Nevertheless, with a host of such dubious alibis, the 968-page report was shipped off to the printers, with a public release set for Jan. 13, 1993. Washington journalists, already briefed on the task force findings, were preparing to praise the report as “exhaustive” and “bipartisan.” But two days before the news conference, a cable arrived from Moscow . It was a response to a query dated Oct. 21, 1992, that Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., who headed the House task force, had sent to Sergey Vadimovich Stepashin, then chairman of the Supreme Soviet’s Committee on Defense and Security Issues. Hamilton asked Stepashin — whose job was roughly equal to chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee — what information the Russian government had about the so-called “October Surprise” charges.
Instead, the Russians considered their report “a bomb” and “couldn’t believe it was ignored,” the official said. Not only did the House task force keep the extraordinary Russian report secret, it ended up in a cardboard box among hundreds of documents, some unclassified and others “secret.” The document boxes were piled, ingloriously, on the floor of a former Ladies’ Room which had been converted into storage space, deep inside a parking garage of the Rayburn House Office Building .The Ladies’ Room Secrets
Stored away in a converted Ladies’ Room on Capitol Hill, dusty boxes contained startling evidence of Republican dirty tricks in the 1980 presidential campaign — and of a bipartisan cover-up that continues to this day.
Much of that missing history was there in the documents.Bill Casey’ Iranian
Iranian banker Cyrus Hashemi was a mystery man of the 1980s, a nexus point for scandal, from accessing vaults of the corrupt BCCI to opening doors to the Iran-Contra Affair. But for years, the FBI withheld key wiretaps of Hashemi’s secret conversations.
A year later, still in London , Hashemi fell suddenly ill with what was diagnosed as acute leukemia. He died on July 21, 1986. But what Hashemi had started in that London hotel room would become known a few months after Hashemi’s death as the Iran-Contra Affair.Follow the Money
An intimidating array of individuals and forces wanted President Carter ousted from the White House in 1980. Some were driven by ambition; others by money; and still others by revenge. Together, they were over-powering.
But as it turned out, the task force’s chief counsel, E. Lawrence Barcella Jr., had worked as a lead attorney for BCCI in the late 1980s. BCCI paid Barcella and his firm more than $2 million, and the lead partner in the firm was former Sen. Paul Laxalt. Not the BCCI money, nor Ashraf’s $20 million, nor the Philippine files were mentioned in the House report. The task force, it seemed, had no interest in following the money.Saddam’s ‘Green Light’
In 1980, Iraq ‘s Saddam Hussein was suddenly a bigtime international ‘player,’ invited to the gaudy palaces of the Saudi Arabian monarchy. But there was an ulterior motive behind the flattering invitation: Saddam’s army was the new protector of the petro-rich against the Iranian hordes.
When Saddam explained his confrontation with Kuwait to U.S. Ambassador April Glaspie, he received an ambiguous reply, a reaction he apparently perceived as another “green light.” Eight days later, Saddam unleashed his army into Kuwait , an invasion that required 500,000 U.S. troops and thousands more dead to reverse.Where’s Bill Casey?
In 1991-92, the October Surprise investigation was like a worldwide Where’s Waldo game, trying to locate Bill Casey on crucial days in 1980. Two national magazines and a House task force claimed success, thus disproving that Casey sabotaged the Iran hostage talks. The game was over; Casey and the Republicans were innocent.
“You found a photograph from the Bohemian Grove?” I stammered.
But Newsweek and The New Republic were wrong; they had completely misread the London evidence. When more thorough interviews were done with Americans who had attended the London conference with Casey, it became clear that Casey was not there on either Sunday night or Monday morning. He arrived late Monday afternoon, as a notation on the attendance sheet corroborated. It said Casey “came at 4 p.m.”
In one of the dozens of boxes, I found a color photograph of the 16 men who spent that pivotal last weekend of July 1980 in the Parsonage cottage at the Bohemian Grove. They were posed in a formal setting, with some older gentlemen seated in front and the other members and guests standing in elevated rows behind them. I looked at one man after another, searching for the tall, stooped, large-headed figure of Bill Casey. He was no where to be seen.Bush & a CIA Power Play
The CIA Old Boys were reeling. In the 1970s, exposure of their dirty games and dirty tricks made the Cold Warriors look sinister — and silly. Then, President Carter ordered a housecleaning that left scores of CIA men out in the cold.
For instance, there was no reference to BCCI’s secret money deliveries to October Surprise suspects, no mention of Ledeen, Shackley or the other ex-CIA men assisting the Reagan-Bush campaign on Iran, no word about Laxalt and the Marcos money -and nothing about Bush’s phone call.Lies Spun into History
Better than Democrats, Bob Dole and other Republicans grasped the value of defending heroes, even imperfect ones. So the GOP battled the charges that Bill Casey and other Republicans played a nearly treasonous dirty trick to win in 1980.
Henry Hyde and the other Republicans could celebrate.The Bushes & the Truth About Iran
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It’s also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth.’
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