Robert Parry: 1980 CIA-Neocon-Israeli Treachery Re Carter/Reagan Election & the Prolonging of Iran Hostage Captivity
Robert Parry maintains: "history must finally confront the troubling impression that remains: that disgruntled elements of the CIA and Israel's Likud hardliners teamed up to remove a U.S. president from office." Parry goes on.
To accept that scenario would mean that two of the great fears of American democracy had come true – George Washington’s warning against the dangers of “entangling alliances” and Harry Truman’s concern that the clandestine operations of the CIA had the makings of an “American Gestapo.”
Robert Parry then speculates what might have happened if Carter not Reagan had won the presidential election in 1980:
...If Carter had freed the hostages and won a second term, the United States might have continued on a path toward alternative energy, the federal deficit would not have soared, and deregulation of corporations would not have opened the environment and the financial sector to such dangers.
Further, the United States might not have embarked on a massive military buildup or engaged in the aggressive intelligence operations that went with it. And, Israel might have been pushed into an equitable peace with its Palestinian neighbors three decades ago, rather than pursuing a settlement policy that now makes such an agreement close to impossible.
Possibly even more important, if the sabotaging of Carter’s reelection in 1980 had failed or at least if it had been exposed in the 1990s, the United States might now enjoy a much healthier democracy – based on hard truths, not comforting illusions.
Parry acknowledges that many Americans seem to underestimate Carter's strengths when he was president, and that many Washington insiders still view him with disdain. Parry points out the high regard the mainstream media has for Reagan (he cites Chris Matthews calling him "one of the all time greats!").
In the Obama-world of "looking forward" Parry makes a very compelling case to look backwards and see when and where American leadership seriously began to go off the rails in terms of legal and moral principles.
Parry claims between the CIA and the Republicans, very hungry for political power during Carter's first term, a very dangerous cronyism developed.
Inside the CIA, Carter and his CIA Director Stansfield Turner were blamed for firing many of the free-wheeling covert operatives from the Vietnam era, for ousting legendary spymaster Ted Shackley, and for failing to protect longtime U.S. allies (and friends of the CIA), such as Iran’s Shah and Nicaragua’s dictator Anastasio Somoza.
Casting off their traditional cloak of non-partisanship and anonymity, they were volunteering as foot soldiers in Bush’s campaign.
Bill Colby, Bush’s predecessor as CIA director, said Bush “had a flood of people from the CIA who joined his supporters. They were retirees devoted to him for what he had done” in defending the spy agency in 1976 when the CIA came under heavy criticism for spying on Americans, assassination plots and other abuses.
Reagan’s foreign policy adviser Richard Allen described the group working on the Bush campaign as a “plane load of disgruntled former CIA” officers who were “playing cops and robbers.”
Besides the ex-CIA personnel who joined the Bush campaign, other pro-Bush intelligence officers remained inside the CIA while making clear their political preference. “The seventh floor of Langley was plastered with ‘Bush for President’ signs,” said senior CIA analyst George Carver, referring to the floor that housed senior CIA officials.
Carter administration officials also grew concerned about the deep personal ties between the former CIA officers in Bush’s campaign and active-duty CIA personnel who continued to hold sensitive jobs under Carter.
One CIA dissident's opinion of Carter:
As for the CIA Old Boys, legendary CIA officer Miles Copeland told me that “the CIA within the CIA” – the inner-most circle of powerful intelligence figures who felt they understood best the strategic needs of the United States – believed Carter and his naïve faith in American democratic ideals represented a grave threat to the nation.
“Carter really believed in all the principles that we talk about in the West,” Copeland said, shaking his mane of white hair. “As smart as Carter is, he did believe in Mom, apple pie and the corner drug store. And those things that are good in America are good everywhere else. …
“Carter, I say, was not a stupid man,” Copeland said, adding that Carter had an even worse flaw: “He was a principled man.”
In a 1990 interview, Copeland told me that “the way we saw Washington at that time was that the struggle was really not between the Left and the Right, the liberals and the conservatives, as between the Utopians and the realists, the pragmatists.
“Carter was a Utopian. He believed, honestly, that you must do the right thing and take your chance on the consequences. He told me that. He literally believed that.” Copeland’s deep Southern accent spit out the words with a mixture of amazement and disgust.
Parry on Carter's Israeli opposition:
As for Israel, Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin was furious over Carter’s high-handed actions at Camp David in 1978 forcing Israel to trade the occupied Sinai to Egypt for a peace deal. Begin feared that Carter would use his second term to bully Israel into accepting a Palestinian state on West Bank lands that Likud considered part of Israel’s divinely granted territory.
Former Mossad and Foreign Ministry official David Kimche described Begin’s attitude in his 1991 book, The Last Option, saying that Israeli officials had gotten wind of “collusion” between Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat “to force Israel to abandon her refusal to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Kimche continued, “This plan – prepared behind Israel’s back and without her knowledge – must rank as a unique attempt in United States’s diplomatic history of short-changing a friend and ally by deceit and manipulation.”
However, Begin recognized that the scheme required Carter winning a second term in 1980 when, Kimche wrote, “he would be free to compel Israel to accept a settlement of the Palestinian problem on his and Egyptian terms, without having to fear the backlash of the American Jewish lobby.”
In his 1992 memoir, Profits of War, Ari Ben-Menashe, an Israeli military intelligence officer who worked with Likud, agreed that Begin and other Likud leaders held Carter in contempt.
“Begin loathed Carter for the peace agreement forced upon him at Camp David,” Ben-Menashe wrote. “As Begin saw it, the agreement took away Sinai from Israel, did not create a comprehensive peace, and left the Palestinian issue hanging on Israel’s back.”
So, in order to buy time for Israel to “change the facts on the ground” by moving Jewish settlers into the West Bank, Begin felt Carter’s reelection had to be prevented. A different president also presumably would give Israel a freer hand to deal with problems on its northern border with Lebanon.
It is probable that treasonous lines were crossed for the "vital interests" of the allied CIA, Republicans and Israel. Especially from new evidence unearthed by Robert Parry, interestingly submitted by Russia. A report unbelievably overlooked (neocon cronyism most likely kept it out of the hands of the chairman, Lee Hamilton) during the original investigation of the "October Surprise". The Russian report offers abundant evidence of clandestine Republican and Israeli deal-making meetings with Iranians occurring in Europe during the Fall of 1980. Meetings treasonously at cross-purposes to President Carter's efforts to free the hostages.
One of Parry's sources:
Former Israeli intelligence officer Ben-Menashe, in his book and in sworn testimony, said the ultimately successful channel was one involving both former and current CIA officers, working with French intelligence for the security of a final meeting in Paris and with Israelis who were given the task of delivering the payoff in weapons shipments and money to Iran.
The key meeting allegedly occurred on the weekend of Oct. 18-19, 1980, between high-level representatives of the Republican team and the Iranians. Ben-Menashe said he was part of a six-member Israeli support delegation for the meeting at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.
In his memoir, Ben-Menashe said he recognized several Americans, including Republican congressional aide Robert McFarlane and CIA officers Robert Gates (who had served on Carter’s NSC staff and was then CIA Director Turner’s executive assistant), Donald Gregg (another CIA designee to Carter’s NSC) and George Cave (the agency’s Iran expert).
Ben-Menashe said Iranian cleric Mehdi Karrubi, then a top foreign policy aide to Ayatollah Khomeini, arrived and walked into a conference room.
“A few minutes later George Bush, with the wispy-haired William Casey in front of him, stepped out of the elevator. He smiled, said hello to everyone, and, like Karrubi, hurried into the conference room,” Ben-Menashe wrote.
Ben-Menashe said the Paris meetings served to finalize a previously outlined agreement calling for release of the 52 hostages in exchange for $52 million, guarantees of arms sales for Iran, and unfreezing of Iranian monies in U.S. banks. The timing, however, was changed, he said, to coincide with Reagan’s expected Inauguration on Jan. 20, 1981.
Though the alleged participants have denied taking part in such a meeting, the alibis cited by the Americans have proved porous. ...
Parry reveals that even an "official" Iranian recruit for Carter was also double dealing.
Jamshid Hashemi, an Iranian businessman who was recruited by the CIA in January 1980 along with his brother Cyrus, said that in spring 1980, he encountered Donald Gregg, the CIA officer serving on Carter’s National Security Council staff, at Cyrus’s Manhattan office.
Jamshid Hashemi said his brother Cyrus was playing a double game, officially helping the Carter administration on the hostage crisis but privately collaborating with the Republicans.
Of course these high-handed Republican committers of treason, while working fast and furiously to sabotage Carter's release of the hostages, followed the standard Republican playbook of hypocrisy -- accuse the other guy of doing what you yourself are doing! Parry:
However, still sensing a political danger if Carter got the Iranians to change their minds, the Republicans opened the final full month of the campaign by trying to make Carter’s hostage talks look like a cynical ploy to influence the election’s outcome.
On Oct. 2, Republican vice-presidential candidate Bush brought up the issue with a group of reporters: “One thing that’s at the back of everybody’s mind is, ‘What can Carter do that is so sensational and so flamboyant, if you will, on his side to pull off an October Surprise?’ And everybody kind of speculates about it, but there’s not a darn thing we can do about it, nor is there any strategy we can do except possibly have it discounted.”
According to Parry:
In the mid-1980s, many of the same October Surprise actors became figures in the Iran-Contra scandal, another secret arms-for-hostages scheme with Iran that was revealed in late 1986, despite White House denials.
According to official Iran-Contra investigations, the plot to sell U.S. weapons to Iran for its help in freeing American hostages then held in Lebanon involved Cyrus Hashemi, John Shaheen, Theodore Shackley, William Casey, Donald Gregg, Robert Gates, Robert McFarlane, George Cave, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
In the months and the years that followed, many of the key figures in the October Surprise mystery saw their career paths veer steeply upward.
Besides Casey's appointment to head the CIA, Gregg became Vice President Bush’s national security adviser. Robert McFarlane later became Reagan’s NSC adviser. Though relatively young, Robert Gates vaulted up the CIA’s career ladder, becoming head of the analytical division and then deputy director. (He is now Barack Obama’s Secretary of Defense.)
As for Israel and Iran, the arms network flowed with weapons to Iran and millions of dollars in profits back to Israel, with some of the money going build new settlements in the West Bank. In summer 1981, this hidden Israeli-Iranian pipeline slipped briefly into public view.
Did CIA dissidents, Republican neocons and Israel subvert a sitting U.S. President to protect and promote their own "vital interests"? Did they callously extend the captivity of the 52 hostages (to a grand total of 444 days) for political advantage? It certainly is consistent with their pattern since then. Look at all the injustices they are continuing to perpetrate for political advantage! Look at all the Republicans, the CIA and Israel have gleaned from their aggressive amorality!
Carter’s inability to resolve that hostage crisis did set the stage for Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory in November 1980 as American voters reacted to the long-running hostage humiliation by turning to a candidate they believed would be a tougher player on the international stage.
Reagan’s macho image was reinforced when the Iranians released the hostages immediately after he was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 1981, ending the 444-day standoff.
The coincidence of timing, which Reagan’s supporters cited as proof that foreign enemies feared the new president, gave momentum to Reagan’s larger agenda, including sweeping tax cuts tilted toward the wealthy, reduced government regulation of corporations, and renewed reliance on fossil fuels. (Carter’s solar panels were pointedly dismantled from the White House roof.)
Reagan’s victory also was great news for CIA cold-warriors who were rewarded with the choice of World War II spymaster (and dedicated cold-warrior) William Casey to be CIA director. Casey then purged CIA analysts who were detecting a declining Soviet Union that desired détente and replaced them with people like the young and ambitious Robert Gates, who agreed that the Soviets were on the march and that the United States needed a massive military expansion to counter them.
Reagan romped to victory in a landslide, winning 44 states and bringing with him a Republican Senate. Among the Democrat casualties were key figures in efforts to rein in the powers of the imperial presidency – and of the CIA – including Frank Church of Idaho, Birch Bayh of Indiana and George McGovern of South Dakota.
By the time the October Surprise case was gaining traction in 1991, neoconservatives had established themselves as important gatekeepers in the U.S. news media. Controversies that threatened to put Israel and Likud in a negative light were hotly contested.
Neoconservatives are still the gatekeepers in the U.S. news media. Just watch Meet the Press on Sundays! Will Robert Parry's dogged and brilliant investigation of this case be distributed and taken seriously, or despite the strong evidence circumstantially, the obvious sloppy, crony-protective, shallow exploration of these events shortly after they were alleged to have occurred and the abundant hearsay evidence leaking out more and more through the decades, will it all be allowed to fall back down the American memory hole?
The colossal depths of amorality – of global exploitation -- our leadership is willing to sink to for power and for greed!
Last week I was stunned to witness how callously the Senate Republicans obstructed the continuation of desperately needed unemployment benefits to millions of Americans. Not just out of their ordinary bottom-feeding, scum sucking, self-aggrandizing, lobbied narcissism (matched as much by the other legacy party), but because they are shamelessly and callously manipulating the welfare of citizens for a big win in the mid-term elections. Wow. If people suffer greatly under Obama -- the more suffering the better -- they will rebound to the Republicans come election. The War on Empathy remains alive and well among the political ruling classes.
Apparently throwing the country under the bus for the big political win has been going on seriously and horrifyingly -- even with international players -- for some time as Robert Parry reveals.
Then there is Israel. Look at what it has been capable of. Murder re-labeled "self-defense" by its propagandists. Cheered on by its American Congressional cronies.
Look at the bloodbaths in the Middle East. Raise your hands if you actually believe over a million have died because the United States is innocently protecting itself. If this has all been about 9/11 self-protection.
Political gamesmanship uber alles. Winning is everything. Just avoid the eleventh commandment, "Don't get caught" Another rule, "ends justifies the means." Finally, "might makes right." Executive imperialism trumps the law! Carter and his integrity? He apparently didn't have a chance. He just wasn't pragmatic enough. Right, Barack?
What a dirty little codependent secret the CIA and Reagan neocons share with Israel over that Carter/Reagan election.
So many of us ranted about the colossal hubris of G.W. Bush and his cabal that has brought such devastation to the United States and world. But, just look at the treasonous shenanigans of his father, Reagan and W's other neocon role models. Shamelessly and effortlessly making deals with foreign powers to thwart efforts at hostage rescue by a sitting President!!! HELLO, AMERICA? Not to mention Ronald Reagan as personal hero of Obama. Robert Gates, front and center, Secretary of Defense for Obama. Probable treason no biggie? Whistleblowers and citizens sending deservedly irate emails, that is where Obama's justice department aims its sites. And at humanitarian activists. They are the real enemies of our ruling class, apparently.
There doesn't seem any let up to the horror. To what Maddow calls this "ethical freak show" that is America. America, along with the rest of the planet, is being decimated by a psychopathic patriarchy.
I do hope, pray and believe truth ultimately will out, thanks to people like Robert Parry. It better "will out". In the immortal words of George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."