Chapter -XVIII- Iran- Contra
``What pleases the prince has the force of law.''
``As long as the police carries out the will of the leadership, it
is acting legally.''
-- Gestapo officer Werner Best@s1
We cannot provide here a complete overview of the Iran-Contra affair. We shall attempt, rather, to give an account of George Bush's decisive, central role in those events, which occurred during his vice-presidency and spilled over into his presidency. The principal elements of scandal in Iran-Contra may be reduced to the following points:
1) the secret arming of the Khomeini regime in Iran by the U.S. government, during an official U.S.-decreed arms embargo against Iran, while the U.S. publicly denounced the recipients of its secret deliveries as terrorists and kidnappers--a policy initiated under the Jimmy Carter presidency and accelerated by the Reagan-Bush administration;
2) the Reagan-Bush administration's secret arming of its `` Contras '' for war against the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua, while such aid was explicitly prohibited under U.S. law;
3) the use of communist and terrorist enemies--often armed directly by the Anglo-Americans--to justify a police state and covert, oligarchical rule at home;
4) paying for and protecting the gun-running projects with drug- smuggling, embezzlement, theft by diversion from authorized U.S. programs, and the `` silencing '' of both opponents and knowledgeable participants in the schemes; and
5) the continual, routine perjury and deception of the public by government officials pretending to have no knowledge of these activities; and the routine acquiescence in that deception by Congressmen too frightened to oppose it.
When the scandal broke, in late 1986 and early 1987, George Bush maintained
that he knew nothing about these illegal activities; that other government
officials involved in them had kept him in the dark; that he had attended
no important meetings where these subjects were under discussion. Since
that time, many once- classified documents have come to light, which suggest
that Bush organized and supervised many, or most, of the criminal aspects
of the Iran-Contra adventures. The most significant events relevant to
George Bush's role are presented here in the format of a chronology. At
the end of the chronology, parts of the testimony of George Bush's loyal
assistant Donald Gregg will be provided, to allow for a comparison of the
documented events with the Bush camp's account of things. Over the time
period covered, the reader will observe the emergence of new structures
in the U.S. government:
The `` Operations Sub-Group '' (January 20, 1986). These were among the official, secret structures of the U.S. government created from 1982 through 1986. Other structures, whose existence has not yet come to light, may also have been created--or may have persisted from an earlier time. Nothing of this is to be found in the United States Constitution. All of these structures revolved around the secret command role of the then-Vice President, George Bush. The propaganda given out to justify these changes in government has stressed the need for secrecy to carry out necessary covert acts against enemies of the nation (or of its leaders). Certainly, a military command will act secretly in war, and will protect secrets of its vulnerable capabilities. But the Bush apparatus, within and behind the government, was formed to carry out covert policies: to make war when the constitutional government had decided not to make war; to support enemies of the nation (terrorists and drug-runners) who are the friends or agents of the secret government. In the period of the chronology, there are a number of meetings of public officials-- secret meetings. Who really made the policies, which were then well or poorly executed by the covert action structure? By looking at the scant information that has come to light on these meetings, we may reach some conclusions about who advocated certain policy choices; but we have not then learned much about the actual origin of the policies that were being carried out. This is the rule of an oligarchy whose members are unknown to the public, an oligarchy which is bound by no known laws.
Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as U.S. President.
Vice President George Bush was named the leader of the United States `` crisis management '' staff, `` as a part of the National Security Council system. ''
The new President was shot in an attempted assassination. He survived his wounds, so Vice President Bush did not succeed to the presidency.
Bush's position as chief of all covert action and de facto head of U.S. intelligence--in a sense, the acting President--was formalized in a secret memorandum. The memo explained that `` National Security Decision Directive 3, Crisis Management, establishes the Special Situation Group (SSG), chaired by the Vice President. The SSG is charged ... with formulating plans in anticipation of crises. '' It is most astonishing that, in all of the reports, articles and books about the Iran-Contra covert actions, the existence of Bush's SSG has received no significant attention. Yet its importance in the management of those covert actions is obvious and unmistakable, as soon as an investigative light is thrown upon it. The memo in question also announced the birth of another organization, the Standing Crisis Pre-Planning Group (CPPG), which was to work as an intelligence-gathering agency for Bush and his SSG. This new subordinate group, consisting of representatives of Vice President Bush, National Security Council (NSC) staff members, the CIA, the military and the State Department, was to `` meet periodically in the White House Situation Room.... '' They were to identify areas of potential crisis and `` [p]resent ... plans and policy options to the SSG '' under Chairman Bush. And they were to provide to Bush and his assistants, `` as crises develop, alternative plans, '' `` action/options '' and `` coordinated implementation plans '' to resolve the `` crises. '' Finally, the subordinate group was to give to Chairman Bush and his assistants `` recommended security, cover, and media plans that will enhance the likelihood of successful execution. '' It was announced that the CPPG would meet for the first time on May 20, 1982, and that agencies were to `` provide the name of their CPPG representative to Oliver North, NSC staff.... '' The memo was signed `` for the President '' by Reagan's national security adviser, William P. Clark. It was declassified during the congressional Iran-Contra hearings.@s2
Vice President Bush hired Donald P. Gregg as his principal adviser on national security affairs. Gregg now officially retired from the Central Intelligence Agency.
Donald Gregg brought along into the Vice President's office his old relationship with mid-level CIA assassinations manager Felix I. Rodriguez. Gregg had been Rodriguez's boss in Vietnam. Donald Gregg worked under Bush in Washington from 1976--when Bush was CIA Director--through the later 1970s, when the Bush clique was at war with President Carter and his CIA Director, Stansfield Turner. Gregg was detailed to work at the National Security Council between 1979 and 1982. From 1976 right up through that NSC assignment, CIA officer Gregg saw CIA agent Rodriguez regularly. Both men were intensely loyal to Bush.@s3 Their continuing collaboration was crucial to Vice President Bush's organization of covert action. Rodriguez was now to operate out of the Vice President's office.
The first `` Boland Amendment '' became law: `` None of the funds provided in this Act [the Defense Appropriations Bill] may be used by the Central Intelligence Agency or the Department of Defense to furnish military equipment, military training or advice, or other support for military activities, to any group or individual ... for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua. '' `` Boland I, '' as it was called, remained in effect until Oct. 3, 1984, when it was superseded by a stronger prohibition known as `` Boland II. ''@s4
Fawn Hall joined Oliver North as his assistant. Ms. Hall reported that she worked with North on the development of a secret `` Crisis Management Center. '' Lt. Colonel North, an employee of the National Security Council, is seen here managing a new structure within the Bush-directed SSG/CPPG arrangements of 1981- 82.@s5
In the spring of 1983, the National Security Council established an office of `` Public Diplomacy '' to propagandize in favor of and run cover for the Iran-Contra operations, and to coordinate published attacks on opponents of the program. Former CIA Director of Propaganda Walter Raymond was put in charge of the effort. The unit was to work with domestic and international news media, as well as private foundations. The Bush family-affiliated Smith Richardson Foundation was part of a National Security Council `` private donors' steering committee '' charged with coordinating this propaganda effort. A March 3, 1983 memorandum from Walter Raymond to then-NSC Director William Clark, provided details of the program: ``
As you will remember you and I briefly mentioned to the President when we briefed him on the N[ational] S[ecurity] D[ecision] D[irective] on public diplomacy that we would like to get together with some potential donors at a later date....
``To accomplish these objectives Charlie [United States Information Agency Director Charles Z. Wick] has had two lengthy meetings with a group of people representing the private sector. This group had included principally program directors rather than funders. The group was largely pulled together by Frank Barnett, Dan McMichael (Dick [Richard Mellon] Scaife's man), Mike Joyce (Olin Foundation), Les Lenkowsky (Smith Richardson Foundation) plus Leonard Sussman and Leo Cherne of Freedom House. A number of others including Roy Godson have also participated. '' [Everything above in parentheses is in the original].@s6
Elsewhere, Raymond described Cherne and Godson as the coordinators of this group. Frank Barnett was the director of the Bush family's National Strategy Information Center, for which Godson was the Washington, D.C. director. Barnett had been the project director of the Smith Richardson Foundation prior to being assigned to that post. The Smith Richardson Foundation has sunk millions of dollars into the Iran-Contra projects. Some Smith Richardson grantees, receiving money since the establishment of the National Security Council's ``private steering committee'' (according to the foundation's annual reports) include the following:
Professional assassinations manager Felix I. Rodriguez met with Bush aide Donald P. Gregg, officially and secretly, at the White House. Gregg then recommended to National Security Council adviser Robert `` Bud '' McFarlane a plan for El Salvador-based military attacks on a target area of Central American nations including Nicaragua. Gregg's March 17, 1983 memo to McFarlane said: `` The attached plan, written in March of last year, grew out of two experiences: ``--Anti-Vietcong operations run under my direction in III Corps Vietnam from 1970-1972. These operations [see below], based on ... a small elite force ... produced very favorable results. ``--Rudy Enders, who is now in charge of what is left of the para-military capability of the CIA, went to El Salvador in 1981 to do a survey and develop plans for effective anti-guerrilla operations. He came back and endorsed the attached plan. (I should add that Enders and Felix Rodriguez, who wrote the attached plan, both worked for me in Vietnam and carried out the actual operations outlined above.) ``This plan encountered opposition and skepticism from the U.S. military.... ``I believe the plan can work based on my experience in Vietnam....''@s7 Three years later, Bush agent Rodriguez would be publicly exposed as the supervisor of the covert Central American network illegally supplying arms to the Contras; that exposure of Rodriguez would begin the explosive public phase of the ``Iran-Contra scandal.'' Rodriguez's uncle had been Cuba's public works minister under Fulgencio Batista, and his family fled Castro's 1959 revolution. Felix Rodriguez joined the CIA, and was posted to the CIA's notorious Miami Station in the early 1960s. The Ted Shackley-E. Howard Hunt organization there, assisted by Meyer Lansky's and Santos Trafficante's mafiosi, trained Rodriguez and other Cubans in the arts of murder and sabotage. Rodriguez and his fellow CIA trainees took part in numerous terror raids against Castro's Cuba. Felix Rodriguez recounted his early adventures in gun-running under false pretexts in a ghost-written book, Shadow Warrior:
Just around the time President Kennedy was assassinated, I left for Central America. I spent almost two years in Nicaragua, running the communications network for [our enterprise].... [O]ur arms cache was in Costa Rica. The funding for the project came from the CIA, but the money's origin was hidden through the use of a cover corporation, a company called Maritima BAM, which was [Manuel] Artim's initials spelled backwards. Periodically, deposits of hundreds of thousands of dollars would be made in Maritima BAM's accounts, and disbursed by Cuban corporation officers. The U.S. government had the deniability it wanted; we got the money we needed.... In fact, what we did in Nicaragua twenty-five years ago has some pretty close parallels to the Contra operation today.@s8
Rodriguez followed his CIA boss Ted Shackley to Southeast Asia in 1970. Shackley and Donald Gregg put Rodriguez into the huge assassination and dope business which Shackley and his colleagues ran during the Indochina war; this bunch became the heart of the ``Enterprise'' that went into action 15 to 20 years later in Iran- Contra. Shackley funded opium-growing Meo tribesmen in murder, and used the dope proceeds in turn to fund his hit squads. He formed the Military Assistance Group-Special Operations Group (MAG-SOG) political murder unit; Gen. John K. Singlaub was a commander of MAG- SOG; Oliver North and Richard Secord were officers of the unit. By 1971, the Shackley group had killed about 100,000 civilians in Southeast Asia as part of the CIA's Operation Phoenix. After Vietnam, Felix Rodriguez went back to Latin American CIA operations, while other parts of the Shackley organization went on to drug- selling and gun-running in the Middle East. By 1983, both the Mideast Shackley group and the self-styled ``Shadow Warrior,'' Felix Rodriguez, were attached to the shadow commander-in-chief, George Bush.
Secretary of State George Shultz wrote a memorandum for President Reagan, trying to stop George Bush from running Central American operations for the U.S. government. Shultz included a draft National Security Decision Directive for the President to sign, and an organizational chart (`` Proposed Structure '') showing Shultz's proposal for the line of authority--from the President and his NSC, through Secretary of State Shultz and his assistant secretary, down to an interagency group. The last line of the Shultz memo says bluntly what role is reserved for the Bush-supervised CPPG: ``The Crisis Pre-Planning Group is relieved of its assignments in this area.'' Back came a memorandum for The Honorable George P. Shultz, on a White House letterhead but bearing no signature, saying no to Shultz: ``The institutional arrangements established in NSDD-2 are, I believe, appropriate to fulfill [our national security requirements in Central America]....'' With the put-down is a chart headlined ``NSDD-2 Structure for Central America.'' At the top is the President; just below is a complex of Bush's SSG and CPPG as managers of the NSC; then below that is the Secretary of State, and below him various agencies and interagency groups.@s9
Kenneth De Graffenreid, new manager of the Intelligence Directorate of the National Security Council, sent a secret memo to George Bush's aide, Admiral Daniel Murphy:
`` ... Bud McFarlane has asked that I meet with you today, if possible, to review procedures for obtaining the Vice President's comments and concurrence on all N[ational] S[ecurity] C[ouncil] P[lanning G[roup] covert action and MONs. ''@s1@s0
The U.S. invasion of the Caribbean island-nation of Grenada was decided upon in a secret meeting of the metagovernment--the National Security State--under the leadership of George Bush. National Security Council operative Constantine Menges, a stalwart participant in these events, described the action for posterity:
My job that afternoon was to write the background memorandum that would be used by the vice president, who in his role as ``crisis manager'' would chair this first NSC meeting on the [Grenada] issue.... [F]ortunately I had help from Oliver North, who in his nearly three years with NSC had become expert in the memo formats and formal procedures. After the morning CPPG meeting, North had begun to get interested in Grenada.... Shortly before 6:00 P.M., the participants began to arrive: Vice President Bush, [Secretary of Defense Caspar] Weinberger, [Attorney General Edwin] Meese, J[oint] C[hiefs of] S[taff] Chairman General Vessey, acting CIA Director McMahon, [State Dept. officer Lawrence] Eagleburger, ... North and myself. We all went to the Situation Room in the White House. President Reagan was travelling, as were [CIA Director] Bill Casey and Jeane Kirkpatrick.... Vice President Bush sat in the president's chair.
Menges continued: ``... A factual update was the first order of business. Then the discussion moved to the availability of military forces and how long it would take to ready them. The objective, right from the beginning, was to plan a rescue [of American students detained on Grenada] that would guarantee quick success, but with a minimum of casualties....'' ``The first suggested presidential decision was to prepare for possible military action by shifting navy ships, which were taking a marine unit to rotate forces in Lebanon, plus other naval units, toward Grenada. ``Secrecy was imperative.... As part of this plan, there would be no change in the schedule of the top man. President Reagan ... would travel to Augusta, Georgia, for a golf weekend. Secretary of State Shultz would go too....'' Work now proceeded on detailed action plans, under the guidance of the Vice President's Special Situation Group. ``Late Friday afternoon [Oct. 21] ... the CPPG ... [met] in room 208.... Now the tone of our discussions had shifted from whether we would act to how this could be accomplished.... ''[The] most secure means [were to] be used to order U.S. ships to change course ... toward Grenada. Nevertheless, ABC news had learned about this and was broadcasting it.''
Thus, the course of action decided upon without the President was ``leaked'' to the news media, and became a fait-accompli. Menges's memo continues:
It pleased me to see that now our government was working as a team.... That evening Ollie North and I worked together ... writing the background and decision memoranda. Early in the evening [NSC officer Admiral John] Poindexter reviewed our first draft and made a few minor revisions. Then the Grenada memoranda were sent to the President, Shultz and McFarlane at the golf course in Georgia.... Shortly before 9:00 A.M. [Oct. 22], members of the foreign policy cabinet [sic!] began arriving at the White House--all out of sight of reporters. The participants included Weinberger, Vessey, and Fred Ikle from Defense; Eagleburger and Motley from State; McMahon and an operations officer from CIA; and Poindexter, North and myself from NSC. Vice President Bush chaired the Washington group. All participants were escorted to room 208, which many had never seen before. The vice president sat at one end of the long table and Poindexter at the other, with speaker phones positioned so that everyone could hear President Reagan, Shultz, and McFarlane. The meeting began with an overview and an update.... There were animated discussions.... The conclusion was that by early Tuesday, October 25, the United States and allied forces would be in a position to initiate military action.... The only legal authority on Grenada was the governor general, Sir Paul N. Scoon, ... a Grenadan citizen appointed by the British crown.... Ingeniously, he had smuggled out a request for external help in restoring law and order.... The detailed hour-by-hour plan was circulated to everyone at the meeting. There was also a short discussion of the War Powers Resolution, which requires the president to get approval of Congress if he intends to deploy U.S. troops in combat for more than sixty days. There was little question that U.S. combat forces would be out before that time.... The president had participated and asked questions over the speaker phone; he made his decision. The U.S. would answer the call from our Caribbean neighbors. We would assure the safety of our citizens.@s1@s 1
Clearly, there was no perceived need to follow the U.S. Constitution and leave the question of whether to make war up to the Congress. After all, President Reagan had concurred, from the golf course, with Acting President Bush's decision in the matter. And the British nominee in the target country had requested Mr. Bush's help!
Bush aide Donald Gregg met with Felix Rodriguez to discuss `` the general situation in Central America. ''@s1@s2
Oliver North accompanied Vice President Bush to El Salvador as his assistant.
Bush met with Salvadoran army commanders. North helped Bush prepare a speech,
in which he publicly called upon them to end their support for the use
of `` death squads. '' North later testified that Bush's speech `` was
one of the bravest things I've seen for anybody [sic]. ''@s1@s3
The Wall Street Journal of March 6, 1985 gave a de- romanticized version of certain aquatic adventures in Central America:
Armed speedboats and a helicopter launched from a Central Intelligence Agency `` mother ship'' attacked Nicaragua's Pacific port, Puerto Sandino on a moonless New Year's night in 1984. A week later the speedboats returned to mine the oil terminal. Over the next three months, they laid more than 30 mines in Puerto Sandino and also in the harbors at Corinto and El Bluff. In air and sea raids on coastal positions, Americans flew--and fired from--an armed helicopter that accompanied the U.S.-financed Latino force, while a CIA plane provided sophisticated reconaissance guidance for the nighttime attacks. The operation, outlined in a classified CIA document, marked the peak of U.S. involvement in the four-year guerrilla war in Nicaragua. More than any single event, it solidified congressional opposition to the covert war, and in the year since then, no new money has been approved beyond the last CIA checks drawn early [in the] summer [of 1984].... CIA paramilitary officers were upset by the ineffectiveness of the Contras.... As the insurgency force grew ... during 1983 ... the CIA began to use the guerrilla army as a cover for its own small `` Latino '' force.... [The] most celebrated attack, by armed speedboats, came Oct. 11, 1983, against oil facilities at Corinto. Three days later, an underwater pipeline at Puerto Sandino was sabotaged by Latino [sic] frogmen. The message wasn't lost on Exxon Corp.'s Esso unit [formerly Standard Oil of New Jersey], and the international giant informed the Sandinista government that it would no longer provide tankers for transporting oil to Nicaragua. The CIA's success in scaring off a major shipper fit well into its mining strategy.... The mother ship used in the mining operation is described by sources as a private chartered vessel with a configuration similar to an oil-field service and towing ship with a long, flat stern section where helicopters could land....
The reader may have already surmised that Vice President Bush (with his background in `` oilfield service '' and his control of a `` top-level committee of the National Security Council '') sat in his Washington office and planned these brilliant schemes. But such a guess is probably incorrect--it is off by about 800 miles. On Jupiter Island, Florida, where the Bush family has had a seasonal residence for the past several decades (see Chapter 4) is the headquarters of Continental Shelf Associates, Inc. (CSA).@s1@s4
This company describes itself as `` an environmental consulting firm specializing in applied marine science and technology ... founded in 1970.... The main office ... is located in Jupiter, Florida, approximately 75 miles north of Miami. '' CSA has `` Offshore and Onshore divisions. '' It lists among its clients Exxon Company, U.S.A.; Military Sealift Command; Pennzoil Company; U.S. Department of Defense/Army Corps of Engineers; and other oil companies and government agencies. CSA's main advertised concern is with underwater engineering, often involving oil or nuclear facilities. It has many `` classified '' projects. It employs the world's most sophisticated subsurface vehicles and monitoring equipment. The founder and chief executive of CSA is Robert `` Stretch '' Stevens. A former lieutenant commander in naval special operations, Stevens has been a close associate of CIA officer Theodore Shackley, and of Bush agent Felix Rodriguez since the early 1960s, when Stevens served as a boat captain in the invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, and through the Vietnam War. During the period 1982-85, CSA was contracted by the U.S. intelligence community, including the CIA, to carry out coastal and on-the-ground reconnaissance and logistical support work in the eastern Mediterranean in support of the U.S. Marine deployment into Lebanon; and coastal mapping and reconnaissance of the Caribbean island of Grenada prior to the October 1983 U.S. military action. Beginning in approximately the autumn of 1983, CSA was employed to design and execute a program for the mining of several Nicaraguan harbors. After the U.S. Senate restricted such activities to non-U.S. personnel only, CSA trained `` Latin American nationals '' at a facility located on El Bravo Island off the eastern coast of Nicaragua. Acta Non Verba (Deeds Not Words) is a `` subsidiary '' of CSA, incorporated in 1986 and located at the identical Jupiter address. Rudy Enders, the head of the CIA's paramilitary section--and deployed by George Bush aide Donald Gregg--is a minority owner of Acta Non Verba (ANV). ANV's own tough-talking promotional literature says that it concentrates on `` counter-terrorist activities in the maritime environment. '' A very high-level retired CIA officer, whose private interview was used in preparation for this book, described this `` Fish Farm '' in the following more realistic terms: `` Assassination operations and training company controlled by Ted Shackley, under the cover of a private corporation with a regular board of directors, stockholders, etc., located in Florida. They covertly bring in Haitian and Southeast Asian boat people as recruits, as well as Koreans, Cubans, and Americans. They hire out assassinations and intelligence services to governments, corporations, and individuals, and also use them for covering or implementing `Fish Farm' projects/activities. '' The upshot of the attack from Jupiter--the mining of Nicaragua's harbors--was that the Congress got angry enough to pass the `` Boland II '' amendment, re-tightening the laws against this public- private warfare (see entry for Oct. 3, 1984).
Another subcommittee of the Bush terrorism apparatus was formed, as President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 138. The new `` Terrorist Incident Working Group '' reported to Bush's Special Situation Group. The TIWG geared up government agencies to support militant counterterrorism assaults, on the Israeli model.@s1@s5
The National Security Planning Group, including Reagan, Bush and other top officials, met secretly in the White House situation room at 2:00 P.M. They discussed whether to risk seeking `` third- country aid '' to the Contras, to get around the congressional ban enacted Dec. 21, 1982. George Bush spoke in favor, according to minutes of the meeting. Bush said, `` How can anyone object to the U.S. encouraging third parties to provide help to the anti- Sandinistas under the [intelligence] finding. The only problem that might come up is if the United States were to promise to give these third parties something in return so that some people might interpret this as some kind of an exchange '' [emphasis added]. Warning that this would be illegal, Secretary of State Shultz said: `` I would like to get money for the contras also, but another lawyer [then-Treasury Secretary] Jim Baker said if we go out and try to get money from third countries, it is an impeachable offense. '' CIA Director Casey reminded Shultz that `` Jim Baker changed his mind [and now supported the circumvention].... '' NSC adviser Robert McFarlane cautioned, `` I propose that there be no authority for anyone to seek third party support for the anti-Sandinistas until we have the information we need, and I certainly hope none of this discussion will be made public in any way. '' President Ronald Reagan then closed the meeting with a warning against anyone leaking the fact they were considering how to circumvent the law: `` If such a story gets out, we'll all be hanging by our thumbs in front of the White House until we find out who did it. '' In March of the following year, Bush personally arranged the transfer of funds to the Contras by the Honduran government, assuring them they would receive compensating U.S. aid. The minutes of this meeting, originally marked `` secret, '' were released five years later, at Oliver North's trial in the spring of 1989.@s1@s6
Congress enacted a new version of the earlier attempt to outlaw the U.S. secret war in Central America. This `` Boland II '' amendment was designed to prevent any conceivable form of deceit by the covert action apparatus: `` During fiscal year 1985, no funds available to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, or any other agency or entity of the United States involved in intelligence activities may be obligated or expended for the purpose or which would have the effect of supporting, directly or indirectly, military or paramilitary operations in Nicaragua by any nation, group, organization, movement, or individual. '' This law was effective from October 3, 1984, to December 5, 1985, when it was superceded by various aid-limitation laws which, taken together, were referred to as `` Boland III. ''@s1@s7
Felix Rodriguez's partner, Gerard Latchinian, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Latchinian was then tried and convicted of smuggling $10.3 million in cocaine into the United States. The dope was to finance the murder and overthrow of the President of Honduras, Roberto Suazo Cordova. Latchinian was sentenced to a 30-year prison term.
On Nov. 10, 1983, a year before the arrest, Felix Rodriguez had filed the annual registration with Florida's secretary of state on behalf of Latchinian's and Rodriguez's joint enterprise, `` Giro Aviation Corp. ''@s1@s8
Felix Rodriguez met in the office of the Vice President with Bush adviser Donald Gregg. Immediately after this meeting, Rodriguez met with Oliver North, supposedly for the first time in his life. But Bush's adviser strenuously denied to investigators that he `` introduced '' his CIA employee to North.@s1@s9
Felix Rodriguez met with Ramon Milian Rodriguez (not known to be a relative of Felix), accountant and money launderer, who had moved $1.5 billion for the Medelli@aan cocaine cartel. Milian testified before a Senate investigation of the Contras' drug-smuggling, that more than a year earlier he had granted Felix's request and given $10 million from the cocaine cartel to Felix for the Contras.
Milian Rodriguez was interviewed in his prison cell in Butner, North Carolina, by investigative journalist Martha Honey. He said Felix Rodriguez had offered that `` in exchange for money for the Contra cause he would use his influence in high places to get the [Cocaine] cartel U.S. `good will'.... Frankly, one of the selling points was that he could talk directly to Bush. The issue of good will wasn't something that was going to go through 27 bureaucratic hands. It was something that was directly between him and Bush. '' Ramon Milian Rodriguez was a Republican contributor, who had partied by invitation at the 1981 Reagan-Bush inauguration ceremonies. He had been arrested aboard a Panama-bound private jet by federal agents in May 1983, while carrying over $5 million in cash. According to Felix Rodriguez, Milian was seeking a way out of the narcotics charges when he met with Felix on January 18, 1985. This meeting remained secret until two years later, when Felix Rodriguez had become notorious in the Iran-Contra scandal. The Miami Herald broke the story on June 30, 1987. Felix Rodriguez at first denied ever meeting with Ramon Milian Rodriguez. But then a new story was worked out with various agencies. Felix `` remembered '' the Jan. 18, 1985 meeting, claimed he had `` said nothing '' during it, and `` remembered '' that he had filed documents with the FBI and CIA telling them about the meeting just afterwards.@s2@s0
George Bush met with Felix Rodriguez in the Executive Office Building. The agenda may have included the results of the meeting five days before with Medelli@aan cocaine cartel representative Milian Rodriguez.
Felix's ghost writer doesn't tell us what was said, only that Felix was `` able to show [Bush] some of the photos from my album. The honor of being with the Vice President ... was overwhelming. Mr. Bush was easy to talk to, and he was interested in my stories. ''@s2@s1
George Bush's office officially organized contacts through the State
Department for Felix Rodriguez to operate in Central America from a base
in El Salvador, in a false `` private '' capacity. The U.S. ambassador
to El Salvador, Thomas Pickering, then cabled to Gen. Paul F. Gorman, commander
of the U.S. Army Southern Command: `` Rodriguez has high-level contacts
at the White House, DOS [State Dept] and DOD [Defense Department], some
of whom are strongly supporting his use in El Salvador.
``It would be in our best interests that Mr. Rodriguez confer with you personally prior to coming to El Salvador. I have some obvious concerns about this arrangement.... '' Felix Rodriguez flew to Panama to speak to General Gorman. They discussed his covert aid to the Contras ``since the early eighties.''@s2@s2 Rodriguez, by George Bush's story the private, volunteer helper of the Contras, flew from Panama to El Salvador on General Gorman's personal C-12 airplane. General Gorman also sent a confidential cable to Ambassador Pickering and Col. James Steele, U.S. military liaison man with the Contra resupply operation in El Salvador: ``I have just met here with Felix Rodriguez, [deleted, probably ``CIA''] pensioner from Miami. Born in Cuba, a veteran of guerrilla operations [several lines deleted].... ``He is operating as a private citizen, but his acquaintanceship with the V[ice] P[resident] is real enough, going back to the latter's days as D[irector of] C[entral] I[ntelligence]. ``Rodriguez' primary commitment to the region is in [deleted] where he wants to assist the FDN [Contras military forces]. I told him that the FDN deserved his priority.... He will want to fly with the E[l] S[alvador] A[ir] F[orce] to establish his credibility, but that ... seems to me both unnecessary and unwise....''@s2@s3
The Crisis Pre-Planning Group (CPPG), subordinate to Chairman Bush of the Special Situation Group (SSG), met to discuss means to circumvent the Boland amendment's ban on aid to the Contras. They agreed on a `` Presidential letter '' to be sent to President Suazo of Honduras, ``to provide several enticements to Honduras in exchange for its continued support of the Nicaraguan Resistance. These enticements included expedited delivery of military supplies ordered by Honduras, a phased release of withheld economic assistance (ESF) funds, and other support.'' The preceding was the admission of the United States government in the 1989 Oliver North trial--number 51 in a series of ``stipulations'' that was given to the court to avoid having to release classified documents.
The government admissions in the North trial continued:
`` ... North proposed that McFarlane send a memo [to top officials on] the recommendation of the CPPG [the Bush-supervised body, often chaired by Bush adviser Don Gregg].... The memo stated that this part of the message [to the Honduran president] should not be contained in a written document but should be delivered verbally by a discreet emissary. '' [This was to be George Bush himself-- see March 16, 1985.] Honduras would be given increased aid, to be diverted to the Contras, so as to deceive Congress and the American population.@s2@s4
After Rodriguez had arrived in El Salvador and had begun setting up the central resupply depot for the Contras--at Ilopango Airbase-- Ambassador Thomas Pickering sent an `` Eyes Only '' cable to the State Department on his conversation with Rodriguez. Pickering's cable bore the postscript, `` Please brief Don Gregg in the V.P.'s office for me. ''@s2@s5
Felix Rodriguez met with Bush's staff in the vice-presidential offices in the Executive Office Building, briefing them on the progress of his mission.
Over the next two years, Rodriguez met frequently with Bush staff members in Washington and in Central America, often jointly with CIA and other officials, and conferred with Bush's staff by telephone countless times.@s2@s6
George Bush and Felix Rodriguez were in Central America on their common project.
On Friday, Rodriguez supervised delivery in Honduras of military supplies for the FDN Contras whose main base was there in Honduras.
On Saturday, George Bush met with Honduran President Roberto Suazo Cordova.
Bush told Suazo that the Reagan-Bush administration was expediting delivery
of more than $110 million in economic and military aid to Suazo's government.
This was the `` quid pro quo '': a bribe for Suazo's support for the U.S.
mercenary force, and a transfer through Honduras of the Contra military
supplies, which had been directly prohibited by the Congress.
`` Shiite Muslim terrorists '' hijacked an Athens-to-Rome airliner. One American was killed, 39 Americans were held hostage and released June 30.
Vice President George Bush was designated by President Reagan to lead the Task Force on Combatting Terrorism (or Terrorism Task Force). Bush's task force was a means to sharply concentrate the powers of government into the hands of the Bush clique, for such policies as the Iran-Contra armaments schemes. The Terrorism Task Force had the following cast of characters:
This was the first known official contact of the Israeli Nir with the U.S. government in the Iran-Contra affair. In the future, Nir would serve as the main Israeli agent in the covert arms-for- hostages negotiations with Iran, alongside such other well-known U.S. participants as Oliver North and Robert McFarlane. The Terrorism Task Force organization, as we shall see, was a permanent affair.@s2@s7
George Bush met with the National Security Planning Group in the residence section of the White House. Spurring on their deliberations on the terrorism problem, a car bomb had blown up that day at a U.S. air base in Germany, with 22 American casualties.
The officials discussed shipment of U.S.-made arms to Iran through Israel--to replenish Israeli stocks of TOW missiles and to permit Israel to sell arms to Iran.
According to testimony by Robert McFarlane, the transfer was supported by George Bush, Casey and Donald Regan, and opposed by Shultz and Weinberger.@s2@s8
Luis Posada Carriles escaped from prison in Venezuela, where he was being held for the terrorist murder of 73 persons. Using forged documents falsely identifying him as a Venezuelan named `` Ramon Medina, '' Posada flew to Central America. Within a few weeks, Felix Rodriguez assigned him to supervise the Bush office's Contra resupply operations being run from the El Salvador air base. Posada personally ran the safe-houses used for the CIA flight crews. Rodriguez explained the arrangement in his book: `` Because of my relationship with [El Salvador Air Force] Gen. Bustillo, I was able to pave the way for [the operations attributed to Oliver] North to use the facilities at Ilopango [El Salvador air force base].... I found someone to manage the Salvadorian-based resupply operation on a day-to-day basis. They knew that person as Ramon Medina. I knew him by his real name: Luis Posada Carriles.... I first [sic!] met Posada in 1963 at Fort Benning, Georgia, where we went through basic training together ... as U.S. Army second lieutenants.... '' Rodriguez neglects to explain that agent Posada Carilles was originally recruited and trained by the same CIA murder operation, `` JM/WAVE '' in Miami, as was Rodriguez himself. Felix continues: `` In the sixties, he reportedly went to work for DISIP, the Venezuelan intelligence service, and rose to considerable power within its ranks. It was rumored that he held one of the top half- dozen jobs in the organization.... After the midair bombing of a Cubana airliner on October 6, 1976, in which seventy-three people were killed, Posada was charged with planning the attack and was thrown in prison.... Posada was confined in prison for more than nine years.... ''@s2@s9
George Bush's national security adviser, Donald Gregg, met at 4:30 P.M. with Oliver North and Col. James Steele, the U.S. military official in El Salvador who oversaw flights of cargo going to the Contras from various points in Central America. They discussed information given to one or more of them by arms dealer Mario DelAmico, supplier to the Contras. According to the entry in Oliver North's notebook, they discussed particularities of the supply flights, and the operations of FDN commander Enrique Bermudez.
Elsewhere in the diary pages for that day, Colonel North noted that DelAmico had procured a certain 1,000 munitions items for the Contras.@s3@s0
George Bush sent Oliver North a note, with thanks for `` your dedication and tireless work with the hostage thing and with Central America. ''@s3@s1
Congress passed new laws limiting U.S. aid to the Contras. The CIA, the Defense Department, and `` any other agency or entity of the United States involved in intelligence activities '' were prohibited from providing armaments to the Contras. The CIA was permitted to provide communications equipment and training. `` Humanitarian '' aid was allowed. These laws, known together as `` Boland III, '' were in effect from December 4, 1985 to October 17, 1986.
CIA official Charles E. Allen, a member of George Bush's Terrorism Task Force, wrote an update on the arms-for-hostages dealings with Iran. Allen's memo was a debriefing of an unnamed member of the group of U.S. government officials participating in the arms negotiations with the Iranians. The unnamed U.S. official (from the context, probably NSC terrorism consultant Michael Ledeen) is referred to in Allen's memo as `` Subject ''. Allen wrote: `` [Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Hashemi] Rafsanjani ... believes Vice President George Bush is orchestrating the U.S. initiative with Iran. In fact, according to Subject, Rafsanjani believes that Bush is the most powerful man in the U.S. because in addition to being Vice President, he was once Director of CIA. ''@s3@s2
George Bush completed his official study of terrorism in December 1985. John Poindexter now directed Oliver North to go back to work with Amiram Nir. Amiram Nir came to Washington and met with Oliver North. He told U.S. officials that the Iranians had promised to free all hostages in exchange for more arms. Reportedly after this Nir visit, in an atmosphere of constant terrorism and rumors of terrorism, President Reagan was persuaded of the necessity of revving up the arms shipments to Iran.@s3@s3
Terrorists bombed Rome and Vienna airports, killing 20 people, including five Americans. The Crisis Pre-Planning Group (CPPG), supervised by Bush's office and reporting to Bush, blamed Libyans for the attack and began planning for a military strike on Libya. Yet an unpublished CIA analysis and the Israelis both acknowledged that the Abu Nidal group (in effect, the Israeli Mossad agency) carried out the attacks.@s3@s4
Bush's CPPG later organized the U.S. bombing of Libya, which occurred in mid-April 1986.
Iranian arms dealer Cyrus Hashemi told Paris-based CIA agent Bernard Veillot that Vice President Bush was backing arms sales to Iran, and that official U.S. approval for private sales to Iran, amounting to $2 billion, was `` going to be signed by Mr. Bush and [U.S. Marine Corps commandant] Gen. [Paul X.] Kelley on Friday. ''@s3@s5
Loudly and publicly exposed in the midst of Iran arms deals, Veillot was indicted by the U.S. Then the charges were quietly dropped, and Veillot went underground. A few months later Hashemi died suddenly of `` leukemia. ''@s3@s6
Israeli counterterrorism chief Amiram Nir met with North and Poindexter in Washington. The Bush report on terrorism had now been issued within the government but was not yet published. Bush's report was urging that a counterterrorism coordinator be named for the entire U.S. government--and Oliver North was the one man intended for that slot.
At this meeting, Nir proposed specifically that prisoners held by Israeli-controlled Lebanese, and 3,000 American TOW missiles, be exchanged for U.S. hostages held by Iran. Other discussions between Nir and Bush's nominee involved the supposedly new idea that the Iranians be overcharged for the weapons shipped to them, and the surplus funds be diverted to the Contras.@s3@s7
President Reagan met with George Bush, Donald Regan, McFarlane and Poindexter. The President was handed a draft `` Presidential Finding '' that called for shipping arms to Iran through Israel. The President signed this document, drafted following the discussions with Amiram Nir. The draft consciously violated the National Security Act which had established the Central Intelligence Agency, requiring notification of Congress. But Bush joined in urging President Reagan to sign this `` finding '': `` I hereby find that the following operation in a foreign country ... is important to the national security of the United States, and due to its extreme sensitivity and security risks, I determine it is essential to limit prior notice, and direct the Director of Central Intelligence to refrain from reporting this finding to the Congress as provided in Section 501 of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended, until I otherwise direct '' [emphasis added]. `` ... The USG[overnment] will act to facilitate efforts by third parties and third countries to establish contacts with moderate elements within and outside the Government of Iran by providing these elements with arms, equipment and related materiel in order to enhance the credibility of these elements.... '' Of course, Bush, Casey and their Israeli allies had never sought to bolster `` moderate elements '' in Iran, but overthrew them at every opportunity--beginning with President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr.@s3@s8
President Reagan and Vice President Bush met at the White House with several other administration officials. There was an argument over new proposals by Amiram Nir and Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar to swap arms for hostages.
Secretary of State George Shultz later told the Tower Commission that George Bush supported the arms-for-hostages deal at this meeting, as did President Reagan, Casey, Meese, Regan and Poindexter. Shultz reported that he himself and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger both opposed further arms shipments.@s3@s9
Lt. Col. Oliver North complained, in his notebook, that `` Felix [Rodriguez] '' has been `` talking too much about the V[ice] P[resident] connection. ''@s4@s0
CIA and Mossad employee Richard Brenneke wrote a letter to Vice President Bush giving full details, alerting Bush about his own work on behalf of the CIA in illegal--but U.S. government-sanctioned-- sales of arms to Iran.@s4@s1
George Bush and Oliver North worked together on the illegal plan.
Later, at North's trial, the Bush administration--portraying Colonel North as the master strategist in the case!--stipulated that North `` prepared talking points for a meeting between Admiral Poindexter, Vice-President Bush, and [the new] Honduran President [Jose Simon] Azcona. North recommended that Admiral Poindexter and Vice-President Bush tell President Azcona of the need for Honduras to work with the U.S. government on increasing regional involvement with and support for the Resistance. Poindexter and Bush were also to raise the subject of better U.S. government support for the states bordering Nicaragua. '' That is, Honduras, which of course `` borders on Nicaragua, '' was to get more U.S. aid and was to pass some of it through to the Contras. In preparation for the January 1986 Bush-Azcona meeting, the U.S. State Department sent to Bush adviser Donald Gregg a memorandum, which `` alerted Gregg that Azcona would insist on receiving clear economic and social benefits from its [Honduras's] cooperation with the United States. ''@s4@s2 Two months after the January Bush-Azcona meeting, President Reagan asked Congress for $20 million in emergency aid to Honduras, needed to repel a cross-border raid by Nicaraguan forces against Contra camps. Congress voted the `` emergency '' expenditure.
George Bush met with President Reagan, John Poindexter, Donald Regan,
and NSC staff member Donald Fortier to review the final version of the
January 7 arms-to-Iran draft. With the encouragement of Bush, and the absence
of opponents to the scheme, President Reagan signed the authorization to
arm the Khomeini regime with missiles, and keep the facts of this scheme
from congressional oversight committees. This was the reality of the Bush
`` counterstrategy '' to terrorism, for whose implementation his Terrorism
Task Force was just then creating the covert mechanism. The official story
about this meeting--given in the Tower Commission Report--is as follows:
`` [T]he proposal to shift to direct U.S. arms sales to Iran ... was considered
by the president at a meeting on January 17 which only the Vice President,
Mr. Regan, Mr. Fortier, and VADM Poindexter attended. Thereafter, the only
senior-level review the Iran initiative received was during one or another
of the President's daily national security briefings. These were routinely
attended only by the President, the Vice President, Mr. Regan, and VADM
Poindexter. There was no subsequent collective consideration of the Iran
initiative by the NSC principals before it became public 11 months later....
Because of the obsession with secrecy, interagency consideration of the initiative was limited to the cabinet level. With the exception of the NSC staff and, after January 17, 1986, a handful of CIA officials, the rest of the executive departments and agencies were largely excluded.
``The National Security Act also requires notification of Congress of covert intelligence activities. If not done in advance, notification must be `in timely fashion.' The Presidential Finding of January 17 directed that congressional notification be withheld, and this decision appears to have never been reconsidered. ''@s4@s3
Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger was directed to prepare the transfer of 4,000 TOW anti-tank missiles to the CIA, which was to ship them to Khomeini's Iran. Bypassing normal channels for covert shipments, he elected to have his senior military assistant, Lt. Gen. Colin L. Powell, handle the arrangements for the arms transfer.@s4@s4
George Bush's deputy national security aide, Col. Samuel Watson, worked with Felix Rodriguez in El Salvador, and met with Col. James Steele, the U.S. military liaison officer with the covert Contra resupply organization in El Salvador.@s4@s5
Following the recommendations of an as yet unofficial report of the George Bush Terrorism Task Force, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 207.
The unofficial Bush report, the official Bush report released in February, and the Bush-organized NSDD 207, together put forward Oliver North as `` Mr. Iran-Contra. '' North became the nominal, up- front coordinator of the administration's counterterrorism program, hiding as best he could Bush's hand in these matters. He was given a secret office and staff (the Office to Combat Terrorism), separate from regular NSC staff members. George Bush now reassigned his Terrorism Task Force employees, Craig Coy and Robert Earl, to do the daily work of the North secret office. The Bush men spent the next year working on Iran arms sales: Earl devoted one-quarter to one- half of his time on Iran and Contra support operations; Coy ``knew everything'' about Project Democracy. North traveled much of the time. Earl and Coy were at this time officially attached to the Crisis Management Center, which North worked on in 1983.@s4@s6 FBI Assistant Director Revell, often George Bush's ``hit man'' against Bush's domestic opponents, partially disclosed this shell game in a letter to Sen. David Boren (D-Ok.), explaining the FBI's contacts with North:
At the time [April 1986], North was the NSC official charged by the President with the coordination of our national counterterrorist program. He was responsible for working closely with designated lead agencies and was responsible for participating in all interagency groups, maintaining the national programming documents, assisting in the coordination of research and development in relation to counterterrorism, facilitating the development of response options and overseeing the implementation of the Vice President's Terrorism Task Force recommendations. This description of Col. North's position is set forth in the public report of the Vice President's Task Force on Combatting Terrorism, February 1986. There is an even more detailed and comprehensive description of Col. North's position in the classified National Security Decision Directive #207 issued by the President on January 20, 1986. @s4@s7
The Bush Terrorism Task Force, having completed its official work, had simply made itself into a renamed, permanent, covert agency. Its new name was Operations Sub-Group (OSG). In this transformation, CIA Contra-handler Duane Clarridge had been added to the Task Force to form the ``OSG,'' which included North, Poindexter, Charles Allen, Robert Oakley, Noel Koch, General Moellering and ``Buck'' Revell. According to the Oliver North diaries, even before this final phase of the Bush-North apparatus there were at least 14 meetings between North and the Bush Task Force's senior members Holloway, Oakley and Allen, its principal consultant Terry Arnold, and its staff men Robert Earl and Craig Coy. The North diaries from July 1985 through January 1986, show one meeting with President Reagan, and four meetings with Vice President Bush: either the two alone, North with Bush and Amiram Nir, or North with Bush and Donald Gregg. The Bush counterterrorism apparatus had its own communications channels, and a global antiterrorist computer network called Flashboard outside of all constitutional government arrangements. Those opposed to the arming of terrorists, including cabinet members, had no access to these communications.@s4@s8 This apparatus had responsibility for Iran arms sales; the private funding of the Contras, from contributions, theft, dope-running; the ``public diplomacy'' of Project Democracy to back these efforts; and counterintelligence against other government agencies and against domestic opponents of the policy.@s4@s9
George Bush met with Oliver North and FDN Contra Political Director Adolfo Calero in the Old Executive Office Building.@s5@s0 North and Calero would work together to protect George Bush when the Contra supply effort blew apart in October 1986.
Iranian arms dealer Cyrus Hashemi was told by a French arms agent that `` [a]n assistant of the vice president's going to be in Germany ... and the indication is very clear that the transaction can go forward '' referring to George Bush's supposed approval of the private arms sale to Iran.@s5@s1
Responding to the January 15 letter from Richard Brenneke, Bush aide Lt. Col. E. Douglas Menarczik wrote to Brenneke: `` The U.S. government will not permit or participate in the provision of war materiel to Iran and will prosecute any such efforts by U.S. citizens to the fullest extent of the law. 1''@s5@s2
Richard Brenneke wrote again to Bush's office, to Lt. Col. Menarczik, documenting a secret project for U.S. arms sales to Iran going on since 1984.
Brenneke later said publicly that early in 1986, he called Menarczik to warn that he had learned that the U.S. planned to buy weapons for the Contras with money from Iran arms sales. Menarczik reportedly said, `` We will look into it. '' Menarczik claimed not to have `` any specific recollection of telephone conversations with '' Brenneke.@s5@s4
Vice President George Bush issued the public report of his Terrorism Task Force. In his introduction to the report, Bush asserted: `` Our Task Force was briefed by more than 25 government agencies ... traveled to embassies and military commands throughout the world.... Our conclusion: ... We firmly oppose terrorism in all forms and wherever it takes place.... We will make no concessions to terrorists. ''@s5@s5
According to a sworn statement of pilot Michael Tolliver, Felix Rodriguez had met him in July 1985. Now Rodriguez instructed Tolliver to go to Miami International Airport. Tolliver picked up a DC-6 aircraft and a crew, and flew the plane to a Contra base in Honduras. There Tolliver watched the unloading of 14 tons of military supplies, and the loading of 12 and 2/3 tons of marijuana. Following his instructions from Rodriguez, Tolliver flew the dope to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. The next day Rodriguez paid Tolliver $75,000.@s5@s6
Tolliver says that another of the flights he performed for Rodriguez
carried cocaine on the return trip to the U.S.A. He made a series of arms
deliveries from Miami into the air base at Agucate, Honduras. He was paid
in cash by Rodriguez and his old Miami CIA colleague, Rafael `` Chi Chi
'' Quintero. In another circuit of flights, Tolliver and his crew flew
between Miami and El Salvador's Ilopango air base. Tolliver said that Rodriguez
and Quintero `` instructed me where to go and who to see. '' While making
these flights, he `` could go by any route available without any interference
from any agency. We didn't need a stamp of approval from Customs or anybody....
''@s5@s7 With reference to the covert arms shipments out of Miami, George
Bush's son Jeb said: `` Sure, there's a pretty good chance that arms were
shipped, but does that break any law? I'm not sure it's illegal. The Neutrality
Act is a completely untested notion, established in the 1800s. ''@s5@s8
Trafficking in lethal weapons without government authorization is always a tricky business for covert operators. But when the operatives are smuggling weapons in a particular traffic which the U.S. Congress has expressly prohibited, a good deal of criminal expertise and certain crucial contacts are required for success. And when the smugglers report to the Vice President, who wishes his role to remain concealed, the whole thing can become very sticky--or even ludicrous to the point of low comedy.
Oliver North sent a message to Robert McFarlane about his efforts to procure missiles for the Contras, and to circumvent many U.S. laws, as well as the customs services and police forces of several nations. The most important component of such transactions, aside from the purchase money, was a falsified document showing the supposed recipient of the arms, the end-user certificate (EUC). In the message he wrote, North said that `` we have '' an EUC; that is, a false document has been acquired for this arms sale: `` [W]e are trying to find a way to get 10 BLOWPIPE launchers and 20 missiles from [a South American country] ... thru the Short Bros. Rep.... Short Bros., the mfgr. of the BLOWPIPE, is willing to arrange the deal, conduct the training and even send U.K. `tech. reps' ... if we can close the arrangement. Dick Secord has already paid 10% down on the delivery and we have a [country deleted] EUC which is acceptable to [that South American country]. ''@s5@s9 Now, since this particular illegal sale somehow came to light in the Iran-Contra scandal, another participant in this one deal decided not to bother hiding his own part in it. Thus, we are able to see how Colonel North got his false certificate.
Felix Rodriguez met in San Salvador with Oliver North and Enrique Bermudez, the Contras' military commander. Rodriguez informs us of the following in his own, ghost-written book:
`` Shortly before that April 20 meeting, Rafael Quintero had asked me
to impose upon my good relations with the Salvadoran military to obtain
`end-user' certificates made out to Lake Resources, which he told me was
a Chilean company.... ''@s6@s0
The plan was to acquire false end-user certificates from his contacts in the Salvadoran armed forces for Blowpipe ground-to-air missiles supposedly being shipped into El Salvador. The missiles would then be illegally diverted to the Contras in Honduras and Nicaragua. Rodriguez continues, with self-puffery: `` The Salvadorans complied with my request, and in turn I supplied the certificates, handing them over personally to Richard Secord at that April 20 meeting. ''@s6@s1 While arranging the forgery for the munitions sale, Rodriguez was in touch with the George Bush staff back in his home office. On April 16, four days before the Rodriguez-North missile meeting, Bush national security adviser Donald Gregg asked his staff to put a meeting with Rodriguez on George Bush's calendar. Gregg said the purpose of the White House meeting would be `` to brief the Vice President on the war in El Salvador and resupply of the Contras. '' The meeting was arranged for 11:30 A.M. on May 1.@s6@s2 Due its explicitly stated purpose-- clandestine weapons trafficking in an undeclared war against the rigid congressional prohibition--the planned meeting was to become one of the most notorious of the Iran-Contra scandal.
Felix Rodriguez met in Washington with Bush aide Col. Sam Watson.
The following reminder message was sent to George Bush:
Briefing Memorandum for the Vice President
Event: Meeting with Felix Rodriguez
Date: Thursday, May 1, 1986
Time: 11:30-11:45 a.m.--West Wing
From: Don Gregg
Felix Rodriguez, a counterinsurgency expert who is visiting from El Salvador, will provide a briefing on the status of the war in El Salvador and resupply of the Contras.
III. [sic] PARTICIPANTS
The Vice President Felix Rodriguez
IV. MEDIA COVERAGE
Staff photographer. [i.e. internal-use photographs, no media coverage]@s6@s3
Vice President Bush and his staff met in the White House with Felix Rodriguez, Oliver North, financier Nicholas Brady, and the new U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, Edwin Corr.
At this meeting it was decided that `` private citizen '' Felix Rodriguez would continue his work in Central America.@s6@s4
George Bush met with President Reagan, and with cabinet members and other officials in the full National Security Planning Group. They discussed the urgent need to raise more money for the Contras to continue the anti-Sandinista war.
The participants decided to seek support for the Contras from nations (`` third countries '') which were not directly involved in the Central American conflict. As a result of this initiative, George Bush's former business partners, the Sultan of Brunei, donated $10 million to the Contras. But after being deposited in secret Swiss bank accounts, the money was `` lost. ''@s6@s5
George Bush met with Felix Rodriguez and El Salvador Air Force commander Gen. Juan Rafael Bustillo at a large reception in Miami on Cuban independence day.@s6@s6
George Bush, President Reagan, Donald Regan and John Poindexter met to hear from McFarlane and North on their latest arms-for- hostages negotiations with Iranian officials and Amiram Nir in Teheran, Iran. The two reported their arrangement with the Khomeini regime to establish a secure covert communications network between the two `` enemy '' governments.@s6@s7
Eugene Hasenfus, whose successful parachute landing would explode the Iran-Contra scandal into world headlines three months later, flew from Miami to El Salvador. He had just been hired to work for `` Southern Air Transport, '' a CIA front company for which Hasenfus worked previously in the Indochina War. Within a few days he was introduced to `` Max Gomez ''--the pseudonym of Felix Rodriguez--as `` one of the Cuban coordinators of the company. '' Rodriguez (`` Gomez '') took him to the Ilopango air base security office where he and others hired with him were given identity cards. He now began work as a cargo handler on flights carrying military supplies to Contra soldiers inside Nicaragua.@s6@s8
George Bush met in Jerusalem with Terrorism Task Force member Amiram Nir, the manager of Israel's participation in the arms-for hostages schemes. Bush did not want this meeting known about. The Vice President told his chief of staff, Craig Fuller, to send his notes of the meeting only to Oliver North--not to President Reagan, or to anyone else.
Craig Fuller's memorandum said, in part:
1. SUMMARY. Mr. Nir indicated that he had briefed Prime Minister Peres and had been asked to brief the V[ice] P[resident] by his White House contacts. He described the details of the efforts from last year through the current period to gain the release of the U.S. hostages. He reviewed what had been learned which was essentially that the radical group was the group that could deliver. He reviewed the issues to be considered--namely that there needed to be ad [sic] decision as to whether the items requested would be delivered in separate shipments or whether we would continue to press for the release of the hostages prior to delivering the items in an amount agreed to previously.
2. The VP's 25 minute meeting was arranged after Mr. Nir called Craig Fuller and requested the meeting and after it was discussed with the VP by Fuller and North....
14. Nir described some of the lessons learned: `We are dealing with the most radical elements.... They can deliver ... that's for sure.... [W]e've learned they can deliver and the moderates can't....@s6@s9
The day after his Jerusalem summit with Amiram Nir, Vice President Bush conferred with Oliver North. This meeting with North was never acknowledged by Bush until the North diaries were released in May 1990.
Retired Army Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub sent a memo to Oliver North on the Contra resupply effort under Felix Rodriguez. Singlaub warned North that Rodriguez was boasting about having `` daily contact '' with George Bush's office. According to Singlaub, this could `` damage President Reagan and the Republican Party. ''@s7@s0
The Scandal Breaks--On George Bush
A C-123k cargo aircraft left El Salvador's Ilopango air base at 9:30 A.M., carrying `` 10,000 pounds of small arms and ammunition, consisting mainly of AK rifles and AK ammunition, hand grenades, jungle boots. '' It was scheduled to make air drops to Contra soldiers in Nicaragua.@s7@s1 The flight had been organized by elements of the CIA, the Defense Department, and the National Security Council, coordinated by the Office of Vice President George Bush. At that time, such arms resupply was prohibited under U.S. law--prohibited by legislation which had been written to prevent precisely that type of flight. The aircraft headed south along the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, turned east over Costa Rica, then headed up north into Nicaraguan air space. As it descended toward the point at which it was to drop the cargo, the plane was hit in the right engine and wing by a ground-to-air missile. The wing burst into flames and broke up. Cargo handler Eugene Hasenfus jumped out the left cargo door and opened his parachute. The other three crew members died in the crash.@s7@s2 Meanwhile, Felix Rodriguez made a single telephone call--to the office of Vice President George Bush. He told Bush aide Samuel Watson that the C-123k aircraft was missing and was possibly down.
Eugene Hasenfus, armed only with a pistol, took refuge in a small hut on a jungle hilltop inside Nicaragua. He was soon surrounded by Sandinista soldiers and gave himself up.@s7@s3
Felix Rodriguez called George Bush's aide Sam Watson again. Watson now notified the White House Situation Room and the National Security Council staff about the missing aircraft.
Oliver North was immediately dispatched to El Salvador to prevent publicity over the event, and to arrange death benefits for the crew.@s7@s4
After the shoot-down, several elaborate attempts were made by government agencies to provide false explanations for the origin of the aircraft.
A later press account, appearing on May 15, 1989, after Bush was safely installed as President, exposed one such attempted coverup:
Official: Contras Lied to Protect VP Bush
By Alfonso Chardy, Knight-Ridder Newspapers
WASHINGTON-- Nicaraguan rebels falsely assumed responsibility for an arms-laden plane downed over Nicaragua in 1986 in an effort to shield then-Vice President George Bush from the controversy that soon blossomed into the Iran-Contra scandal, a senior Contra official said in early May 1989. According to the Contra official, who requested anonymity but has direct knowledge of the events, a Contra spokesman, Bosco Matamoros [official FDN representative in Washington, D.C.], was ordered by [FDN Political Director] Adolfo Calero to claim ownership of the downed aircraft, even though the plane belonged to Oliver North's secret Contra supply network.... Calero called (Matamoros) and said, `` Take responsibility for the Hasenfus plane because we need to take the heat off the vice president, '' the Contra source said.... The senior Contra official said that shortly after Calero talked to Matamoros, Matamoros called a reporter for the New York Times and `` leaked '' the bogus claim of responsibility. The Times ran a story about the claim on its front page.@s7@s5
Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez (D-Tx.) called for a congressional investigation of the Nicaraguan air crash, and the crash of a Southern Air Transport plane in Texas, to see if they were part of a covert CIA operation to overthrow the Nicaraguan government.
At a news conference in Nicaragua, captured U.S. crew member Eugene Hasenfus exposed Felix Rodriguez, alias `` Max Gomez, '' as the head of an international supply system for the Contras. The explosive, public phase of the Iran-Contra scandal had begun.
The Washington Post ran two headlines side-by-side: `` Captured American Flyer to be Tried in Nicaragua '' and `` Bush is Linked to Head of Contra Aid Network. '' The Post reported:
Gomez has said that he met with Bush twice and has been operating in Nicaragua
with the Vice President's knowledge and approval, the sources said....
Asked about these matters, a spokesman for Bush, Marlin Fitzwater, said: `` Neither the vice president nor anyone on his staff is directing or coordinating an operation in Central America. '' ...
The San Francisco Examiner, which earlier this week linked [Bush adviser Donald] Gregg to Gomez, reported that Gomez maintains daily contact with Bush's office....
[M]embers of Congress said yesterday they wanted to investigate the administration's conduct further. And ... several said that their focus had shifted from the CIA to the White House....
[T]he Sunday crash will be among events covered by a [Senate] Foreign Relations Committee probe into allegations that the contras may have been involved in drug-running and abuse of U.S. aid funds, [Senator Richard G.] Lugar said....
The Customs Service said yesterday it is investigating whether the downed plane may have carried guns out of Miami, which would violate federal restrictions on arms exports and other laws, including the Neutrality Act, which bars U.S. citizens from working to overthrow governments not at war with the United States....
Hasenfus told reporters in Nicaragua the plane had flown out of Miami.@s7@s6
George Bush's career was now on the line. News media throughout the world broke the story of the Hasenfus capture, and of the crewman's fingering of Bush and his underlings Rodriguez and Posada Carriles. Bush was now besieged by inquiries from around the world, as to how and why he was directing the gun-running into Latin America. Speaking in Charleston, South Carolina, George Bush described Max Gomez/Rodriguez as `` a patriot. '' The Vice President denied that he himself was directing the illegal operations to supply the Contras: `` To say I'm running the operation ... it's absolutely untrue. '' Bush said of Rodriguez: `` I know what he was doing in El Salvador, and I strongly support it, as does the president of El Salvador, Mr. Napoleon Duarte, and as does the chief of the armed forces in El Salvador, because this man, an expert in counterinsurgency, was down there helping them put down a communist- led revolution [i.e. in El Salvador, not Nicaragua]. ''@s7@s7
Two days later, Gen. Adolfo Blando@aan, armed forces chief of staff in El Salvador, denied Bush's contention that Felix Rodriguez worked for his country's military forces: `` This intrigues me. It would have to be authorized [by our] joint chiefs of staff [and] the government. '' He said such authorization had not been given.@s7@s8
Eugene Hasenfus, the U.S. airman downed in Nicaragua,
gave and signed an affidavit in which it was stated: `` About Max Gomez
[Felix Rodriguez], Hasenfus says that he was the head Cuban coordinator
for the company and that he works for the CIA and that he is a very close
friend of the Vice-President of the United States, George Bush.... Max
Gomez, after receiving his orders was the one who had to ... [say] where
the air drops would be taking place.
About Ramon Medina [escaped airplane bomber Luis Posada Carriles], Hasenfus says that he was also a CIA agent and that he did the `small work' because Max Gomez was the `senior man.' He says that Ramon took care of the rent of the houses, the maids, the food, transportation and drivers, and also, coordination of the fuel for the aircraft, etc. '' [emphasis in the original].@s7@s9 His cover being blown, and knowing he was still wanted in Venezuela for blowing up an airliner and killing 73 persons, Posada Carriles now `` vanished '' and went underground.@s8@s0
Eugene Hasenfus, interviewed in Nicaragua by Mike Wallace
on the CBS television program `` 60 Minutes, '' said that Vice President
Bush was well aware of the covert arms supply operation. He felt the Reagan-Bush
administration was `` backing this 100 percent. '' Wallace asked Hasenfus
why he thought that Gomez/Rodriguez and the other managers of the covert
arms resupply `` had the blessing of Vice President Bush. '' Hasenfus replied,
`` They had his knowledge that he was working [on it] and what was happening,
and whoever controlled this whole organization--which I do not know--Mr.
Gomez, Mr. Bush, I believe a lot of these other people. They know how this
is being run. I do not. ''@s8@s1
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Shiraa revealed that the U.S. government was secretly dealing arms to the Khomeini regime. This was three weeks after the Eugene Hasenfus expose@aa of George Bush made world headlines. Yet the Bush administration and its retainers have since decided that the Iran-Contra affair `` began '' with the Al-Shiraa story!
President Reagan sent a message, through Vice President George Bush, to Secretary of State George Shultz, along the lines of `` Support me or get off my team. ''@s8@s2
CIA Director William Casey, a close ally of George Bush who knew everything from the inside, was operated on for a `` brain tumor '' and lost the power of speech. That same day, associates of Vice President George Bush said that Bush believed White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan should resign, but claim Bush had not yet broached the issue with the President. Donald Regan said that he had no intention of quitting.@s8@s3
CIA Director William Casey resigned. He soon died, literally without ever talking.
Former National Security Director Robert McFarlane, a principal figure in the Reagan-Bush administration's covert operations, attempted suicide by taking an overdose of drugs. McFarlane survived.
The President's Special Review Board, commonly known as the Tower Commission, issued its report. The commission heavily blamed White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan for the `` chaos that descended upon the White House '' in the Iran-Contra affair. The Commission hardly mentioned Vice President George Bush except to praise him for his `` vigorous reaffirmation of U.S. opposition to terrorism in all forms ''! The afternoon the Tower Commission report came out, George Bush summoned Donald Regan to his office. Bush said the President wanted to know what his plans were about resigning. Donald Regan blasted the President: `` What's the matter--isn't he man enough to ask me that question? '' Bush expressed sympathy. Donald Regan said he would leave in four days.@s8@s4
Cable News Network televised a leaked report that Donald
Regan had already been replaced as White House chief of staff. After submitting
a one-sentence letter of resignation, Donald Regan said, `` There's been
a deliberate leak, and it's been done to humiliate me. ''@s8@s5
George Bush, when President, rewarded the commission's chairman, Texas Senator John Tower, by appointing him U.S. Secretary of Defense. Tower was asked by a reporter at the National Press Club, whether his nomination was a `` payoff '' for the `` clean bill of health '' he gave Bush. Tower responded that `` the commission was made up of three people, Brent Scowcroft and [Senator] Ed Muskie in addition to myself, that would be sort of impugning the integrity of Brent Scowcroft and Ed Muskie.... We found nothing to implicate the Vice President.... I wonder what kind of payoff they're going to get? ''@s8@s6 President Bush appointed Brent Scowcroft his chief national security adviser. But the Senate refused to confirm Tower. Tower then wrote a book and began to talk about the injustice done to him. He died April 5, 1991 in a plane crash.
In light of the Iran-Contra scandal, President Reagan called on George Bush to reconvene his Terrorism Task Force to evaluate the current program!
Bush summarized his findings in a press release: `` [O]ur current policy as articulated in the Task Force report is sound, effective, and fully in accord with our democratic principles, and national ideals of freedom. ''@s8@s7
The designated congressional committees filed their joint report on the Iran-Contra affair. Wyoming Representative Richard Cheney, the senior Republican member of the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran, helped steer the joint committees to an impotent result. George Bush was totally exonerated, and was hardly mentioned.
George Bush, when President, rewarded Dick Cheney by appointing him U.S. Secretary of Defense, after the Senate refused to confirm John Tower.
The Mortification of the U.S. Congress
George Bush was inaugurated President of the United States.
President Bush's nomination of Donald Gregg to be U.S. ambassador to Korea was considered in hearings by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Gregg was now famous in Washington as Bush's day-to-day controller of the criminal gun-running into Central America. Before the Gregg hearings began, both Republican and Democratic Senators on the committee tried to get President Bush to withdraw the Gregg nomination. This was to save them the embarrassment of confirming Gregg, knowing they were too intimidated to stop him.
What follows are excerpts from the typed transcript of the Gregg hearings. The transcript has never been reproduced, it has not been printed, and it will not be published by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is evidently embarrassed by its contents.@s8@s8
Gregg: [As] his national security adviser [for] six and a half years ... I worked closely with the Vice President keeping him informed as best I could on matters of foreign policy, defense, and intelligence.... Travelling with the Vice President as I did ... [in] a great variety of missions to more than 65 countries.... [After Vietnam] I did not see [Felix Rodriguez] until the early eighties where he would drop into Washington sporadically ... we remained friends.... So, some of those contacts would have been [1979-1982] when I was at the White House at the NSC.
Sen. Sarbanes: And Felix would come to see you there?
Gregg: No, at my home.... [Then] he brought me in '83 the plan which I have already discussed with Senator Cranston.... [At that point] I was working for the Vice President ... [which I began in] August 1982.
Sen. Sarbanes: In December of 1984 he came to see you with the idea of going to El Salvador. You ... cleared it with the Vice President?
Gregg: ... I just said, `` My friend Felix, who was a remarkable former agency employee ... wants to go down and help with El Salvador. And I am going to introduce him to [State Department personnel] and see if he can sell himself to those men, '' and the Vice President said fine.
Gregg: Felix went down there about the first of March . Before he went ... I introduced him to the Vice President ... and the Vice President was struck by his character and wished him well in El Salvador.
Sen. Sarbanes: So before he went down, you undertook to introduce him to the Vice President.... Why did you do that?
Gregg: Well, the Vice President had always spoken very highly and enthusiastically of his career [!], or his one-year as DCI [Director of Central Intelligence]. I had gone out with him to the agency just after I joined him in '82 and I saw the tremendous response he got there and he got quite choked up about it and as we drove back in the car he said, you know, that is the best job I have ever had before I became Vice President. So here it was, as I said probably the most extraordinary CIA comrade I had known, who was going down to help in a country that I knew that the Vice President was interested in.... The Vice President was interested in the progress of the Contras. There were two occasions on which he asked me, how are they doing and I, on one occasion went to a CIA officer who was knowledgeable and got a run-down on how they were doing from that and sent it to the Vice President and he sent it back with no comment. On another occasion, he asked me again, how are they doing, and I went--I drew a memo up, I think on the basis of a conversation with North. Again, he returned that with no comment. So he was interested in the Contras as an instrument of putting pressure on the Sandinistas. But what I said we had never discussed was the intricacies, or who was supplying what to whom....
Sen. Simon: Let me read another section from Senator Cranston's statement. I believe the record suggests the following happened: After Boland II was signed in October 1984 [outlawing all U.S. aid to the Contras], you and certain others in the White House were encouraged to secure military aid for the Contras through unorthodox channels. Your career training in establishing secrecy and deniability for covert operations, your decades-old friendship for Felix Rodriguez, apparently led you to believe you could serve the national interest by sponsoring a freelance covert operation out of the Vice President's office. What is your response to that statement?
Gregg: Well, I think it is a rather full-blown conspiracy theory. That was not what I was doing.... I was involved in helping the Vice President's task force on antiterrorist measures write their report. But normally I had no operational responsibilities....
Sen. Simon: When did you first find out the law was being violated?
Gregg: By the law, do you mean the Boland amendment?
Sen. Simon: That is correct.
Gregg: I guess my knowledge of that sort of came at me piecemeal after Hasenfus had been shot down [Oct. 5, 1986] and there were various revelations that came out....
Sen. Simon: So what you are telling us, you found out about the law being violated the same time the rest of us found out the law was being violated?
Gregg: Yes, sir....
Sen. Cranston: From February 1985 to August 1986, you have acknowledged that you spoke to Rodriguez many, many times on the telephone. Let me quote from your sworn deposition to the Iran- Contra Committee: `` Felix called me quite often and frequently it was what I would call sort of combat catharsis. He used to do the same thing in Vietnam. He would come back from an operation in which some people had been lost and he would tell me about it. '' Now, is it still your testimony that Rodriguez never mentioned his deep involvement in Contra supply activities during any of these phone conversations?
Gregg: That is my testimony.
Sen. Cranston: Is it still your testimony that prior to Aug. 8th, 1986, Rodriguez never mentioned the status of his Contra resupply efforts during his numerous face-to-face meetings with you in Washington?
Sen. Cranston: Is it still your testimony that Rodriguez did not mention the status of his Contra resupply efforts in the very meetings that were convened according to two memos bearing your name, for Rodriguez to `` brief the Vice President on the status of the war in El Salvador and efforts to resupply the Contras ''?
Gregg: There was no intention to discuss resupply of the Contras and everyone at that meeting, including former Senator Nick Brady have testified that it was not discussed.
Sen. Cranston: As you know, it is difficult to reconcile those statements about what happened in the meeting with the statement and memos from you that the agenda was ... two things, one of them being efforts to resupply the Contras....
Gregg: Those memos first surfaced to my attention in December of 1986, when we undertook our first document search of the Vice President's office. They hit me rather hard because by that time I had put the pieces together of what had been going on and I realized the implications of that agenda item. I did not shred the documents. I did not hide it.... [T]his is the worst thing I have found and here it is, and I cannot really explain it.... I have a speculative explanation which I would like to put forward if you would be interested.
Sen. Cranston: Fine.
Gregg: Again, turning to Felix [Rodriguez]'s book ... Felix makes the following quote.... [By the way the book] is going to be published in October of this year. The text has been cleared by CIA and it is now with the publishers. I was given an advance copy.... This is the quote, sir: `` ... I had no qualms about calling [Sam Watson] or Don [Gregg] when I thought they could help run interference with the Pentagon to speed up deliveries of spare chopper parts. '' That means helicopters. `` I must have made many such calls during the spring of 1986. Without operating Hughes 500 helicopters it was impossible to carry out my strategy against the [El Salvadoran] insurgents.... '' [There are] then documented steps that Colonel Watson had taken with the Pentagon to try to get spare parts expedited for El Salvador.... So my construction is this, sir. I recall that in the meeting with the Vice President the question of spare parts for the helicopters in El Salvador was discussed and so that I think what the agenda item on the two memos is, is a garbled reference to something like resupply of the copters, instead of resupply of the Contras [emphasis added]. [At this point there was laughter and whistling in the hearing room. Afterwards, Gregg told reporters, `` I don't know how it went over, but it was the best I could do. '']
Sen. Sarbanes: How did the scheduling proposal of April 16, 1986 and the briefing memorandum of April 30th take place?
Gregg: They were prepared by my assistant, Mrs. Byrne, acting on advice from Colonel Watson. She signed my initials, but those are not my initials. I did not see the documents until December 1986, when I called them to the attention of the House Intelligence Committee.... And if, you know, if you do not--if my speculation does not hold up, I have to refer you to a memorandum that I turned over to the Iran-Contra Committee on the 14th of May 1987, which--
Sen. Sarbanes: I am looking at that memorandum now.
Gregg: Okay. That has been my explanation up until now.
Sen. Sarbanes: But you are now providing a different explanation?
Gregg: It is the only one--I have been thinking about these documents for over two years, and it is the only thing that I can come up with that would come close to explaining that agenda item--given the fact that there was no intention of discussing resupply to the Contras. That resupply of the Contras was not discussed, according to the testimony of everyone who was in the meeting....''
Sen. Kerry: Douglas Minarczik is who?
Gregg: He was one of my assistants in my office responsible for Mid-East and African affairs....
Sen. Kerry: And he was working for you in 1985 and 1986, that period?
Sen. Kerry: Now, when I began first investigating allegations of the gun-running that was taking place out of Miami, one of the very first references that my staff, frankly, frequently heard, and I think you and I have talked about this, that Miami was buzzing with the notion that the Vice President's office was somehow involved in monitoring that, at least [emphasis added]. Now, Jesus Garcia was a Miami corrections official who got into trouble and wound up going to jail on weapons offenses. Through that connection, we came across telephone records. And those telephone records demonstrate calls from Garcia's house to Contra camps in Honduras, to John Hull in Costa Rica, and Douglas Minarczik in, not necessarily in your office, but directly to the White House. However, there is incontrovertible evidence that he had in his possession the name of Mr. Minarczik, a piece of paper in our possession, in Garcia's home in connection with monitoring those paramilitary operations, in August of 1985. Now, how do you account for the fact that Minarczik's--that the people involved with the Contra supply operations out of Miami ... had Minarczik's name and telephone number, and that there is a record of calls to the White House at that time?
Gregg: I cannot account for it. Could it have anything to do with our old friend Mr. Brenicke [sic]? Because Brenicke did have Minarczik's phone number....
Sen. Kerry: ... No. Totally separate.
Gregg: This is all new. I do not have an explanation, sir....
Sen. Kerry: Do you recall the downing of a Cuban airliner in  in which 72 people lost their lives as a result; do you remember that?
Sen. Kerry: A terrorist bomb. And a Cuban-American named Luis Posada [Carriles] was arrested in Venezuela in connection with that. He then escaped in 1985 with assistance from Felix Rodriguez-- I do not know if this is going to be in the [Rodriguez] book or not...
-Gregg: It is.
Sen. Kerry: Okay, and he brought him to Central America to help the Contras under pseudonym of Ramon Medina, correct? Gregg: Now, I know that; yes.
Sen. Kerry: ... [Is] it appropriate for a Felix Rodriguez to help a man indicted in a terrorist bombing to escape from prison, and then appropriate for him to take him to become involved in supply operations, which we are supporting?
Gregg: I cannot justify that, sir. And I am not certain what role Felix played in getting him out.... I thought that Orlando Boche [sic], or someone of that nature, had been responsible for that.
Sen. Kerry: When did you first learn that [i.e. about Posada's hiring for Contra resupply], Don?
Gregg: When I learned who the various aliases were, which was some time in November/December , after the whole thing came out.
COMMITTEE SESSION JUNE 15, 1989
Sen. Cranston: Before proceeding in this matter, I would like to state clearly for the record what the central purpose of this investigation is about and in my view what it is not about. It is not about who is for or against the Contras.... Similarly, this investigation is not about building up or tearing down our new President [Bush]. We have tried throughout this proceeding to avoid partisan attacks. Indeed, Republicans and Democrats alike have sought Mr. Gregg's withdrawal as one way to avoid casting aspersions on the [Bush] White House.... [emphasis added].
Mr. Gregg remains steadfast in his loyalty to his boss, then-Vice President Bush, and to his long-time friend, Felix Rodriguez. Mr. Gregg has served his country in the foreign policy field for more than three decades. By all accounts he is a loyal American.... As Mr. Gregg himself conceded last month, there are substantial reasons for senators to suspect his version of events and to raise questions about his judgement. It does not take a suspicious or partisan mind to look at the documentary evidence, the back channel cables, the `` eyes only '' memos, and then to conclude that Mr. Gregg has not been straight with us. Indeed, I am informed that more than one Republican senator who has looked at the accumulated weight of the evidence against Mr. Gregg, has remained unconvinced and has sought Mr. Gregg's withdrawal.
Mr. Gregg, this committee has a fundamental dilemma. If we are to promote a man we believe to have misled us under oath, we would make a mockery of this institution. We would invite contempt for our enquiries. We would encourage frustration of our constitutional obligations. ... [It] has been established that when you are confronted with written evidence undermining your story, you point the finger of blame elsewhere. At our last hearing you said Gorman's cables were wrong, North's notebooks were wrong, Steele's memory was wrong, North's sworn testimony [that Gregg introduced Rodriguez to him] was wrong, you concocted a theory that your aide, Watson, and your secretary erred by writing `` Contras '' instead of `` helicopters '' on those infamous briefing memos for the Vice President. In sum, you have told a tale of an elaborate plan in which your professional colleagues and long-time friends conspired to keep you ignorant of crucial facts through days of meetings, monthly phone calls and nearly two years' worth of cables and memos. Incredibly, when senators confront you with the documentary evidence which undermines your story, you accuse us of concocting conspiracy theories and you do so with a straight face. ... I think it is clear by now that many important questions may never be answered satisfactorily, especially because we have been stonewalled by the administration. The National Security Agency has rejected our legitimate enquiries out of hand. The Central Intelligence Agency provided a response with access restrictions so severe ... as to be laughable. The Department of Defense has given an unsatisfactory response two days late. The State Department's response was utterly unresponsive. They answered our letter after their self-imposed deadline and failed to produce specific documents we requested and which we know exist. This Committee has been stonewalled by Oliver North, too. He has not complied with the Committee subpoena for his unredacted notebooks. The redacted notebooks contain repeated January 1985 references to Felix Rodriguez which suggests North's involvement in Rodriguez' briefings of the Vice President. No member of the Senate can escape the conclusion that these administration actions are contemptuous of this Committee. I find this highly regrettable, with potential long-term ramifications, but I recognize the will of the majority to come to a committee vote soon, up or down, and to move on to other pressing business [emphasis added]....
Sen. McConnell: ... During the period of the Boland Amendment, were you ever asked to inform the Vice President's office or lend his name to private, nonprofit efforts to support the Contras?
Gregg: Yes. I recall one instance, in particular, where there was a request--I guess it was probably from one aspect of the Spitz Channell organization, which had a variety of things going on in and around Nicaragua. We got, on December 2nd, 1985, a letter to the Vice President, asking him to get involved in something called the Friends of the Americas, which was aid to the Meskito Indians ... in Nicaragua that had been badly mistreated by the Sandinistas.... And so I have a document here which shows how we dealt with it. I sent it to Boyden Gray, the counsel of the Vice President and said, `` Boyden, this looks okay as a charity issue, but there is the question of precedent. Please give me a legal opinion. Thanks. '' ... Boyden Gray wrote back to me and said, `` No, should not do. Raises questions about indirect circumvention of congressional funding limits or restriction, vis-a- vis Nicaragua. '' That is the only time I recall that we had a specific request like that, and this is how we dealt with it. [In fact, George Bush had a much more interesting relationship to the affairs of Carl R. `` Spitz '' Channell than Mr. Gregg discusses here. Channell worked with Bush's covert action apparatus, moving his wealthy contacts toward what he termed `` the total embrace of the Vice President. '']
Sen. Pell [Chairman of the Committee]: ... First, you say that you offered to resign twice, I think. Knowing that you are a very loyal servant of what you view as the national interest, and knowing the embarrassment that this nomination has caused the administration, I was wondering why you did not ask your name to be withdrawn ... to pull your name back.... [w]hich has been recommended by many of us as being a way to resolve this problem.
Gregg: Well, I haven't because I think I'm fully qualified to be Ambassador to South Korea. And so does the Vice President [sic]. So I am here because he has asked me to serve....
Sen. Cranston: ... Senators will recall that on Oct. 5th of '86 a plane bearing military supplies to the Contras was shot down over Nicaragua. The sole survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, spoke publicly of the role of Felix Rodriguez, alias Max Gomez, in aiding military resupply and noted Gomez's ties to the Vice President's office. Could you please describe your understanding of why it was that the first call to official Washington regarding the shootdown was from Felix Rodriguez to your aid[e] in Washington?
Gregg: ... [It] was because on the 25th of June of that year he had come to Washington to confront North about what he regarded as corruption in the supply process of the Contras.... [H]e broke with North on the 25th of June and has not been on speaking terms with the man since then.... [H]e tried to get me--he could not--he reached Colonel Watson....
Sen. Cranston: As you recall, the Vice President was besieged at that time with inquiries regarding Rodriguez's ties to the Vice President's office. What did you tell [Bush press spokesman] Marlin Fitzwater regarding that relationship?
Gregg: ... The thrust of the press inquiries was always that from the outset I had had in mind that Rodriguez should play some role in the Contra support operation, and my comments to Marlin ... were that that had not been in my mind....
Sen. Cranston: Let me quote again from the New York Times, George Bush quoted October 13, '86. Bush said, `` To the best of my knowledge, this man, Felix Rodriguez, is not working for the United States government. '' Now Mr. Gregg, you knew that Rodriguez was aiding the Contras and receiving material assistance in the form of cars, housing, communications equipment and transportation from the U.S. government. Did you inform Bush of those facts so that he could make calculated misleading statements in ignorance of his staff's activities?
Gregg: ... At that point I had no idea that Felix--you said--you mentioned communications equipment. I had no idea he had been given by North one of those encryption devices. I think I was aware that Colonel Steele had given him access to a car, and I knew he was living in a BOQ at the air base. He was not being paid any salary. His main source of income was, as it is now, his retirement pension from CIA.
Sen. Cranston: ... You told the Iran-Contra committee that you and Bush never discussed the Contras, had no expertise on the issue, no responsibility for it, and the details of Watergate-sized scandal involving NSC staff and the [Edwin] Wilson gang was not Vice Presidential. Your testimony on that point I think is demonstrably false. There are at least six memos from Don Gregg to George Bush regarding detailed Contra issues....
Sen Cranston: Am I correct in this, that you have confirmed ... that senior U.S. military, diplomatic ... and intelligence personnel, really looked with great doubt upon Rodriguez's mission and that they tolerated it only because Rodriguez used his contacts with the Vice President and his staff as part of the way to bolster his mission.
Gregg: ... I was not aware of the diplomatic; I was aware of the military and intelligence, yes, sir.
The committee voted in favor of confirmation. Cranston voted no. But three Democrats--Charles Robb, Terry Sanford and Chairman Claiborne Pell--joined the Republicans. Sanford confirmed Cranston's viewpoint, saying that he was allowing the nomination to go through because he was afraid `` the path would lead to Bush, '' the new President. Sanford said, shamefacedly, `` If Gregg was lying, he was lying to protect the President, which is different from lying to protect himself. ''[Emphasis added]@s8@s9
In George Bush's government, the one-party state, the knives soon came out, and the prizes appeared. The Senate Ethics Committee, including the shamefaced Terry Sanford, began in November 1989, its attack on the `` Keating Five. '' These were U.S. Senators, among them Senator Alan Cranston, charged with savings and loan corruption. The attack soon narrowed down to one target only--the Iran-Contrary Senator Cranston. On Aug. 2, 1991, Senator Terry Sanford, having forgotten his shame, took over as the new chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee.
1. William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), p. 271.
2. Memo, May 14, 1982, two pp. bearing the nos. 29464 and 29465. See also `` NSDD-2 Structure for Central America, '' bearing the no. 29446, a chart showing the SSG and its CPPG as a guidance agency for the National Security Council.
3. Testimony of Donald P. Gregg, pp. 72-73 in Stenographic Transcript of Hearings Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Nomination Hearing for Donald Phinney Gregg to be Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. Washington, D.C., May 12, 1989 (hereinafter identified as `` Gregg Hearings ''). This transcript is available for reading at the office of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in the Capitol, Washington, D.C. See also Felix Rodriguez and John Weisman, Shadow Warrior (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989), pp. 213-14. The book was ghost written--and spook-approved--by the CIA and Donald Gregg before publication.
4. Report of the Congressional Committees Investigating the Iran Contra Affair (hereinafter identified as the `` Iran-Contra Report ''), published jointly by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran, and the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition, Nov. 17, 1987, Washington, D.C., pp. 395-97. Note that different sections of the Congressional Iran-Contra Report were published on different dates.
5. CovertAction, No. 33, Winter 1990, p. 12; drawn from Public Testimony of Fawn Hall, Iran-Contra Report, June 8, 1987, p. 15.
6. Memoranda and meetings of March 1983, in the `` National Security Archive '' Iran-Contra Collection on microfiche at the Library of Congress, Manuscript Reading Room (hereinafter identified as `` Iran-Contra Collection '').
7. Don Gregg Memorandum for Bud McFarlane, March 17, 1983, stamped SECRET, since declassified. Document no. 77 in the Iran- Contra Collection; on the memo is a handwritten note from `` Bud '' [McFarlane] to `` Ollie '' [North]. See also Gregg Hearings, pp. 54- 55.
8. Rodriguez and Weisman, op. cit., p. 119.
9. Shultz Memorandum, May 25, 1983 and White House reply, both stamped SECRET/SENSITIVE. Documents beginning no. 00107 in the Iran- Contra Collection.
10. De Graffenreid Memorandum for Admiral Murphy, July 12, 1983, since declassified, bearing the no. 43673. Document no. 00137 in the Iran-Contra Collection.
11. Constantine C. Menges, Inside the National Security Council (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988), pp. 70-78.
12. Chronology supplied by the Office of the Vice President, cited in The Progressive, May 18, 1987, London, England, p. 20.
13. Rodriguez and Weisman, op. cit., p. 221.; CovertAction, No. 33, Winter 1990, p. 13, citing Testimony of Oliver North; Iran-Contra Report (June 8, 1987), pp. 643, 732-33.
14. This section is based on 1) literature supplied by CSA, Inc. and its subsidiary ANV, and 2) an exhaustive examination of CSA/ANV in Jupiter and other locations, including interviews with personnel employed by the company, and with military and CIA personnel who have worked with the company.
15. Scott Armstrong, Executive Editor for The National Security Archive, The Chronology: The Documented Day-by-Day Account of the Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Contras (New York: Warner Books, 1987), p. 55. Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott and Jane Hunter, The Iran-Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era (Boston: South End Press, 1987), pp. 219- 20.
16. National Security Planning Group Meeting Minutes, June 25, 1984, pp. 1 and 14, photostats reproduced in EIR Special Report: `` American Leviathan: Administrative Fascism under the Bush Regime '' (Wiesbaden, Germany: Executive Intelligence Review Nachrichtenagentur, April 1990), p. 159.
17. This is an excerpt from Section 8066 of Public Law 98-473, the Continuing Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 1985; Iran-Contra Report, Nov. 13, 1987, p. 398l.
18. Armstrong, op. cit., Nov. 1, 1984 entry, p. 70, citing Miami Herald 11/2/84 and 11/3/84, Wall Street Journal 11/2/84, Washington Post 8/15/85, New York Times 12/23/87. Armstrong, op. cit., Nov. 10, 1983 entry, p. 42, citing corporate records of the Florida secretary of state 7/14/86, Miami Herald 11/2/84, New York Times 11/3/84.
19. Rodriguez and Weisman, op. cit., pp. 220-21; EIR Special Report: `` American Leviathan, '' pp. 157-58.
20. Report of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, December 1988, pp. 61-62.
21. Rodriguez and Weisman, op. cit., pp. 221-22.
22. Ibid., pp. 224- 25.
23. General Gorman `` eyes only '' cable to Pickering and Steele, Feb. 14, 1985. Partially declassified and released on July 30, 1987 by the National Security Council, bearing no. D 23179. Document no. 00833 in the Iran-Contra Collection. See also Rodriguez and Weisman, op. cit., pp. 225-26.
24. U.S. government stipulations in the trial of Oliver North, reproduced in EIR Special Report: `` Irangate..., '' pp. 20, 22.
25. Gregg Hearings, p. 99.
26. Rodriguez and Weisman, op. cit., p. 227. Gregg Hearings, New York Times, Dec. 13, 1986.
27. CovertAction, No. 33, Winter 1990, pp. 13-14. On Amiram Nir, see Armstrong, op. cit., pp. 225-26, citing Wall Street Journal 12/22/86, New York Times 1/12/87. On Poindexter and North, see Menges,op. cit., p. 264.
28. Armstrong, op. cit., pp. 140-41, citing Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, `` Report on Preliminary Inquiry, '' Jan. 29, 1987.
29. Rodriguez and Weisman, op. cit., pp. 239-41.
30. Oliver North's diary, since edited and partially declassified, entries for `` 10 Sep 85. '' Document no. 01527 in the Iran-Contra Collection.
31. Washington Post, June 10, 1990.
32. Charles E. Allen `` Memorandum for the Record, '' December 18, 1985. Partially declassified/released (i.e. some parts are still deleted) by the National Security Council on January 26, 1988. Document no. 02014 in the Iran-Contra Collection.
33. Armstrong, op. cit., pp. 226-27, citing Wall Street Journal 12/22/86, New York Times 12/25/86 and 1/12/87.
34. Armstrong, op. cit., p. 231, citing Washington Post 2/20/87, New York Times 2/22/87.
35. Ibid., p. 232, citing Miami Herald 11/30/86. 36. Interview with Herman Moll in EIR Special Report: `` Irangate..., '' pp. 81-83.
37. Armstrong, op. cit., p. 235, citing Washington Post 12/16/86, 12/27/86, 1/10/87 and 1/12/87; Ibid., p. 238, citing Tower Commission Report; Menges, op. cit., p. 271.
38. Armstrong, op. cit., pp. 240-41, citing Washington Post 1/10/87 and 1/15/87; Sen. John Tower, Chairman, The Tower Commission Report: The Full Text of the President's Special Review Board (New York: Bantam Books, 1987), p. 217.
39. Ibid., pp. 37, 225.
40. North notebook entry Jan. 9, 1986, Exhibits attached to Gregg Deposition in Tony Avirgan and Martha Honey v. John Hull, Rene Corbo, Felipe Vidal et al., 29 April 1988.
41. Armstrong, op. cit., p. 258, citing the Brenneke letter, which was made available to the National Security Archive.
42. U.S. government stipulations at the North trial, in EIR Special Report: `` Irangate..., '' p. 22.
43. Tower Commission Report, pp. 67-68, 78.
44. Armstrong, op. cit., p. 266, citing Washington Post 1/10/87 and 1/15/87.
45. Chronology supplied by Office of Vice President Bush; Armstrong, op. cit., p. 266, citing Washington Post 12/16/86.
46. Deposition of Robert Earl, Iran-Contra Report, May 2, 1987, Vol. 9, pp. 22-23; Deposition of Craig Coy, Iran-Contra Report, March 17, 1987, Vol. 7, pp. 24-25: cited in CovertAction, No. 33, Winter 1990, p. 13.
47. Oliver Revell to Sen. David Boren, chairman of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, April 17, 1987; Washington Post Feb. 17, 20 and 22, 1987; Wall Street Journal Feb. 20, 1987: cited in CovertAction, No. 33, Winter 1990, p. 13.
48. Newsweek, Oct. 21, 1985, p. 26; Earl Exhibit, nos. 3- 8, attached to Earl Deposition, op. cit. cited in CovertAction No. 33, Winter 1990, p. 15.
49. Earl Deposition, op. cit., May 30, 1987, pp. 33-37; May 15, 1987, pp. 117-21 (Channell and Miller); May 15, 1987, pp. 131, 119 (private contributors).
50. Donald Gregg Briefing Memorandum for the Vice President, Jan. 27, 1986; released by the National Security Council March 22, 1988. Document no. 02254 in Iran-Contra Collection.
51. Armstrong, op. cit., p. 275, citing Miami Herald 11/30/86.
52. Ibid., p. 280, citing the Menarczik letter to Brenneke which was made available to the National Security Archive.
53. Ibid., citing Miami Herald 11/30/86.
54. New York Times, Nov. 30, 1986, Dec. 4, 1986. See Gregg testimony: Brenneke had M's number.
55. Quoted in Menges, op. cit., p. 275.
56. Deposition of Michael Tolliver in Avirgan and Honey, op. cit.
57. Allan Nairn, `` The Bush Connection, '' in The Progressive (London: May 18, 1987), pp. 21-22.
58. Nairn, op. cit., pp. 19, 21-23.
59. Tower Commission Report, p. 465
60. Rodriguez and Weisman, op. cit., pp. 244-45.
62. `` Schedule Proposal, '' Office of the Vice President, April 16, 1986, exhibit attached to Gregg Deposition in Avirgan and Honey, op. cit.
63. Office of the Vice President Memorandum, April 30, 1986, released Aug. 28, 1987 by the National Security Council. Document no. 02738 in the Iran-Contra Collection.
64. Rodriguez and Weisman, op. cit., pp. 245-46. See also Gregg confirmation hearings, excerpted infra, and numerous other sources.
65. Armstrong, op. cit., pp. 368-69, citing Senate Select Intelligence Committee Report, Jan. 29, 1987. 66. Ibid., p. 373, citing Washington Post 12/16/86.
67. Ibid., p. 388-89, citing McFarlane testimony to the Tower Commission.
68. Affidavit of Eugene Harry Hasenfus, October 12, 1986, pp. 2- 3. Document no. 03575 in the Iran-Contra Collection. 69. Tower Commission Report, pp. 385-88.
70. Washington Post, Feb. 26, 1987.
71. Hasenfus Affidavit, pp. 6-7. 72. Ibid.
73. Hasenfus Affidavit, p. 7.
74. Armstrong, op. cit., p. 508, citing the chronology provided by George Bush's office, Washington Post 12/16/86; New York Times 12/16/86, 12/17/86 and 12/25/86; Wall Street Journal 12/19/86 and 12/24/86.
75. Laredo [Texas] Morning Times, May 15, 1989, p. 1.
76. Washington Post, Oct. 11, 1986.
77. Washington Post, Oct. 12, 1986, Oct. 14, 1986.
78. Washington Post, Oct. 14, 1986.
79. Hasenfus Affidavit, p. 3.
80. Rodriguez and Weisman, op. cit., p. 241.
81. Washington Post, Nov. 20, 1986.
82. Washington Post, Feb. 12, 1987.
83. Washington Post, Dec. 18, 1986, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 19, 1986.
84. Donald T. Regan, For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1988), pp. 368-73.
86. New York Times, March 2, 1989.
87. CovertAction, No. 33, Winter 1990, p. 15.
88. Stenographic Transcript of Hearings Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Nomination Hearing for Donald Phinney Gregg to be Ambassador to the Republic of Korea. Washington, D.C., May 12 and June 15, 1989. Some misspellings in the transcript have been corrected here.
89. Mary McCrory, `` The Truth According to Gregg, '' Washington Post, June 22, 1989.
90. NEPL contributions 1985 printout, cited in Armstrong, op. cit., p. 226.