In other words, a key "journalist" who supposedly debunked the October Surprise investigation is now recognized as something of a Likud propagandist, and the two lead investigators for the task force allowed neoconservative friends to influence the course of the inquiry.
However, even as Likud operatives and allies worked to derail any serious investigation, one top Likud official was more forthcoming.
In 1993, I took part in an interview with former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir in Tel Aviv during which he said he had read Gary Sick's 1991 book, October Surprise, which made the case for believing that the Republicans had intervened in the 1980 hostage negotiations to disrupt Carter's reelection.
With the topic raised, one interviewer asked, "What do you think? Was there an October Surprise?"
"Of course, it was," Shamir responded without hesitation. "It was." Later in the interview, Shamir, who succeeded Begin as prime minister in the 1980s, seemed to regret his frankness and tried to backpedal on his answer, but his confirmation remained a startling moment.
The current knock on the October Surprise story is that it's now ancient history and that it's wrong to dig up unpleasant facts about the late President Ronald Reagan, who has become something of an icon on the Right and someone that MSNBC's Chris Matthews recently deemed "one of the all-time greats" among presidents.
Further, Jimmy Carter is held in disdain by many Washington insiders, considered a "failed president." In other words, the prevailing view is that things worked out just fine in replacing Carter with Reagan no matter how it was done and it makes no sense to rehash any of this unpleasantness.
However, there is another way to read the history: If Carter had freed the hostages and won a second term, the United States might have continued on a path toward alternative energy, the federal deficit would not have soared, and deregulation of corporations would not have opened the environment and the financial sector to such dangers.
Further, the United States might not have embarked on a massive military buildup or engaged in the aggressive intelligence operations that went with it. And, Israel might have been pushed into an equitable peace with its Palestinian neighbors three decades ago, rather than pursuing a settlement policy that now makes such an agreement close to impossible.
Possibly even more important, if the sabotaging of Carter's reelection in 1980 had failed or at least if it had been exposed in the 1990s, the United States might now enjoy a much healthier democracy based on hard truths, not comforting illusions.[For the most detailed account of the October Surprise case, see Robert Parry's Secrecy & Privilege. It's also available as part of a three-book set for only $29, click here.]