"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Orwell-- The US is probably moving toward becoming a heavily controlled Rightist state. This blog is an effort to document how that happened.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Covering Up Iran-Contra

By mid-November 1986, the Congressional intelligence committees were asking about the sale of weapons to Iran. Oliver North shredded all but one of the documents he thought to be incriminating. However, Justice Department lawyers found a North memorandum that clearly explained how arms were being diverted via Israel to Iran. Ed Meese briefed top White House and cabinet officials on November 24, saying of course Reagan knew nothing of all this. After the meeting, Secretary of Treasury George Schultz told his chief aide, “They may lay all this off on Bud [McFarlane] . . . They rearranging the record.'' The next day-- November 25--Meese admitted to Congressional leaders that arms had been sold to Iran, and the proceeds were used to resupply the Contras. Through the ensuing hearings, North was sure he was untouchable and told Felix Rodriguez, “These people want me, but they cannot touch me, because the old man loves my ass.” In the end he got off with a conviction overturned on a technicality. North had been fined $150,000 and given two years of probation in return for going around urging young people not to use drugs.

Bush aide Boyden Gray decided the diary was largely exculpatory and should not be revealed to the investigators. Bush destroyed the investigation by pardoning Caspar Weinberger, who had been indicted twice, as well as others involved in the matter. Much of the press treated Weinberger as a hero and was critical of Walsh’s tenaciousness. A subsequent investigation found that Adnan Khashoggi, a Saudi businessman and major arms dealer, had acted as middleman for North in the deal with the mullahs. He borrowed millions from the now discredited Bank of Credit and Commerce International ( B.C.C.I.) to obtain the embargoed weapons and claims to have lost ten million dollars in the transactions. BCCI collapsed in 1991, after defrauding thousands of depositors. It was to quietly reemerge as Pinnacle Bank Group.

When Bush’s son, George W., became president, he reinterpreted legislation on the release of presidential papers to greatly delay the release of those pertaining to Iran-Contra. The scandal resulted in the jailing of an agent who had been at the center of the sale of 10,000 TOW missiles, William Herrmann. Oliver North thought him unreliable so he ended up in jail where he could be silenced if need be. He was arrested in London, on the job, while moving suitcases of counterfeit US currency. After serving some time in England, he was sent to a prison in Pennsylvania. George H.W. Bush pardoned his Iran/Contra partners at Christmas, !992: Cap Weinberger, Bud Mc Farlane, Elliot Abrams, Alan Fiers, and Clair George.

The Christic Institute first broke the story of government drug-dealing and the Iran-Contra Scheme. I t was a Jesuit-run ecumenical social justice organization that had exposed Ku Klux Klan murders, handled the Karen Silkwood case, and defended the Native Americans who demonstrated at Wounded Knee. Using the RICO statute of 1970, the institute went to court to expose what was happening. At the center of their case was the attempted bombing assassination of Contra leader Eden Pastora, Commander Zedro, who had fallen out with his colleagues and the CIA. He survived the attempted murder, but three journalists were killed. Two injured journalists were the plaintiffs. They had the testimony of one witness that Hull had said at a meeting “Pastora had to be killed.” There were 29 defendants. The National Council of Churches backed the Institute in this legal action. More than any other person or organization, the Christic Institute broke the Iran-Contra story. Its great mistake was in believing that there was a rogue “secret team” doing the illegal things it discovered. It seemed incomprehensible to these idealists, that what they found--the mere tip of a vast iceberg-- was really the policy of the Reagan administration and by the various arms of the executive branch.

In the end, the Institute lost a $1,600,000 bond and an additional fine put them out of business. Congress, with the help of moderate and conservative Democrats, in 1983 crafted these “rule 11" bonds and fines to cripple private party investigations of government. This case, Avirgan v. Hull was to be the last serious effort to probe government sponsored crime by a public interest group. President Bush’s I RS lifted their tax exemption to make sure they could not recover. The chief judge was clearly hostile to them and came on the case when his predecessor Robert S. Vance died in a bomb explosion. Vance had been connected to the Mississippi Freedom Democrats in 1964. Vance was to be replaced by J.L. Edmundson, a genuine conservative, who was frightened off the case by an attempt on his life. In the end all three judges ruled for the government. The two plaintiffs had been forced to send their children into hiding, and other witnesses had been killed. A third fled to Costa Rica with his family.

When someone later asked a clerk at the eleventh circuit for the papers on the case, she replied, “Oh Lord!...Avirgan v. Hull means duck and run for cover.” Daniel Sheehan, executive director of the Christic Institute, had assumed that he was dealing with a small rogue element within the agency and the government and found his organization destroyed by a far greater force than he had imagined. Eventually, he found that his opponents had almost unlimited funds coming from the Japanese loot that the United States secretly recovered at the end of World War II. In 2001, he unsuccessfully sought to find part of the unrecovered Golden Lily treasure in order to fund progressive causes.

Sherman has written African American Baseball: A Brief History, which can be acquired from LuLu Publishing on line.http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?search_forum

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About Me

Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to http://www.publishamerica.com/shopping. It can also be obtained through the on-line operations of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Do not consider purchasing it if you are looking for something that mirrors the mainstream media!