The 80s have arrived and the election of Reagan, drugs, and the Nicaraguan Civil War begins the evolution of the Iran-Contra Scandal, the betrayal of America in general and the betrayal of Black and Brown America specifically is about to take place. The mix of politics, drugs, drug policy and scandal will betray Black, Brown and White American citizens in a way that no other President and his administration has ever done. This betrayal will come close to bringing down the Reagan government, as I stated in “Part IV” of this series. The “So Proudly We Hail” statement “The land of the free” is doubtful. America is a country that incarcerates its citizens at a higher rate than any other nation on the planet. In this segment we will look at the part that was played by the following players President Ronald Reagan, Vice President George H.W. Bush, Robert McFarlane (National Security Advisor to Ronald Reagan), and William Joseph Casey (Director of the CIA). The major players, decision makers and the architects of what history will record as the Iran Contra Scandal.
Let us get started at the beginning, with President Ronald Reagan. There were many big foreign policy scandals during the last half of the century and “The Iran Contra Scandal” was one of the biggest. The Reagan Administration with the support and urging of CIA Director William Casey and NSC Advisor Oliver North, secretly and illegally sold arms-for-hostages. To begin with, dealing with America’s enemies in the Middle East was illegal. Reagan’s administration with the blessing of the CIA and NSC, got Israel to sell weapons from the U.S. to Iran. At that time, Iran had been designated a State Sponsor of Terrorism, and officially America had instituted an arms embargo against Iran but used Israel to exchange American hostages held by Hezbollah, Iran’s ally, in Lebanon for American made weapons.
North and Casey went even further down the rabbit hole of illegality as they took the profits from the arms sales into yet another illegal adventure, a secret plan to support the Contras in Nicaragua which opposed the communist Sandinistas. This was in direct contravention of the Boland Amendments, which Congress had passed from 1982-84, that specifically prohibited the U.S. from supporting the Contras.
The plot unravels point by point
- November 3, 1986: Al Shiraa, a Beirut newspaper, was the first to bring the arms-for-hostages plot to light.
- November 21- 25, 1986: Oliver North destroyed, or tried to hide, documented communications between Attorney General Edwin Meese and the administration.
- November 25, 1986: Oliver North admits that profits from the weapons sales were used to aid the Contras.
- November 25, 1986: National Security Advisor John Poindexter resigned.
- November 25, 1986: Oliver North was fired by President Reagan.
- March 4, 1987: Reagan broadcast a televised apology to the nation, while minimizing his role.
- June 16, 1992: High ranking officials in Reagan’s Administration were indicted on various charges connected to Iran-Contra. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger was indicted on two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.
- December 1992: Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush before he was tried. (Remember that Bush was Vice President under Reagan Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training.)¹
The role of Vice President George H.W. Bush
Throughout the Iran-Contra Affairs, George H.W. Bush was vice president of the United States. During the Walsh investigation, Bush refused to produce his diary entries from those years. Bush was elected president in 1989 and continued to play a role in the Iran Contra Scandal. On Christmas Eve of 1992, after losing his attempt for a second presidential term to Bill Clinton, Bush pardoned six members of the Reagan administration who had been charged with crimes including perjury, lying to Congress or obstruction of justice. These members were Elliott Abrams, Duane Claridge, Alan Fiers, Jr., Clair George, Robert McFarlane, and Caspar Weinberger.
The area of greatest concern to investigators was Bush’s failure to produce relevant diary entries. Despite repeated requests by the Independent Counsel, Bush refused to produce his diary entries. In March 1987, after extensive negotiations between relevant congressional committees, Walsh, and the White House, again submitted a request for the personal and official records. Walsh was specifically looking for the period from the beginning of the Reagan Administration through January 1987. Written documentation existed that showed that Bush and his counsel received and knew about Walsh’s request. There was a memorandum to Reagan asking him to produce his diary. That request was initialed by Bush and marked “V.P. Has Seen.” Walsh submitted another request for Bush’s diaries for the period from mid-1985 until December 1987.
Walsh identified several issues that he wanted to question Bush about, particularly about evidence that seemed to conflict with his previous testimony. For instance, what was his knowledge of Israeli arms sales to Iran and his 1986 meeting with Israeli official Amiram Nir? Did he know about the quid-pro-quo deal countries that pledged to support the Contras? And what about his and Vice-Presidential National Security Adviser Donald Gregg’s meetings with National Security Council staff member Oliver North?²
President George H.W. Bush granted pardons on December 24, 1992, to six defendants in the Iran-Contra Affairs. He pardoned former CIA officials Duane Clarridge, Alan Fiers, Jr., Elliott Abrams, a former assistant secretary of state for Central America, former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, and Clair George, and former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. These men all had information that would have shed light on the illegal activities of the Reagan administration.
The role of Robert McFarlane (National Security Advisor to Ronald Reagan)
These men all had information that would have shed light on the illegal activities of the Reagan administrationAfter Congress passed the Boland Amendment banning aid to the Contras, which led Reagan to ask McFarlane to find a way to keep the cause of the rebels alive, McFarlane responded to the President’s request by assigning NSC staff member Oliver North to that job. He claimed later that he told North not to violate the law to raise money for the Contras. McFarlane served as Reagan’s national security adviser from October 1983 to December 1985.
McFarlane pleaded guilty to four misdemeanors in March of 1988. He pleaded guilty to:
- Lying to Lee Hamilton, Chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He said, “I can state with deep personal conviction that at no time did I or any member of the National Security Council staff violate the letter or spirit of the law. We did not solicit funds or other support for military or paramilitary activities.”
- Lying to Michael Barnes, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs. He said, “My actions, and those of my staff, have been in compliance with both the spirit and the letter of the law. None of us has solicited funds, facilitated contacts for prospective potential donors, or otherwise organized or coordinated the military or paramilitary efforts.”
- He lied again to Hamilton. He said, “North did not use his influence to facilitate the movement of supplies to the resistance.”
- He lied to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He said, “I have seen the reports and I have heard that the [nationals of such third country] have contributed. The concrete character of that is beyond my ken.”
McFarlane received a sentence of two years’ probation and 200 hours of community service, plus he was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine. President George H.W. Bush pardoned him in 1992.³
The role of William Casey (Director of the CIA)
William Casey served as director of Central Intelligence from 1981 until January 1987, during the Reagan presidency. The record shows that Iran-Contra Independent Counsel Lawrence E. Walsh had no choice but to pursue evidence about Casey’s role when he was forced to resign due to a severe brain tumor. Walsh didn’t try to establish guilt or innocence. He knew that Casey would never be able to defend himself given the severity of the tumor, which ultimately took his life in May 1987.
- Casey supported the arms sales to Iran. He had his own agenda as he wanted to win the release of former CIA Lebanese Station Chief William Buckley.
- North claimed that Casey supported that action, but there was again no independent evidence that this was the case, and North only made this accusation after Casey had died.
- Casey was given evidence of this transfer in late 1986, and he did not respond.
- Walsh had many concerns regarding Casey’s testimony to Congress on November 21, 1986.
- Casey hid the CIA’s role in collecting intelligence on Iran and Lebanon, and the role of some individuals that was a part Iran initiative, like the arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar.
- He told the CIA flight crew that the cargo was oil-drilling equipment but the agents realized what the cargo was and reported it to their superiors that there was the presence of missiles in the cargo.
These politicians whose duty it was to protect America’s interest, follow the law, and keep us safe, had instead sold us out for their own ideology. These men were the Kings, Knights, and Bishops on this chess board of world history. They would use their power to make decisions that would turn out to be the biggest drug epidemic in American history. In “Part VI” of the World History of Drugs, you will meet the pawns in this game. You will learn how these powerful men used and abused the lives of the pawns in this scandalous affair and ultimately how the American public has, and still is, suffering for the decisions they made. Meet the pawns in this chess game: Oliver North (NSA Staff Member), Adler Berriman “Barry” Seals (Medellin Cartel Pilot), Oscar Danilo Blandon (Drug Dealer and CIA informant), Rick Ross (Drug Dealer and Scapegoat) and Gary Webb (Newspaper Reporter destined to be thrown under the bus by his colleagues). Before this is over one will become rich, one will leave the country, one will go to prison and the rest will die.
George Lewis is founder and CEO of Motivational Consulting, Inc. and has more than 18 years of experience in the human services industry. His website is motivationalconsultinginc.com.
Last Updated on May 15, 2021