Barely is Rummy’s political carcass cold, but we have a new scandal. It’s really an old one, buried like Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart–but, just like it, come back to haunt its murderous perpetrators! In case anyone doubts that the Bush Mafia isn’t going to let a newly elected Democratic congress stand in its way–a pox on both its houses, sez Dubya–here’s the glittering prize he picks for his new secretary of defence, meaning to rush the nomination through in the teeth of all opposition (as he also did with the hateful John Bolton).
So, gentlefolks, with no futher ado, I ask you to please give it up for Robert Gates. This old spook’s not only CIA, he’s Iran-Contra.
Robert Gates, George W. Bush’s choice to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary, is a trusted figure within the Bush Family’s inner circle, but there are lingering questions about whether Gates is a trustworthy public official.
The 63-year-old Gates has long faced accusations of collaborating with Islamic extremists in Iran, arming Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in Iraq, and politicizing U.S. intelligence to conform with the desires of policymakers — three key areas that relate to his future job.
Gates skated past some of these controversies during his 1991 confirmation hearings to be CIA director — and the current Bush administration is seeking to slip Gates through the congressional approval process again, this time by pressing for a quick confirmation by the end of the year, before the new Democratic-controlled Senate is seated.
If Bush’s timetable is met, there will be no time for a serious investigation into Gates’s past.
Fifteen years ago, Gates got a similar pass when leading Democrats agreed to put "bipartisanship" ahead of careful oversight when Gates was nominated for the CIA job by President George H.W. Bush.
In 1991, despite doubts about Gates’s honesty over Iran-Contra and other scandals, the career intelligence officer brushed aside accusations that he played secret roles in arming both sides of the Iran-Iraq War. Since then, however, documents have surfaced that raise new questions about Gates’s sweeping denials.
For instance, the Russian government sent an intelligence report to a House investigative task force in early 1993 stating that Gates participated in secret contacts with Iranian officials in 1980 to delay release of 52 U.S. hostages then held in Iran, a move to benefit the presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
"R[obert] Gates, at that time a staffer of the National Security Council in the administration of Jimmy Carter, and former CIA Director George Bush also took part" in a meeting in Paris in October 1980, according to the Russian report, which meshed with information from witnesses who have alleged Gates’s involvement in the Iranian gambit.
Once in office, the Reagan administration did permit weapons to flow to Iran via Israel. One of the planes carrying an arms shipment was shot down over the Soviet Union on July 18, 1981, after straying off course, but the incident drew little attention at the time.
The arms flow continued, on and off, until 1986 when the Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal broke.
Gates also was implicated in a secret operation to funnel military assistance to Iraq in the 1980s, as the Reagan administration played off the two countries battling each other in the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq War.
Middle Eastern witnesses alleged that Gates worked on the secret Iraqi initiative, which included Saddam Hussein’s procurement of cluster bombs and chemicals used to produce chemical weapons for the war against Iran.
Gates denied those Iran-Iraq accusations in 1991 and the Senate Intelligence Committee — then headed by Gates’s personal friend, Sen. David Boren, D-Oklahoma — failed to fully check out the claims before recommending Gates for confirmation.
However, four years later — in early January 1995 — Howard Teicher, one of Reagan’s National Security Council officials, added more details about Gates’s alleged role in the Iraq shipments.
In a sworn affidavit submitted in a Florida criminal case, Teicher stated that the covert arming of Iraq dated back to spring 1982 when Iran had gained the upper hand in the war, leading President Reagan to authorize a U.S. tilt toward Saddam Hussein.
The effort to arm the Iraqis was "spearheaded" by CIA Director William Casey and involved his deputy, Robert Gates, according to Teicher’s affidavit. "The CIA, including both CIA Director Casey and Deputy Director Gates, knew of, approved of, and assisted in the sale of non-U.S. origin military weapons, ammunition and vehicles to Iraq," Teicher wrote.
Ironically, that same pro-Iraq initiative involved Donald Rumsfeld, then Reagan’s special emissary to the Middle East. An infamous photograph from 1983 shows a smiling Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein.
Teicher described Gates’s role as far more substantive than Rumsfeld’s. "Under CIA Director [William] Casey and Deputy Director Gates, the CIA authorized, approved and assisted [Chilean arms dealer Carlos] Cardoen in the manufacture and sale of cluster bombs and other munitions to Iraq," Teicher wrote.
Emphasis and link added.
Yes, folks, this gruesome tale comes a little late for Halloween, but none too soon considering Rummy’s ignominious and, we now see, strangely strategic departure. Looks to me like Brutus has fallen on his sword to make way for Cassius. Meet the new assassin–even meaner than the old one, if such things are possible. How incestuous of them, too, to make Rummy’s old handler his new replacement!
And, to add to the fun, Helen Thomas reports that the Bush II administration is working assidously to cover up the criminality of its Reagan-Bush I predecessors–which include, not coincidentally, a certain former deputy CIA director:
Remember the Iran-Contra scandal of the late 1980s in which Reagan’s aides sold arms covertly to Iran and used the proceeds to illegally fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua? It led to congressional hearings and criminal indictments that tainted the Reagan-Bush administration in its final years.
The new far-reaching order, obviously designed to block historic revelations, covers most records and state secrets in the White House files. You can be sure they will stay secret if this order is upheld in the courts. The Bush order declares that documents subject to release after 12 years that are not covered by “constitutionally-based privileges” will fall into the category of freedom-of-information requests. That will permit the Archivist of the United States to withhold them, too.
Mr. Gates has done his best to dispel the doubts that forced him to withdraw when he was first nominated in 1987. He has seemed contrite and open-minded and cites his broad experience and future vision. But senators would do well to consider at least three criteria.
Whether his past performance shows him to warrant their trust. . . whether he has earned the confidence of agency employees . . . and above all, whether he, an insider, is the right person to lead the agency into uncertain times. On each count, Mr. Gates falls short.
David Boren, the committee chairman, commends Mr. Gates for forthrightness. Yet he overlooks occasions when Mr. Gates helped skew intelligence assessments and was demonstrably blind to illegality. The illegality concerns the Iran-contra scandal. Mr. Gates contends he was `out of the loop’ on decisions about what to tell Congress. And he defends his professed ignorance on grounds of deniability–that he was shielding the C.I.A. from involvement. These contentions defy belief.
The testimony of other puts Mr. Gates, on at least two occasions, very much in the loop. He supervised
preparation of Director William Casey’s deceitful testimony to Congress about the scandal. And one C.I.A. analyst, Charles Allen, says he informed Mr. Gates, before it came to light, of three unforgettable details: Oliver North’s involvement, the markup of prices of arms sold surreptitiously to Iran, and diversion of the proceeds into a fund for covert operations. In a telling lapse of his reputedly formidable memory, Mr. Gates could not recall the details when Congress asked two months later.
The second criterion concerns intelligence estimates. Incorrect forecasting should not be disqualifying; estimates can be wrong for the right reasons of political expediency, that’s ‘cooking the books.’
The hearings have documented at least three cases of such slanting: a May 1985 estimate on Iran, estimates of Soviet influence in the third world, and assessments of Soviet complicity in the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II. Mr. Gates has responded to their testimony but not refuted it. He evidently went to great lengths to manipulate the process, because highly reticent career officials testified against him in public. That electrifying development demonstrates how little confidence Mr. Gates enjoys in the agency.
It can be argued that his experience makes him well suited to lead the C.I.A. into the future. As a former Deputy Director and deputy national security adviser, he knows how intelligence assessments are put together and what policy makers need. And he knows the U.S. will not keep spending $30 billion a year on intelligence.
But it is more reasonable to think the agency would be better off with a director unbound by William Casey’s dark legacy–the conviction that the agency knows best, a barely concealed contempt for Congress and a belief that anything goes including evading the law.
Oh, sorry–that’s from an OLD New York Times editorial, dated October 18, 1991! Yet it sounds like it could have been written today, with just a few details changed–like the position Gates is nominated for. The modus operandi of Gates, Bush I, everyone, sounds woefully familiar–even dopplering back at us from 15 years ago. It all goes to show us just how little things have changed in the Bush Crime Family. They are all still as crooked as ever they were during the height of the slaughter of campesinos in Latin America.
Add one more reason to the ever-growing pile of evidence of war crimes and impeachable offenses for BushCo.