Not to belabor a point, but some die-hard defenders of the October Surprise cover-up continue to insist that there is real evidence debunking the now overwhelming case that Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign interfered with President Jimmy Carter's negotiations to free 52 American hostages then held in Iran.
One defender claimed in a recent blog post: "calendars, eyewitness accounts, telephone logs and credit card receipts showed that [Reagan's campaign chief William Casey] was in the United States and London at the time of the alleged meetings" in Madrid and Paris.
But that simply isn't true. What is true is that a series of fabricated alibis for Casey and others have come apart at the seams, starting with the initial alibi that was concocted for Casey by The New Republic and Newsweek.
In the same week in fall 1991, the two magazines touted a matching alibi for Casey for late July 1980, supposedly showing that he couldn't have attended an alleged meeting in Madrid with a senior Iranian cleric. They put Casey at a historical conference in London on one key morning.
However, the publications in their rush to debunk what they deemed a "conspiracy theory" had misread the evidence and had failed to do the follow-up interviews that would have shown that their "reporting" was completely wrong. Casey had skipped the morning session.
The magazines' alibi was so thoroughly disproven that an investigative House October Surprise Task Force, which itself was caught up in a bipartisan spirit to embrace Republican innocence, was forced to jettison that alibi, but then concocted an equally bogus one of its own, putting Casey at of all places the Bohemian Grove in California where rich men frolic during several weekends each summer.
The problem with that alibi was that the clear documentary evidence including purchase receipts and contemporaneous notations showed that Casey actually attended the Bohemian Grove on the first weekend of August 1980, not the last weekend of July.
To counter the documentary evidence, the House task force seized on the fact that Reagan's foreign policy adviser Richard Allen had written down Casey's home phone number on that first weekend in August, thus proving the task force sleuths concluded that Casey was at home that weekend and therefore must have attended the Bohemian Grove the last weekend in July.
Perhaps no single act by the House task force demonstrated its anything-goes determination to clear the Republicans whatever the evidence than this application of "logic." The task force included this "write-down-a-home-number" alibi in its final report but concealed the fact that Allen had testified he had no recollection or record of reaching Casey at home.
To further bolster its Bohemian Grove alibi, the task force found an old flight schedule showing that there was a plane that flew directly from San Francisco to London and thus theoretically could have gotten Casey to the London conference by the time those records reveal that he actually arrived. However, there was no evidence that Casey was on that plane.
It was those two abuses of rationality that prompted Rep. Mervyn Dymally, a task force member, to submit a dissent which observed sensibly that "just because phones ring and planes fly doesn't mean that someone is there to answer the phone or is on the plane."
However, when Dymally submitted his dissent, he received a terse phone call in early January 1993 from the task force's Democratic chairman Lee Hamilton, who vowed to "come down hard on" Dymally if the dissent were not withdrawn.
The next day, Hamilton, who was becoming chairman of the House International Affairs Committee, fired the entire staff of the Africa subcommittee, which Dymally had chaired before his retirement from Congress which had just taken effect. Hoping to save the jobs of his former staffers, Dymally agreed to withdraw the dissent but still refused to put his name on the task force's conclusions.
Having shut down Dymally's dissent, the path was clear to roll out the deceptive final report to the acclaim of Official Washington. The debunking findings were selectively leaked to friendly reporters or to others who weren't familiar with the controversy's intricate details.
After getting the desired knock-down stories on the morning of Jan. 13, 1993, Hamilton and Republican vice-chair Henry Hyde presided over a peculiar news conference in a House committee room.