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2006-11-09

Defense Secretary Nominee Robert Gates Tied to Iran-Contra Scandal and the Secret Arming of Saddam Hussein

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President Bush nominated former CIA director Robert Gates on Wednesday to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. We take a look at Gates’ role at the CIA in connection to the Iran-Contra scandal and the secret arming of Saddam Hussein with former CIA analyst Mel Goodman, who testified before the Senate in 1991 against the nomination of Gates as CIA director, and investigative journalist Bob Parry who helped expose Iran-Contra. [includes rush transcript]

On Wednesday President Bush nominated former CIA director Robert Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Gates briefly appeared with President Bush and Rumsfeld at the White House and spoke with reporters.

  • Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense Nominee, speaking November 8th, 2006.

President Bush spoke highly of Robert Gates.

  • President Bush, speaking November 8th, 2006.

But questions are already being raised about Gates’ role at the CIA in connection to the Iran-Contra scandal and the secret arming of Saddam Hussein. In 1987 President Reagan nominated Gates to become CIA director but the nomination had to be withdrawn because of stiff opposition in the Senate. Four years later President George H.W. Bush re-nominated Gates to be CIA chief and this time he was confirmed.

Today we are joined by two guests in Washington who have closely followed the career of Robert Gates.

  • Melvin Goodman, former CIA and State Department analyst. He is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and director of the Center’s National Security Project. From 1966-1986 he was a senior CIA soviet analyst. In 1991 he was one of three former CIA officials to testify before the Senate against the nomination of Robert Gates as director of central intelligence. Goodman is co-author of the book, "Bush League Diplomacy: How the Neoconservatives are Putting the World at Risk."
  • Robert Parry, veteran investigative journalist and editor of ConsortiumNews.com. For years he worked as an investigative reporter for both the Associated Press and Newsweek magazine. His reporting led to the exposure of the 'Iran-Contra' scandal. His books include "Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth'" and "Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq."

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: On Wednesday, President Bush nominated former CIA director Robert Gates to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Gates briefly appeared with President Bush and Rumsfeld at the White House and spoke with reporters.

ROBERT GATES: United States is at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are fighting against terrorism worldwide, and we face other serious challenges to peace and our security. I believe the outcome of these conflicts will shape our world for decades to come. Because our long-term strategic interest and our national and homeland security are at risk, because so many of America’s sons and daughters in our armed forces are in harm’s way, I did not hesitate when the President asked me to return to duty.

JUAN GONZALEZ: President Bush spoke highly of Robert Gates.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Bob is one of our nation’s most accomplished public servants. He joined the CIA in 1966 and has nearly 27 years of National Security experience, serving six presidents of both political parties. He spent nearly nine years serving on the National Security Council staff. And at the CIA, he rose from an entry-level employee to become the director of the Central Intelligence. And his experience has prepared him well for this new assignment.

JUAN GONZALEZ: But questions are already being raised about Gates’s role at the CIA in connection to the Iran-Contra scandal and the secret arming of Saddam Hussein. In 1987, President Reagan nominated Gates to become CIA director, but the nomination had to be withdrawn because of stiff opposition in the Senate. Four years later, President George Herbert Walker Bush re-nominated Gates to be CIA chief, and this time he was confirmed.

AMY GOODMAN: Today, we’re joined by two people in Washington, D.C., who have closely followed the career of Robert Gates. Melvin Goodman is a former CIA analyst. In '91, he was one of three former CIA officials to testify before the Senate against the nomination of Robert Gates as director of Central Intelligence. Mel Goodman now serves as senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and director of the Center's National Security Project.

We’re also joined by Robert Parry, an investigative journalist who helped expose the Iran-Contra affair while working as a reporter for the Associated Press and for Newsweek. He now serves as editor of the online e-zine consortiumnews.com and is author of the book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.

Mel Goodman, I want to begin with you. Go back to the beginning of the ’90s. Why did you testify against Bob Gates?

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I testified, Amy, against Bob Gates for one very simple reason: Bob Gates, over the period of the 1980s, as a deputy for Intelligence and then as a deputy to CIA director Bill Casey, was politicizing intelligence. He was spinning intelligence on all of the major issues of the day, on the Soviet Union, on Central America, on the Middle East, on Southwest Asia. And I thought this record, this charge, should be presented before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

I think also it’s important that Bob Gates is a graduate of the Iran-Contra class of 1986. And the reason why he had to withdraw his nomination in 1987 was simply because the majority of the members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, when Ronald Reagan nominated Gates as CIA director, did not believe Gates’s pleas that he knew nothing about Iran-Contra and this was happening around him, but he wasn’t part of it.

And, of course, in 1991, he attracted 31 negative votes, more than all of the votes against all of the CIA directors in history going back to 1947. So I think the committee believed that he was spinning the intelligence, and there was this great controversy, but the Republicans held the line. They made this a loyalty test to President George Bush, and so he was confirmed. But 31 negative votes was very significant.

AMY GOODMAN: Melvin Goodman, you didn’t just testify, you spent days with the staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Why?

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I thought it was very important for people such as Bill Bradley and Sam Nunn, who were very opposed to Bob Gates, to understand how intelligence was politicized, how it was made up out of whole cloth; how if you look at the papal assassination plot that Gates commissioned in 1985, how this had no bearing on intelligence whatsoever. And I think there is a rather delicious irony in the fact that here is a nation that went to war with politicized intelligence, and now it’s naming as a CIA director someone who was the most important practitioner of politicized intelligence in the history of the CIA. So, as Yogi Berra would have said, "This is deja-vu all over again."

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break. And then, when we come back, we’ll continue with you, Mel Goodman, former CIA and State Department analyst, now at Center for International Policy, testified against Bob Gates when he was put forward as director of Central Intelligence in 1991. We’ll also speak with journalist Bob Parry. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Our guests, Mel Goodman, former CIA and State Department analyst, now a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, co-author of the book, Bush League Diplomacy. We’re also joined by Bob Parry, veteran investigative journalist, editor of consortiumnews.com, for years worked as an investigative reporter for both Associated Press and Newsweek magazine, where he was key in exposing the Iran-Contra scandal. His latest book is called Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan Gonzalez.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Bob Parry, I’d like to ask you — Mel Goodman mentioned Bob Gates as being part of the Iran-Contra class, but in this world of ahistorical journalism that we live in today, where very few people — Iran-Contra is practically ancient history to most of the — especially the young Americans in this country, could you give us a quick snapshot of what the Iran-Contra scandal was?

ROBERT PARRY: Well, in a synopsis, the Iran-Contra scandal was an effort by the Reagan administration to circumvent various restrictions on carrying out their foreign policy, both in the Middle East and also in Central America.

The Contra part related to the Nicaraguan Contras who were put in place to fight the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. And when Congress tried to cut off that support from the CIA, the Reagan administration went around Congress by having Oliver North of the National Security Council, in essence, sort of oversee this operation of getting weapons and money to the Contras. But it still involved many people in the CIA, even when they were denying they were involved. We now know, based on the investigations, that CIA Director William Casey, who was Bob Gates’s direct supervisor, was deeply involved, as were people lower down the chain, including some of the station chiefs in the field.

In the case of the Middle East, the Reagan administration was carrying out secret policies to arm basically both sides of the Iran-Iraq War. This started, we now know, back in the very early part of the 1980s. By 1981, there were shipments of weapons that had been approved by the Reagan administration that went through Israel to Iran, and that continued on through to the mid-1980s. And at times when the Iranians would get the upper hand in the war with Iraq, the United States would tilt back and start helping the Iraqis, the government of Saddam Hussein. So there were efforts to move weapons through third countries that would help Saddam Hussein in his fight. There was military intelligence that was provided to assist him and even advice on how to use his air force. So there was this whole secret policy that was operating behind the scenes, and the Reagan administration essentially was trying to go around Congress, keep the intelligence committees as much in the dark as possible, and Bob Gates was in the center of almost all of that.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And in terms of — I’d like to get back to Mel Goodman. After initially rejecting Gates for an appointment, the Senate then later confirmed him. In your estimation, what were the changes or what happened that the Senate changed its mind?

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I think the Senate didn’t change its mind. The man who changed his mind was David Boren, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and his staff director, George Tenet, who, of course, went on to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency and is/was Mr. Slam Dunk for President George Bush in the Iraq war. Boren and Gates developed a very close relationship over the period of the late ’80s and early ’90s. And Gates gave the impression to Boren that Gates would be very careful in running the CIA, that he would pay a lot of attention to the director of the Senate Intelligence Committee and that he would come to the Intelligence Committee to vet covert operations and certain projects of the CIA.

And this is what Boren used to bring some of the Democrats who were opposed to Gates, such as Sam Nunn from Georgia, into line to vote for Bob Gates. But the majority of the Democratic members of the Senate were opposed to him. And if it weren’t for some of the antics of Senator Warren Rudman, who used charges of McCarthyism against the critics of Bob Gates, I think there would have been some Republicans, as well. But the White House did make it a loyalty test, and every Republican voted in favor of Bob Gates in 1991.

AMY GOODMAN: I remember well the Bob Gates hearings. My colleague, Julie Cohen, who was working at WBAI/Pacifica, now is over at NBC, was one who exposed how Gates had lied to Congress, that he had told the Senate Intelligence Committee that in November of 1986 he was preparing testimony for the CIA director, William Casey, about Iran-Contra, that he didn’t realize a presidential finding had been prepared a year before to authorize the CIA’s role in an earlier shipment in 1985, arms shipment to Iran, leading to Casey deceiving Congress. Can you explain what that was all about?

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, there were a series of episodes in which Casey had to go to the Congress, because after two years of Bill Casey, the Senate Intelligence Committee really regretted that it had ever confirmed him in the first place. And he really angered the Republican leadership more than the Democratic leadership. And Barry Goldwater became an extremely important critic of Bill Casey.

Bill Casey relied, for all sorts of testimony and briefings and talks that he gave, on Bob Gates. Bob Gates wrote all of his major speeches. He wrote some of his Op-Ed articles, and he wrote all of his testimony. And, of course, there were backdated findings. There were denials of information that was widely known. Bob Gates was told by his deputy about sensitive intercepts involving how we were arming Iraq, how we were getting aid, some of it from the Israeli inventories, to Iran, how we were supplying the Contras with funds that were the profits of these arms sales to Iran. So, Bob Gates and Bill Casey worked extremely closely on all of these matters, and Casey really relied on Bob Gates.

And Bob Gates has always been really a political windsock in these matters in serving the interest of his masters. That’s the way he operated at the National Security Council, and that’s the way he operated at the CIA. And I remember in 1987, he was admonished severely by George Shultz, the Secretary of State at the time, and then in 1989 by James Baker, the Secretary of State at the time, because he was undercutting American policy in trying to serve the interest of the National Security at a time when American policy was changing.

So Bob Gates will serve a master, but I don’t think he’ll be a careful steward of the Pentagon and of the $460 billion defense budget. And the question is, has he now somehow obtained the maturity and integrity to run the Pentagon? I don’t think he has. And now, it’s up to the Senate Armed Forces Committee to make serious decisions about his ability to serve in this very sensitive position.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Bob Parry, in politics at every election time there’s always talk of an "October surprise" that will affect an election. And obviously the phrase "October surprise" actually goes back to even before this Iran-Contra scandal: the election in 1980 between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Could you talk at all about — was Bob Gates, did he have any role and involvement in that first alleged October surprise?

ROBERT PARRY: Well, when we were doing the Iran-Contra investigations, one of the mysteries was when it really started, and we were able to trace it back initially to 1984, when there were these contacts between some Iranians and some Israelis and some former CIA people, which sort of led to the scandal that we knew at the time. But as we went back, we learned that there the shipments of weapons did not begin in 1985, as we had first thought, but really back in 1981. So we had to look at some of these issues of these allegations that were sort of longstanding from some people who had sort of been in the intelligence world that there had been earlier contacts, that during the 1980 campaign, when 52 Americans were being held hostage in Iran and Jimmy Carter was trying desperately to get them out, that the Republicans went behind his back, first to get information, but also then to make contacts with the Iranians directly.

And the evidence on this has built up over time. We now have a lot of documents. We have some records from that period. We have statements from former Iranian officials, including the former Iranian president, Banisadr, the former defense minister, the former foreign minister, all of whom saying that they had these dealings with the Republicans behind the scenes. So, as we went back through that, the evidence built up that there had been these earlier contacts and that Bob Gates was one of the people involved in them.

Gates, at the time, had been assigned to the National Security Council for Jimmy Carter and then had become the executive director — executive assistant to Stansfield Turner, the CIA director. So he was in a key spot. And he was also, though, developing these close ties to some of the Republicans who were about to come into power. So, as these investigations were sort of picked up on in the early 1990s, there was a real effort to sort of put it aside. There was not much stomach left for this investigation, which was headed at that point by Lee Hamilton, who had been the House Intelligence Committee chairman at one point. He kind of had missed the early part of Iran-Contra. He was then put on the Iran-Contra investigation and kind of bought into the cover-up and the cover stories that were used. And then he was made head of this task force on the so-called October Surprise case and behaved similarly. He didn’t really want to push it very far.

And one of the interesting things, which probably should be looked at now, is that after — because the Gates hearings were in 1991. He denied pretty much everything, but there’s evidence that’s come out since then that he’s never really been confronted with, including a remarkable report that the Russian government prepared at Hamilton’s request in January of 1993, in which the Russian government went back through their KGB files on what they knew about these contacts with Iran, and they reported to Lee Hamilton on January 11, 1993, that in fact these contacts with the Republicans had occurred, the Soviets at that point had intelligence on it, and that Bob Gates was one of the people involved in it. That report was never released by Hamilton. It was put in the unpublished files of this investigation, and I discovered it a couple years later. So you have that kind of evidence that’s important.

And on the Iraq side, you have a very important document that has not gotten much attention, which was an affidavit prepared by Howard Teicher, who had been an NSC official for Ronald Reagan, in which he describes Gates’s role in getting secret weapons to the Iraqis. This affidavit was filed in connection with a criminal case that was then underway in Florida in 1995. But these issues have never been really confronted to Gates. There were earlier allegations that he has denied. Some of the witnesses were dismissed. But now there’s more information that he’s never been presented with. And one of the points —

AMY GOODMAN: And, Bob, when you say "secret weapons to the Iraqis," you’re talking about during the Iranian-Iraq war?

ROBERT PARRY: Yes, back in the — starting about 1982, President Reagan became concerned that the Iranians, who were secretly getting help from the United States via Israel, had gained the upper hand in the war. And so, there was this effort, as the period went on, to give some more help to Saddam Hussein to keep that war sort of at a more even keel. And one of the guys involved, according to the Teicher affidavit and other witnesses, was Bob Gates. But he’s always denied involvement there. So both the facts of the history are important, as well as his honesty. Did he lie to Congress when he denied being involved in these matters?

AMY GOODMAN: Just on this issue, because it’s so key, I mean, the allegation that Gates personally approved the sale of cluster bombs to Saddam in the 1980s, before the war crimes that he was just convicted of.

ROBERT PARRY: Right. And some of these allegations also go to chemicals, the precursor chemicals that Saddam Hussein allegedly used in his chemical weapons that were deployed against the Iranians and other targets in Iraq. So, Gates was allegedly involved in all those kinds of — that’s the very secretive side of US foreign policy that Casey was overseeing, but Gates was sort of his man handling some of the details.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Mel Goodman, given some of this history, I wonder — and given what you have said about the history of Gates as having a record, as using intelligence, basically spinning intelligence to serve political ends, why would President Bush, facing now a Democratic senate, nominate a guy like Bob Gates to this post?

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I think he needs someone like Bob Gates now, because the Bush administration is really circling the wagons. The policy in Iraq has failed miserably. This has been the most profligate decision that any American president has made with regard to national security and foreign policy. And Bob Gates is a very loyal and obedient servant to his master. In this case, his master will be George Bush. And I think what he needs Bob Gates for is to tone down some of the criticism in the Pentagon. I think Bob Gates is out there in the same way that General Hayden is out at the CIA, to calm down the critics, to calm down the contrarians, to stop some of the negative reporting that’s coming from Iraq from CIA station chiefs and CIA analysts. And I think what Bob Gates will do now is silence some of the military criticism of what’s going on in Iraq. I think you’ll see an end to a lot of the public remarks of our active duty general officers, our flag officers who have been clearly critical of what’s happening in Iraq.

And let me just add one thing to what Bob said, because there’s an intelligence aspect that Bob Gates was responsible for in the 1980s that I am aware of. In order to have arms sales to Iran and secret deliveries from Israel to Iran, you had to change the intelligence analysis on Iran, and Bob Gates was part of that. He worked very closely, again, with Howard Teicher over at the National Security Council and Graham Fuller, his National Intelligence officer for the Middle East, to rewrite the intelligence record to say that Iran was no longer interested in terrorism, Iran was now looking to open up dialogue with the United States, that the Soviet Union was about to move into Iran. And this became the intelligence justification for Iran-Contra and why this operational policy had to be put into play.

There was no truth to any of these three charges, but Graham Fuller managed to get them into a National Intelligence Estimate, and Graham Fuller and Bob Gates regularly briefed the National Security Council on the so-called changes in Iranian policy that were made up out of whole cloth. And there was a record of Bob Gates creating intelligence out of whole cloth and urging Bill Casey to take even more provocative measures than the CIA and the Reagan administration was proposing toward Central America, particularly toward Nicaragua. Remember, the CIA was involved in the mining of the harbors in Corinto, which was clearly an act of war. And Bill Casey had never briefed this to the Senate Intelligence Committee. That’s what led to the extreme anger on the part of Barry Goldwater and why Casey had to be brought back to the Senate Intelligence Committee. And, of course, Gates prepared all of Casey’s testimony at this time.

AMY GOODMAN: And this was condemned by the World Court, the mining of the harbors of Nicaragua. And so, you have two major figures coming together now. You have Casey — rather, you have Bob Gates, who could become director of Central Intelligence Agency, and you have Daniel Ortega now, who has just been elected the president of Nicaragua.

MELVIN GOODMAN: Also part of this delicious irony, that on the same day that Ortega is announced as the president-elect, here’s Bob Gates, again, the Iran-Contra alumni, joining Elliott Abrams at the National Security Council. And remember, John Poindexter for a while had a key role in the Pentagon as part of this Iran-Contra class that George Bush seems to resort to.

AMY GOODMAN: And let me just correct that: of course, he’s been nominated to be head of the Pentagon, to be Defense Secretary. But one other thing I wanted to get to now, because you both have mentioned Lee Hamilton, who was a key figure then. And you’re saying that he very much was there to squelch true investigation of what was going on at the time, that he could be relied upon to do this. Well, now you have the Iraq Study Group that is headed by James Baker and, yes, Lee Hamilton, together with Bob Gates.

MELVIN GOODMAN: Well, I think the Iraq Study Group is also a political stratagem on the part of the Bush administration to try to give some chance at damage limitation to this Iraq policy. Lee Hamilton wasn’t very impressive in his 9/11 work as a co-commissioner. I think the study of the intelligence community, and particularly the CIA, was really softened. I think Lee Hamilton had something to do with this. He brought in people like Douglas MacEachin of the CIA. He was also a close colleague of Bob Gates, and he testified in favor of Bob Gates in 1991. And the first personnel appointment that Bob Gates made when he took over the CIA in 1991 was to make Doug MacEachin his Deputy Director for Intelligence. So, I don’t think Lee Hamilton is the zealous investigator that he once was and the kind of junkyard dog that he once was when he was on the Hill in the Congress.

So I think there is an attempt now to soften the debate on Iraq. Getting Rumsfeld out of the Pentagon helps in this direction. Bringing Gates in, and it’s sort of tabula rasa now at the Pentagon with regard to Iraq. And I think the Iraq Study Group — and if you look at the Iraq Study Group — five Democrats, five Republicans — not a one has any experience whatsoever on the Middle East. There are no Arab experts, no Islamic experts on this group. And I think what Baker is trying to do is trying to limit the damage that Iraq has done to George Bush, the legacy of the Bush family, both Bush the elder and Bush the younger, and try to soften the debate in the American public and divert attention. And clearly, by removing Rumsfeld, Bush has already diverted a great deal of attention from the election loss and from this disaster that Iraq policy is.

JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Bob Parry, the investigations that you did in the ’80s at least led to congressional investigations into some of these issues. Given what happened now with this election, do you have any hope that the new congress will take a deeper look into some of these issues surrounding Bob Gates and the intelligence failures and spinning of the Bush administration?

ROBERT PARRY: Well, as a journalist, I always hope that information will come out somehow, but it does appear that the strategy that the Bush White House is following is to release — first of all, release this information the day after the election, in a sense give in to one of the chief Democratic demands — that is, the ouster of Rumsfeld — and then say that there must be quick action on Bob Gates’s nomination. I think yesterday there was an announcement by the Armed Services Committee, the chairman and the ranking Democrat, that they would move expeditiously on the Gates nomination and push it through before the end of the year — that is, in the lame-duck session of the Congress, the Republican-controlled congress.

So there doesn’t seem to be much eagerness to sort of go back and sort of confront Bob Gates with the questions that Mel has raised about his involvement with the politicization of intelligence, which is a key issue obviously in Iraq war, and his involvement or lack thereof with secret arms deals with the Iranians and the Iraqis, two of the countries that the Defense Department is most interested in at this point. So, but whether those questions will even be asked is a question here, that apparently the idea is to sort of just sort of have the Democrats show their bipartisanship again by not asking tough questions of Bob Gates. And this is very similar to what happened in 1991, when Senator Boren backed away from the gates, from pressing on the Gates nomination for the CIA director.

And it goes back, really, to what Lee Hamilton was doing in the 1980s. I do have to disagree a bit with Mel in that I never found Hamilton to be a junkyard dog in his investigations. When we did our first stories about Oliver North in '85 and ’86 at the Associated Press, they finally — those stories finally went to Lee Hamilton at the Intelligence Committee. He arranged a meeting with Oliver North, which involved Dick Cheney, who was on the Intelligence Committee at the time, and Henry Hyde and some other members, and they essentially asked Ollie if these stories were true, and he said they weren't. And that was pretty much the end of the investigation at that point. And it was only because a plane was shot down, one of Ollie’s planes was shot down, in October of 1986 that the Nicaraguan side of the story started spilling out.

AMY GOODMAN: That was the downing of Eugene Hasenfus’s plane?

ROBERT PARRY: Correct. Eugene Hasenfus survived the crash and began talking about what was actually going on. And that sort of put Hamilton back on the spot. When the Iran-Contra scandal sort of broke open in November of '86, he was made head of the investigation. But again, he led it in a way that was not designed to find the truth. It was designed to sort of reach a political solution, which was not to have impeachment of Ronald Reagan, not to have it go too far, not to damage the CIA. It wasn't to find the facts, as much as it was to sort of reach a consensus that enough people could agree on.

And we’ve seen that repeatedly with Hamilton. We saw it in the October Surprise investigation, which he headed in 1992, which, when at the end of that investigation so much evidence was pouring in, in late 1992, about this 1980 matter that the chief counsel, Larry Barcella, went to Hamilton and said, "We need another three months, another few months to review all this new incriminating evidence about the Republicans." And Hamilton said "No," that "we’re not going to continue this. We’re wrapping it up."

AMY GOODMAN: And just to be clear, you’re talking about 1980, this allegation that somehow the Reagan forces, before Ronald Reagan became president, worked to stop the hostages from being released under Carter, what would have been the October Surprise, and have them released on Inauguration Day, when President Reagan was being sworn in, that allegation, and this possibility, though many have discounted it, of a meeting that was held in Paris in October, where US officials, perhaps like Vice President George H.W. Bush, met with Iranian officials.

ROBERT PARRY: Right. And there’s actually a great deal of evidence that has built up to support that. But again, the idea was, of that investigation, was to avoid having the kind of political crisis, the crisis of confidence, that might occur if the American people began to see their government as it was actually functioning, not as some people in Washington would like them to see it, which is as a more fair, a more decent operation. So, Hamilton has always been the guy who sort of steps in and sort of smoothes things over, tries not to have too many rough edges, and moves on. So that’s been his record and, of course, now he’s working on the Iraq Study Group. But he’s never been the fellow who actually goes to find the truth and lets the facts stand where they may. He has never been that guy.

AMY GOODMAN: We have to break. Bob Parry is our guest, author of the new book called Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq. He does consortiumnews.com. Mel Goodman, also our guest, former CIA and State Department analyst, who has co-authored the book, Bush League Diplomacy, and spoke out against Bob Gates when he was nominated to be director of Central Intelligence. And when we come back, we’re going to ask the question: would Donald Rumsfeld stepping down leave him open to prosecution? We’ll also be joined by the president for the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner. Stay with us.

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