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For The Record  

FTR #489 2nd Interview with Robert Parry

Recorded December 5, 2004
REALAUDIO

Highlighting Robert Parry’s new book Secrecy and Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, the program focuses on a series of illegal and treasonous Republican gambits conducted during Presidential election years, as well as the politicization of intelligence that began with the elder George Bush’s tenure as CIA director. Beginning with the Nixon campaign’s sabotage of peace talks with the North Vietnamese in 1968, the program then explores the successful Nixon administration plot to assure that George McGovern—viewed as the weakest possible opponent for Nixon—would get the Democratic nomination. In 1980 the Republicans successfully executed the October Surprise collusion with the Iranian Islamists in order to defeat Jimmy Carter. The subsequent Congressional investigation was torpedoed—in part because Lawrence Barcella (in charge of the investigation) was implicated in the October Surprise itself, as well as a number of overlapping scandals. The program then examines the evolution of the politicization of intelligence, from the elder George Bush’s importation of Team B to magnify and exaggerate the CIA’s estimates of Soviet strength, through William Casey’s thorough corruption of the CIA’s analytical division, and on to George Tenet’s role in heading off attempts to block Robert Gates’s nomination to head the CIA. An aide to Senator David Boren, Tenet eventually became head of the CIA himself and continued the trend of politicization of intelligence.

Program Highlights Include: Henry Kissinger’s role in sabotaging the 1968 peace talks with the North Vietnamese; John Connally protégé Robert Strauss’s role in sabotaging attempts to block the nomination of McGovern; the involvement of October Surprise “investigator” Lawrence Barcella in the October Surprise, Iran-Contra and BCCI scandals; Senator David Boren’s shepherding of the controversial nomination of Robert Gates to be head of the CIA.

1. Numerous broadcasts have discussed the “October Surprise”—the deal between the Reagan/Bush campaign in 1980 and the Iranian Islamists to hold the U.S. hostages taken from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran until after Jimmy Carter’s humiliation and consequent election defeat were assured. This GOP treason was preceded by a similar treasonous intervention in international affairs by the Nixon/Agnew campaign in 1968. In order to prevent Hubert Humphrey from benefiting from peace talks that Johnson was attempting to start with the North Vietnamese, the Nixon campaign used a back channel to block the talks. Approximately 30,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese died AFTER the interdiction of the peace talks. The war dragged on for another four years. “In a similar way, Nixon may have undertaken his Watergate adventure in 1972, in part, because of his success in secretly sabotaging President Lyndon B. Johnson’s last-ditch attempt to negotiate a Vietnam peace agreement at the end of the 1968 presidential campaign, when 500,000 U.S. troops were in Vietnam. Though Johnson got wind of Nixon’s scheme, the Democratic President kept quiet, partly out of fear that the plot’s exposure could devastate the international image of the United States, especially if Nixon still won. By staying silent, however, Johnson may have encouraged either Republican schemes, hatched out of a confidence that the Democrats were too ineffectual to discover the facts or too timid to blow the whistle.”
(Secrecy and Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq; by Robert Parry; pp. 90-91.)

2. “Nixon’s Vietnam gambit in 1968 was also the direct antecedent to the allegations of Reagan-Bush interference in Carter’s hostage negotiations in 1980. Indeed, the evidence of Nixon’s Vietnam scheming undercuts one of the strongest arguments against believing the allegations about the 1980 ‘October Surprise’ case, that as bare-knuckled as U.S. politics can be, there are lines that no responsible political leader would cross, either out of patriotism or fear of getting caught. But the 1968 incident, as pieced together by journalists and historians in the three-and-a-half decades that followed, suggests that any such line might be fuzzier than believed or might not exist at all, that when the enormous power of the U.S. government is at stake, some politicians will do whatever it takes to win and worry about managing the consequences later.” (Ibid.; p. 91.)

3. “The first major recounting of Nixon’s sabotage of Johnson’s Paris peace talks—by offering South Vietnam’s President Nguyen van Thieu a better deal from Republicans than was available from the Democrats—came 15 years after the actual events, in Seymour Hersh’s 1983 political biography of Henry Kissinger, The Price of Power. According to Hersh’s book, Kissinger learned of Johnson’s peace plans and warned Nixon’s campaign. ‘It is certain,’ Hersh wrote, ‘that the Nixon campaign, alerted by Kissinger to the impending success of the peace talks, was able to get a series of messages to the Thieu government making it clear that a Nixon Presidency would have different views on the peace negotiations.’” (Idem.)

4. “Nixon’s chief emissary was Anna Chennault, an anti-communist Chinese leader who was working with the Nixon campaign. Hersh quoted one former official in President Lyndon Johnson’s Cabinet as stating that the U.S. intelligence ‘agencies had caught on that Chennault was the go-between between Nixon and his people, and President Thieu in Saigon. . . . The idea was to bring things to a stop in Paris and prevent any show of progress.’” (Idem.)

5. “In her memoirs, The Education of Anna, Chennault acknowledged that she was the courier. She quoted Nixon campaign manager John Mitchell as calling her a few days before the 1968 election and telling her: ‘I’m speaking on behalf of Mr. Nixon. It’s very important that our Vietnamese friends understand our Republican position and I hope you have made that clear to them.’” (Idem.)

6. “On November 2, four days before the U.S. election, Thieu withdrew from his tentative agreement to sit down with the Viet Cong at the Paris peace talks, killing Johnson’s last hope for a settlement of the war. A late Humphrey surge fell short and Nixon won a narrow election victory.” (Ibid.; pp. 91-92.)

7. “In The Price of Power, Hersh quoted Chennault as saying that after the election, in 1969, Mitchell and Nixon urged her to keep quiet about her mission, which could have implicated them in an act close to treason. As the Vietnam War dragged on for another four years, tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers died, as did hundreds of thousands of Indochinese. When the allegations of the secret deal surfaced, survivors of the Nixon administration denied them, depicting Chennault as a freelance operative working on her own initiative. . . .” (Ibid.; pp. 91-92.)

8. Four years later, the Nixon administration again engaged in illegal subterfuge during the Presidential campaign in a series of machinations which—when they were uncovered—became known as Watergate. The “Plumbers” unit (clandestine operatives of the Nixon campaign) had installed a tap on the phone of Democratic Party operative Spencer Oliver. This enabled them to block

an attempt by Texas Democrats to prevent George McGovern from gaining the Democratic nomination. (Nixon wanted the weakest Democratic opponent to gain the nomination. McGovern was their choice. When he did get the nomination, he only won Massachusetts.) The tap on Oliver’s phone permitted them to successfully interdict the Texas Democrats’ attempt at blocking McGovern’s nomination. “So, while Nixon’s political espionage team listened in, Oliver and his little team canvassed state party leaders to figure out how the Democratic delegates planned to vote. ‘We determined on that phone that McGovern could still be stopped even if he won the California primary,’ Oliver said. ‘It would be very close whether he could ever get a majority.’” (Ibid.; p. 30.)

9. “After McGovern did win the California primary, the stop-McGovern battle focused on Texas and its Democratic convention, scheduled for June 13. ‘The one place he could be stopped was at the Texas State Democratic Convention,’ Oliver said.” (Idem.)

10. “ ‘There had been a major fight in Texas between the Left and the Right, between the liberals and the conservatives,’ Oliver said. ‘They hated each other. It was one of these lifetime things.’ Between the strength of the conservative Democratic machine and the history of hardball Texas politics, the Texas convention looked to Oliver like the perfect place to push through a solid anti-McGovern slate, even though nearly one-third of the state delegates listed McGovern as their first choice. Since there was no requirement for proportional representation, whoever controlled a majority at the state convention could take all the presidential delegates or divide them up among other candidates, Oliver said.” (Ibid.; pp. 30-31.)

11. It appears that Robert Strauss (a protégé of Democrat-turned-Nixon-Cabinet-official John Connally) was one of the cogs in the subversion of the attempt to block McGovern’s nomination. “At Sanford’s suggestion, Oliver decided to fly to Texas. When he reached the Texas convention in San Antonio, Oliver said he was stunned by what he found. The Johnson-Connally wing of the party appeared uncharacteristically generous to the McGovern campaign. Also arriving from Washington was one of Connally’s Democratic protégés, the party’s national treasurer Bob Strauss.” (Ibid.; p. 31.)

12. “ ‘I’m in the hotel and I’m standing in the lobby the day before the convention,’ Oliver said. ‘The elevator opens and there’s Bob Strauss. I was really surprised to see him and he makes a bee-line straight for me. He says, ‘Spencer, how you doing?’ I say, ‘Bob, what are you doing here?’ He says, ‘I’m a Texan, you’re a Texan. Here we are. Who would miss one of these state conventions? Maybe we ought to have lunch.’ He was never that friendly to me before.’” (Idem.)

13. “Oliver was curious about Strauss’s sudden appearance because Strauss had never been a major figure in Texas Democratic politics. ‘He was a Connally guy and no background in politics except his personal ties to Connally,’ Oliver said. ‘He hadn’t been active in state politics except as Connally’s fund-raiser. He wasn’t a delegate to the state convention.’ Plus, Strauss’s chief mentor, Connally, was a member of Nixon’s Cabinet and was planning to head up Democrats for Nixon in the fall campaign.” (Idem.)

14. “Known as a smooth talking lawyer, Strauss had made his first major foray into politics as a principal fund-raiser for Connally’s first gubernatorial race in 1962. Connally then put Strauss on the Democratic National Committee in 1968. Two years later, Connally agreed to join the Nixon administration. ‘I wouldn’t say that Connally and Strauss are close,’ one critic famously told The New York Times, ‘but when Connally eats watermelon, Strauss spits seeds,’” (Idem.)

15. “Other Connally guys held other key positions at the state convention, including state chairman Will Davis. So, presumably the liberal, anti-war McGovern would have looked to be in a tight spot, opposed not only by Davis but also by much of the conservative state Democratic leadership and organized labor. ‘It was clear that 70 percent of the delegates were anti-McGovern, so they very easily could have coalesced, struck a deal and blocked McGovern,’ Oliver said. ‘That probably would have blocked him from the nomination.’” (Idem.)

16. “Oliver told some political allies at the convention, including party activists R.C. ‘Bob’ Slagle III and Dwayne Holman, about the plan that had been hatched in Washington to shut McGovern out of Texas delegates. ‘They thought it might work and agreed to promote it with the state Democratic leadership,’ Oliver said. ‘Bob went to lay out this plan to stop McGovern and I waited for him. (After he emerged from the meeting,) we went around the corner, and he said, ‘It’s not going to work.’ He said, ‘Will Davis thinks we ought to give McGovern his share of the delegates.’ I said, ‘What? Will Davis, John Connally’s guy? Does he know that this will give McGovern the nomination?’ He [Davis] said, ‘ We shouldn’t have a big fight. We should all agree that everyone gets the percentage they had in the preference. We’ll just let it go.’” (Ibid.; p. 32.)

17. “ . . . (The DNC also agreed to settle the Watergate lawsuit in 1974. Though the precise terms were sealed, Strauss said publicly that the Democrats were willing to accept about $1.25 million. Oliver eventually settled separately with the Republicans, with those terms also under court seal.)” (Ibid.; pp. 43-44.)

18. The Republicans’ failure to prevent the unfolding scandal taught them a lesson—cover-up their crimes more effectively. By 1980, they had learned how to do this and were able to successfully cover-up the October Surprise. “ ‘Watergate was the most devastating blow that any political party has suffered in modern history,’ Spencer Oliver told me in an interview in 1992 when he was serving as chief counsel for the House International Affairs Committee. ‘The President was driven out of office. The Republicans were repudiated at the polls. They took enormous losses in Congress. What they learned from Watergate was not ‘don’t do it,’ but ‘cover it up more effectively.’ They have learned that they have to frustrate congressional oversight and press scrutiny in a way that will avoid another major scandal.’” (Ibid.; p. 45.)

19. After Robert summarizes the October Surprise, he relates how the congressional investigation of that crime was derailed. One of the factors in the subversion of the investigation was the fact that Lawrence Barcella, selected to oversee the proceedings, was deeply compromised by his relationships to many of the scandals that overlapped the October Surprise. Barcella had successfully prosecuted “ex”-CIA agent Edwin Wilson. In so doing, however, he had deliberately overlooked the fact that the CIA had lied about the fact that Wilson’s operations were not divorced from Agency policy. (For more about Wilson, see—among other programs—RFA#4, available from Spitfire. For more about the October Surprise, see—among other programs—RFA#31, available from Spitfire, as well as FTR#’s 360, 430, 449, 485.) “ . . . But even that victory [over former CIA officer Edwin Wilson] has lost its shine over the years because of a belated admission that Wilson’s conviction was aided by a U.S. government decision to lie about Wilson’s secret work for the CIA and to withhold exculpatory information from Wilson’s defense. The discovery of this prosecutorial abuse—after Wilson had been imprisoned for two decades—led U.S. District Judge Lynn N. Hughes in 2003 to vacate4 Wilson’s conviction for selling military ite

ms to Libya.” (Ibid.; p. 153.)

20. “Judge Hughes said overturning the conviction was justified because the prosecutors submitted a false affidavit that had denied Wilson’s claims that he was in frequent contact with the CIA. ‘There were, in fact, over 80 contacts, including actions parallel to those in the charges,’ Judge Hughes wrote in the decision.” (Idem.)

21. Barcella was also connected to other people and institutions implicated in one way or another with the October Surprise itself. His conflicts of interest should have prevented him from overseeing the investigation. One of his conflicts of interest was his link to Michael Ledeen: “There were other troubling aspects of Barcella’s career, including a tolerance for the back-scratching ways of Washington. That attitude was revealed in some of his personal ties to alleged participants in the October Surprise case. For instance, according to author Peter Maas in Manhunt, a book on the Wilson case, Barcella had entertained a nighttime visit in 1982 from Michael Ledeen, the neoconservative writer who then was working as a State Department consultant on terrorism. Ledeen and Barcella were personal friends who socialized together. Barcella also had sold Ledeen a house and the two aspiring Washington professionals shared a housekeeper.” (Ibid.; pp. 153-154.)

22. “ . . . That evening, Ledeen was concerned that two of his associates, Ted Shackley and Erich von Marbod, had come under suspicion in the Wilson case. ‘IF told Larry that I can’t imagine that Shackley [or von Marbod] would be involved in what you are investigating,’ Ledeen told me. . . . Later, Shackley and von Marbod were dropped from the Wilson investigation.” (Ibid.; p. 154.)

23. Ledeen had other links to the October Surprise team: “In the context of the October Surprise case, however, the Ledeen connection raised other questions about Barcella’s objectivity. The Task Force staff would discover that Ledeen was considered an informal member of the Reagan-Bush campaign’s ‘October Surprise Group’ and had other connections to the October Surprise case, including the work that Ledeen and Shackley had done for the Italian intelligence service SISMI in 1980 at a time Shackley was working for George H.W. Bush on the Iran hostage issue.” (Idem.)

24. Barcella was also no stranger to the Iran-Contra scandal, which overlapped the October Surprise. “Barcella himself had played a small role in the Iran-Contra scandal. In 1985, as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Washington, Barcella was contacted by a Pentagon official who wanted to get legal advice so retired Major general John Singlaub could ship weapons to the Nicaraguan contras. At the time, the Pentagon and the CIA were legally barred from ‘directly or indirectly’ assisting the contras militarily. The call from the Pentagon also should have raised questions in a prosecutor’s mind about possible violations of the Neutrality Act, which prohibits plotting unauthorized acts of war against foreign nations.” (Idem.)

25. “Instead of objecting to the potential crimes, Barcella gave advice on how Singlaub could skirt the Arms Export Control Act by buying the weapons overseas. Following Barcella’s suggestion, Singlaub obtained light assault weapons from Poland that were shipped to Honduras for the contras in July 1985. Singlaub, however, was not acting on his own. He was a front man for the secret White House contra-support operation run by Oliver North and overseen by William Casey. So Barcella had gotten an early look into the Iran-Contra criminal conspiracy, but instead of acting to thwart it as a government prosecutor, he chose to offer legal advice to the conspirators. . . .” (Idem.)

26. “ . . .After leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office and going into private practice, Barcella represented Barbara Studley, the president of GMT, the Washington-based company that Singlaub had used to arrange contra arms shipments to Central America. The shadowy firm, which employed a number of former intelligence officials, was closely linked to William Casey’s rogue CIA operations and to the clandestine activities of Oliver North.” (Ibid.; p. 155.)

27. Barcella also worked for the BCCI, also implicated in some of the October Surprise machinations. (For more about BCCI, see—among other programs—FTR#’s 310, 356, 357, 368, 462, 464, 485.) “Barcella also went to work for the scandal-plagued Bank of Credit and Commerce International in the late 1980’s as it was trying to frustrate press and government investigations into its worldwide fraudulent activities, including money laundering for drug traffickers. Barcella’s law firm—Laxalt, Washington, Perito & Dubuc—collected $2.16 million in legal fees from BCCI from October 1988 to August 1990, according to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report on the BCCI scandal. As part of his work for BCCI, Barcella tried to discourage journalists who were sniffing out BCCI’s secret ownership of First American Bank in Washington.” (Idem.)

28. “BCCI also had popped up on the October Surprise radar scopes through its dealings with Cyrus Hashemi and John Shaheen. Shortly after Ronald Reagan’s Inauguration in 1981, the FBI intercepted a message to Hashemi about BCCI delivering a payment from London via the Concorde. When Shaheen set up his mysterious Hong Kong bank, one of the directors was Ghanim Al-Mazerouie, who owned ten percent of BCCI’s shares.” (Idem.)

29. Yet another conflict of interest concerned Paul Laxalt, a key Reagan-Bush operative and law partner of Barcella. “The identity of the lead partner in Barcella’s law firm also represented a potential conflict of interest. Paul Laxalt, the former senator, was one of Reagan’s closest political allies and was chairman of the 1980 Reagan-Bush campaign, the principal subject of the October Surprise investigation. The Senate BCCI report said Barcella worked directly with Laxalt on the BCCI account. Barcella told me that he didn’t believe that his work for BCCI created a conflict of interest.” (Idem.)

30. Next, the discussion turns to the question of the politicization of intelligence, beginning with the elder George Bush’s importing of “Team B” to give a much more alarming (and fundamentally incorrect) view of the Soviet Union’s capabilities and intentions. The Team B analysis set the stage for the huge military buildup of the Reagan-Bush years and the enormous budget deficits that resulted. “The CIA’s view of a tamer Soviet Union had influential enemies inside Gerald Ford’s administration. Hard-liners, such as William J. Casey, John Connally, Clare Booth Luce and Edward Teller, sat on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. The PFIAB first raised the idea of letting a team of conservative outsiders inside the CIA to conduct a competitive threat assessment in 1975, but CIA Director Colby shot down the plan by arguing that a new national intelligence estimate was underway and would be disrupted. ‘It is hard for me to envisage how an ad hoc ‘independent’ group of government and non-government analysts could prepare a more thorough, comprehensive assessment of Soviet strategic capabilities—even in two specific areas—than the intelligence community can prepare,’ Colby said.” (Ibid.; p. 52.)

31. “In 1976, with Bush as the new CIA director, the political situation had changed. In March, facing the Reagan challenge from the Right, Ford ordered his White House aides ‘to forget the use of the word détente.’ The same month, Allen, Kampelman, Nitze, Rostow and Zumwalt created the ‘Committee on the Present Danger’ to warn the public of the ‘growing Soviet threat.’ Putting another scare into the Ford campaign, Reagan pulled off an upset in the North Carolina primary on March 23.” (Idem.)

32. “Ford was ready to toss the conservatives a bone by giving them access to the CIA’s raw data and perm

ission to prepare a competing analysis of Soviet power. But the project represented a test for George H.W. Bush. As a CIA director who considered himself a defender of the agency’s interests, he would have to undercut the proud analytical division. But as a Republican with political ambitions, he—like Ford—needed to win some points with an increasingly influential bloc of Republicans, those who wanted a more confrontational approach toward the Soviet Union.” (Idem.)

33. “ ‘Although his top analysts argued against such an undertaking, Bush checked with the White House, obtained an O.K. and by May 26, [1976] signed off on the experiment with the notation, ‘Let her fly!!,’ wrote research Anne Hessing Cahn after reviewing documents released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.” (Idem.)

34. “Bush offered the rationale that the conservative analysts, known as Team B, would represent an intellectual challenge to the CIA’s official assessments. His rationale, however, assumed that Team B didn’t have a pre-set agenda to fashion a worst-case scenario for launching a new and intensified Cold War. To fill out Team B’s roster, Harvard professor Pipes picked other like-minded conservatives, including arms negotiator Paul H. Nitze; arms control specialist Paul Wolfowitz; and General Daniel O. Graham, who had been director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.” (Idem.)

35. “Not surprisingly, the hard-liners concluded that their notions about Soviet capabilities and intent were correct. ‘The principal threat to our nation, to world peace and to the cause of human freedom is the Soviet drive for dominance based upon an unparalleled military buildup,’ wrote three Team B members: Pipes, Nitze and William Van Cleave. Access to secret CIA data gave Team B extra credibility in challenging the assessment of CIA professionals.” (Ibid.; pp. 52-53.)

36. When Reagan became President in 1980—with Team B steward Bush as his Vice-President and Team B sympathizer William Casey as head of the CIA, the deliberate slanting of intelligence toward an alarmist, inaccurate assessment of Soviet capabilities intensified dramatically. The CIA’s analytical division became fundamentally corrupted and many of its best analysts were browbeaten and their careers impeded. The politicization of intelligence became standard operating procedure at the CIA. “With the 1985 report on the papal assassination plot, Goodman wrote that the CIA’s politicization of intelligence on the Soviet Union hit ‘rock bottom.’ But he said the broader consequence of the hyped intelligence was to prime the pump for an expensive U.S. military expansion.” (Ibid.; p. 192.)

37. “ ‘The CIA caricature of a Soviet military octopus whose tentacles reached the world over supported the administration’s view of the ‘Evil Empire,’ Goodman wrote. ‘Gates used worst-case analysis to portray a Soviet capability to neutralize the strategic capabilities of the United States. Moscow, in fact, had no capability to target dispersed mobile ICBMs and lacked an air defense system that could counter strategic bombers. Moscow had no confidence that its efforts to destroy warheads on land-based missiles would actually fined missiles still tethered to their launchers, and CIA’s emphasis on Moscow’s ‘launch on warning’ capability was nothing more than a doomsday scenario.’” (Ibid.; pp. 192-193.)

38. “Though Gates has consistently denied ‘politicizing’ the CIA’s analysis, he acknowledged that Casey did put pressure on analysts, especially when they were working on a subject dear to his heart, such as the Soviet threat.” (Ibid.; p. 193.)

39. “ ‘Casey complained bitterly and often graphically when the analysis he got seemed fuzzy-minded, lacked concreteness, missed the point, or in his view was naïve about the real world, when it lacked ‘ground truth,’ Gates wrote. ‘An analyst had to be tough and have the courage of his or her convictions to challenge Casey on something he cared about and knew about. He argued he fought, he yelled, he grumped with the analysts in person and on paper. He pulled no punches. Some thrived on it. Many were put off by his abrasiveness, his occasional bullying manner. . . .” (Idem.)

40. “ ‘For a cadre of analysts accustomed to ‘gentlemanly discourse’ and even more to a hands-off approach to their work from their own senior managers in the analysis directorate, such intrusiveness and assertiveness on the part of the DCI was unprecedented, and unwelcome.’” (Idem.)

41. “In the trenches at the CIA, however, Casey’s bluster often was amplified by the new senior managers who had risen to power under Casey and Gates, according to several CIA analysts whom I interviewed. Some analysts were verbally berated until they agreed to change their findings; some faced job threats; others experienced confrontations with supervisors who threw papers around the office and sometimes into the analysts’ faces. The scars left on the CIA’s tradition of objective analysis ran deep and affected later intelligence failures, the analysts said.” (Idem.)

42. “ ‘The politicization that took place during the Casey-Gates era is directly responsible for the CIA’s loss of its ethical compass and the erosion of its credibility,’ said Mel Goodman, the former chief of the Soviet analysis office. ‘The fact that the CIA missed the most important historical development in its history—the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the Soviet Union itself—is due in large measure to the culture and process that Gates established in his directorate.’” (Idem.)

43. “In Goodman’s view, the failure to notice the decline and the disintegration of the Soviet Union can be traced directly to the Gates-Casey intervention in the analytical process. ‘They systematically created an agency view of the Soviet Union that overemphasized the Soviet threat, ignored Soviet vulnerabilities and weaknesses,’ said Goodman, who served as a senior CIA analyst on Soviet policy from 1966 to 1986.” (Idem.)

44. In addition to CIA director Casey, his assistant Robert Gates worked v very hard to corrupt the CIA analysts’ assessment of the Soviet Union. This became an issue when the elder President Bush nominated him to be head of the CIA in 1991. In addition, Gates’ involvement in the related and overlapping Iran-Contra and October Surprise investigations was brought up in an attempt to block his nomination. “The question of ‘politicization’ at the CIA cropped up briefly as a national issue in 1991 when President George H.W. Bush appointed Robert Gates to be CIA director. In a break with tradition, CIA analysts stepped out of the shadows and testified openly before the Senate Intelligence Committee against Bush’s choice.” (Ibid.; p. 195.)

45. Gates’ nomination was successfully shepherded by the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, David Boren. “Led by Soviet specialist Goodman, the CIA dissidents fingered Gates as the key ‘politicization’ culprit. Their testimony added to doubts about Gates, who was already under a cloud for dubious testimony he had given on the Iran-Contra scandal, allegations that he had participated in a covert scheme to arm Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and claims that he played a role in the October Surprise operation of fall 1980. But the elder George Bush lined up solid Republican backing for Gates and enough accommodating Democrats—particularly Senator David Boren of Oklahoma, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman—to push Gates through. In his memoirs, Gates denied all the charges against him, but credited his friend, David Boren, for clearing away any obstacles. ‘David took it as a personal challenge to get me confirmed,’ Gates wrote in From the Shadows.” (Idem.)

46. “Part of running interference for Gates included rejecting the testimony of witnesses who implicated Gates in scandals beginning with the alleged back-channe

l negotiations with Iran in 1980 through the arming of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in the middle of the 1980’s. Boren’s Intelligence Committee brushed aside two witnesses connecting Gates to the alleged schemes, former Israeli intelligence official Ari Ben-Menashe and Iranian businessman Richard Babayan. Both offered detailed accounts about Gates’s alleged connections to the schemes.” (Ibid.; pp. 196-197.)

47. “Gates’s denials about a role in the Iraqgate controversy pretty much held until January 1995 when a new witness linked Gates to arms shipments to Iraq. Howard Teicher, a staffer on Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council, submitted a sworn affidavit in an arms-to-Iraq case in Miami. ‘Under CIA Director Casey and Deputy Director Gates, the CIA authorized, approved and assisted [Carlos] Cardoen in the manufacture and sale of cluster bombs and other munitions to Iraq,’ Teicher wrote. In other words, an insider on Reagan’s NSC staff was leveling the same Iraqgate charge against Gates that Ben-Menashe and Babayan had made earlier.” (Ibid.; p. 197.)

48. One of the staffers who aided Boren’s successful championing of Gates’ nomination was George Tenet. When he became CIA director, Tenet continued the trend of politicization of intelligence with his disastrous acquiescence in the second Bush administration’s distortion of the threat of Iraq’s WMD’s. As this description is being written, U.S. troops are paying the price for this disastrous failure. “(Boren’s key staff aide who helped limit the investigation of Gates was George Tenet, whose behind-the-scenes maneuvering on Gates’s behalf won the personal appreciation of the senior George Bush. Those political chits would serve Tenet well a decade later when the younger George Bush protected Tenet as his own CIA director, even after the intelligence failure of September 11, 2001, and later embarrassing revelations about faulty intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Tenet finally resigned in July 2004 amid a growing scandal over the faulty intelligence that led the United States to war in Iraq. Gates did not respond to a requested interview for this book.” (Idem.)

Discussion

8 comments for “FTR #489 2nd Interview with Robert Parry”

  1. http://consortiumnews.com/2011/08/12/keeping-a-curious-bush-secret/

    Keeping a Curious Bush Secret
    August 12, 2011

    Exclusive: One of the strange mysteries from the Reagan-Bush era is where did George H.W. Bush go on one Sunday in October 1980 when some witnesses placed him meeting with Iranians in Paris. More than three decades later, Bush’s supposed alibi remains a state secret, Robert Parry reports.

    By Robert Parry

    More than three decades ago, on Oct. 19, 1980, then-Republican vice presidential candidate George H.W. Bush supposedly took an afternoon trip to visit a family friend in Washington, an alibi that could prove he could not have traveled secretly to Paris for treacherous meetings with Iranians.

    But Bush’s White House in 1992 – and his presidential library now – have refused to release the name of this alibi witness or even the address where Bush allegedly went. The insistence on keeping this secret has just been reaffirmed by Debra Steidel Wall, deputy archivist of the United States.

    So, rather than release what theoretically should be a fact the Bush Family would want out – proof that the elder George Bush did not engage in secret talks with Iranians behind President Jimmy Carter’s back regarding 52 Americans then being held hostage in Iran – the U.S. government is saying that only a costly federal court lawsuit can dislodge this historical detail.

    Or, perhaps the reason that this secret has been so zealously guarded for so long is that Bush never took the afternoon trip, that it was just part of a cover story to conceal his mission to Paris, and that the host — if questioned — would discredit Bush’s alibi .

    Whatever the truth, as long as the Bushes and the government prevent the corroboration of his purported afternoon visit, it remains impossible to disprove contrary evidence that Bush did sneak off for the alleged Paris meeting and simply arranged with friends in the Secret Service to concoct an alibi.

    Another part of Bush’s alibi for Oct. 19 – a morning trip to the Chevy Chase Country Club – previously collapsed when no one at the club recalled the visit and the account from Secret Service supervisor Leonard Tanis, who described a brunch also involving Barbara Bush and Justice and Mrs. Potter Stewart, turned out to be false.

    Disproving Tanis’s account, Mrs. Bush’s Secret Service records showed her taking a morning jog along the C&O Canal, and Mrs. Stewart told me that she and her late husband never had brunch with the Bushes at the Chevy Chase club. When questioned by congressional investigators, none of the other Secret Service agents on the detail recalled going to the Chevy Chase club at all.

    After his Chevy Chase story was debunked, Tanis – a Secret Service official who was known to be personally close to Bush – withdrew it

    A Mysterious Alibi

    That left Bush’s supposed afternoon trip on Oct. 19 as his key alibi. But there were problems with that story as well…

    (story continues at link)

    Posted by R. Wilson | August 13, 2011, 5:25 pm
  2. @R. Wilson: Interesting stuff. Sad thing is, were it not for the ‘October Surprise’, Reagan probably wouldn’t have won the 1980 election.

    Posted by Steven | August 14, 2011, 12:31 am
  3. http://consortiumnews.com/2011/09/27/taking-a-bush-secret-to-the-grave/

    Taking a Bush Secret to the Grave
    September 27, 2011

    Special Report: The National Archives has approved an appeal by journalist Robert Parry seeking release of a 30-year-old secret, the address where George H.W. Bush supposedly went on an October weekend in 1980 — when several witnesses put Bush in Paris meeting with Iranians. But it turns out the “alibi witness” is now dead.

    By Robert Parry

    A three-decade-old mystery has finally been solved – who was George H.W. Bush’s unidentified “alibi witness” on Oct. 19, 1980, when other witnesses allege the then-Republican vice presidential candidate took a secret flight to Paris for meetings with Iranians – but the mystery’s answer only raises new questions.

    After 20 years of rejecting requests from various investigators for the identity of the “alibi witness,” the U.S. government finally released enough information from Secret Service files – in response to an appeal that I filed with the National Archives – to ascertain the person’s identity.

    The person who perhaps could have verified where Bush was or wasn’t on that day was Richard A. Moore, a Bush family friend best known for his role in the Watergate scandal as a special counsel to President Richard Nixon. In 1973, Moore was Nixon’s point man in attacking the credibility of fired White House counsel John Dean after Dean turned whistleblower.

    In 1980, Moore, who somehow managed to escape indictment for his Watergate role, and his wife, Jane Swift Moore, were living in an exclusive tree-lined neighborhood in Northwest Washington about one mile from the home of George H.W. and Barbara Bush.

    According to Secret Service records that I found in the files of Bush’s White House counsel C. Boyden Gray — and which have now been more fully released — Bush’s Secret Service detail left the Bush family home at 4429 Lowell St. N.W. at 1:35 p.m. on Oct. 19, 1980, and arrived at “Moore Residence, 4917 Rockwood Pkwy.” at 1:40 p.m.

    By checking Washington D.C. real estate records, I discovered that Richard A. Moore owned the house at 4917 Rockwood Parkway in 1980.

    If George H.W. Bush actually made the visit to Moore’s house with his wife Barbara Bush on that afternoon — rather than Barbara possibly going alone — that would make Bush’s alleged trip to Paris virtually impossible. So it would have seemed to be in Bush’s interests to release this information to investigators and have then interview Moore, if Moore would confirm that Bush dropped by that day.

    In the early 1990s, Moore also was Bush’s ambassador to Ireland and thus presumably inclined to help both his boss and his friend. However, when investigators were trying to determine whether Bush had traveled to Paris — and were looking for evidence to prove that he hadn’t — the Bush administration whited-out Moore’s address before releasing redacted versions of the Secret Service records.

    Moore died on Jan. 27, 1995. So, if George H.W. Bush’s purpose in delaying release of Moore’s identity was to ensure that no one could check with Moore about Bush’s alibi for Oct. 19, 1980, Bush achieved his goal.

    Though most of us who were examining this mystery two decades ago gave great weight to the Secret Service records seeming to place Bush in Washington, not Paris, there was the question of whether Bush, a former CIA director, might have convinced some friendly Secret Service supervisor to cook up some alibi to cover the flight to Paris.

    Those suspicions deepened with the Bush administration’s continued refusal to provide seemingly innocuous information, like Moore’s address.

    Justifying a Secret

    In 1991-92, President George H.W. Bush’s administration continued to insist on keeping the “Moore Residence” destination secret even after Congress authorized an investigation into the so-called October Surprise case, whether Republicans in 1980 had contacted Iranians behind President Jimmy Carter’s back to frustrate his efforts to free 52 American hostages.

    Carter’s failure to gain release of the hostages made him look weak and inept, setting the stage for Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory, an election which dramatically changed the course of the nation. The Iranians released the American hostages immediately after Reagan was sworn in on Jan. 20, 1981, further making Reagan appear to be an imposing world figure.

    Though there were early rumors about a secret Republican deal with Iran, the October Surprise mystery didn’t gain much traction until the exposure of secret Iran-Contra arms shipments approved by Reagan to Iran in 1985-86. Suddenly, the notion that Reagan and his Vice President George H.W. Bush would lie about covert dealings with Iran didn’t seem so preposterous.

    Essentially, the October Surprise question was whether Reagan’s secret contacts with Iran dated back to Campaign 1980, as a growing number of witnesses — from inside the governments of Iran, Israel, France and the United States — were alleging.

    However, when Congress finally agreed to look into the October Surprise case in 1991-92, Republicans were determined to circle the wagons around the then-sitting President George H.W. Bush, who was facing a tough reelection fight against Democrat Bill Clinton.

    Rather than welcome any truth-seeking, the Republicans and their media allies went on the attack claiming that the October Surprise case was a baseless “conspiracy theory.”

    At the time, the Republicans also suggested several reasons why the alibi witness for Oct. 19, 1980, should remain secret. One was that Bush might have been off on a romantic rendezvous and that Democrats simply wanted to pry into the visit as a way to neutralize accounts of Bill Clinton’s womanizing.

    However, that “tryst” rationale fell apart when I obtained the Secret Service records for Barbara Bush and they showed her on the same trip, with the destination again whited-out.

    Then, there was the suggestion that the unidentified Bush family friends were very private people who shouldn’t be dragged into the middle of a political controversy. (As it turned out, the Moores were very much public figures, both having worked in the Nixon White House and Richard A. Moore serving as U.S. ambassador to Ireland during the first Bush administration.)

    In 1992, as Bush’s team continued to stonewall the identity of Bush’s “alibi witness,” Bush angrily demanded at two news conferences that Congress specifically clear him of the allegations that he had taken a secret trip to Paris in 1980.

    Bowing to those pressures in June 1992, Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Indiana, chairman of the House investigative task force, agreed to a curious bargain in which he and a few senior investigators were shown the destination of Bush’s supposed afternoon trip on Oct. 19, 1980, but with the proviso that they never interview anyone who was there or disclose any names.

    So, without verifying Bush’s alibi, the House task force cleared Bush of going to Paris. When I asked Hamilton about this strange agreement this week, in the wake of the National Archives’ release of the “Moore Residence” document, he responded through a spokesman that he was “not able to provide any answers” because he no longer has his official records.

    Moore’s Silence

    Though the Oct. 19, 1980, visit could have involved either Moore or his wife or both, the “alibi witness” being kept secret in 1992 had to be Moore, since his wife, Jane Swift Moore, died in 1985.

    When I contacted one of Moore’s sons, Richard A. Moore Jr., he told me that he didn’t think that any of the family’s five children were still living in the Rockwood Parkway house in 1980. Nor did he think there would likely be any photographs of the visit since the Bushes were “almost neighbors,” often popping in.

    But the question remains: If Richard A. Moore could have confirmed that Bush was definitely in Washington on Oct. 19, 1980, not on a secret mission to Paris, why wasn’t he questioned? Why was the Bush administration so determined to block the House task force from interviewing Moore.

    Moore owed a huge debt to Bush, who had lifted Moore from his Watergate-tainted purgatory in 1989 by appointing him to be U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. Moore would seem to be a friendly witness who would happily want to cover for Bush, if possible.

    Which is why Moore’s silence in 1992 only adds to the mystery. Moore served in Dublin until June 1992, departing the same month as the battle over withholding his identity was playing out in Washington.

    Given Moore’s close call with a criminal prosecution for his role in the Watergate cover-up – he was often in meetings where all the other participants ended up going to jail – he understandably might have been very leery about lying to Congress even to protect another U.S. president and a personal friend, if Bush indeed had snuck off to Paris.

    Another document released to me under my appeal to the National Archives raises further suspicions about Bush’s whereabouts on that Sunday. Undated handwritten notes that I found in the files of one of White House counsel Gray’s assistants, Ronald Von Lembke, indicate that some of the Secret Service records for Oct. 19, 1980, were missing.

    For that date, the notes say, “*NO Residence Report. *0000 [midnight] – 0800 – missing. 0800-1600 – okay. *1600-2400 – missing.” Stars were used to highlight the references to missing material.

    Written in the margin, next to the time references is the name “Potter Stewart,” the late Supreme Court Justice who was another Bush family friend. The reference suggests that the White House counsel’s office was checking on how to bolster Bush’s alibi for Oct. 19, 1980.

    The same notes include a check mark next to the name “Buck Tanis,” suggesting that the author of the notes had contacted Secret Service supervisor Leonard “Buck” Tanis, who was a Bush favorite from his Secret Service detail. Tanis was one of the supervisors for Bush’s Secret Service detail in October 1980.

    Tanis was also the only Secret Service agent on Bush’s detail for Oct. 19, 1980, who claimed to recall another dubious part of Bush’s alibi mentioned in the Secret Service reports, a morning trip to the Chevy Chase Country Club.

    When the redacted Secret Service records were first released in the early 1990s, Bush’s supposed Chevy Chase visit was cited as slam-dunk evidence that Bush couldn’t have gone to Paris.

    Relying on Republican sources, friendly journalists reported that Bush had been playing tennis that morning at the club. But the tennis alibi collapsed when it was discovered that rain had prevented tennis that morning.

    Then, Tanis came forward with another story, that George H.W. and Barbara Bush had brunch at the club with Justice and Mrs. Potter Stewart. By 1992, however, Justice Stewart was dead and Republicans said Mrs. Stewart was in poor health, suffering senility and couldn’t be interviewed.

    So, another Bush alibi couldn’t be checked out – and Tanis’s recollection would have to stand unchallenged.

    However, I learned that reports of Mrs. Stewart’s physical and mental decline were greatly exaggerated. She was going out with a retired CIA official whom I knew. When I called her, she was quite lucid and told me that she and her husband never had brunch with the Bushes at the Chevy Chase club.

    Using the Freedom of Information Act, I also obtained redacted reports from Barbara Bush’s Secret Service detail and they showed her going to the C&O jogging path that morning, not to the Chevy Chase club.

    When I passed on this information to congressional investigators, they interviewed Tanis again – and he backed away from his story of the brunch. He joined the other Secret Service agents in saying he had no specific recollection of Bush’s travels that day.

    The newly released handwritten notes suggest that, at minimum, an official from Bush’s counsel’s office discussed the Potter Stewart alibi with Tanis, thus raising questions about whether Tanis’s initial testimony about the alleged brunch was tainted.

    Bush’s Curious Actions

    With Tanis and his brunch alibi discredited, investigative attention in 1992 turned to the afternoon trip on Oct. 19, 1980. But there again Bush’s alibi proved curious, especially with his “alibi witness,” who we now know was Ambassador to Ireland Richard A. Moore, kept away from the congressional task force.

    All this strange behavior piqued the suspicions of House Foreign Affairs Committee chief counsel R. Spencer Oliver. In a six-page memo, Oliver urged a closer look at Bush’s whereabouts and questioned why the Secret Service was concealing the name of the alibi witness for the afternoon trip.

    “Why did the Secret Service refuse to cooperate on a matter which could have conclusively cleared George Bush of these serious allegations?” Oliver asked. “Was the White House involved in this refusal? Did they order it?”

    Oliver also noted Bush’s odd behavior in raising the October Surprise issue on his own at two news conferences.

    “It can be fairly said that President Bush’s recent outbursts about the October Surprise inquiries and [about] his whereabouts in mid-October of 1980 are disingenuous at best,” wrote Oliver, “since the administration has refused to make available the documents and the witnesses that could finally and conclusively clear Mr. Bush.”

    From the newly released White House documents, it is clear that Oliver’s suspicions were well-founded regarding the involvement of Bush’s White House staff in the decision to conceal the name of his supposed afternoon host.

    Keeping the tough-minded Oliver off the October Surprise investigation also became a high priority for the Republicans. At a midway point in the inquiry when some Democratic task force members asked Oliver to represent them as a staff investigator, Republicans threatened a boycott unless Oliver was barred.

    In another gesture of bipartisanship, Hamilton gave the Republicans the power to veto Oliver’s participation. Denied one of the few Democratic investigators with both the savvy and courage to pursue a serious inquiry, the Democratic members of the task force retreated. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Inside the October Surprise Cover-up” or Secrecy & Privilege.]

    The Case for the Trip

    All this Republican resistance to the October Surprise investigation also must be viewed against the backdrop of significant evidence that Bush did go to Paris and that the Reagan campaign did undercut Carter’s efforts to free the hostages.

    Though some of those suspicions dated back almost to the time the hostages were freed on Jan. 20, 1981, other allegations emerged as the Iran-Contra investigation progressed in the late 1980s. That led PBS “Frontline” to recruit me in 1990 to examine whether the October Surprise case had been a prequel to the Iran-Contra Affair.

    That Frontline documentary, which aired in April 1991, coincided with a New York Times op-ed by former National Security Council aide Gary Sick, giving new momentum and new credibility to the October Surprise allegations.

    As the October Surprise controversy heated up – with the Republicans and Bush allies in the news media waging a fierce counteroffensive – Frontline asked me to stay on the story, which led to another discovery that bolstered the Bush-to-Paris claims.

    Because of the April 1991 documentary, David Henderson, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer, recalled a conversation that he had had with a journalist on Oct. 18, 1980, about Bush flying to Paris that night to meet with Iranians regarding the American hostages.

    Henderson couldn’t remember the reporter’s name but he passed the information on to Sen. Alan Cranston, D-California, whose staff forwarded the letter to me. By cross-checking some other information, we determined that the journalist was John Maclean of the Chicago Tribune, the son of author Norman Maclean who wrote the novel, A River Runs Through It.

    Though John Maclean was not eager to talk with me, he finally agreed and confirmed what Henderson had written in his letter. Maclean said a well-placed Republican source told him in mid-October 1980 about Bush taking a secret trip to Paris to meet with Iranians on the U.S. hostage issue.

    After hearing this news from his source, Maclean passed on the information to Henderson when the two met at Henderson’s Washington home to discuss another matter.

    For his part, Maclean never wrote about the Bush-to-Paris leak because, he told me, a Reagan campaign spokesman officially denied it. As the years passed, the memory of the leak faded for both Henderson and Maclean, until the October Surprise story bubbled to the surface in 1991.

    The significance of the Maclean-Henderson conversation was that it was a piece of information locked in time untainted by later claims and counter-claims about the October Surprise dispute.

    One could not accuse Maclean of concocting the Bush-to-Paris allegation for some ulterior motive, since he hadn’t used it in 1980, nor had he volunteered it a decade later. He only confirmed it – and did so reluctantly.

    French Intelligence

    And, there was other support for the allegations of a Republican-Iranian meeting in Paris.

    David Andelman, the biographer for Count Alexandre deMarenches, then head of France’s Service de Documentation Exterieure et de Contre-Espionage (SDECE), testified to congressional investigators that deMarenches told him that he had helped the Reagan-Bush campaign arrange meetings with Iranians on the hostage issue in summer and fall of 1980, with one meeting in Paris in October.

    Andelman said deMarenches insisted that the secret meetings be kept out of his memoir because the story could damage the reputations of his friends, William Casey and George H.W. Bush.

    The allegations of a Paris meeting also received support from several other sources, including pilot Heinrich Rupp, who said he flew Casey (then Ronald Reagan’s campaign chief and later CIA director) from Washington’s National Airport to Paris on a flight that left very late on a rainy night in mid-October 1980.

    Rupp said that after arriving at LeBourget airport outside Paris, he saw a man resembling Bush on the tarmac.

    The night of Oct. 18 indeed was rainy in the Washington area. And, sign-in sheets at the Reagan-Bush headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, placed Casey within a five-minute drive of National Airport late that evening.

    There were other bits and pieces of corroboration about the Paris meetings.

    A French arms dealer, Nicholas Ignatiew, told me in 1990 that he had checked with his government contacts and was told that Republicans did meet with Iranians in Paris in mid-October 1980.

    A well-connected French investigative reporter Claude Angeli said his sources inside the French secret service confirmed that the service provided “cover” for a meeting between Republicans and Iranians in France on the weekend of Oct. 18-19. German journalist Martin Kilian had received a similar account from a top aide to intelligence chief deMarenches.

    As early as 1987, Iran’s ex-President Bani-Sadr had made his own claims about a Paris meeting, and Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe testified that he was present outside the Paris meeting and saw Bush, Casey and other Americans in attendance.

    Finally, the Russian government sent a report to the House task force, saying that Soviet-era intelligence files contained information about Republicans holding a series of meetings with Iranians in Europe, including one in Paris in October 1980.

    “William Casey, in 1980, met three times with representatives of the Iranian leadership,” the Russian report said. “The meetings took place in Madrid and Paris.”

    At the Paris meeting in October 1980, “former CIA Director George Bush also took part,” the report said. “The representatives of Ronald Reagan and the Iranian leadership discussed the question of possibly delaying the release of 52 hostages from the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran.”

    Requested by Hamilton, who was in charge of the lackadaisical congressional inquiry into the October Surprise mystery in 1992, the Russian report arrived via the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in January 1993. But Hamilton’s task force had already decided to dismiss the October Surprise allegations as lacking solid evidence.

    The Russian report was kept hidden until I discovered it after gaining access to the task force’s raw files. Though the report was addressed to Hamilton, he told me last year that he had not seen the report until I sent him a copy shortly before our interview.

    Lawrence Barcella, the task force’s chief counsel, acknowledged to me that he might not have shown Hamilton the report and may have simply filed it away in boxes of task force records.

    Casey in Spain

    I also discovered in the files at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas, another document that supported allegations that Casey had traveled to Madrid, as Iranian businessman Jamshid Hashemi had claimed. Hashemi testified under oath that Casey met with Iranian emissary Mehdi Karrubi in Madrid, Spain, in late July 1980 to discuss delaying the release of the American hostages until after the presidential election so as not to help President Carter.

    Searching through the archived files at the Bush library, I found a “memorandum for record” dated Nov. 4, 1991, by associate White House counsel Chester Paul Beach Jr.

    Beach reported on a conversation with State Department legal adviser Edwin D. Williamson who said that among the State Department “material potentially relevant to the October Surprise allegations [was] a cable from the Madrid embassy indicating that Bill Casey was in town, for purposes unknown.”

    However, the House task force was apparently never told about this confirmation of Casey’s presence in Madrid and proceeded to reject the Madrid allegations by citing a particularly bizarre alibi for Casey’s whereabouts on the last weekend in July 1980.

    The task force placed Casey at the exclusive all-male retreat at the Bohemian Grove in California although the documentary evidence clearly showed that Casey attended the Grove on the first weekend of August, not the last weekend of July. [For details, see Secrecy & Privilege. For more on Casey’s alleged travels, see Consortiumnews.com’s “October Surprise Evidence Surfaces.”]

    Stranger Than Fiction

    Another stranger-than-fiction twist in this story is the new revelation that a figure from the Watergate cover-up was Bush’s “alibi witness,” although the witness apparently could not be counted on to support Bush’s October Surprise alibi.

    Though Richard A. Moore was not one of the household names from the Watergate cover-up, a review of literature on the scandal reveals that he was a trusted aide to President Nixon and helped formulate both legal and public-relations strategies to fend off the Watergate investigations.

    In The Haldeman Diaries, White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman describes Nixon frequently sending his top aides to consult with Moore about developments in the scandal. At one point, as White House counsel Dean is starting to talk with prosecutors, Haldeman notes that “Moore was very close to Dean, how about having him talk with Dean and see what he has in mind.”

    In Dean’s Blind Ambition, Dean credits Moore with first coming up with the memorable phrase that the Watergate cover-up was becoming “a cancer” on Nixon’s presidency, a metaphor that Dean used in a key confrontation with Nixon and repeated during the Watergate hearings.

    During those hearings, Moore was dispatched by the White House to dispute Dean’s assertion that Nixon was complicit in the cover-up of the June 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters at least as early as that September.

    On July 12, 1973, Moore told the Senate Watergate Committee that “nothing said in my meetings with Mr. Dean or my meetings with the President suggests in any way that before March 21 [1973] the President had known, or that Mr. Dean believed he had known, of any involvement of White House personnel in the bugging or the cover-up.”

    Perhaps because of his status as a lawyer to Nixon, Moore escaped the fate of many other White House insiders who were indicted and prosecuted for false testimony and obstruction of justice.

    Being a Yale alumnus and a friend of the well-connected George H.W. Bush, who was then chairman of the Republican National Committee, probably didn’t hurt either.

    Moore had started his legal career working as a lawyer for the American Broadcasting Company in the 1940s. He was a close friend of Nixon’s Attorney General John N. Mitchell who brought Moore into the Nixon administration as his special assistant. Moore moved over to the White House in 1971 to serve as special counsel to Nixon.

    After leaving the White House, Moore returned to the television industry, becoming a founder and associate producer of “The McLaughlin Group” political chat show.

    In September 1989, President George H.W. Bush named Moore as Ambassador to Ireland, where he stayed until June 1992, when his testimony in another political scandal might have proved very important in either exonerating Bush or exposing a phony cover story that protected Bush’s participation in an operation that bordered on treason.

    Without ever being questioned in the October Surprise mystery, Moore died in Washington on Jan. 27, 1995, at age 81. He succumbed to prostate cancer, according to his daughter Kate L. Moore.

    Posted by R. Wilson | October 1, 2011, 8:33 pm
  4. End of the line for mass metadata collection? Perhaps:

    The New York Times
    Judge Questions Legality of N.S.A. Phone Records

    By CHARLIE SAVAGE
    Published: December 16, 2013

    WASHINGTON — A federal district judge ruled on Monday that the National Security Agency program that is systematically keeping records of all Americans’ phone calls most likely violates the Constitution, describing its technology as “almost Orwellian” and suggesting that James Madison would be “aghast” to learn that the government was encroaching on liberty in such a way.

    Judge Richard J. Leon of the District of Columbia ordered the government to stop collecting data on the personal calls of the two plaintiffs in the case and to destroy the records of their calling history. But the judge, appointed to the bench in 2002 by President George W. Bush, stayed his injunction “in light of the significant national security interests at stake in this case and the novelty of the constitutional issues,” allowing the government time to appeal it, a matter that he said could take at least six months. The case is the first in which a federal judge who is not on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which authorized the once-secret program, has examined the bulk data collection on behalf of someone who is not a criminal defendant.

    The Justice Department has said that 15 separate judges on the surveillance court have held on 35 occasions that the calling data program is legal. It also marks the first successful legal challenge brought against the program since it was revealed in June after leaks by the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden.

    “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary’ invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” Judge Leon wrote in a 68-page ruling. “Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment,” which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

    Andrew Ames, a Justice Department spokesman, said government lawyers were studying the decision, but he added: “We believe the program is constitutional as previous judges have found.”

    In a statement from Moscow, where he has obtained temporary asylum, Mr. Snowden praised the ruling.

    “I acted on my belief that the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs would not withstand a constitutional challenge, and that the American public deserved a chance to see these issues determined by open courts,” Mr. Snowden said in his statement. It was distributed by the journalist Glenn Greenwald, who received leaked documents from Mr. Snowden and who wrote the first article about the bulk data collection. “Today, a secret program authorized by a secret court was, when exposed to the light of day, found to violate Americans’ rights,” the statement said. “It is the first of many.”

    The case was brought by several plaintiffs led by Larry Klayman, a conservative legal activist. Mr. Klayman, who represented himself and the other plaintiffs, said in an interview on Monday that he was seeking to turn the case into a class action on behalf of all Americans. “I’m extremely gratified that Judge Leon had the courage to make this ruling,” he said. “He is an American hero.”

    Mr. Klayman argued that he had legal standing to challenge the program in part because, he contended, the government had sent inexplicable text messages to his clients on his behalf; at a court hearing, he told the judge, “I think they are messing with me.”

    The judge portrayed that claim as “unusual” but looked past it, saying Mr. Klayman and his co-plaintiff instead had standing because it was highly likely, based on the government’s own description of the program as a “comprehensive metadata database,” that the N.S.A. collected data about their phone calls along with everyone else’s.

    Similar legal challenges to the N.S.A. program, including by the American Civil Liberties Union and the advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation, are at earlier stages in the courts. Last month, the Supreme Court declined to hear an unusual challenge to the program by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which had sought to bypass lower courts.

    It will be interesting to see hos the suit progresses, not only because of the larger implication of on mass surveillance but also because Larry Klayman appears to be charging the NSA with sending fake emails to his client as part of some sort of campaign of intimidation. That seems like a pretty big abuse of power too!

    It’s also worth noting that Judge Richard Leon is not unfamiliar with controversial cases involving constitutionally questionable intelligence operations. So this ruling wasn’t entirely surprising but, in some ways, it was actually pretty surprising:

    Consortium News
    Who Is Judge Richard Leon?
    November 9, 2011

    Exclusive: The appointment of federal judges is a key power of the U.S. president. It can reward partisan allies for past services and ensure favorable rulings in the future. Both factors were in play for District Judge Richard Leon who just struck down new cigarette warnings, writes Robert Parry.

    By Robert Parry

    On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon handed the tobacco industry a big victory by blocking a new federal requirement that cigarette packs carry graphic warning labels. Though the ruling may mean illness and premature death for many Americans, it wouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone who knew Leon’s history as a partisan activist.

    Leon was appointed to his lifetime judicial post by George W. Bush in 2002 after Leon had “earned” the gratitude of the Bush Family by protecting its interests as an aggressive and reliable Republican legal apparatchik on Capitol Hill. There, the heavy-set Leon gained a reputation as a partisan bully who made sure politically charged investigations reached a desired outcome, whatever the facts.

    In the 1990s, Leon served as special counsel to the House Banking Committee as it transformed President Bill Clinton’s minor Whitewater real estate deal into a major scandal that eventually led to the House vote to impeach Clinton in 1998 and thus set the stage for Bush’s disputed election victory in 2000.

    However, Leon’s most important work for the Bushes may have come in the 1980s and early 1990s when he helped construct legal justifications for Republican law-breaking and sought to intimidate Iran-Contra-related witnesses who came forward to expose GOP wrongdoing.

    In 1987, when Rep. Dick Cheney, R-Wyoming, was leading the Republican counteroffensive against the Iran-Contra investigation into evidence that President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush had engaged in a wide-ranging conspiracy involving illegal weapons shipments and money transfers, Leon stepped forward as deputy chief counsel on the Republican side.

    Leon worked with Cheney not only in fending off accusations of wrongdoing, but in coming up with a counter-argument that accused Congress of intruding on foreign policy prerogatives of the President.

    “Congressional actions to limit the President in this area … should be reviewed with a considerable degree of skepticism,” the Republican minority report said. “If they interfere with the core presidential foreign policy functions, they should be struck down.”

    In 2005 as vice president, Cheney harkened back to that Iran-Contra minority report in defending George W. Bush’s assertion of unlimited presidential powers during wartime.

    “If you want reference to an obscure text, go look at the minority views that were filed with the Iran-Contra committee,” Cheney told a reporter. Cheney said those old arguments “are very good in laying out a robust view of the president’s prerogatives with respect to the conduct of especially foreign policy and national security matters.”

    So, one could say that Richard Leon was there at the birth of what became George W. Bush’s imperial presidency.

    Cover-up of Crimes

    But Leon’s crucial work went beyond building a legal framework for Republican presidents to ignore the law. More significantly, he conducted cover-ups of their crimes.

    In 1992, when a House task force was examining evidence that Reagan and Bush began their secret contacts with Iran in 1980 while trying to unseat President Jimmy Carter, Leon was the Republican point man to make sure nothing too damaging came out. Leon served as chief minority counsel to the House task force investigating the so-called October Surprise allegations.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 16, 2013, 8:05 pm
  5. The pile of evidence pointing towards Nixon’s treasonous derailment of peace talks with the North Vietnamese in 1968 just got higher:

    Politico
    Yes, Nixon Scuttled the Vietnam Peace Talks

    It’s been rumored for years. Now we have real proof.

    By JOHN ALOYSIUS FARRELL

    June 09, 2014

    Did Richard Nixon’s campaign conspire to scuttle the Vietnam War peace talks on the eve of the 1968 election to capture him the presidency?

    Absolutely, says Tom Charles Huston, the author of a comprehensive, still-secret report he prepared as a White House aide to Nixon. In one of 10 oral histories conducted by the National Archives and opened last week, Huston says “there is no question” that Nixon campaign aides sent a message to the South Vietnamese government, promising better terms if it obstructed the talks, and helped Nixon get elected.

    Nixon’s campaign manager, John Mitchell, “was directly involved,” Huston tells interviewer Timothy Naftali. And while “there is no evidence that I found” that Nixon participated, it is “inconceivable to me,” says Huston, that Mitchell “acted on his own initiative.”

    Huston’s comments—transcribed and publishedon the web site of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California on Wednesday—are the latest twist in a longstanding tale of political skullduggery involving Nixon and his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson. It is a tale that features a secret “X-file,” a mysterious “Dragon Lady” and reports of wiretaps and bugging that has captured the imagination of scholars and conspiracy theorists for half a century.

    Like many of Nixon’s actions, this particular transgression was born of paranoia. As the 1968 election approached, Nixon and his aides feared that Johnson would try to help the Democratic nominee—Vice President Hubert Humphrey—by staging an October surprise. When LBJ announced to the nation, just days before the balloting, that he was calling a halt in the bombing of North Vietnam to help fuel progress in ongoing peace talks, the Republicans thought their fears were realized.

    Anna Chennault, a Republican activist with ties to the South Vietnamese government, sent word to Saigon that it would get better terms if Humphrey lost and Nixon took office, the FBI would discover. The South Vietnamese dragged their feet, infuriating LBJ who, in a taped conversation released by the Johnson presidential library several years ago, can be heard denouncing Nixon for “treason.”

    LBJ ordered the FBI to put Chennault under surveillance and, according to documents at the Johnson library, tracked the machinations of the “Dragon Lady”(as Nixon called her) via intercepted communications at the South Vietnamese embassy. After Nixon won, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover told the new president that Johnson had ordered Nixon’s campaign planes bugged as well.

    Once in office, Nixon ordered his staff to investigate the bombing halt and the allegation his campaign had been bugged. Huston, a dedicated and resourceful young conservative who had worked on the 1968 campaign before joining the White House as a presidential aide, was given the job. But his investigation, and the report he delivered to White House chief of staff H. R. Haldeman in 1970, found that both presidents had cause for embarrassment: LBJ for the surveillance of a presidential candidate from the other party, and Nixon for the role that his campaign played in derailing the peace talks.

    Neither side wanted to push the issue. “I think there was an implicit understanding between two very politically sophisticated people, who had been in the arena for a very long time, to say ‘Hey, look, this thing is over, you know, neither one of us are going to gain anything by stirring up this pot,’” Huston says.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 10, 2014, 6:24 pm
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huston_Plan

    The Huston Plan was a 43-page report and outline of proposed security operations put together by White House aide Tom Charles Huston in 1970.[1] It first came to light during the 1973 Watergate hearings headed by Senator Sam Ervin (a Democrat from North Carolina).

    The impetus for this report stemmed from President Richard Nixon wanting more coordination of domestic intelligence in the area of gathering information about purported ‘left-wing radicals’ and the counterculture-era anti-war movement in general. Huston had been assigned as White House liaison to the Interagency Committee on Intelligence (ICI), a group chaired by J. Edgar Hoover, then Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director. Huston worked closely with William C. Sullivan, Hoover’s assistant, in drawing up the options listed in what eventually became the document known as the Huston Plan.

    Among other things the plan called for domestic burglary, illegal electronic surveillance and opening the mail of domestic “radicals”. At one time it also called for the creation of camps in Western states where anti-war protesters would be detained.

    In mid-July 1970 Nixon ratified the proposals and they were submitted as a document to the directors of the FBI, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA).

    Out of these only Hoover objected to the plan, and gained the support of then Attorney General of the United States John Mitchell to pressure Nixon to rescind the plan. And despite the ultimate decision by the President to revoke the Huston Plan, several of its provisions were implemented anyway.

    After the Huston Plan, the FBI lowered the age of campus informants, thereby expanding surveillance of American college students as sought through the Plan. In 1971, the FBI reinstated its use of mail covers and continued to submit names to the CIA mail program.

    As details of the Huston Plan unfolded during the Watergate Hearings, it came to be seen as a part and parcel of what Attorney General Mitchell referred to as, “White House horrors”. This would include the Plumbers Unit, the proposed fire-bombing of the Brookings Institution, the creation of a White House enemies list, and the use of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to punish those deemed to be enemies.

    The Huston Plan was also investigated by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chaired by Sen. Frank Church in 1976, into activities of the CIA and abuses of domestic intelligence gathering.

    References[edit]1.Jump up ^ America Sinking through a Watergate
    External links[edit]Huston Plan: Hearings before the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Church Committee, U.S. Senate, Sept. 23-25, 1975.
    SUPPLEMENTARY DETAILED STAFF REPORTS ON INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES AND THE RIGHTS OF AMERICANS, published by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
    Interview with Army whistleblower Chris Pyle, American Public Media

    Posted by Swamp | June 10, 2014, 7:30 pm
  7. Check it out! The GOP has found a new way to show the world how much it hates Obama: Open letters to world leaders telling them not to negotiate with the White House:

    Bloomberg News
    Republicans Warn Iran — and Obama — That Deal Won’t Last
    Mar 8, 2015 10:07 PM EDT
    By Josh Rogin

    A group of 47 Republican senators has written an open letter to Iran’s leaders warning them that any nuclear deal they sign with President Barack Obama’s administration won’t last after Obama leaves office.

    Organized by freshman Senator Tom Cotton and signed by the chamber’s entire party leadership as well as potential 2016 presidential contenders Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, the letter is meant not just to discourage the Iranian regime from signing a deal but also to pressure the White House into giving Congress some authority over the process.

    “It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system … Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement,” the senators wrote. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”

    Arms-control advocates and supporters of the negotiations argue that the next president and the next Congress will have a hard time changing or canceling any Iran deal — — which is reportedly near done — especially if it is working reasonably well.

    Many inside the Republican caucus, however, hope that by pointing out the long-term fragility of a deal with no congressional approval — something Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also noted — the Iranian regime might be convinced to think twice. “Iran’s ayatollahs need to know before agreeing to any nuclear deal that … any unilateral executive agreement is one they accept at their own peril,” Cotton told me.

    The issue has already become part of the 2016 GOP campaign. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush came out against the negotiations in a speech at the Chicago Council last month. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry released a video criticizing the negotiations and calling for Congressional oversight. “An arms control agreement that excludes our Congress, damages our security and endangers our allies has to be reconsidered by any future president,” Perry said.

    Republicans also have a new argument to make in asserting their role in the diplomatic process: Vice President Joe Biden similarly insisted — in a letter to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell — on congressional approval for the Moscow Treaty on strategic nuclear weapons with Russia in 2002, when he was head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

    Well, at least they’re out in open about it this time around.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 9, 2015, 8:58 am
  8. Given the ongoing backlash against the GOP open letter warning Iran not to negotiate with the Obama administration, it’s worth recalling that Senator Tom Cotton, the freshman Senator from Arkansas who authored the letter, had a different bold idea for showing the world how ‘tough’ he is on Iran back in 2013 while he was still a congressman. His bold idea? Punish all family members, up to three degrees removed, of someone is charge with violating the Iran sanctions. With or without evidence of wrongdoing:

    Huffington Post
    Tom Cotton ‘Corruption Of Blood’ Bill Would Convict Family Members Of Iran Sanctions Violators

    Zach Carter
    Posted: 05/22/2013 6:36 pm EDT Updated: 05/23/2013 2:52 pm EDT

    WASHINGTON — Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Wednesday offered legislative language that would “automatically” punish family members of people who violate U.S. sanctions against Iran, levying sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

    The provision was introduced as an amendment to the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013 which lays out strong penalties for people who violate human rights, engage in censorship, or commit other abuses associated with the Iranian government.

    Cotton also seeks to punish any family member of those people, “to include a spouse and any relative to the third degree,” including, “parents, children, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grandparents, great grandparents, grandkids, great grandkids,” Cotton said.

    “There would be no investigation,” Cotton said during Wednesday’s markup hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “If the prime malefactor of the family is identified as on the list for sanctions, then everyone within their family would automatically come within the sanctions regime as well. It’d be very hard to demonstrate and investigate to conclusive proof.”

    Article III of the Constitution explicitly bans Congress from punishing treason based on “corruption of blood” — meaning that relatives of those convicted of treason cannot be punished based only on a familial tie.

    Family members of people suspected to be political dissidents in North Korea frequently disappear or are punished by the North Korean government.

    Cotton warned that some wrongdoers in Iran may shift financial assets to family members to avoid forfeiture under U.S. laws, so family members must automatically be guilty of sanction violations as well.

    “Iranian citizens do not have constitutional rights under the United States Constitution,” Cotton said. “I sympathize with their plight if they are harmless, innocent civilians in Iran. I doubt that that is often the case.”

    The Fifth Amendment reads “no person … shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” and makes no distinctions regarding citizenship. In Wong Wing v. United States, the Supreme Court found that noncitizens charged with crimes are protected by the Fifth Amendment, along with the Sixth and 14th Amendments. The case was decided in 1896.

    Several members of the Foreign Affairs Committee acknowledged that stashing assets with family members can be a problem. But they noted that other provisions in the bill would ensnare family members who conspired with those who violate the sanctions. Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) suggested that Cotton withdraw his amendment and narrow its language.

    After some back-and-forth with Grayson and Royce, Cotton relented and withdrew the amendment.

    Aha.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 10, 2015, 12:43 pm

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