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May 08, 2009

Cheney Confirms Iran-Contra Cover-Up

In a new article by Stephen "W.W. Beauchamp" Hayes, former Vice President Cheney gripes extensively about the Obama administration. It's exactly what you'd expect. But what you might not expect is that Cheney (seemingly inadvertently) confirms that there was a massive cover-up of the Iran-Contra scandal by the Reagan administration:

"I went through the Iran-contra hearings and watched the way administration officials ran for cover and left the little guys out to dry. And I was bound and determined that wasn't going to happen this time."

Considering that two national security advisers (Robert McFarlane and John Poindexter) and the Secretary of Defense (Caspar Weinberger) were some of the "little guys" who were prosecuted for Iran-Contra, it's obvious who Cheney is talking about as hanging them out to dry: President Reagan and Vice President Bush.

Here's how Robert Parry describes the conclusions of Iran-Contra Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh:

According to Firewall, the cover-up conspiracy took formal shape at a meeting of Reagan and his top advisers in the Situation Room at the White House on Nov. 24, 1986. The meeting's principal point of concern was how to handle the troublesome fact that Reagan had approved illegal arms sales to Iran in fall 1985, before any covert-action finding had been signed. The act was a clear felony -- a violation of the Arms Export Control Act -- and possibly an impeachable offense.

Though virtually everyone at the meeting knew that Reagan had approved those shipments through Israel, Attorney General Edwin Meese announced what would become the cover story. According to Walsh's narrative, Meese "told the group that although [NSC adviser Robert] McFarlane had informed [Secretary of State George] Shultz of the planned shipment, McFarlane had not informed the president. ...

"[White House chief of staff Don] Regan, who had heard McFarlane inform the president and who had heard the president admit to Shultz that he knew of the shipment of Hawk [anti-aircraft] missiles, said nothing. Shultz and [Defense Secretary Caspar] Weinberger, who had protested the shipment before it took place, said nothing. [Vice President George] Bush, who had been told of the shipment in advance by McFarlane, said nothing. Casey, who [had] requested that the president sign the retroactive finding to authorize the CIA-facilitated delivery, said nothing. [NSC adviser John] Poindexter, who had torn up the finding, said nothing. Meese asked whether anyone knew anything else that hadn't been revealed. No one spoke."

When Shultz returned to the State Department, he dictated a note to his aide, Charles Hill, who wrote down that Reagan's men were "rearranging the record." They were trying to protect the president through a "carefully thought out strategy" that would "blame it on Bud" McFarlane.

It really is considerate of Cheney to tell the truth about this. Here's an interesting story from Parry's book Lost History about how he saw firsthand the kind of thing Cheney may be reacting to:

How quickly the investigative space was closing down hit home to me on March 10, 1987. I had been asked to attend a dinner at the home of bureau chief Evan Thomas in an exclusive neighborhood in northwest Washington. The guests that night were retired Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who was one of three members of the Tower Commission [set up by Reagan to investigate Iran-contra], and Rep. Dick Cheney, R-Wyo., who was the ranking House Republican on the congressional Iran-contra committee.

At the table also were some of Newsweek's top executives and a few of us lowly correspondents. As the catered dinner progressed and a tuxedoed waiter kept the wine glasses full, the guests were politely questioned. Scowcroft, a studious-looking man, fidgeted as if he wanted to get something off his chest. "Maybe I shouldn't say this but," he began with a slight hesitation. He then continued, "If I were advising Admiral Poindexter and he had told the president about the diversion, I would advise him to say that he hadn't."

It's nice when people at the highest levels of government confirm what everyone already knew, even if it takes a few decades.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at May 8, 2009 07:37 AM

"I went through the Iran-contra hearings and watched the way administration officials ran for cover and left the little guys out to dry. And I was bound and determined that wasn't going to happen this time."

Which - the running for cover, the leaving the little guys out to dry, or the hearings?

Oh, and isn't this also a tacit admission that they actually did something horribly wrong "this time", for which there could be hearings, etc, etc?

Posted by: Dunc at May 8, 2009 08:13 AM

So we're supposed to believe Cheney now? The man views truth as any statement that will help him get what he wants. He cares less about what happened or who got hung out to dry than you do. He simply needs to show that there was precedent for lying to protect the higher ups so he can seek the same protection. The Abu Gharib guards are in the brig; Cheney and Rumsfeld are on the Eastern Shore.

The WaPo story today about Pelosi knowing about torture is another example of the same thing. She was a member of the Gang of Eight from the early '90s. She knew everything that went on. She merely needs to demonstrate that there is a precedent for protecting higher ups to protect herself. The truth is an irrelevance to both of them.

Posted by: drip at May 8, 2009 09:57 AM

This is actually one aspect of Dick Cheney that I've always appreciated. His open contempt for democracy is so abiding that it frees him up to tell the truth from time to time. The man doesn't have time to mouth the usual platitudes about American virtuousness. There's an empire to run.

Posted by: mitch at May 8, 2009 10:00 AM

the timing of this "confirmation" is designed to perpetuate the Us vs Them nature of "liberals" hating the "rethugs". it's a distraction. it's not news of an informative sort. instead of maybe going down the path to criticizing Obama, now the "liberals" and "progressives" will return their partisan hatred focus to their vile enemies the "rethugs" and once again the blame is heaped on the "rethugs" and once again Barockstar Obamiracle's IDENTICAL DIRECTION is overlooked because nominally he's not a "rethug."

more circus. where's my bread, dammit?

Posted by: blue ox babe at May 8, 2009 12:29 PM

Screw me once shame on U, screw me twice shame on me. Around the third or fourth time, wedding arrangements should be made.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 8, 2009 02:50 PM

Good post, Jon, and nice comment, Dunc.

Posted by: Nell at May 8, 2009 03:38 PM

Hm. If Hayes is Beauchamp, is Cheney English Bob? That would be prior to Little Bill setting Beauchamp straight on the events he's previously written about. Or is Cheney Little Bill, whom Beauchamp gladly latched on to after Bob's beat-down.

I guess I gotta go with Little Bill, though it's not a perfect analogy, because Cheney would never get his own hands dirty the way Bill does.

Posted by: laym at May 8, 2009 03:45 PM

Nice call. It's always sought, but seldom achieved, that after discouraging events such as Iran/Contra the true facts are laid out so neatly in the end. It would be a public service to have these kinds of after-the-fact revelations pulled together for each administration that deserves it. Sort of like the Spanish formal enquiries after the terms of each Viceroy or Royal Governor of a province during the centuries long Spanish conquest of Latin America.

Posted by: Uncle J. at May 8, 2009 11:24 PM

Parry has done great work on this subject. I encourage to pick up his three books which are being offered at a discounted price at his website. All of them are excellent.

Posted by: cemmcs at May 8, 2009 11:27 PM

cheney admits to waterboarding three people

waterboarding a human being is A CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY in every civilized country on this planet

forget Iran-Contra

focus on the CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY that cheney has ADMITTED rhat he violayed

Posted by: freepatriot at May 9, 2009 11:53 AM


Forget Iran-Contra? I don't think so.

Later, even-more-horrific crimes don't erase or make irrelevant huge earlier crimes. Especially when the earlier crimes are highly relevant background to the more recent ones.

Posted by: Nell at May 9, 2009 01:33 PM

to re-emphasize what Nell said, it's BECAUSE of the Iran/Contra scheme that that these moral retards realized that they could get away with practically anything so long as they could get a congressional coverup going to cover their asses.

Posted by: almostinfamous at May 9, 2009 09:46 PM

almostinfamous: Well, "they" got away with it again and STILL gittin' it. Billions EVERYDAY in cash (out of YOUR pocket) and nary a hint of prosecution for ANY of various crimes. As long as the perps don't leave the good ole USofA, I see no problem for "them" what so ever. (Works Every Time)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 10, 2009 12:26 AM

That's why history is not teached & keep repeating itself...




Pretty much all the posturing can be filled into the...bla-bla wouf-wouf file ;)


Posted by: white noise at May 10, 2009 09:36 AM

It was the Iran-Contra cover-up/fizzle-out that made me a hard-liner on prosecutions.

I probably would be anyway, given the crime of torture, but it's been made all too clear that commissions and congressional "investigations" are not a prelude to consequences with teeth but a way of avoiding them.

Posted by: Nell at May 10, 2009 11:19 AM

Please explain the "W.W. Beauchamp" reference. Some of us aren't a wired as you evidently are.

Posted by: SaltyDawg at May 10, 2009 03:28 PM

Please explain the "W.W. Beauchamp" reference. Some of us aren't a wired as you evidently are.

Posted by: SaltyDawg at May 10, 2009 03:28 PM

There's a direct line through Watergate to Iran-Contra to everything the Bushies did.

But we need never fear for democracy with David Broder ever vigilant to protect it.

Posted by: Batocchio at May 10, 2009 04:56 PM

There's a direct line through Watergate to Iran-Contra to everything the Bushies did.

But we need never fear for democracy with David Broder ever vigilant to protect it.

Please explain the "W.W. Beauchamp" reference. Some of us aren't a wired as you evidently are.

Posted by: wow power leveling at May 10, 2009 11:55 PM

W.W. Beachamp was the "biographer" following the gunfighter "English Bob" to chronicle his exploits in the great Clint Eastwood movie Unforgiven. After Gene Hackman's character, the corrupt sheriff Little Bill, beats English Bob savagely and forces him out of town, Mr. Beauchamp stays to write about Little Bill.

Posted by: ER Doc at May 11, 2009 06:48 AM

No offense, power-leveling person, but finding out these sorts of little cultural references is often good to do with a search engine.

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at May 11, 2009 07:05 AM

power-leveling person looks like a spambot, actually.

Posted by: almostinfamous at May 11, 2009 09:00 AM