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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/31/11

A Two-Decade Detour into Empire

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Over the years, Emerson's cozy ties to Israel's Likud began to raise concerns among other journalists about what his real motive was. There were also questions about who was bankrolling him.

Emerson's "Jihad in America" documentary and his Investigative Project on Terrorism have been financed by many of the same foundations and individuals bankrolling American right-wing media, such as mogul Richard Mellon Scaife. [For more on how Emerson operates, see's "Islam Basher Claims to Unmask Cleric."]

Recently, Emerson emerged as an architect of the controversial hearings on "radicalized" American Muslims conducted by Rep. Peter King, R-New York.

Emerson boasted about his role in structuring King's hearings, but also berated King for not including him (Emerson) on the witness list. In a particularly bizarre letter written last January, Emerson vowed to withhold further assistance as retaliation for the snub.

"I was even going to bring in a special guest today and a VERY informed and connected source, who could have been very useful, possibly even critical to your hearing, but he too will not attend unless I do," Emerson wrote. "You have caved in to the demands of radical Islamists in removing me as a witness."

In another weird twist, Emerson somehow envisioned himself as the victim of McCarthyism because he wasn't being allowed to go before the House Committee on Homeland Security and accuse large segments of the American-Muslim community of being un-American. [Politico, Jan. 19, 2011]

A False Narrative

Though Emerson may now be viewed by many as more an operative than a journalist, his ugly assault on the October Surprise case in 1991 did help stop any momentum for a serious investigation.

In the Senate, Republicans filibustered a bill to fund the inquiry, and in the House, a task force headed by Reps. Lee Hamilton, D-Indiana, and Henry Hyde, R-Illinois, just went through the motions before issuing a finding of Republican/Israeli innocence.

Nevertheless, the October Surprise and Iraq-gate controversies did remind some American voters why they didn't trust George H.W. Bush, tarnishing the shine of his Persian Gulf War glory. These doubts contributed to his defeat by Democrat Bill Clinton in 1992, though pundits credited Clinton's victory mostly to the sagging economy and independent candidate Ross Perot.

Once in power, the Clinton administration lived up to its campaign promise to focus "like a laser beam on the economy." Little interest was shown in pursuing the unanswered questions of Iran-Contra, Iraq-gate, October Surprise or other messy national security scandals of the Reagan-Bush-41 years.

Still, over the past two decades, more evidence of the Republican-Israeli-Iran October Surprise connection has emerged, making the House task force's finding of innocence barely defensible today, especially since it's been disclosed that the House task force concealed even some of its own doubts.

Lawrence Barcella, the task force chief counsel, told me that so much new evidence of Republican guilt was coming in during the investigation's final days in late 1992 that he urged Hamilton to extend the inquiry three more months, but that Hamilton declined.

For his part, Hamilton told me that a late-arriving report from the Russian government, which corroborated the Republican-Iran meeting in Paris, was never even shown to him. Barcella acknowledged that he might never have passed it along to Hamilton to whom it was addressed. [See's "Key October Surprise Evidence Hidden."]

Still, the larger significance of the October Surprise cover-up (and the parallel cover-up of the Iraq-gate scandal) is that a last chance for a timely exposure of this secret history was thwarted.

Between the aggressive defense mounted by the Republicans and their neocon allies, and the timidity of congressional Democrats and mainstream journalists, the rebuilt walls of government secrecy were protected. The route for the restoration of the Bush Dynasty only eight years later was left open.

Perhaps most importantly, the guardians of the empire's secrets learned how they could mix bullying of investigators and denying of evidence as a recipe for victory, one that has been copied again and again over the past two decades.

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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 It's also available at

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