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The CIA/Likud Sinking of Jimmy Carter

By       Message Robert Parry       (Page 7 of 12 pages) Become a premium member to see this article and all articles as one long page.     Permalink

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Many of the October Surprise allegations have Casey and his longtime business associate John Shaheen, another OSS veteran, meeting with Iranians and other foreigners overseas.

Casey also had secret meetings with Kissinger, according to Casey's chauffeur, and with banker David Rockefeller and ex-CIA officer Archibald Roosevelt, who had gone to work for Rockefeller, according to the Sept. 11, 1980, visitor log at the Reagan-Bush headquarters in Arlington, Virginia.

On Sept. 16, 1980, five days after the Rockefeller group's visit to Casey's office, Iran's acting foreign minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh spoke publicly about Republican interference.

"Reagan, supported by Kissinger and others, has no intention of resolving the problem" with the hostages, Ghotbzadeh said. "They will do everything in their power to block it."

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Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr held a similar opinion from his position in Tehran. In a 1992 letter to the House task force on the October Surprise case, Bani-Sadr wrote that he learned of the Republican back-channel initiative in summer 1980 and received a message from an emissary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: The Reagan campaign was in league with pro-Republican elements of the CIA in an effort to undermine Carter and wanted Iran's help.

Bani-Sadr said the emissary "told me that if I do not accept this proposal they [the Republicans] would make the same offer to my rivals."

The emissary added that the Republicans "have enormous influence in the CIA," Bani-Sadr wrote. "Lastly, he told me my refusal of their offer would result in my elimination."

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Bani-Sadr said he resisted the GOP scheme, but the plan ultimately was accepted by Ayatollah Khomeini, who appeared to have made up his mind around the time of Iraq's invasion of Iran in mid-September 1980.

However, still sensing a political danger if Carter got the Iranians to change their minds, the Republicans opened the final full month of the campaign by trying to make Carter's hostage talks look like a cynical ploy to influence the election's outcome.

On Oct. 2, Republican vice-presidential candidate Bush brought up the issue with a group of reporters: "One thing that's at the back of everybody's mind is, "What can Carter do that is so sensational and so flamboyant, if you will, on his side to pull off an October Surprise?' And everybody kind of speculates about it, but there's not a darn thing we can do about it, nor is there any strategy we can do except possibly have it discounted."

Multiple Channels

One congressional investigator who was involved in the Iran-Contra and the October Surprise inquiries told me recently that his conclusion was that the Republicans were pursuing every avenue possible to reach the Iranian leadership to make sure Carter's hostage negotiations failed.

Former Israeli intelligence officer Ben-Menashe, in his book and in sworn testimony, said the ultimately successful channel was one involving both former and current CIA officers, working with French intelligence for the security of a final meeting in Paris and with Israelis who were given the task of delivering the payoff in weapons shipments and money to Iran.

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The key meeting allegedly occurred on the weekend of Oct. 18-19, 1980, between high-level representatives of the Republican team and the Iranians. Ben-Menashe said he was part of a six-member Israeli support delegation for the meeting at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.

In his memoir, Ben-Menashe said he recognized several Americans, including Republican congressional aide Robert McFarlane and CIA officers Robert Gates (who had served on Carter's NSC staff and was then CIA Director Turner's executive assistant), Donald Gregg (another CIA designee to Carter's NSC) and George Cave (the agency's Iran expert).

Ben-Menashe said Iranian cleric Mehdi Karrubi, then a top foreign policy aide to Ayatollah Khomeini, arrived and walked into a conference room.

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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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