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Who to Trust on a Truth Commission?

By       Message Robert Parry       (Page 5 of 7 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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Reed had been Rockefeller's point man in helping the Shah of Iran after his 1979 ouster, which led the Khomeini regime to seek the withdrawal of billions of dollars from the Shah's accounts at Rockefeller's Chase Manhattan Bank.

But the Iranian hostage crisis worked to the bank's advantage because the U.S. government "" as retaliation for the hostage-taking "" froze those accounts. If the crisis were resolved quickly and the money suddenly unfrozen, Chase Manhattan's financial viability would have been put in doubt.

After Reagan and Bush took office-- and the Chase accounts remained frozen--Reed was appointed ambassador to Morocco, which led him to visit Casey at CIA headquarters, as Cogan lingered at the door to Casey's office.

"Joseph Reed said, " ˜we' and then the verb [and then] something about Carter's October Surprise,"  Cogan testified in a "secret"  deposition. "The implication was we did something about Carter's October Surprise." 

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Task force investigators understood the full quote to have been, "We fucked Carter's October Surprise,"  a claim that was at the heart of what the task force was assigned to investigate. But the task force left Cogan's recollection out of its report altogether.

Selective Judgments

The pattern of the task force's selective judgments began to grate on some of the Democratic congressmen assigned to the investigation.

Though the October Surprise allegations supposedly were a myth, the information developed by the task force staff was kept under tight secrecy. Congressmen were only allowed to review the evidence in a secure room under guard.

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The restrictions meant that many members were forced to rely on the task force staff that had been assembled largely by excluding anyone who thought the allegations might actually be true. Some had other conflicts of interest tilting them toward the prescribed debunking conclusion.

For instance, Barcella's deputy, Michael Zeldin, was a personal friend of Steven Emerson, a writer with close ties to Israel's Likud--whose leaders allegedly played a key role in the October Surprise maneuverings and stood to be exposed as having helped unseat an American President (Carter).

Emerson had written an influential October Surprise debunking article for The New Republic based on a Casey alibi that turned out to be false. Still, House investigators told me that Emerson frequently visited the task force's offices and advised Zeldin and others how to read the October Surprise evidence.

On Jan. 3, 1993, Congressman Mervyn Dymally, a California Democrat and task force member who was retiring from Congress, submitted a dissent to the impending task force report, complaining about selective handling of evidence to clear the Reagan-Bush campaign.

In reviewing the task force report, Dymally's staff aide, Marwan Burgan, had spotted some of the report's absurd alibis, including the claim that because someone wrote down Casey's home phone number on one day that proved Casey was home, or that because a plane flew from San Francisco directly to London on another important date that Casey must have been onboard.

Sources who saw Dymally's dissent said it argued that "just because phones ring and planes fly doesn't mean that someone is there to answer the phone or is on the plane."  But Dymally's reasonable observations were fiercely opposed by Barcella, who enlisted task force chairman, Lee Hamilton, to pressure Dymally into withdrawing the dissent.

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Dymally told me that the day his dissent was submitted, he received a call from Hamilton warning him that if the dissent was not withdrawn, "I will have to come down hard on you." 

The next day, Hamilton, who was becoming chairman of the House International Affairs Committee, fired the staff of the Africa subcommittee that Dymally had headed. The firings were billed as routine, and Hamilton told me that "the two things came along at the same time, but they were not connected in my mind." 

Hamilton said his warning to Dymally referred to a toughly worded response that Hamilton would have fired off at Dymally if the dissent had stood. However, hoping to salvage his staff's jobs, Dymally agreed to withdraw the dissent.

Russian Complication

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Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at

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