Iran-Contra and the Israeli
excerpted from the book
the Roots of Terrorism
edited by Ellen Ray and William
Ocean Press, 2003, paper
Iran - Contra and the Israel Lobby
Introduction by Ellen Ray and William H. Schaap
God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits
America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America's Middle
Eastern policy and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is
a) Anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy and d) a
John LeCarre, London Times, January 15,
Today, the U.S. Government and its goose-stepping corporate media
tightly control the most powerful propaganda apparatus the world
has ever seen.
The campaign for world economic and political domination gathered
momentum during the final years of the Cold War, including the
decade-long Iran-lraq War of the 1980s (in which the United States
sold arms to both sides) and the "clandestine" wars
against Nicaragua's Sandinista Government and the revolutionary
movements in El Salvador, Guatemala Angola, South Africa and elsewhere.
What became known as the IranContra scandal-clandestine U.S. arms
sales to Iran, facilitated by Israeli intelligence guidance, with
the huge profits used to fund the terrorist war of the contras
against the revolutionary government of Nicaragua-was a major
part of these operations. Both ends of the operation were ostensibly
prohibited by U.S. Iaw and the secret sales to Iraq were not even
part of the publicly known equation.
The psychological operations, or "psyops"
apparatus, institutionalized today, which have virtually eliminated
public media debate while severely damaging civil and constitutional
rights, began in earnest during the Reagan and Bush I administrations.
And the forces shaping administration policies and consequently
government propaganda, include familiar faces from those years:
Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage,
Eliot Abrams and Michael Ledeen, among many others.
During the Reagan years, the State Department
ran an Office of Public Diplomacy, which was little more than
a separate disinformation office. And it was riddled with Iran-Contra
figures like Lt. Col. Oliver North and Adm. John Poindexter. With
the "war on terrorism" as its justification, the current
Bush Administration tried to establish a formal international
disinformation agency, a shadowy Pentagon operation called the
Office of Strategic Influence, directed to "conduct covert
operations aimed at influencing public opinion and policymakers
in friendly and neutral nations." Even the mainstream press
found the open espousal of disinformation too much and Congress
refused to fund the program. Of course, the secret operations
continue, as they always have. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was
unusually frank and openly cynical about it. After announcing
that the exposure of their plans had forced the Pentagon to shut
down this operation, he defiantly told reporters, "fine I'll
give you the corpse..., you can have the name, but I'm gonna keep
doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have."
More successfully, the Pentagon established
the Total Information Awareness Program, to collect and collate
all available electronic information on U.S. citizens, compiling
credit-card, travel, medical, school, banking and other data.
Brought in to head this agency was Adm. John Poindexter, despite
his conviction in Iran-Contra on five felony counts of Iying to
Congress (later overturned because he was deemed to have been
granted immunity). This, too, was a bit much for the Congress
and Poindexter's appointment was rejected.
The compelling international issues today,
those which will shape the future, are most importantly the Middle
and Far East-Israel, Iraq, China, North Korea. Preeminent is Israel,
for it is the Israel lobby (sometimes called the Israel firsters),
broadly defined, which is setting the entire, immediate, agenda.
Traditional lobbying of Congress is still dominated by the American-lsrael
Political Action Committee, but its power base today is the Pentagon's
Defense Policy Board, chaired by Richard Perle, a Reagan Defense
Department veteran. Perle was a co-founder of the Jewish Institute
for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which maintains that there
is no difference between Israel's national security interests
and America's. It calls for "regime change" not just
in Iraq, but in Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian
Authority. "Total war," JINSA co-founder and pundit
Michael Ledeen (another Iran-Contra figure) calls it. Two other
JINSA board members are on the policy board, Adm. David Jeremiah
and former CIA Director James Woolsey.
Before 1980, the Israel lobby functioned
mostly on the fringe, through independently funded, extremely
conservative organizations like the Committee on the Present Danger,
JINSA, the Center for Security Policy, the Project for a New Century
and the American-lsrael Political Action Committee. Some were
based at mainstream academic institutions. Some were closely tied
to religious organizations, ironically both Zionist and fundamentalist
They asserted that the defense of Israel
and the consequent and necessary control of the Middle East rests
solely on the virtually unquestioning support of Israel's every
policy-including the settlements in the occupied territories,
collective punishment, preemptive strikes and the ultimate "transfer"
of all Palestinians out of what once was Palestine- and that such
support should be the fundamental pillars of U.S. foreign policy.
Their justifications were as diverse as their constituents, but
all saw Israel as the proxy guarantor of U.S. domination over
the Middle East and its oil and water resources, perfectly designed
to keep Arab nationalist aspirations at bay and in disarray. Christian
fundamentalists viewed Israel as the key battleground for the
Second Coming, Armageddon, the Day of Judgment.
The Israel lobby flourished during Ronald
Reagan's presidency, but was somewhat less influential during
the first Bush Administration, which tried to put the brakes on
Israeli settlements in the West Bank. George W. Bush, on the contrary,
is toeing the Sharon-Likud line, another "man of peace."
One of the most powerful pro-lsrael flacks
is Paul Wolfowitz, the Deputy Secretary of Defense. Wolfowitz
has been in the Pentagon and the State Department since the early
1970s, except for the Clinton years. He was ambassador to Indonesia
during some of the worst years of the Suharto dictatorship and
worked hard during the 2000 presidential campaign to keep the
Reagan-Bush support for Suharto out of the debate. It was Wolfowitz
who authored the 1992 "Defense Policy Guidance," which
has been reborn as Bush II's "National Security Strategy."
Though not formally afffiliated with the Israel lobby organizations,
Wolfowitz is known not only as a super-hawk, but also as a profound
supporter of right-wing Israeli positions. In a speech to the
Pro-lsrael rally in Washington in April 2002, he concluded, "May
God bless America, may God bless Israel."
Also part of this group is Douglas Feith,
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Feith is on JlNSA's board
of advisers and is the most vocal proponent of another fundamental
tenet of the Israel lobby (and others), that any and all arms
limitation treaties are anathema. Feith was in charge of oversight
of the short-lived Office of Strategic Influence.
Another key figure is John Bolton, Under
Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
He is truly the fox in charge of the chicken coop; he was instrumental
in Washington's decision to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty. He led the U.S. attack on the International Criminal Court.
Bolton was vice-president of the American Enterprise Institute
and on the boards of the avowedly racist Manhattan Institute and
the New American Century. He is a long-time advocate of diplomatic
recognition of Taiwan, scoffing at the notion China would respond
with force. Together with Ariel Sharon, he endorsed the game plan
that, after Iraq, the United States and Israel must deal militarily
with Iran and Syria. Of Bolton, Jesse Helms said, "[he] is
the kind of a man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon.
Eliot Abrams, one of the most vicious
of the Iran-Contra gang, has been appointed senior director for
Near East and North African affairs on the National Security Council.
And Michael Ledeen, for all practical
purposes an Israeli fifth columnist, is a longtime propagandist
for the cabal, a Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute,
who ... was deeply involved in the Iran-Contra crimes. Ledeen
is one of the most vocal proponents of "total war,"
calling for the overthrow of Iraq, Iran, Syria and even Saudia
Arabia, as well as the removal of Yasser Arafat.
Perhaps the Israel lobby's greatest asset
has been its ability to stifle criticism of its views by conflating
opposition to the murderous policies of the Sharon Government
of Israel with anti-Semitism, including a shameful denigration
of the horror of the Holocaust, constantly equating Middle Eastern
regimes with Hitler's. Donald Rumsfeld, a staunch supporter of
this group, has referred to "the so-called occupied territories,"
and demonized French and German opposition to his Iraq war plans
by slyly referring to the "Old Europe," a reference
to Nazism and collaboration. Only as this agenda became open and
blatant with the United States on the brink of war and threats
of possible preemptive nuclear attacks emanating from the Pentagon,
were some voices in the mainstream media speaking out with trepidation
against the unbridled power of these hawks and the outrageous
fallacies of their arguments .
Control over the limits of debate in the
media has been vicious, with swift retaliation against any attempted
breach in the wall surrounding Israeli righteousness. This goes
well beyond the long-standing linguistic tricks, whereby, for
example, Palestinians only "attack," and Israelis only
"retaliate," whereby a Palestinian child who throws
a rock at an Israeli tank is a terrorist, while an Israeli soldier
who bulldozes the home of the mother of a suspected terrorist,
killing her in the process, is an antiterrorist.
by Fred Landis
[Oliver] North and [Michael] Ledeen have worked together in a
number of operations in recent years, very different, but all,
one way or another, involving psyops or disinformation. In 1983,
North was involved in the Grenada invasion l The media were excluded
and U.S. Army psyops took over the local press and radio. The
mainstream U.S. media got a bizarre white paper authored by Michael
Ledeen, purportedly based upon the three tons of documentation
the U.S. invaders seized.
That same year Ledeen and North participated
in a National Security Council planning group that led to the
creation of the State Department's Office of Public Diplomacy.
North fed the office CIA and DIA material on Nicaragua, grist
for its propaganda mill, while Ledeen and others churned it out.
In 1984, North masterminded an attempted
drug trade sting against Nicaragua. North's colleague, "retired"
Gen. Richard V. Secord, purchased a C-123K cargo plane from Southern
Air Transport. It was outfitted with hidden cameras and turned
over to DEA agent Barry Adler Seal. Seal then force landed at
a military airfield in Nicaragua, where he got photos of a Nicaraguan
official, Federico Vaughn, investigating. That photo then became
the basis of much disinformation on a supposed Borge-Castro narcotics
trafficking ring. President Reagan used the photo on television,
stating, with utterly no evidence or justification, that a box
in the picture was filled with drugs. Like a bad penny, the same
plane returned to Nicaragua in October 1986, carrying Eugene Hasenfus.
After the 1984 congressional elections,
North helped plan a series of sonic booms over Nicaragua, in an
attempt to rattle the Sandinistas. Ledeen then orchestrated a
rumor campaign among the Washington press corps that the invasion
of Grenada had just been a preamble to the invasion of Nicaragua.
In the 1986 congressional elections, North
assisted in the political campaigns of Senators Paula Hawkins
(Rep.-Fla.) and Jeremiah Denton (Rep.-Ala.). They lost. But interestingly,
Denton's Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism and Hawkins's
Subcommittee on Children, Family, Drugs and Alcohol were both
favorite platforms for Ledeen to spread his media hoaxes.
Ledeen and Contragate
Ledeen's role in Iran-a-scam and Contragate
begins with his secret missions to Israel. But it is unclear who
was urging whom to do what. According to leaked portions of a
Senate Intelligence Committee report, the sale of arms to Iran
was planned and implemented by the Israeli intelligence service,
Mossad. Each time that the United States rejected further participation
in the Israeli plan, some Mossad agent was urgently dispatched
to the United States to put their plan back on track. Throughout
the leaked Senate report, there are references to "the Israeli
plan." And the text of a memo by Lt. Col. Oliver North titled
"Covert Action Finding Regarding Iran" reads: "Prime
Minister Peres of Israel secretly dispatched his special adviser
on terrorism (Amiram Nir) with instructions to propose a plan
by which Israel, with limited assistance from the United States,
can create conditions..."
But instead of trying to shift the blame
to Israel, the White House sought to delete all references to
the Israeli role from the Senate report and the media accounts
Naturally, the New York Times placed the
initiative with the National Security Council: President Reagan
contended that the program had its inception in mid-1985 when
McFarlane sent a U.S. consultant, Michael Ledeen, to Israel.
The Israeli press depicted Ledeen as an
U.S. agent who got Israel invoked as a broker in a deal between
the United States and Iran. Defense Minister and former Director
General of Foreign Affairs David Kimche told the Los Angeles Times
that the purpose of his July 1985 visit to Washington was to confirm
Ledeen's bona fides. However, there were a number of glaring problems
with the Israeli cover story. Kimche had already met with McFarlane
in January 1985 to urge arms sales to Iran.
He had been pushing for this policy since
And Ledeen was hardly a stranger to Israeli
officials. In fact, the ludicrous part of the Israeli cover story
is the allegation that Kimche, who lived in New York for five
years in the 1960s as chief of Mossad's Western Hemisphere operations
division, had to travel to Washington to establish Ledeen's bona
fides. David Kimche and Amiram Nir spent their professional lives
in the Mossad, an agency not unknown to Ledeen.
Ledeen and Israel
Michael Ledeen was a founder of the Jewish
Institute for National Security Affairs and was a major participant
in the 1979 and 1984 Jonathan Institute conferences on terrorism.
Both institutes have substantial ties to Mossad. Indeed
Ledeen is the missing link of covert operations
by Mossad in the United States during the Reagan Administration.
The most visible trail left by Mossad
is the disinformation activities of Ledeen and friends. Michael
Ledeen, Robert Moss and Claire Sterling were all speakers at the
1979 Jerusalem conference of the Jonathan Institute, a meeting
which many Israeli intelligence agents attended. The speakers
bemoaned the fall of Somoza and the Shah; Moss blasted the KGB;6
Ledeen pointed out that even the KGB would not have succeeded
if it were not for their mole (unnamed) in the Carter Administration.
Ledeen and his codisinformationists always raise the specter of
a KGB role in Iran and Nicaragua, primarily to justify more U.S.
covert action. Indeed one of the themes at the Jerusalem Conference
was that Carter had destroyed the CIA.
Governments like South Korea, Taiwan,
Turkey and especially Israel, simply cannot survive without continued
U.S. military and economic assistance. The loss of Iran and Nicaragua
under the Carter Administration led them to a certain concern
about the reliability of the United States. Israel decided it
would have to play a more aggressive role in U.S. domestic politics
in order to guarantee an unwavering partner. The propaganda themes
spread during the Jerusalem conference were aimed at the 1980
U.S. elections, to discredit Carter, support conservatives and
present Israel as the U.S.'s most reliable ally in the face of
terrorist and Soviet threats. The vehicle was disinformation.
The Golden Age of Disinformation
At no other time in U.S. history, not
even during World War II, have so many millions of U.S. citizens
been led to believe such hysterical hoaxes.
The Reagan era will go down in history
as the golden age of disinformation. And if you follow the paper
trail of verifiable disinformation spread the last six years within
the United States, the Israelis are first, the CIA a poor second
and the KGB dead last as a source of disinformation spread in
the United States.
Disinformation became one of the buzzwords
of the Reagan Administration. It covered every piece of news they
didn't like, including statements by Democrats. Meanwhile the
CIA spread disinformation about Libya, Iran, Grenada and Nicaragua.
Hours before the Grenada invasion, Admiral Poindexter told reporters
an invasion was out of the question. Later he wrote his famous
memo outlining a policy of disinformation aimed at Libya. President
Reagan accused Sandinista leaders of being dope dealers. As part
of McFarlane's cover story for U.S. involvement in Iran, he repeated
disinformation about a massive buildup of Soviet strength on the
Disinformation is intrinsically of interest
to journalists because someone is polluting the information stream.
What is not generally realized is that disinformation is always
coordinated with other covert operations. Often a specific disinformation
theme is deception and cover for other activities by the originator.
Michael Ledeen has been involved in the dissemination of a number
of disinformation stories which provide sufficient data to test
Before popping up in the middle of the
Iran-Contra scandal, Ledeen had built up a reputation concocting
or spreading major disinformation themes, among them:
* The notion that the CIA was destroyed
* That there was a KGB mole in the Carter
* That the loss of Iran and Nicaragua
was the work of the mole;
* That the Soviet Union is behind an International
* That it tried to kill the Pope;
* That the Libyans tried to kill President
* That the Iranians tried to kill President
* That Fidel Castro and Tomas Borge are
major narcotics dealers.
These fake stories, spread with the conspicuous
help of Israel, had the surface appearance of being solely right-wing
U.S. propaganda. In fact, Israel was actively covering its penetration
of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. Indeed, the first four
hoaxes were the Mossad Party platform for the 1980 U.S. elections.
To sell its expertise in the area of combating terrorism and to
get the attention of credulous U.S. conservatives, Israel fostered
a Soviet angle. It tried to curry favor with the CIA and to discredit
further the existing liberal U.S. foreign policy establishment
by launching a witch-hunt against nonexistent moles.
Mossad cannot stand détente, between
Iraq and Iran or between the United States and the Soviet Union.
It is to the advantage of Israeli intelligence to promote the
notion that the Soviet Union tried to kill the Pope and that it
is behind all acts of international terrorism.
While everyone else was amused by the
preposterous story of a Libyan "hit squad" out to kill
the president, a story which originated with Israeli intelligence,
Reagan had concrete bunkers built to surround the White House
and heavily armed Marines in fatigues on the roof. If you are
an intelligence agent and you want to get the attention of some
world leader, tell him you have uncovered a terrorist plot to
kill him. The CIA had been employing this trick in the Third World
for years; why should we be :surprised that Mossad pulled it on
What Vice-President Bush Knew and Why
He Knew It
by Anthony L. Kimery
"What is striking about George Bush's
role as vice-president is that - L was much more than has ever
been suspected. [In the Iran-Contra operation, he]... actually
helped execute the dirty-tricks schemes that hijacked Congress's
prerogatives in the 1980s," wrote Frank Snepp and Jonathan
Marshall. Bush was in the big middle of the Reagan Administration's
covert operations; not just as a yes man to Reagan, but as an
ardent supporter of and facilitator for, the CIA and the covert
operations crowd at Langley and the Old Executive Office Building.
That involvement buttresses emerging evidence that Bush has been
connected to the clandestine services for nearly four decades.
From his early days at Yale in the 1940s,
when he was a member of the Agency-linked Skull and Bones Society,
to his career as a moderately successful Texas businessman in
the 1950s and early 1960s, to his stint as a political player
in the 1960s and 1970s, Bush has been unofficially linked to the
CIA in one way or another. In 1976, when Bush became head of the
Agency, the connection came into the open and stayed unusually
close through his term as vice-president. Bush orchestrated CIA
covert activities employed by the Reagan Administration to achieve
its foreign policy objectives-the same ones Bush had a heavy hand
In 1981, when CIA Director William Casey
first laid out his plan to launch a secret war against the Sandinista
Government, Bush eagerly supported the scheme. And for good reason:
It was drafted by his longtime friend, CIA career officer Donald
Gregg, who was the Agency's man on the National Security Council
(NSC) and who arranged for an expansion of Bush's role in the
planning and approval of covert operations. Shortly after Casey's
plan was adopted by the White House, Bush appointed Gregg his
national security adviser. Resigning from the Agency in 1979 to
sever the official link, Gregg began in 1981 to manage the Contra
supply effort that Oliver North was running from the NSC. By this
time, Bush was a member of the NSC, the National Security Planning
Group, the Task Force on Combating Terrorism and chair of the
White House Special Situations Group.
From then on, Bush attended nearly every
key meeting concerning Iran-Contra, signed off on early deliveries
of arms to the Contras, helped organize a resupply bridge to Contra
bases in Honduras, sent members of his staff into the field to
write progress reports and helped stage-manage the Israelis' central
role in arming the Contras and brokering the initial arms sales
Given his hands-on approach, institutional
centrality and personal involvement, Bush's contention that he
was out of "the loop" is elementally ludicrous. In a
recently surfaced 1987 memo, then Secretary of State George Shultz
and then Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger expressed incredulity
at Bush's assertion that he was unaware that the two cabinet members
had opposed the Iran arms sales to fund the contras. "He
[Bush] was on the other side [of the debate]. It's on the record,"
the memo noted recording Shultz's anger. "Why did he say
A key link was Donald Gregg, Bush's national
security adviser. Gregg oversaw the operation through his trusted
friend Felix Rodriguez, a CubanAmerican career CIA operative who
first linked up with the Agency during its war against Fidel Castro.
According to some accounts, Gregg specifically pitched the idea
of putting Rodriguez in charge on the ground in Central America,
to which Bush replied: "This sounds like a good idea. See
if you can arrange it."
Since Rodriguez reported to Gregg and
met on several occasions with Bush, it is not surprising that
Bush's office was one of the first places notified when, on October
5,1986, Nicaraguan soldiers shot down a cargo plane trying to
drop weapons to the Contras. Onboard were ex-CIA operatives working
for the White House, including Eugene Hasenfus, the sole survivor
of the shoot-down. Orchestrated denials, particularly by Bush's
office and frenetic high-level "spin controls" began
immediately. Until forced to recant by the weight of incontrovertible
evidence, the White House stonewalled. "There is no government
connection with that plane at all," Reagan declared; the
aircraft was part of a private Contra supply operation, Shultz
and Assistant Secretary Eliot Abrams claimed.
Indictments and More Lies
The extent and nature of that protection
involved an elaborate fabric of both legal lies to the public
and illegal lies to the Congress. This screen served to distance
Vice-President Bush from the mess-until Tuesday, July 9, 1991.
That morning, the first of many indictments against former CIA
of officials was handed down by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh
who was conducting what would become a five-and-a-half year investigation.
It was then that Alan D. Fiers, chief
of the CIA's Central America Task Force (1984-88), pleaded guilty
to lying to Congress when he testified that "we do not know"
whose airplane was shot down or "who was behind the flights.''
Fiers told Congress that the CIA, like Bush, had been out of the
loop. Significantly, Fiers stated he was ordered to lie by Clair
George, his superior at the Agency. He also admitted knowing that
George planned to lie in his testimony to Congress. When Fiers
presented George with a suggested opening statement explaining
the Hasenfus flight as an unfortunate aberration from the legal
"humanitarian" aid flights, George rejected admitting
any administration connection to the downed flight. "No,"
testified Fiers quoting George's response, "I [George] don't
want that... It puts the spotlight on the White House, Ollie North
or the administration... I don't want to be the first person to
do that," a weeping Fiers testified in George's trial. Nearly
a year earlier, Fiers had testified that George had told him "this
was a State [Department]White House operation."
This high-level coverup is important not
only because it hid facts, but because it disguised the trail
that might-had the truth been impossible for congressional investigators
to dismiss-have led to George Bush.