Feb 6, 2011

Lawyers,Guns and Money:Iran Contra and the Teflon President.

Today is Saint Ronnie's birthday. The man who probably had Alzheimer's whilst he was President of the United States was: a charismatic speaker but a lousy actor, had zero background or education to become President and to our country's detriment, surrounded himself with lousy military, financial and economic advisors. Yet the GOP, and those that control them, the rightwingtards, idolize this man.  The Palinista's lionize him as if he was the second coming of JC himself. They forget the facts and they rewrite history when it comes to Saint Ronnie of Cali.

Now, lets go back in the time machine and recall some memorable moments in history about St. Ronnie of Cali. First, from Joe Conason, about the Lebanon attack that saw captured American's and the subsequent deaths of 241 soldiers the republicans never talk about..and that little thing called...Iran-Contra:

Between 1984 and 1986, the Reagan administration tried to free American hostages in Lebanon from their Shiite captors, not by confronting the terrorists militarily but by negotiating with their presumed Iranian sponsors. By then, Reagan had already retreated from Lebanon, withdrawing the Marines after the terrorist bombing of their Beirut barracks had claimed 241 American lives. 
Around that same time, the White House concocted a pretext to invade the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada, which distracted public attention from the American humiliation in the Middle East. 
Instead of retaliating against Iran or any of the organizations that claimed responsibility for the Lebanon attack, Reagan approved a secret initiative to improve relations with the Iranian leadership by shipping advanced missiles to them. The immediate objective was to get the Iranians to lean on Hezbollah in Lebanon to release a group of six American hostages. Seeking to advance the discussion, National Security Advisor Robert (Bud) McFarlane visited Tehran, carrying a Koran and a cake as tokens of Presidential esteem. Meanwhile, the profits from the arms transactions—which were conducted by private citizens working with White House and C.I.A. personnel—were diverted to finance the contra rebellion in Nicaragua.
Saint Ronnie of course blamed those he hired to do his bidding for this fucked up mess. This kids, came to be known as the Iran Contra scandal and cost a few neocons their jobs among other things..it cost Saint Ronnie nothing as he used the time honored phrase..I do not recall (Alzheimer's anyone?).. a lot. Bush the First pardoned a shit load of these fuckers. Interestingly...the GOP crowd never talks about these dark fucking days of lies and more lies and dirty deeds done dirt cheap by those in the Reagan administration, many who went on to bigger and better things. From the George Washington University link above:
 In this connection, it is worth noting that Poindexter, although he refused to implicate Reagan by testifying that he had told him about the diversion, declared that if he had informed the president he was sure Reagan would have approved. Reagan's success in avoiding a harsher political penalty was due to a great extent to Poindexter's testimony (which left many observers deeply skeptical about its plausibility). But it was also due in large part to a tactic developed mainly by Attorney General Edwin Meese, which was to keep congressional and public attention tightly focused on the diversion. By spotlighting that single episode, which they felt sure Reagan could credibly deny, his aides managed to minimize public scrutiny of the president's other questionable actions, some of which even he understood might be illegal.(emphasis mine)
Twenty years later, the Iran-Contra affair continues to resonate on many levels, especially as Washington gears up for a new season of political inquiry with the pending inauguration of the 110th Congress and the seeming inevitability of hearings into a range of Bush administration policies. 
For at its heart Iran-Contra was a battle over presidential power dating back directly to the Richard Nixon era of Watergate, Vietnam and CIA dirty tricks. That clash continues under the presidency of George W. Bush, which has come under frequent fire for the controversial efforts of the president, as well as Vice President Richard Cheney, to expand Executive Branch authority over numerous areas of public life. 
Iran-Contra also echoes in the re-emergence of several prominent public figures who played a part in, or were touched by, the scandal. The most recent is Robert M. Gates, President Bush's nominee to replace Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense (see below and the documents in this compilation for more on Gates' role). 
This sampling of some of the most revealing documentation (Note 1) to come out of the affair gives a clear indication of how deeply involved the president was in terms of personally directing or approving different aspects of the affair. The list of other officials who also played significant parts, despite their later denials, includes Vice President George H.W. Bush, Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, CIA Director William J. Casey, White House Chief of Staff Donald T. Regan, and numerous other senior and mid-level officials, making this a far broader scandal than the White House portrayed it at the time. 
In that connection, what follows is a partial list of some of the more prominent individuals who were either directly a part of the Iran-Contra events or figured in some other way during the affair or its aftermath:
  • Elliott Abrams
  •  - currently deputy assistant to President Bush and deputy national security advisor for global democracy strategy, Abrams was one of the Reagan administration's most controversial figures as the senior State Department official for Latin America in the mid-1980s. He entered into a plea bargain in federal court after being indicted for providing false testimony about his fund-raising activities on behalf of the Contras, although he later accused the independent counsel's office of forcing him to accept guilt on two counts. President George H. W. Bush later pardoned him.
  • David Addington
  •  - now Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, and by numerous press accounts a stanch advocate of expanded presidential power, Addington was a congressional staffer during the joint select committee hearings in 1986 who worked closely with Cheney.
  • John Bolton
  •  - the controversial U.N. ambassador whose recess appointment by President Bush is now in jeopardy was a senior Justice Department official who participated in meetings with Attorney General Edwin Meese on how to handle the burgeoning Iran-Contra political and legal scandal in late November 1986. There is little indication of his precise role at the time.
  • Richard Cheney
  •  - now the vice president, he played a prominent part as a member of the joint congressional Iran-Contra inquiry of 1986, taking the position that Congress deserved major blame for asserting itself unjustifiably onto presidential turf. He later pointed to the committees' Minority Report as an important statement on the proper roles of the Executive and Legislative branches of government.
  • Robert M. Gates
  •  - President Bush's nominee to succeed Donald Rumsfeld, Gates nearly saw his career go up in flames over charges that he knew more about Iran-Contra while it was underway than he admitted once the scandal broke. He was forced to give up his bid to head the CIA in early 1987 because of suspicions about his role but managed to attain the position when he was re-nominated in 1991. (See previous Electronic Briefing Book)
  • Manuchehr Ghorbanifar
  •  - the quintessential middleman, who helped broker the arms deals involving the United States, Israel and Iran ostensibly to bring about the release of American hostages being held in Lebanon, Ghorbanifar was almost universally discredited for misrepresenting all sides' goals and interests. Even before the Iran deals got underway, the CIA had ruled Ghorbanifar off-limits for purveying bad information to U.S. intelligence. Yet, in 2006 his name has resurfaced as an important source for the Pentagon on current Iranian affairs, again over CIA objections.
  • Michael Ledeen
  •  - a neo-conservative who is vocal on the subject of regime change in Iran, Ledeen helped bring together the main players in what developed into the Iran arms-for-hostages deals in 1985 before being relegated to a bit part. He reportedly reprised his role shortly after 9/11, introducing Ghorbanifar to Pentagon officials interested in exploring contacts inside Iran.
  • Edwin Meese
  •  - currently a member of the blue-ribbon Iraq Study Group headed by James Baker and Lee Hamilton, he was Ronald Reagan's controversial attorney general who spearheaded an internal administration probe into the Iran-Contra connection in November 1986 that was widely criticized as a political exercise in protecting the president rather than a genuine inquiry by the nation's top law enforcement officer.
  • John Negroponte
  •  - the career diplomat who worked quietly to boost the U.S. military and intelligence presence in Central America as ambassador to Honduras, he also participated in efforts to get the Honduran government to support the Contras after Congress banned direct U.S. aid to the rebels. Negroponte's profile has risen spectacularly with his appointments as ambassador to Iraq in 2004 and director of national intelligence in 2005. (See previous Electronic Briefing Book)
  • Oliver L. North
  •  - now a radio talk show host and columnist, he was at the center of the Iran-Contra spotlight as the point man for both covert activities. A Marine serving on the NSC staff, he steadfastly maintained that he received high-level approval for everything he did, and that "the diversion was a diversion." He was found guilty on three counts at a criminal trial but had those verdicts overturned on the grounds that his protected congressional testimony might have influenced his trial. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate from Virginia in 1996. (See previous Electronic Briefing Book)
  • Daniel Ortega
  •  - the newly elected president of Nicaragua was the principal target of several years of covert warfare by the United States in the 1980s as the leader of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front. His democratic election in November 2006 was not the only irony -- it's been suggested by one of Oliver North's former colleagues in the Reagan administration that North's public statements in Nicaragua in late October 2006 may have taken votes away from the candidate preferred by the Bush administration and thus helped Ortega at the polls.
  • John Poindexter
  •  - who found a niche deep in the U.S. government's post-9/11 security bureaucracy as head of the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness program (formally disbanded by Congress in 2003), was Oliver North's superior during the Iran-Contra period and personally approved or directed many of his activities. His assertion that he never told President Reagan about the diversion of Iranian funds to the Contras ensured Reagan would not face impeachment.
  • Otto Reich
  •  - President George W. Bush's one-time assistant secretary of state for Latin America, Reich ran a covert public diplomacy operation designed to build support for Ronald Reagan's Contra policies. A U.S. comptroller-general investigation concluded the program amounted to "prohibited, covert propaganda activities," although no charges were ever filed against him. Reich paid a price in terms of congressional opposition to his nomination to run Latin America policy, resulting in a recess appointment in 2002 that lasted less than a year. (See previous Electronic Briefing Book)
    Such a list of who's who wouldn't you say? Jaysus-friggin-Christ! Aren't some of those names real friggin familiar? They went on to screw up even more than they did in Ronnie's administration, some of them killing even more and more Americans than were killed on Saint Ronnies watch. Like The Big Dick Cheney, Robert Gates and John Negroponte. 

    Ah yes,  the Teflon President was exactly that. And his underlings got off as well. Why are the Democrats never that lucky you might ask? Well..I ask that too my friends..I ask that too.So when the GOP crowd starts crowing today about the wonders of Saint Ronnie, just start low but keep getting louder and louder, chanting the following:

    Iran-Contra..Iran-Contra....You didn't fool me..You didn"t fool me...Iran-Contra...Iran-Contra..You didn't fool me mutha fuckas, you didn't fool  me. 

    It will eventually get on their last friggin nerve and they will either shut the fuck up or leave the room. Hopefully by the time the SuperBowl starts.

    Today's Photo..er..Graphic..ok, Picture.

    It's moving day!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I have purchased a domain name. I have been meticulously working on a new site,Leftwing Nutjob. Please change your bookmarks people..this puppy will no longer be updated as of July 1st 2011.