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FTR #489 2nd Interview with Robert Parry

Record­ed Decem­ber 5, 2004

High­light­ing Robert Parry’s new book Secre­cy and Priv­i­lege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Water­gate to Iraq [2], 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]

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 [3]. 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 [4], 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 [3], 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 [5], avail­able from Spit­fire. For more about the Octo­ber Sur­prise, see—among oth­er pro­grams—RFA#31 [5], avail­able from Spit­fire, as well as FTR#’s 360, 430, 449, 485 [6].) “ . . . 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 [6].) “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.)