Sunday, 12 November 2006

Robert Gates and George H. W. Bush

The main question that needs answering is why did George W. Bush nominate Robert Gates as his Defense Secretary? He must have known that this decision would resurrect the two scandals in his father’s career: October Surprise and Iran-Contra.

George H. W. Bush came very close to being exposed as playing vital roles in both these highly secret operations (see Lawrence E. Walsh’s report on Iran-Contra). Fellow conspirators remained quiet because of promises made by Bush. These were kept when Bush became president. Bush appointed Robert Gates, as Director of the CIA (this enabled him to destroy any remaining documents held by the agency). Fellow conspirators, Richard L. Armitage and Donald P. Gregg, were given positions in his government. Those involved in the cover-up also received posts. Brent Scowcroft became his chief national security adviser and John Tower became Secretary of Defence. When the Senate refused to confirm Tower, Bush gave the job to another involved in the cover-up, Richard Cheney.

Bush therefore faced the possibility that Tower, who had headed the Tower Commission into Iran-Contra, would reveal what he knew. John Heinz, who chaired a three-man presidential review board that probed the Iran-Contra affair, was also a problem. However, on 4th April, 1991, Heinz died when his Piper Aerostar PA60 came down after colliding with a helicopter in Montgomery County. The following day, Tower was killed in a plane crash new New Brunswick, Georgia. According to the New York Times the “failure of a severely worn part in the plane’s propeller control unit caused the aircraft to spin out of control.”

By this time Bush had already pardoned fellow conspirators, Casper Weinberger, Robert McFarlane, Duane R. Clarridge, Clair E. George, Elliott Abrams and Alan D. Fiers, Jr., who had all been charged with offences related to the Iran-Contra scandal.

George W. Bush has therefore brought all these events out in the open by nominating Robert Gates. As Carl Levin, the Democratic senator for Michigan who voted against Gates when he was nominated to head the CIA in 1991, said yesterday “old issues concerning the politicisation of intelligence were relevant and deserved a new airing”.

Democratic senator, Dianne Feinstein of California, also promised yesterday to ask Robert Gates some difficult questions when Gates appeared before the Senate’s armed services committee. Let us hope that documents about October Surprise and Iran-Contra, that have been discovered by investigative journalists like Robert Parry, are passed to people like Levin and Feinstein.

Bush must have known this would happen. It has been suggested that GWB still has hang-ups about the success of his father. True, he only served one-term, but he managed to get out of office with his reputation still in tack. This is unlikely to be the case with GWB. I know it is all very Freudian, but is GWB trying to destroy the reputation of GHWB?

Saturday, 11 November 2006

Robert Gates

Why did George W. Bush nominate Robert Gates as his new Secretary of Defense? In doing so, he will only resurrect the Iran-Contra scandal that his father did so much to cover-up.

When George H. W. Bush became president he set about rewarding those who had helped him in the cover-up of the Iran-Contra Scandal. Bush appointed Robert Gates, as Director of the CIA, Richard L. Armitage as a negotiator and mediator in the Middle East. Donald P. Gregg was appointed as his ambassador to South Korea. Brent Scowcroft became his chief national security adviser and John Tower became Secretary of Defence. When the Senate refused to confirm Tower, Bush gave the job to Richard Cheney. Later, Casper Weinberger, Robert McFarlane, Duane R. Clarridge, Clair E. George, Elliott Abrams and Alan D. Fiers, Jr., who had all been charged with offences related to the Iran-Contra scandal, were pardoned by Bush.

Currently, there is a massive disinformation campaign concerning Gates. If you do a search for Gates on Google you will find a list of websites that provide a very flattering picture of this man.

Wikipedia comes first. Although it contains one significant piece of information about why his nomination to be director of the CIA in 1987 was withdrawn (I expect this to be removed soon) it gives him a very easy ride. It is highly significant that the page has been locked and can’t be edited (this is highly unusual).

Second is a biography by the Texas A&M University. This does not mention Iran-Contra Scandal or the rejected nomination in 1987. Nor does it mention the huge opposition to him obtaining the post in 1991.

In 3rd place is the BBC site. This is a good example of how his career is portrayed (this was mirrored in the press yesterday).

"Mr Gates' early career was dogged with controversy, particularly over the Iran-Contra issue, and his first nomination as CIA director was withdrawn by Ronald Reagan in 1987…But the most controversial moment in his career was the 1982-86 period when he rose through the CIA's top echelons to become acting director. As such, he was in a position to know about the so-called Iran-Contra scandal, which involved the illegal diversion of funds from the sale of arms to Iran to fund the Contras, who were fighting against the left-wing Sandinistas who had taken power in Nicaragua. Mr Gates was investigated by the office of the independent counsel in 1991, but was never prosecuted for any offence."

The BBC does not refer to what Lawrence E. Walsh, the Independent Counsel who investigated the Iran-Contra case, actually said about Gates. Walsh discovered that Gates repeatedly gave inaccurate information about what he knew about Iran-Contra. When other officials provided contradictory information Gates was forced to admit his mistakes. He claimed that these mistakes were due to a failure to remember correctly what happened. Walsh admits in his report:

“Like those of many other Iran/contra figures, the statements of Gates often seemed scripted and less than candid. Nevertheless, given the complex nature of the activities and Gates's apparent lack of direct participation, a jury could find the evidence left a reasonable doubt that Gates either obstructed official inquiries or that his two demonstrably incorrect statements were deliberate lies.”

What the BBC report does not mention is that lying about what he knew about Iran-Contra was not the main reason Reagan had to withdraw Gates’ nomination. The main concern of the Senate Intelligence Committee was the information that Gates was suspected of passing information from classified documents to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war.

In other words, Gates was suspected of treason. It is one of the great ironies of history that he has been appointed to solve the problems of the invasion of Iraq, when on a previous occasion, as a consequence of a secret arms deal, that Gates was passing secret information obtained by the CIA to Saddam Hussein.

Even when his nomination by Bush of Gates was accepted in 1991, he received 31 negative votes, more than all of the votes against all of the CIA directors in previous history.

In his memoirs Gates admits it was a great shock to him that three men who worked with him in the CIA, testified against him. He considered two of these men as personal friends. Melvin Goodman, recently explained his reasons for taking this action: "Bob Gates, over the period of the 1980s, as a deputy for Intelligence and then as a deputy to CIA director Bill Casey, was politicizing intelligence. He was spinning intelligence on all of the major issues of the day, on the Soviet Union, on Central America, on the Middle East, on Southwest Asia. And I thought this record, this charge, should be presented before the Senate Intelligence Committee."

As Goodman remarked when he heard the news about his 2006 nomination: "I think there is a rather delicious irony in the fact that here is a nation that went to war with politicized intelligence, and now it’s naming as a CIA director someone who was the most important practitioner of politicized intelligence in the history of the CIA. So, as Yogi Berra would have said, “This is deja-vu all over again.”

For the truth about Robert Gates I would suggest the following:

Lawrence E. Walsh’s report on Gates:

Robert Parry’s account of Gates involvement in October Surprise and Iran-Contra

The document sent to Lee G. Hamilton, Chairman of the Working Group of the House Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. Congress, in 1991.

Robert Parry and Melvin Goodman discussing Gates on Democracy Now:

A summary of his career with links can be found here: