Iran Contra Scandal: Arms for Hostages Deals with Iran
The second element in the Iran-Contra scandal was the “arms for hostages” deals. At the time they were the most controversial aspect of the scandal. Iran and its ally Hezbollah had inflicted a series of humiliations on the US that began during the Iranian Revolution and escalated during the war on Lebanon. The Iran Hostage Crisis, the US embassy bombing in Beirut, the kidnapping of CIA Chief of Station William Buckley and most dramatically the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut. The US had branded Iran a state terror sponsor and the State Department and CIA had launched Operation Staunch to pressure the whole world to stop selling arms to Iran. The US was allied with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchs in backing Iraq in the Iran/Iraq war. Reagan had publicly called Iran “Murder Incorporated” and claimed the US would never negotiate or make concessions with terrorists. Yet at the same time as Reagan was publicly condemning Iran the US was supplying them with thousands of anti-tank missiles, helping Iran rebuild its air defences and providing it with intelligence that managed to shift the balance in the Iran/Iraq war in Iran’s favour. This was all in an effort to free seven American hostages in Beirut. Of course the deeper geopolitical purpose was to prolong the Iran/Iraq war making it as bloody and destructive as possible, a goal the Israeli Mossad veteran David Kimche openly admitted. President Ronald Reagan overruled objections from his own cabinet to carry the deal out. Even when warned that he could face impeachment and prison Reagan pushed for the deals to continue. Among Reagan’s cabinet only Vice President George H. W. Bush and CIA Director Bill Casey consistently supported the continuation of the arms for hostages deals. At a lower level North and Secord, once they were brought in on the deals, also consistently backed the plans as they benefited “The Enterprise.” Secord was able to turn a profit while North was able to funnel money to the Contras in Nicaragua.
The Iran-Contra investigations failed to investigate the true origins of the Iran arms for hostages deal. First, Iran under the rule of Shah Pahlavi had been one of the top customers for America’s military industrial complex. In the final years of the Shah’s reign, Richard Secord had headed the Military Assistance program in Iran, helping his arms dealing friends generate vast profits. When the Iranian revolution overthrew the Shah, the Rockefeller family interests in the form of Chase Manhattan bank were worried the new Iranian government might withdraw the hundreds of millions Iran had deposited in their bank. They had helped to launch the career of President Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski convinced Carter to allow the exiled Shah into the US for cancer treatment. Back in Iran many thought the US was preparing to launch another coup like the one by which CIA officer Kermit Roosevelt had toppled Mossadegh and restored the Shah back in 1953. In protest against the US admission of the Shah and in hopes of finding out what the US was plotting, a group of Iranian students seized the embassy. They captured 52 Americans on the embassy staff: State department officials, the CIA, and the military. They also seized all the files documenting decades of US support for the Shah’s dirty war on the Iranian people.
The Hostage Crisis began on 4 November 1979. President Carter retaliated by freezing Iran’s overseas accounts, allowing Chase-Manhattan to keep Iran’s money. This at least is one simplified version of events. The Iranian revolution was far more complex than most realize and in fact went through two stages. First there was the initial overthrow of the Shah by a broader movement that included left wing forces and nationalists. Second came the triumph of Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic revolution. Also there is evidence that the rise of Khomeini and the whole hostage crisis were manipulated by western intelligence. Iran’s mullahs had long been on the CIA payroll since the days of the 1953 coup. Iran is by no means a puppet of the US or its allies. Iran remains one of the few countries willing to stand up to the US and Israel. However despite the hostile rhetoric from both sides secret deals were made between the US and Iran.
President Jimmy Carter began a year of efforts to rescue or negotiate the release of the hostages. However unknown to Carter or his administration he was being targeted for a soft coup by the GOP, disgruntled elements of the CIA, and Big Business in the form of David Rockefeller and his allies. It became known as the “October Surprise” a term for last minute manipulations in October aiming to alter the election results in November. The GOP were obsessed with the idea Carter would free the hostages in October 1980 swinging the election in his favour. Yet the GOP began to manipulate events far earlier then October 1980. The first secret deals between the GOP and the Khomeini faction took place at least as early as March 1980. Reagan’s campaign manager was OSS veteran Bill Casey. Casey set up an October Surprise group to monitor Carter’s efforts to free the hostages. Elements within the Carter administration like Donald Gregg at the NSC and Robert Gates at the CIA were leaking information to Casey. Bush had his own CIA agents for Bush contingent, which included Robert Gambino. Many CIA agents for Bush would join Casey’s October surprise group once Reagan picked Bush as Vice Presidential candidate.
To negotiate with Iran Carter’s administration had picked Cyrus Hashemi. Cyrus and his brother Jamshid Hashemi had close ties to Mehdi and Hassan Karrubi in Iran. (Hassan Karrubi and Cyrus Hashemi would both be deeply involved in the Iran-Contra scandal.) The Hashemi brothers were also close to Admiral Madani who was the main rival of Iran’s President Bani Sadr. Unknown to Carter, Cyrus Hashemi had close ties to Bill Casey through Lebanese-American businessman John Shaheen. Casey had done legal work for them and had known Shaheen for decades. Cyrus Hashemi became a double agent for the Reagan campaign initially providing them intelligence on Carter’s negotiations and then acting as a middleman to set up negotiations between Casey and the Iranians. Cyrus Hashemi’s First Gulf and Trust bank had been used by the CIA, the Shah’s family, and the new Iranian government to move money. It had close ties to BCCI, an infamous CIA-backed bank whose clients included drug cartels and terrorists.
A series of meetings were held. In March 1980 Reagan crony Earl Brian (who served as Secretary of Health under Governor Reagan) and Robert “Bud” McFarlane (who would later set the Iran-Contra arms for hostage deals in motion) along with Bill Casey met in Madrid with Iranian Mehdi Bazargan (close to Hashemi’s contact Mehdi Karrubbi) to arrange a deal whereby Iran would refuse to release the hostages until after the election in exchange for massive shipments of arms and other concessions. The Israelis were also in on the deal. Israel had begun selling arms to Iran back in September 1979 and would act as middleman in the October Surprise arms deals. After the Madrid meet Israel supplied Iran with 300 tyres for Iran’s F4 fighter jets in March 1980. Iranian born Israeli Ari Ben Menashe would play a major role in the arms deals and in later exposing the October Surprise. In return the Reagan Administration would turn a blind eye as Israel sold nearly a billion dollars in arms to Iran in the early 1980s. Bush’s man, ex-CIA Ted Shackley, would later meet with the Iranians in London and Hamburg. He was Bush’s point man on October Surprise. A Bush memo was uncovered revealing that Bush later told Richard Allen (who would go on to be Reagan’s first National Security Adviser) to contact Shackley with any last minute details on Carter’s hostage negotiations. Shackley was also close to Michael Ledeen who was involved in the October surprise and the “BillyGate” scandal targeting Carter’s brother. In July 1980 Hashemi would begin a series of secret meetings with Iranian representatives including Mehdi Karrubi in Madrid. After meeting with Khomeini, Karrubi requested another meeting with Casey, held in August 1980.
Meanwhile the Carter administration was working from a hard bargaining stance completely unaware that the Iranians had already gotten a better offer from the GOP. On 24 April 1980, the US mounted a disastrous rescue attempt “Operation Eagle Claw”. Either through bad luck, incompetence, or sabotage it ended in complete disaster when two of the helicopters crashed at the Iranian desert landing zone called Desert One. Eight men from the US military died in the crash. The others were forced to flee since they no longer had enough helicopters to carry out the rescue. The corpses of the dead Americans were paraded through Teheran, enraging the US public and humiliating Carter. Richard Secord, Robert Dutton, and Richard Gadd future members of “The Enterprise” were all involved in the hostage rescue plans. The failure would lead to a massive re-expansion of the Special Forces that began under Carter; accelerating under Reagan and continuing into our own time.
In September 1980 Carter’s luck was finally poised to change. Iran’s President Bani Sadr had learned of the GOP’s secret deal with Khomeini and planned to go public on 8 September 1980. To keep him quiet Khomeini agreed to reopen negotiations with the US. Iran was also worried about an increasingly hostile Iraq. Khomeini sent Sadegh Tatabani to make a deal and Carter’s negotiators seized on the opportunity. Yet once again Brzezinski’s machinations would sabotage Carter. Brzezinski had convinced Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to invade Iran. The war began on 22 September 1980. Thus Tatabani was unable to return to Iran because Iraq was bombing the Teheran airport. In late September or early October the Iranians would meet with GOP representatives at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington DC where Israeli Housang Lavi, Americans Richard Allen, Robert McFarlane, and Lawrence Silberman met with Iranian representatives. (President Reagan would later appoint Silberman a judge and Judge Silberman would overturn North and Poindexter’s Iran-Contra convictions.) The DC meeting was followed by a meeting at the Ritz Hotel in Paris from 17 – 18 October 1980, attended by Bill Casey and Vice Presidential Candidate George H. W. Bush along with Robert McFarlane, Robert Gates, Donald Gregg and George Cave. The Iranians agreed to hold the hostages until after the inauguration. It was bad enough the GOP was convincing the Iranians to hold onto the hostages until after the election. Now it wanted Iran to hold onto them even longer so that Reagan could come into office with a boost in popularity. To cement the deal a French Israeli arms shipment was sent to Iran on 23 October 1980, consisting of 250 F4 spare tyres and M6 tank spare parts. On 4 November 1980, the US general election was held. On the first anniversary of the start of the hostage crisis Carter lost to Reagan. On 20 January 1981, Reagan was inaugurated President and the hostages were released. The US was soon supplying Iran with arms worth hundreds of millions of dollars through Israel, South Korea and its NATO allies. Israel used its knowledge of the “October Surprise” secret to get away with selling Iran nearly a billion dollars in arms in 1981-1983. Naive Americans believed the strange coincidence of the hostages being released on the day of the inauguration was because of Reagan’s tough stance on terrorism. By massively expanding Carter’s war in Afghanistan, Reagan and Casey would play a major role in giving birth to Al Qaeda. The Reagan years would also see the origins of the same rhetoric and tactics of the later “War on Terror.” Although Reagan did not personally take part in the October Surprise negotiations, he was almost certainly informed of the secret. It is the only way to explain his obsession with pursuing the Iran-Contra arms for hostages deals despite their quickly evolving into a farce filled with lies and broken promises. Congress and most of the media would cover up the October Surprise.
The October Surprise story has been confirmed by dozens of witnesses from around the world including former President Bani Sadr, Ari Ben Menashe, Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat, Alexandre DeMarenches (former head of French Intelligence and close Bush ally) Russian Intelligence, and the Iranian Government offered to send proof to Bill Clinton.
In the years that followed the bloody Iran-Iraq war would continue, eventually claiming over a million lives. The US was busy supplying Iraq with arms via Egypt. Meanwhile the CIA provided the Iraqis intelligence to plan their attacks. In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon and installed a puppet government. The Israelis had sparked the Lebanese civil war back in 1975 encouraging their fascist Christian Phalange allies to try to seize control of the country. Southern Lebanon was being used as a base for Palestinian forces to shell Israel. The Israelis were even more annoyed with them when the Palestinians maintained a ceasefire. In 1978 Israel had invaded and occupied Southern Lebanon but Carter had forced them to withdraw. Now with Reagan in office in 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon eventually creating a puppet state in Southern Lebanon. Southern Lebanon was also home to a huge Shiite population and with the aid of Iran’s IRGC they formed Hezbollah in 1982. The US became increasingly involved in Lebanon siding with the Israelis and the Phalange while pretending to be neutral peacekeepers. It would take Hezbollah nearly 20 years to force Israel to withdraw from Lebanon. Hezbollah would force the US to withdraw in just one year. On 18 April 1983, Hezbollah detonated a van packed with explosives outside the US embassy, killing 63 people. A dozen high level CIA personnel, including their top Mid-East analyst, Robert Ames, whom Casey had sent to Beirut. Robert McFarlane was sent as a special emissary to Beirut. There he escalated US involvement in the war, shelling and bombing Lebanese civilians. Then on 23 October 1983, a huge truck bomb tore into the Marine Barracks in Beirut. 241 US military personnel were killed. The US claimed it would not pull out but quietly did. The American public was distracted from this withdrawal by US regime’s Invasion of Grenada, where it had already deposed the country’s leader, Maurice Bishop. Oliver North helped plan that invasion.
On 7 March 1984, CNN journalist Jeremy Levin was kidnapped. Then on 16 March 1984, Hezbollah kidnapped the CIA station chief, William Buckley, on his way to work. He was later sent to Iran for questioning under torture. His capture and worry over what he might reveal was a major factor in motivating the US to trade arms for hostages. Buckley would tell all to the Iranians and they transcribed his confession into a 400-page book. Buckley would die before he could be freed. Six more American hostages would be kidnapped by Hezbollah or its front groups in Beirut between 8 May 1984 and 9 June 1985. They were Reverend Benjamin Weir, Peter Kilburn (librarian at American University) Father Lawrence Martin Jenco (Catholic relief services), Terry Anderson (AP journalist) David Jacobsen (Hospital Director at American University) and finally Thomas Southerland (Director of Agriculture at American University) They were kidnapped to gain leverage to free the Dawa prisoners being held in Kuwait after a series of attacks on American and French targets there. Their kidnappings would provide the motivations or the excuse for the US to carry out the arms for hostage deals. Only Jeremy Levin would seemingly escape after being ransomed.
A key factor behind the Iran-Contra scandal that few delved into was a web of groups set up by Vice President George H.W. Bush that dealt with crisis management and counter-terrorism. It was thanks to the key role that North played in the counter-terror network or as Peter Dales Scott calls it “a Cabal” that North became not just the point man for the Contras but also in charge of counter-terrorism and eventually in charge of the Iran arms for hostages negotiations. The “Cabal” included Admiral John Poindexter (NSC), Oliver North (NSC), Duane “Dewey” Clarridge (CIA) Charles Allen (CIA), Robert Oakley (State Department), Noel Koch (DOD) Lt Gen John Moellering (Joint Chiefs of Staff) and Oliver “Buck” Revell (FBI). They communicated via “Flashboard” a secret email system. NSDD (National Security Directive) 3 had put Vice President Bush in charge of crisis management back in 1982. Bush recruited North and his secretary Fawn Hall to work on crisis management. This lead to North drawing up Continuity of Government plans calling for declaring martial law, suspending the constitution, total surveillance, and rounding up tens of thousands of dissidents and hundreds of thousands of refugees in the event of nuclear war, terror attacks, or even civil unrest. Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney would also be involved in these plans during the Clinton administration. They formed the blueprint for America’s post 9/11 response. Bush also created a Crisis Preplanning Group and a Special Situations Group. North worked on the creation of a Crisis Management Center. In April 1984 North Drafted an NSDD that created the TIWG (Terrorist Incident Working Group). Two TIWG members would work closely with North, Craig Coy and Robert Earl. In July 1985, President Reagan convened the Vice President’s Task Force on Combatting Terrorism. At the exact same time, the US suddenly reversed its Iran strategy, opening the door for the Iran arms for hostage deals Peter Dale Scott points out. On 20 January 1986, just as the US was preparing to make direct arms sales to Iran, NSDD 207 put North in charge of counter-terrorism and set up a secret Office to Combat Terrorism run by Oliver North and staffed by veterans of Bush’s counter-terror cabal. Michael Ledeen and the Israeli Amiram Nir were also part of this counter-terror network and like North would play major roles in the Iran-Contra scandal, along with Robert Oakley and Dewey Clarridge. Through the counter-terror network Bush and North became close. Thanks to this shadowy network within the government Bush became as deeply embroiled in the Iran side of the scandal as he had been in the Contra side. It was sort of the government equivalent of setting up a bunch of shell companies. The bloodiest incident in North’s war on terror was the attempt to assassinate a Hezbollah leader Muhammed Hussein Fadallah with a car bomb. 80 people were killed in the attack, but Fadallah survived.
Now it is time to introduce North’s bosses at the NSC, Robert “Bud” McFarlane and John Poindexter. “Bud” McFarlane was the son of a Democratic congressman in Texas. He graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1959 and was commissioned into the Marine Corps. McFarlane lead the first US combat unit in Vietnam. He studied in Switzerland and received a White House Fellowship. Alexander Haig, an Army general and Henry Kissinger’s deputy at the NSC, brought in McFarlane as his military assistant. McFarlane came to regard Kissinger as his mentor. McFarlane had even participated in Kissinger’s secret China negotiations. McFarlane would later hope that his Iran initiative would earn him a similar place in history. He retired from the Marine Corps as a lieutenant colonel and served two years on the Senate Armed Services Committee under Senator John Tower. Tower was also involved in the October Surprise and was picked by Reagan to investigate/ cover-up the scandals. Once Reagan was President he picked Alexander Haig as his Secretary of State. Haig brought McFarlane on as a counsellor to the State Department. Then, with Haig on the way out as Secretary of State, McFarlane returned to the NSC as National Security Adviser William Clark’s deputy. When Clark stepped down as National Security Adviser the Edwin Meese, Michael Deaver, and James Baker faction, called the “Troika”, which dominated the early Reagan Administration tried to appoint James Baker as the new National Security Adviser. Baker was a close friend of George H.W. Bush who became infamous as the Bush family “Fixer.” William Casey blocked the appointment and McFarlane was chosen as the National Security Adviser as a compromise. Since “Bud” McFarlane and Oliver North were both Marine lieutenant colonels serving on the NSC and both workaholics they developed a sort of father-son relationship. McFarlane came to rely ever more on North. McFarlane was also a long-time friend of Mossad veteran and director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry David Kimche. McFarlane put great trust in Casey’s advice. McFarlane’s trust in both Casey and Kimche would lead him to plunge into the disastrous Iranian arms for hostage deals.
Vice Admiral John Poindexter was McFarlane’s deputy at NSC and would succeed him as National Security Adviser in early December 1985. He was born in a small farming town in Indiana. He graduated top of his academy class at Annapolis then received a PhD in nuclear physics from the California Institute of Technology. He served under three Secretaries of the Navy and as executive assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral James Holloway. He also commanded a guided missile cruiser and a destroyer squadron. Poindexter was recruited to set up the computer network for Bush’s Crisis Management Center. He had IBM install a prototype version of the Internet at the NSC allowing North and the other Iran-Contra conspirators to email each other via PROF messages. The NSC crisis management network linked the NSC computer network to the computer networks of the State Department, the CIA, the Pentagon, numerous law enforcement agencies, military bases around the world and foreign intelligence services. This was a few years before anyone in the general public knew what an email was. This would come back to haunt Poindexter, North and others when they deleted all their PROF messages only to have some low level research assistant to the Tower Committee figure out how to recover them all. On the Internet nothing is ever really deleted. Poindexter was secretive and a bit more reckless then McFarlane. At the height of the Iran-Contra scandal Poindexter would save Reagan by testifying to Congress (almost certainly falsely) that Reagan had not been informed of the diversion of funds from the Iran arms sales to the Contras.
Adnan Khashoggi, the Saudi Billionaire who the press dubbed “the world’s wealthiest man”, had made a fortune as a CIA conduit for bribes to Middle Eastern officials to buy American weapons systems. He was famous for his yachts, lavish parties and high-class call girl ring. One of Khashoggi’s call girls would bring down presidential hopeful Senator Gary Hart. Khashoggi was close friends with Donald Trump and sold him a yacht. Adnan was the uncle of Jamal Khashoggi whose murder in the Saudi embassy in Ankara, on orders of King Muhammed bin Salman, made news back in 2018. Between 1983 and 1984 Khashoggi met frequently with “Bud” McFarlane at NSC trying to sell him on various schemes. In late 1984 Khashoggi would team up with Manucher Ghorbanifar on a scheme to sell arms to Iran in order to free the hostages. Iran was desperate for weapons. The Iraqi’s Soviet-supplied tanks were smashing them on the battlefield. Iraq was bombing Iran and Iran was running out of missiles and parts for its air defence system. It would later emerge during the Iraqgate investigations that Vice President Bush had provided intelligence and encouragement for Iraq to bomb Iran to pressure Iran during the arms for hostages scheme, but this was probably later.
Manucher Ghorbanifar, the middleman in the Iran arms deals, was an arms dealer who had served in Savak, become an Israeli agent, and supplied information to the CIA. That information was deemed so unreliable that the agency had issued a burn notice on him as a known fabricator after he failed too many lie detector tests. The Iranians were desperate enough for weapons that they were willing to use a known Israeli agent like Ghorbanifar. Ghorbanifar would become infamous for lying to both the Americans and the Iranians to get them to the bargaining table. Ghorbanifar’s Iranian contacts, Hassan Karrubi and Mohsen Kangarlou, had been involved in the earlier October Surprise negotiations. Ghorbanifar hoped to make millions of dollars off the arms deals. Oliver North was as big of a liar as Ghorbanifar practicing that special American brand of bullshitting necessary to the salesman or the sports coach. Desperate to gain the confidence of the Americans after the CIA had discarded him, Ghorbanifar met with Theodore Shackley in Hamburg Germany on 20 November 1984. Ghorbanifar warned (falsely) that Iran was in danger of becoming a Soviet satellite within 5 years. Ghorbanifar wanted to buy TOW anti-tank missiles and offered to free the kidnapped CIA station chief William Buckley and provide captured Soviet equipment to the US. Ted Shackley was running a risk management firm, Research Associates Inc., and was closely monitoring the Iran-Iraq war. Shackley had hired an Iranian named Razmara who introduced Shackley to the former head of the Savak’s counter-intelligence, General Manucher Hashemi, in October 1984. Then Hashemi had arranged the meeting with Ghorbanifar. According to veteran CIA Iran operative George Cave, Shackley was working for the NSC. Shackley was also working for Vice President George H.W. Bush while ostensibly in the private intelligence business. Shackley was close to both Secord and Clines, his “former” business partners. Shackley drafted a memo on 22 November 1984 and sent it to Vernon Walters Reagan’s ambassador at large and fellow CIA veteran— also infamous for his role in the 1964 Brazil coup. Walters forwarded the memo to Robert Oakley, the State Department’s point man on counter-terrorism (Part of the Bush/North Counter terror network) and to Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East Richard W. Murphy. Because of Ghorbanifar’s dubious reputation the offer was initially rejected. By March 1988 Shackley’s memo landed on the desk of NSC consultant Michael Ledeen who claimed (probably falsely) that he never read it, but forwarded it to Oliver North. Ledeen was another of Shackley’s friends from the October Surprise days.
Michael Ledeen would jump-start the languishing Iran arms for hostages deal. Ledeen was a CIA press asset and a contractor for Italy’s SISMI intelligence agency along with Shackley. In Italy, Ledeen would help cover up GLADIO and spread the myth of the Soviet Union being behind all the world’s terror attacks. Ledeen had close ties to Israeli intelligence, was a far right neo-con, and had earlier befriended Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, when Ledeen was sent to infiltrate the Socialist International, of which Peres’ Labour Party was a member. Currently Ledeen was a consultant on counter terrorism at the NSC. Ledeen got McFarlane’s permission to travel to Israel to explore using Israel’s contacts to gain intelligence on Iran. Once in Israel the Israelis introduced Ledeen to the Iranian Manucher Ghorbanifar, the Saudi Adnan Khashoggi, along with two Israeli arms dealers, Adolph Schwimmer and Yaacov Nimrodi. They had a pile of disinformation to sell Ledeen along with the promise to free the seven American hostages. The disinformation was that Iran was in danger of falling into the Soviet orbit, but that Ghorbanifar was in contact with a pro-Western faction that hoped to take power once Khomeini was dead. Supposedly Iran was divided into three factions: a pro-Soviet faction, a neutral faction, and a pro-Western faction. Ghorbanifar promised to put the US in contact with the “moderates.” In reality Iranian politics in the Islamic republic had nothing to do with such simple Cold War dynamics. There were no pro-Soviet factions and no pro-American factions. Back in 1983 a Soviet defector had supplied the CIA with a complete list of KGB assets and Casey decided to send the list to Iran. Khomeini had them killed or arrested. However, like most countries, Iran was ruled by ruthless pragmatists, who were willing to buy arms from Israel or the US because of the Iran-Iraq war. Arms procurement was controlled by Iran’s IRGC, the Revolutionary Guard. However they were used to operating through Iranian exiles and shady characters like Ghorbanifar. While in Israel Ledeen also met with Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres and David Kimche, the director general of the Israeli Foreign ministry and a Mossad veteran. Kimche would go on to advise the greatest mass murderer of recent times Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame in the 1990s. Kimche would fly to Washington DC to meet with McFarlane a couple weeks after Ledeen’s return. When Ledeen met with the Israeli prime minister, Peres vouched for Ghorbanifar, Khashoggi, Schwimmer, and Nimrodi and asked Ledeen to deliver a personal message to “Bud McFarlane.” Schwimmer was a major backer of Peres and the Iran deal was meant to reward him. The Labour party had been cut out of the lucrative arms market by the Likud party, the Mossad, and the Israeli defence department and Peres hoped that with US backing his cronies could get into the Iran arms sales business.
Returning to the US, Ledeen briefed McFarlane on the arms for hostages deal and passed on Peres’ message. McFarlane bought the cover story on Iranian moderates and hoped that by bringing Iran back into the US orbit he would earn his place in the history books alongside his mentor Kissinger. CIA director Bill Casey encouraged this delusion. He intentionally kept the CIA’s top Iranian analysts reports from reaching the NSC lest they discredit the cover story about selling arms to Iranian moderates. Instead Casey had Graham Fuller (later infamous for his role backing al Qaeda style groups in Central Asia) write a report calling for a complete reversal on US policy towards Iran. Soon the NSC had a draft finding on a new Iran policy that would enable the Iran arms for hostages deals to go forward. Now it was a decision for the President and his NSPG (National Security Planning Group, a modified NSC). The idea was strongly opposed by both Secretary of State George Schultz and Secretary of Defence Caspar Weinberger. Casey, McFarlane, and Vice President Bush supported the arms for hostages scheme. The idea got a boost in June 1985. Then Iran and Syria helped negotiate the release of the TWA 847 hostages being held in Beirut after their plane had been hijacked by a Hezbollah front Islamic Jihad. Israel freed hundreds of Shiite prisoners it was holding in exchange. The deal was brokered by Iranian speaker of the parliament Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani who was also a key player behind the scenes on the arms for hostages deals. The decisive voice belonged to President Ronald Reagan and he was in favour of going ahead. President Reagan gave the final green light to McFarlane on 13 July 1985, while in the hospital recovering from a polyp operation.
Manucher Ghorbanifar had promised to free all of the hostages once 100 TOW anti-tank missiles were delivered. Israel was to act as the middleman. It would ship TOWS from its own stocks and the US promised it would send replacements. To finance the deal Ghorbanifar borrowed USD 1 million from Khashoggi. Yaacov Nimrodi and Al Schwimmer charged Ghorbainfar USD 10,000 for each missile. The Israeli Defence Ministry sold them to the two Israeli arms dealers for only USD 6,000 each. Ghorbanifar charged Iran USD 12,000 for each TOW. On 20 August 1985 Israel delivered 96 TOW missiles to Iran, choosing the defective or obsolete TOWs from their own stockpile. (Apparently TOWs are shipped in 8 packs) On landing in Iran the IRGC immediately seized the TOWs. No hostages were released. Ghorbanifar used the excuse that since the IRGC not the “moderates” had gotten the missiles the moderates had not freed any hostages. However Ghorbanifar had a new deal for 400 more TOW missiles plus the four TOWs Israel still owed them from the first shipment. Iran would get a hostage freed. Amazingly the arrogant US agreed to this second deal after Ghorbanifar had failed to deliver the first time. On 15 September 1985, Israel delivered 408 TOWs to Iran. Within hours the hostage Reverend Benjamin Weir was released. The US had hoped to free CIA station chief William Buckley first; Casey had even played Reagan a video of Buckley being tortured. The Iranians claimed Buckley was too ill to travel. In reality he had died in June 1985.
Iran now hoped to rebuild its air defences with the next deal. The Iranians were now demanding HAWK surface to air missiles and Phoenix missiles. The US refused to sell the Phoenix missiles, which it did not even supply to most of its allies. It agreed to sell the HAWKs however. The deal was for 120 IHAWK missiles Iran would pay USD 18 million or USD 225,000 each. IHAWKS were the more advanced version. The plan was for Israel to ship them to Iran via Portugal. This is when Oliver North was recruited to run the Iran arms for hostages deals. At first McFarlane had put North in charge of replenishing Israeli stocks. McFarlane was busy preparing for the arms control summit in Geneva. However Portugal was refusing permission to allow the missiles shipment to land and take off from their country. On 17 November 1985, Israeli defence minister Yitzhak Rabin called North to fix the problem and McFarlane called soon after to confirm that he had referred Rabin to North. North brought in Secord whose partner Tom Clines had close contacts with the Portuguese arms company DEFEX. However DEFEX had strong ties to the party that had recently been voted out of office instead of the new government. The HAWK deal quickly turned into a fiasco. Secord’s attempt to hold an unscheduled meeting with the foreign minister at the airport only upset Portugal. The US embassy was ignorant of the deal and told Portugal not to approve it. North brought in Duane “Dewey” Clarridge serving as the CIA’s head of European operations to get the CIA’s help in pressuring Portugal. (It has been suggested that the officially unexplained death of Portugal’s prime minister Francisco de Sa Carneiro in an airplane crash on 4 December 1980 was not unrelated to such attempts to use Portugal for intermediary purposes.) Al Schwimmer lost patience and tried to send the plane in without clearance hoping the problem would be solved before it landed. The plane was forced to turn around and its lease ran out. The Israelis agreed to pay Secord’s “Enterprise” USD 1 million for transport. Dewey Clarridge called Langley to get the name of a CIA-controlled airline in St. Lucia. This would raise all sorts of legal problems once the scandal broke. To engage in a covert operation the CIA needed a Presidential finding. In any case, the St. Lucia plane was smaller than the one Schwimmer had rented and could carry fewer missiles. Secord arranged for the flight to be rerouted through Cyprus and then over Turkey to Iran. Cyprus gave no official permission but someone probably paid off the right people as no one interfered. On 25 November 1985, 18 HAWK missiles arrived in Iran. The Iranians were furious that these were not the IHAWKS they had been promised but the less advanced HAWKS. Nor had Israel bothered to scrape off the “David” stars on them. Ghorbanifar called North in a panic warning the Iranians were furious and the hostages lives were in danger. Back at the CIA Casey’s more cautious deputy director John McMahon demanded that a “retroactive” presidential finding be created to cover for the CIA. A retroactive finding was created and signed by President Reagan on 5 December 1985 and then thrown into an NSC safe. The whole point of a finding was to inform Congress. There was not supposed to be any such thing as a retroactive finding. On 4 December 1985, President Reagan had announced that McFarlane was resigning as National Security Adviser to be replaced by Admiral John Poindexter. McFarlane was getting increasingly frustrated with the Iran arms deals. He wanted all the hostages freed before any more weapons were sent. He was also beginning to realize that he had been duped about the possibility of installing a “moderate” government in Iran. After the scandal broke in November 1986, Poindexter would burn the retroactive finding because it was clear evidence of arms for hostages deals.
North had another scheme to free the hostages alongside the Iran arms for hostages deal. Two DEA agents William Dweyer and Frank Tarallo had come to North with a scheme to use an informant they had in Beirut, a major drug trafficker, to act as middleman in arranging to ransom the hostages. North turned to Texas Billionaire H. Ross Perot to provide the ransom. Perot made his money in electronics and so had tight ties with the intelligence community. During the Iran hostage crisis he had managed to free four of his employees. There were a couple attempts to ransom a hostage in Beirut ending in failure. In the first try the informant claimed he had spent $300,000 in bribes and was suspected of pocketing some of the money. Another time North planned to treat the ransom with a chemical that would cause the money to disintegrate days later, a scheme which would have damaged all future hostage negotiations. Finally the deal fell through when the informant demanded a million dollars up front. The DEA men refused. Perot was very angry over the failure but was consoled with a personal letter from Reagan thanking him for his efforts. It is believed that during Perot’s involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal he developed a lasting grudge against George H. W. Bush. This is supposed to have inspired Perot to launch the third party campaign in 1992 that sabotaged President Bush’s re-election campaign.
Between December 1985 and January 1986, the Iran arms for hostages deals would undergo a major shift. North blamed the Israelis for the fiasco with the IHAWKS, Schwimmer, Nimrodi and Kimche were to be cut out of the deals and replaced with Peres’ counter-terrorism adviser Amiram Nir. North and Nir had worked closely together on the Achille Lauro hijacking back in October 1985. North’s plan to intercept the escaping Achille Lauro hijackers who had been offered safe passage by Egypt in exchange for releasing the hostages nearly provoked an armed clash between US Special Forces operatives and the Italian Carabinieri on an Italian runway where the US Air Force had been forced to land their plane. Nir had been in constant contact with North during the crisis, providing Israeli intelligence. Now Nir would replace Schwimmer and Nimrodi as the Israeli liaison to the operation. Then it was decided to cut the Israeli role as middlemen. The arms deals in 1985 had been illegal under the Arms Export Control Act. The Reagan Administration believed that a loophole in the Economy Act would make the deals legal. The new middleman would be Secord’s Enterprise. The Pentagon would sell the weapons to the CIA, the CIA would sell them to Secord, and then Secord would sell them to Iran.
This scheme making the Secord’s Enterprise the middleman had the added bonus of allowing North to divert the profits to the Nicaraguan Contras. During the HAWKs deal, Israel had paid the Enterprise USD 1 million to cover transport. But since the deal had been aborted after only 18 HAWKs were delivered the Enterprise only spent USD 200,000 renting the CIA plane and other on costs leaving them with USD 800,000, which Israel allowed them to keep. North diverted some of this to the Contras. Now with the Defence department selling the TOW missiles for only $3,469 each and Ghorbanifar still paying $10,000 each, the Enterprise would make a hefty profit on each missile. The new plans that January envisioned a series of deals whereby the US would sell Iran 4,000 TOW missiles and Iran would free 4 hostages. In addition to diverting money to the Contras, North diverted some of the money to Nir’s scheme to train a 40-man team of Druze in Beirut that would carry out pre-emptive assassinations and perhaps even act as a hostage rescue force. On 17 January 1986, President Reagan signed a finding authorizing the scheme to supply arms to Iran via the DOD, CIA, and the Enterprise. The new finding was kept secret from Congress. On 17 February 1986, 500 TOWs was shipped to Iran on Enterprise planes rented from Southern Air Transport, the “former” CIA airline that was also being used to smuggle arms to the Contras. On 27 February 1986, another 500 TOW missiles were delivered. No hostages were freed.
With the involvement of the Enterprise the deal had developed a momentum of it’s own. Even if no hostages were freed the Enterprise profited and the resources of North’s “off the shelf” Project Democracy were expanded. Ghorbanifar was now promising direct contacts with the highest levels of the Iranian government. McFarlane would act as special envoy on a trip to Iran. Originally the meeting was to take place on the Isle of Kish but the location was soon changed to Iran’s capital Teheran. Vice President Bush arranged to have the meeting delayed until after his planned visit to Saudi Arabia to avoid being asked awkward questions from an angry ally who hated Iran and was backing Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. After a series of meetings with the Iranians in Europe to arrange the details, plans were finalized. The US was to arrive bringing HAWK spare parts and upon their arrival all the hostages were to be freed. At least that was what Ghorbanifar told them. He told the Iranians that the Americans were bringing all the HAWK spare parts, USD 15 million worth. Ghorbanifar had borrowed the money for the deal from Khashoggi.
On 25 May 1986, the McFarlane delegation arrived for the infamous Teheran meetings. They flew in from Israel where they purchased a chocolate cake. They brought along a bunch of revolvers and a small amount of HAWK spare parts. They had left the rest in Israel to be delivered once the hostages were freed. The delegation included McFarlane, North, Secord, Secord’s partner and Iranian exile Albert Hakim, ex-CIA George Cave, Howard Teicher of the NSC and a CIA radioman. Casey had given them cyanide pills in case the Iranians decided to hold them hostage. The meeting was badly timed, taking place in the month of Ramadan when Muslims fast during the day. The Iranians were not ready to negotiate until after their evening meal. No one was there at the airport to meet the McFarlane delegation. Ghorbanifar arrived late and the delegation travelled to a hotel. Finally some low ranking Iranian officials arrived to negotiate. McFarlane was outraged at the slight. The Iranians were angry that the US hadn’t brought all the HAWK spare parts. The US realized that the Iranians had not even begun to bargain to free the hostages. Then after Iran contacted Hezbollah, Hezbollah demanded Israel abandon its occupation of Southern Lebanon, withdraw from the Golan heights and other just but costly demands. Gradually over the next couple of days the negotiations began to improve. Higher-level officials began to arrive. Hezbollah lowered its demands to freeing the Dawa prisoners. Reagan authorized the shipment of the remaining HAWK spares. Iran promised to free 2 hostages if they could be given a little more time. To North’s and Secord’s disappointment McFarlane and Poindexter convinced Reagan to cancel the deal. They wanted all the hostages freed first and McFarlane was tired of waiting. He wanted to leave Tehran. The Iranians begged him to stay for 6 more hours, offering to free 2 hostages in exchange for the HAWK spare parts. McFarlane refused and on 28 May 1986, the plane carried the delegation back to Israel. On returning to the US to brief the president McFarlane advised Reagan to abandon the arms for hostages deals. However President Reagan and Oliver North had not given up hope yet. North would work hard to convince his boss Poindexter to abandon the “all or nothing” approach and adopt the more realistic “sequential” release approach. The Iranians were not about to give up all their leverage by freeing all the hostages in advance. Yet sequential release would ultimately prove futile. From September through October 1986 Hezbollah would kidnap three more Americans: Joseph Cicippio, Frank Reed, and Edward Tracy, while the arms for hostage deals would only get 3 hostages released. That meant the total number of hostages would end up the same. It would take until 1992 for the last hostages to be freed.
In June 1986 after the failed Teheran meeting, the Reagan administration began to plan a hostage rescue mission using Secord, the CIA and the Pentagon. It proved too difficult to locate the hostages’ locations. North received a call from Nir and Ghorbanifar promising to free a hostage on the 4th of July. North excitedly told the Reagan and Bush. Expensive arrangements were made to escort the hostage home. Then on the 4th of July nothing happened. North was made to look like a fool and refused to speak to Nir for weeks, forcing Nir to go through Charles Allen at the CIA Allen would later be given the task of babysitting Ghorbanifar. On 25 July 1986, Ghorbanifar and Nir finally came through. The hostage Reverend Lawrence Jenco was freed. Ghorbanifar was desperate to restart the arms for hostages deals. He was millions in debt to Khashoggi because Iran refused to pay him for the HAWK parts that had never been delivered during the Teheran meeting. Ghorbanifar and Khashoggi had become ticking time bombs. Unless they were paid off they might go public. North considered paying off Ghorbanifar from the Enterprise’s coffers or convincing the Iranians to pay him off. On 29 July 1986 Vice President Bush flew to Israel to meet with Nir, who bragged that they were dealing with the most “radical elements” in Iran because they were the ones who could get things done.
Teheran had another disastrous result for Ghorbanifar. It had convinced the Americans that they should find a “second channel” into Iran, their term for a 2nd middleman. Secord assigned his Iranian partner Albert Hakim to find one. Through his exile contacts Hakim was introduced to Ali Hashemi Bahramani the young nephew of Iran’s speaker of the parliament Rafsanjani and also a member of the IRGC. Poindexter and North were so pleased with Bahramani that they had Secord smuggle him to Washington DC for a meeting at the NSC’s offices in the Old Executive building. The. North took Bahramani on a White House tour and arranged CIA approved call girls for him and his party.
From 6 – 8 October, North, Secord, and Hakim met with Bahramani and other Iranians in Frankfurt to arrange the next arms deal. North brought a Bible signed by President Reagan. North had to leave early. Eugene Hasenfus was being paraded in front of international television after being shot down over Nicaragua. The Iran-Contra scandal was beginning to unravel but the Iran deals continued. The Iranians warned the Americans that five million pamphlets describing McFarlane’s visit had been printed in Teheran. Albert Hakim took over the negotiations agreeing on a 9-point plan with the Iranians to free all the hostages sequentially in exchange for HAWK parts, technical assistance, 1500 TOWS, intelligence on Iraq and the freeing of the Dawa prisoners in Kuwait. On 28 October 1986, 500 TOWs were shipped to Iran. On 2 November 1986, just in time for the midterm elections, hostage David Jacobsen was freed. The next day, 3 November 1986, the Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa published an expose on the McFarlane visit to Teheran. The American press picked up the story and the controversy over the Iran-Contra scandal exploded. Reagan went on TV and denied everything.
The cover up went into high gear. Actually back in the fall of 1985 after Congressman Michael Barnes began demanding to see NSC documents on North’s contra resupply; McFarlane had OK’d North’s plan to start altering NSC files to cover up violations of the Boland amendment. Then once Hasenfus was captured Casey had warned North to start shredding documents. Now the whole Reagan Administration was desperate to cover up Iran Contra. On 13 November 1986, Reagan held a disastrous press conference claiming that there had been no arms for hostages deal and that the arms sent could fit on one small plane—a blatant lie. On 19 November 1986, Reagan held another failed press conference where he claimed that no third country had been involved. Twenty minutes later his aides issued a correction that there had been a third country. Reagan was especially vulnerable on the Iran issue. His approval rating dropped from 67% to 46% during November 1986. Reagan had violated the Arms Export Control Act, sold arms to a country designated a terror sponsor and also conducted covert operations without any presidential finding. However, violating the Boland amendment carried no legal penalty.
Long-time Reagan loyalist, Attorney General Edwin Meese, who had served under Reagan since his days as Governor of California, took charge of the cover up. On 21 November 1986, Meese launched a formal inquiry into the Iran-Contra affair. He failed to involve the DOJ Criminal division and failed to take notes at important meetings with Casey, McFarlane, and Poindexter. Even as he was being supposedly investigated North was allowed to continue to shred documents. While North was busy shredding Meese’s Assistant Attorney General William Bradford Reynolds discovered the so-called “diversion memo” North had written back in April 1986, summarizing the history of the Iran arms deal and containing North’s plans to divert USD 12 million to the Contras. Meese saw it as a perfect opportunity to divert attention from Reagan’s illegal arms deals in 1985 and onto North, the NSC and the diversion. North had long bragged that he was willing to take the fall for Iran-Contra if necessary to protect the President. Poindexter had already offered to resign and after interviewing him Meese was certain that he would deny having told Reagan about the diversion. Reagan’s chief of staff Donald Regan was Meese’s partner in the cover-up. He began to leak damaging info on McFarlane to the press. On 25 November 1986, Reagan announced that Meese had informed him of some shocking news. Meese then took the stage and revealed the diversion to the Press. He announced that Poindexter had resigned but North had been “relieved of his duties” meaning fired. North found out about it watching it live on TV. Then he received a call from President Reagan who told North he was an “American Hero” and that his life would make a great movie. North transferred back to the Marine Corps.
It would take another article or even a book to do justice to the whole aftermath once the scandal was exposed and this article is long enough already. I dealt with the aftermath back in the first part of my Iran-Contra series. I also discuss it in an interview on Our Hidden History that either has come out or will come out soon depending on when this article is released. Before the scandal had broken the Christic Institute had filed a civil suit against North and the Iran contra conspirators. After the scandal broke there followed the Tower Commission, the Joint House and Senate Iran-Contra hearings and a 6-year long investigation by the Office of the Independent Counsel. Nearly a dozen people were convicted or signed plea deals. Bush pardoned them all. The one exception was Thomas Clines who was jailed for income tax invasion for failing to report his income from the Enterprise. Democracy and rule of law versus the national security state: it is sort of like Bambi vs Godzilla (a cartoon from the time) the outcome was never in doubt. There is the way things are “supposed” to work and the way they really work. On the international stage the aftermath of Iran-Contra lead directly to the wars in Panama and Iraq. The Iraq war in various forms continues 30 years later, a horrifying bloodbath that has cost millions of lives. Thanks to the efforts of the NED and a populace exhausted by Contra terror and sick of the economic blockade the Sandinistas were voted out of power in 1991. Thanks to the failure of America’s neoliberal puppets in Nicaragua the Sandinistas were voted back into power and the US is once again intent on overthrowing the Nicaraguan government. There has never been any serious official investigation into the CIA supplying arms cash and advisers to al Qaeda style terrorists through third country proxies like Saudi Arabia. Thanks to the stranglehold of the Israel lobby on US foreign policy, the US has yet to establish friendly relations with Iran. Yet Iran has grown too powerful for the US to invade and occupy. Hezbollah eventually decided to adopt the tactics of guerrilla warfare, targeting military targets and avoiding civilians. They have defeated Israel twice, forcing it to withdraw from Lebanon then halting a more recent Israeli invasion. Thus Hezbollah has earned respect and admiration around the world. In the West, Reagan’s legacy continues to dominate the ruling class, capitalism and imperialism continue to run rampant and fascism seems always to be just around the corner.
Malcolm Byrne’s Iran-Contra: Reagan’s Scandal and the Unchecked Abuse of Presidential Power is the definitive mainstream version of events. Byrne has been researching Iran-Contra for nearly 30 years.
Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, The Press & Project Truth by Robert Parry gives many details left out of mainstream accounts. He has an in-depth discussion of the Contra drug connection as well as the role of drugs in Panama and Honduras. He also discusses the Reagan Administration Public Diplomacy campaign that destroyed investigative journalism in the US.
Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq is another must read. It has a long section covering the “October Surprise” including the mass of evidence he discovered after writing Trick or Treason: The October Surprise Mystery. It also contains lots of interesting dirt on George H. W. Bush and his son George W. Bush.
Theodore Draper wrote the earlier definitive mainstream account back in the 1990s A Very Thin Line: The Iran Contra Affairs It is longer and more detailed than Byrne’s although the author has a sinister past (former communist turned anti-communist scholar for various CIA funded fronts) that makes him all too willing to trust the CIA and fail to dig deeply into the scandal. He never mentions drugs. Still it is worth reading for anyone interested in the Iran side of Iran-Contra.
Firewall: The Iran Contra Conspiracy and Cover-Up by Lawrence E. Walsh the Independent Counsel in The Iran-Contra Investigation offers a long account of his office’s investigation and prosecution of Oliver North and other Iran-Contra conspirators. It is fun to see the case slowly unravel and Walsh’s investigation revealed a great deal that Congress failed to uncover and he gradually begins to have more evidence about the role of then President George H. W. Bush and former President Ronald Reagan in the scandal.
Guts and Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North by Ben Bradlee jr. is a detailed and entertaining account of the life of Oliver North and the Iran Contra scandal although it came out too early to contain some of the later evidence uncovered.
The Iran Contra Scandal the Declassified History Edited by Peter Kornbluh and Malcolm Byrne provides a valuable resource for studying the Iran-Contra scandal. It contains compact summaries of events as introductions to reprints of declassified documents released during the Congressional and Walsh investigations, plus a timeline of events and a list of key players.
A good book on the war in Lebanon is Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East by David Hirst. It covers the complex history of Lebanon from the 1940s to the 2006 war.
The section on Bush and North’s counter-terrorism network is based on Peter Dale Scott’s article “Bush and North: The Task Force on Combatting Terrorism” in Covert Action Information Bulletin issue 33 Their classic special issue on Bush and the CIA which is packed full of Iran-Contra information and dirt on Bush. Also check out Peter Dale Scott’s Deep State for an in depth account of continuity of government planning.
Subscribe here to gain access to Covert Action’s archive
Secret Warriors: Inside the Covert Military Operations of the Reagan Era by Steve Emerson contains interesting information on the Special Operations role during the Iran-Contra era as well as Emerson’s own take on Iran-Contra. He was given access because he was aligned with the goals of the national security state. He also had close ties to Israel’s Likud party and played a major role in covering up the October Surprise. Emerson later became an insane neo-con war on terror hysteric.
Casey: From the OSS to the CIA by Joseph Persico contains some interesting information but is generally a complete disappointment. Persico is too naive and inexperienced to write about the CIA; has no idea how they operate and no idea what to look into. It completely fails to provide a complete picture of the CIA in the 1980s. The author is also way too sympathetic to Bill Casey. That is why Casey befriended Persico and then Casey’s widow granted him access to her husband’s papers.
Dangerous Liaison: The Inside Story of the US-Israeli Covert Relationship by Andrew and Leslie Cockburn is full of shocking details about the Israeli role around the world including their drug smuggling in Panama, Colombia, and Central America. It also provides many insights into the Israeli view of Iran-Contra.
Malcolm Byrne lecture about his Iran Contra Book
A Robert Parry Interview
Robert Parry’s Frontline documentary on October Surprise
A discussion of the October Surprise
The first part of Dave Emory’s 4 part series on the “Deep October” surprise with Iranian researcher Fara Mansoor, who argues that the whole hostage crisis and the rise of Khomeini were engineered by a faction of the CIA loyal to Bush, with help from Thatcher and MI6.
Deep October Surprise Part 2
Deep October Surprise Part 3
Deep October Surprise Part 4
Documentary Cover-Up Behind the Iran Contra Affair
An Archival radio interview on Iraqgate, the flip side of the Iran arms sales was the much larger sales of arms by the US to Iraq. The Bush administration massively expanded arms sales to Iraq right until the moment Iraq invaded Kuwait and America launched its 30-year long series of wars on Iraq.
My earlier series on Iran Contra
Part 1 The Secret Team
Part 2 World War 3
Part 3 The World Anti-Communist League Part 1
Part 4 The World Anti-Communist League Part 2
Ted Shackley a Life in the CIA
Old Nazis, New Right (Also covers the Coors Connection)
Subscribe to the Our Hidden History Youtube channel for dozens of Iran/Contra and CIA/Drugs related videos like my interview on Oliver North