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Don't Count Out the GOP From Trying to Sink Obama's Historic Iran Deal: They've Done It Before

By       Message Thom Hartmann     Permalink
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Reprinted from Alternet

Republican attempts to sabotage a Democratic president's deal with Iran are nothing new.

From Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
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Ronald Reagan -- or at least his campaign -- committed treason to become president, and normalizing relations with Iran may expose the whole thing.

As news of a US-Iranian nuclear deal spread like wildfire this week, the mainstream media began to ask its usual set of questions. Is the deal for real? Can we trust the Iranians? And the Republicans in Congress are going totally nuts.

Republican attempts to sabotage a Democratic president's deal with Iran are nothing new, however. Just ask Jimmy Carter.

In the early fall of 1980, Carter thought he had reached a deal with newly elected Iranian President Abdolhassan Bani-Sadr over the release of the 52 hostages held by radical students at the American Embassy in Tehran. President Bani-Sadr was a moderate, and as he explained in an editorial in the Christian Science Monitor published on March 5, 2013, he had successfully run for president of Iran on the popular position of releasing the hostages:

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"I openly opposed the hostage-taking throughout the election campaign.... I won the election with over 76 percent of the vote.... Other candidates also were openly against hostage-taking, and overall, 96 percent of votes in that election were given to candidates who were against it [hostage-taking]."

President Carter was confident that with Bani-Sadr's help, he could end the embarrassing hostage crisis that had been a thorn in his political side ever since it began in November 1979. But Carter underestimated the lengths his opponent in the 1980 presidential election, California governor Ronald Reagan, would go to win the presidency.

Behind Carter's back, the Reagan campaign had previously worked out a deal with the leader of Iran's radical faction, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, to keep the hostages in captivity until after the 1980 presidential election in order to humiliate Carter and hand the election to Reagan. This was nothing short of treason.

As President Bani-Sadr wrote for the Monitor, "I was deposed in June 1981 as a result of a coup against me. After arriving in France, I told a BBC reporter that I had left Iran to expose the symbiotic relationship between Khomeinism and Reaganism. Ayatollah Khomeini and Ronald Reagan had organized a clandestine negotiation, later known as the 'October Surprise,' which prevented the attempts by myself and then-US President Jimmy Carter to free the hostages before the 1980 US presidential election took place."

The Reagan campaign's secret negotiations with Khomeini -- the so-called "October Surprise" -- were successful in sabotaging Carter and Bani-Sadr's attempts to free the hostages. And as President Bani-Sadr told the Christian Science Monitor, "The fact that they were not released tipped the results of the [1980] election in Reagan's favor."

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Iran released the hostages on Jan. 20, 1981, at the exact moment Ronald Reagan was sworn into office, by way of saying, "We kept up our part of the deal; now we expect you to start shipping us those weapons you promised."

That October Surprise emboldened the radical forces inside Iran. A politically weakened Bani-Sadr was overthrown in June 1981 and replaced with Mohammed Ali Rajai, a favorite of Khomeini's.

The October Surprise also led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people around the world, and in Central America in particular. Reagan took money from the Iranians and used that money to destabilize Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador in ways that still haunt the region. And he set the Supreme Court (by appointing Scalia and two other right-wingers) and the nation on a course that would see the destruction of much of the New Deal and the evisceration of America's middle class.

But those are just the most obvious results of the October Surprise. If Carter were able to free the hostages like he and Bani-Sadr had planned, Carter would have won re-election. After all, he was leading in most polls in the months leading up to the election, and most Americans saw Reagan as a right-wing radical shill for the billionaire class (history proved them right).

So, now that the doors of Tehran may be thrown open to the press, Republican leadership is facing a huge crisis: Saint Ronnie could be exposed. If former Iranian president Bani-Sadr is telling the truth -- and all the evidence (including the fact that Reagan was selling weapons to Iran in violation of US law) points to his treason -- then there's certainly evidence of it floating around in Tehran. If that evidence surfaces, it could make for considerable discomfort on the Republican side of the aisle.

Of course, this is not the first time a Republican presidential candidate committed treason to gain the White House. Consider the case of Richard Nixon.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War (more...)

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