin Foundation, and the Fund for Constitutional Government for their support.

Contents:

Documentation of Official U.S. Knowledge of Drug Trafficking and the Contras

In his entry for August 9, 1985, North summarizes a meeting with Robert Owen ("Rob"), his liaison with the contras. They discuss a plane used by Mario Calero, brother of Adolfo Calero, head of the FDN, to transport supplies from New Orleans to contras in Honduras. North writes: "Honduran DC-6 which is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used for drug runs into U.S." As Lorraine Adams reported in the October 22, 1994 Washington Post, there are no records that corroborate North's later assertion that he passed this intelligence on drug trafficking to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

In a July 12, 1985 entry, North noted a call from retired Air Force general Richard Secord in which the two discussed a Honduran arms warehouse from which the contras planned to purchase weapons. (The contras did eventually buy the arms, using money the Reagan administration secretly raised from Saudi Arabia.) According to the notebook, Secord told North that "14 M to finance [the arms in the warehouse] came from drugs."

An April 1, 1985 memo from Robert Owen (code-name: "T.C." for "The Courier") to Oliver North (code-name: "The Hammer") describes contra operations on the Southern Front. Owen tells North that FDN leader Adolfo Calero (code-name: "Sparkplug") has picked a new Southern Front commander, one of the former captains to Eden Pastora who has been paid to defect to the FDN. Owen reports that the officials in the new Southern Front FDN units include "people who are questionable because of past indiscretions," such as José Robelo, who is believed to have "potential involvement with drug running" and Sebastian Gonzalez, who is "now involved in drug running out of Panama."

On February 10, 1986, Owen ("TC") wrote North (this time as "BG," for "Blood and Guts") regarding a plane being used to carry "humanitarian aid" to the contras that was previously used to transport drugs. The plane belongs to the Miami-based company Vortex, which is run by Michael Palmer, one of the largest marijuana traffickers in the United States. Despite Palmer's long history of drug smuggling, which would soon lead to a Michigan indictment on drug charges, Palmer receives over $300,000.00 from the Nicaraguan Humanitarian Aid Office (NHAO) -- an office overseen by Oliver North, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Elliott Abrams, and CIA officer Alan Fiers -- to ferry supplies to the contras.

State Department contracts from February 1986 detail Palmer's work to transport material to the contras on behalf of the NHAO.

Evidence that NSC Staff Supported Using Drug Money to Fund the Contras

On July 28, 1988, two DEA agents testified before the House Subcommittee on Crime regarding a sting operation conducted against the Medellin Cartel. The two agents said that in 1985 Oliver North had wanted to take $1.5 million in Cartel bribe money that was carried by a DEA informant and give it to the contras. DEA officials rejected the idea.

The Kerry Committee report concluded that "senior U.S. policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras' funding problems."

U.S. Officials and Major Traffickers

Manuel Noriega

Oliver North, who met with Noriega's representative, described the meeting in an August 23, 1986 e-mail message to Reagan national security advisor John Poindexter. "You will recall that over the years Manuel Noriega in Panama and I have developed a fairly good relationship," North writes before explaining Noriega's proposal. If U.S. officials can "help clean up his image" and lift the ban on arms sales to the Panamanian Defense Force, Noriega will "'take care of' the Sandinista leadership for us."

North tells Poindexter that Noriega can assist with sabotage against the Sandinistas, and suggests paying Noriega a million dollars -- from "Project Democracy" funds raised from the sale of U.S. arms to Iran -- for the Panamanian leader's help in destroying Nicaraguan economic installations.

The same day Poindexter responds with an e-mail message authorizing North to meet secretly with Noriega. "I have nothing against him other than his illegal activities," Poindexter writes.

On the following day, August 24, North's notebook records a meeting with CIA official Duane "Dewey" Clarridge on Noriega's overture. They decided, according to this entry, to "send word back to Noriega to meet in Europe or Israel."

The CIA's Alan Fiers later recalls North's involvement with the Noriega sabotage proposal. In testimony at the 1992 trial of former CIA official Clair George, Fiers describes North's plan as it was discussed at a meeting of the Reagan administration's Restricted Interagency Group: "[North] made a very strong suggestion that . . . there needed to be a resistance presence in the western part of Nicaragua, where the resistance did not operate. And he said, 'I can arrange to have General Noriega execute some insurgent -- some operations there -- sabotage operations in that area. It will cost us about $1 million. Do we want to do it?' And there was significant silence at the table. And then I recall I said, 'No. We don't want to do that.'"

Senior officials ignored Fiers' opinion. On September 20, North informed Poindexter via e-mail that "Noriega wants to meet me in London" and that both Elliott Abrams and Secretary of State George Shultz support the initiative. Two days later, Poindexter authorized the North/Noriega meeting.

North's notebook lists details of his meeting with Noriega, which took place in a London hotel on September 22. According to the notes, the two discussed developing a commando training program in Panama, with Israeli support, for the contras and Afghani rebels. They also spoke of sabotaging major economic targets in the Managua area, including an airport, an oil refinery, and electric and telephone systems. (These plans were apparently aborted when the Iran-Contra scandal broke in November 1986.)

José Bueso Rosa

Declassified e-mail messages indicate that Oliver North led the behind-the-scenes effort to seek leniency for Bueso . The messages record the efforts of U.S. officials to "cabal quietly" to get Bueso off the hook, be it by "pardon, clemency, deportation, [or] reduced sentence." Eventually they succeeded in getting Bueso a short sentence in "Club Fed," a white collar prison in Florida.

The Kerry Committee report reviewed the case, and noted that the man Reagan officials aided was involved in a conspiracy that the Justice Department deemed the "most significant case of narco-terrorism yet discovered."

FBI/DEA Documentation

In February 1987 a contra sympathizer in California told the FBI he believed FDN officials were involved in the drug trade. Dennis Ainsworth, a Berkeley-based conservative activist who had supported the contra cause for years, gave a lengthy description of his suspicions to FBI agents. The bureau's debriefing says that Ainsworth agreed to be interviewed because "he has certain information in which he believes the Nicaraguan 'Contra' organization known as FDN (Frente Democrático Nacional) has become more involved in selling arms and cocaine for personal gain than in a military effort to overthrow the current Nicaraguan Sandinista Government." Ainsworth informed the FBI of his extensive contacts with various contra leaders and backers, and explained the basis for his belief that members of the FDN were trafficking in drugs.

A DEA report of February 6, 1984 indicates that a central figure in the San Jose Mercury News series was being tracked by U.S. law enforcement officials as early as 1976, when a DEA agent "identified Norwin MENESES-Canterero as a cocaine source of supply in Managua, Nicaragua." Meneses, an associate of dictator Anastasio Somoza who moved to California after the Nicaraguan revolution in 1979, was an FDN backer and large-scale cocaine trafficker.

Testimony of Fabio Ernesto Carrasco, 6 April 1990

On October 31, 1996, the Washington Post ran a follow up story to the San Jose Mercury News series titled "CIA, Contras and Drugs: Questions on Links Linger." The story drew on court testimony in 1990 of Fabio Ernesto Carrasco, a pilot for a major Columbian drug smuggler named George Morales. As a witness in a drug trial, Carrasco testified that in 1984 and 1985, he piloted planes loaded with weapons for contras operating in Costa Rica. The weapons were offloaded, and then drugs stored in military bags were put on the planes which flew to the United States. "I participated in two [flights] which involved weapons and cocaine at the same time," he told the court.

Carrasco also testified that Morales provided "several million dollars" to Octaviano Cesar and Adolfo "Popo" Chamorro, two rebel leaders working with the head of the contras' southern front, Eden Pastora. The Washington Post reported that Chamorro said he had called his CIA control officer to ask if the contras could accept money and arms from Morales, who was at the time under indictment for cocaine smuggling. "They said [Morales] was fine," Chamorro told the Post.


Watch the video: The Greater Iran-Contra Scandal: Iraqgate 1992 (December 2021).