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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Secrecy and Privilege

Another file contained a summary of all "secret" and "top secret" State Department records on arms sales to iran in the 1980s. One "top secret/sensitive" document recounted private meetings that Secretary of State Alexander Haig had with Middle Eastern leaders during a trip in May 1981. Haig wrote that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Saudi Prince Fahd told him that "Iran is receiving military spares for U.S. equipment from Israel." Haig added that, "It was also interesting to confirm that President Carter gave the Iraqis a green light to launch the war against Iran through Fahd."
That's just one of thousands of scandalous paragraphs from this book:

The paragraph above is from pages 180 and 181 of the book, which happens to be exactly how far I've gotten in reading it. Click on the picture of the cover above to find out more about the book or to order it. So far, I've learned about George H.W. Bush's work in helping the Repugs to put Watergate behind them, his ties to the CIA, and plenty about the October Surprise scandal from the 1980 election. I've learned how "Democrat" Lee Hamilton was heavily involved in "investigating" both the October Surprise allegations and Iran-Contra, and did his best to be "bipartisan" and extremely accomodating to the Repugs in keeping those scandals from having any serious impact on the Repugs or how they do business. Really warms my heart to think that this sleazebag was co-chair of the 9/11 commission.

I think about the Haig quote above, where he says that he confirmed that Jimmy Carter gave Saddam a green light to attack Iran. Combine that with the message that Bush Sr. and James Baker sent Saddam about Iraq's quarrel with Kuwait being of no concern to the U.S. a week before he invaded Kuwait, and you'll see that yet another excuse for the latest war gets much weaker. How many times have you heard one of the Bushies say "He attacked his neighbors." Well, he did. Twice. Iran in 1979 and Kuwait in 1990. Both times with a "green light" from the U.S.

From the book, I've learned that not only did the U.S. try to trade arms for hostages in 1980, but the two major parties were basically in a bidding war to see who could promise Iran the most weaponry. Jimmy Carter wanted a deal so he could get the hostages being held in Iran released before the election--the "October surprise" that might have enabled him to beat Reagan. The Repugs were apparently, at least according to this book and several other accounts I've read, trying to outbid Carter, promising the Iranians even more weaponry if they delayed the release of the hostages until after the election. Carter's attempt was sleazy, since it was covert and Iran was on the list of terror-supporting nations that we weren't supposed to be selling arms to. It was also sleazy because the only reason that Iran was listening to offers from the "Great Satan" was on account of the war with Iraq that Carter had encouraged Saddam to launch (Iran desperately needed spare parts and ammunition for its large arsenal of American fighter planes and other weaponry). But the Reagan campaign's offers, apparently spearheaded by campaign manager and future CIA director Bill Casey and VP candidate George H.W. Bush, were treason, since only the official U.S. government is supposed to conduct foreign policy, and because it led to the hostages being held for another four months.

And, of course, Carter's October Surprise was thwarted, with the hostages released minutes after Reagan's inauguration. The illegal and secret flow of American weapons and parts to Iran, laundered through Israel, followed shortly, and continued throughout the 1980's. Its later stages were known by the name "Iran-Contra." (American weaponry and assistance were going to the other side of that war, Iraq, at the same time.) And of course the treason of the Reagan-Bush campaign led to their victory in 1980, cursing us with the slide towards the fascist right that started then and continues today.